ISKCON GOVERNING BODY COMMISSION SOCIETY
Reg. No S/74662 under the West Bengal Societies Registration Act, 1961
P.O. Shree Mayapura Dham, Dist. Nadia, W. Bengal
MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF THE ISKCON GBC BODY SOCIETY
SRI DHAM MAYAPURA, FEBRUARY 5 –16, 1999
1. THAT, as our 1998 Chairman could not fulfill his term, it is resolved that Ravindra Swarupa Dasa serve as Acting Chairman for the 1999 annual meeting.
2. THAT His Holiness Bir Krishna Maharaja is elected as GBC Chairman.
3. THAT His Grace Madhusevita Das is elected as First GBC Vice-Chairman.
4. THAT His Holiness Gopal Krishna Maharaja is elected as Second Vice-Chairman.
5. THAT Her Grace Manjari Devi Dasi is elected as GBC Secretary.
6. THAT His Grace Vaidyanatha Das is confirmed as Full GBC Member.
7. THAT the following devotees are confirmed as Assistant GBC members:
His Grace Anuttama Das
Her Grace Malati Devi Dasi
Her Grace Manjari Devi Dasi
8. THAT the following devotees are confirmed as acting GBC members:
His Holiness B.B. Govinda Maharaja
His Holiness Bhakti Caitanya Maharaja
9. THAT the GBC Body accepts the resignations from the GBC Body of Hrdayananda Maharaja, Mukunda Maharaja, and Sridhara Maharaja, with grateful thanks for their years of service on the GBC Body and with the assurance of their continuing to give invaluable advice and aid to the GBC Body and to ISKCON.
10. THAT the following GBC members are appointed as GBC Emeritus effective after this meeting:
His Holiness Satsvarupa Maharaja
His Holiness Mukunda Maharaja
His Holiness Hrdayananda Maharaja and
His Holiness Sridhara Maharaja
11. THAT the GBC Body accepts the resignation from the GBC Body of Harikesa Das. [See No. 604 (A) below.]
12. THAT the following devotees are confirmed or reconfirmed as candidates for GBC:
His Holiness Bhakti Raghava Swami
His Holiness Bhakti Marg Swami is candidate for GBC for Canada.
His Grace Prthu Prabhu
13. THAT the GBC Body accepts Guru Sakti Das’s resignation from his position as Candidate for GBC.
14. THAT His Holiness Navayogendra Swami is no longer a candidate for GBC.
15. THAT His Grace Anuttama Das is appointed Minister of Communications.
16. THAT His Grace Sesa Das is appointed the Minister of Educational Development.
17. THAT His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami is granted a one-year leave of absence on ground of ill health. The GBC Body prays for his quick recovery and looks forward to having his association again as soon as possible.
Section 100: BASIC PREACHING
101 [ACTION ORDER] MAYAPURA-CALCUTTA AGREEMENT
THAT Resolution No. 40 of 1994 has expired and the GBC Body does not vote to extend it. Mayapura is authorized to preach and raise funds in Calcutta. Calcutta and Mayapura are at liberty to continue their agreement on a voluntary basis.
102. [LAW] SERVICE REPORTS BY SANNYASIS
THAT item No. 1 of the 1995 resolution No. 14 entitled “Sannyasi Annual Commitment” shall be amended from the following:
“THAT sannyasis who are not GBC’s or ISKCON Managers shall annually submit in writing to the GBC a “service program” report they are committing themselves to for the following year. This report shall include the following:
a) what devotional services they intend to do;
b) where they intend to perform their services;
c) when they intend to be in different places, if not always in the same zone;
d) anything else they would like the GBC to know.”
To now read:
“THAT all sannyasis shall annually submit in writing to the GBC Body a “service program” report they are committing themselves to for the following year. This report shall include the following:
a) what devotional services they intend to do;
b) where they intend to perform their services;
c) when they intend to be in different places, if not always in the same zone;
d) anything else they would like the GBC Body to know.”
103. [ACTION ORDER] SANNYASA WAITING LIST
THAT the following is the waiting period for the following candidates for sannyasa:
Amala Bhakti Das 1 year
Canakya Pandita Das 1 year
Gaura Narayana Das 2 years
Gauranga Prema Das 1 year
Gita Govinda Das 1 year
Maha mantra Das 2 year
Pariksit Das 1 year
Radha Ramana Das 4 year
Ramacandra Das 3 years
Sarvaisvarya Das 4 years
Simheswara Das 3 years
Tribhuvanatha Das 5 years
104. [LAW] COMPLAINTS ABOUT SANNYASIS
THAT the GBC Sannyasa Sub-committee shall deal with any complaints against sannyasis. An investigation will be initiated if a majority of the members judges a complaint to merit investigation . Decisions will be made by a majority vote. The GBC Executive Committee shall present the decision to the GBC Body either by correspondence or at the next annual general meeting. A decision of the Sannyasa Sub-committee will be overturned by a majority vote of the GBC Body; otherwise the sub-committee’s decision remains in effect. A sannyasi who does not abide by the decision shall be subjected to penalties according to ISKCON Law. If there are complaints against sannyasis who are also GBC members or gurus, the GBC Executive Committee may decide to deal with them itself; however, in that case the Sannyasa Minister should also participate in the decision-making process.
Section 200: SPECIALIZED PREACHING
201.[ACTION ORDER] ISLAMIC PREACHING
THAT the GBC Body would like to encourage Airavata Prabhu in his service and direct him to work with the Interfaith Committee of the GBC Body.
Any devotee wishing to preach to adherents of Islam are encouraged to co-ordinate their work with Airavata Prabhu. A branch office of the Interfaith Committee may be established at Mayapura with Airavata Prabhu as its co-ordinator of Islamic preaching.
Section 300: EDUCATIONAL AND SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT
301. [LAW] RESOLUTIONS CONCERNING THE DOCTRINE OF RITVIKISM
Whereas in 1990 the GBC Body ruled that the doctrine called the “posthumous ritvik theory” or “post-samadhi ritvik theory” (hereinafter called “ritvikism”) is a “dangerous philosophical deviation” and prohibited its teaching and practice in ISKCON, and
Whereas the decision of the GBC Body has been recorded in the ISKCON Law Book under the heading “Specifically Outlawed Doctrines and Practices”, as follows:
“188.8.131.52 ’Posthumous Ritvik’ Doctrine
“The doctrine that Srila Prabhupada continues to initiate direct diksa disciples after his departure from this world through officiating priests (ritviks) is a dangerous philosophical deviation. It is totally prohibited in ISKCON. No devotee shall participate in such posthumous ritvik initiation ceremonies in any capacity including acting as ritvik, initiate, assistant, organizer, or financier. No ISKCON devotee shall advocate or support its practice.”
Whereas a number of devotees in and around ISKCON, some of whom hold positions in ISKCON as managerial and spiritual authorities, have begun again to practice and preach a refurbished version of ritvikism, and
Whereas the GBC Body has again carefully examined the case for ritvikism as currently presented, having had representatives meet at various times and places with its advocates to hear them make their case, and has, as a body sitting in plenary session on 9 February, 1999, carefully heard the case personally advocated by Adridharan Prabhu, president of Calcutta temple, Sattvik Prabhu, vice-president of Calcutta temple, and Madhu Pandita Prabhu, president of Bangalore temple, and
Whereas the GBC Body has given the current versions of ritvikism careful attention and all due deliberation to the best of its ability:
Be it hereby resolved THAT
1) The GBC Body states that it finds the arguments for ritvikism as represented to it by Madhu Pandita Dasa and other of his associates, and as preached by them around the world, to be erroneous in its conclusion as well as specious and sophistical in its conduct. The case for ritvikism is false and duplicitous in its method of procedure and in its selection and use of evidence. It depends heavily on speculation and word-jugglery. It presents it’s radical and speculative departures from the consistent teachings of Srila Prabhupada, his predecessor acaryas, Srila Vyasadeva, and the Lord Himself, under the name of “tradition” and “no change.” The effect of these arguments is only to bewilder, delude, and misguide innocent devotees from the teaching set forth by Krishna and upheld without exception by all Vaisnava acaryas.
2) The GBC Body reaffirms strongly its resolution of 1990 entitled “Prohibition Order Against the Posthumous Ritvik Theory.”
3) ISKCON Law 184.108.40.206 is hereby amended to read as follows:
“220.127.116.11 ‘Ritvikism’ aka ‘Posthumous Ritvik Theory,’ ‘Post-Samadhi-Ritvik Theory,’ ‘Proxy Initiation Theory,’ ‘No Change Theory,’ etc.
“The doctrine that Srila Prabhupada desired to continue to act as diksa guru after his departure from this world and did not desire any of his disciples to give diksa in succession after him is a dangerous philosophical deviation. Ritvikism directly goes against the principle of parampara itself (of successive diksa and siksa gurus), which sustains the pure teachings and practices of Krishna consciousness. This principle has been established by Krishna and is upheld by all Vaisnava acaryas. Indeed, it is accepted by all followers of Vedic culture. Ritvikism is thus an extreme deviation. It is utterly erroneous to espouse it, deluding and misguiding to teach it, and blasphemous to attribute it to Srila Prabhupada. No one who espouses, teaches, supports in any way, or practices ritvikism can be a member in good standing of ISKCON.”
4) The GBC acknowledges that this Body has since 1977 made changes in the manner in which initiations are carried out in ISKCON, is contemplating changes at present, and may well make changes in the future. However, the GBC Body maintains that these changes concern practical adjustments according to time, place, and object undertaken in the application of absolute, unchanging principle. Ritvikism contravenes absolute, unchanging principle. Hence it is categorically different from the permissible adjustments within the power of the GBC Body. In spite of its adjustments, the GBC Body has held steadily to the principle of parampara and remains committed to it, for it is the teaching of Srila Prabhupada and his predecessors, and it is a necessity in the matter of sustaining a living tradition. [All sections of 301 passed unanimously.]
302. [LAW] ENFORCEMENT OF ISKCON LAW REGARDING RITVIKISM
Whereas a number of devotees in and around ISKCON have begun again to practice and preach “ritvikism,” even though it is prohibited by ISKCON Law as a “dangerous philosophical deviation,” and
Whereas Among those espousing or preaching ritvikism there are several who hold positions in ISKCON as managerial or spiritual authorities,
It is hereby resolved THAT:
1) The GBC Body unequivocally rejects in principle any proposals that rivikism be in some manner or another accommodated or tolerated within ISKCON. [Passed unanimously.]
