Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Kirtanananda Swami

Kirtanananda Swami

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Kirtanananda Swami'
Start a new discussion about 'Kirtanananda Swami'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Kirtanananda Swami, also known as Swami Bhaktipada (September 6, 1937 – October 24, 2011) was the highly-controversial charismatic
Charismatic authority
The sociologist Max Weber defined charismatic authority as "resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him." Charismatic authority is one of three forms of authority laid out...

 Hare Krishna guru and co-founder of the New Vrindaban
New Vrindaban
New Vrindaban is an unincorporated town and ISKCON intentional community located in Marshall County near Moundsville, West Virginia. The town consists of , and several building complexes, homes, apartment buildings, and businesses including the Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra Temple and the...

 Hare Krishna community in Marshall County, West Virginia
Marshall County, West Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 35,519 people, 14,207 households, and 10,101 families residing in the county. The population density was 116 people per square mile . There were 15,814 housing units at an average density of 52 per square mile...

, where he served as spiritual leader for 26 years (from 1968 until 1994).

Early life


Kirtanananda was born Keith Gordon Ham in Peekskill, New York
Peekskill, New York
Peekskill is a city in Westchester County, New York. It is situated on a bay along the east side of the Hudson River, across from Jones Point.This community was known to be an early American industrial center, primarily for its iron plow and stove products...

, in 1937, the son of a Conservative Baptist minister. He imbibed his father's missionary spirit and attempted to convert classmates to his family's faith. Despite an acute case of poliomyelitis
Poliomyelitis
Poliomyelitis, often called polio or infantile paralysis, is an acute viral infectious disease spread from person to person, primarily via the fecal-oral route...

 which he contracted around his 17th birthday, he graduated with honors from high school in 1955. He received a Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 in History from Maryville College
Maryville College
Maryville College is a private four-year liberal arts college in Maryville, Tennessee, near Knoxville. It was founded in 1819 by Presbyterian minister Isaac L. Anderson for the purpose of furthering education and enlightenment into the West. The College is one of the fifty oldest colleges in the...

 in Maryville, Tennessee
Maryville, Tennessee
Maryville is the county seat of Blount County, Tennessee, in the Southeastern United States. The city is located south of Knoxville. Maryville's population was 27,258 at the 2010 census. It is included in the Knoxville Metropolitan Area. Maryville has received a number of accolades for its...

 on May 20, 1959, and graduated magna cum laude, first in his class of 117.

He received a Woodrow Wilson fellowship
Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation
The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation is a private non-profit foundation based in Princeton, New Jersey. It administers programs that support leadership development and build organizational capacity in education. Its current signature program is the...

 to study American history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a public research university located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States...

, where he remained for three years. There he met Howard Morton Wheeler (1940–1989), an undergraduate English major from Mobile, Alabama
Mobile, Alabama
Mobile is the third most populous city in the Southern US state of Alabama and is the county seat of Mobile County. It is located on the Mobile River and the central Gulf Coast of the United States. The population within the city limits was 195,111 during the 2010 census. It is the largest...

 who became his lover and lifelong friend. Later Kirtanananda admitted that, before becoming a Hare Krishna, he had had a homosexual relationship with Wheeler for many years, which was documented in the film Holy Cow Swami, a 1996 documentary by Jacob Young
Jacob Young (documentarian)
Jacob Young is an American screenwriter, cinematographer, film editor and filmmaker best known for creating documentary films which explore the eccentric people living in his native Appalachia.- Career :...

.

The two resigned from the university on February 3, 1961, and left Chapel Hill after being threatened with an investigation over a "sex scandal", and moved to New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. Ham promoted LSD
LSD
Lysergic acid diethylamide, abbreviated LSD or LSD-25, also known as lysergide and colloquially as acid, is a semisynthetic psychedelic drug of the ergoline family, well known for its psychological effects which can include altered thinking processes, closed and open eye visuals, synaesthesia, an...

 use and became an LSD guru. He worked as an unemployment claims reviewer. He enrolled at Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 in 1961, where he received a Waddell fellowship to study religious history with Whitney Cross
Whitney Cross
Whitney Rogers Cross , a mid-20th century historian, is still well known in certain American academic circles as the author of The Burned-over District: The Social and Intellectual History of Enthusiastic Religion in Western New York, 1800 – 1850 .- Biography :Cross was born in Rochester, New York...

