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“There are a number of letters that I have included here that seem to indicate that it was a general principle that Srila Prabhupada was citing to have the temple president elected rather than selected by the GBC man.”

CHAITANYA CHANDRA DASA


The debate: Should Temple Presidents be Elected?

CHAKRA wants to thank all the devotees who have contributed their time and thoughts to this debate. The debate is now over on CHAKRA, but we hope it has stimulated discussion and improved communication about these important issues in your local communities. 

Did Prabhupada want temple presidents elected?
Temple Presidents Elected?
Temple Presidents not to be elected - by Ramabhadra dasa
Response to Ramabhadra by Narottama dasa
Electing the temple president - issues behind the debate
TP Elect: Round Pegs in Square Holes? - by Krsnacandra dasa
TP's elected: Response to Narottama das - by Ramabhadra das
A President Can Only Be Changed by Vote - Chaitanya Chandra
My Impression of the TP Debate - Prananantha
Removal and Appointment of TPs - Jayapataka Swami
Prabhupada Favored Self-Sufficiency - Ranchor das
Elected by Members of the Center
Response to Jayapataka Swami
Prabhupada said: Elect the TP

 

Did Srila Prabhupada want temple presidents to be elected?
By Chaitanya Chandra das

According to many letters of Srila Prabhupada, it appears that he wished the Temple President to be elected by the temple devotees.

This is contrary to the current practice in ISKCON, and ISKCON law. Both in practice and in ISKCON law, the GBC man selects the Temple President. So, that's interesting, isn't it?

There are a number of letters that I have included here that seem to indicate that it was a general principle that Srila Prabhupada was citing to have the temple president elected rather than selected by the GBC man. (You will find most of these letters very easily if you have Vedabase, Folio. Do a search in Prabhupada's letters, for the word "election")

70-03-02 Los Angeles 2nd March, 1970

London

My Dear Gurudasa,

Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge reciept of your two letters dated 20 and 26 February, 1970, respectively, and I am so glad to learn that you have been elected president for this year. In India, when there was congress election among the executive members, each year a person was elected president. I think this system may be followed in our institutions also. Of course it will depend on the local situation, but in a round if each person is given the chance of managing the whole affairs, that means everyone becomes responsible officer.

74-09-12 Vrindaban 12th September, 1974

Los Angeles

My Dear Hamsaduta das:

Please accept my blessings. I have just now received some letters from London from Madhavananda and others brought by Paramahamsa Swami who was there. Regarding Madhavananda being the president, if he received the vote, why you have opposed? You must be impartial. My recommendation is that he must be the president. He has been chosen by the vote, and I am giving the casting vote for him. He is doing things very nicely there, so he must be the president. Prabha Visnu should go on Sankirtana, and Madhavananda should be president. Everything must go on. The women are doing nicely, so why are they being changed from the pujari to the Sankirtana? These things should be done by the President. These are internal things, and you should not interfere. I do not approve of your changing the women. It should be the choice of Madhavananda who should be the pujari.

24th August, 1971

Calcutta

My Dear Jayapataka Maharaja,

{snip}

And who has been appointed treasurer and secretary? The president, secretary and treasurer elected by the members of the center cannot be changed at least for one year; better to continue it for three years. All combined together should be responsible for keeping correct accounts. Giriraja is responsible and he should be made the treasurer. You should remain as president and Acyutananda Swami as secretary. So make arrangements in that way.

{snip}

Hoping this will meet you in good health.

Your ever well-wisher,

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

Mayapur 29th September, 1974

Bhaktivedanta Manor

My Dear Mukunda das:

Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated September 22, 1974 and have noted the contents. Regarding the election of President, a president can only be changed by vote. If no vote was taken, then the president cannot be changed. Neither Hamsaduta can change the president whimsically or can anybody else change the president. According the ``Direction of Management'' the GBC cannot change the President but only by vote can it be done. The GBC's business is to see that the President and the members are doing nicely, following the regulative principles, and chanting 16 rounds and that other things are going on nicely.

If it was decided by vote that Hamsaduta would select the president then Hamsaduta is right. Without authority Hamsaduta cannot change the election. If the vote was in favor of Madhavananda, then Hamsaduta cannot whimsically change the vote. But, if by vote he was authorized to select the president, then whomever he selects is right. I was not informed by my secretary that Hamsaduta was authorized by vote to make the selection. But, why was Hamsaduta authorized if the vote was already taken? This I do not know.

On the whole I understand there are so many contradictions, so in the presence of all members you may take the vote again and decide finally.

You may inform Prabhavisnu that I have received his letter dated 22/9/74.

I hope this meets you in good health.

Your ever well wisher,

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

ACBS/bs

(c) 1991 by Bhaktivedanta Book Trust

74-11-08 Bombay 8th November, 1974

Washington, DC

My Dear Rupanuga das:

{snip}

.. Anyway I have already written you that the local members must agree for him to be removed by you, according to the ``Direction of Management.'' Regarding his divorce enclosed is one letter dated 1/10/74 regarding this.

I hope this meets you in good health.

Your ever well wisher,

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

(c) 1991 by Bhaktivedanta Book Trust

Please note the reference by Srila Prabhupada to the "Direction of Management". It would appear that this is some kind of guide authorised by Srila Prabhupada. And Srila Prabhupada says that "the GBC cannot change the management, only by vote can it be done".

So that begs the question ....Did something happen between 1974 and 1977 that caused Srila Prabhupada to change his mind and reverse his position on this matter? If so, we would need documentary evidence of that. As we have clearly evidence here that Srila Prabhupada wanted the election of the TP as a general principle.

If there is no such evidence, then there is a direct conflict between ISKCON law as it stands, and Srila Prabhupadas expressed wishes on the matter.

ISKCON law states that "The GBC zonal secretary shall be the authority to appoint or approve a new Temple President...." (5.6.2.1) ISKCON law book 1997. (That is the latest issue available to me.)

And Srila Prabhupada has stated in his letters above that the TP shall be elected.

So, as far as I can see from the evidence available to me, there are two possibilities here.

1. Srila Prabhupada made the election of TP a general principle, through the letters quoted above, and through a document known as "Direction of Management". BUT he later changed his mind, and made it the system that the GBC man should select the TP. In which case the ISKCON law is in harmony with Srila Prabhupada's wishes.

However, if this is the case, it must be shown to be so. ie, where is the evidence that Srila Prabhupada changed his mind on this?

2. Srila Prabhupada made the election of TP a general principle, through the letters and "Direction of Management". And he did not later change his mind.

In this case, the ISKCON law as it stands is against the wishes of Srila Prabhupada, and should be changed.

That is the result of my research so far. I'd love to hear from any and all devotees on this matter.

I think this is a most important matter and we need to consider it carefully.

Also, does anyone know anything about the "Direction of Management"? Do you know where I can get a copy? Please contact me at cspelman@hotmail.com

Thank you for your attention to this interesting issue.

Your servant

Chaitanya Chandra das.

© CHAKRA 23-Mar-2000

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