2) The GBC Body hereby makes known it’s strong determination to enforce ISKCON law in the matter of ritvikism, and it enjoins upon all its members and other official bodies, officers, and other authorities in ISKCON, such as Regional Governing Boards, regional secretaries, GBC ministers, sannyasis, initiating gurus, temple presidents, and temple officers, the responsibility to take every appropriate action, according to ISKCON law, to enforce the prohibition against ritvikism in ISKCON. [Passed unanimously]
3) A. The GBC Body declares that to espouse or preach ritvikism includes the following censurable offenses under the provision of ISKCON Law (8.4.1. 3):
1. Conscious and serious philosophical deviation from Srila Prabhupada’s teachings
2. Willful violation of GBC Body resolutions
B. Further, the GBC Body hereby rules that in relation to the espousal of ritvikism these offenses are of a sufficiently serious nature as to warrant immediate imposition of the penalty of probation, including its attendant program for rectification.
C. Further, the GBC Body hereby empowers the Executive Committee for the year 1999-2000 to place any ISKCON member who espouses ritvikism on probation, and, in consultation with that member’s immediate local authority or local GBC member, to establish a specific program of rectification, as provided in ISKCON Law 18.104.22.168, which can include
1. Disciplinary or remedial transfer to another location.
2. Reformatory change of service.
3. Prohibited for visiting or living in a specified temple or community.
4. Specific spiritual remedial programs.
5. A divestiture of certain actions for the period of probation.
6. Reasonable and just reformatory programs.
4). The GBC Body hereby undertakes the following actions with respect to the following members who are public advocates of ritvikism in ISKCON, who currently hold positions of managerial or spiritual authority in ISKCON, and who have heretofore rejected all appeals and reasoning by ISKCON authorities to conform to ISKCON Law:
1. Adridharan Dasa, President of ISKCON Calcutta
2. Sattvik Dasa, Vice-president of ISKCON Calcutta
3. Madhu Pandita Dasa, President of ISKCON Bangalore
4. Cancalapati Dasa, Vice-President of ISKCON Bangalore
5. Sunder Gopal Dasa, leader in Singapore
6. Navayogendra Swami, initiating guru
7. Jayadvaja Swami, sannyasi
Whereas the GBC Body wishes to empower the Executive Committee of 1999-2000 to deal with these members appropriately, through as much dialogue and negotiation as possible, And, at the same time, it wishes to empower the committee with the ability to provide a system of rectification or to expel any of these members from ISKCON if it deems necessary because of developments during the course of the year,
Therefore, be it also resolved THAT:
A. The GBC Body, by a required two-thirds (2/3) minimum vote, expresses its judgement that the actions of these seven above listed persons are already so extreme as to meet two of the requirements for expulsion from ISKCON: a) they are openly deviating from the fundamental tenets of the Society’s teaching, and b) they are openly and flagrantly antagonistic to the GBC Body and other ISKCON authority.
B. In consideration of the above findings the individuals Adridharan Das, Sattvik Das, Madhu Pandita Dasa, Cancalapati Dasa and Navayogendra Swami, as above listed, being members of ISKCON India, are hereby deemed as unfit to be members of ISKCON India. This shall take effect after 31 March, 1999, unless the Executive Committee of the GBC Body deems them rectified sufficiently to remain as ISKCON members and issues a written statement to that effect.
C. The GBC Body, by a two-thirds (2/3) vote, in accordance with GBC Rules of Order, empowers the GBC Executive Committee to censure, put on probation, suspend or expel from ISKCON and its affiliates the above mentioned seven devotees both as members and as officers, as it deems appropriate and warranted without the necessity of further authorization from the GBC Body. The act of the Executive Committee in this regard shall carry the same effect and power as if taken by the whole Governing Body Commission.
D. The GBC Body hereby places Adridharan Das, Madhu Pandita Das and Navayogendra Swami on probation as ISKCON Branch Managers/Temple Presidents and Sattvik Das, Chanchalapati Das on probation as Vice-Presidents of branches. The GBC Executive Committee is hereby enjoined to establish by March 31, 1999 the conditions of rectification and probation for this year.
303. [ACTION ORDER] INTERNATIONAL PRIORITY FOR EDUCATIONAL MINISTRY
THAT the Ministry for Educational Development is hereby established as an international priority. The Ministry may raise funds around the world in cooperation with, and with the permission of, the local temple.
304. [VISION AND GOAL] RATIFICATION OF CHILD PROTECTION REPORT
THAT the revised ISKCON Child Protection Task Force Report is ratified by the GBC Body.
Section 400: ESSENTIAL INFRASTRUCTURE FOR PREACHING
401 a. [ACTION ORDER]
GBC RESTRUCTURING AND ISKCON CONSTITUTION TASK FORCE
THAT a task force shall be formed to address GBC re-structuring and the authoring of an ISKCON constitution.
Task force members, by continent, include:
Akundadi Das, Saunakya Rsi Das, Hrdaya Caitanya Das, Guru Sakti Das
Hari Sauri Das, Abhirama Das, Pancaratna Das, Radha Krishna Das, Prthu
Das, Jaya Pataka Maharaja, Gopal Krishna Maharaja
Australia / New Zealand
Aniruddha Das, Atmarama Das, & Kalasambhara Das
Mukunda Maharaja, Romapada Swami, Hridayananda Maharaja, Malati dasi, Anuttama
Das, Sudharma dasi, Radha dasi
Advice shall be sought from professional consultants favorable to our movement.
Funding for this project has also been requested and approved by the GBC Body.
401.b [VISION AND GOAL] DIRECTION FOR GBC REFORM
THAT the GBC Body endorses the basic content of the paper entitled “GBC Reform” (presented by the GBC sub-committee established for this purpose) as a direction for the work of the GBC Restructuring and ISKCON Constitution Task Force.
In particular, the GBC Body agrees to the following conclusions:
That the creation of the “Zonal Acarya” system after the departure of Srila Prabhupada deviated from the principle of the ultimate management authority of the GBC Body, introducing a tendency to view our Society as a confederation of independent guru-disciple groups rather than an integrated union of devotees.
That the true guiding principle for ISKCON governance must be that, in every respect, the authority to accept disciples, or to act as a manager and/or officer of ISKCON, must be firmly understood as derived from the sanction of the GBC Body.
That the principle of division of work according to compatible modes of work based on training and individual propensity should be utilized to reform and improve the GBC Body.
402. [ACTION ORDER] TOWARD GBC RESTRUCTURING
THAT the GBC Body endorses the expressed feelings of many devotees around the world that its sannyasis and gurus should generally not be involved in administration and management services but rather concentrate their energies on services viewed traditionally as more brahminical and in keeping with their ashram and position as spiritual leaders such as ministering to devotees, study, teaching of shastra, development and teaching of training programs, increased individual hearing and chanting, etc.
To this end the GBC Body requests the Task Force on GBC Reform and Restructuring to examine in detail how this end might be effectively achieved.
The GBC Body encourages its current members to take steps towards this end. As a pilot project, the following GBC members are given consent to withdraw from their GBC zonal administrative duties by either:
a. Identifying an individual devotee who can be trained to step into the role of GBC Zonal Secretary acting as his or her deputy during the transition or,
b. Delegating his administrative and managerial duties to zonal committees established for the purpose.
However, in either case the concerned GBC member remains responsible for all current GBC duties.
The following GBC members have volunteered:
Jaya Pataka Swami
In recognition of the need to strengthen the process of istagosthi by which leadership and the general body of devotees can enhance communications, respect and cooperation as well as provide maximum opportunity for the power of the devotee sangha to manifest, the above GBC members will affect this change of duties through istagosthis held within their GBC zone.
403 [ACTION ORDER] CONCERNING GURUS IN ISKCON
Whereas Srila Prabhupada established ISKCON in 1966, and prior to his disappearance in November 1977, he stated in his will that the GBC Body is “the ultimate managerial authority” for the Society. Unfortunately, shortly after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance, the GBC Body allowed for an unauthorized “zonal acarya” system to evolve in ISKCON, elevating eleven exclusive successor diksa gurus;
Whereas ISKCON leaders at the time then introduced the concept that ISKCON diksa gurus were mahabhagavatas and the only current links to Srila Prabhupada and the disciplic succession;
Whereas some ISKCON diksa gurus who had formerly practiced vairagya vidya, but in the process of expanding the movement began living opulently, accumulated property, wealth, disciples and prestige far beyond the necessities for effective preaching;
Whereas in their overemphasis on diksa gurus, Srila Prabhupada’s disciples and followers failed in various ways to properly establish and sustain Srila Prabhupada’s unique role and personal relationship with all ISKCON devotees as the Founder-Acarya and preeminent siksa guru in ISKCON; ISKCON leaders failed to also properly establish the importance and role of siksa gurus in ISKCON;
Whereas the authority and resources of the GBC Body were minimized by the exaggerated prominence of ISKCON diksa gurus, resulting in a fragmented ISKCON composed of many guru-zones instead of a united ISKCON movement under the auspices of the GBC Body;
Whereas despite warnings by Pradyumna Prabhu and others, for many years the Governing Body Commission, being weakened due to the Zonal Acarya deviation, failed to correct these errors to the detriment of many ISKCON members;
And whereas, despite GBC Body efforts to correct the Zonal Acarya deviation as flaws in the system surfaced and many of the Zonal Acaryas left ISKCON, our society continues to be affected by the misunderstandings of that system:
It is hereby resolved THAT:
A. APOLOGY TO SOCIETY FROM THE GBC BODY
The GBC Body offers the following apology to the members and friends of ISKCON:
As humble followers of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, it is the GBC Body’s duty to execute his will to the best of our ability as we collectively understand it. During Srila Prabhupada’s physical presence, he simultaneously empowered the GBC Body and guided us when we erred. We continue to pray for his guidance and feel it is his will that we now correct the misunderstandings of the past. Thus, the GBC Body, both individually and collectively, wishes to express its deepest apologies to, and beg the forgiveness of, the followers of Srila Prabhupada who were offended or hurt by our past decisions resulting in the excesses and abuses of the zonal acarya system and its ongoing ramifications.
B. APOLOGY TO PRADYUMNA PRABHU FROM THE GBC BODY
The GBC Body offers the following apology to Pradyumna Dasa:
The GBC Body extends its heartfelt apologies to Sriman Pradyumna Dasa Adhikari for any offences caused in its dealings with him in 1978-9. During this period Pradyumna Prabhu wrote to the GBC via Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami warning them of serious repercussions with the Zonal Acarya system in his letter dated 7th August 1978. Unfortunately Pradyumna Prabhu’s good advice was not taken seriously. In retrospect the GBC Body and ISKCON could have benefited greatly by heeding his well-meant and pertinent observations.
