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GBC Second Plenary Session
By Vipramukhya Swami

CHAKRA (Jagannath Puri, India) - February 18, 2001: The GBC Meetings went into the second of three final plenary sessions in Mayapur, India, today as GBC members considered and gave their final votes on a multitude of proposals before the Body. The meetings will conclude tomorrow.

Yesterday GBC members met to start the process of final voting in plenary session following two days of GBC Subcommittee meetings. The subcommittees were considering the results of preliminary straw voting of GBCs, Deputies and guests.

The big item on the agenda this year seems to be shaping up to be GBC restructuring. The restructuring model being considered is not likely to affect rank and file devotees in ISKCON very much, but GBC members are hopeful the expected increased efficiency will enable them to spend more time with devotees at festival times by delegating more secretarial jobs to an expanded GBC secretariat.

The Vaisnava Calendar is being reviewed. Bhaktimarga Swami, a new GBC member, has proposed that there should be one Vaisnava Calendar for all of ISKCON, calculated from Mayapur. The Philosophy subcommittee carefully reviewed past GBC resolutions to understand why the GBC body adopted the present system which employs the VCAL computer program developed by ISKCON astrologer Syamasundara dasa and later modified by BBT devotee Markendeya Risi Prabhu. The final conclusion is likely to suggest that ISKCON continue to follow the VCAL program calculations for another year while further research is done.

One problems ISKCON faces regarding the calendar that they use is that often Ekadasis are observed on different days than in the Gaudia Math and among the Hindu community. The VCAL program was developed taking into consideration modern observable astronomical phenomena, such as the phases of the moon and correct rising and setting of the sun, etc. Based on these calculations it appears the calculations made by the VCAL computer program are more accurate, and so the subcommittee has suggested to the GBC that a dialogue should be opened with Gaudia Math Pandits to see if they can be convinced to come onboard with the more modern computerized calculations.

At the same time, the bija seeds which make up the core of the VCAL program were calculated for the 20th Century, and as we move further into the 21st Century the accuracy of the calculations will gradually drift off. The BBT, who own the copyrights of the VCAL program, no longer wish to maintain it as they wish to concentrate on their core business of printing and selling books. They have offered to give full rights of the program to ISKCON. The committee recommended that the GBC alot a budget for updating the bija seeds and rewriting the program to ensure it's ongoing accuracy. The proposal to scrap the whole project may or may not come up again next year.

Breeding of cows in Mayapur and Vrindavan was questioned. There is an imbalance of cow to bull ratio in both Mayapur and Vrindavan and not enough land allotted for grazing. Balabhadra, the ISKCON Minister of Cow Protection and Agriculture, has requested that the breeding program in both places be stopped. The subcommittee dealing with the proposal has suggested to the GBC that there be a minor amendment to ISKCON law, and that the quarterly reporting to the Ministry of Cow Protection begin no later than April 30, 2001 or else the breeding program should be stopped.

The final outcome of these and other proposals is not known yet.

© CHAKRA 18 February 2001

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