The CPO and the Case of Ajamila Prabhu

Smith Arthur Harold (64) was arrested in Mayapur, the headquarters of Krishna movement in Bengal’s Nadia district. He was remanded to 14-day jail custody by the CJM of Krishnanagar court.

Though disciples from all over the world are provided with accommodation inside the ISKCON campus, Harold was living in his own apartment in Gournagar. The complainant started working as his cook one-and-a-half years ago.

Jayatri Nag, “ISKCON disciple from Australia held for raping help”, Oct 19, 2014, Mumbai Mirror, 8 Feb. 2015 <http://mumbaimirror.com>.

Regardless of the outcome of this incident, what will be very interesting is to see whether the CPO (ISKCON Child Protection Office) will eat one of its own.

Ajamila Prabhu is a long-time member and advocate of that institution, and furthermore members of that institution have been pushing the GBC to give them jurisdiction over GBC members or other high-ranking ISKCON officials the GBC exempts, and the GBC has so far refused to grant the CPO’s request for absolute jurisdiction. That effectively gives the CPO jurisdiction over prosecuting low-status men in ISKCON. And since the CPO publishes no statistics, we have no idea whether the institution, as an institution, is actually meeting its mandate or whether it exists for other,  less virtuous reasons.

So here is Ajamila Prabhu, who is a highly regarded member of ISKCON but may not be so highly regarded that the GBC will exempt him from investigation by the CPO. But if the CPO does investigate him, a possibility is exoneration, which may provoke a backlash among CPO faithful. Mob justice demands action against the perceived wrong-doer, regardless of innocence.

Alternatively, a guilty verdict may undermine their faith–the heads of other CPO activists could be next up in the guillotine on the slightest fabrication, and through Ajamila they would get to see that.

As perverse as either outcome is, that still strikes me as progress in the right direction, for the CPO is one of the spiritually (and materially) worst things to have been foisted on ISKCON’s members.

I am convinced that Maya Devi’s real objective of the gurukuli abuse episode was to establish the CPO within ISKCON. The court cases and cash settlements that preceded or brought about the development of the CPO were merely side-shows that had a time limit. The CPO doesn’t have any such end date.