Although it is now many years hence, we nevertheless wish to state publicly that we sincerely regret the actions and words of the GBC Body that contributed to his leaving his active service in ISKCON. We unreservedly and humbly beg the forgiveness of Pradyumna Prabhu for any offences caused to him by our dealings.
We would also like to extend our most heartfelt invitation to Pradyumna Prabhu to participate actively in ISKCON activities and we pray that Srila Prabhupada and Sri Sri Radha-Madhava continue to bestow Their causeless blessings upon him.
(Note: Pradyumna Prabhu’s 1978 letter is included with these minutes as Appendix “A”).
404 [ VISION AND GOAL] DEFINITONS OF GURU AND DIVYA JNANA
The GBC Body accepts for applications in ISKCON the following definitions of ‘guru’ and ‘divya jnana’.
A guru is one who transmits spiritual knowledge on the basis of revealed scriptures. There are different types of gurus. The unique position of the guru whose teachings, received in disciplic succession from Lord Krishna, form the basis of a spiritual institution is called the Founder-acarya. The subsequent gurus who honestly and sincerely represent the teachings of the Founder-acarya are called siksa, or instructing gurus. A siksa guru who introduces one to the spiritual path is called the vartmapradaksa guru. A siksa guru who continues to instruct the student is known simply as a siksa guru. A siksa guru who gives the student formal initiation is called a diksa guru. And the Founder-acarya himself remains the preeminent siksa guru for every member of the institution.
Lord Krishna originally spoke transcendental knowledge and delivered it through the
acaryas in disciplic succession to His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, who laid the foundation for worldwide organized preaching of Krishna consciousness. His disciple, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada perfectly fulfilled the desire of his spiritual master by spreading Krishna consciousness all over the world through his books, lectures and personal example. Srila Prabhupada is the Founder-acarya of ISKCON, which he specifically created to deliver the message of Lord Krishna and the authoritative conclusions of previous acaryas. Without changing the message, Srila Prabhupada’s sincere messengers deliver transcendental knowledge to the conditioned souls. This pure transcendental knowledge, delivered without alteration, uplifts the conditioned souls to the platform of devotional service and cleanses sinful desires from their hearts. Such uplifting knowledge is called divya jnana, and its transmission is called siksa. This divya jnana is the principle active ingredient of diksa.
Thus Lord Krishna, through the previous acaryas in disciplic succession and their empowered representative, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, whose appearance and achievements were predicted by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself, will continue to deliver the conditioned souls with the assistance of representatives of His Divine Grace.
Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-acarya of ISKCON, is forever manifested through his books, his murti, his teachings, ISKCON and the devotees who honestly represent his teachings.
 [LAW] STANDARDS OF GURU WORSHIP IN ISKCON
Whereas ISKCON is an unprecedented worldwide Gaudiya Vaisnava mission, which aims to incorporate many individual diksa and siksa gurus and their disciples within a unified framework of cooperative preaching and teaching Accordingly, to foster unity in ISKCON’s preaching efforts, to emphasize Srila Prabhupada’s preeminent position as Founder-Acarya, and to establish the respect toward Vaisnavas and siksa gurus in ISKCON, the GBC Body, considering the present time and circumstances, hereby establishes the following adjustments to details of guru worship in ISKCON. It is the GBC Body’s understanding that making adjustments to these details are needed now in order to maintain and better implement the essential principles of sastra, Vaisnava culture, guru nistha and guru seva:
It is hereby resolved THAT ISKCON laws on worship of gurus shall be amended to include the following new laws:
A. ISKCON devotees shall instruct new members to take shelter of Srila Prabhupada and to receive guidance, training and assistance from those who are practically and directly instructing them in Krishna consciousness. ISKCON members shall not compel or coerce new members to accept any particular siksa or diksa guru or to take diksa initiation at any particular point in time. New members shall choose when and from whom they wish to request initiation, however for a minimum of six months of strict sadhana, they must focus their attention on Srila Prabhupada as the Founder-Acarya and their siksa guru. After having established a solid relationship with His Divine Grace’s vani, they may accept an ISKCON guru and after a subsequent minimum of six months accept vaisnava diksa.
B. After chanting the pranam mantra of their diksa (or siksa) guru, all grand-disciples and future generations should chant at least the first of Srila Prabhupada’s pranam mantra while offering obeisances as a means of respecting the Founder-acarya.
C. In order to offer appropriate respect to Srila Prabhupada as Founder-Acarya and preeminent spiritual master of ISKCON, it is considered an essential devotional practice for all ISKCON devotees to observe or perform Srila Prabhupada’s guru puja daily either in an ISKCON temple or if not possible in one’s home.
D. With an aim to focus more fully on Srila Prabhupada and every devotee’s special relationship with him and to correct any imbalance in application between the respect offered to siksa gurus, diksa gurus and other senior Vaisnavas contributing to a devotee’s spiritual progress, an ISKCON siksa or diksa guru may accept public guru-puja (arati and/or foot bathing) in person once a year on ISKCON property, as a Vyasa-puja.
E. Events welcoming Vaisnavas, including siksa and diksa gurus, to ISKCON temples should be modest (for example limited to a presentation of garland(s) and accompanying kirtana).
F. ISKCON leaders shall teach that Srila Prabhupada’s books and teachings are the foundation of the spiritual lives of all ISKCON members. Therefore, all ISKCON members shall consider it their compulsory duty to study Srila Prabhupada’s books. Hearing from other devotee’s books and teachings is secondary and supplemental and should not be done at the expense of hearing regularly from Srila Prabhupada.
G. Temple presidents and project leaders are fully responsible for engaging the devotees in their charge. Gurus must first consult with a temple president before talking to a disciple about changing their service.
H. Gurus shall minimize the number of devotees engaged in their personal service and in their traveling entourage. Gurus shall not personally engage single members of the opposite sex, or married members of the opposite sex without their spouse, in direct personal service, and should never be alone or in a solitary place with them as ordained by sastra.
I. Guru daksina and other donations offered to siksa and diksa gurus are the property of ISKCON.
J. At the time of diksa initiation, all disciples will be further instructed by their initiating guru that Srila Prabhupada is their preeminent siksa guru as ISKCON’s Founder-acarya, ever-present in his books and teachings. Thus they have a recognized siksa link to Srila Prabhupada.
406. [LAW] AMENDING LAWS ON GURU PROTOCOL
The following ISKCON laws concerning guru worship shall be amended:
A. ISKCON Law 7.1.1, Worship and Etiquette, now reads as follows:
7.1.1. “Rights of ISKCON Members to Worship Guru
“As it is enjoined in scripture that a devotee must honor his spiritual master as much as he honors the Lord, every devotee in ISKCON accordingly has the right to worship, glorify, and serve his guru. As long as the guru is in good standing, no ISKCON leader shall curtail or abrogate that right. Temple presidents must provide devotees the necessary time and facility for them to worship their gurus. The disciples, however, must carry out their devotions to guru in harmony with the orderly running of temple affairs and without imposing their own guru-seva upon disciples of other gurus.”
It shall be amended to read:
7.1.1 “Worship of the Founder-acarya and other gurus in ISKCON
“As it is enjoined in scripture that a devotee must honor his spiritual master, ISKCON members shall be trained to place their faith, trust and allegiance first and foremost in the Founder-Acarya who is the preeminent siksa guru for every member of ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada is to be worshiped through his words, his murti, his picture, and his devotees.
“Disciples of ISKCON diksa gurus other than Srila Prabhupada may worship their gurus according to the guidelines of ISKCON laws, and in keeping with the spirit of the above mentioned standards for guru worship in ISKCON.”
B. ISKCON Law 22.214.171.124.2, “Vyasa-puja,” now reads as follows:
“Vyasa-puja for ISKCON gurus other than Srila Prabhupada should only be observed on one day a year coinciding with the birthday of the guru. This celebration may be held in the temple room.”
126.96.36.199.2 shall be amended to read:
“ISKCON members shall celebrate Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasa-puja ceremony as the preeminent Vyasa-puja ceremony in ISKCON. All ISKCON members are requested to write an annual Vyasa-puja offering to Srila Prabhupada. Vyasa-puja for ISKCON gurus other than Srila Prabhupada should only be observed on one day a year. This celebration may be held in the temple room. ISKCON members conducting Vyasa-puja ceremonies for ISKCON siksa and diksa gurus shall observe them in a modest way, significantly less elaborate in duration and cost than Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasa-puja. In general, devotees shall observe these Vyasa-puja celebrations in their own locales. In ISKCON, only Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasa-puja book shall be published.
“Guideline: Since transmitting transcendental knowledge is the primary responsibility of every siksa and diksa guru, and since annual Vyasa-puja celebrations have generally been attended by disciples from remote regions to fulfill their need for siksa from their diksa or siksa guru, the regional leaders should therefore compensate for this need by both organizing and facilitating annual festivals (at least three days) with organized seminars and/or lectures given by diksa and siksa gurus whose disciples reside in that region.”
C. ISKCON law 188.8.131.52, “Restricted Titles,” now reads:
“A guru cannot use or allow his disciples to apply to him the honorific title “His Divine Grace” or the honorific endings in “pada” in written public documents or on open public forum. However, such titles may be used in communication among disciples or from disciples to their guru.”
It shall be amended to read:
“No one in ISKCON will be addressed publicly with the honorific title “His Divine Grace” nor be addressed either publicly or privately the honorifics ending in “-pada” or “-deva”. Disciples may address their ISKCON diksa or siksa gurus as “Gurudeva” or “Guru-Maharaja”.”
D. ISKCON law 184.108.40.206 now reads:
“A pujari who is not initiated by Srila Prabhupada shall keep the picture of his guru on the altar while offering arati. The picture must be substantially smaller than those of the predecessor acaryas in disciplic succession, or, if not substantially smaller, be placed on a lower level. After the arati, the picture should be removed from the altar.”
It shall be amended to read:
“ISKCON devotees shall offer arati and bhoga to Lord Krishna through both their diksa or siksa guru and Srila Prabhupada as their preeminent siksa guru. A temple pujari shall keep a smaller picture of his diksa guru on the arati tray or table instead of on the altar, and remove it after the arati. Subsequent generations of devotees shall continue in the same manner of respecting both their own diksa or siksa guru and Srila Prabhupada.
“ISKCON temple resident members may keep photographs of ISKCON diksa or siksa gurus privately in their ashram quarters but are not to display them publicly on ISKCON premises. Promoting occasional special preaching events may be an exception. Disciples of ISKCON diksa and siksa gurus should not wear or publicly display guru t-shirts, posters, bead-bag buttons, athletic caps, etc. (other than Srila Prabhupada).”
