Krishna Consciousness Undermines Ecclesiology

Has the G.B.C. Now Spoiled Everything?

(Sometimes the Dragon Wins)

Part Five of a Ten-Part Series

by Kailäsa Candra däsa

“I set up the G.B.C. with hope that I shall get relief from administration of the mission, but, on the contrary, I have become the center of receiving so many complaints. So it is not a relief for me; rather, it is becoming . . . troublesome.
Letter to T.K.G., 8-14-71

“I am glad that you have admitted about the G.B.C. members not very appropriately discharging their duty. . .We are now growing in volume all over the world, dealing with public money. . . it is time for G.B.C. members to be very, very careful, so that people may not point out any black spot in the behavior of our Society.”
Letter to T.K.G., 9-1-71

“I am surprised that none of the G.B.C. members detected the defects in the procedure. It was detected only when it came to me. What will happen when I am not here, shall everything be spoiled by G.B.C.?
Letter to Hansadutta, 4-11-72

In the middle of 1970, the creation of the Governing Body Commission (G.B.C.) would replace a system of management that had thrived previous to the emergence of the governing body. That the leaders of the initial system of administration were doing nicely is actually directly expressed in the charter that formed the G.B.C.

All Emphases Added for Your Edification and Realization

Part Four discussed that initial system, and, here at the beginning of Part Five, we shall once again reference it, in context to the overall history. However, the bulk of Part Five is meant to segue into the creation and operation of the G.B.C. It is up to every intelligent reader to determine for himself or herself whether or not this governing body can be considered a successful innovation or, rather, that the risk which Srila Prabhupäda took in forming turned out to produce results contrary to the aim of the Transcendence, which ultimately governs all universal management.

A Basic Managerial Succession

“I am very pleased to learn that you have taken complete charge of the Los Angeles center . . . do it very nicely . . .”
Letter to Dayananda, 10-9-68

So continue to push on our Hamburg center as far as possible. . . I know that Krishna is very pleased with all of your efforts there, and surely He will give you all facilities to come out successful in your efforts.”
Letter to Sivananda, 1-23-69

“So, I am very pleased with your sincere efforts to make a success of the Chapel Hill center, and please keep me informed of your progress.”
Letter to Bhurijana, 2-25-69

One year after incorporation, Prabhupäda mailed a letter to Sumati Morarjee informing her that he had now established three thriving centers and was on the verge of creating more. All of these centers were (or were to be) located in North America. As of September, 1967, a total of six temples were operational. He did not require many devotees to open a center. Indeed, it was his opinion that a single sincere soul could alone maintain a center, just as he had done in New York before his initial disciples joined him.

His Divine Grace held the liberal view that his centers, despite each having a separate incorporation, were still part of the same institution—and even, ultimately, the same institution that his godbrothers represented. He considered his preaching territory to be the Western countries, while his godbrothers opened centers in India. He stated that his devotional and organizational activities were related to the Gauòéya Maöha—but only on the basis of Kåñëa consciousness. However, although he could easily and legally have done so, he did not affiliate with or name his Society the Gaudéya Maöha.

In the summer of 1968, in a letter to Pope Paul VI, Prabhupäda confirmed that he had now opened eight centers. His principle was that, whenever and wherever a center was started, it must then be maintained. At that same time, Prabhupäda revealed, in a letter to some of his senior disciples, that he now thought that there could be a local governing body for each center. As part of this particular formulation, he thought that some kind of central management committee for brahminically managing all of the centers could also be formed.

This idea was not acted upon at that time, however.

In a letter to Shree Krishna Prasad Bhargava, dated early September, 1968, Prabhupäda confirmed that eleven centers had been established: Seven in the United States, two in Canada, and two in Europe. This number soon expanded; by the middle of that month, ISKCON had opened fourteen centers. However, at the end of that month, Prabhupäda ordered that all of the centers should become better organized before any further attempts at expansion.

In February, 1969, he sent a letter to Kuïjadä, then going by the name Tértha Mahäräj, to inform him that he had opened fifteen centers. He provided the addresses of each center, as well as the initiated and Western name of each temple president. It is once again clear in this important letter that the system of authority in his movement still worked through Prabhupäda directly and then to each temple president–with no intermediary. In another letter to India, Prabhupäda revealed that he was pressed with management work, receiving about twelve letters daily, mostly from his temple presidents. He said that answering them was a heavy task, but, by the Grace of Kåñëa, it did not depress him.

Çréla Prabhupäda wanted that all devotional action taken by his leading men should be executed in terms of time, place, and the people of the locality. The principle he wanted observed was that each center function as one with, yet different from, the whole–acting conjointly for the common development but in perfect and pure freedom as well. In all such centers, he was the sole final authority, and the temple presidents represented him as authority at the next stage in this managerial succession.

Near the end of 1969, there were twenty-three ISKCON centers operational, with sixteen more in the planning stage. In a letter to Hanuman Prasad Possar, dated February, 1970, Prabhupäda reiterated the above-mentioned managing arrangement. He confirmed that the administration of his centers was in the hands of three officers, namely, a president, treasurer, and a secretary. He stated that he was the Äcärya for all of the centers, his name was on each checking account, but that he signed checks himself when he was residing at a particular center. He also confirmed that he alone managed publications and the ISKCON book fund.

Very soon after this, twenty-six centers had been opened, and we can see clearly from all these details, presented here chronologically, that Kåñëa consciousness was growing and thriving at a tremendous rate worldwide under this simple managing arrangement that Prabhupäda had implemented from the very beginning.

His mission had met with astounding success; ISKCON was doing even better than expected. The initial template for management had included the creation of ISKCON Books in Boston, where Prabhupäda’s writings were transformed into new literature that sold well. Back to Godhead was being printed and distributed on a monthly basis. A Kåñëa Conscious Handbook had also been published. More and more centers were being opened practically every month. The numbers of devotees at these centers, bustling with spiritual knowledge, was expanding nicely, and very few men or women were leaving any of these temples.

Mahämäyä devé was being defeated in the Western world, her stronghold, but she detected an opening to reverse the momentum of this upstart Society. After all, that is her duty. She knew it well that Westerners are strongly inclined towards constant change, so she convinced some of Prabhupäda’s followers that the time had come for one.

Chief Reason for the G.B.C.

“At the present moment in our ISKCON, campus politics and diplomacy has entered. Some of my beloved students–on whom I counted very, very much–have been involved in this matter, influenced by Mäyä. As such, there has been some activity which I consider as disrespectful. So, I have decided to retire and divert attention to book writing and nothing more.”
Letter to Satsvarupa, 7-27-70

“So, now the factual administration will depend on the Governing Body Commission, and the sannyäsés are entrusted for making propaganda work. I wish to remain on the background to give you some directions.”
Letter to Bali Mardana, 8-16-70

“Now I have set up the Governing Body Commission to handle management, questions of philosophy, and personal problems. These things are too much botheration for me, I simply want time to write books to satisfy my Guru Maharäja.”
Letter to Upendra, 8-6-70

His Divine Grace Çréla Prabhupäda started his proselytizing effort by chanting the Mahä-mantra with devotional instruments in Tompkins Square Park, and he attracted his first followers there. At that small park in New York City, he was at first sitting underneath an old and large tree, chanting the Hare Kåñëa mantra for about three hours in the middle of the afternoon. A number of young men would assemble, and, gradually, some of them even danced to the rhythm.

In this way, Prabhupäda made disciples, and his group quickly developed. On June 12, 1966, Çréla Prabhupäda held his first Sunday love feast, cooking twelve different preparations; sixteen of his devotees attended it. This meeting marked the actual beginning of his ISKCON movement.

In less than four weeks, the Society was incorporated. Just as July of 1966 had been a most eventful month, so it was almost exactly four years later, but in a very different way, that something else went down. In late July of 1970, Prabhupäda formed, as an unincorporated entity, the Governing Body Commission (G.B.C.).

It came into being in an atmosphere of crisis. Up to that point, there had only been one speed bump in his movement, when his first sannyäsa initiate rejected Prabhupäda’s authority, disobeyed his order, and tried to change the whole devotional template in America. This crazy man was able to influence one other fellow to leave the New York temple and join him; both of these fools had been active homosexual lovers since their college days together.

June 12, 1966 to July 27, 1970 marked the initial or ascending phase of Çréla Prabhupäda’s Hare Kåñëa movement of Kåñëa consciousness. The creation of the G.B.C. took place on July 28, 1970, and this demarcated the beginning of the stasis phase, as its management paradigm was then significantly altered. The period of stasis ran from July 28, 1970 to April 7, 1972. On April 8, 1972, Prabhupäda suspended the operation of the G.B.C. after eight of its members had convened an unauthorized meeting, during which they attempted to make changes. The period of April 8, 1972 to March 22, 1978 (when the G.B.C. finalized the appointment of eleven pretender uttama-adhikärés or so-called zonal äcäryas) marked the descending phase of Çréla Prabhupäda’s movement.

As of the final day of G.B.C. meetings, on March 22, 1978, Prabhupäda’s bona fide movement terminated, having been replaced by an apa-sampradäya, an imitation devotional school of so-called Krsna consciousness. The fix was in, and eleven bogus gurus—“Äcäryas of the Zone”—were then imposed upon the rest of his disciples throughout the world. In this multi-part series, that apa-sampradäya is referred to as “ISKCON.” We see then that ISKCON, in the true sense of the term and acronym, came into existence on June 12, 1966 and functioned, sometimes powerfully and sometimes imperfectly, until March 22, 1978, the day the music died.

Only albino fanatics, frolicking in the dirty snow that covers their leaders’ footprints, claim a facsimile of this ISKCON could not actually emerge. The “ISKCON is one” shibboleth is only technically true. Such fanaticism cannot long cover what any sane person readily sees, viz., that the current quasi-Eastern religion is now nothing more than a perverted reflection of something that was once real and bona fide. “ISKCON” is a facsimile that operates in the name of ISKCON. We are not concerned with technicalities and must not allow them–or those who push them–to bewilder us.

Prabhupäda’s branch of the Hare Kåñëa movement rarely attracted those who were materially successful. Instead, as per its underlying pulse and founding—and as per the proselytizing characteristics inculcated by its initial promulgator, Lord Çré Kåñëa Caitanya Mahäprabhu—it often attracted the most fallen, the lowest.

It attracted scum as well: Womanizers, criminals, faggots, sadists, masochists, and losers. It sometimes attracted men ambitious to overlord their fellow man. It attracted the bored, and it attracted fanatics who then simply switched fanatical allegiances from one movement to another. It attracted feminists, malcontents, crazies, bums, debauched students, and hippies of all stripes, some of whom had delved in black magic. It attracted heavy-duty rockers and drug addicts, as well as people inclined toward any alternative culture. Most ominously, it attracted snakes: some very envious people.

A spiritual movement can only be as good as its leaders, the ones who are supposed to carry out the mission of its founder. It is a misconception to think that any of the above-mentioned three phases of this movement did not manifest growth, because they all did. In fact, the above-mentioned three-fold division of phases is based on but one category: The management of the movement (below the Founder-Äcärya). As far as making new members and increasing book distribution was concerned, growth was continuous throughout the whole time, viz., 1966-1978. In terms of revenue, that only increased also. The movement became more and more well-known throughout the Sixties and most of the Seventies, and the West felt its weight.

However, the management of the movement traversed an arc, or overall octave, different from this. It was the weak point, and the dragon was able to win and emasculate this movement by exploiting its weak point. Management had remained pure throughout the Sixties. In the early Seventies, it oscillated. After the 1972 G.B.C. conspiratorial scheme emerged (despite the fact that it was, at that time, aborted), management by a first-echelon and second-echelon of conditioned souls (all of whom were attempting to be representatives of His Divine Grace) experienced pronounced periods of considerable fluctuation on a descending glide-path.

The above-mentioned crisis that, at least in part, provoked the formation of the G.B.C., marked a second and much more serious speed bump. Four leading disciples and preachers (soon-to-be sannyäsés), each capable of opening his own center, became spiritually poisoned by what appeared to be a mysterious influence.

Actually, the influence emanated from Prabhupäda’s envious godbrothers in India. One of these four men had flown there to rectify some shipping irregularities, and he unfortunately associated with Prabhupäda’s godbrothers. They infected him with misconceptions such as that Prabhupäda was not sanctioned to do what he was doing, that he was never a prominent devotee in the Gauòéya Maöha, and that he was not authorized to accept mlecchas as initiated disciples in the guru-paramparä. They claimed that he had committed a great offense to his guru (and to them) by taking the title of Prabhupäda, which these godbrothers claimed was reserved for Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta alone.

This contagion spread when that leading secretary returned to America. The propaganda then began to circulate that Prabhupäda was not merely a servitor of God, but that he was actually the Supreme Lord Himself. Along with this wrong idea, the direct incarnation of God (rather than the empowered incarnation) had become displeased with all of His disciples, and, as a result, He had withdrawn His mercy from them, leaving them to flounder in an unconscious state of despair—or so it came to be believed by many if not most.

These four men coalesced and formulated a solution to this great problem of their own making. They said that the movement not only had to stop expanding, but it had to centralize. The place they selected, as could be easily surmised, was Greenwich Village. However, since Prabhupäda was not cooperative, they locked him in his room at Los Angeles, unable to see the contradiction intrinsic to that action. He called it disrespectful, but it was an outrage.

The D.O.M. Charter

“(My disciples) are already managing individual centers represented by one president, one secretary and one treasurer, and in my opinion they are doing nice.”
D.O.M. Charter, excerpt

(Particular) 2. His Divine Grace will select the initial 12 members of the GBC. In the succeeding years the GBC will be elected by a vote of all Temple presidents who will vote for 8 from a ballot of all Temple presidents, which may also include any secretary who is in charge of a Temple. Those 8 with the greatest number of votes will be members for the next term of GBC. Çréla Prabhupäda will choose to retain four commissioners. In the event of Çréla Prabhupäda’s absence, the retiring members will decide which four will remain.”
D.O.M. Charter, excerpt

“So, if our G.B.C. members remain strong, strictly following the regulative principles, everything will be all right.”
Letter to Bhagavan, 9-19-70

This was the tense atmosphere in which the G.B.C. was formed; the charter establishing it was and is called the Direction of Management (D.O.M.). It lists a very condensed synopsis of Prabhupäda’s disciplic lineage and his arrival in America, followed by mention of the incorporation of ISKCON. After this, it lists thirty-four centers that had been established internationally in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and Japan; India was not represented in this list, as all efforts there had been unsuccessful.

Çréla Prabhupäda, in this charter, states (above-mentioned) that current administration, in the form of president, secretary, and treasurer, was doing nicely, but he established this governing body for the purpose of even better management. There is mention of an initial ad hoc meeting at the San Francisco yatra, and then the twelve original commissioners are named in the document; eleven of them were married, with no sannyäsés amongst the lot. These commissioners were called direct representatives and zonal secretaries, understood to become executors after Prabhupäda departed physical manifestation.

The particular functions of this G.B.C. or Governing Body Commission are next detailed, numbering nine. The first one, obviously, is the most important. It unequivocally states that this G.B.C. would receive directions from His Divine Grace, that Prabhupäda had power of final approval in all matters, which included the Commission’s resolutions.

The next two particulars detail a rotating plan of regular G.B.C. replacement, retirement, and retention at three-year intervals; these two particulars have become a source of considerable controversy and tension, especially in recent years. The G.B.C. charter is affixed with the signature of Srila Prabhupäda, along with three of the original twelve commissioners. The formation of this governing body took place at Los Angeles temple, the World Headquarters of ISKCON. The four leaders who had caused the upheaval back in 1970 then faced formidable opposition from both Prabhupäda and his newly-created governing body.

The Commission successfully helped check and uproot the deviant influence of those four sannyäsés, and that was its sole and significant or positive accomplishment. The apa-siddhäntas the four had advocated were exposed in effective ways, and the momentum of the ISKCON movement turned against them. They realized their errors, repented, asked for forgiveness, and were dispersed to different states in America in order to open new preaching centers.

Yet we can see that, even from its point of emergence–represented by the Direction of Management charter–Prabhupäda had fettered the G.B.C. It was never granted absolute power nor was there any mention that it had some kind of automatic, self-corrective mechanism integrated into its matrix. It was chartered according to regulations of a rotating membership. The voting mandate contained within the Direction of Management was never at any time observed, however, and His Divine Grace definitively removed it in a room conversation on May 28, 1977, for his own reasons.

However, it remains a fact that three years passed after the G.B.C. was formed, and a voting procedure, in terms of forming the next set of commissioners, was supposed to have been implemented by the end of that period (by July, 1973). No G.B.C. approached Srila Prabhupäda for clarification on this particular, but, instead, they all simply ignored the voting directive. Not too difficult to figure out why, is it?

That stipulation from the Direction of Management was conveniently ignored, and no G.B.C., either individually or collectively, consulted with Prabhupäda in connection to this form of disobedience to his order. At the bare minimum, the G.B.C. had a fiduciary responsibility to have consulted him about it, but that was not done. That negligence has caused considerable turmoil amongst the remaining devotees, despite the fact that His Divine Grace, in May of 1977 (as mentioned just previously) did, in a mere six words, definitively rescind and nullify the specific stipulations of the Direction of Management, i.e., the ones mandating a regular election in connection to periodic rotation of G.B.C. members.

By that time, he really had no choice in the matter.

The Great Sinister Movement

“G.B.C. is to see that things are going nicely but not to exert absolute authority. That is not in the power of G.B.C. . . The G.B.C. men cannot impose anything on the men of a center without consulting all of the G.B.C. members first. A G.B.C. member cannot go beyond the jurisdiction of his power. We are in the experimental stage . . .”
Letter to Giriraj, 8-12-71

“You are also one of the members of the G.B.C., so you can think over very deeply how to save the situation. It is a fact, however, that the great sinister movement is within our Society.
Letter to Hansadutta, 9-2-70

Once before you wanted to do something centralizing with your G.B.C. meeting, and, if I did not interfere, the whole thing would have been killed.”
Letter to Karandhar, 12-22-72

In the latter part of 1972, His Divine Grace reminded one of his leading secretaries, an original member of the Governing Body Commission, that Prabhupäda’s movement came dangerously close to being uprooted by the unauthorized meeting of April, 1972 in New York. An excerpt from this letter is quoted directly above. Çréla Prabhupäda had discovered and checked the attempt, and, although the mischief did cause some setbacks, its direct impact proved minimal, especially since he suspended the G.B.C. for a period of time.

The motivation in the creation of the governing body is generally believed to have been to forge an improved, international, administrative arrangement. However, as has been already established, the chief motive behind the commission’s creation was to free up His Divine Grace from administrative and managerial entanglements. Prabhupäda would, as a result, ideally have had more freedom to work on his translations and commentaries, without spending so much time in the matter of management.

The G.B.C. plan was brahminical, and it included having the commissioners answer questions for the devotees, as well as tending to the individual problems of those men and women. Prabhupäda wanted to remain in the background, giving directions only when required and mostly to his direct representatives, the members of the governing body.

