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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
President Election Thoughts - Response to Jayapataka Swami
By Niscala devi dasi
found the debate on CHAKRA about temple president elections very
interesting. However, there are some apparently contradictory statements
in the article by Jayapataka Swami, "Removal
and Appointment of a Temple President."
wrote: "I am surprised that Chaitanya Chandra das is saying that his
admitted interpretation of Srila Prabhupada's words is actually ‘Srila
Prabhupada's expressed wish.’"
would like to point out this is not a fact: Chaitanya Chandra's 'admitted
interpretation' was only in relation to the Direction of Management.
wrote, "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
the other hand, Caitanya Chandra’s mentioning of "Srila
Prabhupada's expressed wish" was made later, in relation to the
letters. I think we all can agree there can be no room for interpretation
of those explicit letters. I wonder why Jayapataka Swami has not addressed
the concrete evidence in the letters? One of the letters definitely
confirms that Chaitanya Chandra's “admitted interpretation” of the
Direction of Management is the correct one, as seen below.
Prabhupada writes: "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."
on Chaitanya Chandra’s points, Jayapataka Swami said, "Here he
clearly says, ‘I would interpret that to mean....’ That clearly means
it is Chaitanya Chandra's interpretation and not Srila Prabhupada's direct
Swami seems to be undermining Chaitanya Chandra's motive for using the
word "interpret", when all Chaitanya Chandra is doing by use of
the word is admitting the Direction of Management is open to
interpretation, since it clearly refers to removal of temple presidents.
Nowhere does Chaitanya Chandra say that it is Srila Prabhupada's
"expressed wish" in regard to voting. That point is in Srila
Prabhupada's own interpretation of the Direction of Management in the
letter above is in regard to elections. Nevertheless, even if we choose
not to take that into account, the Direction of Management alone indicates
Srila Prabhupada’s attitude towards the accountability of temple
presidents to the devotees, the importance of their opinion of their
temple president and that he can't be removed without consent. In other
words, it points to democracy.
the prime evidence is the letters - particularly the letter which refers
to the Direction of Management. That is the only "Srila Prabhupada's
expressed wish" that Chaitanya Chandra refers to. In addition, the
prime evidence is the direct experience of temple devotees that the
current system is a failure, or at the least, a stumbling block to
therefore appears to me to be questionable ethics that Jayapataka Swami
pinned down Chaitanya Chandra for using the word “interpret." Too
often we consider the word "interpret" to be taboo and that
interpretations themselves have some kind of dastardly intent.
logic goes like this: "Rascals interpret scripture according to their
own motive, therefore anyone who says ‘I interpret’ for whatever
reason and in whatever context, must be a rascal." Never mind
Chaitanya Chandra’s use of the word pointed to a fact. The very fact
that the word was used earned him a “thumbs down.”
© CHAKRA 29-May-2000
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