E. ISKCON law 220.127.116.11 now reads:
“There should be one seat reserved for ISKCON gurus and their Godbrothers/sisters for giving sastra classes in the temple room. Disciples of ISKCON gurus should sit on a lower asana or cushion, since it is improper to sit on the same asana used by one’s diksa guru.”
It shall be amended to read:
“Sastra enjoins that the disciple may not sit on the seat of the guru. The seat for speaking Srimad Bhagavatam, however, is not the property of any one guru, there is no harm in any Vaisnava sitting in that place while giving class. Thus, anyone giving sastra classes in ISKCON temple rooms shall use a single seat reserved for the purpose.”
407. [ACTION ORDER] DEADLINE FOR IMPLEMENTATION
Whereas many of these standards of worship, as set forth in §405 and §406 above, will change practices in some ISKCON temples dating back to 1978, and
Whereas the GBC Body acknowledges the difficulties such corrections may cause and understands that it may take some time to implement:
It is therefore resolved THAT all ISKCON diksa and siksa gurus and other authorities are responsible to instruct initiated devotees and aspiring initiates in the above mentioned details of worship and see that they are implemented no later than Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasa-puja celebration in 1999. After that time, devotees who fail to uphold these practices shall be subject to censure.
408. [VISION AND GOAL] IMPORTANT PRINICPLES OF VAISNAVA ETIQUETTE
The GBC Body accepts the following Statement of Principle:
The misunderstandings outlined in the preamble to §403 above created an atmosphere where Vaisnavas other than diksa gurus were often not properly respected.
One of Srila Prabhupada’s final orders was that his followers show their love for him by cooperating with one another. Within Vaisnava culture, such cooperation should be based on the principle of humility. Lord Caitanya prayed “amanina manadena,” we should offer all respects to others and expect none for ourselves.
Within our Vaisnava society it is essential that devotees learn to offer appropriate honor and respect to all living beings, especially to all devotees, including all generations of men, women and children.
All leaders of ISKCON shall make it a top priority of our Society that all devotees are systematically educated in the sacred principles of Vaisnava etiquette. They should implement specific local programs to offer love and care to all devotees who have taken shelter of the lotus-feet of Srila Prabhupada.
All devotees of ISKCON are meant to live together as one wonderful spiritual family connected by our sincere desire to please Srila Prabhupada by assisting him in his glorious service to his Guru Maharaja in the line of Sri Rupa and Raghunatha. Let us cooperate together and humble ourselves to be their instruments in flooding the world with love for Sri Krishna through the congregational chanting of the Holy Name.
409. [VISION AND GOAL] PRINCIPLES CONCERNING VARIOUS KINDS OF GURUS
Whereas respect should be offered to all devotees who act as our siksa guides, and
Whereas defining the principles and standards of etiquette within these relationships will enable all members of ISKCON to better understand and appreciate each other and the Guru – Disciples relationship,
The GBC Body hereby accepts the following statement of principles:
1. The Founder-Acarya
ISKCON’s founder-acarya, Srila Prabhupada, is the preeminent and compulsory siksa-guru for all Vaisnavas (gurus and disciples) in the Society, who may directly receive empowerment from him through allegiance to his teachings. Because of his position as that personality empowered by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to fulfill His divine prophecy that Krishna consciousness be spread throughout the world, Srila Prabhupada is given unique and exceptional worship and respect by his direct followers as well as all subsequent followers.
Members of ISKCON should understand Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and be faithful to them. Lessons from all others, even our exalted predecessor-acaryas, should be understood through his instructions.
According to Srila Prabhupada, Lord Krishna takes responsibility for delivering sincere souls through His representatives. By adhering to Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, even the non-liberated guru acts as one liberated, (although he must constantly be aware of his position relative to the liberated guru, and conduct himself accordingly, being attentive to avoid accepting any inappropriate modes of worship). The disciples who follow such a careful follower of Srila Prabhupada can achieve liberation.
2. The Siksa Guru
The basic definition of guru is: anyone who gives spiritual instructions based on the revealed scriptures. The acceptance of such instructions from the spiritual master is called siksa, and consequently one who transmits transcendental knowledge to another is known as a siksa guru.
By taking responsibility for different aspects of siksa, Vaisnavas are known according to their specific dealings. The devotee who first gives siksa is the vartma-pradarsaka guru, and the saints who give general instruction in devotional practice are known as sadhus or siksa gurus. The siksa guru who gives initiation with the holy name and gayatri mantra becomes known as the diksa guru, and those Vaisnavas who elevate one to transcendence by their teachings are also siksa guru.
Any Vaisnava who gives instruction, shelter, and inspiration should be considered as siksa guru. Because the transcendental knowledge which originates from Sri Krishna comes to a devotee through his siksa gurus, he deeply reveres them as confidential servants of Krishna (and worships them according to their station).
3. The Diksa Guru
Among many siksa gurus, the one who through personal association and regular instruction inspires faith in a devotee generally becomes the diksa guru. It is Lord Krishna s system that a conditioned soul must surrender to and take initiation from His representative, a guru in parampara.
Although their dealings are different, both the siksa and diksa gurus are representatives of Sri Krishna (and Srila Prabhupada) acting to guide the disciple back to Godhead. The disciple should not see them as superior or inferior on the basis of the difference in their dealings.
The duty of the diksa guru is to train the disciple in the process of devotional service and initiate him by giving the holy name and gayatri mantras. After initiation he further instructs the disciple in the meaning of the Vedas and remains committed to his liberation from repeated birth and death.
In ISKCON the diksa guru is happy to see a disciple receiving training and guidance from many other siksa gurus, for this is opulence of the Society. He may also recommend a disciple to a siksa guru(s) for specific tutoring, which for some reasons he is not able to give.
4. Relationship Between Siksa and Diksa Gurus
Since faith is the basic ingredient of spiritual life, the dealings among diksa and siksa gurus increase and focus the faith of the disciple in a co-operative relationship. The general sad-acara is that the multiple siksa gurus, regardless of their spiritual strength, act as associates of the diksa guru. They promote the initiator as the prominent force in the spiritual life of the disciple, who sees first and foremost the mercy and shelter of his diksa guru.
If there are exceptions to this protocol it is primarily evaluated by the gurus who conduct their dealings in a visibly co-operative way. Their common ground of understanding is the directions of Srila Prabhupada. They are not independent agents, for both are subordinate to the leadership of the mission as its servants.
The diksa guru wholeheartedly supports the disciple’s faith in, and association with his instructors. He respects the siksa gurus as equal manifestations of Godhead. Although the relationship between diksa guru and siksa guru(s) may appear to be one of leader and his assistant (s), a disciple should be careful to see their spiritual unity while engaged in different dealings.
5. Exception to Diksa/Siksa Guru Protocol
In the association of many great devotees, a disciple may in time develop greater attachment to his siksa guru(s) than for his initiator. Vaisnava etiquette dictates that under such circumstances his primary object of worship continues to be the diksa guru. The prominence of the siksa guru in the life of a disciples may take place, by the arrangement of the diksa guru, or other circumstances. Such circumstances may be; if a qualified diksa guru was accepted out of formality, or if the initiator is unable to give suitable guidance. At such times the siksa guru takes the prominent role, and if the diksa guru is present, he becomes the voluntary instrument of the instructor(s).
6. Qualification of Gurus
Both siksa and diksa gurus must be faithful followers of their own spiritual masters and exhibit behavior of a Vaisnava. They should be versed in the science of Krishna and speak in with accordance with sadhu, sastra, and guru. They must be pure representatives of Srila Prabhupada and should be in full harmony with his mission and institution.
Understanding the proper etiquette, the siksa guru never speaks against the teachings of the (qualified) initiator. In turn the initiator (diksa guru) does not misuse his position to undermine the instructions of the siksa guru(s) but seeks to harmonize his instructions with those of the siksa guru(s) for the welfare of the disciple.
Those who do not possess these qualifications and who are fallen from the path of devotion should not be accepted as siksa or diksa guru. Furthermore, one who encourages a disciple to disobey his gurus, speaks against their teaching, gives mantras without authorization and is not faithful to the teachings, mission and will of the founder-acarya, is disqualified from being a siksa or diksa guru. Even very exalted devotees, although more advanced than one’s own gurus, should not be approached as siksa gurus if they neglect the sad-acara above. They may be respected as sadhus, but due differing obligations, devotees should not mix too closely with them.
7. Taking Instructions from the Siksa Gurus
It is the tradition that instructions given by Vaisnavas should be confirmed with the diksa guru. However when a devotee serves in the society of vaisnavas (for the mission of the founder acarya), he may take general instruction and training without reviewing its details with his diksa guru. (As the siksa gurus are the trustees of Srila Prabhupada, the GBC Body and the diksa guru, their authority as representatives of Krishna is on par with the initiator.)
If in the course of his executing the instructions of his diksa guru, a devotee feels he requires specific personal spiritual training and counsel in the context of a special relationship with a siksa guru, he should follow the proper sad-acara. He should take permission from the diksa guru. Upon receiving it, he may take instruction from a siksa guru. But the teachings thus received (even if from a more elevated instructor) should re-presented to the initiator for confirmation, unless the initiator instructs otherwise. (The same holds true if one is under the guardianship of a siksa guru in the absence of a diksa guru. One should present instructions to one’s primary siksa guru for confirmation.) A disciple who directly accepts instructions without regard for his primary guru, even if the instructions are proper and complete, transgresses vaisnava tradition and will not gain mature benefit from learning thus acquired.
8. Keeping Faith in One’s Own Gurus
Even if the prominence of the siksa guru take place in the heart of the disciple, he will never give up a diksa guru (provided he is not fallen or otherwise deemed unqualified by the GBC Body) but continues to confirm instructions with him, even if the initiator guru is apparently less advanced, etc.
A disciple must be careful not to disobey the orders of his guru. While all ISKCON Vaisnavas should be offered respect like one’ s guru, still one’s full absorption should be for one’ s own diksa guru as representatives of Srila Prabhupada. Of course Srila Prabhupada should be given exceptional respect as the Founder Acarya and preeminent siksa guru of all members of ISKCON.