, but he quit academic life after several years when he and Wheeler travelled to India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 in October 1965 in search of a guru. Unsuccessful, they returned to New York after six months.

Keith becomes Kirtanananda


In June 1966, after returning from India, Ham met the Bengali
Bengali people
The Bengali people are an ethnic community native to the historic region of Bengal in South Asia. They speak Bengali , which is an Indo-Aryan language of the eastern Indian subcontinent, evolved from the Magadhi Prakrit and Sanskrit languages. In their native language, they are referred to as বাঙালী...

 Gaudiya Vaishnava guru A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (then known simply as "Swamiji" to his disciples), the founder-acharya
Acharya
In Indian religions and society, an acharya is a guide or instructor in religious matters; founder, or leader of a sect; or a highly learned man or a title affixed to the names of learned men...

 of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
International Society for Krishna Consciousness
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness , known colloquially as the Hare Krishna movement, is a Gaudiya Vaishnava religious organization. It was founded in 1966 in New York City by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada...

 (ISKCON), more popularly known in the West as the Hare Krishnas. After attending Bhagavad-gita classes at the modest storefront temple at 26 Second Avenue in the Lower East Side
Lower East Side
The Lower East Side, LES, is a neighborhood in the southeastern part of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is roughly bounded by Allen Street, East Houston Street, Essex Street, Canal Street, Eldridge Street, East Broadway, and Grand Street....

 of Manhattan
Manhattan
Manhattan is the oldest and the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. Located primarily on the island of Manhattan at the mouth of the Hudson River, the boundaries of the borough are identical to those of New York County, an original county of the state of New York...

, Ham accepted Swamiji as his spiritual master, receiving initiation as "Kirtanananda Dasa" ("the servant of one who takes pleasure in kirtan
Kirtan
Kirtan or Kirtana is call-and-response chanting or "responsory" performed in India's devotional traditions. A person performing kirtan is known as a kirtankar. Kirtan practice involves chanting hymns or mantras to the accompaniment of instruments such as the harmonium, tablas, the two-headed...

") on September 23, 1966. Swamiji sometimes called him "Kitchen-ananda" because of his cooking expertise. Howard Wheeler was initiated two weeks earlier on September 9, 1966 and received the name "Hayagriva Dasa".

Kirtanananda was among the first of Swamiji's western disciples to shave his head (apart from the sikha
Sikha
The sikha or shikha is a Sanskrit word that refers to a long tuft, or lock of hair left on top or on the back of the shaven head of a male Orthodox Hindu...

), don robes (traditional Bengali Vaishnava clothing consists of dhoti
Dhoti
The dhoti or pancha is the traditional men's garment in the in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. A similar garment is worn in some rural areas of Punjab province in Pakistan, but the use is fast declining...

 and kurta
Kurta
A kurta is a traditional item of clothing worn in Afghanistan, Pakistan , Nepal, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. It is a loose shirt falling either just above or somewhere below the knees of the wearer, and is worn by both men and women...

), and move into the temple. In March 1967, on the order of Swamiji, Kirtanananda and Janus Dambergs (Janardana Dasa), a French-speaking university student, established the Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

 Hare Krishna temple. On August 28, 1967, while travelling with Swamiji in India, Kirtanananda Dasa became Prabhupada's first disciple to be initiated into the Vaishnava order of renunciation (sannyasa
Sannyasa
Sannyasa is the order of life of the renouncer within the Hindu scheme of āśramas, or life stages. It is considered the topmost and final stage of the ashram systems and is traditionally taken by men or women at or beyond the age of fifty years old or by young monks who wish to renounce worldly...

