Krsnacandra Dasa – Vrndavan: “VRINDAVAN, INDIA, Apr 30 (VNN) — On the day of Lord Balaram’s Rasayatra and Lord Krishna’s Vasant Rasa, at a very wonderful ceremony here at Srimad Bhagavatam class in Vrindavan in front of Their Lordships Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, Krishna Balaram, Radha Shyamsundar, and Srila Prabhupada, the new administration was officially installed in Vrindavan.
“First His Holiness Gopal Krishna Goswami who has served for many many years as GBC in Vrindavan read and explained the GBC resolution regarding Vrindavan Management to the assembled devotees. The resolution states that the ultimate management authority of ISKCON Vrindavan will be the Vrindavan Executive Board, initially including HH Radhanatha Swami, HH Gopal Krishna Goswami, Ravindra Svarupa dasa, Sesa dasa, Bhima dasa, HH Kadamba Kanana Swami, Radha Krishna dasa, and Braja Bihari dasa. Bhima Prabhu is the first chairman of the board. Then there will be three co-presidents, Mahaman dasa, Devakinandan dasa, and Brihat Mridunga dasa. These three presidents along with the principal of the Gurukula, Ananda Vrindavan devi dasi, and the director of the MVT, Dhananjaya dasa, and Regional Secretary, Deena Bandhu dasa will form the Administrative Council of the temple. There will be two vice presidents, Ganapati dasa and Sarvabhauma dasa. He also added that the EC in an amendament to that resolution had also added Bhima Prabhu as another co-president. Then His Holiness gave a very inspiring talk to the assembled devotees inviting them to work together cooperatively to see the fulfillment of the GBC resolution and to increase the glories of ISKCON Vrindavan.”
When the above new management of ISKCON Vrndavan was established it marked the beginning of a reign of terror on the inhabitants of the ISKCON Devotional Community. This new management was hell bent on downsizing the number of devotees in the Temple to create a ‘tabula rasa’ so they could build it up again to suit their needs.
At this time Braja Bihari, his wife Ananda Vrndavan and their Ashram Director Vinod Bihari were also in power and they had great influence on the new V.E.B. Their dream and plan was to possess the whole of the Gurukul building and turn it into their own private secular school. The Gurukul enjoyed great success in removing the Temple from the building up unto the point of Aindra Prabhu’s ashram.
Braja Bihari, an initial member of the Vrindavan Executive Board (VEB), knowing the public nature of holding such a position, withdrew into the background and exerted his power and influence through his people on the VEB and his wife as the principal of the Gurukul. All of whom repeatedly made moves to have Aindra and his 24 hour Kirtan Party removed from the Gurukul building.
Over the years that they held sway, they caused a great deal of undue suffering and distress to Aindra Prabhu, who was deeply concerned for the future of his 24 Hour Kirtan Program and his beloved Deities.
I got involved shortly after the VEB and the Gurukul began to exert pressure on Aindra Prabhu in 2002, after coming back from a visit to Australia. It was then that I was approached by Aindra prabhu, who was in a very distressed state and near to tears. He explained the situation to me and asked for my help to deal with the new management and the Gurukul and their threat to have him evicted.
Looking at my dear friend in such a state I vowed to help him in any way that I could. It was that day that I made an agreement before RadhaShyamasundar with Aindra that he must remain doing his seva and that I would deal with the authorities. I did not want his bhajan disturbed by him having to deal with such nonsense.
Please note that it took at least until 2009 to weaken the Gurukul’s hold on the Temple management. However, when Aindra Prabhu’s book was close to being finished, the VEB threatened that if Aindra Prabhu published his book they would kick him out of not only the Temple, but also ISKCON.
I promised to Aindra prabhu that I would take issue with this undue threatening behaviour with the various devotees involved in this threat. I intend to make good on this promise now that Aindra prabhu can no longer be hurt by their behaviour and abuse of power.
Following is an account of my struggle to weaken the ‘hostile takeover’ stratagem of this new regime and the Gurukula authorities in order to protect Aindra and his Deities from being ruthlessly evicted from their home.
Dear Maharaja’s and Prabhu’s of ‘Corporate’ ISKCON
The purpose of this document is to record my attempts at discussing the managerial crisis in which the GBC has placed us in ISKCON Vrndavana.
I have worked in the secular world professionally in the areas of Substance Abuse and Juvenile Justice. Having this training and experience I would first like to posit the following concept in relationship to the managerial situation within ISKCON in order to set the stage for this document.
The ‘dysfunctional family’ concept is particularly relevant when attempting to understand the position of the rank and file devotee within ISKCON. The study that I will present is a situation where the father of the family is a violent alcoholic. The father is termed ‘the abuser’ and his family all fall into to the category of ‘enablers’ for they enable him to not face his problem. They are all in the process of denial.
In this case the father uses mainly mental and physical force in order to coerce compliancy from his wife and children. He does possess some good qualities, but unfortunately due to being trapped in denial of his problem, he chiefly uses them to ‘emotionally blackmail’ his family members by making them feel guilty for his behaviour.
This takes the form of either blaming them as being the cause of his problems or claiming that he is helpless to change. Whichever method he uses it usually proves effective in restraining them from going to authorities outside the family or using force to make him seek help or to leave the family. In this manner, he holds his family within a cycle of use/abuse and misuse and is in the illusion that he can escape being held responsible for his violence and addiction.
The wife uses socioeconomic rationalizations to justify staying in the relationship and is therefore not willing to take her children and leave him. Fear of his violence also stays her from seeking outside legal and/or professional help. Fearing disturbing him, she cleans up after his assaults on her and their children so that he does not see the mess and subsequently becomes either remorseful or more violent. His children for the same reasons hide their injuries and suffering.
The children suffer the most in this situation for by growing up in such a dysfunctional family they end up learning life skills that are also based on the – use/misuse and abuse principal. As adults their relationships suffer as they fail to discern how to properly treat their spouses. They also ‘see’ their spouses as objects to use/misuse and if they are particularly damaged, to abuse. They also tend to use/misuse and abuse drugs and alcohol etc as part of the addictive mentality that they have grown accustomed to in their families.
Here within ISKCON we are seeing a very similar situation. We have had a considerable history of violence and abuse by the leadership of our movement directed against the rank and file devotee. Our children within our Gurukula’s stand testimony to this.
As you read on you will see how whole Yatras can be held under the sway of abusive leadership where there is no accountability for the rank and file devotee. Whenever there is a meeting it’s like the ‘drunkard’ standing at the bar and muttering ‘she deserved it and if she speaks up again I will do far worse!’ There is no capacity for him to sincerely ‘hear’ from his wife and children.
It is important to note that I at first attempted to deal with this at a philosophical level and when that failed to evoke a response I became increasingly more practically straight forward.
If you are reading this and are thinking that I am being too heavy, please think again. How much effort have devotees used in the past in order to be heard? How many devotees have fallen by the wayside after unsuccessfully pushing for reform?
Examine your own heart and see how you may react to criticism, even though it may be constructive and for your own good. If you are feeling threatened or defensive then it is highly likely, in the light of our problems, that you have something to hide. If you are being disturbed by my straightforwardness and seeming lack of respect then I am sorry for I do not see the point of being sentimental about such important matters.
If you really want to protect devotees then listen to what we are saying. Don’t think that we are against you. Don’t think that we have nothing good to say. Don’t treat us as if we are unintelligent.
You have accepted the position so now take the responsibility that goes with it. Responsibility means to ‘respond’ and be ‘accountable’. If you think about it, you mainly hear from the rank and file devotee due to your inappropriate and/or lack of response to their suffering.
Because there is no accountability process and you mainly see us as ‘the enemy’ you stand only to suffer and make us all suffer along with you. You must develop the courage and integrity to listen to us and help us, instead of trying to ignore or smash us.
The drunkard, who has the courage to admit that he has a problem with addiction, and is willing to undergo treatment, is able to view ‘in a better light’ his family, friends and counsellors, who have tried to point out his problems and help him. He now sees them as his true friends and not his enemies…
Dear Pragosh Prahbu
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
Following is a letter that I have already included in a booklet that I have printed presenting; all my correspondence with the VEB and GBC over the present management of our Temple,
quotes from Srila Prabhupada on Vrndavana and some of the proposals that I have unsuccessfully placed before this management.
Prabhu this is our living history. The GBC and temple management may be more interested in covering up our problems but we are experiencing and remembering. Historians who are ‘deconstructionalist’ by orientation rewrite history to suit themselves. ISKCON are past masters at this. The booklet that I have complied is the history as many of us see it here as opposed to the lies and deceit and cover ups procedures of the GBC and senior management of this temple.
We have heard that there was a meeting in London this month, however, if there was any discussion and decision regarding our temple we have not been; either consulted and therefore represented or informed to date on any outcome.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada.
2 Sept 2004
Dear Maharaja’s and Prabhu’s of Corporate ISKCON
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
I only began speaking up as a response to being repeatedly approached by many devotees who were fearful and upset at their treatment by the management.
During this process I was yet again privy to the shameful way in which corporate ISKCON has been managed by the GBC. The glaring mistake of the GBC is that they have failed to institute a proper and just form of accountability. This leaves the rank and file devotee completely unprotected from unscrupulous and personally motivated members of the institution.
However, it is evident that the problems with the GBC and corporate ISKCON are not due to ignorance. They are due to the GBC being more interested in secrecy and damage control than justice, more interested in the illusion of protecting yourselves from the reaction to bad decisions and bad management than protecting us and our Krsna Consciousness, more interested in avoiding liability than acting with integrity and honesty, more interested in protecting the person in leadership than in holding them accountable.
It appears that ISKCON no longer values or emphasizes the development of a spiritual community based on sadhu sanga but progress through bureaucratic corporate process.
As you read this, please consider how much evidence you have from the rank and file devotee and how much evidence you have from the management whom the rank and file devotee is claiming against. Then consider how much credibility you afford to both those sources of information. If you are honest you will admit that you see the rank and file devotee as the liar and the management as the righteous party. This is a shame. On you that is!
ISKCON India is managed by individuals more concerned with their devotional careers and personal and/or familial gain as opposed to protecting the devotional lives of the rank and file devotee.
