Kirtanananda Swami Leaves US, Moves To India Permanently

By Hrishikesh dasa (Henry Doktorski)


Friday, March 7, 2008, New York City: Today Kirtanananda Swami left the United States for good and emigrated to India. He said he doesn’t expect to return again. “There is no sense in staying where I’m not wanted,” he explained, obviously referring to the desertions through the years by most of his US disciples and the recent attempts by board members of the Radha-Muralidhara Temple (Interfaith Sanctuary) at 25 First Avenue in New York City to evict him from the building which he purchased in 1992 for $500,000 and has lived in since June 16, 2004, when he was released from the Federal Correctional Institution at Butner, North Carolina, where he finished an eight-year prison term. However, despite his apparent lack of success in the United States, Kirtanananda still has a significant number of loyal disciples in India and Pakistan.

In November 2007 Kirtanananda was discharged from parole, and was allowed to leave the United States. He traveled to India during December 2007 and January 2008, and spent time in Rishikesh, Bombay and Vrindavana, including visits to the ISKCON temples at Juhu Beach and Krishna-Balarama mandir, where he claimed he was invited to speak. “Gopal Krishna has done a wonderful job,” he said. “The Juhu complex has expanded greatly since my last visit many years ago.” Most of his preaching activities during this trip were based in two locations: Rishikesh and Ulhasnagar.

New Madhuban in Rishikesh, located on the banks of the Ganges River at Muni Ki Reti, was established in 1987 by Kirtanananda’s disciple Bhakti-Yoga Swami, and since then has developed into a popular preaching center with the construction of a new temple in classical Indian style designed by M. Mutiah Staphati, a renowned Indian architect. Kirtanananda said, “My room in Rishikesh has stunning views of the Himalayan foothills and the River Ganges.”

Ulhasnagar is a city approximately 60 kilometers (37 miles) northeast of Mumbai (Bombay). Kirtanananda’s ashram–Anand Vrindavan Dham–is managed by his disciple Madhusudan dasa. “The preaching in Ulhasnagar was especially enlivening,” related Kirtanananda. “There must have been 3,000 people at the program, including some ISKCON devotees which I recognized.”

70-year-old Kirtanananda obtained a ten-year visa and plans to spend the rest of his life in India. “I don’t expect to return to the States,” he said.

He will base his activities in Rishikesh and Ulhasnagar, and will also open a new preaching center in Goa. “I expect the preaching in Goa will be excellent,” he said. “It is a beautiful resort town and there are many Western visitors.”

Kirtanananda said he intends to continue 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.”


Disciples in Ulhasnagar have recently published Kirtanananda’s latest book: “Humbler than a Blade of Grass” (Anand Vrindavan Dham: 2008, hardcover, 306 pages), which consists of 154 lessons on humility. Three other books are slated for publication: “The Bible Illumined,” which Srila Prabhupada asked Kirtanananda to write over forty years ago (see letter from Srila Prabhupada to Kirtanananda dated April 7, 1967), “Heart of the Bhagavatam” (a massive book of more than 1600 pages) and “The Life and Times of Lord Chaitanya.”

For a fairly accurate biography of Kirtanananda, see

Photos by Hrishikesh dasa (Henry Doktorski), taken in New York City, March 4, 2008, during an interview with Kirtanananda Swami.

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Reader Comments

Well, as the saying goes, “all good things must end.” And so the circle closes, the cycle completes. Just as Prabhupada came to the West around the age of 70, now Kirtananda returns to India around the same age.

A lot of years under the bridge from one end to the other. Though from eternity’s scale, not even the blink of an eye!

Go in peace. May time heal those who were wronged, bring forgiveness to all where needed. In time, may the champions of orthodoxy find wisdom in your heresy, learning that love of God is as much spirit of the law as it is observing the lot of it.

Certainly all our lives are different because of your presence in it, no matter for how long or short a time it has been, or will be. Hare Krishna.

The six million dollar question: how do we get the book?

When I was visiting him, I noted that all the meditations were blog lengths and suggested he set up a blog and post one a day.

RVC, who is going to India with him, said it was a good idea and KS agreed. They said they would do it when they got to India.

So the possibility exists you might be able to read it online eventually.

If not, you would have to do some detective work and figure out how to contact Hrishikesh temple.

Kirtanananda Swami’s new book “Humbler than a Blade of Grass” can be purchased from my eBay Store. See Limited number of copies available.

