Kṛṣṇacandra Dāsa – Śrī Vṛndāvan Dham: The new GBC website is a very slick and professional looking site however it raises again several glaring issues regarding the actual role of the GBC in our ISKCON society. The GBC continually reiterate 2 main statements – firstly that the GBC is the ultimate managerial authority and secondly that the GBC members are there for life and cannot be changed.
The ‘logical fallacy’ of these two statements by the GBC is glaringly obvious.
They claim that they the GBC are the ‘ultimate’ managing authority? But what does Śrīla Prabhupāda mean by this?
GBC members are simply to see that things are going on. Other centers have got president, secretary, etc. and they are managing separately. That is the formula. So how is it that the GBC are the final authority? They are simply to examine that things are going on nicely, that is all. [Letter – Umapati: 9, July 1971]
GBC does not mean to control a center. GBC means to see that the activities of a center go on nicely. I do not know why Tamala is exercising his absolute authority. That is not the business of GBC. The president, treasurer and secretary are responsible for managing the center. GBC is to see that things are going nicely but not to exert absolute authority. That is not in the power of GBC. Tamala should not do like that. The GBC men cannot impose anything on the men of a center without consulting all of the GBC members first. A GBC member cannot go beyond the jurisdiction of his power. We are in the experimental stage but in the next meeting of the GBC members they should form a constitution how the GBC members manage the whole affair. But it is a fact that the local president is not under the control of the GBC. [Letter – Giriraja: 12, August 1971]
Śrīla Prabhupāda’s instructions were always to ‘manage’ his institution, which most definitely does not infer to take control of it and the devotees and force them to comply to their personal or collective wants, desires, plans and ideas. Manage is manage, nothing else. To interpret this in the manner in which the GBC and Rubber Stamped Gurus have done is deceitful. Śrīla Prabhupāda never gave them ‘carte blanche’ to do anything other than follow his teachings, mandates and instructions and to make sure that things were going nicely.
No one person [Guru] or the GBC body was given supreme authority for that lies with His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda alone. This is clearly and legally stated in the founding Incorporation documentation of ISKCON as a Society.
THIRD:It is declared that His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is the Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness of the Bay Area. He shall be the supreme power with respect to all matters of the society, and that status shall not be occupied by or shared with any other individual, either during his lifetime, or after death.
Here it is abundantly clear that Śrīla Prabhupāda asserts himself as the supreme power with respects to all matters of the society, and that status shall not be occupied by or shared with any other individual either during his lifetime or after his death. The after his death clause is particularly important as it clearly shows that Śrīla Prabhupāda’s authority extends after he was physically present.
As usual the GBC quotes out of context in order to paint a picture in their new propaganda website that makes their offensive ideas and opinions seemingly concur with Śrīla Prabhupāda’s. Below are the specific resolutions dealing with the GBC in the 1975 GBC resolutions they quote in an attempt to justify their right to change what Śrīla Prabhupāda ordered, taught and instructed them to do.
Resolved: The GBC (Governing Body Commissioned) has been established by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to represent Him in carrying out the responsibility of managing the International Society for Krishna Consciousness of which He is the Founder-Acarya and supreme authority. The GBC accepts as its life and soul His divine instructions and recognizes that it is completely dependent on His mercy in all respects. The GBC has no other function or purpose other than to execute the instructions so kindly given by His Divine Grace and preserve and spread his Teachings to the world in their pure form. [GBC Resolutions 1975]
Here Śrīla Prabhupāda establishes himself as the supreme authority and clarifies that “The GBC has no other function or purpose other than to execute the instructions so kindly given by His Divine Grace and preserve and spread his Teachings to the world in their pure form.” Therefore it is abundantly clear that the GBC must carry out the responsibility of “managing” ISKCON nothing more and nothing less.
It is understood that the GBC, as a collective body of 14-members has been authorized by His Divine Grace to make necessary arrangements for carrying out these responsibilities of management. These arrangements may include delegating authority, managing resources, setting objectives, making plans, calling for reports, evaluating results, training others, maintaining spiritual standards and defining sphere of influence of the various GBC members as well as other devotees. [GBC Resolutions 1975]
MANAGE MANAGE MANAGE! Where does it state or infer that the GBC have the duty, right or obligation to change anything? This is not their movement or society or institution it belongs to His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda! No GBC either now or in the future has the right to interpret or change the programs, policies, teachings or words of the Founder Ācārya. They are only permitted to manage what Śrīla Prabhupāda established.
