M O V I N G F O R W A R D
The relevant portions of this letter are in bold, underlined and in italics. My comments will follow in normal font.
As we have increased our volume of activities, now I think a Governing Body Commission (hereinafter referred to as the GBC), should be established.
In the early years from 1965 to 1970, Srila Prabhupada was basically the King of ISKCON. In 1970, the movement had spread wide and far in this world, and in order to be able to spend more time translating Srimad-bhagavatam etc., he became aware, that ISKCON was now large enough, that it was required to establish a GBC for his institution, just like his own spiritual master wanted a GBC for the Gaudiya Matha. At that time there was a lot of enthusiasm amongst his disciples. He also could see that many of his disciples had the inclination to be a leader, and they were also were, more or less, intelligent. Hence, it was time to establish the GBC, so they could relieve him of the general management of his institution, or at least assist him in that regard.
I am getting old, 75 years old, therefore at any time I may be out of the scene, therefore I think it is necessary to give instruction to my disciples how they shall manage the whole institution.
Knowing that he “may be out of the scene” due to his advanced age. It is my opinion, that if Srila Prabhupada had not written these instructions, ISKCON would have regressed into anarchy, a state of disorder due to absence or nonrecognition of authority. It is possible that Srila Prabhupada might have felt the same way. Importunely, Srila Prabhupada worst fear has certainly manifested since his disappearance. Today, ISKCON is an institution that is riddled with “anarchy”, “Chaos”, and “Controversy”.
But we want still more improvement in the standard of Temple management, propaganda for Krishna Consciousness, distribution of books and literatures, opening of new centers and educating devotees to the right standard.
Since Srila Prabhupada said “we want still more improvement in standards” in the categories he then describes; certainly, implies that he was not satisfied. He said that the current temple management system comprising of Temple president, Secretary, and Treasurer, was doing nicely. Nevertheless, he wanted them to “step-up-their-game”, so to speak. In other words, “improve their skills and talents in the Art of Management”. Little known is the fact that Srila Prabhupada wrote a letter giving details to this statement just made, which will be presented later. In this letter he wrote at the end of his instructions, “this is the Art of Management.”
Therefore, I have decided to adopt the following principles and I hope my beloved disciples will kindly accept them.
Here Srila Prabhupada says that he “hoped”, (feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen), that his “beloved disciples”, (those disciples who loved him), would “kindly”, (in a kind manner), “accept”, (consent to receive a thing offered), them.
No doubt that Srila Prabhupada is not dictating or demanding that his disciples accept these instructions. He is humbly requesting that his disciples accept them out of love for him.
In that meeting, it was resolved that an ad hoc committee be set up to form the constitution, which is taken into consideration.
This particular sentence, it can be understood that the meeting of the current leaders of ISKCON, decided to form an “ad hoc committee”, for the purpose of developing and writing a “Constitution for ISKCON”. Ad-hoc means,
“When necessary or needed.”
Therefore, it could be understood that at that time these leaders felt it was a good idea to write a formal constitution. However, when would this committee, decide that it was “necessary or needed”?
“A body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is acknowledged to be governed”.
At that time, these leaders did not know if such a constitution was needed or even necessary. Since they never wrote a constitution, ever, simply logic and reason tell us that these leaders did not think a constitution was needed or necessary.
After Srila Prabhupada’s departure, there have been several attempts in writing a constitution for ISKCON. All of them have failed, due to the reason that there could be no consensus amongst the GBC and the rank-and-file disciples who initiated such effort. To this date, a Constitution for ISKCON does not exists.
My duty was to first appoint twelve (12) persons to my free choice amongst my disciples and I do it now.
Interesting is the fact that 11 of the 12, were householders; disciples who were married to some of his women disciples! The 12th was a brahmacari. There is a not-so-nice history of most of these twelve disciples. However, it is not the intent of this Treatise, to discuss it.
These personalities are now considered as my direct representatives. While I am living, they will act as my zonal secretaries, and after my demise they will be known as Executors.
