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 7

7th installment of the DOM editorials,  http://www.harekrsna.com/sun/editorials/07-19/editorials17125.htm

Direction of Management, Part 7

 

BY: SUN STAFF

 

Jul 24, 2019 —CANADA (SUN) —

 

Topmost Urgency Order Rejected

 

Regarding how the Topmost Urgency order was received and followed, Roupa Manjari dd writes in her August 2010 article, "Ravindra Svarupa and the Unelected Illegal GBC" [16]:

 

"When 4 years later, Srila Prabhupada discovered that His Direction of Management order had been rejected by the GBC, Srila Prabhupada immediately issued His "Topmost Urgency" letter in 1974, re-stating His absolute order to the GBC to immediately incorporate the Direction of Management. Again the order was rejected by the ISKCON GBC, and hidden from the ISKCON public."

 

We have asked Roupa Manjari devi and her husband, Nara Narayana Vishwakarma das, by what process it was determined that temples did or did not follow the Topmost Urgency instruction by adding the three paragraphs to their corporate and legal documents. Was a formal survey conducted of ISKCON temple incorporation documents filed with state registries? Were all the temple presidents of the day interviewed? And if these things were not done, then how is it known so definitively that the Topmost Urgency was never adopted? The fact that GBC elections were never conducted doesn't prove it.

 

They responded by admitting that to their knowledge, there was no method employed in determining this: no survey was done, no interviews were conducted. In other words, the assertion that the GBC rejected the Topmost Urgency instruction appears to be entirely speculative, and therefore contrived. We are left to wonder how the rumor got started that 'no temple president ever even knew about the DOM', and none of them added the amendment to their corporation documents (except for two California corporations we will discuss in our next segment).

 

Now to be clear, we are not denying that the Topmost Urgency order was not followed; we have no actual proof one way or the other of the degree to which it was, or was not. We do, however, have the testimony of Rupanuga das, who reports that the GBC (or some among them) did indeed try to follow the Topmost Urgency instructions, but the temple presidents did not comply in adding the amendment to their bylaws. While this anecdotal evidence is important, a more formal survey of GBC's and temple presidents should be conducted, for the historical record. And a search should be made of corporate documents and accessible legal documents to see who did and did not add the amendments.

 

As Rupanuga prabhu described the situation with one temple president he approached on the matter, the action was delayed not as part of a conspiracy against GBC elections, but rather because the temple president's impression was that making the corporate amendments would be time consuming and would require legal expenses. The devotees were kept extremely busy conducting Srila Prabhupada's preaching mission, and putting special attention on what might have been viewed at the time as an administrative task went undone.

 

Whatever the actual circumstances, which were undoubtedly unique from temple to temple, the point we want to underscore here is that the leading DOM proponents, while preaching it to be an absolute fact, actually have no evidence at all, and have made no real effort to collect the evidence to support their claim that the Topmost Urgency order was rejected across the board, and that rejection was conspiratorial.

 

1975 GBC Resolution Related to DOM Elections

Subsequent to the statements of principle, aims and objectives Srila Prabhupada gave in the Direction of Management, significantly more definition on the GBC's function was provided in the 1975 GBC Annual Meeting minutes. In his May 2007 article, "Bylaws and Centralization - the Facts" [18], Ravindra Svarupa dasa refers to the importance of the 1975 Annual Meeting:

 

"Although Srila Prabhupada formed the GBC in 1970, he did not fully establish the modus operandi of the GBC until 1975, at the beginning of the first of its official annual general meetings. Before then, Srila Prabhupada had considered, and even tried out, different ways of establishing the structure of authority in ISKCON, but his final determination can be found embodied in the minutes of the GBC meeting in Mayapur in 1975."

 

This statement embodies the current GBC position on the governing body's structure and duties: that the 1975 Resolutions are the definitive mandate for the GBC given during Srila Prabhupada's manifest lila.

 

Not surprisingly, the 1975 GBC Resolutions [19] are a primary document in the DOM debate, first and foremost because they contain a Resolution rescinding GBC elections. The Resolution states (emphasis added):

 

"5) Resolved: The selection of GBC members is that Srila Prabhupada will nominate, and if there is a discrepancy, His Grace will change him. There will be no elections, and the present GBC member will remain."