One just has to try and keep up with the pathetic, small minded political intrigue, litigation and violence of Temple management in ISKCON India to know what I speak of.
This behavior and attitude has reached its peak in what has happened here in Vrndavana.
The VEB was set up by the full body of the GBC in an attempt to bring the standards up to the ones set by Srila Prabhupada. Also of import is the fact that as the Krsna-Balarama Mandir in Vrndavana is an important project for ISKCON there was an ‘interplay’ between various political parties vying for control of it.
However, they utilized techniques that were authoritarian and heavy-handed, which only served to alienate and dishearten the devotees. One of the GBC members, it was reported from reliable sources, gave the analogy of a field being prepared for sowing. ‘One must first remove the weeds before planting’ was his management stratagem for the brutal ‘downsizing’ process that they embarked on for our Yatra.
This management has also put Srila Prabhupada’s movement here in a very poor light. The officials/businessmen and local people, both here and in Mathura, have a very poor opinion of our movement.
You will know all of this if you came here and listened to the rank and file devotee instead of the management and their minions. This management has alienated the temple devotees and created a very hostile environment.
The failure on all levels of this GBC induced and supported management has culminated in Devakinandan dasa who, acting as Temple President, vented his frustration with his failure here by having a visiting elderly western female devotee imprisoned for overstaying her visa.
Under Devakinandan’s dasa’s instruction, no Temple devotee was allowed to offer any support to this mataji – it has been reported by reliable sources.
This particular devotee suffers from Grand Mal Epilepsy and had been having fits on a daily basis while in prison. She was at risk of serious injuries and/or death through the violence of her fits. She is also of very poor and unstable mental and physical health.
Questions must be asked on why an elderly western female devotee received such uncharacteristic and brutal treatment by the hands of police and prison officials. She states that she was beaten initially by temple guards (Acting under the instructions of Devakinandan dasa), then by the local police and lastly by the prison guards and prison doctor.
This last assault by prison guards – I had the Magistrate order an investigation and prison officials were reprimanded. However, it was not successful as she was subsequently admitted twice to Hospital in Agra for injuries she sustained while in custody.
Do any of you have even one iota of an understanding what it is like for a western devotee woman to be in an Indian Prison?
It is common knowledge that this Devakinandan dasa is responsible for the imprisonment and subsequent mistreatment of this woman devotee. This must be considered as a most heinous and cowardly act of an official ISKCON senior management acting on behalf of Srila Prabhupada under the direct supervision of the VEB.
It is claimed from reliable sources that he called in the FRO, the CBI and local police and accompanied by temple guards had her arrested at her ashram. This is akin to a Temple President in the US arranging for the FBI, Immigration and police to arrest a devotee!
The management here, even though very hostile to this woman and anyone who assists her, claims to be doing everything they can to have her released from prison. This is nothing but preposterous lies. I challenge them to show precisely what they have done other than hinder!
This behaviour by temple management is nothing short of traitorous to both Srila Prabhupada and his devotees. Srila Prabhupada wanted that this temple be for giving shelter to foreign devotees. Now this has been destroyed.
Western devotees living here were already fearful that they may be ‘FROed’ out of India. Now, not only was a woman beaten and put in jail, but she was put there by a devotee acting as the Temple President.
This Devakinandan dasa has issued threats through various sources that he will act swiftly and smash any devotee who opposes his regime. Many international devotees see what he has done with this mataji as a direct threat to themselves.
It is obvious by his behaviour that he used this mataji as an example of what he is capable of doing if he is opposed. How else is one to view this?
Is this the best example of what ISKCON India has to show in regards to how their management treats the international devotee?
Prabhu’s, you can say and believe what you like. I am the one who spent hours on end daily in the Mathura courts in order to secure her release from Prison what to speak of dealing with all the officials here. Not one of them has a good opinion of us due to this action by Devakinandan dasa.
The head CBI (FBI equivalent) man stated as he shook his head, ‘What a terribly low standard has ISKCON sunk to’!!!
I am strongly demanding a thorough investigation into this whole sordid affair.
1. I demand that the members of the management who have played a role in the mistreatment of this devotee be removed from their services.
2. I demand that Devakinandan dasa if found guilty must be officially removed and banned for life from holding any official position within ISKCON.
3. I also demand that the members of the VEB should resign in shame and seek services that are more appropriate for their level of realization, truthfulness and skills.
They supported this man in his position against all good advice and pleas from devotees living and serving here in the Dhama.
They are ultimately responsible. This man is known to the GBC. He was placed here because of his nature. In one way he is not to blame for he acted according to his violent nature when given the support from the VEB. They are the main culprits here and must suffer the consequences of their actions.
No one escapes from the sin of Vaisnava aparadha. You may not be able to find it in your hearts and intelligence to think that any devotee who is sincerely attempting to serve the Lords in Vrndavana are Brijbasis, but they are. So then how can you deny that the management here has not behaved like ‘wild elephants’ and trampled on the devotional lives of so many devotees serving in the Holy Dhama???
How can you say that Srila Prabhupada is happy with the VEB and this local Temple Management? Srila Prabhupada would never condone the maltreatment of his devotees.
I pray daily that Srimati Radharani makes the reaction swift to all those in the GBC / VEB and Temple Management that are, by either their actions or informed inactions, making devotees serving in Sri Vrndavana Dhama suffer.
This is for their (your) good. For the longer that they (or you) maintain this disgraceful charade of devotional service they (or you) will commit more and more Vaisnava aparadha to devotees in the Holy Dhama.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada
The Holy month of Purosottama 2004, Sri Vrndavana Dhama
The following letters are more or less in the order that I sent them. This document does not include some of my online email letters.
Dear Maharaja’s and Prabhu’s.
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
I am writing this letter to open up dialogue and discussion on the present direction and management style of ISKCON Vrndavana.
I have been a resident of Vrndavana for the past seven years. As I am an experienced and qualified Homoeopathic Practitioner and Counsellor I have been providing this type of service to the devotees of ISKCON Vrndavana in this time. I have also acted in the role of Child Protection Officer, having been trained and experienced in this field. Having held managerial roles both within ISKCON and in the non-devotee world I am also experienced and trained in management.
I am aware of many of the difficulties that have faced our Krsna-Balarama Mandir over the years and have been watching with interest this latest endeavour to manage this temple.
Firstly, I would like to say that there are no ‘real’ material solutions to our problems. There are only spiritual solutions. Now, I am not saying that if we all chanted Hare Krsna purely then all will be fixed. Of course this is ultimately true but rather unrealistic given our conditioned position. The system that Srila Prabhupada has given us is a spiritual system and not a material system. He did not create a bureaucratic institution that requires bureaucratic solutions. He created a society. A Vaisnava society, to be precise. The institutional aspect of our society is mainly present in order to satisfy local and/or national governments policies, legislature etc.
We err when we think that we must prosecute his mission with emphasis being placed on bureaucracy and look for institutionalised solutions (eg Rules, Regulations and Models) rather than spiritual solutions based on Bhakti and our spiritual masters instructions. When we emphasise bureaucracy and corporate process we operate separately from the system that Srila Prabhupada has founded and therefore we now are faced with problems that are only in existence due to this factor.
‘The part cannot not operate separately from the whole…’ when this happens then the ‘whole’ is disturbed and thus problems arise. Problems, that are generated and in existence only because of this malalignment of purpose.
Spiritual leadership is not focused on administrative procedures, control and short term benefits. It is based on developing personal relationships that are aimed both at increasing the individual devotees Krsna Consciousness and the movements progress that is in keeping with the aims and desire of our spiritual master Srila Prabhuapada. How does this relate to our present management?
The fact that the morale of both the Temple and Congregational community is very low is a sure indicator that the management style is not operating under a person orientated approach. It is goal orientated.
It is always the case that when a new management regime is in place that there are problems adjusting and settling. However, as Vaisnavas are more interested in the individuals personal spiritual growth as opposed to institutional process, these problems of adjustment are minimised. This is not the case at present.
This new regime has taken the position that many of the devotees who are serving in the Dhama are basically corrupt in some manner. So it has set out to find the corruption and eradicate it by the most expedient means possible. Now this mentality has crude negative effects on the community of devotees. Nevertheless, for this procedure to be even marginally successful, then the devotees who are doing the finger pointing and restructuring, must have a spotless record of trustworthiness and honesty or it will be just a farce and destructive.
Firstly, any judgement and application of punitive measures on devotees requires very careful consideration so as not to commit the offence of Vasinava aparadha if the devotee is in fact innocent. Many accusations levelled at devotees are motivated gossip and hearsay, so the shifting through of the fiction to find the facts requires skilled and caring devotees before any accusation can be levelled at a devotee.
Devotees living and serving under the mood of assumed guilt based on hearsay evidence is not conducive to happy and healthy spiritual growth. One simply has to live in Vrndavana for any length of time to understand how these unsubstantiated rumours can destroy a devotee’s name and seva. Management has to be more emotionally mature than the general devotees and not get involved in the ‘gossip loop’ when making decisions and policies.
A point to consider is that new management can be likened to a situation where a mother of children remarries. Her new husband cannot assume the role of father automatically. He must earn the love and trust of his wife’s children. If the new father forces his opinion, rules and regulations without first building love, trust and affection, then the children will automatically rebel in some manner.
Rasa, is only realized when there is the pre requisite bhavas associated with it. There is no question of rasa without bhava. Similarly, there is no question of force or coercion involved in the obtainment of rasa. It is a voluntary process. This must be clearly understood.
For what is any new management managing? If we are thinking it is managing a model, temple building, programme or particular services then we have missed the point. The point is that management is managing the devotees who are serving in that temple. The buildings and other institutional trappings are secondary and to all extents and purposes superfluous.
This is a personal movement and that means people.
The temple has long term devotees both serving the temple directly and serving the devotional community. How are they being ‘served’ by the management is of prime concern.
So how does the present day management view these devotees? This can be answered by the new rules that are being enforced at the temple. Rules such as – no sitting on the steps in front of the temple. Then the rule of no shoes around the temple. Now in themselves they seem rather innocuous but what statement do they make? Rules that don’t have signage. Note must be made that the rules are trying to change long term behaviour which is debatably problematic, and to all extents and purposes inconsequential to the smooth operation of a Temple. I could get into more detail about these inane rules but it is rather too simplistic to bother.
