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Happened In Mayapur?
the suggestion of one of our members, I put in an official request to the
Kalakantha Prabhu, PAMHO, AGTSP.
GBC Restructure committee requests an Official point-by-point explanation
from the GBC Executive Committee explaining why the GBC Body chose to
reject our proposal for restructuring and reform. My understanding is that
you are the designated person who forwards such requests to the EC.
had considered including Braja Bihari Prabhu in this request, but I
believe now it is best that we hear the answer from the very top level. To
the degree the GBC rules allow it, we would also like a list of how each
member voted on the various reform proposals. I assume the current rules
preclude publishing this information, but I believe the Executive
Committee has the power to override these restrictions. This will help put
to rest a plethora of doubt about the positions of individual GBC members.
also request a clear statement from the EC as to the meaning of
"tabling" the reform/restructuring issue for a year.
you, as always, for your assistance and cooperation.
servant, Sri Rama dasa Conference Moderator
Swami, this year's GBC Chairman, replied:
Sri Rama Prabhu,
accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
for your efforts in stimulating discussion among many devotees about GBC
reform. I'll do my best to answer your questions.
me answer your last question first. The report on Chakra that the GBC
'tabled' reform initiatives is erroneous. The reporter had left Mayapur
before the GBC acted on them. If you have not yet seen the results of the
meeting, the Minutes are available on Chakra or from Mother Divyambara,
the GBC Secretary.
a point-by-point explanation of the GBC's decisions on your proposal, as I
recall, your proposal called for a revised, smaller GBC comprised of non-sannyasis.
I can offer you the following summary of considerations of the GBC reform
committee regarding these two key elements.
proposals were considered by a brainstorming process calling for everyone
present to define pertinent Plus, Minus, and Interesting points. These
points are elucidated below.
pledge of confidentiality prohibits me from disclosing who voted for what,
but the straw vote totals are included where applicable.
committee that reviewed your proposal included half GBC and half non-GBC
members. We sought to include on it devotees representing a variety of
views and geographical areas. It included:
Priay (Ukraine) Braja Bihari (India) Kesava Swami (Brazil) Pancaranta
(India) Atmarama (Australia) Hrdaya Caitanya (Belgium) Radha Krishna
(India) Bhima (India) (came only part time)
(US) Gopal Krishna Goswami (India) Romapada Swami (US) Radhanatha Swami
(India) Ramai Swami (Australia) Anuttama (US)
your absence, I understand that Pancaratna did his best to represent the
views that you and the conference members raised. We invested considerable
time in discussing them.
Swami and Badrinarayana Prabhu have both written descriptions of their
subjective experiences as Reform committee members. If you haven't seen
them, please let our secretary know.
hope this information helps you better understand the decisions the GBC
took on your proposal and related topics.
again I thank you for your interest and involvement.
servant, Ramai Swami
by Sri Rama dasa: Below is what appears to be Ramai Swami's answers to my
specific requests. However, he does not directly refer to our proposal.
Rather, it seems he groups general issues together from a number of
proposals and deals with them as if they were all the same. "Elements
One and Two" look as if they are amalgamations of what he views as
two general themes. In this sense, it does not appear that our request for
a point for point response to our proposal was provided. At least that's
how I read it. If I'm incorrect, then I apologize in advance to Ramai
key elements of 2001 GBC reform proposals with considerations from GBC
restructuring committee and outcomes of GBC straw voting
ONE: Separating Management and Spiritual Leadership by having only
Grihasthas and Vanaprathas on the GBC
TWO: Smaller, Global GBC Group (Under the GBC Body, with Executive Powers)
is the informal response from Badrinarayana dasa, a GBC member:
Really Happened at the Mayapur Meetings Badrinarayan dasa
Maharajas and Prabhus:
accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
follows is a response to the picture being painted in some circles that
the GBC rejected the reorganization plan coming out of the European and
North American IC meetings due to attachment, ineptitude, or systemic
paralysis. I should state in the beginning that the following comments are
my personal opinion alone. I am not writing as an official spokesperson
for the GBC. But having attended the Mayapur meetings and been a member of
the subcommittee assigned to review the proposal, I felt it my duty to at
least offer an alternative view of the situation, in hope of broadening
and balancing the discussion.
would like to touch on three points: why the GBC decided as it did, what
they offered as a positive alternative, and the tone surrounding the
for why the GBC decided as it did, there are several reasons. One was the
opinion that this proposal attempted to do to the GBC system what the
rtvic idea would do to the guru system. The rtvic idea is based on the
premise that we are all inherently and perpetually flawed. It assumes that
no one is or ever will become qualified as a genuine guru and that we
therefore need a system to provide for guruship without personal
qualification: a spiritual system minus spiritual qualification, if you
will. Rtvicism is based on a negative and builds a system from there.
IC proposal is a complicated system of term limits, checks and balances,
and elections. Although unstated and perhaps not consciously intended, it
is a system designed to defend against abuse but not necessarily to bring
out the best in the individuals involved. Amongst other problems, it adds
layers of bureaucracy, would be expensive to run, and is rife with
breeding grounds for factions and power politics.
we have been given a management system by our founder-acharya. It is not
our right to reject what he has established in favor of what we, with our
limited vision, consider a better idea. It is our duty to take the system
he gave us and make it work.
simplistic as it may sound, the essential element for improving ISKCON is
Krishna consciousness. No matter what the system or means of organization,
how well it functions will depend on the quality of the people involved.