 

There has been a great deal of debate on the meaning of this Resolution, the circumstances that preceded it, and the time period Srila Prabhupada intended for it to cover. There are a number of arguments employed by DOM adherents to deal with this Resolution, but despite the various lines of defense, there is clearly nothing in this 1975 Resolution that indicates the "no elections" order is for one year only. Nor is there any evidence that this rescinding order was subsequently overturned or changed. Furthermore, the Resolution is congruent with statements Srila Prabhupada made in a 1977 Room Conversation, which we'll cover in a segment to come.

 

One line of defense put forward by DOM adherents to offset the 1975 rescinding Resolution is the claim that Srila Prabhupada did not enforce elections per the DOM during His manifest lila because he personally selected the GBC, as he states in the DOM he has the right to do. In her article, "Further Considerations on the DOM" (Jun 20, 2011) [20], Roupa Manjari devi writes:

 

"The second election would have been held in 1976, and considering the turbulent nature of the GBC and ISKCON in 1976, again, an election would have served no practical purpose at all. In short, as an alternative to holding elections, Srila Prabhupada exercised His right as stated in the DOM to appoint GBC commissioners during His Lifetime."

 

In fact, Srila Prabhupada states in the DOM:

 

"My duty was to first appoint twelve (12) persons to my free choice amongst my disciples and I do it now and their names are as follows:"

 

And under the heading, 'PARTICULARS OF THE GOVERNING BODY COMMISSION' the DOM states:

 

"2. His Divine Grace will select the initial 12 members of the GBC. In the suceeding 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. Those 8 with the greatest number of votes will be members for the next term of GBC. Srila Prabhupada will choose to retain four commissioners. In the even of Srila Prabhupada's absence, the retiring members will decide which four will remain."

 

Contrary to Roupa Manjari's statement, the rights Srila Prabhupada set down for himself in the DOM are that he may (and did) name 12 men to serve as GBC's (i.e., as zonal secretaries/executors/commissioners), and during elections, he would select four commissioners who would be retained. This is not at all the same thing as saying that 'elections were understandably not held because Srila Prabhupada just chose the GBC men himself, per the DOM'. That is not what the DOM called for. Of course, His Divine Grace has every right to do as wishes; we are simply pointing out that the pro-DOM argument in this regard is not correct.

 

1975 was the year when by Resolution, GBC elections were rescinded. Resolutions #1-8, passed on March 27, 1975, name 14 GBC's. Obviously, since they were not elected, Srila Prabhupada chose some among them who were not appointed per the DOM. No mention is made in the Resolutions that four of these men had been designated as the four retained commissioners mentioned in the DOM, so we can assume that this step was waived by Srila Prabhupada as part of his decision to rescind the elections, or at least, it was concurrent with the rescinding order.

 

Among the defensive arguments put forward by DOM adherents with respect to the 1975 Resolution rescinding elections are comments made by Ameyatma das (ACBSP) in his articles, "ISKCON Incorporation & the DOM" (Jun 8, 2008) [21] and "ISKCON Law: GBC Elections & Term Limits" (Feb 20, 2012) [22]. Without further commentary here, based on the information already provided in this series, we trust the reader will find Ameyatma prabhu's conclusions to be poorly argued and highly speculative.

 

As a final example of the unconvincing arguments used in an effort to counter the 1975 Resolution rescinding elections, Roupa Manjari devi put forward Srila Prabhupada's letter to Jayatirtha of October 16, 1975 [23], which states:

 

"There is no question of removal at the present moment. We shall sit together in Mayapur if there is any complaint against one another. At the Mayapur meeting, whatever we have decided that is good for one year. So if anything has to be done it will be decided by majority decision of the GBC. I do not wish to give any decision without the GBC's verdict. My only grievance is that I appointed GBC to give me relief from the management but, on the contrary, complaints and counter-complaints are coming to me. Then how my brain can be peaceful."

 

Roupa Manjari devi argued that this letter stands as proof that Resolution #5, rescinding elections, was meant only for one year, because that's what it says in this letter. Of course, Srila Prabhupada was speaking to Jayatirtha about a particular situation, settled for the year but open again for discussion at the next year's Annual Meeting. Although Roupa Manjari would like to convince us otherwise, this statement to Jayatirtha is certainly not a blanket order that each and every GBC Resolution is good for one year only. That is an outlandish proposition.

 

FOOTNOTES (Current Segment):

[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

 

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

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