ISKCON & the GBC–What Did Srila Prabhupada Want?
Instead of aiming at following Srila Prabhupada’s clear orders on GBC management, the GBC Reform Conference is still trying to artificially prop up a dictatorial body of disciples trying to take the position of diksa-gurus, which is none other than the same guru-aparadha power structure that has been mismanaging ISKCON since 1970.
The problem with the GBC Reform Conference proposals is that it still aims at ignoring/minimizing Srila Prabhupada’s very clear GBC management instructions (1970 Direction of Managment for the GBC) which constitutes the most severe offense of guru-aparadha (one of the 10 offenses to the holy name). Therefore their proposals are defective, misconceived, and self-defeating from start to finish being based on mental speculation.
Their misconception is even openly stated in their proposal as follows: “Our proposal is intended to preserve the integrity of the sannyasis and diksa gurus. A healthy ISKCON needs healthy sannyasis and diksa gurus who are not overburdened by duties that are not the sva-dharma of sannyasis and diksa gurus.”
Therefore instead of aiming at following Srila Prabhupada’s clear orders on GBC management, the GBC Reform Conference is still trying to artificially prop up a dictatorial body of disciples trying to take the position of diksa-gurus, which is none other than the same guru-aparadha power structure that has been mismanaging ISKCON since 1970. They are not willing to come to grips with Srila Prabhupada’s check and balance of GBC power in his DOM against the local temple president and congregation. The unauthorized diksa-gurus and their puppet GBC do not want to give up their absolute political power and control over ISKCON members. They simply want to imitate and usurp Srila Prabhupada’s authority.
Gupta Prabhu’s Comments [to Nara Narayana Prabhu]:
I read your letter to Sri Rama prabhu regarding reformation of the GBC and the Direction of Management (DOM) and applaud your insight as well as your delivery. Although I do not agree with all of your observations, the basic points you make are solid. It should be obvious that the intent of the Founder must be at the core of any effort to reform the GBC. His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is, after all, the Founder and the Acarya of ISKCON and will ever remain so.
Clearly, one of the most important principles garnered from the BBT litigation, by which the California copyright trust was revalidated at great expense to all parties concerned, was to maintain strict fidelity to the Founder/ Acarya’s original plan for the legal structure of the BBT. Apparently, a resolution being entertained this month at the Mayapur meetings is to formally acknowledge the legal distinction which has always existed between the BBT and ISKCON — a distinction Srila Prabhupada originally intended and which the California BBT litigation accomplished.
The same principle of looking to the Founder’s intention should now be directly applied to the issue of reformation of the GBC, as you pointed out in your letter to Sri Rama prabhu. Those who argue inapposite to this principle should studiously consider the result of the BBT case if they intend to renew, in effect, the similarly flawed argument that Srila Prabhupada’s DOM should not be the basis for reforming or constituting the GBC.
We need to ask what Srila Prabhupada wanted done, what were his intentions, what were his directives, in essence, what was his plan for his Society. Once determined, the focus should then be how best to implement the directives of the Founder rather than focus on how to craft a seemingly more efficient, more modern or more creative plan. Certainly, ISKCON would best be served in all circumstances by faithfully following the clear instructions of its Founder and Acarya.
Conversely, the tendency to make changes to Srila Prabhupada’s instructions in whatever form is problematic, as anyone who has objectively witnessed ISKCON over the past two decades can attest. Those who presently express confidence in a process of electing or reforming the GBC which is substantively different than the process set out in the DOM may want to reconsider their views in this light.
Accordingly, I concur with your conclusion regarding the significance of the DOM, a document arguably as weighty as the original California trust document which established the BBT as separate and distinct from ISKCON. As to the intertwined GBC reformation issue, it follows that we should look to Srila Prabhupada’s intention as regards the management of ISKCON and as memorialized in the Direction of Management, the document which he personally authored on July 28, 1970.
DIRECTION OF MANAGEMENT (1970)
INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS, INCORPORATED
HIS DIVINE GRACE A.C. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI PRABHUPADA
DIRECTION OF MANAGEMENT
I, the undersigned, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, disciple of Om Visnupad Paramhansa 108 Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaj Prabhupada, came in the United States in 1965 on September 18th for the purpose of starting Krishna Consciousness Movement. For one year I had no shelter. I was travelling in many parts of this country. Then in 1966, July, I incorporated the Society under the name and style the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, briefly ISKCON. The lawyer was Mr. J. Goldsmith. Gradually the Society increased, and one after another branches were opened. Now we have got thirty-four (34) branches enlisted herewith:
- Amsterdam, Holland
- Atlanta, Georgia………1476 Oxford Rd. N.E. 30322
- Baltimore, Maryland………1300 N. Calvert St.
- Berkeley, California………2710 Durant Avenue 94704
- Berlin, West Germany
- Boston, Massachusetts…… 40 N. Beacon St. 02134
- Boulder, Colorado………623 Concord St.
- Buffalo, New York………40 Englewood Ave. 14214
- Chicago, Illinois………2210 N. Halstead St.
- Detroit, Michigan………74 West Forest St. 48201
- Edinburgh, Scotland, U.K.
- Hamburg, West Germany……2000 Hamburg 6, Bartelstrasse 65
- Honolulu, Hawaii………2016 McKinley St. 96822
- Laguna Beach, California……130 Woodland Drive 92651
- London, England………7 Bury Place, Bloomsbury, W..C. 1
- Los Angeles, California……3764 Watseka Ave. 90034
- Montreal, Canada………3720 Park Ave.
