Leading up to the appearance of the original child protector – Lord Nrsimhadeva, this is the perfect time of the year to focus on the Lord as the protector and ourselves as His instruments.
This month ISKCON’s Child Protection Office is sharing child abuse prevention and response resources via newsletters and daily Facebook postings. This is a time to feel encouraged to share information and insights on child protection from all points of view – scriptural, legal, ecclesiastic, personal, and social. Did you realize that child abuse is an epidemic that affects most people’s lives?
Behaviors and beliefs are passed from one generation to the next until an effort is made to change those behaviors or beliefs. Child abuse and neglect are the same. When such behaviors are normalized in a person’s upbringing, they may perpetuate that behavior in others. One person’s abusive behavior can have an exponential impact on the lives of many.
When our eyes are opened with the torchlight of knowledge, we can see what is right in front of us. There are numerous ways to gain an understanding of child abuse, from books and classes to seminars and groups. Being a safe person for someone you know to disclose their experiences to is a gift for both parties – you learn; they have the opportunity to feel heard and understood.
When we educate ourselves on what healthy behavior is, we can stop the cycle of abuse and build a cycle of love and respect. When we make room for open dialog and accountability to deal with problems as they arise, we save everyone a lot of trouble down the road.
“The protection of children gives the human form of life its best chance to prepare the way of liberty from material bondage.” His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Srimad Bhagavatam 1.8.5 Purport
Govinda dasi recounts: “Before they went to London to open a temple, Malati and her husband, Shyamasundar, Yamuna and Gurudas, and Janaki and Mukunda flew from San Francisco to Montreal to see Srila Prabhupada. Malati’s new baby, Saraswati, was also with them. When Malati danced in kirtan, Saraswati was on her hip with legs and arms flopping. When those devotees came to see Srila Prabhupada, Srila Prabhupada took little Saraswati, held her up over his head, and said, “Do you remember me? I am your old friend.”
“On many occasions, Srila Prabhupada indicated that these children were special. By Srila Prabhupada’s request, they had been brought from higher dimensions to spread Lord Chaitanya’s mission. One of the most important things we can do is to let the children know how much Srila Prabhupada counts on them; how much he cares about them; and how important they are to him. Whatever has happened is unfortunate. Srila Prabhupada loved the children and wanted to teach them everything. Many years later, I was in Dallas when Prabhupada was giving lectures about teaching the children not with a heavy hand but with love, disciplining them only with love. If you love them, they will respond, they will want to do things properly.” Reference: Memories Anecdotes of a Modern-Day Saint – Volume 3 by Siddhanta Dasa
In a letter on July 30, 1972, Srila Prabhupada stated, “These children are given to us by Krishna, they are Vaisnavas and we must be very careful to protect them. These are not ordinary children, they are Vaikuntha children, and we are very fortunate we can give them chance to advance further in Krishna Consciousness. That is very great responsibility, do not neglect it or be confused. Your duty is very clear.”
Every day through chanting Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare we are glorifying the Lord and asking Him to use us as His instrument. Bhagavad Gita 4.8 reveals the three reasons that Krishna advents which include protecting His devotees. As His instruments, let us work together to ensure that Lord Chaitanya’s sankirtan movement is a safe place for children to take birth and be raised with love.
Be part of the solution to ending abuse. Learn more about how to identify, prevent and respond to child abuse. Understanding the long-term impacts of child abuse on individuals and society allows us to make safer, healthier choices today.
Ask your temple/center to schedule a Sunday feast class on the theme of child protection. From Srimad Bhagavatam to Srila Prabhupada’s personal example, there are many verses and vignettes that highlight the protection of children as a priority in Krishna consciousness.
For more information, see the Facebook page – Child Protection Office
To support child protection in ISKCON visit https://www.safetemple.org/support/
Sep 25, 2022
Archbishop Eric Escala, Continuing Anglican Church
Sep 24, 2022
Sunanda Das, Temple of the Vedic Planetarium