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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

 

Prabhupada said: Elect the Temple President
By Aravinda das

According to Jayapataka Swami, Srila Prabhupada wanted the temple president to be selected by the GBC man, not elected by the temple devotees. But if that is true, what did Srila Prabhupada mean when he wrote the following?

(These examples are all taken from the letters quoted in other articles in this debate.)

“I am so glad to learn that you have been elected president for this year.” (2nd March, 1970)

According to Jayapataka Swami, Srila Prabhupada must have meant to say I am glad you have been elected, but actually you should have been selected by the GBC man.

“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.”

This is not according to Jayapataka Swami.

“Regarding Madhavananda being the president, if he received the vote, why you have opposed? You must be impartial.” (12th September, 1974)

Here, Srila Prabhupada is defending a devotee chosen by election. Please note, Prabhupada is telling the GBC man not to interfere. The GBC man was trying to impose his selected man.

Amazingly, we now have Jayapataka Swami telling us that Srila Prabhupada did not want election of temple president, but selection by the GBC man. That idea, namely selection of the temple president by the GBC man, appears to me to contradict what I understand Srila Prabhupada says in this letter.

“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.”

What can be clearer than this? Srila Prabhupada is saying to the GBC man that this person has been chosen by the vote, so he should not oppose him. I find it surprising in the light of this that Jayapataka Swami says that Srila Prabhupada wants the GBC man to select the temple president. Srila Prabhupada is saying explicitly here that the GBC man may not interfere with the choice of the temple devotees, as expressed through their vote.

Explicitly appointing a new temple president is mentioned right in this letter by Srila Prabhupada: “He has been chosen by the vote"

Also, where does Jayapataka Swami get the idea of voting being for removal only? This letter makes it clear that Srila Prabhupada supported election of the temple president. Srila Prabhupada is emphatic in this letter that the local GBC man should not interfere with the elected temple president.

“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.” (Letter to Jayapataka Swami, 24th August, 1971)

Note the above letter was written by Srila Prabhupada to Jayapataka Swami himself.

Here Srila Prabhupada again says that the president who is elected by the devotees cannot be changed. I don’t understand how Jayapataka Swami can say that Srila Prabhupada didn't say that local devotees should elect their temple president. He did. In fact he says this in the above letter from Srila Prabhupada to Jayapataka Swami.

In another letter dated 29th September, 1974, Srila Prabhupada wrote to Mukunda das:

“Regarding the election of President, a president can only be changed by vote.”

Now, can we please be clear about this? Srila Prabhupada says that a president can only be changed by vote. That means, if you want to change the temple president, you have an election.

All of these letters are the ones quoted in previous articles. They show Srila Prabhupada's support for election of Temple president by the local devotees. And they also show that Srila Prabhupada used his "Direction of Management" to support the election of the temple president by the temple devotees.

The conclusion is obvious to anyone who makes a careful study of these letters: Srila Prabhupada wanted the local devotees to elect their own temple president. As far as I can see, he did not want the GBC representative to impose a selected temple president.

In my opinion, ISKCON law and practice appears to be in contravention of Srila Prabhupada's wishes.

Your servant,

Aravinda das

© CHAKRA 29-May-2000

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