In the ultimate issue, our future will be determined not by the latest
resolutions or revised system of management but rather by an improvement
in our individual and collective standard of spiritual life and vision.
men and women assembled in Mayapur did in fact do their job. (It should be
noted that the decisions in Mayapur are the combined work of over fifty
devotees: the GBC members, deputies, ministers, and GBC secretariat).
Seeing a flawed plan for what it was, they tried to take the best from it
and present a positive alternative. Here is the vision the GBC is working
toward: We would like to see the management of ISKCON handled more
efficiently, with more regional representation and involvement. We would
like to see management authority delegated. We would like to see a GBC
that is spiritually strong, materially qualified, and able to give
association and inspiration to the members of ISKCON. Toward these ends,
here is what was decided in Mayapur: A serious system of on-going job
assessment will be implemented for all GBC members. (A task force has been
established to study different models and make its recommendation by the
middle of this year. That proposal will then be reviewed by the GBC
members, with a final version in place by next year's GBC meeting in
Mayapur, March 2002.) This system of performance review will include
spiritual standards, management ability, interpersonal skills, etc. This
way shortcomings and areas needing improvement will be flagged.
will then be provided in the required area. Next, a period in which to
implement that training will be assigned, with another review at the end
of that implementation period. If, after adequate training and sufficient
time for implementation, there is not significant improvement, the GBC
member will be asked to step down.
we will accelerate the process of involving GBC deputies in dealing with
proposals and decisions at our annual Mayapur meeting and during the year.
These deputies are to be selected by regional councils, the local GBCs,
and the GBC secretariat.
the creation of a brahminical council was approved. It will consist of
scholarly, experienced, and detached brahmanas. Their duty will be to
provide shastric and ethical advice to the GBC deputies and GBC members.
is an idea of how our annual meetings at Mayapur would work. Proposals and
issues to be discussed would first be vetted by the GBC deputies and the
brahminical council. The results of their work would then be presented to
the GBC members for short discussion and, in the majority of cases,
approval. (These two bodies, the deputies and brahminical council, would
have the full support and encouragement of the GBC to do all they can to
resolve issues before they come to the GBC members.)
GBC members would meet for two or three days to review the work of the
deputies and brahmincal council. Rather than being inundated by the waves
of nuts-and-bolts management issues (that work now being handled by the
deputies and brahminical council), the GBC members could instead spend the
next few days discussing long-term vision, preaching programs,
philosophical issues, and how better to serve the devotees in ISKCON.
GBC would then meet again for two days to consider the work the deputies
and brahminical council have done on revising proposals sent back to them
for review. Under this system, the GBC meeting could be completed in a
week. When the GBC is freed from the current system, in which the meetings
go on for over two weeks, a mandatory part of every GBC's duty would be to
attend the full Mayapur festival, to give association to the general
devotees and gain theirs in turn.
assembled at Mayapur this year felt that the above changes were solid
steps forward. They also felt that these changes embodied a sincere
attempt to address the concerns expressed in the IC proposal while
avoiding its pitfalls and staying within the system of management given to
us by Srila Prabhupada.
brings us to the last point I wanted to address: the tone surrounding the
debate after the GBC decision. Most of this debate has taken place in
cyberspace, and the mood on a number of Web sites and e-conferences has
been that the GBCs who rejected the IC proposals are reactionary, are
attached to their positions, just don't get it, or are "out of
touch.” But I would offer that listening only to the voices heard on
these conferences or in meetings held only with like-minded individuals
will give one a limited and slanted sampling of the opinions in ISKCON.
fact is that a vast number of devotees have dropped out of these
e-conferences, etc., having had their fill of the acrimony, inaccuracies,
and condescending tone. The entire UK national council rejected the IC
proposal. The GBC deputies, drawn from communities all around the world,
overwhelmingly rejected it. The more accurate picture is that many
devotees are in fact satisfied with the course of action taken in Mayapur.
recognize that there are intelligent and sincere devotees who will not
agree with the views I have expressed here. Now, if they can offer the
same courtesy to those who disagree with them, we should be able to find
common ground where we can work together to improve ISKCON and spread the
servant, Badrinarayan dasa
by Sri Rama dasa Regarding these "acrimonious, inaccurate, and
condescending" e-conferences, in the GBC Restructure conference, we
began last September with 88 volunteer members in an open conference.
Since that time, about seven participants have dropped out and been
replaced by 18 new members, bringing the current total to 99.
the way, the assessment process described above may sound to many as a
strong argument in favor of Pancaratna's original proposal that the GBC
resign en masse. As for training, that is normally done in youth. For
example, our ability to memorize information peaks at six years of age. It
is no accident that education is done in youth. It is debatable that
meaningful training can be absorbed by 40, 50, and 60-year olds. Better to
put the training time and money into the next generation.
don't seem to have the letter from Romapada Swami referred to above,
unless Ramai Swami is referring to a private letter. However, I don't
normally reprint letters unless they are sent to a public address.
3 will be about the reactions of devotees to our proposal and the GBC
response which we've received.
servant, Sri Rama dasa
© CHAKRA 03 June 2001
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