However if these rules are seen from the guards perspective one can better understand what impact it has on our devotional community. A devotee who sits on the step has a whistle blown at them and they are shooed away. The other rule is enforced by the kicking or the pushing away of a devotee’s shoes with a stick.
Now these may seem quite reasonable activities for guards to be engaged in. Nevertheless, how does the guard ‘see’ the devotees who are sitting on the steps or whose shoes have been placed near the temple. Do they view them as sadhus? As Vaisnava’s? Or just some member of the public?
A Vaisnava’s shoes are not something to be kicked or flicked away. I have seen senior devotees that have been moved on, when sitting on the steps, with the shrill blast of a whistle and a flick of the hand and others that have had to search for their shoes as they have been kicked into the corner somewhere or collected in a bag.
These are small things in one way but in another way they are signs of contempt and disrespect to the devotees of this community by both the guards and the temple authorities. The one place that a devotee should feel as if they are in actual fact Sadhus and treated with respect is in our own temple.
I have many times noted senior police and military personnel leave their shoes at the temple door without harassment. Now why are they treated with such respect and we are treated like low class beggars?? One can have so many views and opinions on the rules for the shoes and the steps, but one cannot escape the inferred disrespect that I speak of.
The next consideration is what is the plan for ISKCON Vrndavana?
It ‘appears’ and I could be wrong, that the plan for ISKCON Vrndavana is to create either a replica or a locally adjusted version of the ‘Chowpatty model’. This is a personal project of Radanatha Swami and merely a Bureaucratic Devotional Disneyland and will have no longevity here in Srila Prabhupada’s home. These personal projects have a tendency to grossly deviate as our experience with New Vrndavana can more than amply attest.
Before going into the pros and cons of this, it is important to note that our society is not based on a process of models and hierarchical positions. This is Bureaucracy. It is based on the instructions of Srila Prabhupada.
When we begin talking about this model and that model we leave our selves open to so many variegated models that we will be bewildered as to what would be the best model for a particular situation. There is only one formula and model. That is the one that Srila Prabhupada has given us.
The Chowpatty Model, while it may have its perceived results, it is not how Srila Prabhupada wanted us to practically set up and run his movement. Whether this be in dealing with Indian devotees or international devotees.
It is true that a private preaching centre or programme operated by individuals can use whatever means they choose to preach, however, it must be understood that when dealing with mainstream ISKCON then only the purest form must be utilised.
Srila Prabhupada in a – Letter to: Karandhara Bombay 22 December, 1972 will illustrate this point. Here we can see Srila Prabhupada’s opinion on what must be done in ISCKON India. What to speak of internationally. We can see exactly how Prabhupada wanted devotees to be treated, insuring that their growth in Krsna Consciousness is facilitated to the highest degree.
Models that are institutionalized and based on Bureaucracy are not a part of Prabhupada’s conception. These are our own concoctions. Our own concoctions are usually only as good as the individual in leadership who ‘owns’ the model. These do not stand the test of time. They usually breakdown once the leader is taken away from the model.
The fact that our movement has lasted so long despite so many internal problems and misconceptions gives so much credit to Srila Prabhupada.
So if this model is used in Vrndavana, its ‘relative’ success is only assured if, and when, there is an appropriate personality who has the charisma and qualities that are suited to that particular model.
Now another consideration when dealing with models, in particular the Chowpatty model, is, that there is some pre entrance requirement in order to become a member.
Srila Prabhupada wanted that anyone regardless of race, creed, color or gender can be eligible so long as they meet the standard that he has set down in his books and instructions. Any other standard is our own concoction and should be viewed as such and not accepted as a part of mainstream ISKCON policy or programmes.
Srila Prabhupada was inclusive as opposed to exclusive. There are no formal qualifications to be a devotee in his movement. The one qualification is sincerity to serve the spiritual master.
There are two basic principles that Srila Prabhupada gave us to deal with the issues that I am presenting. The first is the ‘time, place and circumstance’ principal. The second is the Vedic principal.
The first principal is where Srila Prabhupada as the acarya engaged devotees in the various services according to this principal in many cases, regardless of the individual’s skills and psychophysical nature. Here we are seeing that Srila Prabhupada made the adjustments to the Vedic Philosophical orientation according to that principal.
The second principal is being engaged in work according to ones natural qualities.
So one can say that when Srila Prabhupada was physically manifest his time was limited and therefore he acted according to time place and circumstance when engaging devotees in service in the initial establishment stage of our movement.
Presently there is no such urgency being faced by our movement, other than the personal urgency to become more Krsna Conscious. So we have the ability to act according to the second principal.
So when we look at our situation from this perspective, we can see an entirely different way in which to develop this movement. Here, we find that devotees are placed in work according to their qualities.
The roles (or work) are already in existence. The only thing lacking is the placement of individual devotees into the various positions according to their qualities, not personality or academic qualification. A person’s qualities are distinctly different from their personality.
The same goes for a person’s academic qualification. It only shows that the person is capable of fulfilling the requirements of a materially based educational process that is based on memory recall. It has very little to do with a person’s inner qualities or spiritual realization.
Of course there is also desire. A devotee may have the desire to be engaged in a service or position that they are not qualified to do. There is no reason why they cannot be engaged in that service. This is true for most positions except for those positions of management and leadership. Here, it is vitally important to engage the right devotee or we will end up in the same state that we are presently in; where we see incorrectly motivated devotees in positions that adversely affect the spiritual life of other devotees. One of my main roles (unofficial) in Vrndavana (and in ISKCON in general) has been one of ‘damage control’. That is looking after devotees who have been made to suffer in some way due to bad management. This is especially true in regards to adults and children who have been made to suffer from both the Temple and Gurukula management here in Vrndavana. This is not an imagined situation, but very real. I can elaborate if requested.
Lastly, how can one possibly understand that this temple can be managed by three temple presidents that are not physically present for much of the time? This is the most unbelievable of all the problems we face here. Vrndavana is a special place in many regards and what it needs most are devotees who are capable of living here long term and who are actually committed to serving our Lordships and the devotees here. At least that is a beginning…
Vrndavana Dhama is one of the most precious and important holy dhamas of our movement. Srila Prabhupada wanted a very high standard of Vasinavaism here. So I am asking you to come here and see what is happening for yourself. Ask questions of the general devotees (if you have or can develop a personal relationship with them). See and feel what they are seeing and feeling.
Too many times we see senior management and leaders ask only each other what is happening and so many times all that is heard is back slapping propaganda. The general devotees are also an integral part of the Temple and need to be listened to with fairness and their fears and problems addressed with respect and empathy.
The fact that they may not reveal their mind may be an indication of their fear or apathy. Getting back to the family analogy… anyone can imagine the children of that family that I have described, how they must ‘feel’ if they are made to feel fearful or if they have become apathetic due to not being listened to or alienated, vilified, censured or intimidated when they speak their mind.
It boils down to a lack of care and protection. A Brahaman protects the sufferers with Sastral knowledge and the Ksatriya with Administrative knowledge and force of arms. The Vaisya with Wealth. So when this protection is not there then the community and its members suffer. There is no escaping this fact.
It is beyond doubt that there is a problem with our Temple and devotional community in Vrndavana. We all have our problems. The answer to our problems is not heavy-handed chopping techniques to kick out devotees. We are all aspiring Vaisnavas and deserve to be treated as Srila Prabhupada wanted us to be treated. We have our strengths, which need to be encouraged and our weaknesses, which need to be corrected with love and affection so they can become our strengths.
Srila Prabhupada had a specific vision for both our Holy Dhama’s and Mombai. Let us take the time to do the research to create a development plan for our Dhamas. We have many devoted and qualified devotees who have made Vrndavana their home over the years. They need to be consulted according to their qualifications and sincerity.
In the meantime we need to look after the devotees that we have, with love, trust and affection. I am not saying that we over look and allow criminal activity. It must be dealt with. But justice and punitive measures must be fair and unbiased.
There are so many other points that I can bring up, but for the sake of keeping this as short as possible I have not. But I am willing to enter into discussion on what I have said in this document and you are welcome to comment by the ‘reply’ email address.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada and Sri Sri Radha-Syamasundara
Vrnadavana Dhama April 2003
Dear Krsnacandra Prabhu,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. I've read your letter but did not have the time for an elaborate reply It is good that you are concerned about the Krsna Balaram Mandir and made many suggestions. Maybe you could become involved in the project and work from within on improving the situation. You could contact one of the co-presidents if you like.
Kadamba Kanana Swami
Dear Kadamba Karana Swami
Pamho Agt Srila Prabhupada
Thank you for your reply. Maybe I shall wait for when you can re read my letter and reply in detail.
The adjustments that need to be made are not from the level of present Temple management. The point that I was trying to make (albeit maybe unclearly) is that the overall plan needs to be re thought and that the devotees who are placed in management will need to be appointed who have the qualifications necessary to make the changes possible.
I have experience in dealing with dysfunctional systems and dynamics so I am not convinced that ‘working within’ this system will prove to be successful.
So I am saying that we need to look at what Srila Prabhupada wanted for Vrndavana and then appoint devotees who are capable of carrying out his wishes.
I do not believe, from my experience with the present management, that they are personally able to fulfil the role that they presently have what to speak of the changes that I have outlined.
To develop our community here will require devotees with commitment to the dhama and a high level of emotional maturity and understanding of community development.
We don’t need to rush this. We need to open communication with devotees who have the skills and qualities to do this. And at the same time we need to do some damage control with the disaffected and disheartened devotees who live here.
The mood that is here at our temple is such a precious thing and we should try our best to preserve and nurture it. Srila Prabhupada wanted us to operate under love and trust and to come together with affection. This is not something that can be legislated. It can only be achieved by the heartfelt love, trust and affection of our leaders.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada
Pamho Agt Srila Prabhupada.
