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From Kalakantha das (ACBSP)
The following was read by a GBC representative to Sri Sri Radha Madhava this morning, March 12, 2002.
The 2002 GBC meetings began in Srila Prabhupada's service on March 1st in Mayapur. Chairman Ramai Swami arranged substantial help for the GBC body from the GBC Deputies, headed by Braja Bihari and Aniruddha Prabhus, so the Body could concentrate on broad issues for the development of ISKCON. These broad issues included:
1. Study of Guru/Disciple issues. Should a qualified devotee accept disciples in the physical presence of his spiritual master? What is the relationship between the disciple and his or her siksa and diksa gurus? What should be the standards for gurus and disciples in ISKCON? The GBC devoted two days to discussing these and related questions in light of guru, sastra, and sadhu. The results will appear in the form of position papers from the newly formed Sastric Advisory Committee and sections from this year's resolutions that clarify and refine ISKCON policies.
2. Strategic Planning. What are the priorities for ISKCON preaching over the coming five years? With the help of Bob Kovacevich, president of Avatar Company, a respected non-profit consulting firm, the GBC defined the following six goals: I) Develop a global vision for spreading Krsna consciousness. II) Educate, Train, and Care for Devotees; III) Better Organize ISKCON Leadership; IV) Create and Sustain an Effective Outreach Program; V) Develop an Effective Fundraising Program; and VI) Counter Threats to ISKCON.
3. Mediation. Arnold M. Zack, a Harvard professor and renowned expert in the field. The GBC studied the value of setting up systems to resolve disputes. Such systems will allow ISKCON devotees and life members to express concerns with confidentiality and to use a trained, neutral third party to help disputants reach an agreement.
4. Mayapur. The GBC reviewed the Sri Mayapur Project Development Committee's plans for the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium and Mayapur Project development. The main design upgrade is the inclusion of glass in the main shikhara, or temple spire, greatly reducing the temple's weight and adding a versatile design element. The temple design and master plan are nearly complete, and research is underway about subsequent development steps.
5. Child Protection. The GBC heard a report from North American leaders regarding the Chapter 11 reorganization plan and efforts to resolve the Turley lawsuit by both protecting the temples and setting up a significant fund to assist young people who may have been abused.
6. GBC Reports. The body invested a day listening to dozens of enlivening reports from GBC Zonal Secretaries and Ministers. The reports made it clear that the tide of Lord Caitanya's Sankirtan movement continues to swell in ISKCON with thousands of empowered devotees preaching on behalf of Srila Prabhupada in every corner of the world. Some highlights:
- Bhaktivaibhava Swami opened preaching in Mongolia, where 15 people are now regularly chanting Hare Krishna. - Pragosh Prabhu and the Irish devotees bought a house to serve as a preaching base in Dublin and sold 10,000 medium books. - In Mermansk, Bhakti Caitanya Maharaja reports that the devotees produce thousands of prasadam cakes (such as the Mayapur cake, the Vrindavan cake, the Radhe Shyam cake) which are incredibly popular. Sales support the entire temple. - In Delhi, Balabhadra Prabhu presented verses from Srimad Bhagavatam at a conference of a 232-member cow-protection organization. - In Ukraine, 1200 devotees attended a Srila Prabhupada festival, featuring talks by Sruti Kirti Prabhu. - In Kazakasthan, the wife of the country's president invited B.B.Govinda Maharaja to a two-hour personal meeting. Maharaj brought 45 devotees for an Indian parikrama this year, the first time any of them have been out of the country. The country is poor, but this year the devotees sold 10,000 books with good collections. - In Southern California, Badrinarayan Prabhu reports the LA temple increased BBT remittances by 25% and hosted 4000 paying guests in the first few months of its reopening. In San Diego, devotees have purchased a 24-acre lot as the site for their new temple. - At the meeting of an anti-cult group, Anuttama Prabhu showed a Chinese government film on how to "free" members of the Falun Gong religious organization. - Bhakti Vijnana Maharaja reports that Moscow temple increased book distribution during the marathon by 58%. Bhagavatam class attracts 200 devotees per day, and city tour buses regularly stop with busloads of guests. Russian leaders set up bhakti sastri courses for leading devotees, and over 100 attained their degrees this year. - Prabhavishnu Maharaja reports that all 15 temples in Malaysia held Rathayatras this year. - Gopal Krsna Maharaja reports that the Russian ambassador visited the new temple museum, loved it, and now sends all VIP guests there. In Bombay the congregation bought out all the old tenants in the 100 flats on Hare Krishna land. - At the Bhaktivedanta Hospital in Bombay, Radhanatha Swami reports that an orthodox Muslim recently died. The family had been so impressed with the staff's care that they allowed the devotees to perform last rites according to Vaishnava tradition. - Jayapataka Maharaja reports that the Congregational Ministry is publishing a new book, Free to Preach, that details the story of a single householder couple who built up a congregational network of 2000.
In addition to broad issues, with the help of the GBC Deputies, the GBC addressed dozens of proposals and resolutions of various issues of management. These resolutions will be released shortly in the annual GBC Resolutions.
The GBC elected the following executive committee for 2002 and 2003: H.H. Giridhari Swami as Chairman, H.H. Bhakti Caitanya Swami as vice-chairman, Pragosh Prabhu as second vice-chairman, H.H. Gopal Krsna Goswami as Secretary, Bir Krsna Goswami as Duty officer.
The GBC welcomed back to the meetings H.H. Tamal Krsna Goswami and H.H. Bhakti Caru Swami, both returning from leaves of absence. The GBC sends its prayers to HH Bhakti Tirtha Swami and Mother Malati who were too ill to attend. And the GBC welcomes new members H.H. Bhakti Purushottama Swami and H.H. Bhanu Swami. The GBC also gave its blessing to Gaura Narayana Prabhu of Govardhan and Gauranga Prema Prabhu of Mayapur to take sannyas during the coming year.
The GBC members deeply appreciate the gracious hospitality offered by the devotees of Sridhama Mayapur for this year's meeting. The GBC body offers its humble respects to all the devotees in ISKCON who are carrying out Srila Prabhupada's vision, assembled here in Sridham Mayapur. And the GBC offers its eternal dandavats at the lotus feet of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada who has so kindly blessed the world with Krishna consciousness.
© CHAKRA 14 March 2002
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