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ISKCON Juhu host GBC Meetings

Friday, 17 October 2008 / Published in News / 8,891 views

By Parijata devi dasi

ISKCON Juhu shall host the GBC Meetings dedicated to Strategic Planning from 15 – 23 October at Hare Krishna Land, Mumbai.

ISKCON’s GBC (Governing Body Commission) was founded by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada since 1970 to manage the movement with the aim to help its members to factually become conscious of Krishna and love for Him. The GBC meeting is held annually in Mayapur during the Gaura Purnima festival.

The meetings in Mumbai are specifically dedicated to Strategic Planning, in other words, planning for the future direction and management of ISKCON, beyond the life span of any person or group of persons.

While Strategic Planning was always an integral part of GBC agenda, it was rejuvenated in 2006 when the then GBC Chairman Bhakti Vaibhava Swami felt the urgency to plan for ISKCON’s future and called a meeting in Prabhupadadesh, Italy. Thereafter, the GBC body meets at least twice a year to discuss the future vision and has set up the following sub committees which oversee significant aspects of strategic planning:

a. Establish Srila Prabhupada’s position Committee: It helps to ascertain the special nature of Srila Prabhupada as Founder-Acharya and its implication practically, theoretically and theosophically to new and existing members of ISKCON.

b. Succession Committee: It shall identify future leadership, inspire and train them.

c. Constitution Committee: It shall formulate a constitution for ISKCON.

d. Core preaching strategies: It will determine and implement core strategies Srila Prabhupada passed down including book distribution, varnasram, educating our children, etc

e. Devotee care: It will care for devotees, provide for sick and
elderly, and make every devotee feel comfortable and happy within ISKCON.

f. Parallel Lines of Authority and Finances: This Committee aims to strike a balance between various levels of leadership in ISKCON. It helps to facilitate smooth operation between GBC members, initiating spiritual masters (gurus) and members of renounced order of life (sannyasis). They will particularly offer criterion for clear lines of authority as well as
write job descriptions and financial guidelines for members of ISKCON’s leadership on various levels.

g. GBC Team building: The GBC team building committee is striving to develop initiatives for team building that respects and increase human relationship on a spiritual level and work together towards common goals.

h. GBC Organizational development: This team is working to organize the management structure from the GBC down in order to maximize the efficacy of management at all levels of ISKCON’s governance.

Besides the above mentioned subcommittee meetings, selected GBC members shall also attend the Guru Seminar, Kirtan Standard meeting, Team Building Strategies meeting, BBT meetings and Law Book meeting respectively. Kauteya Das, Core Member – Strategic Planning Team informed “The Strategic Planning Committee works under the direction of the GBC Executive Committee. The focus of Strategic Meetings is not limited only to planning but also working towards fulfilling the strategy”.

The meetings shall conclude with a presentation on Prabhupada’s Office by Gopal Krishna Goswami, GBC – Mumbai; felicitation of GBC meeting delegates and cultural program by students of Bhaktivedanta Swami Mission School. Braj Hari Das, President – ISKCON Juhu mentioned “We are honored to host the meetings. Srila Prabhupada said ‘Bombay is my office’ and thus it is only relevant that the GBC meeting are held here. The expansion of the temple through the ‘Heaven on Earth’ project has facilitated more space at our disposal and we invite the Strategic Planning Team to hold their meeting annually in Mumbai”.

2 comments

  1. 0
    Paradhyeya das ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I have never quite understood why the position of initiating spiritual master was ever considered or talked about as a line of authority ‘parallel’ to GBC. It is a position of authority surely, but only in relation to a guru’s initiated disciples. In all other respects he is a servant of ISKCON and Srila Prabhupada like everyone else. Initiating spiritual master is a service position and must be conducted in the best interests of ISKCON as a whole, otherwise there will be so many competing groups and the transcendental atmosphere of Vaishnava seva will be spoiled.
    Your servant,
    Paradhyeya Das

  2. 0
    Akruranatha ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Yes, Paradheya Prabhu, what you say seems self-evident. A good ISKCON guru should see himself as a servant of Prabhupada’s mission and should follow the authority of the GBC in obeidiently performing his service.

    I guess the issue is that in practice it may not always work out that a disciple’s temple authorities and spiritual master are in accord on everything, and it is worthwhile in discussing and clarifying the respective authorities of each.

    Or sometimes a guru may have a pet project somewhere else and encourage a disciple to leave some important local service. Or disciples and prospective disciples may be inspired to send donations to the guru’s pet projects, and the local temple may find this puts a strain on temple finances.

    These may be issues that cause problems more in practice than in theory, but if the gurus and temple authorities are clear on their respective roles they can help things go more smoothly. Disciples should also be given a clear idea and should not “play” gurus off local authorities, the way chilren play divorced parents off one another.

    I am interested to see what the “parallel authority” committee comes up with. I have been impressed so far by what I have seen of the constitution.

    Re parallel lines, it may be helpful if there are more local gurus who are fully integrated into the local projects and who see their service as helping their local project to flourish. Such gurus with smaller numbers of disciples would be more accessible to local disciples and there would be less tension between the guru’s projects and the local temple authorities’ projects.

    However, we may not have enough devotees who are sufficiently qualified to serve as guru in every temple. And even if every temple had at least one or two resident gurus, disciples would still find they have to relocate (it is just the nature of the modern economy), or might be particularly inspired by some guru from somewhere else. Even a guru might move somewhere else, and it could play havoc if a local guru breaks with a local temple and takes a number of disciples with him (or leaves behind disciples that resent the local authority).

    Also, if the number of gurus were increased, and they were increasingly associated with specific local temples or projects, it might inrease the chances that some unqualified gurus would fall down. It could be like a zonal guru system in miniature, with temples being devastated by falldowns. . .

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