I am writing subsequent to a letter I sent earlier this year to some members of the V.E.B to state my observations of the present management in Krsna Balarama Mandir Vrndavana. Unfortunately typical for corporate ISKCON there was a poor response. I received one letter in reply. The letter that I sent was in the mood of looking at the situation from a philosophical perspective and I hoped that it would open up some dialogue. That did not work so here I am writing a more bureaucratic ‘memo’ type letter…
I know that you have just finished meetings of the V.E.B. I believe that you are somewhat aware of what is happening here with the management. However, I wish to offer the following observations;
1. It is highly likely that the present TP’s are viewed by the GBC as a temporary, but purpose specific placement i.e. The old heavy chopping technique (AKA the ‘hostile takeover’, however, it is usually conducted with more finesse and professionalism).
2. That you do not have anyone to take their place.
3. That the members of the V.E.B are not physically able to be present in Vrndavana for any productive amount of time to supervise the present management (who are part time and committed to other projects) or any future management.
4. That you are not fully aware of the depth and breadth of the damage both spiritually and emotionally, that the present management has done to the devotees of this community. Further how much effort and skills it will now take future management to establish itself and then develop in what may in fact be, in some areas, a very hostile community.
5. That the majority of devotees are not happy with the mood and attitude of the present management structure. In all seriousness I have only found one or two devotees who are actually supportive over the last year. However these devotees also have some vested interest in the new management.
6. That the situation here now is different but many times worse in other ways than the management under Mahaman prabhu.
7. It is a shame that Mahaman has been treated so poorly in this whole fiasco, I wonder if he has been officially thanked or recognized at all for the good aspects of his seven year appointment as TP of Vrndavana. If he has not then it is very disappointing and a poor example of Vaisnavaism indeed!
8. How can I understand that much of what has been done to many devotees here is not Vaisnava aparadha? Further, who will be taking the reaction for that if it is?
9. That the complaints about and the activities of the present management are going to be difficult to explain to the full GBC body at Mayapura 2004.
I would also like to make this observation…
1. I would like to see the present management make a multimedia presentation on their management technique and present it as a new and innovative style to either the devotee or corporate worldJ
2. That this idea of smashing, intimidating, kicking out, or torturing devotees until they leave needs to be ‘archived’ in our history books and not seen in practice again. This practice must be seen for the main reason why we have hurt and lost so many devotees over the years as opposed to the regrettably classic and worn out adage ‘they left because they were not sincere’.
Having said all of this I wonder what will be the future of ISKCON Vrndavana? Maybe the devotees in the upper echelon of our movement need to ‘think outside of the square’ of how ISKCON management has usually thought and acted to date.
1. The ‘concept’ of the TP who is solely responsible and the possessor of absolute power needs to be addressed as it has not really worked to date.
2. The ‘concept’ of a Management Board with full plenary powers according to their duties needs consideration in order to lessen the load on large multi functional projects to aid and assist the Temple President.
3. Have an interview process like the non devotees do as we do not have a good track record of appointing devotees by the system that we have used to date.
4. Expand the possibilities of who may be suitable by looking at devotees who are not part of the corporate structure of ISKCON as opposed to only devotees who are personally known to the members of the body who are responsible for recruitment. Personal bias and prejudice of senior management has disallowed many a good devotee from taking a position that they are qualified to occupy.
5. Design a Management Plan so that there are specific guidelines on the qualifications and duties of the position so there is an idea of how to appoint and supervise a devotee placed in the management of a temple or project.
6. There must also be accountability guidelines established by corporate ISKCON for supervisory bodies to work within so that there is continuity and proper procedure in relation to the temple management supervision and assessment.
7. The ‘idea’ of having a V.E.B. is very good if it was comprised of devotees who had the time and skills to work closely with the local management. Therefore the devotees on that body are also required to be interviewed.
8. Quality and not quantity is needed on such a body.
9. They must also have an understanding of community development.
I and many other devotees who reside in the Dhama have given our situation considerable thought and our conclusion is that there may be no perfect solution to our situation at present. It appears that we are, to use an old adage, ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’.
The only suggestion that I can come up with is the formation of a Management Board that has as its ‘Chair’ the Temple President. All members have more or less equal powers but the TP is the spokesperson. I personally set up and served as part of one such board in the past and it proved successful. However, specific conditions must be there for such a board to work in Vrndavana.
1. That there is another Temple President appointed who is known and trusted by the community and is able to work with both Indian and international devotees. Further that they are able to devote their full attention and time to the temple.
2. That this Board consists of devotees who are not part of the present management structure as ‘new’ blood’ is needed since the old regime has not to date proven successful.
3. The Board will initially be responsible for stabilizing the present situation before it makes any changes. It must also prepare a ‘short term’ development plan that is acceptable by the V.E.B and other senior devotees and be in keeping with Srila Prabhupad’s desire for the development of Vrndavana.
4. Preferably this Board comprises members that have a relationship with and are trusted by the members of this community therefore it may necessitate that the members be initially from the present community.
5. That the Board members not exceed four and that the four be appointed for skills and given authority that is concurrent with the specific portfolio that they are responsible for.
Of noteworthy consideration:
1. It would necessitate devotees who are factually qualified to take up these appointments as no matter how much bureaucracy is in place it will never work. The non devotees have learnt this and that is why there is the advertising and interview process.
2. Then the V.E.B will have to seek to be much more involved with the Board on a more practical level.
3. Then through discussion and research a ‘long term’ Future Development Plan be implemented for ISKCON Vrndavana.
4. That although the present TP’s have busied themselves with removing what they have considered ‘riff raff’, there actually needs to be an overhaul of the management structure and the departmental managers.
5. The new management board will assume more responsibility for the day to day management in accord with the development plan.
6. There is also a need to re look at the membership of the V.E.B. to see if it needs to consist of devotees who are more able to provide time and skills appropriate for the supervision of the local management and have an understanding of community development.
7. It must be understood that although some devotees may be at present placated by members of the V.E.B. it is highly likely that the ‘fire is not all out’. Thus it may be wise to consider my suggestion more than give it a cursory glance.
8. As it may be timely in relationship to the soon to be here GBC meetings to have at least a half way feasible alternative to the present fiasco, if you have not already done so…
Maybe we have to give up the notion that there is a devotee ‘out there’ that will come in and make this temple a success. I am afraid that unless a Brahmana is listened to he will find somewhere where he will be. A Ksatriya will probably look at managing a non devotee project. A Vaisya will give his money to a more credible cause.
Finally I would suggest that the VEB begin seriously looking at both who can take the present TP’s place and who will be suitable for the board. This may necessitate one or more of them spending more time here in the dhama and speaking with devotees to see what they want and need. If the present situation continues it will only make a bad situation worse. This must not be taken lightly, already so many devotees have been hurt and disturbed. As you know our movement is already losing many devotees so what is the use of making matters worse?
I cannot see how Srila Prabhupada can be happy with what has been happening here. This needs your urgent care and attention now. As I have already stated previously I sent a letter earlier this year and to date no one has seen it as important to try to contact me, even though you are or were here…
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada.
Vrndavana Kartika 2003
Dear Maharaja’s and Prabhu’s
Pamho. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I cannot say that I am ‘surprised’ that I have not received a reply to my last letter. I have been privy to some of your email discussions and have observed very clearly what your attitude is. The fact that you did not reply to me directly can basically be broken down into: You are possibly of the opinion that you are ‘superior’ hence it is below you to communicate with whom you deem a ‘non co-operative’ rank and file devotee. Or that you feel a sense of ‘guilt’ regarding the points that I have outlined thus you ‘fear’ to commit your replies to writing. Although I do welcome your comments (written) for I have spent many years researching and collating what Srila Prabhupada has said on Vrndavana and management in general and I am interested to know how you can justify your methodologies.
In fact if one was to compare what you have done here with what Srila Prabhupada wanted then you could say that you have failed. If one was to assess what you have achieved in relationship to your original agenda; Sideline Gopal Krsna Maharaja, remove Mahaman Prabhu and downsize the devotees serving in the temple in the most expedient manner possible while simultaneously trying to eliminate any potential threat to your reign, then you have had moderate success. But that success is only in your mind and the minds of devotees who do not really know that there is a devotional community here, what to speak of knowing what Srila Prabhupada instructions are in regards to looking after aspiring Vaisnavas and what he wanted for Vrndavana. So then how can you put anything in writing???
In the meantime devotees from the temple have approached me and I have been working with them to try and lift their spirits and engage them in more productive ways. Working with some devotees we presented a proposal regarding the health care of devotees. It was met with ‘hostile’ responses by the management, who at first had not even taken the time to read the proposal. Following are just some of the attitudes; One authority actually tore it into pieces after only glancing at it. Another was very hostile and said that if we wanted to do this then do it somewhere outside the temple. This devotee had previously stated ‘that most of the devotees at this temple were not worth wasting time on’. Another called the devotee heading it up a ‘liar’ as he did not himself write the proposal and yet the others ‘passed the buck’. If this is what we are dealing with then what hope is there????
Actually all that the devotees here need, is management to work closely with them and provide some leadership and encouragement.
I am sure that the report that you sent the GBC on your last meeting here in Vrndavana is very positive and that you are secure in your positions and your efforts here in Vrndavana. So much so, that you do not require any constructive proposals as ‘feathers in your caps’ to offer your authorities. Or perhaps you are of the opinion that the devotees here are not worth the effort?
Lastly, and I am not saying that you are doing any or all of this, but the treatment of devotees who authorities believe are in opposition to their regime needs to be addressed. There should be absolutely no room in Srila Prabhupada’s movement for slander, brutality, intimidation, false and misleading complaints to Spiritual authorities, Government Authorities and Police. This type of behavior should never be a part of an aspiring Vaisnava’s ‘modus operandi’ what to speak of our devotional family. There is also no room for pressuring gurus to advise their disciples to cease presenting their issues to authorities. I am sure that none of our TP’s or VEB members will stoop so low so as to engage in this sort of low class and heinous activity. We are after all a small movement really, and even the rank and file devotee has access to sources of information that make them aware of any such unscrupulous and unethical behavior.
