Russell Brand, the British comedian, activist, You-tuber, writer and a friend of the devotees of Krishna has been accused of rape, coercive control, sexual assault and emotional abuse by four anonymous women. How weird. The mainstream media is flooded with articles about this as though it was the most important topic in the universe. Russell responded by a video on his Youtube channel and denied the accusations. He said: "One [of the allegations is] from a mainstream media TV company, one from a newspaper listing a litany of extremely egregious and aggressive attacks, as well as some pretty stupid stuff like community festival should be stopped, that I shouldn't be able to attack mainstream media narratives on this channel. But amidst this litany of astonishing rather baroque attacks, often very serious allegations that I absolutely refute.
These allegations pertain to the time when I was working in the mainstream, when I was in the newspapers all the time, when I was in the movies, and as I've written about extensively in my books, I was very, very promiscuous. Now, during that time of promiscuity, the relationships I had were absolutely always consensual. I was always transparent about that. Then almost too transparent, and I'm being transparent about it now as well. And to see that transparency metastasized into something criminal that I absolutely deny makes me question, is there another agenda at play? Particularly when we've seen coordinated media attacks before, like with Joe Rogan, when he dared to take a medicine that the mainstream media didn't approve of, and we saw a spate of headlines from media outlets across the world using the same language."
He continued: "I'm aware that you guys have been saying in the comments for a while, ‘Watch out, Russell. They're coming from you. You're getting too close to the truth. Russell Brand did not kill himself.’ I know that a year ago there was a spate of articles – ‘Russell Brand’s a conspiracy theorist, Russell Brand’s right wing,’ I'm aware of news media making phone calls, sending letters to people I know for ages and ages. It's been clear to me, or at least it feels to me like there's a serious and concerted agenda to control these kind of spaces and these kinds of voices. And I mean, my voice along with your voice. I don't mind them using my books and my standout to talk about my promiscuous consensual conduct in the past. What I seriously refute are these very, very serious criminal allegations. Also, it's worth mentioning that there are witnesses whose evidence directly contradicts the narrative that these two mainstream media outlets are trying to construct, apparently, in what seems to me to be a coordinated attack." Of course, it is hard to say if Russell did this or not. Only Krishna knows this and people can only depend on their imperfect senses and imperfect minds to make a conclusion. For the most part, they can only speculate. As Krishna conscious devotees we not only condemn rape but we condemn illicit sex life altogether. Living a promiscuous lifestyle is a sure path to degradation of consciousness and degradation of the society. As Sri Arjuna famously states in the Bhagavad-gita:
"When irreligion is prominent in the family, O Krsna, the women of the family become polluted, and from the degradation of womanhood, O descendant of Vrsni, comes unwanted progeny. An increase of unwanted population certainly causes hellish life both for the family and for those who destroy the family tradition. The ancestors of such corrupt families fall down, because the performances for offering them food and water are entirely stopped." (Bg 1.40-41)
As Russell many times stated himself, due to lack of spiritual culture, people feel emotional and psychological emptiness and therefore take shelter of extreme sense gratification with the hopes of filling up the "hole" in their hearts. However, just like pouring oil to the fire simply increases the flames, the over sense gratification simply increases the feeling of existential emptiness. For this reason, it is recommended by the sastra to refrain from sense gratification and aim for a higher purpose of self-realization. If there is an itch troubling us, it is better to tolerate and wait until the itch stops. By scratching the itch, itching increases.