Sincerely your servant,

Hrishikesh dasa (Henry Doktorski)

Here goes Kirtananda off to retire peacefully in India on money earned by the blood, sweat, tears and bones of so many.. the cycle isn’t complete-give me a break!! The damage his regime inflicted is reverberating in my generation as we speak! Don’t speak any flowery language to me-it is an insult. Iskcon was sued because of leaders like him who manipulated people for their own agenda. The cycle will be complete when he is suffering his sins in hell along with Hitler. I credit all the dysfunction NV is currently experiencing with him. It would have been a beautiful Vrndavana ideal if he had been out of the picture.

Transgressions. Who is not guilty, let him cast… The child is ever indebted to the parents. Even if the parents are transgressors. After all the existence of the child is nonexistent without the parents.

Whatever good things New Vrndaban is, was, and will be cannot be separated from Kirtanananda (title is readers choice). Contrasted with all the unfortunate sores of purification, which goes on for long long time, and can be embarrassingly painful for all involved parties.

I wish anyone pained and unable to see Krsna’s hand in the history of New Vrndaban, some clarity of understanding. As I hope Kirtanananda is sitting at the lotus feet of Krsna and Guru when I get there. I’ll thank him, for many wonderful experiences in the process of getting back to Krsna.

Kirtananda Das told me back in 1983 that that it is not that I don’t like India, I don’t like Indians. I hope his equal vision develops so he can see all people as part and parcel of Krishna. After all India is full of Indians.

It is shamfull that we even recognise Kirtananda’s name as he was once Guru in ISKCON it has brought shame on the memory of Prabhupadas Movement as Im now Nearly 60 this month I have seen so many Fall Downs but this is to me the worst his whole Movement is built on hipocracy what is the GBC views on his Disciples do they have membership of ISKCON as it is right we should encourage them to have one of Prabhupadas recognised Gurus not a Fallen Soul

In response to Sundarakar’s comment:
“cannot be seperated from Kirtananda”- In my belief it was the sincerity and commitment to Srila Prabhupada’s vision that kept so many devotees going despite the mental and physical hardships inflicted by Kirtananda. To think that New Vrindaban could not have been anything without him-I wholeheartedlyl disagree. If he propelled anything it was fanaticism to his ideas and subjugation to his whims.
While it is positive thinking for an individual to see that every difficulty in life and everyone that wronged us was actually an oppurtunity for us to grow-this is not a thought process that should be forced or even suggested upon those who were wronged. It gives way to excusing and justifying what happened in those most callous of words-“it was your karma prabhu”. It is a very neophyte understanding of the philosophy that has alienated and added insult to injury upon the children, women and families who were purposefully neglected, abused and torn apart. As one friend of mine said to an abuser that threw this in his face when confronted “so it’s just your karma if I came with a gun and shot your family?” Karma is a complex subject that even as devotees we cannot claim to fully understand the detailed workings of. The leader’s duty was to ensure a stable, safe environment for the protection of the women, children, families etc. By not doing so he wound himself in the web of karma for allowing directly or indirectly those damaging actions to take place.
We are always instructed that to chant the Holy Names with the intention that we can commit offenses and still be cleansed is actually the greatest of all offenses. It is my belief that the greatest of all offenses in the name of karma came when egocentric so called spiritualist had their way in the name of karma. Their karmic reaction is greater than those who would have done such things without the justification of karma. In closing here is an excerpt from Many Mansions: The Edgar Cayce story on Reincarnation (Edgar Cayce was a Christian who was given the gift to see past lives of individuals and has detailed the workings of karmic action and reaction).
“it sometimes happens that a birth injury or a injury later in life is purely accidental in the sense that it has no intrinsic relation to causes set up by the individual himself…(child’s blindness)..Yes.What a sad condition. And not a result of karma, but an accident, or a lack of proper precaution in cleanliness…(re: mental abnormality in child)…This is a bungle of the doctor, not of the soul-entity.Someone must eventually pay much for this..”

While I try to wish ill of no living entity–including Keith Ham–would I cross the street to avoid him?

Yes I would. But if I ever did meet him I would have only one thing to say.

Sincerity is more important than celibacy, what to speak of phony celibacy.

Ham was and is a phony.

