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“That clearly means it is Chaitanya Chandra's interpretation and not Srila Prabhupada's direct expressed wish.”
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
Removal and Appointment of a Temple
am surprised that Chaitanya Chandra das is saying that his admitted
interpretation of Srila Prabhupada's words is actually "Srila
Prabhupada’s expressed wish."
In his recent article on CHAKRA, Chaitanya Chandra stated, “Well, the relevant part of the Direction of Management is this: ‘8. Removal of a temple president by the GBC requires support by the local temple members.’ Now, I would interpret that to mean that the local temple members have the veto over what happens with regard to removal of the temple president. And by implication, they have the power to appoint.”
he clearly says, "I would interpret that to mean...." That clearly
means it is Chaitanya Chandra's interpretation and not Srila Prabhupada’s
direct expressed wish.
is Srila Prabhupada's expressed wish? That is clearly mentioned by Srila
Prabhupada in regards to removing a temple president. It should be by GBC
vote and should have the approval of the local devotees. This shows that if
local devotees are aggrieved about the wrong dealings of a temple president
then their lack of support is a factor the GBC must take into consideration.
proposed this year that temple presidents should be considered for removal
if a vast majority of Temple members formally express their disapproval of
the temple president. It was shot down in the GBC Deputies meeting and
didn't get beyond that. Now here we see that Srila Prabhupada did want to
have temple devotees’ opinion considered.
isn't my interpretation. It is clearly what Srila Prabhupada said.
in regard to appointing a temple president it is a different situation. That
Srila Prabhupada personally did or had his Zonal Secretary GBC members do.
There are so many examples of that. Some temples are new and have no
devotees to ask. I am personally in favor of hearing what devotees have to
say about a new temple president in an established temple, but don't say
that it is Srila Prabhupada’s directive that local devotees have to vote
the temple president in. Srila Prabhupada wasn't for total democracy, which
is what is being proposed here. That opens up other political potentials.
Chandra also wrote, “What matters of course, is what Srila Prabhupada
meant by this. Not anyone else's interpretation. Thankfully, there is a
direct reference to this point by Srila Prabhupada. ‘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’ (letter to Mukunda at Bhaktivedanta Manor, 29th September,
this is all for removing or changing a Temple President. Explicitly
appointing a new temple president isn't mentioned. It is Chaitanya Chandra
Prabhu's interpretation again.
his article, Chaitanya Chandra wrote, “Now, what could be clearer than
that? Srila Prabhupada dispels any confusion by stating, ‘a president can
only be changed by vote,’ and specifically ‘According the Direction of
Management the GBC cannot change the president but only by vote can it be
This is in regard to changing/removing a temple president.
cannot understand why,” says Chaitanya Chandra, “anyone would fail to
see that it was Srila Prabhupada's expressed wish for the local devotees to
elect the local temple president.”
is easy to fail to see it, as Srila Prabhupada didn't say it.
that is that the case in practice and according to ISKCON law? The ISKCON
law book states, ‘The GBC zonal secretary shall be the authority to
appoint or approve a new temple president....’ (220.127.116.11) ISKCON law book
1997. (That is the latest issue available to me.) This law means that all of
the power to appoint a new temple president lies with the GBC zonal
secretary. And in reality this is just what happens,” writes Chaitanya
I would point out that it was happening during Srila Prabhupada's time also.
Chaitanya Chandra writes in his article that no one has yet come forward to
satisfactorily show why we are behaving in a way that is the “direct
opposite of what Srila Prabhupada stipulated in ‘Direction of
Management,’ and later clarified in the above letter,” I say that this
is only against Chaitanya Chandra’s interpretation of Srila
having said all of this, my purpose was to show that it isn't Srila
Prabhupada's direct order that a temple president is to be elected. Still I
don't see anything wrong with a Zonal Secretary (GBC) taking the opinion of
local devotees in case there is a vacancy for temple president position and
he/she has to appoint a new temple president. Just like the GBC has passed a
Law that to appoint a Zonal Secretary (GBC) for a zone the local temple
presidents it affects should be consulted. So why not consult local temple
devotees? In principle there is no problem with this. It is still the GBC
Zonal Secretary who would make the appointment of the new temple president.
Prabhupada was very careful about abruptly and improperly removing temple
presidents. That is why he put in the requirement for taking a vote. This
was to insure that a local GBC just couldn't remove the temple president
without going through proper procedure. I was personally removed many times
by one of my local GBC's when I was a temple president and Srila Prabhupada
chastised him and re-established me in the same temple president position.
He said local GBC Zonal Secretaries can't just remove a temple president,
but had to go through proper procedure. So don't mix up the different ideas
of appointment and removal. They are two different things.
temple presidents have fried out devotees in their temples and there is
little scope for any devotee to get justice. If something gets to such an
extent that the temple devotees just don't want a temple president any more
then why shouldn't the GBC consider this? That is supported by what
Chaitanya Chandra dasa has cited from the Directions of Management.
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