: a lifelong vow of celibacy in mind, word and body), and received the name Kirtanananda Swami. Within weeks, however, he returned to New York City against Prabhupada's wishes and attempted to add esoteric cultural elements of Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 to Prabhupada's devotional bhakti
Bhakti
In Hinduism Bhakti is religious devotion in the form of active involvement of a devotee in worship of the divine.Within monotheistic Hinduism, it is the love felt by the worshipper towards the personal God, a concept expressed in Hindu theology as Svayam Bhagavan.Bhakti can be used of either...

 system. Other disciples of Prabhupada saw this as a takeover attempt. In letters from India, Prabhupada soundly chastised him and banned him from preaching in ISKCON temples.

The New Vrindaban community



Kirtanananda moved in with Wheeler, by then known as Hayagriva Dasa, who was teaching English at a community college in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. In the San Francisco Oracle
San Francisco Oracle
The Oracle of the City of San Francisco, also known as the San Francisco Oracle, was an underground newspaper published in 12 issues from September 20, 1966, to February 1968 in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of that city...

(an underground newspaper), Kirtanananda saw a letter from Richard Rose, Jr., who wanted to form an ashram
Ashram
Traditionally, an ashram is a spiritual hermitage. Additionally, today the term ashram often denotes a locus of Indian cultural activity such as yoga, music study or religious instruction, the moral equivalent of a studio or dojo....

 on his land in Marshall County, West Virginia
Marshall County, West Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 35,519 people, 14,207 households, and 10,101 families residing in the county. The population density was 116 people per square mile . There were 15,814 housing units at an average density of 52 per square mile...

. "The conception is one of a non-profit, non-interfering, non-denominational retreat or refuge, where philosophers might come to work communally together, or independently, where a library and other facilities might be developed."

On a weekend free of classes (March 30–31, 1968), Kirtanananda and Hayagriva visited the two properties owned by Rose. After Hayagriva returned to Wilkes Barre, Kirtanananda stayed on in Rose's backwoods farmhouse. In July 1968, after a few months of Kirtanananda's living in isolation, he and Hayagriva visited Prabhupada in Montreal. Prabhupada “forgave his renegade disciples in Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

 with a garland of roses and a shower of tears”. When the pair returned to West Virginia, Richard Rose, Jr. and his wife Phyllis gave Hayagriva a 99-year lease on the 132.77-acre property for $4,000, with an option to purchase for $10 when the lease expired. Hayagriva put down a $1,500 deposit.

Prabhupada established the purpose and guided the development of the community in dozens of letters and four personal visits (1969, 1972, 1974 and 1976). New Vrindaban
New Vrindaban
New Vrindaban is an unincorporated town and ISKCON intentional community located in Marshall County near Moundsville, West Virginia. The town consists of , and several building complexes, homes, apartment buildings, and businesses including the Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra Temple and the...

 would fulfill four major functions for ISKCON:
  1. establish and promote the simple, agrarian
    Agriculture
    Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

     Krishna conscious lifestyle, including cow protection
    Sacred cow
    Cattle are considered sacred in various world religions, most notably Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism as well as the religions of Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and Ancient Rome. In some regions, especially India, the slaughter of cattle may be prohibited and their meat may be...

    ,
  2. establish a place of pilgrimage in the West by building seven temples on seven hills,
  3. train up a class of brahmin
    Brahmin
    Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...

     teachers by training boys at the gurukula (school of the guru), and
  4. establish a society based on varnashram-dharma.


Kirtanananda eventually established himself as leader and sole authority over the community. In New Vrindaban publications he was honored as "Founder-Acharya
Acharya
In Indian religions and society, an acharya is a guide or instructor in religious matters; founder, or leader of a sect; or a highly learned man or a title affixed to the names of learned men...

" of New Vrindaban, in imitation of Prabhupada's title of Founder-Acharya of ISKCON. Over time the community expanded, devotees from other ISKCON centers moved in, and cows and land were acquired until New Vrindaban properties consisted of nearly 5,000 acres. New Vrindaban became a favorite ISKCON place of pilgrimage and many ISKCON devotees attended the annual Krishna Janmashtami festivals. For some, Kirtanananda's previous offenses were forgiven. Many devotees admired him for his austere lifestyle (for a time he lived in an abandoned chicken coop), his preaching skills and devotion to the presiding deities
Murti
In Hinduism, a murti , or murthi, or vigraha or pratima typically refers to an image which expresses a Divine Spirit . Meaning literally "embodiment", a murti is a representation of a divinity, made usually of stone, wood, or metal, which serves as a means through which a divinity may be worshiped...

 of New Vrindaban: Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra. For other devotees who had challenged him and thereby encountered his wrath, he was a source of fear.

