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Reform Proposal for ISKCON
are four major leadership groups in ISKCON: 1. GBC, 2. Gurus, 3. Temple
Presidents, 4. Sannyasis. At the present moment, the primary leadership
responsibility of each group is not clearly defined.
propose the following definitions of primary leadership responsibility.
GBCs should serve for life.
GBC should oversee a zone that is geographically contiguous (no exceptions).
Zonal oversight is the main duty of a GBC, and it should not be neglected in
favor of other priorities, such as personal preaching projects, dealings
with disciples, etc. GBCs cannot be managers of any projects. There will be
no GBC ministries, and no GBC deputies. The main duty of the GBC shall be to
cultivate relationships with the zonal presidents, insure that the
presidents are following the principles and programs, and be their friend,
guide, and counselor, thus insuring the proper management of the zone.
a GBC vacancy occurs in a zone, the chairman of the GBC or appointed
representative of the chairman of the GBC shall hold an ista gosthi of all
initiated members of ISKCON in good standing serving in that zone and
inquire how they wish the new GBC to be chosen:
presidents, individually and collectively (in regional and national
councils) will be the principal managers in ISKCON, under the ultimate
authority of the GBC. All ministries will be under the temple presidents. In
each zone the presidents of the zone will formulate zonal policies and
present them to the local GBC who retains the right to disapprove them. If
the presidents in a zone disagree with a decision of the local GBC, the
matter can be appealed to the full GBC. A GBC can be removed for cause, as
under the current system.
presidents will normally serve for life, but can be removed for cause, as
under the current system. In the event of a vacancy of a presidency, the
local GBC will poll the initiated members in good standing of the temple to
see how they wish the new president to be chosen:
year, the temple presidents in each zone will select two presidents to
attend an annual temple presidents meeting in Mayapur, before the annual GBC
meeting. This temple presidents meeting will propose resolutions for the
whole society. The GBC will review these decisions, and have the power to
send decisions back to the presidents for further consideration. The GBC
takes the role that Prabhupada took at the GBC meetings, of reviewing the
decisions made by the managing body. If the presidents send back the same
proposal, it can only be rejected by a 75 percent vote of the GBC.
GBC will have the ability to propose a limited number of resolutions to the
presidents. In the event that the presidents reject a proposal by the GBC,
the GBC has the right to submit it again. If it is again rejected by the
presidents, the GBC, exercising its ultimate authority, can vote to compel
its acceptance by a 75 percent vote of the GBC.
ministries will be established by and function under the temple presidents.
All matters related to the management of the movement will come under the
presidents and their ministers (i.e., education, public relations, social
welfare, legal defense, international projects like Mayapur, etc.). The GBC
will be there to provide vision, overall direction, inspiration, etc. on
issues that concern the whole Society.
this system, GBCs will not be traveling all over the world, but will be
focusing on only two things: overseeing the development of their zone by the
local presidents and giving some overall guidance to the Society on issues
that concern the whole Society. The maintenance of such a GBC should not be
a problem for any zone, because there will be no big expense.
each zone, there should be a focus on providing shelter for single mothers
with children who wish to live as devotees and serve, elderly devotees who
wish to serve, and gurukula graduates who wish to serve.
current system for selecting sannyasis is okay, although it might be a good
idea to eventually go back to the traditional system whereby any sannyasi
can award sannyasa. The check would be that the GBC could discipline a
sannyasi that goes off the track, or revoke the sannyasa-giving privilege of
a sannyasi that gives it out inappropriately. But the role of sannyasis
should be clarified. Sannyasis shall generally not be temple presidents or
managers. A sannyasi could be a GBC (but under this new arrangement, GBCs
will not be managers). A sannyasi could be a guru. The principle duty of the
sannyasi will be to uphold the siddhanta in ISKCON and protect the society
from philosophical deviations. A certain percentage of sannyasis (25
percent) should be on call each year as a "strike force," that the
GBC can call upon to go to any part of the world to uphold the siddhanta
against a deviation. Sannyasis should designate a home zone, and should be
responsible for training and engaging brahmacaris in that zone. In temples,
male devotees should spend their first few years as provisional brahmacaris,
after which they should be given the choice of preparing to enter the
householder ashram or continue on as a brahmacari. If they choose to
continue they should be placed under the guidance of a sannyasi.
principal leadership duty of the guru shall be to connect disciples to the
disciplic succession. Their principal duty should be to enter into the
hearts and minds of their disciples and clear them of all doubts and
confusion. Gurus in general should not hold management positions, although
they could possibly serve as presidents or GBCs by special permission. All
disciples will be under the authority of a temple president in a zone. Gurus
can be ombudsman for their disciples, but final decisions will rest with the
president. The present system of authorizing gurus is okay, but it would be
better to eventually deregulate the guru selection process and leave it up
to the prospective gurus and disciples to work out for themselves, with the
GBC stepping in only if a guru goes off the track.
should be a free speech provision in ISKCON, whereby any member of ISKCON
can publicly advocate any philosophical point or policy matter, with the
following restrictions. If the member is holding any official position (GBC,
president, guru, sannyasi), the advocacy can take place only by submitting
proposals privately through the system of authority. For example, a temple
president should be free to advocate any philosophical point (an opinion on
the fall of the jiva, for example) or any practical point (an opinion on
ritvik initiations) by submitting proposals privately to the GBC. But the
ISKCON official would not be able to engage in public advocacy. If the
devotee wanted to engage in public advocacy against a position currently
endorsed by the GBC, by making statements on the internet, through public
meetings, etc., then the devotee should resign from the official position
and conduct advocacy as an ordinary member of ISKCON. Such public advocacy
could not take place in official forums, such as temple classes or ISKCON
owned and controlled publications and web sites. But devotees could organize
private meetings; advocate their views in their own publications (which
could not, however, be placed in ISKCON properties), etc. And there would be
no sanctions against such free speech activity. The provision for free
speech would include only speech, not practices. Any authority in ISKCON
would remain free to uphold the Society's current position through public
statements in private and official forums.
© CHAKRA 1-May-2000
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