The members of the GBC do not have any inherent authority but rather derive their authority from the Governing Body Commission itself and ultimately from His Divine Grace. Their authority may be over a particular geographic area or over a particular function. Whichever area of responsibility be given to the various members their primary responsibility is to the society as a whole. [GBC Resolutions 1975]
The responsibility of the GBC body or a particular GBC is to faithfully follow Śrīla Prabhupāda’s instructions and teachings and their primary responsibility is to the society as a whole. That means they are servants not masters. Śrīla Prabhupāda is the master and we are the servants of the servants. The GBC have no ‘inherent’ authority only that which is compliant to the teachings and instructions of His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda.
2) Resolved: A GBC member should not consider himself as the whole GBC, but as a member or commissioner, commissioned by the whole Governing Board.
3) Resolved: The Governing Board may authorized one of its commissioners to go to any GBC member to get a report from him on his activities. The GBC member must co-operate and give the Board his report.
4) Resolved: If a GBC man whose behavior is in question does not co-operate, Srila Prabhupada and the GBC must immediately be informed.
5) Resolved: The selection of GBC members is that Srila Prabhupada will nominate, and if there is a discrepancy, His Grace will change him. There will be no elections, and the present GBC member will remain.
[GBC Resolutions 1975]
The ‘idea’ a GBC once given the post is there for life does not give any or all the GBC members ‘carte blanche’ to change anything or to impose any new system or law or standard on our society or its members. They have to comply to the teachings instructions and mandates established by Śrīla Prabhupāda.
However, the GBC in their new website states here:
The position of the GBC was carefully reaffirmed in Srila Prabhupada’s will. Traditionally, the will of an acarya first names an heir, a successor of the institution, in effect passing on the institution to a leading disciple who would then act as the next acarya. Srila Prabhupada’s will does not name an individual, however, but rather states “The Governing Body Commission (GBC) will be the ultimate managing authority for the entire International Society for Krsna Consciousness.” By naming the GBC as the heir to ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada again affirms the position of the GBC as the ultimate managerial head of ISKCON. [GBC Website – Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Vision]
Where does Śrīla Prabhupāda say anything even remotely like this “By naming the GBC as the ‘heir’ to ISKCON”? There is no talk about an ‘heir’ anywhere. Śrīla Prabhupāda left his society to be managed by a governing body called the GBC he did not specify anywhere that the GBC was to be his heir or beneficiary. Śrīla Prabhupāda did not state in his Will that the GBC was the heir or beneficiary of his ISKCON society so by stating this here they would have us, more importantly the neophyte devotee, believe that the GBC who were in the posts at the time or the GBC body itself, was to receive his ISKSCON society lock stock and smoking barrel as their ‘inheritance’.
The ISKCON society, the teachings found in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books, lectures and conversations and all the assets etc do not belong to anyone but must be managed in such a way so as to maintain fidelity to His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda whose purpose was to promote Bhāgavata Dharma for the benefit of the human race and not to benefit any individual or group.
Yet the GBC want us to believe that even though Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswati Mahajara and Śrīla Prabhupāda did not appoint an actual heir or successor – that Śrīla Prabhupāda, without any previous discussion or written instruction / mandate, bequeathed his ISKCON society to the GBC body and therefore gave them the right to make changes / amendments in any manner they deem fit? For example turn the post of a guru into an institutional appointment and begin voting in Gurus/Ācāryas or Corporatize and Centralize ISKCON or make the non reporting of crimes to the police and relevant Government authorities and the protection of the perpetrators at the expense of the victim a ‘norm’ within our Vaiṣṇava society.
The next point; being the idea that a GBC is a ‘lifetime’ position that cannot be revoked under any circumstances.
The GBC states – ‘lifetime position’ is ‘reaffirmed’ but where is this reaffirmed? In Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Will? The only official documentation for a ‘lifetime’ position is found in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Will; here Srīla Prabhupāda states that the only GBC for life are the Executive Directors of the various Temples and Projects not the GBC body members.
The executive directors who have herein been designated are appointed for life. In the event of death or failure to act for any reason of any o (the said directors, a successor director or directors may be appointed by the remaining directors, provided the new director is my initiated disciple following strictly all the rules and regulations of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness as detailed in my books, and provided that there are never less than three (3) or more than five (5) executive directors acting at one time.
It must be noted that nowhere in any official document or mandate does Śrīla Prabhupāda say that a GBC is appointed for life and it nowhere states that once appointed that the person cannot be removed even if engaged in sinful activity.
Satsvarūpa: Śrīla Prabhupāda, we were all asked by the rest of the GBC to come to ask some questions. Most… These are the members of the original GBC as you first made it up. So our first question is about the GBC members. We want to know how long should they remain in office?
Prabhupāda: They should remain for good.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: They should remain for good.