He is clearly stating that while he was with us physically, each of these disciples would act as his “zonal secretaries”,
While Srila Prabhupada was present, these personalities were “direct”, (without intervening factors or intermediaries), “representatives”, (persons chosen or appointed to act or speak for another).
Moreover, after his demise, he stated that they would be known as “Executors”. There are two relevant meanings to this word “Executor”, one is a legal term, and the other is in general.
1. Legal: a person or institution appointed by a testator, (a person who has made a will or given a legacy), to carry out the terms of their will.
2. A person who produces something or puts something into effect.
According to my experience, both of these definitions apply, and can be used to understand Srila Prabhupada instruction in depths, for they specify the fundamental duty and responsibility of a GBC.
I have already awarded Sannyasa or the renounced order of life to some of my students and they have also got very important duties to perform in this connection.
Here Srila Prabhupada is categorically stating that those disciples who he awards Sannyasa too, have specific duties, to perform, that are unique to such an appointment.
The Sannyasis will travel to our different centers for preaching purpose as well as enlightening the members of the center for spiritual advancement. The Sannyasis will suggest for opening new centers in suitable places and the GBC will take action on it.
Here is clear instruction for what the activity of a Sannyasi is. While the activities are well defined, the most import instruction is that Sannyasis “will travel” to different centers. He did not say that they should “stay in one center”, like they do today. Since ISKCON is a “totalitarian centralized” institution. The positions and duties and activities of ISKCON Sannyasis, Gurus, and GBCs, have become overlapped in one large power grab, so to speak. In Gaudiya-Vaisnavas Siddhanta, the Guru is the ultimate authority for a disciple. However, the GBC body claims to be the ultimate authority, where the Gurus are subordinate to the GBC; because the GBC body votes who can be a Guru. Gurus are subject to the injunctions of the GBC. History has shown, that Gurus are appointed, suspended, and removed, by GBC resolutions. The centralization of ISKCON is simply a messy disorganized mixture of Gurus, Sannaysis, and GBCs. All of them want to have a “spicket” on the “Cash Flow” within ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada stated three functions for a sannaysi,
1. Will travel to our different centers for preaching purpose.
2. Will enlighten the members of the center for spiritual advancement.
3. Will suggest, to the GBC, for opening new centers in a suitable place.
These instructions are unambiguous, unmistakable, clear-cut, explicit, and definite. To take sannyasa, is a big responsibility; it is a position of a brahmana, not a GBC, whose function is “management”, and “administration”. Note that Srila Prabhupada did not appoint any of his sannaysis, as GBCs. Appointed as GBCs where 11 grihasthas, and one bramachari.
The purpose of the Governing Body Commission is to act as the instrument for the execution of the Will of His Divine Grace.
There are two key words, and one key phrase, in this sentence, and they are:
“Will of His Divine Grace.”
In the following, I am providing the definitions of these 2 words and 1 phrase, in order for you to fully get a grasp of what Srila Prabhupada is meaning by this sentence.
“A person who is exploited or made use of.”
“The carrying out or putting into effect of a plan, order, or course of action”.
The phrase “Will of his Divine Grace”, is more complex. This is clearly saying who is expressing “will”, and that person is “his Divine Grace”.
In this case “Will” means,
1. Expressing a strong intention or assertion about the future.
2. Are bound to.
3. Expressing a request.
Using these definition’s, Srila Prabhupada’s statement can be further illuminated, as follows;
Srila Prabhupada requested, that the purpose of the Governing Body Commission, is to act as the persons who are exploited or made use of, for carrying out or putting into effect, his expressed, strong intentioned, plans, orders, and course of actions for ISKCON, as he has asserted, for the future of ISKCON, and these GBCs are bound, simply by the authority of His Divine Grace’s will.
1. The GBC oversees all operations and management of ISKCON, as it receives direction from Srila Prabhupada and His Divine Grace has the final approval in all matters.
Here the word “oversees” is important. Oversee means,
“To watch over and direct; supervise. To subject to scrutiny; examine or inspect.”
As you will see further on, this was the relationship of GBC and a Temple president. The GBC was never authorized to directly manage or make decisions that are within the Temple president’s authority. In addition, you will see later that Prabhupada instructed that if there are any problems with a Temple president neglecting his duties or going beyond his authority, it was to be reported to the GBC and the issues would be addressed at the next GBC meeting. You will also see; removal of a Temple president could not be done without the approval of the members of the community. Otherwise, it was always understood that the Temple president is the ultimate authority in temple management and the administration of the community. The GBC duty was to guide, and inspire, the temple community with the instructions given by Srila Prabhupada and the resolutions passed by the GBC and approved by Srila Prabhupada. This is not how ISKCON is managed today. The GBC is now a Totalitarian regime; each GBC, individually, is a dictator.
2. His Divine Grace will select the initial 12 members of the GBC. In the succeeding years the GBC will be elected by a vote of all Temple presidents who will vote for 8 from a ballot of all Temple presidents, which may also include any secretary who is in charge of a Temple.
Here, Srila Prabhupada is instituting an element of “democracy”. For the first year of the establishment of the GBC, Srila Prabhupada personally named the twelve disciples to serve as GBC’s. He then says,
“In the succeeding years”.
He means that there is a protocol for the selection of GBC’s each year. That protocol would be,
“The GBC will be elected by a vote of all Temple presidents who will vote for 8 from a ballot of all Temple presidents, which may also include any secretary who is in charge of a Temple.”
Today, in ISKCON, GBCs are elected/appointed by the established GBC body, as it desires. Hence, the democratic way of electing GBC’s is taken away from the Temple presidents.
Srila Prabhupada will choose to retain four commissioners. In the event of Srila Prabhupada ‘s absence, the retiring members will decide which four will remain.
This specifies the protocol while Srila Prabhupada was with us, and the protocol after his absence. This is no longer followed because GBCs are currently elected/appointed for “life”. One becomes a GBC when other GBC members recommends them. If accepted, they go through a process of evaluation over several years by becoming assistant GBCs, acting GBCs or Commissioner of some project, and after such probation, they become fully ordained GBCs. Hence, since the departure of Srila Prabhupada, the number of GBCs has dramatically increased from the original twelve. How many GBCs are there, as of today? I researched this, and I only found one reference which stated that there were 34 GBCs. That was many years ago. This may be the number of current functioning GBCs, however, this number does not reflect the dozens of GBCs who left ISKCON, and those who were relieved from that duty, for various reasons. Hence, I would not surprise if the total number of GBCs in ISKCON today may total as much as 50.
Board of directors in multibillion dollar organizations do not have this quantity of directors; so why does ISKCON require so many GBCs. It has been understood that the GBC title has been given as a reward for being a loyal “YES” man. Rank-and-file followers of ISKCON believe that the Guru, GBC, and Sannaysi title means that they are uttama status Vaisnavas.
Those 8 with the greatest number of votes will be members for the next term of GBC.
This instruction is no longer followed. A GBC is appointed by the GBC body itself. They are not elected by the Temple presidents, and their appointment.is “for life”. The GBC body also suspends a GBC or removes a GBC, if they are found guilty of not following the regulative principles, and in other cases, just because of the fact, that the GBC is not loyal to the agenda of the GBC body. The GBC body actually resembles the Politburo, the principal policymaking committee in the former Soviet Union.
Srila Prabhupada will choose to retain four commissioners. In the event of Srila Prabhupada ‘s absence, the retiring members will decide which four will remain.
These two instructions are no longer followed due to the fact that Srila Prabhupada is no longer with us. Nevertheless, there is no GBC resolution enacted as of this date, that resembles this instruction.
3. The commissioners will serve for a period of 3 years, and they may be re-elected at the end of this period.
This instruction is no longer a protocol because the majority of GBC’s are designated for life. See heading entitled “Segment 36: Srila Prabhupada Instructions on Management” for details.
GBC Meets with Srila Prabhupada — May 28, 1977, Vrindhavan:
[Comment: Srila Prabhupada stated in a room conversation on May 28th, 1977 with Satsvarupa Goswami and tamal Krishna Gosvami, that those already GBC should remain for life. However, I posit that it is possible that Prabhupada was refereeing to the 4 GBC’s that were selected by him, not the 8 which he said should be elected by the body of Temple presidents from a ballot of all Temple presidents and qualified secretaries:]
“So, our first question is about the GBC members. We want to know how long should they remain in office?”
“They should remain for good.”
“They should remain for good?”
“Selected men are chosen, so they cannot be changed.”
4. The chairman is elected by the GBC for each meeting. He has no veto power, but in event of a vote tie, his vote will decide. The same will apply for votes cast by mail between regular meetings.
To the best of our knowledge, this instruction is being followed.
5. Throughout the year, each of the commissioners will stay with His Divine Grace for one month at a time and keep the other commissioners informed of His Divine Grace’s instructions.
This instruction was followed for some time. However, during the last couple of years, of Prabhupada’s life, it was monopolized by one disciple and sometimes two.
6. The primary objective of the GBC is to organize the opening of new Temples and to maintain the established Temples.
This protocol is nonexistent today, while they still have this as an objective, it is no longer the PRIMARY objective; it has been demoted to the a “secondary” or lower ranked objective.
The new PRIMARY objective of the GBC is,
“How to retain the reins of power in ISKCON, which is similar to the totalitarian politburo of the now defunct communist regime of the USSR.”
7. Advice will be given by the GBC in cases of real property purchases, which will be in the name of ISKCON, Inc. (Trucks or other vehicles will be purchased in the name of the local president).
After Prabhupada’s departure, this protocol went out the window. Gurus and Temple presidents who are in charge of bank accounts, use these funds to purchase many things other than vehicles for the Temple. They use these funds to purchase, and register, in their name, real-estate property, to create, personal businesses, and to facilitate mundane sense gratification. Moreover, embezzlement of funds has been a very common transgression by Temple presidents, and treasurers. In addition, the Gurus, they do as they wish; even at the objections of many GBC’s.
I know personally of a GBC, sannaysi, guru god brother who inherited over 100 million dollars cash and other properties when his father died. He now lives in his father’s mansion. When this god brother first joined ISKCON he was just a crazed LSD hippy who had a rich father. However, his rich father was not supporting him financially. Nevertheless, after this god brother joined ISKCON, shortly thereafter, his father offered him 1 million in cash to leave ISKCON. This god brother rejected his father’s offer. No loss, his father will die eventually. Thus, this god brother would inherit it all his father’s wealth. When his father finally died, he had by that time become a sannaysi, a GBC, and a Guru-Moreover, this god brother does not use one penny of his inheritance to further the bhakti movement. He has plenty of disciples and they contribute much money and real-estate, to him: under the Vedic injunctions of surrendering, one’s wealth to the guru if you are a brahmacari, and one third if you are a house holder. Prabhupada never enforced this injunction, but if a disciple gave him some Daksina, he put it in to his personal accounts, that were used to fund the building of the temples in India, and he administration of the intent and purpose of the MVT. Never did Prabhupada use one penny for his own personal use. One only has to investigate and you would find that GBCs, Gurus, Sannyasis, Temple presidents and secretaries are more affluent than the rank-and-file members of a temple community. Especially the gurus, who live in luxury, on the level of multi-millionaires.
The writer of this Treatise has a true story about this GBC, Sannaysi, and Guru. In the 1990’s, there was a fund-raising campaign, in order to raise funds to refurbish the portion of Srila Prabhupada’s Samadhi that had previously been completed, but had been neglected for many years. In addition, funds were also being raised, in order to complete the planed Srila Prabhupada Samadhi Complex which was locate directly in front of the Krishna and Balarama Mandir in Vrindhavan India. The person who was in charge of the fund-raising campaign, approached this GBC, just mentioned, and requested a donation. At that time, this GBC was accompanied by another big GBC who was also a Sannaysi and a Guru, and had some very wealthy disciples. When asked to give a donation. One of them said,
“I will give the same amount as he donates; m; meaning, the other GBC present with him.”
The other GBC then replied,
“OK, I will donate the same amount the he donates; meaning, the original GBC in this story.”
The person in charge of the fund raising then said,
“Ok, please let me know, as soon as possible, what you both agree to donate.”
Months went by, with no word from these two GBC, Sannaysi, Gurus.
Actually a few years passed by, and still no word from these two wealthy ISKCON leaders. In fact, they were never heard from PERIOD. It was understood, that neither of them wanted to donate funds for the refurbishing and continuing construction of their Spritual Master’s Samadhi. Since one said,
“I am donating ZERO dollars”.
The other one said,
“Ok, I therefore will also give ZERO dollars”.
Nevertheless, in the due course of time, sufficient funds were raised and the Srila Prabhupada Samadhi Complex was completed by his Centennial.
8. Removal of a Temple president by the GBC requires support by the local Temple members.
The instruction has never been followed. If Srila Prabhupada is saying that removal of a Temple president by the GBC of that Temple, requires support by the local Temple members, therefore, by inference; a Temple president is selected by the members of that Temple as well. This inference, is established by other letters and conversations by Srila Prabhupada, which will be presented later.
After 1974 there was communications that indicated changes were made to the Direction of Management. See below in heading “Segment 36: Srila Prabhupada Instructions on Management”.
9. The GBC has no jurisdiction in the publication of manuscripts, which will be handled by a separate committee; profits to be returned to Srila Prabhupada.
The first part of this instruction is not followed. Currently “publication of manuscripts” has to have the approval of the GBC; regardless of the fact that Srila Prabhupada wrote, “The GBC has no jurisdiction in the publication of manuscripts, which will be handled by a separate committee. For this function, Srila Prabhupada established an independent entity from the GBC, as you will see in the next instruction.
So far, my books are concerned, I am setting up a different body of management known as the BHAKTIVEDANTA BOOK TRUST (BBT). The trustees of this body are also members of the GBC, but their function is not dependent on the GBC.
This protocol has been shredded, and stomped on. The incorporation documents for the BBT were made in the USA in the state of California. Srila Prabhupada appointed two of his GBC members to be the Trustees of the BBT. So, after Srila Prabhupada’s departure, in order to trash the charter and the organizational, intent and purpose of the BBT, they abandoned the “BBT”, which does not exist anymore, and has been replaced by “BBT International”, BBTI, in Sweden, with a different logo, charter, intent, and purpose. The money is controlled by the one director and he does what he wishes with it as long as the GBC body does not agree. In other words, “BBT International” is controlled by the GBC body.
ISKCON Press was created for the exclusive publication of my books and literatures and should be continued in that way.
[ISKCON Press does not exist anymore. It was revived, only for a moment, in 1996, as “ISKCON GBC Press”, for the sole purpose of publishing a book to refute, a book entitled “In Vaikuntha Not Even the Leaves Fall”, on the origin of the jiva. This book by a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, and a grand-disciple was published in India in 1996, and in the same year was banned by the GBC. Why is there a need to refute a banned book? If there is a refutation of a book, then it is not justice to allow the book’s authors due process, and the ISKCON community to read the book being refuted. More interesting is the fact that when the book was banned, none of GBCs had read it. The Srila Prabhupada disciple who co-authored this book, also wrote several small books, prior to 1996, who’s subject matter was, “Why ISKCON had become corrupt, and what ISKCON can do, to correct itself”. These books were also banned. These two authors and an assistant, the writer of this treaties, were kicked-out from ISKCON in 1996 because of all these books. In “SECTION THREE – FINAL WORDS” these controversial issues will be discussed further.
During my absence no one shall live in my apartment.
This protocol is of no consequence in controlling ISKCON, so we are lucky that they have made Prabhupada’s apartments museums, so that all can see how simple he lived. Prabhupada never lived in the New Delhi temple or the Bombay Temple or any temples build after that. My understanding is that he objected to the planned apartments for him in those temples. His quarters in Mayapura and Vrindhavan, and other ISKCON temple in India and in west were all very much simple and quaint.
 Politburo: The principal policymaking committee of a communist party..