To further understand what I am saying and why I am saying it please refer to Vedabase;
1. SB- 1976: 1:17:27 Punishment and Reward of Kali
The kñatriya, or the man who is qualified to protect the sufferers, is meant to rule the state. Untrained lower-class men, or men without ambition to protect the sufferers, cannot be placed on the seat of an administrator. Unfortunately, in the age of Kali the lower-class men, without training, occupy the post of a ruler by strength of popular votes, and instead of protecting the sufferers, such men create a situation quite intolerable for everyone.
2. Letter to: Tamala Krsna Bhaktivedanta Manor 23 August, 1973
N.B. I have received one complaint from Indian devotee at Mayapur Prabharupa Das Brahmacari that he is mal treated by our American devotees. Kindly inquire into this matter and do the needful. Either Indian or foreign whoever joins us they are not under any obligation, our only tie is Love of Godhead. It should be our definite policy that nobody is ill treated that he may go away. We recruit a person to join us after spending gallons of blood. Everyone comes for reformation, you cannot expect everyone to be perfect, rather it is our duty to make everyone perfect as far as possible. So we shall be very much cautious and careful in this connection.
I am wondering how you are taking all of what I am saying. Maybe you have sensed some cynicism and defiance in my words. Well that is there. I cannot deny. I don’t believe that you really care for the devotees here. You have your opinions, your plans, your capabilities your limitations and other commitments and you see me as an annoyance at the best.
You are also probably playing the ‘friends and enemies’ game? Maybe you should co operate with the devotees here then it will be possible to do something that is constructive rather than propaganda and spurious future plans…
Also worth considering is that your silence and attitude to me and others needs to be considered as negative and hostile and therefore you are also responsible for creating any perception of your selves that devotees like myself have and take responsibility for ‘setting the stage’ and level of communication… This is about relationship. Then perception and then attitude…
Another important factor in all of this is the fact that the greater Vrndavana community does not have a good impression of our Temple to date. This has only been made worse by the amount of disaffected devotees who have left the Temple since this new regime has been in place. Now you may think what you like about why they left but it is a serious factor and one that must be addressed.
Anyway I live here and I will definitely be involved in this at some level. What that is, depends entirely upon whether you can respond in a mature, intelligent and Krsna Conscious manner.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada
Ps: I am not even going to get into the fact that one of the temple senior management was informed of an advertising defacement of the Srila Prabhupada Gate as it was being painted 2 weeks ago and is still yet to do anything. Devotees from outside of the Temple have had to take action… What to speak of the ‘Trust in Krsna’ response by management here when they were first informed of the Government rating our temple as a possible target for terrorist threats. Further, how an underling was sent to deliver a letter to the Superintendent of Police in Mathura requesting assistance. A Superintendent that is dissatisfied with our Temple after his last visit here. And I definitely won’t mention how there has not been a management meeting to date to work out a plan for internal security. The list goes on and on… I sincerely pray that one of you ‘condescends’ to spend some time here to sort this all out!!
+-You first communication came via some other devotee. This is the first time
you are contacting me directly.
However, not really knowing you that well I said the next time I am in
Vrindavan I would meet with you.
It looks like I will be there for the Parvati’s daughter’s marriage in Feb.
I hope to meet you then and we can discuss.
Dear Bhima prabhu
Pamho Agt Srila Prabhupada
Thank you for replying. Actually I did send the first letter to you and
Kadamba Kanana Swami in April. I assumed that as it was a board the letter
would have been circulated.
I would like to meet with you, however, that is two months away and there
are many problems here now. Another thing to consider is that I have brought
up so many points in my letters that need addressing. I am only really
interested in discussion if it is aimed at looking at solutions. If you want
to discuss my points as an attempt to defeat them then I would rather not
So between now and when you meet can you provide me with some idea of what
you want to discuss and what you hope to achieve by the discussion.
At the bottom of my letter I mentioned those points. The security one is
very important and I really think that we need to do something now.
The main thrust of what I am saying is that short term we need a member of
the VEB or someone who has some power step in and do something now.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupda
Ø The main thrust of what I am saying is that short term we need a member of
> the VEB or someone who has some power step in and do something now.
What is the urgent need at this point if you don’t mind my asking?
Well it is interesting that you ask that. For many reasons. I suppose from your perspective then there is no need or urgency. But on site at the temple we are to all extents and purposes leaderless.
There is at this moment no one really around. Brihat Mrdanga prabhu is away, Devakinanda prabhu I believe just left. Savabhauma prabhu may be around somewhere but I heard that he was in Rajastan. Janardana prabhu is overseas and we never see Ganapati prabhu after the sun rises.
I am not sure if you see it as important that such a large and central temple has this sort of situation occurring but I certainly don’t think that it is good. Nor do any of the devotees that I know who live and serve here.
But does it really matter what I think? I mean really. I mean is there any practical use discussing any of these points with you? But I must admit that I am very happy to meet something more than silence.
I have been in India doing some sort of management for over 20 years and I
know what will work and what won’t. No I don’t like the fact that Vrindavan
presidents are not there 50% of the time but we are stuck for want of a
It would be better if they didn’t go out so much but for now I don’t see any
alternative. We just don’t have alot of devotees that can or want to manage
a complex temple like Vrindavan.
Sarvabhaum is supposed to be the acting president in their absence but it
appears he is more into preaching then management.
So, it is not the best situation but a bind uncle is better then no uncle at
Dear Bhima Prabhu
Pamho Agt Srila Prabhupada
Thank you for replying.
There is a community of devotees here. It has survived and will survive even this. In one way we have something to be grateful for in this whole fiasco. It has brought us closer together. Unity in adversity.
The use of the term ‘bind’ uncle is rather apt. For this uncle has certainly constipated us. However, the blind uncle analogy is not really relevant here. For the blind uncle can at the very least be amiable and supportive to his nephews and nieces.
The reason why I said that someone from the VEB should come here and do something is an attempt to look at what we have here and work with that. It is running with virtually no leadership and management anyway so what harm would it do to set up a management board as I suggested?
Stabilize the situation. Do the much needed research in what Srila Prabhupada wanted for Vrndavana (I already have so much of that finished). Draw up a short term development plan and appoint future management under that plan. It is not that difficult really.
At the very least the present management should allow the devotees here to make some progress. I spoke of the reaction to the medical proposal. There are some very nice devotees that I have been working with to do this. Every devotee that we speak to is so enthused to hear of a plan to look after them. The only devotees against it was the management. I can only wonder why? Maybe it has something to do with this ‘health insurance scheme’?
I am presently working with Mukunda data Prabhu to formulate a development plan for the Deity Department. I will also work with him on a teaching module so that our Deity Department can offer courses to devotees in the mood and practice of the Deity Worship of our Temple.
I am wondering if this will also be smashed.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada
Dear Bhima prabhu
Pamho. Agt Srila Prabhupada
It is getting closer to the time that you will be here. I am wondering if you have formulated an agenda and a date for the meeting? If so can you let me know so that I can prepare?
As you may know that I met with Kadamba Kanana Swami. The meeting, while it was good to finally discuss the situation, was not conclusive. He advised me to speak with you as well, as you are the Chairman of the V.E.B.
I would like to make one observation from that meeting that is interesting. That is that Kadamba Kanana Swami was very quick to state a personal opinion of me. That is, he summed me up with one phrase – that I have a sharp tongue.
Now that opinion is rather interesting. I was too disturbed by it, at the time to make further comment, except that if I did not use what he called a ‘sharp tongue’ then we would not have been sitting there at the time!
But now I would like to say that in all my letters I have never once made a ‘personal’ statement about any individual member. If I did however, he would have cause to say that I had a ‘sharp tongue’.
It seems that it is common practice amongst our leaders to ‘label’ devotees and therefore not see their full qualities and potential.
I am more than a devotee with a sharp tongue. To ‘sum me up’ as that, is both unfair and disrespectful. I would have a field day if I was to ‘sum up’ the members of the VEB and TP’s in this manner!
I am not blaming anyone. It is simply a matter of taking responsibility for the positions that we are given within Srila Prabhupada’s movement.
I would appreciate it if we did not make this ‘destructively personal’ and keep to the facts and attempt to be solution based.
I saw that Sesa prabhu was here. We did not meet but I heard that he said that there were not going to be any changes with the situation here. So maybe if this is actually the opinion of the VEB then am I simply wasting my time with addressing the VEB?
It is a shame that while he was actually here in Vrndavana and we did say ‘Haribol’ that he did not think it worth his time to take even five minutes to speak with me. This is precisely what I mean when I say ‘to take responsibility’ for the position.
Please don’t mistake these comments as me possessing a sharp tongue… although I shall check when I put my Tilak on next…
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada
Dear Bhakti Caitanya Swami I have already sent you all the letters that I have written to the VEB for your reference. I have asked many devotees in attempt to find out who if anybody will not only listen but has the power to do something. The only name was yours as the Executive Chairman and Bhakti Tirtha Swami so I humbly beg that you read this and at least reply… I will accept even a challenging response as a positive response instead of the hostility of bureaucratic silence.
Dear Bhakti Tirtha Swami as I have said above I have been given your name. Please read this letter and advise me on what I should do next.
For the problem will not go away. Nor will I. We are suffering here and so there should be at least some form of positive outcome for our community. Vrndavana is a very special and pivotal spiritual centre and it is worth any effort to help. You will be surprised just how much of a community we have here despite the problems. There are so many highly qualified devotees living here that it is a shame what is happening.
Dear Maharaja’s and Prabhu’s
Pamho Agt Srila Prabhupada
I am writing to you after fruitlessly trying to open dialogue with the members of the V.E.B on the problems that we are experiencing in Vrndavana. Problems that exist due to the fact that they did not appropriately supervise the management they appointed. I am presenting this synopsis for your information and consideration.
I am sure that the individuals engaged in the process that I am speaking about, are trying their best. However, when considering the management of devotees it is essential to appoint devotees who are both competent managerially and spiritually. This is made evident by a devotee’s ability to function implicitly under the strict adherence to Srila Prabhupada’s instructions in regards to the management of a temple and its devotees.
