Our committee is trying to respond to the need to have a more formalized method of operation of ISKCON and more formalized relationship between ISKCON and the members of ISKCON. There is a feeling among many devotees that they want a solid and clear understanding of what it means to be an ISKCON member. A well conceived of Constitution can provide that. We are endeavoring to craft an inspiring document that will make sure that the principles, vision, and mood that Srila Prabhupada established will be preserved for centuries to come.
Our committee deals with the situation we often find in ISKCON where there are two lines of authority in ISKCON: the initiating spiritual masters and GBC body/GBC member/Temple President system created by Srila Prabhupada. Our goal is help craft a shared, supportive, and shastrically sound system for guiding devotees in ISKCON. Rather than sometimes working at cross purposes, the aim is to have a system that respects, guides, and nutures the devotees in general, as well as all those senior devotees who give siksha and diksa in ISKCON.
We recognize the need for consistent succession policies in the society. The first generation of Srila Prabhupada's disciples are aging. We now read regularly of a senior devoteeās passing away. We need to ensure that the mood, teachings, energy, and ideas of Srila Prabhupada are properly preserved and transmitted. Generation after generation. We wish to identify and empower devotees with leadership potential to ensure the proper succession. This is our long term need.
Jun 5 2007 GBC Gathering in New Vrndavana
There were varying degrees of progress achieved since the last GBC meeting in Mayapur, this progress was reported by the different groups to the plenary body. Probably the most comprehensive progress achieved to date was from the committee dealing with the constitution. That said, significant work has been done by all the groups and the overall mood was that a lot has been done but there's a lot more to do.
As the saying goes: āhistory is but a set of lies commonly agreed on by historiansā In relation to religious historians this issue is even more acute, primarily because of the almost blanket ban on accepting any religious history that is not based on sense perception. The so-called 'enlightenment consensus' strictly adhere to their rule that nothing beyond gross matter and three dimensional space can be recorded. In reality this means that the enlightenment consensus lobby generally dismiss every other source of information and in the case of the vedic version it is dismissed as mythology.
Apr 10 2007 The Best Days of Our Lives
Even though this seemingly innate resistance to institutions appears unrelenting, if we look more closely at society then institutions, parties, groups and organisations pervade the lives of almost all of us. Maybe it is a case of not being able to live with them or without them. In many respects it is not really surprising that we need groups, parties and institutions, as we tend to achieve much more when we work in unison. A lone protester outside parliament might satisfy their sense of achievement or well being, but other than getting chilled to the bone they generally achieve little else. Whereas a 100,000 strong march on parliament is likely to get the politicians shivering to the bone!
Mar 20 2007 Varnasrama and Varna Sankara
With no training, no guidance, poor upbringing and no role models, the pure unadulterated desire to lord it over by brute force appears to be their life mission. And boy do they take to that mission with gusto. Beatings, stabbings and murders are now a daily occurrence in most western cities. Indeed a new phrase has arisen in the western lexicon āanti-social behaviourā I guess anti-social behaviour is more or less the job description for varna sankara offspring.
Feb 24 2007 All We Need is Love And…
At this point I was getting a little worried because either it was a bomb and the whole building would be history or it was a hoax but they might decide to do a 'controlled explosion' which would still result in significant damage. In my mind I was rehearsing the phone call to the insurance company the next day and all I was hearing back was āUnfortunately your policy does not cover you for acts of terrorismā...
Feb 19 2007 Day Eleven of the G.B.C. Meetings
Various GBC members then expressed thanks to the out-going chairman. Sivarma Swami said that Bhaktivaibhava Swami did an outstanding job by giving the GBC body the opportunity to work together to formulate a vision. Maharaja was impressive that Bhaktivaibhava Swami agreed to serve on the Executive Committee one more year, to solidify the GBC's work on strategic planning.
Feb 17 2007 Day Ten of the G.B.C. Meetings
The GBC voted that a World Holy Name Day be annually celebrated at temples worldwide, to coincide with and commemorate Srila Prabhupada's arrival in the USA. Lokanath Swami, Janananda Prabhu, and Ekalavya Prabhu will be the coordinators. The GBC body spent the rest of the morning discussing and voting on a resolution concerning the situation of Dhanudhara Swami.
