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“To my knowledge the GBC does want to deal properly with the matter of child abuse. Sometimes it is a bit unclear when one says 'the leadership' who is responsible for a particular act and for resolving it. Since ISKCON is a federation or confederation of independent temples and corporations while the GBC is supposed to oversee that member organizations follow Srila Prabhupada's standards.”

      Commenting on previous article

Reply to Krsnacandra's Article on Child Abuse
By Jayapataka Swami

Dear Krsnacandra dasa,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!

I was browsing CHAKRA today and read your article dated May, 2000. I was surprised to find your strident and aggressive tone against the GBC. I think you fail to understand how the GBC operates in ISKCON. The GBC as a body meets once a year and sometimes more on emergencies or through correspondence. Only a decision of the GBC should be considered a decision of the GBC. The GBC has an EC (Executive Committee), which is supposed to implement the approved policies of the GBC and deal with emergency issues on an adhoc basis. The acts of the EC should not be deemed as the acts of the whole body, but the acts of the EC. The EC is responsible for its own acts and should get the praise or the question for what they decide to do. Ultimately the EC is accountable to the GBC body and if you think that the EC didn't act properly you can present that for consideration of the GBC body in their next meeting.

You asked: "How does our GBC expect us to respect them when we see them treat the decision of our ICOCP in such a disrespectful manner?"

I think Ravindra Svarup Prabhu, the GBC & EC Chairman, gave his reasons for the decisions he made. It was his or the EC's decision and not a decision of the whole GBC body.

"Respect is accorded to an individual for many reasons. They range from respect in a persons position or status to respect for a persons integrity, courage and honesty. It seems that the GBC would like us to emphasize respect for a persons position and status at the expense of respect in a persons integrity, courage and honesty."

Where did the GBC ever say such a thing? Your statement "it seems" means it is your own interpretation on what you think the GBC would like you to do. It isn't fair to put words in the GBC's mouth that the GBC didn't say and then criticize the GBC for things they didn't say. The GBC wants to do whatever Srila Prabhupada wanted us to do and if you have some practical suggestion on how that can be achieved I am sure your constructive suggestion with be listened to.

"All that the GBC is saying to us is that the lower level devotees who commit crimes against other devotees are penalized accordingly, however, once you have made it up into the upper echelon you can become more or less untouchable."

Again this is your interpretation, which goes against what Ravindra Svarup Prabhu has stated. Had the issue been brought up to the GBC most probably the GBC would have supported the ICOCP decision as it stands, but in their wisdom the EC decided to make a change they considered to be something minor in nature. Had they to do over again after all the feedback maybe they would make a different decision. In any case we should accept that they did what they did not out of some ego trip or to create some elite above all discipline, but rather in a sincere attempt to perform their duties as the EC. They can decide if they did the right thing, but feedback could also be more constructive then accusative.

"I would like to ask the GBC how I should actually represent ISKCON at this Child Abuse seminar that I will attend in a few days time? Should I speak with openness and honesty? Or should I say how we too are facing problems with our leadership not wanting to deal properly with the matter of child abuse?"

To my knowledge the GBC does want to deal properly with the matter of child abuse. Sometimes it is a bit unclear when one says "the leadership" who is responsible for a particular act and for resolving it. Since ISKCON is a federation or confederation of independent temples and corporations while the GBC is supposed to oversee that member organizations follow Srila Prabhupada's standards. Where are the local organizations responsible and where is the GBC responsible? These are the kind of constitutional issues that need to also be addressed. The GBC established the Child Protection initiatives and office. Isn't that an expression of wanting to "deal properly with the matter of child abuse?" If you have some more ideas on how practically the GBC can "deal properly with the matter of child abuse" would be interesting to know what they are. Whatever is presented to the GBC in its annual meetings on the subject has been accepted up to the capacity of the GBC financially and otherwise to implement such proposals.

"Or maybe I should not say anything, as I am not seeing this matter the way that they would desire me to see this matter?"

I would prefer you say something constructive, but I am speaking as an individual. I don't like seeing the GBC criticized for something they collectively didn't do and being interpreted in a particular manner and then criticized for the caricature that you create.

The GBC is operating under the system we have inherited from Srila Prabhupada and this year we are meeting to see how things can be structurally improved to better deal with the needs of the society. If you have any practical suggestions about this I would like to hear it.

"Or should I weave a web of sweet words praising our leaders for their honesty and integrity and decisiveness!"

That would be nice wouldn't it! I don't expect that, but if at least you would give credit where it is due and criticize constructively where it is due then it would be more useful. Otherwise it is easy to attack the GBC whose members usually don't read these things, since they are off in some corner of the world preaching, etc. and most likely most don't have the resources, time or facilities to log onto the WWW to read CHAKRA. If you want your suggestions read by the GBC better to send a copy to its corresponding secretary, or maybe he has some arrangement to read all the CHAKRA postings. I didn't hear about it, but you never know...

I would personally think that all of the leaders and devotees of ISKCON do feel seriously concerned about any form of abuse and deviation going on in our society and its precincts. I consider this concern to be genuine. How to best deal with it is another question. I never heard the GBC say it wasn't willing to consider any practical suggestion on how to resolve ISKCON problems. You can submit your suggestions through any GBC member, GBC Deputy or through the GBC office. To better interface and serve the worldwide members of the society a permanent office is being established. Kalakantha Prabhu can explain about this.

Again these are my own personal perceptions based on my experience. I read this article and felt it wasn't being objective or fully constructive in regards to its references to the GBC. I appreciate Krsnacandra das trying to do something to resolve the child abuse problems in ISKCON.

Yours in service,

Jayapataka Swami

© CHAKRA 9-July-2000

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