Tuesday, February 13, 2007
(Reporting: Tattvavit Dasa)
Today’s Agenda: Open Forum, Sannyasa Ministry, Voting, and a closed discussion.
Praghosa dasa Prabhu explained that during the Open Forum the GBC hears from devotees invited to present their concerns. That they can directly address the GBC body on any variety of concerns that are on their mind is the main consideration. The GBC does not necessarily respond to each presentation.
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.
Next, a lady asked the GBC to bless her husband to initiate disciples. Some devotees work with them who are inspired by him, and it would be helpful in his service to reciprocate with his assistants in this role, she said.
Devarsi Narada Prabhu (Croatia) showed the GBC a DVD of his detailed and, at times, humorous depiction of the technical flaws in the alleged “live footage” of Mayapur and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura in a DVD called “Universal Teacher”.
One sannyasi wished to ask the GBC to give him permission to initiate disciples.
After the Open Forum ended, a discussion ensued about the process for becoming a diksa guru and whether these devotees are aware of it. One step is getting the approval of three-fourths of a local or regional committee of senior devotees. It takes time for that many devotees to get to know a candidate well enough to recommend him. Last year, the GBC encouraged Srila Prabhupada’s disciples to consider initiating. Bhaktimarg Swami said that the process intimidates some of them, as he found out when he encouraged two godbrothers in California to become gurus. Bhanu Swami said that in Japan he explained the process to a godbrother and helped him with it, and it worked out fine.
The chairman of the Sannyasa Ministry, Prahladananda Swami, presented candidates one by one, along with a subcommittee’s recommendations, and the GBC discussed these presentations. About half the candidates were reviewed today. Candidates are either gradually moved up on a waiting list of several years or they remain in place on the list, according to a process established by the GBC several years ago.
Sesa Prabhu asked, “How do you decide who should wait, and how long he should wait, for sannyasa?”
Maharaja answered that this is decided in discussions both with the candidates (who sometimes ask to remain in place) and those reviewing them, most of whom are sannyasis. There are other criteria, such as taking sastric courses, their sadhana and age, their demonstrated capacity to preach, and so on.
Final votes were taken on some resolutions that the GBC recently straw-voted on.
For the rest of the morning the GBC discussed a very important issue in a closed session, but the discussion will continue tomorrow, with the deputies and your reporter present.