Palace of Gold


Late in 1972 Kirtanananda and sculptor-architect Bhagavatananda Dasa decided to build a home for Prabhupada. In time, the plans for the house developed into an ornate memorial shrine of marble, gold and carved teakwood, dedicated posthumously during Labor Day weekend, on Sunday, September 2, 1979. The completion of the Palace of Gold catapulted New Vrindaban into mainstream respectability as tens (and eventually hundreds) of thousands of tourists began visiting the Palace each year. A "Land of Krishna" theme park and a granite "Temple of Understanding" in classical South Indian style
Hindu temple architecture
India's temple architecture developed from the sthapathis' and shilpis' creativit, but n general these are from the Vishwakarma . A small Hindu temple consists of an inner sanctum, the garbha griha or womb-chamber, in which the image is housed, often circumambulation, a congregation hall, and...

 were designed to make New Vrindaban a "Spiritual Disneyland". The ground-breaking ceremony of the proposed temple on May 31, 1985, was attended by dozens of dignitaries, including a United States congressman from West Virginia. One publication called it "the most significant and memorable day in the history of New Vrindaban."

Upon Prabhupada's death on November 14, 1977, Kirtanananda and ten other high-ranking ISKCON leaders assumed the position of initiating gurus to succeed him. In March 1979, he accepted the honorific title "Bhaktipada."

"Interfaith era"


In 1986 Kirtanananda began his so-called interfaith
Interfaith
The term interfaith dialogue refers to cooperative, constructive and positive interaction between people of different religious traditions and/or spiritual or humanistic beliefs, at both the individual and institutional levels...

 experiment and the community became known as the "New Vrindaban City of God". He attempted to "de-Indianize" Krishna Consciousness to help make it more accessible to westerners, just as he had done previously in 1967. Devotees wore Franciscan
Franciscan
Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....

-style robes instead of dhoti
Dhoti
The dhoti or pancha is the traditional men's garment in the in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. A similar garment is worn in some rural areas of Punjab province in Pakistan, but the use is fast declining...

s and sari
Sari
A sari or sareeThe name of the garment in various regional languages include: , , , , , , , , , , , , , is a strip of unstitched cloth, worn by females, ranging from four to nine metres in length that is draped over the body in various styles. It is popular in India, Bangladesh, Nepal,...

s; they chanted in English with western instruments such as the pipe organ
Pipe organ
The pipe organ is a musical instrument that produces sound by driving pressurized air through pipes selected via a keyboard. Because each organ pipe produces a single pitch, the pipes are provided in sets called ranks, each of which has a common timbre and volume throughout the keyboard compass...

 and accordions instead of chanting in Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 and Bengali
Bengali language
Bengali or Bangla is an eastern Indo-Aryan language. It is native to the region of eastern South Asia known as Bengal, which comprises present day Bangladesh, the Indian state of West Bengal, and parts of the Indian states of Tripura and Assam. It is written with the Bengali script...

 with mridanga drums and cymbals
Karatalas
Karatalas , pronounced "kartels", are a percussion instrument played by striking two discs attached by a tether together, often used within the traditions of Hinduism to accompany kirtana or sankirtan...

; male devotees grew hair and beards instead of shaving their heads and faces; female devotees were awarded the sannyasini order and encouraged to preach independently; japa
Japa
Japa is a spiritual discipline involving the meditative repetition of a mantra or name of a divine power. The mantra or name may be spoken softly, enough for the practitioner to hear it, or it may be spoken purely within the recitor's mind...

 was practiced silently; and an interfaith community was attempted.

Assault and ensuing expulsion from ISKCON



On October 27, 1985, during a New Vrindaban bricklaying marathon, a crazed and distraught devotee bludgeoned Kirtanananda on the head with a heavy steel tamping tool. Kirtanananda was critically injured and remained in a coma for ten days. Gradually he recovered most of his faculties, although devotees who knew him well said that his personality had changed.