Good riddance…I hope he eventually realize the pain and suffering he caused my generation. I was born and raised and New Vrindavan, and suffered mightly under his regime. My lack of religiosity can be attributed directly to the forced adherence to a sect that I now detest. If Hare Krishna devotees want to follow hinduism, leave ISKCON and join a mainstream hindu temple. ISKCON is nothing but a cult run by Megalomaniacal power hungry sycophants, essentially not much different from Kirtananda (AKA Keith Ham). Those that come on this website damning Keith Ham should no look no further than their own temple president and guru for comparison.

In kaliyuga It is most likely that A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada was the only person who opened all the ISKCON centres worldwide ONLy for the Love of KRISHNA and to serve the people of KRISHNA to take them to Back To God head.

However, another option is to pick the good from these centres and pursue your own path. Guru will come automatically.
In partial agreement with Rich.

His Divine Grace Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada is a real pure devotee and acharya.

To Rich: He did not acknowledge the harm he had caused when he was living in NV. I doubt that now, after a traumatic brain injury and possible onset of senility, he will.

Spirituality and organized religion are not the same thing. You have rejected one, but that does not mean that you cannot have the other.

There is NO statute of limitation on felonies in West Virginia. Anyone who wishes to lodge a criminal complaint against a person who caused them felony abuse/bodily injury during their residence in New Vrindaban can contact the West Virginia State Police in Moundsville.

If you are not sure what constitutes felony abuse or injury, they can tell you.

W. Va. Code §55-2-15. West Virginia has not adopted any special bright-line rules for childhood sexual abuse (CSA) cases. A victim who was a minor at the time of the sexual abuse, must file: 1) within two years he/she has attained age of majority and 2) within twenty years of date of wrongful act and injury.

I believe that code speaks of the filing of a civil lawsuit, not a criminal case. They are two different things.

That is the criminal code.

I am not sure if statute of limitations apply in civil cases.

I think a part of the healing process is letting go of our own hatred. Kirtanananda Swami paid the debt the courts deemed he owed society. Krsna will take care of anything else, if there is anything else. We should simply commend him to God and maintain our own peace of mind rather than the constant rehash of wrongdoings.

“A clear understanding of the past ought not to lead to a general and permanent sense of guilt for generations to come, but it does carry the obligation of vigilance. . . .
When history eventually clarifies memory, this has to be the best antidote to . . . the recurrence of delusions.”

—Berndt Freytag von Loringhoven,
from the book
“In The Bunker With Hitler”

Bhaktipada was the physical messenger; the instrument why new vrindaban now exists…now you stop digging the past and continue preaching krishna conciousness just like what Bhaktipada is doing…STOP WHINING…and speak here as if you’re clean…no, you’re not…losers…

If everyone accepts his present realisations & teaching: “THANK YOU KRISHNA FOR NOW AS IT IS & ASKING KRISHNA FOR INTELLIGENCE: HOW TO USE NOW, AS IT IS FOR HIS SERVICE & PLEASURE.” I am sure Lord Krishna will definately guide all of us to perfection & surrender!

Keith brought a lot of baggage with him when he first met A.C.B. in New York. He was also past 30 years of age at that time. Much of his mind-set was already in place. He has lived his life with that psychology and he was set in his ways.

It is very difficult to live a life in the flesh. Krsna is well aware of this fact.

Yes, I would cross the street to meet Keith and speak with him. After all, he is one of the human race as we all are. Who is perfect. Let the perfect cast the first stone.

Is there redemption for him? Yes, as there is for all.

Devak Ananda Das

When I hear my parents speak about some of the systems in place during our time in New Vrindavan (’85-’00) I’m amazed: it sounds like communist China! I was open to meeting Kirtanananda – cross the street, so to speak – and reach some kind of closure… after all, he did give me my name. But when I met him last year at a Narayan Maharaj festival, let me just say that I agree with Rama Lila. I am disgusted to think he will still be preaching, opening centers, taking disciples. Excuse me, can you at LEAST acknowledge the spiritual and emotional shredder you put people through? I understand if you want to pursue Krishna consciousness for yourself, but at least seek forgiveness before starting a REGIME all over again. But as Mudakari said, he didn’t acknowledge this while in New Vrindavan or in jail, and he probably won’t acknowledge this need for forgiveness with a head injury. So if he cannot do so, I plan on forgiving him on my parent’s and sister’s behalf for my own well-being. ‘Resentment is like swallowing poison and hoping the other person will die.’