Prabhupāda: Selected men are chosen, so they cannot be changed. Rather, if some competent man comes, he should be added. I shall recommend that Vāsudeva become one of the GBC.
[GBC meets with Śrīla Prabhupāda May 28th 1977]
They base their lifetime unchangeable and unchallengeable appointments on the statement here by Śrīla Prabhupāda when he says ‘for good’ is an adverb which means – For a long time without essential change. Sure this can be seen as ‘for good’ meaning permanent but it by no means infers ‘for bad’ as well. Further that only Śrīla Prabhupāda in person can change a GBC if the for ‘good turns’ to ‘for bad’ and therefore as the GBC are now the heirs to Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON society this power has been bequeathed to them and so now it lies in their hands to decide what is good or bad or who stays and who goes.
Śrīla Prabhupāda made it abundantly clear that in order to be a GBC member one must be “my initiated disciple following strictly all the rules and regulations of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness as detailed in my books.” Nowhere does it state that a GBC or the GBC body can do whatever he or it so desires because he or it is Śrīla Prabhupāda’s heir and he or they must be obeyed without question even if they are deviating managerially / philosophically /criminally or morally – until they die a traitorous, deceitful, miserable wicked death.
They like us have to be following the rules and regulations of our ISKCON society as detailed in His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda’s books in order to call ourselves disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda.
This is precisely why the ‘failure to act’ clause is in the incorporation documentation. If you fail to act as required by Śrīla Prabhupāda then you disqualify yourself from holding a position within the institution and should by rights step down from your position or be requested or forced to leave depending on your humility or lack thereof.
The GBC have designed a very impressive website, however in order for them to be taken seriously as senior Vaiṣṇavas worthy of our respect and fealty they must first comply with the orders / instructions / teachings and standards set by ISKCON’s Founder Ācārya His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda.
Cut n paste from the GBC website on Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Vision…
Having witnessed the disintegration of the Gaudiya Math and closely patterning his spiritual master, in 1970 Srila Prabhupada established a Governing Body Commission (GBC) for ISKCON. From its inception, Srila Prabhupada personally trained his disciples in governing the institution to insure the continuance of ISKCON and its governing body beyond his inevitable departure. Srila Prabhupada emphasizes, “Personally I wish all the existing GBC may be trained up so perfectly that in the future in my absence they can manage the whole Society very nicely and strongly. That is my desire.”
Although informal GBC meetings began in 1970, the first formal Annual General Meeting of ISKCON’s GBC took place in Mayapur, West Bengal in 1975. Srila Prabhupada himself attended and guided the first session to show how such meetings should be conducted. During this 1975 meeting, a significant decision was made regarding the appointment of GBC members. ISKCON’s original Direction of Management states that in the future, temple presidents would elect GBC members. However, this was never implemented, and in 1975 a resolution was passed effectively amending the original Direction of Management so that temple presidents would not elect GBC members. The resolution, approved and signed by Srila Prabhupada reads:
5) Resolved: The selection of GBC members is that Srila Prabhupada will nominate, and if there is a discrepancy, His Divine Grace will change him. There will be no elections, and the present GBC member will remain. Notice: “There will be no elections.”
Two years later in May 28, 1977 an official delegation of GBC members asked Srila Prabhupada for further direction regarding the future operation of the GBC. On the subject of a GBC member’s term of office, Srila Prabhupada replied that a GBC member should “remain for good” and that a “GBC is not to be changed.” Srila Prabhupada further clarifies “So there is no question of changing GBC. Rather, one who is competent, he can be selected to act by the board of the GBC.” The GBC continues to follow Srila Prabhupada’s instructions today, maintaining lifelong positions and appointing new members through an election process within the governing body.
The position of the GBC was carefully reaffirmed in Srila Prabhupada’s will. Traditionally, the will of an acarya first names an heir, a successor of the institution, in effect passing on the institution to a leading disciple who would then act as the next acarya. Srila Prabhupada’s will does not name an individual, however, but rather states “The Governing Body Commission (GBC) will be the ultimate managing authority for the entire International Society for Krsna Consciousness.” By naming the GBC as the heir to ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada again affirms the position of the GBC as the ultimate managerial head of ISKCON.
ISKCON’s Governing Body Commission has continued without break since its establishment in 1970, and the GBC continues to convene annually in Mayapur, West Bengal for its formal annual general meeting. Currently, there are thirty-two members of the governing body overseeing a growing number of ISKCON centers worldwide. Still today, the function of the Governing Body Commission remains—to serve as the ultimate managerial authority for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness as instructed by Srila Prabhupada.