Very important points to consider regarding the formation of the VEB:
Ø There was no emergency as there was a functioning Temple President that was experiencing some difficulties. (Whether, real or fabricated, by the parties involved in the revolution) So the VEB had time to seek the best person for the positions
Ø The full body of the GBC appointed the VEB members specifically to deal with what they deemed a problem situation
Ø The VEB membership was made up of devotees who did not have the skill nor the time commitment to do the service
Ø Hence the GBC picked the wrong men
Ø Then ‘understandably’ the VEB picked the wrong ‘men’ to replace the existing Temple President
Ø They all failed dismally
Ø So what makes anyone with any intelligence believe that either the GBC or the VEB will do the right thing in the future? Especially this spurious ‘Future Plan’
I have to date not taken this ‘grand’ failure into the devotee public arena. However, I will consider this avenue if I do not get an appropriate response from this letter.
PAST TEMPLE MANAGEMENTS
Ø The TP has been left with only his experience and capabilities for support
Ø There has not been in place a structured plan for the person to work under
Ø There was no mechanism to assess and supervise the person as well as the role
Ø They lacked structured accountability procedures
Ø The upper echelon supervision relied on hearsay evidence for assessment and accountability. This was usually obtained anecdotally and from unreliable sources
FAILING OF THE V.E.B AND TEMPLE MANAGEMENT
Ø Apparently no appropriate guidelines for V.E.B membership
Ø V.E.B members did not commit the time that the appointment required in order to appropriately supervise the new management
Ø V.E.B membership did not comprise of devotees who were skilled and experienced in Community Development
Ø V.E.B did not provide guidelines for the appointment and ongoing assessment and supervision of the new management.
Ø Failed to show relevance to Srila Prabhupada’s instructions with regard to management technique – both V.E.B and TP’s
Ø Failed to observe appropriate Vasinava etiquette in many interpersonal dealings with devotees that resulted in offensive behaviour directed at temple devotees – TP’s
Ø No effective control measures for the supervision of Temple management
Ø The Managerial appointments were not appropriately screened for suitability for the position – regarding proper advertisement, interview process and duty statement
Ø The Temple Presidents did not give the time commitment to the position
Ø There was no functional accountability process by both the V.E.B and Temple Presidents for members of the Temple.
Ø The V.E.B did not provide appropriate feedback and communication with congregational members and other devotees
Ø No improvement in the financial accountability and efficiency
Ø Decreased Sankiritan in the form of Book Distribution
Ø Decreased Life Membership program and therefore book distribution and financial resources
Ø Decreased the morale of the Temple devotees in general
Ø Decreased the morale of a considerable percentage of the congregational members
Ø Decreased standing of the Temple in public and local government opinion
Ø Failed to engage and develop rapport with qualified local congregational members
Ø Failed to give credit to Mahaman prabhu for any good service that he did in his seven year appointment as Temple President
Ø Succeeded in doing more damage to this community in six months than what ‘some devotees claim’ that Mahaman prabhu did in seven years
Ø Failed to protect women
Ø Failed to show transparency to main body of GBC via ‘all is well’ reports
Ø Failed to admit that they have failed and therefore seek assistance
QUALIFICATION FOR MEMBERSHIP OF AN EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT BOARD
Ø A sound understanding of what Srila Prabhpada wanted for Vrndavana
Ø Demonstrated effective overseeing, managerial and problem solving skills and ability
Ø A thorough understanding of the problems in Vrndavana and the Temple
Ø A thorough understanding of Community Development
Ø Desire and ability to protect and care for the devotees connected to the Temple
Ø The ability and time to provide direct supervision and support for local management
Ø Ability to develop rapport with a broad cross section of members of the devotional community in order to facilitate feedback and liaison between the community and management
Ø A thorough understanding of the specific needs and conditions of devotees serving in Vrndavana Dhama
QUALIFICATION OF TEMPLE MANGEMENT
Ø Ability to demonstrate a high level of devotional service and moral/spiritual integrity
Ø A demonstrable ability and desire to cooperate with devotees and enthuse them to engage in devotional service as given by Srila Prabhupada
Ø Ability to take good advice when offered (with Shastral support) and to that end form relationships with Brahminical devotees to engage them in assisting in the smooth operation of the Temple
Ø A thorough understanding and commitment to what Srila Prabhupada’s wanted for Vrndavana
Ø Demonstrated ability to manage a multi functional facility
Ø Ability to assess past managerial mistakes and strengths in order to formulate a workable plan to enthuse and engage the Temple devotees
Ø Ability to assess, form relationships with and engage the devotees of the congregational community
Ø Ability to liaise with the greater Vrndavana Community and act as an ambassador for ISKCON Vrndavana
This is just a basic outline of an assessment procedure that can be used as a guideline in future appointments of a Manager/Leader of our Temple. Not that there needs to be stringent guidelines that leave no room for a devotee’s individuality and creativity but there is required to be checks and balances for the position and the person.
The person or persons occupying the leadership of the temple must be of spotless character and past. The delicate nature of the opinion of the greater Vrndavana community demands this. We do not have a good history to date and so future management must be of exemplary character and integrity.
My suggestion is to invite devotees who are interested and committed to improving the standard of our Krsna-Balarama Temple to come and live here for a year. In this time there will be extensive research and study conducted to see exactly what Srila Prabhupada wanted for Vrndavana and at the same time we will be able to see who the natural leaders are. Our Temple is worth this effort.
The process will necessarily culminate in the development of both short term and long term developmental plans for Vrndavana that are in keeping with Srila Prabhupada’s instructions. The plan will take into consideration the function and utilization of the existing buildings: The Temple / Guesthouse / Gurukula Building – encompassing the Brahmacari ashram and Gurukula School. It will also need to consider the MVT Ashram and Guesthouse. Then ascertain what is necessary to increase the existing facilities to meet the findings from the research into Srila Prabhupada’s vision for Vrndavana.
I am in the process of completing a study of what happened in Vrndavana (including the letters that I sent to the VEB amongst letter from others) as well as a compilation of what Srila Prabhpada wanted for Vrndavana including; the temple and guest house / preaching / management / gurukula and gurukula building and the MVT. I can send an advanced partial copy if requested. It is alarming just how far we have strayed from the path…
Before there can be any hope of implementing a future development plan for Vrndavana we must ascertain precisely what Srila Prabhupada wanted here. As there is a dearth of understanding in this regard, to proceed with any plan is foolhardy. It must also be understood that in order for any plan to work then the devotional community must be informed and supportive. What to speak of there being a fully functional and well run management structure.
My suggestion is that a Stop Gap management team be put in place to do damage control and concentrate on Deity Worship and Sankiritan while the research and policy/program development is conducted. Well before attempting any ‘spurious’ future development plan. There is no other way to stop the repetition of history… I purposefully did not go into the details of the statements I made. If you wish I can elaborate but then again if you had an interest in Vrndavana you would already know… We do have a community here and the decisions that the GBC has made has affected us severely. Come here ask us and you will know…
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada
HG Pragosh Prabhu [email protected]
Executive Chairman of the GBC
Dear Pragosh Prabhu
Please accept my humble obeisance’s. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I hope that you remember me. We served together on the GBC’s Social Development Committee. I prepared the submission to the GBC in 1998.
This letter is to make contact with the new EC of the GBC to continue my protestation of the methodology of the VEB in the management of our temple and to question their qualification for our governance. I know that GBC policy is to allow local management to handle ‘so called’ internal affairs, however, I am of the opinion that both the local temple management and the GBC appointed VEB have failed to implement an appropriate management system here. The tragic nature of this situation, that is so typical of inept management, is that being as they are trapped in the illusion of denial they refuse to admit failure and therefore take responsibility to change.
Briefly, a GBC subcommittee formed the VEB and they then appointed devotees to manage the Krsna-Balarama Mandir here in Vrndavana. The aim of this new management was to supposedly re-instate what Srila Prabhupada wanted for this temple as it was the personal opinion of some devotees that this was not being done under Mahaman prabhu’s management.
The problem is that all they have done is introduced into the Holy Dham an authoritarian impersonal technique of management that has been applied too frequently in ISKCON. A management system, that, we must ‘do the needful’ and eradicate from corporate ISKCON forever.
Some of the points regarding the new management that I am referring to are:
1. The manner in which they intentionally ‘downsized’ the temple. Reducing the number from 160 devotees down to around 75. The notion that all of those devotees were insincere and left due to a mere tightening of the standards is absurd. Investigation is required into the methodology of the so called increasing of standards. I have a list of more than 80 devotees who have left the temple. Their position and the reason why they left.
2. The assumption that the ‘outside’ Vrndavana Community has a better opinion of us. The feedback now would be interesting. Now that there are so many hostile and upset devotees living ‘outside’ our temple. What guarantee can the new management give that the effect of creating such hostility will not lead to an incident that will bring us to the attention of the local police? All we need is another incident right now to bring government attention onto us. Many times I have acted as a ‘buffer’ to hostile devotees to avert action against this management. As this is not my responsibility I see no point in continuing to offer this service to a dysfunctional management so the responsibility now lies fully with the GBC.
3. The effect that going ‘outside’ our family and bringing in the state security services to investigate the ISKCON youth will have on our international youth. The fact that the local management has alienated our ex gurukulis is also a concern.
4. The dismantling of the Sankirtan program. This speaks for itself.
5. The pushing ahead with a ‘future development plan’ with a local management that is absent for most of the year and lacks any local support and respect. And with a VEB that also does not spend time here and therefore lacks support and respect.
6. The assumption that a ‘Bungee Boss’ Temple President is an acceptable arrangement for such a volatile and important centre.
The list goes on and on. I have outlined the problems in my past correspondence with the EC.
Maybe the GBC is aware of the problems here and is thinking that a ‘blind uncle’ is better than no uncle. However, this is also a way of thinking that we can do without. How much emphasis did Srila Prabhupada actually put on this term? It may be good to check Vedabase if you have not already. It is also entirely possible that the blind uncle can be a nice person. The Pandava’s had a blind uncle and they had to fight the battle of Kuruksetra. We only end up only fighting amongst ourselves don’t we?
I firmly believe that it is about time that a GBC subcommittee is instigated and the situation here is reviewed. We need an executive management that consists of devotees who are experienced in community development and can or do live here. This is the same for the Temple Presidents.