Some close associates began leaving the community. On March 16, 1987, during their annual meeting at Mayapur
Mayapur
Mayapur is located on the banks of the Ganges river, at the point of its confluence with the Jalangi, near Navadvip, West Bengal, India, 130 km north of Kolkata...

, India, the ISKCON Governing Body Commission
Governing Body Commission
The Governing Body Commission is the managerial authority of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness . ISKCON's founder, A.C...

 expelled Kirtanananda from the society for "moral and theological deviations". They claimed he had defied ISKCON policies and had claimed to be the sole spiritual heir to Prabhupada's movement. Thirteen members voted for the resolution, two abstained, and one member, Bhakti Tirtha Swami
Bhakti Tirtha Swami
Bhakti Tirtha Swami , also known as Swami Krishnapada, was a leading guru and governing body commissioner of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness . He was the highest-ranking African American in ISKCON...

, voted against the resolution.

Kirtanananda then established his own organization, The Eternal Order of the League of Devotees Worldwide, taking several properties with him. By 1988, New Vrindaban had 13 satellite centers in the United States and Canada, including New Vrindaban. New Vrindaban was excommunicated from ISKCON the same year.

Criminal conviction and imprisonment


In 1990 the US federal government indicted Kirtanananda on five counts of racketeering, six counts of mail fraud, and conspiracy to murder two of his opponents in the Hare Krishna movement (Chakradhari and Sulochan). The government claimed that he had illegally amassed a profit of more than $10.5 million over four years. It also charged that he ordered the killings because the victims had threatened to reveal his sexual abuse
Sexual abuse
Sexual abuse, also referred to as molestation, is the forcing of undesired sexual behavior by one person upon another. When that force is immediate, of short duration, or infrequent, it is called sexual assault. The offender is referred to as a sexual abuser or molester...

 of minors.

On March 29, 1991, Kirtanananda was convicted on nine of the 11 charges (the jury failed to reach a verdict on the murder charges), but the Court of Appeals
Court of Appeals
A court of appeals is an appellate court generally.Court of Appeals may refer to:*Military Court of Appeals *Corte d'Assise d'Appello *Philippine Court of Appeals*High Court of Appeals of Turkey*United States courts of appeals...

, convinced by the expert arguments of defense attorney Alan Morton Dershowitz (a criminal law
Criminal law
Criminal law, is the body of law that relates to crime. It might be defined as the body of rules that defines conduct that is not allowed because it is held to threaten, harm or endanger the safety and welfare of people, and that sets out the punishment to be imposed on people who do not obey...

 professor at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 who represented such celebrated and wealthy clients as Claus von Bülow
Claus von Bülow
Claus von Bülow is a British socialite of German and Danish ancestry. He was accused of the attempted murder of his wife Sunny von Bülow by administering an insulin overdose in 1980 but his conviction in the first trial was reversed and he was found not guilty in both his retrials.-Biography:Born...

, Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson
Michael Gerard "Mike" Tyson is a retired American boxer. Tyson is a former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world and holds the record as the youngest boxer to win the WBC, WBA and IBF world heavyweight titles, he was 20 years, 4 months and 22 days old...

 and O. J. Simpson
O. J. Simpson
Orenthal James "O. J." Simpson , nicknamed "The Juice", is a retired American collegiate and professional football player, football broadcaster, and actor...

), threw out the convictions, saying that child molestation evidence had unfairly prejudiced the jury
Jury
A jury is a sworn body of people convened to render an impartial verdict officially submitted to them by a court, or to set a penalty or judgment. Modern juries tend to be found in courts to ascertain the guilt, or lack thereof, in a crime. In Anglophone jurisdictions, the verdict may be guilty,...

 against Kirtanananda, who was not charged with those crimes. On August 16, 1993, he was released from house arrest
House arrest
In justice and law, house arrest is a measure by which a person is confined by the authorities to his or her residence. Travel is usually restricted, if allowed at all...

 in a rented apartment in the Warwood neighborhood of Wheeling
Wheeling, West Virginia
Wheeling is a city in Ohio and Marshall counties in the U.S. state of West Virginia; it is the county seat of Ohio County. Wheeling is the principal city of the Wheeling Metropolitan Statistical Area...