Russell Brand has had a heavy past of drug and sex addiction, but he has changed his ways many years ago and engages himself now in philanthropic activities with the idea of helping the general mass of people. He also has interest in spiritual life, meditation, yoga, veganism, etc. He has become a well-wisher of the devotees of Krishna, attended several programs devotees hold in Krishna conscious temples, stated that "Srila Prabhupada is a messiah" and even met with the BLISS devotees (check the article in Matchless Gift #2). So we must congratulate this man to his great accomplishment of finding light in the darkness. He is certainly pious in many ways and the perfect candidate to study Krishna consciousness on a deeper level under the guidance of a real spiritual master. It seems that the heavy past is catching up with him unfortunately and we pray that he resolves this and continues on his path towards enlightenment. Perhaps Krishna is reinforcing in him the idea that illicit sex life is a dangerous pitfall and the root trouble of material existence and that it should not be glorified in any shape or form. Srila Prabhupada states: "Actually everyone is suffering within this material world due to ignorance. Every day we see that a person without knowledge commits some criminal act and is later arrested and punished, despite the fact that he actually may not have been conscious of his sinful activity. Such ignorance prevails throughout the world. People do not consider how they are risking their lives in an attempt to have illicit sex life, kill animals to satisfy their tongue, enjoy intoxication and gamble. It is very regrettable that the leaders of the world do not know of the effects of these sinful activities. They are instead taking things very easily and are succeeding in making the ocean of nescience wider and wider...This Krsna consciousness movement is determined to open wide the eyes of the so-called leaders, who are full of ignorance, and thus save them from the many pitfalls and dangerous conditions of life. The greatest danger is the danger of getting a body lower than that of a human being. It was with great difficulty that we attained this human form of life just to take advantage of this body and reestablish our relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Govinda." (SB 4.24.75)
Since Russell has also been involved in politics and has been criticizing the powerful of the world, it is indeed quite possible that what we see today in this media coverage of these four women accusing him of rape, is nothing less than a political witch hunt. It is the nature of the material world that conditioned souls are fighting with each other over the resources of material nature and sometimes resort to envious practices, such as defamation or slander, just to silence their enemies. In fact, every single conditioned soul is engaged in what Srila Prabhupada calls "the survival of the fittest". Yet, fighting such so-called enemies, one still does not understand that this material existence is not our real home. The Srimad Bhagavatam states: "Sometimes the conditioned soul in household life, being attached to material wealth and possessions, is disturbed by envious men who are like gadflies and mosquitoes, and sometimes he is troubled by thieves who are like locusts, birds of prey and rats. Nonetheless, he still wanders down the path of material existence. Due to ignorance he becomes lusty and engages in fruitive activity. Because his mind is absorbed in these activities, he sees the material world as permanent, although it is temporary like a phantasmagoria, a house in the sky." (SB 5.14.5) In this connection, we are reminded of Srila Prabhupada's letter to Mahatma Gandhi where he urges Gandhi to give up politics and preach the Bhagavad-gita. Srila Prabhupada addresses Gandhi as follows: "I tell you as a sincere friend that you must immediately retire from active politics if you do not desire to die an inglorious death. You have 125 years to live as you have desired to live but you if you die an inglorious death it is no worth. The honour and prestige that you have obtained during the course of you present life time, were not possible to be obtained by any one else within the living memory. But you must know that all these honours and prestiges were false in as much as they were created by the Illusory Energy of Godhead called the maya. By this falsity I do not mean to say that your so many friends were false to you nor you were false to them. By this falsity I mean illusion or in other words the false friendship and honours obtained thereby were but creation of maya and therefore they are always temporary or false as you may call it. But none of you neither your friends nor yourself knew this truth.
Now by the Grace of God that illusion is going to be cleared and thus your faithful friends like Acarya Kripalini and others are accusing you for your inability at the present moment to give them any practical programme of work as you happened to give them during your glorious days of non-co-operation movement. So you are also in a plight to find out a proper solution for the present political tangle created by your opponents. You should therefore take a note of warning from your insignificant friend like me, that unless you retire timely from politics and engage yourself cent per cent in the preaching work of Bhagavad-gita, which is the real function of the Mahatmas, you shall have to meet with such inglorious deaths as Mussolini, Hitlers, Tojos, Churchills or Lloyd Georges met with." (Letter to: Mahatma Gandhi -- Cawnpore 12 July, 1947) We admire Russell's great sense for justice, equality, honesty and love for freedom, however, dealing with political questions can be resolved only through political avenues, namely through force and power struggle. It is impractical to be non-violent when fighting a war with legally powerful entities. And even if we could achieve the ideals of democratic free-thinking society through such means, unless the hearts of people are changed, all political structures and schemes will end up exploited by the powerful and evil sooner or later because that is the function of matter -it deteriorates. For this reason, Srila Prabhupada has started the sankirtana movement all around the world. This is the all-powerful solution to the world's problems. People's hearts should be purified by the chanting of the holy name of Krishna. If the heart is purified, naturally all the qualities develop in due course of time. The difficulty with mundane philanthropy is that it only deals with the external covering of the spirit soul, namely the material body. No one can be satisfied on the material platform of the bodily covering, just as no one can be satisfied by eating foodstuff with cloth covering the taste buds on his tongue.
We therefore pray that the accusations made against our dear Russell are proved to be wrong and he then joins us for a blissful kirtan. Such a pious, intelligent and good-hearted man will find great solace in the teachings of Srila Prabhupada, something that mundane philanthropy can never replace.