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What Happened in Mayapur - Part Three - Reactions of Devotees
By Sri Rama Dasa

Dear Devotees,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Following this letter are a batch of texts I'm forwarding to the conference, representing reactions of devotees to the GBC resolutions, the official and unofficial explanations of the GBC in response to our questions, and other reports and related information. For practical reasons, some texts will appear individually and some will be grouped together in reasonably-sized collections. A substantial amount of information was provided to me with an expectation of confidentiality and I plan to respect it appropriately, while providing as much honest information as I can.

First, (as usual) a personal note.

I was not surprised when I first heard (erroneously) that all GBC restructure/reform proposals had been tabled. Considering that none of them would likely be viewed as complete or practical by the GBC, I rather assumed none would be passed intact this year. I falsely concluded that the GBC would sanction a plan for continuing the reform process in an organized manner by including the devotees who had been contributing their valuable time and sincere efforts throughout the year. I had hoped it would provide a forum for our group and Ravindra Svarupa to work our differences and use the balance of the year to design a complete and comprehensive solution.

Obviously, I suffer from terminal illusion. I was indeed shocked (yet again) when I read the minutes and subsequent explanations which revealed that reform, GBC-style, did not include any essential elements from the primary proposals. Nor could I locate a future role for most of the sincere, moderate, and loyal well-wishers of ISKCON. Over the last half year, I have been ridiculed by innumerable devotees for even dreaming that our ideas would have any significant official impact. I now stand completely corrected by those predictions. It appears that dissatisfaction with the GBC will be resolved between the leadership and Lord Krishna, as has been the case prominently -- and often dramatically -- in our past.

This saddens me, as I have worked with the majority of GBC members and I respect them as individuals and devotees. I am most definitely NOT of the school that views the leadership as evil and ill-motivated. I hope, pray and believe that each and every one is honestly acting according to their consciences and they believe they are doing there best to fulfill Krishna and Srila Prabhupada's desires.

But something strange seems to happen with membership in that body. Even though it has a turn-over rate of over 98% (and multiple times), devotee unhappiness remains more or less constant. It is not hard to argue that the zonal acharya system still exists in a modestly altered form and the recent GBC decisions reinforce this phenomenon.

Of course, one is not allowed to be dissatisfied with one's guru, so there is no statistically valid way of measuring the depth of such sentiments. But I heard from many, many Prabhupada disciples who are in the depths of despair with the way events have turned out and the hopelessness they feel that they will ever again feel part of ISKCON's family (or even that they wish to be). Shame on us all for allowing things to come to this point.

Why is it that membership in a group that is responsible for protecting us, has inspired such antipathy? Why do experienced devotees unquestionably feel the GBC has no relevance in their spiritual life whatsoever? What causes a formerly gentlemanly GBC servant of Prabhupada to characterize groups of vastly diverse servants of Krishna as "acrimonious, inaccurate, and condescending" -- a clearly false insult that would not have been intentionally tolerated in this particular conference?

Actually, I do not blame the individuals. But I do firmly believe the events of the last two, ten, twenty and thirty years indicate that the GBC has never functioned as Srila Prabhupada intended it to. The structure never melded properly and never will under the current or intended "improved" organization. The evidence that the GBC did not meet Srila Prabhupada's expectations or desires, either during his lifetime or at anytime thereafter is simply overwhelming. I don't feel a need or desire to further elaborate. It is a self-evident fact for anyone even remotely familiar with the history of the Movement.

Mistakes, of course, are natural and forgivable. But it is difficult for thinking persons to close their eyes to fact that the mistakes are being made over and over and over again, albeit in a variety of ever-new forms. What to do?

My personal intentions are:

1) Constructively keep these issues in the public eye, as limited as my ability may be.

2) To work with like-minded persons to arrive at a solution,

3) To assist in whatever small manner I can in soothing the damaged and often hateful and fear-filled faith of those who can never be satisfied with this status quo, no matter who they may be.

I know this sounds prideful and audacious and I and others will likely pay a price for our efforts and whatever mistakes we make along the way (one GBC has already taken the trouble to let me know I shouldn't think about relocating to a city in his zone, even though I expressed no desire or intention to be active in any way in his temple or projects. I also no longer receive invitations to preach in a nearby temple.) I not trying to be a cry-baby. This is all to be expected in the natural course of things.

A Few Technical Points

Even though I tried to resign as moderator of the conference, I was unsuccessful. Within 48 hours, a prominent GBC leader very strongly suggested this conference be shut down as useless, using the pretext that a questionable complaint got through from a Mumbai property resident. This type of tactic only invites resistance by demonstrating the need for open and free discussion.

After the next stream of texts, I plan to suggest one or more alternatives for continuing this effort. If there is sufficient interest in these or other topics, we will continue.

However, please understand that my present circumstances do not permit me to individually respond to every text sent to me personally on these topics. Please do not take it as an insult if I can't respond. Try to address your comments to the conference at GBC.restructure@pamho.net.

I've sent the texts on the Mayapura resolutions to CHAKRA and VNN. However, for obvious reasons, I'm not going to forward the texts that follow. Anyone interested in joining the conference can do so without assistance if you are a PAMHO.NET member. If you are not a member or need assistance, you can contact me and I will add you to the conference.

I beg forgiveness of anyone I've offended in these texts and hope they will accept that my intentions are sincere as their own.

Your servant, Sri Rama dasa
mailto: GBC.restructure@pamho.net

© CHAKRA 10 June 2001

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