This ‘Bungee Boss’ management is not what is needed here or any temple. I am assuming that you are aware that our two temple presidents spend more time outside our yatra than with us here. The VEB also make only cameo appearances. How is it possible for them to make devotional relationships with us? How is it possible for them to make anything other than assumptions about us?
Pragosh Prabhu I remember talking with you many times on the problems with ISKCON management. This is exactly what is happening here right at this moment. The general devotee here is disheartened and apathetic. We are all praying for change. You now have a position that can bring about this change and I pray that you will act in this regard. We deserve at the very least to be listened to.
Prabhu I can only warn against this path that the GBC is taking. It will not lead to anything good. The means here will never bring about the end that Srila Prabhupada wants. It will and is only creating a situation where devotees are committing aparadhas. What is the point in this?
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada
Dear Pragosh prabhu
Pamho Agt Srila Prabhupada
As you are aware the ‘Hunger Strike’ is over for now. What will be the ultimate result time will tell.
Prabhu I am not sure what you have been told but I have had nothing to do with this action. I know them of course. I agree with some of their issues but so do many of the devotees here. However, I absolutely do not condone the manner in which this action was taken as I do not agree with airing our dirty laundry in the public. This action reflects badly upon Srila Prabhupada and his movement.
I have always followed due process with this and taken this up officially and stated my rationale and issues philosophically through the right channels.
Of course it would be foolish to think that anyone in any community would not talk with their friends and others of problems of this nature and magnitude. This is a voluntary process therefore mind control and freedom of speech and thought is not controlled by even Krsna Himself.
The reason why I am bothering to state this is due to hearing from very reliable sources that Devaki Nandana Prabhu and Gopal Krsna Maharaja have been stating that I was behind the hunger strike action. Apparently Devaki Nanadana Prabhu has even inquired into my visa status.
I would like to officially bring this to your attention. I am requesting that they are both officially cautioned with regard to this and made to desist.
Prabhu, it seems now that there was an open reaction to this management they still do not want to take full responsibility and are looking for a scapegoat.
I again would like to strongly state that the GBC needs to form an independent committee to investigate the management of this temple as soon as possible. Gopal Krsna Maharaja has stated to me that you spoke with him and asked him to pass on a message to me that you are setting up such a body. If this is true then I pray that the devotees that you pick are both astute and intelligent and do not have either a vested interest or personal connection with the VEB or the Temple Management.
Prabhu it is now the time to stop all this nonsense and work out our problems and look for solutions. What is the use of all this political wrangling and power struggles? People and devotees in general simply lose faith in our movement.
Our dirty laundry has been aired all over India now so how many prospective devotees and donors have we already lost?
As for myself, I sincerely wish that I did not have to deal with this. I have nothing personally to gain from all of this. If it was not affecting the aspiring Vaisnava devotees of this community I would never have even bothered. If you reread all my points you will see that they can be backed up by Srila Prabhupada’s instructions.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada
HG Pragosh prabhu
Chairman of the Executive Council of the GBC
Pamho Agt Srila Prabhupada
1. Is there any chance that this proposed purchase of Prithu prabhu’s ashram be stopped?
As you are involved with the situation in the Delhi temple you are aware of the connection with Bhima and Devaki Nandana prabhus. So we may experience a more destabilized Temple management as a result of this. With the resignation of Bhima prabhu we are seeing a destabilized VEB. With both temple management and the VEB lacking cohesive unity and having virtually no support here in Vrndavana it is foolhardy to put our temple into further debt.
So please do the needful and strongly recommend that this purchase is stopped.
2. I would like to bring your attention to the ‘supposed’ right of the Gurukula to be the proprietors of the Gurukula Building. As I said before the gurukula building was intended to be used for both adult and child education and was only the gurukula building by name and not purpose.
Further what right does the gurukula management have to use ISKCON funds, name, manpower and facilities when they are intentionally in direct disobedience of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on education? The school’s main focus is government accredited courses. It is no different to any Christian boarding school. And is the antithesis of what Srila Prabhupada wanted for his children. This is simply a private preaching centre and since it cannot show relevance to our philosophy why are they allowed to continue to occupy ISKCON property and use ISKCON’s name?
The schism with education in ISKCON is on par with the Gopi Bhava Club and Rikvic deviations and therefore needs to be addressed.
I have spoken with you in the past about this. Since that time the situation has become far worse. I simply cannot fathom why and how the new management is working with the gurukula and is allowing them to move the Brahmacaris out, giving the gurukula almost full possession of the building. With this they have more leverage and bargaining power to make a deal to move the school to the Goshala and thus move the cows out of their home.
If this happens then it will be such a tragedy. I can safely say that Srila Prabhupada would not be happy. This is Sri Vrndavana Dham and the standard here must be true to Srila Prabhupada. For the GBC to support this is foolhardy at the very best!
I have remained quiet on this since I took this up officially with Sesa prabhu in 1997. He was then the education minister and principal of the school. When I saw that he conceded that they were not doing what Srila Prabhupada wanted in the way of educating our children, but simply shrugged his shoulders when asked why he does not change it… I then saw the true nature of the man. So I knew there was no point.
To move the children to another site away from our community will be the most incredible mistake to date. There is no external scrutiny of the school as it stands. Even the Child Protection Team is an internal team. If this was not a serious breach of professionalism and ethics it would be laughable.
There are so many issues here that must be dealt with before the GBC can allow any further development of the VEB’s future development plan. I have done the research into what Srila Prabhupada wanted for Vrndavana. What he said about the buildings, gurukula and management etc. It is very clear that this course that the GBC is taking is going against what Srila Prabhupada has instructed.
Prabhu I think that you really need to do something here immediately. This is the holy dhama and it must be treated as such. The purity of Srila Prabhupada’s teaching must be our first and only priority here at the very least.
3. I have heard a rumor from some gurukulis that you are in some way involved with the push by some Indian leaders to bring the US police as well as Indian Central and State Police into play with some of our Ex gurukulis.
I pray that you know what you are doing and are being very thoughtful and careful before entering into the power plays of a sector of the GBC that has a plan for ISKCON India. I am sure that you are aware of the impact that this action by the GBC via the VEB and the TP’s may very well be disastrous on our international and local devotional community; especially our Youth? If it is true do you really want to be associated with this?
Our problem with our children really needs to be properly addressed within our family and not necessarily taken to non devotee authorities. For the VEB to take this action without at least attempting to correct our youth needs to be seriously looked into.
Bringing in external accountability for our children is kind of hypocritical when our GBC have no real accountability procedures that protect our devotional community? The very reason why I am writing is that there is seems to be no accountability for the GBC here in Vrndavana and they can do whatever they deem fit!
In conclusion, I strongly suggest that an independent and thorough investigation is conducted here of both the gurukula and temple management. The devotees who do this must be well versed in Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on Vrndavana and not be susceptible to the ‘spin’ of the present devotees in the VEB and local management of this Yatra.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada
Vrndavana Aug 2004
Following is my last official letter to the Vrndavan Management in 2008
The Vrndavan Executive Board
Dear Maharaja’s and Prabhu’s
Srila Prabhupada has given us very clear and precise instructions on not only how a temple in ISKCON should be managed, but also instructions which are specific to the Krsna Balaram Mandir (KBM).
The present decision by the VEB to establish a Council to manage the Vrndavan Yatra is not in keeping with these instructions. The KBM is not only Srila Prabhupada’s ‘home’ it is also where he is presently in Samadhi and it is therefore our duty, when looking after our spiritual fathers home, to strictly abide by his rules and regulations and not speculate.
As the members of the VEB are well aware, the history of KBM has been extremely problematic over the years and so the VEB was primarily incorporated to provide a much needed upper level management and direction to the Yatra in the hope this would improve the situation and create a better Devotional Community to surround and serve Srila Prabhupada in his home.
However and please forgive our frankness, but the VEB was more or less fighting a losing battle since its inception as the qualifications and motivations of its membership was not taken into proper and thorough consideration by the GBC body.
The nature of the problem lies in the very make up of the VEB itself. I think that you will agree that the VEB is comprised of devotees who represent different parties and interests. Any entity that has distinct and influential power plays within itself may be termed schizophrenic and so will never be able to make policies and programmes which are effective due to the hidden agendas of its membership. The various parties will always create division, frustration and ultimately chaos.
Individual members of the VEB or temple presidents will, even with the best intentions and skills, never be able to properly implement any programme or policy due to interference from other party’s plans and hidden agendas.
As you can remember and we the residents of this community can attest, the very first Temple Presidents that were appointed by the VEB were evidence of this disunity and subsequent diversity of purpose. They reigned with terror and heavy handedness that is unparalleled in the history of the KBM. It is general consensus that if we never again lay eyes on these individuals in this life time, we will be happier and much more successful in our spiritual lives.
The lack of unity in the upper echelon of any community will always be noticed by the members of that community and further, constant changes in management will always be key indicators of a management that is unable to effectively do its duty.
The comment by HH Kadamba Kanana Swami was a key indicator that the VEB is in trouble. A strong and united leadership will never need to mention to its members that they are being used in an experiment. For us that means speculation and therefore gambling. What to speak of changing Srila Prabhupada’s system of autonomous Temple Presidents to a heavily ‘vested’ interested factionalized Council.
However, as I have discussed above it is a very difficult position that faces the VEB at present. In the non devotee world a management team that has such a track record and division will never be given a second term. It will be deemed counterproductive to say the least.
Maybe the VEB needs to admit that they have not succeeded in the task that has been given to them. But as I have said above it was fraught with problems from the very beginning and so no blame can be afforded to anyone.
I believe that it is not possible for such a factionalized entity to be able to meets its responsibilities.
However a task given must have a happy ending… The onus will be on the VEB to create a situation where they can walk away with dignity.
You may say, “How can I make this statement?” But you also know that what is being said here does ring a bell of truth. No matter how many combinations and computations you may make, no matter how sincere any individual member may be, so long as disunity exists there will be a continuation of the problems already in play.
This disunity reaches deep into the management structure of the KBM. The most serious and problematic was the separation of the Gurukul from being under the authority of the Temple. This has lead to all degrees of problems. This separation has caused the most amount of damage to both the Temple devotees and the devotional community.
