In this essay, we review the Management Committees’ mediation process.
To recap, during the Saturday night Satsang program in late 2014 a senior Management Committee member surprised the gathering crowd by announcing that there had been “allegations of a sexual nature made against Swamiji”, and made a verbal commitment to the community that the Management Committee would conduct a thorough investigation into the allegations.
Just several days after making this statement, they posted their now infamous “Letter to the Community” (seen here) in which they claimed that Swami Shankarananda had been engaged in secret tantric practices “in line with age-old Hindu Tantric scriptures”.
This caused consternation and outrage in the community.
Shortly following this, another letter was sent out by the Management Committee which offered to enlist the services of an external mediator to resolve the matter, which many people in the community felt was extremely premature as the promised investigation hadn’t been completed (or even started as far as anyone knew). This post dated 13th Jan 2015 outlined some of the concerns that the community had regarding this at the time.
The Management Committee chose to ignore the raised concerns and proceeded with the Mediation process regardless, fueling further mistrust within the community. Shortly afterwards they sent out the following invite to the community via email (we include it in its entirety here :
The Management Committee stated in this invitation that the purpose of the offered mediation was “for the benefit of the Ashram community”, yet they subsequently chose to keep all of the information gathered during the process to themselves. Even people who participated in mediation were not allowed to know what the Mediators Report contained, or how the information they had provided had been worded or expressed.
Excerpts from the Mediator’s Report:
The mediator himself was quick to identify the trust issues with the Management Committee and reported to them that participation in the process was lacking as a result:
“Fishing, or a fact-finding mission…”
“Attacks from the board…”
“Perception of reprisals…”
The following two recommendations by the mediator on how to resolve the lack of trust issues were subsequently ignored by the Management Committee:
“Swamiji has the ultimate power…”
This review of the mediation process will continue in the next post…