9. The GBC and Suitability of Siksa
The ability to discriminate regarding, the spiritual strength, commitment, example and fidelity (to the Society) of a guru, lies with the madhyama adhikari. When a devotee cannot determine whether a Vaisnava is a suitable candidate to give siksa he must take direction from his diksa and siksa gurus. They will clarify the suitability of a Vaisnava to give siksa for members of the Society. As always, the GBC Body is the ultimate authority to resolve such matters, and followers of Srila Prabhupada will find suitable guidelines within the parameters given by Vaisnava sad-acara and the by laws of the Society’ Governing Body. In all circumstance all Vaisnavas should be treated with all due respect.
10. The Worship of Gurus
One who serves as a guru within ISKCON, even though a follower and representative of Srila Prabhupada, should be cautious not to emulate the worship that Srila Prabhupada receives as the founder-acarya. Srila Prabhupada’s worship is a regular function of all the Vaisnavas and it exceeds the homage (e.g. Vyasa Puja ) offered to all others. His books, instructions and legacy (tapes etc.) are promoted worldwide as the primary treasure of the Society, while the contributions of other Vaisnavas are all subservient to his.
A diksa or siksa guru may receive respect from his disciples according to the Society’s standards and his own level of advancement. He should train his followers how to show respect and honor to all Vaisnavas, according to their station, avoiding exclusivity in their worship of Vaisnava gurus. Such training must begin by focusing the disciples in their relationship with Srila Prabhupada, for all gurus within ISKCON view themselves as representatives of and servants of Srila Prabhupada and perceive any assistance that they may offer as mercy descending from Krishna through Srila Prabhupada and the Guru Parampara.
410. [ACTION ORDER] TASK FORCE FOR SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP
THAT the GBC Body enjoins the Executive Committee of 1999-2000 to create a Task Force for Spiritual Leadership comprised of a full time chairman, a part time secretary, and four GBC consultants. The purpose of this Task Force will be to work with a research team to answer questions about guru-tattva and a team to put together a system to establish financial accountability for ISKCON leaders.
The Task Force will also:
monitor conduct and philosophical understandings in ISKCON,
establish a system of standard training for new devotees,
establish a training system (ongoing) for gurus, and
establish degree training for bhakti sastri, bhakti vaibhava, bhakti vedanta, and bhakti sarvabhauma.
The budget shall be decided by the Executive Committee budget committee, consisting of the outgoing and incoming GBC Executive Committee officers.
411. [ACTION ORDER]: FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE FOR ISKCON LEADERS
THAT each guru, sannyasi, GBC member, and international project director must submit a complete 1999 financial statement to the GBC Executive officers by Feb. 1, 2000. Non-ISKCON income acquired by householders is exempt from reporting.
Section 500. HOLY PLACES AND SPIRITUAL COMMUNITIES
501. [ACTION ORDER] RECOGNITION FOR GURU KRIPA DAS
THAT in recognition of his service, the GBC Body hereby grants His Grace Guru-Kripa Das life-time use of a room in the Krishna Balarama Guesthouse, ISKCON Vrndavana, for six weeks out of each year.
502. [ACTION ORDER] SRILA PRABHUPADA’S ROOMS IN RADHA-DAMODARA TEMPLE
THAT any recommendations or offers of assistance in regard to the Radha Damodara Temple in Vrndavana be directed to the management of ISKCON Vrndavana.
503. [VISION AND GOAL] TRAINING LEADERS TO CARE FOR DEVOTEES
Whereas there is a great concern within ISKCON’s community of devotees that those acting in leadership positions do not always demonstrate the proper mood of humility or care of others in their dealings.
It is resolved THAT all ISKCON leaders are encouraged to undergo systematic training to foster within them continuing improvement in humility and the skills, attitudes and vision necessary to make the care of Vaisnavas within their charge their topmost priority.
504. [VISION AND GOAL] VARNASRAMA DHARMA AND CARE FOR DEVOTEES
Whereas Srila Prabhupada repeatedly and consistently advocated the implementation of Varnasrama as the panacea for all of societies social imbalances, and
Whereas Srila Prabhupada instructed that Varnasrama must be implemented within ISKCON,
It is resolved THAT
as a humble beginning of the process of implementing Daivi-varnasrama within ISKCON, the GBC Body emphasizes the need to care for devotees in the following fundamental areas:
B. The GBC Body encourages the Ministries of Social Development circle to spearhead this effort.
505. [ACTION ORDER] COMMUNITY COUNCILS FOR DEVOTEE CARE
Whereas the GBC Body recognizes that communication with and caring for devotees is fundamental to the success of ISKCON,
It is resolved THAT:
By August, 1999 each ISKCON center will establish a “community care” council. The council will assist the local temple management to serve their community by developing strategies and programs in the following areas (but not restricted to):
Youth Vocational assistance
It is to be understood that each ISKCON community is unique and that each will develop and adapt its community care programs to suit local needs.
GBC zonal secretaries or their appointed representative will take responsibility for the compliance of the temples in their zones and send a simple compliance report to the Social Development Co-ordination Ministry by November 1999.
The Social Development Co-ordination ministry will make a report to the GBC Body at the year 2000 Mayapura meeting.
The Grihasta & Community Development ministry will supply information and general guidelines to the local community care councils on suggested care & protection programmes.
506. [ACTION ORDER] ISTAGOSTHIS IN COMMUNITIES
THAT ISKCON community leaders regularly hold istagosthis in the temples to discuss management decision and concerns of the devotees.
507. [LAW] CARE FOR COWS
THAT the “Minimum Cow Protection Standards” prepared by the Ministry of Cow Protection and Agriculture, is hereby ratified by the GBC Body, and it thereby becomes part of ISKCON Law.
Section 600: INTERNAL ISKCON
601. [ACTION ORDER] VISVA TOSANI FUND DISBURSEMENT
A. THAT the GBC Body hereby ratifies the plan to release the principal of the Visva Tosani Fund to be spent by the GBC Body at its discretion.
[Note: This was passed by a greater than two-thirds (2/3) majority, as requested by the managers of the Fund.]
B. THAT the priorities for the dispersal of the Visva Tosani Fund are: to fill the GBC Body 1999 budget, including funds for education, child protection, development of the GBC Executive Committee, research on matters of spiritual leadership, and the maintenance of ISKCON Russia. The Executive Committee finance committee (consisting of former and current Executive Committee officers) shall appoint a Financial Officer who will be responsible for the dispersal and collection of these funds.
602. [ACTION ORDER] REMINDER TO ISKCON INDIA BUREAU
Whereas the first item of Srila Prabhupada’s will states that “The Governing Body Commission (GBC) will be the ultimate managing authority of the entire International Society for Krishna Consciousness,”
It is therefore resolved THAT the GBC Body reminds the members of the ISKCON India Bureau of the obligation to cooperate with the GBC Body that this and similar statements by Srila Prabhupada places upon them.
603 [LAW AND RULE OF ORDER] GBC EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE TERM OF OFFICE
THAT the 1998 law establishing a three-year term for the GBC Executive Committee is hereby rescinded. The term for the GBC Executive Committee shall be one year.
604. [LAW AND RULE OF ORDER] DELEGATION TO EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF POWER TO SUSPEND OR EXPEL
THAT when it deems it necessary, the GBC Body may, by a two-thirds (2/3) vote, delegate to the Executive Committee for a determinate period of time the power to suspend or expel from ISKCON specifically named members, without convening a further meeting of the entire GBC Body. [Passed unanimously.]
605. [ACTION ORDER] CHANGES OF MEMBERSHIP AND STATUS
A. HARIKESA DAS
Whereas Harikesa Das is presently suspended and his status was to be reviewed at this GBC meeting, and
Whereas a number of devotees, especially most of his initiated disciples, expect a public statement and are asking for it,
It is hereby resolved
THAT, with regret, the GBC Body accepts the letter of resignation submitted by Harikesa Das, which is reproduced below:
“I, Robert Campagnola, formerly known as Harikesa Swami, although internally having left ISKCON last summer, do hereby resign from all official positions within ISKCON, the BBT, or any related organization under ISKCON control. I also resign from the official designation of an official ISKCON guru. I do not resign from any personal relationships that are born of my love for others even though others may reject me for whatever reason they choose to accept.
I also do not wish to be called or known by the name Harikesa.”
All initiated disciples are requested to take shelter of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and organization, to remain faithful in ISKCON and to seek and follow council from ISKCON spiritual authorities in good standing. They should not worship Harikesa Das, take siksa from him, or follow his order.
The GBC Body acknowledges and appreciates the years of service rendered by Harikesa Das and the many valuable contributions he made and wishes him well.
B. ATMA-TATTVA DAS
THAT the members of ISKCON appreciate the many years of service rendered by His Grace Atma Tattva Das. However Atma Tattva Das by his own statement has left the ISKCON institution and does not want to be subject to ISKCON leadership. He prefers to pursue his own preaching mission and be independent. He is therefore no longer able to lecture in ISKCON temples nor is he allowed to represent ISKCON in any capacity.
C. ISVARA DAS
Whereas after a series of conversations with Isvara Prabhu, and understanding and agreeing with him that at this point in his life, he needs time to organize and structure his life as a grhastha, the GBC Body would like to communicate to all of ISKCON members the following resolutions.
It is hereby resolved THAT:
1. Owing to his voluntary change from sannyasa to grhastha asrama, Isvara Prabhu should refrain from initiating in our society for five years although he continues to remain the diksa guru for his disciples. After that, the society will decide, together with him, and taking his future plans into account at that time, whether he should resume his service as of actively initiating guru in our society or not. He should, to the best of his ability, continue to give siksa to his disciples.
2. Devotees who have first initiation from him have the option of waiting until the five-year period expires, and see if he will continue initiating from that point on. If he does, they can take initiation at that time. If not, they can approach other initiating spiritual masters in ISKCON, and with Isvara Prabhu’s blessing and authorization from local authorities, they can take second initiation.
3. Uninitiated devotees who have selected Isvara Prabhu as their future diksa guru can wait for the 5 year period to expire, when we know if he will resume initiating in our society or not. However, owing to the present situation and the time period involved, they may also place their confidence in another initiating spiritual master, and with permission from their respective local authorities, request initiation from another spiritual master approved in our Society.
The GBC Body extends its most sincere appreciation to Isvara Prabhu for all the valuable service he has rendered as BBT coordinator for Brazil and as a spiritual master to members of our society. . Our desire is that he resumes his important service of actively initiating in our society when the period of five years is up and continue to help us establish Lord Caitanya’s Sankirtana Movement under the perfect guidance of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
D. NAVAYOGENDRA SWAMI
THAT, for reasons stated in resolution 302 (above), Navayogendra Swami is hereby placed on probation as an initiating guru. He shall not give initiation and the others terms of probation shall be set by the Executive Committee during the course of the year. The Executive Committee for 1999-2000 is also hereby authorized to suspend Navayogendra Swami as an initiating guru of ISKCON. Navayogendra Swami’s probation as an initiating guru shall stand until reviewed by the GBC Body at its next annual general meeting.
THAT the GBC Body directs Sudarshana Das, the Regional Secretary and the Presidents of Udhampur, Amritsar, Karta and Haridwar to work under the direction of the newly assigned GBC Zonal Secretary, H.H. Gopal Krishna Goswami.
E. SOMAKA DAS
THAT the GBC Body accepts the resignation of Somaka Das as an initiating guru. All initiated disciples are requested to take shelter of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and organization, to remain faithful in ISKCON and to seek and follow council from ISKCON spiritual authorities in good standing.
F. RUKMINI PATI DAS
Whereas Rukmini Pati Das has seriously and repeatedly violated various ISKCON laws,
It is hereby resolved THAT the GBC Body removes him from his position as an initiating spiritual master in ISKCON. His disciples and followers should seek spiritual shelter from ISKCON authorities in good standing.
607. [ACTION ORDER] EXECUTORS COMMITTEE RECONSTITUTION
Whereas the Executors Committee is required to monitor the corporate status of ISKCON properties, and
Whereas many properties are currently not properly registered and the failure to do this may result in the loss of properties not properly secured,
It is resolved THAT a full-time Executors Committee be reconstituted as a matter of urgency. Current members have the option to resign and be reappointed provided they are agreeable to function in an active capacity. Otherwise a new committee shall be appointed by the Executive Committee of the GBC Body. This new committee will oversee the performance of the following:-
1. Maintenance of a property database in good order.
2. Development of a training program for ISKCON leaders on property affairs.
3. Making sure the property trustee system is functioning smoothly.
4. Systematically studying each property in the Society and verifying that it is being held in compliance with the Society’s laws, and if not, devising remedies and following up to make sure they are complied with.
5. Keeping track of the official acts of the Executors Committee.
6. Recommending relevant GBC legislation.
7. Answering queries.
The GBC Body thanks Bhakta Rupa Prabhu for agreeing to head this committee and taking the responsibility of protecting Srila Prabhupada’s properties. The approved budget is estimated at $10,000 per annum, including office, travel, and living expenses, which will be reviewed by the Executive Committee finance committee. The GBC Body also requests the assistance of Naresvara and Gopal Bhatta Prabhus in this committee.
608. GBC DEPUTIES RECONSTITUTION
A. [ISKCON Law] Whereas many of the GBC Deputies have now completed their three year terms.
Whereas the GBC Body has expressed its support for the concepts of GBC restructuring and a permanent GBC Executive Committee office, and
Whereas the need has been recognized for a higher degree of administrative organization in ISKCON based on geographical considerations,
It is resolved THAT the GBC Body empowers the Executive Committee to reconstitute the GBC Deputies Body on a regional basis and engage the reorganized body of Deputies in the research and work of restructuring the GBC’s operations.
The GBC Body directs the GBC Executive Committee to engage its new office in organizing and working with the GBC Deputies for the purposes of improving communications, record keeping and administration in ISKCON.
The GBC Body empowers the GBC Executive Committee to approve GBC Deputies replacing the function of the GBC Deputy Nomination Committee described in ISKCON Law 9.4.10. To have a Deputy approved, the Executive Committee shall consult with a local GBC Member who can verify the qualifications of the Deputy Candidate.
1) To attend the annual GBC Meetings in Sridham Mayapura.
2) To be appointed for a term of three years, reappointment is permitted.
3) To be assigned to GBC Kshetra Committees, standing or other committees and to serve as regular voting members of the same.
4) To stay in communication during the year and continue to serve as committee members.
5) To do other things as requested by the GBC Body.
B. [ACTION ORDER] Whereas the following members have demonstrated their sustained ability to perform their GBC Deputy duties in attending meetings and collecting information for the annual ISKCON census.
Whereas it is the desire of the GBC Body to maintain continuity and consistency within its managerial functions.
Be it therefore resolved THAT the following Deputies be reconfirmed for another three-year period:
Acyuta Das, Ananda Caitanya Das, Aniruddha Das, Atmabhu Das, Bhakti Purusottama Swami, Braja Bihari Das, Candra Mukhya Swami, Harinamananda Das, Hridaya Caitanya Das, Dayarama Das, Jagat-caksur Das, Pracarananda Das, Pragosa Das, Radha Krishna Das, Ramabhadra Das, Sarvaisvarya Das, Simheswara Das, Svavasa Das, Tirtharaj Das, Uttamasloka Das, Vedavyasa Priya Swami, and Yudhisthira Das.
609. [ACTION ORDER] ANANTA DAS
Whereas there have been various transgressions of ISKCON law by the president of ISKCON Rome,
It is hereby resolved THAT:
A. Ananta Das is put under probation for an indefinite period of time with the following terms:
1. He shall write a letter of apology to the GBC Body and ISKCON devotees for A) Having held istagosthis for the purpose of creating a consensus to abrogate ISKCON laws on initiation outside of ISKCON. B) Introducing a principle of “attraction” on an absolute platform for a guru, that supersedes the necessity for the devotees to follow GBC laws and orders. C) Having mistreated and intimidated devotees during both istagosthis and conversations. D) Having failed to follow the orders of the GBC executive committee. E) Having offended and obscured the position of the GBC Body and ISKCON gurus both by organizing the distribution papers critical of ISKCON authorities to all devotees and guests in the Rome area and by allowing and nurturing an atmosphere of mistrust within the temple.
This letter has to be reviewed and approved by the GBC Zonal Secretaries of Italy.
2. He shall remove from the legal structure of the local society and the temple council all Puri Maharaja’s initiated disciples and put in their place persons who are accepted by the Italian National Council and the local GBC.
3. He will sign a written document stating that he has no personal claims whatsoever for the service rendered and that he will accept the decision of the GBC Body on his conduct and the measures that they may take to correct him. He must also promise not to participate in any way in activities against ISKCON of any nature, including legal.
4. He will accept one co-president who will be chosen by the GBC Zonal Secretaries and Italian National Council.
5. He will cooperate in any way that is deemed necessary by the local GBC Zonal Secretaries and ISKCON Confederation in legal documents.
6. He will follow ISKCON Law 7.2.4. (passed in 1993) and in addition will not allow any new persons to come and stay in the temple if such person has any kind of interest or loyalty to the Gaudiya Math institution.
7. He will make sure that no functions or reception will be offered to the Gaudiya Math personalities and that no temple devotees other than those already initiated by Sripad Puri Maharaja will visit or participate in any way in functions held elsewhere
8. He will make public or cause to made public the names of all initiated disciples of Puri Maharaja in the Rome.
A monitoring group will be formed by the Italian National Council and the GBC Zonal Secretary that will inform the GBC Executive Committee of the developments in the Rome area. If Ananta Das willfully transgresses any of the above points he will be removed from his position by the Executive Committee, asked to leave ISKCON and join his Spiritual Master’s institution.
Points 1-6 are to be executed before the 14th of March.
The following Rome devotees will be exempted from having to follow ISKCON Law 18.104.22.168. (which calls for expulsion of those who violate 7.2.4) for an amount of time equal to that of Ananta Das’s probation period. At the end of this period they will be restored in their position as ISKCON devotees:
Damdara Priya dasi
Krishna Premavati Devi Dasi
Hari Priya Devi Dasi
The GBC Body guarantees that if all the above guidelines are followed by Ananta Das and the others involved there will not be any further action by the GBC Body to remove them from position and service, and that they will be restored in their condition in all respect, and the local ISKCON society will receive a written document allowing it to use the Rome property as long as the other local societies in Italy will use their respective properties.
B. The GBC Body shall send a letter to Sripad Puri Maharaja explaining its actions.
610. [LAW] GBC DIVISIONAL COUNCILS RESOLUTION AMMENDED
Whereas, in 1996 the GBC Body passed the following resolution No. 405 concerning GBC Divisional Councils:
“WHEREAS standing GBC Divisional Councils with permanent membership can give the Society strength, continuity and an increasingly more expert group of managers who can assist the GBC in its management.
“WHEREAS there is need for a platform for:
1. association amongst peers.
2. exchanging new ideas.
3. taking inspiration from others successes.
4. discussing GBC Divisional preaching strategies
“Therefore it is hereby resolved that:
“ISKCON recognizes “GBC Divisional Councils” as a distinct level of spiritual management of the society. A GBC Divisional council is assigned for a particular geographic area and shall be constituted of all temple presidents and Regional secretaries and the GBC Zonal Secretary (if he wants to attend) within the region as well as resident sannyasis or other leading devotees as the council desires or the local GBC recommends. The GBC Divisional Council represents the interests of ISKCON, the GBC Zonal Secretary and the temples in a particular geographical area. Such councils may be continental, multi-national, national, or within a country, as is practical or existing. The councils should be within an area that enables them to meet frequently together. There may be more than one GBC Divisional Council in a Continental Committee’s area.
“GBC Zonal Secretaries who have areas which have functioning GBC Divisional councils shall declare them as so for the purpose of this ISKCON Law.
“The purpose of the GBC Divisional councils is to maximize the management in their regions, to relieve the GBC zonal secretaries from excessive management, and to assist the GBC Executive Committee and the GBC Emergency Task Force by resolving their problems.
1. Work as an extension of the management of the GBC Zonal Secretary to
maximize the efficiency of accomplishing the mission of ISKCON in their
2. Meet regularly as required. They must meet at least twice a year, but can meet monthly or more if the need arises.
3. Have officers.
4. Maintain an official minute book in which all resolutions are recorded.
5. Resolve all issues given them by their GBC zonal secretary or secretaries, the GBC Chairman and the Minister of Emergencies.
6. Examine the situation within their region and create the means by which potential problems can be resolved before they become a crisis.
7. Collect the monthly reports on behalf of the GBC Zonal Secretary from the temples in their region, analyze these reports, and recommend action to the Temple Presidents when the need arises.
8. Send copies of all reports to the GBC Zonal Secretary and the official reports in prescribed form to the ISKCON Secretariat for processing and archiving.
9. Insure that the proper standards of management and conduct are maintained by the temple managers in the region.
10. Decide disciplinary matters according to ISKCON Law for ISKCON Managers within their region.
11. As needed, suggest new appointments for temple presidentships to the local GBC for final approval.
12. Suggest means to rectify severe financial problems within a temple or reorganize the temple if required.
13. Approve all requests for sannyas within their area of responsibility.
14. Have its members serve on the “10-man committee” required by ISKCON Law for considering the nomination of candidates who reside within their area of responsibility for serving as new initiating gurus.
“1. That the Organization and Development committee make a survey of all GBC men to find out which “Regional”, “Zonal” or other councils which are presently functioning in ISKCON and could easily be established as GBC Divisional councils. When the most practical arrangement of GBC Divisional management is uncovered, the committee shall present to the GBC body the complete list of world-wide GBC Divisional councils with the list of its members which will then be officially recognized as a constitutional part of ISKCON management structure.
2. Those GBC men who have areas which do not have any functioning GBC Divisional councils shall create one or more before the end of the 1996 annual meeting.
“The following is accepted as a position paper on GBC Divisional management.
“ISKCON requires to bring the bulk of the management of the Society down to a level which is appropriate for such a diverse, world-wide organization. The GBC Divisional councils will assist the GBC men in the management of their zones by dealing on a peer level with the temple’s managers and relieving the GBC from having to enter too much into temple affairs thus distracting him from his real business of providing spiritual leadership for the zone. These councils will also assist the GBC Chairman and Task Force Minister by acting as their extensions in times of emergency. The Chairman of the GBC can delegate problems to this body for local rectification. If neither the GBC Divisional councils nor the local GBC(s) can resolve a particular problem, then, when requested by the council or GBC’s, the GBC Chairman can send the problem to the Task Force Minister for complete investigation. The Task Force Minister can make recommendations to the GBC Chairman who can then either resolve the issue with the Executive Committee or place the item on the agenda for the GBC Body to resolve either through COM or at their annual meeting.
“There are three ways in which problems can be solved in ISKCON by the GBC Executive Committee during the year.
1) Problems relating to a particular GBC committee are sent there for resolution.
2) Problems which can be resolved locally are sent to the GBC Divisional Councils.
3) Emergencies can be sent to the proposed Task Force.
“When the pressure from pressing issues is taken off the GBC Chairman and executive committee, then they can concentrate on their more important business of eliciting from the GBC men the leadership and vision sorely needed in ISKCON.”
Whereas the above resolution has not yet been effectively put into action:
A. Therefore, it is hereby resolved THAT, for more effective implimentation, resolution No. 405 of 1996 (quoted above) is ammended as follows:
1. The provision quoted above:
“A GBC Divisional council is assigned for a particular geographic area and shall be constituted of all temple presidents and Regional secretaries and the GBC Zonal Secretary (if he wants to attend) within the region as well as resident sannyasis or other leading devotees as the council desires or the local GBC recommends.”
Shall be ammended to read:
“A GBC Divisional council is assigned for a particular geographic area and shall be constituted of all temple presidents and Regional secretaries and the GBC Zonal Secretaries within the region as well as resident sannyasis or other leading devotees as the council desires or the local GBC recommends. Attendence by all GBC Zonal Secretaries is manditory.”
2. The provision quoted above:
“Meet regularly as required. They must meet at least twice a year, but can meet monthly or more if the need arises.”
Is hereby ammended to read:
“Meet regularly as required. They must meet at least once a year, but they can meet monthly or more if the need arises.”
3. To the list of fourteen itemized duties enumerated under “They shall:” quoted above, the following duty is hereby added:
“Collect all the annual financial reports from temples and ISKCON projects in the region and have them reviewed by the executive committee of that
611 [ACTION ORDER] DIRECTIVE FOR DIVISIONAL COUNCILS
0. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. THAT henceforth the GBC Divisional Councils shall convene as enjoined by GBC resolution No. 405 (1996), as ammended above in 610, and they shall accomplish the following:
1. Conduct a thorough review of their region’s GBC organizational structure (question overlap, strengthen zones where necessary).
2. Conduct a simple evaluation process of the region’s leaders (in terms of strengths and weaknesses). Conducting a “vote of confidence” is also an
3. Identify candidates for future regional secretaries, with emphasis on bringing up local devotees. New regional secretaries may be appointed as
4. Appoint a co-ordinating secretary for each region to follow up on international and regional resolutions, maintain communication, etc.
(Consider funding mechanism.)
5. Insure that each temple and ISKCON project submits an annual financial report (to the regional co-ordinating office).
6. Develop a one-year plan (to be reviewed at the next year’s meetings).
7. Bring to Mayapur next year evaluations and review of concerns for discussion.
The GBC Zonal Assignments for 1999-2000 are as follows:
Anuttama das: Assistant GBC
GBC minister of Communications
GBC for USA: California (South), Colorado, Idaho, Nebraska,
Nevada, New Mexico, Utah.
Co-GBC for USA: Los Angeles.
BB Govinda Swami: Acting GBC
Co-GBC for Moscow, and St. Petersburg (with Vaidyanatha and Niranjana S.)
Sole GBC: Russia: Volga Region,; Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan,
Bhakti Caitanya Swami: Acting GBC
Co-GBC for Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Russia: Siberia,South Africa.
Sole GBC: Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Malawi, Angola, Lesotho,
Bhakti Charu Swami:
Two year leave of absence from zonal assignments. Assignment “Abhay Caran”
Bhaktimarg Swami: GBC Candidate
Candidate for GBC for all of Canada.
Bhakti Raghava Swami: GBC Candidate
Co-GBC for Canada: along with Gopal Krishna Maharaja and Bhakti Marg Swami.
Mandate to remain 10 months a year in Montrealco-GBC for Canada: Ontario,
Western Canada; USA: State of Washington, Alaska.
Bhakti Swarup Damodar Swami:
GBC for India: Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh.
Co-GBC for India: Tripura, Andra Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Orissa, U.P.
Switzerland, Dole (France).
Co-GBC for Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon,
Ghana,Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone,
South Africa, Togo, Zaire;
USA: West Virginia, Michigan (Detroit), Pennsylvania (Gita Nagari),
Co-GBC for Czech Republic, Slovakia, Russia: Siberia, Far East; Ukraine
No zonal assignment.
Bir Krsna Goswami
GBC for USA: Virginia, Southeast United States, Hawaii.
Co-GBC: Italy, Toronto.
GBC Executive Committee:
GBC for Fiji, India: Gadaigiri, Balikuda Orissa.
Co-GBC for USA: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas;
Hong Kong, China, South Korea, North Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Polynesiea.
GBC for, Cape Verde Islands, Mauritius, Reunion, Botswana
Co-GBC for, Spain, India: Mumbay; Pakistan.
Gopal Krsna Goswami:
GBC for India: Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Punjab (Chandigarh), Uttar Pradesh
(West without Vrndavan) Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh;
Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda.
Co-GBC for India: Maharashtra (including Mumbai), Jamnu-Kashmir, Himal
Pradesh, Lucknow, Hardwar, Goa, Uttar Pradesh (including Vrndavan,);
Russia: South, Golden Ring; Azerbaijan;
Canada: Everywhere except for Quebec.
Guru Prasad Swami:
GBC for Colombia, Amazon region in Brazil, USA: Arizona; Central America,
Co-GBC for Venezuela, Trinidad.
Hari Vilas Das:
Co-GBC for USA: Northern California, Oregon, Washington;
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Armenia,
Pakistan,Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, North and South Yemen,
Afghanistan, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Ethiopia, Somalia,
Djibouti, Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkino Faso, Niger, Chad;
India: Jamnu and Kashmir, Hardwar and Rishikesh Goa, Himacal Pradesh;
USA: State of Washington, Alaska.
GBC for Bolivia; India: Karnataka?, Kerala, Pondicherry?, West Bengal
(other than Mayapur and Calcutta); Maldives, Bhutan, Andaman and Nicobar
Co-GBC for Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, Chile, Ecuador, Kuwait, Malaysia,
Nepal, Oman, Peru, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand,
United Arab Emirates;
India: Bihar, Sikkim ???, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Tripura, Assam,
Meghalaya, Orissa, Karnataka ???, Belgaum, West Bengal (including Mayapur
GBC Minister of Congregational Preaching
GBC for Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Israel.
Co-GBC for Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Benin, Togo, Liberia,
Cameroon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Zaire, Gabon, Rio Muni, Central African
Republic, Congo, Thailand, Singapore.
Madhu Sevita Das:
Co-GBC for Italy.
Co-GBC for Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland, Cyprus, Spain.
Malati-devi Dasi: Assistant GBC
Co-GBC for USA: Ohio, West Virgina, , Kentucky, Detroit, Western Pennsylvania.
Manjari-devi Dasi: Assistant GBC
Navina Krishna Das:
GBC Minister of Management and Finance
GBC for USA: New England, Festival of India; Moldova;
Co-GBC for Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia Ukraine, Belarus, Russia: Moscow and
St. Petersburg, west of Nijniy Novgorod and north of Voronesh.
GBC for Brazil including Nova Gokula.
GBC for France, Portugal.
Co-GBC for Australia, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New
Guinea, New Caledonia, Russia: Far East, South; Latvia
Burma; India: Bihar, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh (only Tirupati),
Uttar Pradesh (East); Bangladesh,
Nepal, Malaysia, Brunei.
Prthu Das: GBC Candidate
Co-GBC for USA: Hawaii, Oregon,Washington.
GBC for India: Mumbay Chowpatti.
Co-GBC for India: Belgaum, Karnataka, Maharastra, Uttar Pradesh (Kuruksetra);
USA: West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky.
Co-GBC for Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia,
Ravindra Svarupa Das:
GBC for USA: Michigan (except Detroit), Delaware, Maryland,
Co-GBC for USA: Washington DC, Pennsylvania (West, Gita Nagari), Ohio,
Rohini Suta Das:
GBC for Georgia, Russia: Ural Region.
Sole GBC for Russia: Murmansk;
Co-GBC Azerbaijan, Armenia,
Sole-GBC: Austria, Slovenia,
Sole GBC: Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia,
Sole GBC:Northern Germany (Berlin, Hamburg, and Hannover).
GBC for USA: New Jersey, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, New York, Illinois, Missouri.
Co-GBC for Trinidad, Guyana, Carribean.
Minister of Educational Development
GBC for England, Scotland, Wales, Channel Islands, Ireland, Hungary.
GBC for Greece, Cyprus, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Norway, Finland.
Co-GBC for Czech Republic, Slovakia, Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland.
Tamal Krsna Goswami:
Co-GBC for Polynesia, USA: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas; Hong Kong, China,
North Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, South Korea, India: Mayapur and Calcutta.
Vaidyanatha Das: Full GBC
Co-GBC for Russia and Abkhazia.
GBC for USA: Florida; Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Puerto Rico;
Co-GBC for USA: Los Angeles; Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Venezuela, Dominican
Caribbean except for Trinidad.
GBC Interim Committee: (Ravindra Svarupa das, Saunaka Rsi das, Rohini Suta
das, Arcana dasi, Parivadi das, Visvadeva das)
Middle-South Germany: Abentheur, Cologne, Wiesbaden, Munich, Nrsimha Ksetra.
European Support Group : Bir Krishna Goswami (coordinator), Smita Krishna
Swami, Bhakti Vaibhava Swami, Rohini Suta Das, Ravindra Svarupa Das,
Madhusevita Das, Kadamba Kanana Das, Trivikrama Swami, Sridhara Maharaja
(for former Yugoslavia)
Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Faroe Islands,
Lichtenstein, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia,
APPENDIX “A”: Letter from Pradyumna Prabhu, 1978
Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Jayatah
7 August, l978
Dear Satsvarupa Maharaj,
Please accept my most humble obeisances. Maharaj, I am writing you thisletter with great anxiety in my heart and after days and days and long nights of thought and careful consideration.
I have been staying in Vrndavan for some time and have not visited any other center recently except Delhi. Therefore, my information I have about what is happening at our other centers comes only from devotees visiting here, occasional letters, newsletters and our society’s magazine and other publications. But the news I hear from these sources is very alarming and therefore I am writing you in some anxiety.
The matter concerns the Godbrothers who were selected by Srila Prabhupada to accept disciples. At the time of Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance, it was most clearly understood by all of us present that Srila Prabhupada made no successor. Everyone admitted that fact and understood it clearly. Instead, the GBC was to jointly manage all affairs of ISKCON just had been the case previously. This was the same solution as desired by Om Visnupada Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, who also had not made any successor, although his wishes were not followed. In addition to the GBC management, Srila Prabhupada also selected 11 somewhat advanced disciples to grant initiation to newcomers. However if was never mentioned at any time by His Divine Grace that these 11 were to be known as acaryas. He simply instructed that they may now accept disciples. Otherwise, as it was understood and practiced at that time, there was no special position given to these 11, either in the society as a whole or in relation to their Godbrothers. Management would depend on the joint GBC, and among Godbrothers and sisters all are on the same level, with the exception of some special regard and respect shown to older (senior) disciples by these Godbrothers and Godsisters who are junior.
Now at present, I understand that the 11 gurus are all 1)adopting the title of acarya, 2)sitting on high Vyasasanas in front of Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasasana and their own Godbrothers, 3)accepting worship and great respect normally reserved for a guru from the rest of their Godbrothers and 4)that the previous GBC zones have all been given by mutual agreement or by invitation among the different acaryas.
First of all, the word ACARYA may be taken in 3 senses. Etymologically the word means “one who practices” or “one who practices what he preaches.” This is the general meaning and may be used in relation to any pure devotee period. Secondly. The word means “one who grants initiation to a disciples.” This is specifically indicating one who is a guru. Anyone who grants initiation or is a guru may be called as “acaryadeva,” etc.-by his disciples only! Whoever has accepted him as guru must give all respects to him in every way, but this does not apply to those who are not his disciples.
Thirdly, the word acarya indicates “the spiritual head of an institution or pitha.” This meaning is very specific. It does not mean just anyone. It means only one who has been specifically declared by the previous acarya to be his successor above all others to the seat of the spiritual institution which he heads. He alone, among all of his Godbrothers, is given a raised set and special honor. No other Godbrother may receive such respect and he is the authority in all spiritual and material matters. This is the strict tradition in all of the Gaudiya Sampradayas. Now Srila Prabhupada, it is clear, did not appoint any such successor because no one of his disciples at present is advanced to the level of Krishna Consciousness necessary to assume such a position. Nor did Srila Prabhupada make 11 such acaryas. This was never mentioned by Him. They were only given permission to make disciples and the GBC was to jointly mange, materially and spiritually. There was never any distinctions made by Srila Prabhupada between material management and spiritual management. Both are the concern of the GBC. The 11 gurus may be known as acaryas only in the second sense of the word-to their disciples as mantra-giving gurus, not in the third sense, as “the” spiritual successors of Srila Prabhupada. That was never meant to be by His Divine Grace.
Secondly, among Godbrothers it is not correct that any one of them sit above the others, especially in the presence of Gurudeva. If Gurudeva is not present, sometimes the sannyasi Godbrothers may be given an asana, but that asana does not mean a huge gigantic seat. It simply means a square piece of cloth or wool not more than 1/8″ or 1/4″ thick. This is asana. If any one Godbrother or many Godbrothers sit above the others it is not at all proper.
Sometimes in an assembly there may be raised platform or table on which the sannyasi speakers sit, but all sannyasi Godbrothers must be invited to sit in an equal place on the speaker’s platform. Sometimes a grhastha or brahmacari Godbrothers may also be invited to sit there if they are deserving by their advancement. If there is an appointed acarya as mentioned before (third sense of the word) then he alone may sit higher than the other Godbrothers. Indeed in the different Gaudiya Mathas, even if one Godbrother is in the position of acarya, he usually, out of humility, takes only a thin cloth asana, not anything higher. It is the symptom of a Vaisnava to be extremely humble. He must always be extremely careful of putting himself in a position where he may become conceited. A guru may take a higher seat than his disciple–that is bonafide. But he cannot illegally take a higher seat than his Godbrothers. The relation between the guru and his Godbrothers and a guru and his disciples is entirely different. He should not sit higher than Godbrothers other than if he is a sannyasi, on a thin cloth as already mentioned if offered by his Godbrothers, or accept respect from them without offering respect in return. This is the general niti or etiquette. Besides this, there are, among Godbrothers, some further rules to be observed between those who are senior and those who are junior. Seniority is calculated according to the time of receiving 1st (Harinam) initiation or by his ability to perform bhajana.
If one Godbrother has disciples, the guru-puja and Vyasa-puja of that Godbrother should be conducted in a separate place or his private room-not in from of all his other Godbrothers. In an assembly of Vaisnavas, all sit on the same level together, Godbrothers along with their sisyas. No one is permitted to accept separate respect from disciples in any gathering of other Godbrothers. In Gaudiya Math, the Vyasa-puja of one Godbrother who has disciples is usually performed in the following manner. The guru takes his raised seat in his private place and invites all his Godbrothers to come to the function also. If his Godbrothers come to offer him some flowers, that Godbrother guru immediately first worships his other Godbrothers and offers them garland, candana, etc., and in some cases presents like cloth, umbrella, etc. They honor each other and are seated properly, then that guru’s disciples may come forward and offer their worship. This is the system being observed. Incidentally, the words of Om Visnupada Srila Bhakktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura found in the English book Sri Caitanya’s Teachings regarding the sitting above everyone else are from a speech delivered in response to the offerings of his disciples on the occasion of his Vyasa-puja. Those words are in relation to his disciples–not to his Godbrothers, of which there weren’t any. The niti in regard to Godbrothers is completely different from that to disciples.
One who is actually guru may make disciples anywhere he finds someone who is worthy. The connection between guru and disciple is arranged by Krsna directly–and it is not subject to legislation. All the world-wide temples of ISKCON are controlled by the GBC. The temples are managed by them jointly and they decide each year which member of the GBC will manage in which place. The GBC who is appointed to be responsible for a certain zone somewhere on this planet, if a guru, will naturally make many disciples in that place–but how can he be illicitly restricted from accepting a disciple from someplace else. That is material consideration. It has another to do with transcendental order, by which guru and disciple make their meeting. It is not geographical.
Secondly, no GBC who is guru may make that zone of which he is temporarily in charge by appointment of the joint GBC, into his own private place. If some other guru visits there and some newcomer wishes to accept him as spiritual preceptor, how can he be prohibited? Furthermore, all the temples of ISKCON are to be run by the GBC. No one GBC who is a guru may use the title acarya of such and such a zone. Srila Prabhupada never appointed one acarya of the whole ISKCON nor did he appoint several acaryas for parts of ISKCON. This will only lead to an ultimate division of the one ISKCON into many different fragments and destroy our united preaching work.
If someone sets up his personal seat as acarya in different temples, how can it be removed? Who else can sit in it? Then does that temple belong to that guru or does it belong to the GBC? That means the power or control is switched from joint GBC to the 11 gurus. Srila Prabhupada never intended this arrangement. Moreover, in the future, in accordance with His Divine Grace’s instructions, other qualified Godbrothers may also become gurus. Where will they go? In Srila Prabhupada’s temples no raised seat should be given to any but Srila Prabhupada–all Godbrothers should sit on the same level. One exception may be made in the case of one speaking from the sastras like Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, Caitanya-caritamrta, etc.during the class. But that seat is very special. It is not for the reader–it is meant for the book. After paying obeisances to that seat, he who is to read, may, after taking permission from his senior Godbrothers and sannyasis, ascend to read from Bhagavatam. After finishing, he may again pay his obeisances.
Much of the knowledge written here is not found in sastra, but is called sistacara–that which has been taught by the conduct of the past guru parampara. It has not been specifically mentioned in any sastra, but still it is accepted as authoritative because of being seen to be the conduct of previous acaryas and their disciples.
Maharaja, after very much consideration and consultation and also confirmation by older members of our sampradaya, I am writing to you to see if you can rectify the present situation. Many of us here, older Godbrothers, are very concerned in two ways– 1) that the 11 gurus not having been appointed to the position of acarya and for which they are unqualified both by a.the insufficient knowledge of sastra and b. the incomplete realization of Krsna consciousness, are accepting worship on that level–and this may lead to anomalies in the society and personally, because of lack of complete detachment in atmajnana, to a buildup of pride and subsequent falldown, and 2) that the united society ISKCON, because of illegal division and control by a few members instead of the joint GBC will become broken up in separate societies and the unified preaching effort very much hindered.
Hoping for your immediate attention and kind reply,
Pradyumna das Adhikari
P.S. These are not good signs for our society. Older Godbrothers and sannyasis here are very concerned that if the present trend is not checked immediately, it will have passed beyond that point and ISKCON will be in chaos in the near future. I hereby formally request that all these points be immediately brought to the attention of the GBC so that a very tactful solution for all concerned may be decided and amicably implemented in our society. Please note that there is nothing personal in this letter. It is some pertinent spiritual knowledge meant for the good of all. If anyone takes offense, I very humbly beg pardon at his feet. I would like to request your kind acknowledgement of the receipt of this letter and information on what action you intend to take as soon as possible, preferably before this coming Janmastami (Aug. 26).
Hoping that this meets you in the best of health,
In the service of Srila Prabhupada,
Pradyumna das Adhikari