Feb 15 2007 Day Nine of the G.B.C. Meetings
Bhanu Swami chaired the Open Forum and began with a letter from Jiva Tattva Prabhu (Spain), who asked why ISKCON does not have a varnasrama social system and whether the GBC's role is spiritual or managerial.
Feb 14 2007 Day Eight of the G.B.C. Meetings
Sesa Prabhu cried when Bhakti Swarupa Damodara Maharaja departed. He pointed out that Maharaja was so fixed on Srila Prabhupada's instructions that his departure from the world was glorious. Krsna, in this way, prepared him to go back to Godhead. Sesa Prabhu asked the senior disciples to be forgiving, as there is a lesson to be learned from all this.
Feb 14 2007 Spiritual Retreat Day for the GBC 2007
The secret destination turned out to be Jagannathās Mandir and I personally could not have been more pleased since I had not been able to visit Them last year. These Deities of Jagannath, Subhadra and Baladev are very powerful and are known for Their benevolence in granting boons. There are many authentic experiences supporting this claim, many of them recent. We performed a bhajan and kirtan lead by H H Lokanath accompanied by Madhava das (world reknown mrdanga player).
Feb 13 2007 Day Seven of the G.B.C. Meetings
Next there was a debate about the best way to serve and honor prasadam. Hridayananda Maharaja's team defended eating on the floor and using one's fingers. Devamrta Swami's team argued that a Western style of eating (at a table, with silverware) is essential for effective preaching. The argument that a pizza is a self-realized capati got a lot of laughs.
Feb 12 2007 Day Six of the G.B.C. Meetings
Today's agenda: morning presentations about Kazakhstan, the Child Protection Office (CPO), and Mayapur. The new temple will fit on the ISKCON trust land. There will be triple the park-and-garden space we have now. Srila Prabhupada wanted the main dome to resemble the Capitol in Washington, D.C. or the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata, and it does.
Feb 11 2007 Day five of the G.B.C. meetings
Two initiatives are being undertaken: The "six-month initiative" will focus on the first six months of new devotees in ISKCON, when they accept Srila Prabhupada as their siksa guru. A curriculum will be produced that helps new devotees establish a solid siksa relationship that continues throughout their lives. The team also proposed a "hearing from Srila Prabhupada initiative," to teach new devotees how to listen to and hear from Srila Prabhupada.
Feb 9 2007 Day Three and Four of the G.B.C. Meetings
The main agenda item for the next three days is planning ISKCONās future. If you have a vague idea of what strategic planning is, you will better understand it after reading this report. At the morning session today, the GBC discussed strategic planning for two and a half hours. Gopala Bhatta Prabhu enthusiastically facilitated the discussion and helped the GBC members open their hearts and focus on the issues.
Feb 7 2007 Day Two of the G.B.C. Meetings
Bhaktivaibhava Swami (GBC chairman) began the meeting by advising the GBC members that they need to direct their comments and discussions more carefully in order to be more effective as a body. Offering an example, he said that during a discussion of a proposal, if a member withholds criticism until the last minute before a vote, this undermines the GBC's ability to build on constructive criticism or can obstruct progress. Thus he asked a deputy to provide guidelines for the day's straw-voting process.
Feb 6 2007 Day One of the G.B.C. Meetings
The GBC chairman, Bhaktivaibhava Swami, opened the well-attended meeting. Only a few members were absent this year, some because of illness. The dayās agenda: a summary of the autumn GBC meetings in Italy and a discussion of book distribution. The chairman first presented an overview of the GBCās work in 2006.
Jan 15 2007 A Sporting Chance?
Going back to the original question - does sport have any place in the life of a devotee? We can fairly confidently conclude that sport of the professional, competitive and passionate variety does not, and clearly falls into the category of what Srila Prabhupada termed 'unnecessary sports'. Yet if we remove those elements, the argument could be made that engaging in sports like tennis, basketball or squash etc., might be okay for devotees. Perhaps not young full time temple devotees who have the opportunity to spend hours either dancing in kirtan or harinam but rather for the middle aged devotee variety who are more or less chained to their desks at work. One quote that might interest those under the grip of the middle-age spread relates to Lord Balarama who used the equivalent of a bat and ball in his victory over Dvivida;
Given the above, the GBC finds no reasons to take these allegations seriously. The GBC recommends that any person in possession of newly discovered evidence regarding the New Vrindavana events present such information to the U.S. Attorney's Office or other appropriate legal agency. If any subsequent investigation might ensue, the GBC will fully cooperate with it.
Dec 26 2006 Protecting Vaisnavis
In a recent positive development, ISKCONās GBC has constituted a task force charged with identifying and rectifying abuse of women. Domestic violence, sexual assault and other atrocities may take place in any organization, so following on their bold approach of openly addressing past problems of child abuse, ISKCONās leaders have taken a step toward healing rather than hiding injuries to ISKCONās female members. Srila Prabhupada reminded his followers that we are not this body. Based on the intricacies of karmic reaction, a soul can change from male body in one lifetime to female body in the next. Srila Prabhupada was unique among his peers in engaging women in active preaching, basing assignments on ability and not just gender. By valuing the soul, not the bodily dress, Srila Prabhupada taught us that all devotees are to be cherished.
Dec 11 2006 Cross Wires and Razor Edges
Therefore the question could be raised as to whether there is ever a basis for engaging in contentious argument among devotees? For sure any such discussion of this type would have to be conducted with the proper motivation and based on a genuine need for clarification of the apparent differences of opinion. It is interesting to note that many times when differences are expressed (among our Dandavats commentators) a regular response is that there has been a misunderstanding. Just as much as the challenger should take every care that the challenge is based on a legitimate foundation, equally the challenged should not use the cover of misunderstanding as a defence, unless of course it genuinely is a misunderstanding.
The chanting of the holy name is initially undertaken on the basis of duty, vows and jnana etc., but until it happens on the basis of taste, with our hearts sufficiently purified to the point that the chanting of the holy name is something that is more or less spontaneous, then the possibility, if not probability of fall down will always be with us. Hence until we reach these higher levels of taste and realisation we need the assistance of a proper social structure in the form of the varnasrama system. Being situated properly in the varnasrama system will greatly protect us from our lower natures. This protection comes directly to women and indirectly to men via the culture of protection and respect of the fair sex.
Some years ago one leader told me an interesting story that highlights this point. One of his senior managers/preachers in his area of responsibility was having some difficulty and had had a recent fall down. This leader, in consultation with a few senior god brothers, decided a course of action and rectification with the explicit aim of strengthening this devotees spiritual life and hopefully have him return to his regular duties as soon as it was clear that he had fully recovered from his difficulties.
Oct 13 2006 GBC special meeting report
This extra meeting was called by the GBC Chairman, AC Bhaktivaibhava Swami. He, along with the other Executive Committee members felt that the GBC needed to focus on ISKCON’s future, trying to ensure that the ISKCON they are passing on to the next generation of devotees is something Srila Prabhupada would be pleased with. He recognized that there were many improvements needed before such a ideal would be reached. In the three day meeting, problem solving of current day-to-day issues were set aside, and only key topics related to ISKCON’s future were entertained.
Oct 8 2006 Keeping the Faith
As ISKCON celebrates it's 40th birthday we have much to reflect on. From it's humble beginnings when Srila Prabhupada was more or less alone in a foreign land, to it's early days when devotees began to join, to it's explosion in the 70's and 80's. Later in the 80's and on up to the present day ISKCON's record is more mixed, actually many would say that ISKCON's record has always been mixed. If that is true then we can probably agree that the difference now is that ISKCON's mixed fortunes are more highlighted, as opposed to the halcyon days when Srila Prabhupada was physically present with us. During Srila Prabhupada's vapuh presence we didn't tend to focus on any reverses, at least not in a negative way.
We the members and servants of the Governing Body Commission of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, express our profound bereavement on the passing of our dear Godbrother and fellow Governing Body Commissioner Sri Srimad Bhakti Svarupa Damodara Maharaja, the beloved disciple of ISKCON Founder-Acarya His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Sep 27 2006 The Pen is Mightier than the Sword
One of the purposes of the Dandavats website was to provide a medium where devotees could express their Krsna conscious realisations, so please don't be shy in sending them to us. An automatic benefit of sending your realisations, given the nature of the medium, is that they will reach the eyes of many many souls. As websites are available for everyone to read, who knows who might read and be inspired by your words?
Sep 14 2006 What’s in a Name?
So giving names, having names and using names are all essential for increasing the personal touch.. Of course as devotees we receive even more mercy when we are given names related to Krsna and His devotees at the time of initiation. These names not only serve as a way of identifying us but they also remind us of the supreme Lord and His devotees and can award us unlimited spiritual benefit, as in the case of Ajamila.
Aug 26 2006 Further Considerations…
While reading this passage of the Bhagavatam it struck me that the propensity to defend is just as strong, if not stronger, than the propensity to eat, sleep and mate. For whatever reason I had subconsciously concluded that eating and sleeping were top of the list (things that could more or less only be 'overcome' by death) and then the attraction for sex life (mating) was naturally more difficult to overcome than the need to defend oneself. Studying this passage tended to change my perspective, as I could never imagine myself responding in such a way after being so brutally attacked by someone.
When we arrived in Dublin the first alarm bell was that our luggage didn't arrive with us even, though it was checked in three hours beforehand. We were then told it would arrive on the next flight later in the afternoon. Eventually when our luggage did arrive both bags were there but my laptop and mobile phone were not inside. Initially my mind went into a tailspin and was registering, at a rate of knots, all the inconveniences that now awaited me.
Aug 3 2006 Further reflection
The main aim of Dandavats is to be a resource for krsna katha so that all readers can receive some spiritual benefit every time they visit the site. As we know the mind is difficult to control and needs no assistance to be attracted to those subject matters that do not benefit us spiritually. Dandavats wants to humbly try to help all those who are desirous to achieve ākrsne matir astuā
Jul 25 2006 Reflecting on progress so far..
Dandavats is in the process of evaluating whether to continue with this discussion, in the meantime many devotees are working hard to try to find a solution to this issue, that is in accordance with our vaisnava culture and thus acceptable to the overwhelming body of devotees.
Jul 18 2006 Questions to the GBC
On the other hand ISKCON is responsible for so many preaching successes. One simple example is that Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad Gita is the most widely published in the world, another is that the Ratha Yatra festival has taken a massive foothold in the west all due to ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada was convinced that Lord Caitanya's movement could be most effectively spread by an organised structure and if carefully analysed that has proven to be true.
Jul 15 2006 Answer to Dayananda prabhu’s Question
In the last 15 years Iāve spoken with several gurus, sannyasis, and GBCs about the 50% principle for householders. To a man none were interested in lecturing about, or discussing with disciples, the sacrifice of a significant portion of oneās salary. Can you tell me the name of anyone among the GBC or guru community that lectures or advises disciples about giving 50%?
Jul 11 2006 More questions to the GBC
Once, during Srila Prabhupada's afternoon massage, Rebatinandana Swami entered the room with a problem he thought only his spiritual master could solve. "Srila Prabhupada," he said. "Syamasundara is the GBC and he's making all these decisions. I want to accept his authority, but I had to come to you because he is not chanting his rounds. I know this for a fact. He doesn't chant any rounds. Also, many of the devotees in the temple find it difficult to follow his authority. I wanted to know how we should handle this."
Jul 3 2006 Ask a GBC
Recently, in Alachua, the local GBC segretary Sesa prabhu had a program for about one month where he sat under a canopy outside the temple each Sunday feast with a sign "Ask a GBC." So the devotees had the chance to approach, ask and discuss different GBC related questions.
Jun 22 2006 One week on
As we know the GBC body is not infallible, just in case anyone is thinking like that! This is one of the reasons why Srila Prabhupada created a body of devotees, as opposed to installing one individual to run ISKCON. It is also of course the example that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaja set. The clear advantage of having a body of devotees making decisions is that on balance their collective decision making will be more often right than wrong.
Jun 10 2006 Dear Visitors
Welcome to Dandavats. I hope that your visit is the first of many and that our relationship will be a long lasting and mutually fruitful one. As we all know the internet is the fastest growing medium for communication available and it is likely to be so long into the future. As a result the outreach and association opportunities for devotees and friends of Lord Krishna are unlimited.
Jun 8 2006 GBC resolutions 2006
Therefore it is resolved that the GBC wishes to encourage all of Srila Prabhupadaās initiated disciples in good standing to seriously consider taking up the role of spiritual master. Each GBC member should look for and identify disciples of Srila Prabhupada in good standing and urge them to take up the role of spiritual master, even if only in their local areas.