, where he had lived for nearly two years, and returned triumphantly to New Vrindaban.

Kirtanananda lost his iron grip on the community after the September 1993 "Winnebago Incident" during which he was accidentally discovered in a compromising position with a young male Malaysian disciple in the back of a Winnebago van, and the community split into two camps: those who still supported Kirtanananda and those who challenged his leadership. During this time he retired to his rural retreat at "Silent Mountain" near Littleton, West Virginia
Littleton, West Virginia
Littleton is an unincorporated census-designated place in Wetzel County, West Virginia, United States. The population was 198 at the 2010 census...

.

The challengers eventually ousted Kirtanananda and his supporters completely, and ended the "interfaith era" in July 1994 by returning the temple worship services to the standard Indian style advocated by Swami Prabhupada and practiced throughout ISKCON. Most of Kirtanananda's followers left New Vrindaban and moved to the Radha Muralidhar Temple in New York City, which remained under Kirtanananda's control. New Vrindaban returned to ISKCON in 1998.

In 1996, before Kirtanananda's retrial was completed, he pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering (mail fraud). He was sentenced to 20 years in prison but was released on June 16, 2004.

On September 10, 2000, the ISKCON Child Protection Office concluded a 17-month investigation and determined that Kirtanananda had molested two boys. He was prohibited from visiting any ISKCON properties for five years and offered conditions for reinstatement within ISKCON:
  1. He must contribute at least $10,000 to an organization dedicated to serving Vaishnava youth, such as Children of Krishna, the Association for the Protection of Vaishnava Children, or a gurukula approved by the APVC.
  2. He must write apology letters to all the victims described in this letter. In these letters he must fully acknowledge his transgressions of child abuse, and he must take full responsibility for those actions. Also, he must express appropriate remorse, and offer to make amends to the victims. These letters should be sent to the APVC, not directly to the victims.
  3. He must undergo a psychological evaluation
    Psychological evaluation
    A psychological evaluation or mental examination is an examination into a person's mental health by a mental health professional such as a psychologist. A psychological evaluation may result in a diagnosis of a mental illness...

     by a mental health professional pre-approved by the APVC, and he must comply with recommendations for ongoing therapy described in the evaluation report and by the APVC.
  4. He must fully comply with all governmental investigations into misconduct on his part.


Kirtanananda never satisfied any of these conditions.

After imprisonment



For four years after his release from prison, Kirtanananda (now confined to a wheelchair) resided at the Radha Murlidhara Temple at 25 First Avenue in New York City, which was purchased in 1990 for $500,000 and maintained by a small number of disciples and followers, although the temple board later attempted to evict him.

On March 7, 2008, Kirtanananda left the United States for India, where he expected to remain for the rest of his life. “There is no sense in staying where I’m not wanted,” he explained, referring to the desertions through the years by most of his American disciples and to the attempts to evict him from the building. At the time of his death Kirtanananda still had a significant number of loyal disciples in India and Pakistan, who worshiped him as "guru" and published his last books. He continued preaching a message of interfaith: that the God of the Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Vaishnavas is the same; and that men of faith from each religion should recognize and appreciate the faith of men of other paths. "Fundamentalism is one of the most dangerous belief-systems in the world today. Fundamentalism doesn’t promote unity; it causes separatism. It creates enmity between people of faith. Look at the Muslims; Mohammed never intended that his followers should spread their religion by the sword. It is more important today than at any other time to preach about the unity of all religions."

Death


Kirtanananda died on October 24, 2011 at a hospital in Thane
Thane
Thane , is a city in Maharashtra, India, part of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, northeastern suburb of Mumbai at the head of the Thane Creek. It is the administrative headquarters of Thane district. On 16 April 1853, G.I.P...

, near Mumbai, India, aged 74. His brother, Gerald Ham, reported the cause of death to be kidney failure.

External links