Disunity is also evident with the various departments being controlled and manipulated by vested interest parties that comprise the VEB.
As experienced managers and leaders, you all know that it is entirely impossible to manage such a structure? No wonder the VEB finds it impossible to find a devotee who is willing to take on the responsibility of Temple President for the KBM.
It is my strong recommendation that the VEB develop an exit strategy.
However, this will involve designing a well thought out plan.
For this I am offering an option.
The VEB must agree that a factionalized KBM is not a sound management practice and they must rectify this with firm and sound decision making.
The VEB must consolidate the KBM.
a) The council may be temporarily maintained for the purpose of rectification of the management structure. When the Yatra is more professionally managed it will prove more attractive for committed, serious and intelligent devotees to consider a Temple Presidency position.
b) The Gurukul must again be brought under the authority of the Temple as Srila Prabhupada wanted. If this means that the Gurukul must be temporarily closed till management and philosophical changes are made in order to bring it under the auspices of Srila Prabhupada then this must be done.
c) The VIHE must also be brought back under the Temple authority and removed from the Goshala land.
d) The VEB must formulate and agree upon a five year development plan. This plan is managerial and not structural. The future design and construction plan needs to be shelved till a more appropriate time.
Once a plan is developed the VEB will need to instruct the Council;
e) All department heads must prepare an internal evaluation in order to ascertain the effectiveness of their departments in meeting their duties and responsibilities. The evaluation report will be designed and supervised by the Council and approved by the VEB.
I know that what is being presented here seems like an impossible task but nonetheless a task that once started will prove to be most effective in rectifying the present situation. Please also remember that I am not speaking theoretically I have lived in Vrndavan for well over 12 years and have observed all these changes and have been well informed of the internal politics and personalities of many of the key players.
If the VEB is interested in this plan and is willing to make the necessary changes then I will be willing to enter into further discussion on this matter.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada
The Vrndavan Executive Board
Dear Maharaja’s and Prabhu’s
To speak frankly I understand that since its inception the VEB has been at a serious disadvantage. The cause of the disadvantage is the fact that it is comprised of different parties who have different agendas all of whom desire the controlling influence of the Vrndavan Yatra.
Hence now we find the VEB in the situation where it openly declares that is experimenting (Speculating/gambling) with its new move to manage the Yatra by making yet another change in the management system of ISKCON Vrindavan. HH Kadamba Kanana Swami admits this in the last Isthaghosti.
This new council openly flaunts the divisions in the VEB with representatives from the various factions now openly revealed.
The original divided VEB ended up meaning a divided departmental structure. The first biggest division was the separation of the Gurukula. This successfully divided the Yatra and set two of the main parties in the VEB more or less in opposition to each other.
Then the rest of the departments were chopped up and appropriated by the various VEB factions. Hence no matter how well intentioned the individual VEB member or Temple President, there was no way that they could effectively control the Yatra.
It is impossible, no matter how good intentioned, for any ‘body’ or anybody to be able to control such a schizophrenic entity. I think that you are all individually aware of this fact.
It is our humble opinion that the VEB needs to be comprised of devotees who do not represent the interests of differing parties and who therefore can concentrate on developing a five year working plan based on what Srila Prabhupada wants, for what he considers as his Home.
VEB membership needs to be comprised of devotees who have demonstrable and not imagined knowledge and affinity with the Vrindavana temple and congregational community members as well as the outside community.
Devotees who are able to dedicate themselves primarily to Vrindavan and not have interests that are widespread and diverse.
Therefore no more than three members are needed. It is also recommended that these are new members. Of course the present membership needs to be the architects of this new VEB and management plan.
When the VEB is reestablished the next step would be to consolidate the Yatra. That would mean to bring the Gurukul back under the wing of the Temple. Therefore the ‘separatist’ ideology that has been the trademark of the Gurukul authorities would cease to be disruptive and problematic to the smooth running of the Temple. The disunion of the Gurukul has been the worst decision of the VEB to date.
It may have served a purpose in ridding the temple of devotees that the VEB deemed superfluous to its ends, but the manner in which it was done was the most offensive behavior committed by the VEB and the then Temple Presidents to date.
Further the reassignment of the rooms of the Gurukul building that affected the ‘kicking out’ of the Temple authorities and brahmacari ashrams from the Gurukul building only increased the communities hostility to both the VEB and the then Temple Presidents, who had and still have, a very bad reputation in both the temple communities and the outside community.
Once the Temple departments have been consolidated, reviews need to be conducted of the departments to ascertain their present effectiveness in achieving their individual duties and responsibilities.
The effectiveness of the various departmental heads need to be ascertained with special regards to the devotees affiliation to parties who have vested interest in power plays within the VEB and other interested parties. Remembering that this is Srila Prabhupadas home and it is where he is currently in Samadhi.
A report needs to be put together on the state of the various departments for the VEB to review.
Once the state of the Temple Departments and Devotional Community is clearly understood then a detailed working developmental plan can be drawn up.
When this process is completed it will be easier to attract suitable devotees to fulfill the position of Temple President. For the current state of disarray
I understand that the VEB has had a particularly difficult task as it was always made up of devotees who had differing agendas. This will always be hugely problematic. The struggle between the different parties will always prove problematic for anybody to be able to control.
This is made evident by the statement from Kadamba Kanana Swami’s comment that the newly established Council is an experiment. Srila Prabhupada gave clear instructions on how he wanted a Temple President to be in charge of his temples. To have anything else is speculative and therefore to be classed as gambling. That means the VEB is breaking one of the regulative principals.
From the VEB’s inception it has used a top down despotic and what could be classified as fascist management style. There has been no consideration for the members of both the Temple community and the devotional community. They have appointed a succession of ‘outsiders’ to manage who have very little, if not, no experience of community development or appropriate management skills.
Now after all these years the VEB has resorted to a Council to replace Srila Prabhupada’s system.
The management of any community or organization must also take into consideration the problems of the past in relationship to a sound and well constructed plan. Then they must develop strategies to lead the temple community in the direction that they would like to achieve.
Sri Vrindavan Dham is the Holiest of Holy places on earth and our Krishna Balaram Temple here represents Srila Prabhupada’s home. What we do in our Spiritual Masters home is not up for speculative reasoning. In his home we must strictly follow what he has instructed us to do. ISKCON Vrindavan must set the proper standard for all other centers to follow.
One can only understand that the VEB is at a loss to ascertain what to do in the management of ISKCON Vrindavan. I wrote only a day before you met and you did not take any of our advice. You in fact took it to another level of mismanagement.
Even Kadamba Kanana Swami admits what you are doing is ‘experimental.’ This statement by Maharaja confirms precisely what I am saying.
From the devotional community perspective I am seeing several problems that arise from this rather insecure statement. Firstly the VEB was formed to provide a better management system that the previous system headed up by Mahaman and now after so many years I am still experiencing a VEB who is unable to achieve its mission.
If I am to believe Kadamda Kanana Swami we are now to be used as guinea pigs in the VEB’s new experimental management system. What if it doesn’t work? What if the obvious factions represented in the council argue on what should be done and who should do it?
If one was to look at the VEB as a personality one could easily say that the person would be classified ‘schizophrenic’ as evidence but the various different ‘camps’. Now this personality is going to create another personality who is also schizphrenic as further evidenced by the factional makeup of the council.
After all these years the VEB has not be able to secure a list of possible candidates to act as Temple President. When one looks at why they were not able to secure such a list it is fairly obvious that the greater ISKCON community does not believe that the VEB has accomplished their objective of transforming ISKCON Vrindavan into a better and safe community. Any good manager after a week will ascertain that Vrindavan is still not a safe place to serve or live.
After so many years of miss management and frequent changes the VEB is now adopting a completely speculative change.
Now to our amazement the VEB has established a “Council” to manage our Yatra. Not only is having a exactly the opposite of what Srila Prabhupada wanted it goes even further to expose the main players in the ISKCON Vrindavan power-play chess tournament.
I recognize that the leadership of any community is not an easy task and I am grateful for the endeavors of the VEB.
I also recognize that ISKCON Vrindvana has a very turbulent history and since the establishment of the Vrindavana Executive Board (VEB) I have not experienced any lessening of this turbulence.
A happy and supportive congregational community is vital for the healthy development of a devotional society and therefore Governing and Temple Authorities need to recognize that they have a responsibility for, and accountability to, each and every member of that congregational community for whom they serve.
Therefore it is reasonable to expect that the Temple authorities can demonstrate that they have the ability to effectively care for, liaise and lead the devotional community. The development of any Community is a long term process and one that demands maturity of leadership, continuity of service, and a united management team who possess the same vision of purpose that Srila Prabhupada wanted for the Vrindavan Yatra.
Over the time that the VEB has been established I have seen an alarming turnover of Temple Presidents and therefore leadership of our community. Each successive management team has been in conflict with each other and has applied differing management styles to varying degrees of success and failure.
However, constant reorganization of management approaches leaves the devotional community in state of confusion as they attempt to adapt to a multitude of personalities, management styles and emphasis.
The procedure that the VEB has applied to the management of the Vrindavan when appointing devotees to management positions who do not possess knowledge of both; the ISKCON Vrindavan Community or the broader Vrindavan Community, has to date not proven successful and most definitely needs to be revised.
I further understand that the VEB members have differing views and opinions, not only on, who should manage our Yatra but also what management style should be applied, and in what direction our Yatra should proceed. This is also evident by the incessant leadership changes.
It is vital that the VEB take into consideration what I am saying for further changes will naturally only lead to confusion, further alienation of community members and further lack of confidence in the ability of the VEB to provide the overall leadership of this very important devotional community.
I strongly recommend that there is a review of the present system of management used by the VEB and an unmotivated, clear and definite leadership and management plan is developed, in other words a plan which is not able to be affected by the various political interests within the VEB body itself and takes into consideration the needs of the devotional community.
I am writing this for the benefit of all concerned and do not intend to cause further disturbance but I firmly believe that what I am presenting needs to be taken into consideration when the VEB makes any decision regarding the future development of the Vrindavan Yatra.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada