DOM

rocana prabhu publishes a series of editorials about ISKCON's Direction of Management (DOM) on his sampradaya sun website. this DOM has been a contentious issue in ISKCON for a long time, with different camps stating different things.

rocana prabhu, even though persona non grata in ISKCON, is in my opinion an intelligent devotee who cares about srila prabhupdada's ISKCON. i don't say he is right in all he says or writes, but neither is anybody else.

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Direction of Management, Part 9

Direction of Management, Part 9

 

BY: SUN STAFF

 

Jul 28, 2019 — CANADA (SUN) —

 

GBC Cannot Be Changed

 

To our knowledge, the last key historical marker relevant to the DOM is the May 28, 1977 Room Conversation [26] in which Srila Prabhupada makes statements about duration of some GBC tenures, and elections to fill vacancies on the governing body. While the 1970 DOM called for GBC elections and for four GBC to be retained each election cycle, a 1975 Resolution rescinded elections. And during this 1977 Room Conversation, Srila Prabhupada clearly stated that those already serving as GBC's should remain for life:

 

Satsvarupa: Srila Prabhupada, we were all asked by the rest of the GBC to come to ask some questions. Most... These are the members of the original GBC as you first made it up. So our first question is about the GBC members. We want to know how long should they remain in office?
Prabhupada: They should remain for good.
Tamala Krsna: They should remain for good.
Prabhupada: Selected men are chosen, so they cannot be changed. Rather, if some competent man comes, he should be added. I shall recommend that Vasudeva become one of the GBC.
Tamala Krsna: Vasudeva is Deoji Punja. He's the founder of our... He's building the temple in Fiji.
Prabhupada: How many GBC's are there already?
Tamala Krsna: Twenty-three.
Prabhupada: So add him. GBC is not to be changed.
Satsvarupa: But then, in the event that some present GBC member leaves, either leaves...
Prabhupada: Another should be elected.
Satsvarupa: By the votes of the present GBC.
[ ]
Prabhupada: So there is no question of changing GBC.
Satsvarupa: No.
Prabhupada: Rather, one who is competent, he can be selected to act by the board of the GBC.
Tamala Krsna: Of course, if someone has a falldown, just like in the past some GBC men have fallen down...
Prabhupada: He should be replaced.
Tamala Krsna: Then he should be replaced. But that's a serious falldown, not some minor discrepancy.
Prabhupada: They must be all ideal acarya-like. In the beginning we have done for working. Now we should be very cautious. Anyone who is deviating, he can be replaced.

 

Obviously, there is no reason to think that in making the above remarks, Srila Prabhupada meant that the original GBC men named in the DOM, who by May 1977 had already either left their post or the society altogether, should "remain for good" as GBC's. Rather, the GBC men remaining in office from the original 12 named in the DOM, along with those newer men in office at the time of this conversation (some of whom were named in the March 1977 Resolutions) would logically be considered to comprise the group Srila Prabhupada is referring to.

 

The March 1977 Resolutions [27] list 21 GBC members. (Adi Kesava Swami is mentioned as a special assistant only.) However, during the May 28, 1977 Room Conversation we read:

 

Prabhupada: …I shall recommend that Vasudeva become one of the GBC.
Tamala Krsna: Vasudeva is Deoji Punja. He's the founder of our... He's building the temple in Fiji.
Prabhupada: How many GBC's are there already?
Tamala Krsna: Twenty-three.
Prabhupada: So add him. GBC is not to be changed.

 

We have no evidence of who the two additional GBC members were that Tamal Krishna reported. With the addition of Vasudeva, the total count of GBC men who 'cannot be changed' comes to 24.

 

"GBC cannot elect GBC"

 

There is one more line of argument presented by the DOM proponents with respect to the May 28, 1977 Conversation that is central to their position. It deals with the following piece of dialogue:

 

Prabhupada: So add him. GBC is not to be changed.
Satsvarupa: But then, in the event that some present GBC member leaves, either leaves...
Prabhupada: Another should be elected.
Satsvarupa: By the votes of the present GBC.

 

In recent correspondence with Nara Narayana Viswakarma das and wife, they wrote:

 

"The only reference of which we are aware in which Srila Prabhupada discussed GBC being elected by other GBC resulted in His extremely clear statement in 1972, that "GBC cannot elect GBC". Other than that statement, we are not aware of Srila Prabhupada discussing GBC electing other GBC."

 

We found this remark baffling. Over the course of our lengthy discussion, and in their previous writings they had never mentioned this statement by Srila Prabhupada, and no citation was provided. When we Googled the phrase "GBC cannot elect GBC" (quotation marks included in query),there was only one query return: an article by these two authors, entitled "Direction of Management document and May 28th conversation" (undated) [28]. Anyone familiar with the Internet will know that it is rare indeed to put a search query into Google, and have it return only one item. Clearly, no one else on the Net has been talking about this quotation, except them.

 

When we read the linked article, it took us some time to make sense of it. The authors assert that there are nearly inaudible words spoken by Srila Prabhupada, which they discovered on the May 28, 1977 Room Conversation tape. They did not spell out in the article what these six words actually were, but the only likely referent is the phrase, "GBC cannot elect GBC".

 

Besides the fact that this is not "six words", they also have the date of the statement wrong in the article they sent us: it was May 28, 1977, not 1972.

 

They characterize this utterance as being Srila Prabhupada's "extremely clear statement in 1972, that "GBC cannot elect GBC"." In "Direction of Management document and May 28th conversation" they wrote:

 

"What is of more concern is that for many years, there was a part of the May 28th tape which was transcribed as "indecipherable" by the transcriber, and for years, that "indecipherable"/"indistinct" portion of the tape raised quite a number of eyebrows, due to the fact that nobody knew what was said there. Certainly, it is possible, to put that "pesky tape" into perspective by some scholarly effort, which has (to the best of our knowledge) not yet been performed.

 

Having listened carefully to the tape in question (not the transcript) a number of times, it is clear that Srila Prabhupada says in a fairly strong voice that, "another should be elected". When Satsvarupa then "clarifies" Srila Prabhupada's statement, he does so by supposedly completing Srila Prabhupada's instruction, "By the votes of the present GBC". After Satsvarupa makes that statement, all further speech by Srila Prabhupada becomes softer and softer, up to the point where he utters those six words, which is practically inaudible."

 

We have also listened carefully to the May 28, 1977 audio tape, on very high quality audio equipment, and we do not hear anything at all that could be characterized as the additional utterance the authors claim to have found. We encourage the reader to judge for themselves by listening to the audio tape. [29] The transcript of this portion of the conversation, with time stamps to the linked audio, is as follows:

 

13:59 - Satsvarupa: But then, in the event that some present GBC member leaves, either leaves...
14:03 - Prabhupada: Another should be elected.
14:09 - Satsvarupa: By the votes of the present GBC. Then our next question concerns initiations in the future, particularly at that time when you're no longer with us. We want to know how first and second initiation would be conducted.

 

Nara Narayana and Roupa Manjari devi are asserting that Srila Prabhupada continues talking after Satsvarup's sentence, "By the votes of the present GBC", and presumably either in the space between that and his next sentence, which followed immediately, or speaking overtop of Satsvarup's next sentence, Srila Prabhupada adds an all-important statement of clarification: "GBC cannot elect GBC". They describe this supposed utterance as being both "practically inaudible", and also as being an "extremely clear statement".

 

We hear no such words, and unless the authors can provide forensic audio evidence uncovering the utterance, it should be dismissed as complete speculation and propaganda.

 

FOOTNOTES (Current Segment):

 

[26] May 28, 1977 Room Conversation

[27] 1977 GBC Resolutions

[28] "Direction of Management document and May 28th conversation" by Nara Narayana and Roupa Manjari, IskconTimes.com (undated)

[29] May 28, 1977 Room Conversation Audio Tape (.wmv)

 

FOOTNOTES (Previous Segments):

 

[1] Direction of Management, July 28, 1970

[2] Topmost Urgency, July 22, 1974

[3] League of Devotees - Back To Godhead, Vol. III, Pt. 10, October 20, 1956 (Delhi)

[4] Constitution of Association, Jul 7-8th, 1966

[5] Certificate of Incorporation, ISKCON Inc., Jul 13, 1966

[6] Srila Prabhupada Letter to Giriraj, Aug 12, 1971

[7] Srila Prabhupada Letter to Satsvarup, May 2, 1972

[8] Srila Prabhupada Letter to Jayatirtha, Dec 16, 1974

[9] Compilation of quotes from Srila Prabhupada on 'Constitution'

[10] "Direction of Management for an Elected GBC" by Urdhvaga das, VNN, Sep 18, 2000

[11] Letter to Sri Rama das from Nara Narayan Vishwakarma das (Nathan Zakheim), Feb 9, 2001

[12] Testimony of Bardrinarayan dasa in Long Island Lawsuit, Jul 19, 2004

[13] "Roll them 'taters" by HH Mukunda Goswami, Jul 28, 2006

[14] "Chronology of the DOM" by Nara Narayana das, Jun 13, 2006

[15] Srila Prabhupada's 1974 Letters mentioning DOM: Sep 29, 1974 Letter to Mukunda; Nov 7, 1974 and Nov 8, 1974 Letters to Rupanuga

[16] "Ravindra Svarupa and the Unelected Illegal GBC" by Roupa Manjari devi dasi, Aug 16, 2010

[17] "Srila Prabhupada's Direction of Management" by Nara Narayana Viswakarma das, Aug 5, 2005

[18] "Bylaws and Centralization - the Facts" by Ravindra Svarupa dasa, May 24, 2007

[19] 1975 GBC Resolutions

[20] "Further Considerations on the DOM" by Roupa Manjari dd, Jun 20, 2011

[21] "ISKCON Incorporation & the DOM" by Ameyatma das, Jun 8, 2008

[22] "ISKCON Law - GBC Elections & Term Limits" by Ameyatma das, Feb 19, 2012

[23] Srila Prabhupada Letter to Jayatirtha, Oct 16, 1975

[24] 1975 ISKCON California Articles of Incorporation

 

[25] 1976 ISKCON Bay Area Articles of Incorporation

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