- New Vrndavana, W. Virginia…RD 3 Moundsville 26041
- New York City, New York…… 61 Second Ave. 10003
- Paris, France…………c/o Serge Elbeze, BO 113 Paris 14
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania……416 South 10th St. 19147
- Provincetown, Massachusetts…104 Bradford St.
- San Diego, California……3689 Park Blvd.
- San Francisco, California……618 Frederick St. 94117
- San Jose, California………70 Hawthorne Way
- Santa Barbara, California ……6654 del Playa, Goleta 93017
- Seattle, Washington………n5516 Roosevelt Way N.E. 98105
- St. Louis, Missouri………4544 LaClede Ave. 63110
- Sydney, Australia………298 Birrell St. Bondi, N.S.W. 2026
- Tokyo, Japan…………6-16, 2 Chome Ohhashi, Meguro-Ku
- Toronto, Canada………40 Beverly St., Ontario
- Vancouver, Canada………260 Raymur St., No. 305, B.C.
- Washington, D.C……….2015 Q Street N.W. 20009
As we have increased our volume of activities, now I think a Governing Body Commission (hereinafter referred to as the GBC) should be established. I am getting old, 75 years old, therefore at any time I may be out of the scene, therefore I think it is necessary to give instruction to my disciples how they shall manage the whole institution. They are already managing individual centers represented by one president, one secretary and one treasurer, and in my opinion they are doing nice. But we want still more improvement in the standard of Temple management, propaganda for Krishna Consciousness, distribution of books and literatures, opening of new centers and educating devotees to the right standard. Therefore, I have decided to adopt the following principles and I hope my beloved disciples will kindly accept them. There was a meeting in San Francisco during the Ratha Yatra festival 1970 and many presidents of the centers were present. In that meeting it was resolved that an ad hoc committee be set up to form the constitution which is taken into consideration. My duty was to first appoint twelve (12) persons to my free choice amongst my disciples and I do it now and their names are as follows:
- Sriman Rupanuga Das Adhikary
- Sriman Bhagavandas Adhikary
- Sriman Syamsundar Das Adhikary
- Sriman Satsvarupa Das Adhikary
- Sriman Karandhar Das Adhikary
- Sriman Hansadutta Das Adhikary
- Sriman Tamala Krsna Das Adhikary
- Sriman Sudama Das Adhikary
- Sriman Bali Mardan Das Brahmacary
- Sriman Jagadisa Das Adhikary
- Sriman Hayagriva Das Adhikary
- Sriman Krsnadas Adhikary
These personalities are now considered as my direct representatives. While I am living they will act as my zonal secretaries and after my demise they will be known as Executors.
I have already awarded Sannyas or the renounced order of life to some of my students and they have also got very important duties to perform in this connection. The Sannyasis will travel to our different centers for preaching purpose as well as enlightening the members of the center for spiritual advancement. The Sannyasis will suggest for opening new centers in suitable places and the GBC will take action on it.
As was stipulated by the ad hoc committee, the function of the GBC will be as follows with particulars:
PARTICULARS OF THE GOVERNING BODY COMMISSION
“The purpose of the Governing Body Commission is to act as the instrument for the execution of the Will of His Divine Grace. And further,
1. The GBC oversees all operations and management of ISKCON, as it receives direction from Srila Prabhupada and His Divine Grace has the final approval in all matters.
2. His Divine Grace will select the initial 12 members of the GBC. In the succeeding years the GBC will be elected by a vote of all Temple presidents who will vote for 8 from a ballot of all Temple presidents, which may also include any secretary who is in charge of a Temple. Those 8 with the greatest number of votes will be members for the next term of GBC. Srila Prabhupada will choose to retain four commissioners. In the event of Srila Prabhupada’s absence, the retiring members will decide which four will remain.
3. The commissioners will serve for a period of 3 years, and they may be re-elected at the end of this period.
4. The chairman is elected by the GBC for each meeting. He has no veto power, but in even of a vote tie, his vote will decide. The same will apply for votes cast by mail between regular meetings.
5. Throughout the year, each of the commissioners will stay with His Divine Grace for one month at a time and keep the other commissioners informed of His Divine Grace’s instructions.
6. The primary objective of the GBC is to organize the opening of new Temples and to maintain the established Temples.
7. Advice will be given by the GBC in cases of real property purchases, which will be in the name of ISKCON, INC. (Trucks or other vehicles will be purchased in the name of the local president).
8. Removal of a Temple president by the GBC requires support by the local Temple members.
9. The GBC has no jurisdiction in the publication of manuscripts, which will be handled by a separate committee; profits to be returned to Srila Prabhupada.”
So far my books are concerned, I am setting up a different body of management known as the BHAKTIVEDANTA BOOK TRUST. The trustees of this body are also members of the GBC, but their function is not dependent on the GBC.
ISKCON Press was created for the exclusive publication of my books and literatures and should be continued in that way.
During my absence no one shall live in my apartment.
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
Date July 28th 1970
(Robert F. Corens)
Rupanuga das Adhikary
(William R. Ehrlichman)
Bhagavan das Adhikary
(Kelly Gifford Smith)
Karandhar das Adhikary
Date July 28th, 1970
At the World Head Quarters
3764, Watseka Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90034
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada