Aspects of Vaisnava Theory & Practice
Making a "Case" for the Reconstitution of Srila Prabhupada's "Mission"
Rasing Our Spiritual Standards

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Chapter 9
The Conscience of ISKCON “I”

Part 3

“If ISKCON executives Are Resistant to Brahminical Influence, it Has to be a Symptom of the Mode of Ignorance, Not Passion”

In varnasrama the ksatriyas, who symbolize the mode of passion, submit to the intellectual heads of society, the brahmanas. So, if ISKCON executives are resistant to brahminical influence, it has to be a symptom of the mode of ignorance, not passion. In Prabhupada’s time, he functioned as the spiritual head of ISKCON, and the GBC served under him, as ksatriyas or managers. Currently, if the guru is not a GBC, or a GBC is not a guru, it is a sort of handicap. That is to say a ksatriya must be a brahmana and vice versa. Nevertheless, the Vedic system is to keep these roles distinct.

Krishna conscious management means we seek the best outcome for Krishna. We are surrendered to doing whatever it takes so we can get the optimum result for Krishna. That attitude is the heart of Krishna conscious leadership; it is leadership with integrity. If we, in the executive position, are more attached to our perceived autonomy than to the attitude of integrity, we will resent having to endure another’s involvement in what we consider our turf. We will end up in politics and intrigue, and jealously schemes to cover our favored part of our anatomy in ways not far removed from attached materialists we criticize regularly in Bhagavatam classes and BTG articles. We have built up an idea in our heads, therefore, that as Vaisnavas, we can disregard the structural business of varnasrama, which the Supreme Lord prescribes for social organization, and good management. Moreover, it is Krishna’s system, how can we neglect it and claim faith in Him?

We believe we can straddle both roles, executive and intellectual, at one and the same time, when in fact the person who can do that is a rare, rare bird indeed. The exception we know was Srila Prabhupada, but even so, his example was that he distanced himself from the executive role by putting the GBC in place, to function under his guiding hand. His example was that he served as the conscience for ISKCON. To that extent he filled the brahminical role. In his physical absence, we will not accept any one person in his role, however, why not have a brahminical-body to serve as the guiding hand? All the executive powers would still remain with the GBC, however, the structure would be in place for the GBC to get invaluable critical feedback from persons not too close to the issues, not emotionally involved. This is Krishna’s fundamental program for order in human society, and we should be more eager to put it in place.

An arrangement such as advocated herein will be a definite step in the direction of such desirable social order. It will optimize our getting critical feedback to our service performance, which will optimize our problem-solving approach to life. 

It will put us in a better position to practice sharpening the saw in all four motivations:

  1. Economic (physical),
  2. How people are treated (social),
  3. How people are developed and used (mental),
  4. The service, the goals our organization set (spiritual).
 

From a managerial point of view, if we are not united to achieve efficient performance in these four areas, one can deservedly ask, what then are we doing?

Finally, this suggestion that we implement a body with no executive powers to serve as a conscience for ISKCON will make our society a more open society; it will set the humanitarian dynamic in motion. It will also move us towards a varnasrama structure, which is the social order that develops reason.

Humans have a dual tendency, to be herdlike and to be isolated. We saw that only those who could withstand isolation from the herd could emerge as true heroes of the human race. This courage is excellent preparation for death. In that sense, we are all meant to be heroes, by developing our powers of reason and courage and thus be able to face death without a qualm. Yet we all cannot withstand the isolation; hence we need a social order that gives us a chance to become real heroes.

For the vast majority of men who are not heroes the development of reason depends on the emergence of a social order in which each individual is fully respected and not made a tool of the state or any other group. A social order in which he need not be afraid to criticize, and in which the pursuit of truth does not isolate man from his brothers but makes him feel one with them. It follows that humanity will attain the full capacity for objectivity and reason only when a society of man is established above all particular divisions of the human race.

Varnasrama is that social order. It is a humanitarian social order. It fosters personalism. It was specifically designed to produce saintly persons, heroes, men and women of character. This is the optimum result we seek and we should do everything with that end in mind.

There are seven habits that are useful tools in practical matters of Krishna consciousness:

  1. Be Proactive.
  2. Begin with the end in mind.
  3. Put First Things First.
  4. Think Win/Win.
  5. Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood.
  6. Synergize.
  7. Sharpen the Saw.
 

It is stressed that that success in these habits depends on an “Inside-Out” approach, meaning that success stems from inside of us, from our character. This is in accord with Krishna consciousness, which entails development of character.

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