The sanctioned purpose of the Governing Body Commission was to act as the instrument for the execution of the will of His Divine Grace Çréla Prabhupäda. The G.B.C. was to brahminically oversee management of ISKCON as it received direction from Prabhupäda, and His Divine Grace had final approval in connection to everything. That was how it was supposed to have operated, but that is not how it actually played out, however.

Çréla Prabhupäda was hopeful, as indicated in its charter, that the Commission would be able to maintain his movement in a bona fide manner once he left the scene. Still–even as early as September, 1970–Prabhupäda was apprehensive about what he called the great sinister movementthat had entered his Society. In a letter to one of the commissioners, he reiterated an oft-repeated provisional theme, i.e., if an integral condition was not met, then the poisonous influence (introduced by the four sannyäsés) would fester. Prabhupäda confirmed that he had transferred much of the administrative power to the G.B.C., and that the poison could not act as long as his commissioners remained spiritually strong.

He had invested the G.B.C. with some power to maintain the standard of the Kåñëa Consciousness Society on his behalf, but they had to remain vigilant and spiritually stout in order to keep that power. Another way of saying the same thing is that they had to, individually and collectively, not misuse free will.

Rectifying one subversive situation by replacing it with another is not a formula for success, but the middle of 1970 was still over a year previous to the centralization scheme of April, 1972. Prabhupäda was hopeful about the prospects of his governing body in 1970; this was evidenced in some letters. He had formed the GBC for the purpose of fulfilling the order of his own spiritual master, as well as to keep devotional standards at the highest level. He was, in 1970 and 1971, hopeful that his G.B.C. would administrate in such a way that he could be completely relieved from management and begin translating and commenting upon more and more Vaiñëava texts. The whole scheme was experimental and provisional, which means that God and Satan were in the details.

According to the protocol authorized by him, whatever idea a commissioner had, he was to introduce it by letter and distribute copies to all G.B.C. members, along with one copy to Prabhupäda. If the majority of the G.B.C. supported the idea, then it could be carried out. When a G.B.C. majority opinion was ascertained, Prabhupäda’s vote would be “yes” or “no.” In most cases, he predicted it would be “yes,” unless the resolution was grievously against Vaiñëava principles . . .

Those were his exact words, by the way.

In November of 1970, he made it clear that new commissioners could only become so if he appointed them, and that the body would remain constituted as per its original members. In letter after letter throughout 1970-1971, he emphasized the importance of responsibility and purity in connection to this governing body. Only if his orders and the provisions of its charter were met could it operate successfully. He also indicated that he was still the authority of the movement, and that management at all levels must remain ever aware of that transcendent fact.

As such, caution was called for, and he explicitly wrote that he did not want any temple presidents having their autonomous managing capacity interfered with, reiterating that this could not happen as long as his managers (at all levels) kept the order of their spiritual master front and center. He confirmed that, in the disciplic succession of Lord Caitanya, if management simply abided by the orders of the Founder-Äcärya in disciplic succession, everything should and would proceed quite nicely.

But, of course, it didn’t.

There was a blip in August, 1971. Prabhupäda wrote a letter to one of his temple presidents confirming that the G.B.C. was not meant to control any center but simply to see that devotional activities (brahminical) there were going on nicely. He specifically wrote that it is not the business of the G.B.C. to exert absolute authority, confirming that this was not within the power of the governing body. Before anything could be imposed upon any temple president, all of the G.B.C. members had to be consulted. He also wrote that the Commission was simply in an experimental stage, that more work was required in order to bring it to the point where it could effectively oversee the administration of an international movement.These excerpts have been reproduced.

The Centralization Scheme

Telegram to Select G.B.C.s, April 6, 1972

“I beg to inform you that recently some of the Governing Body Commission members held a meeting at New York on 25th through 28th March, 1972, and they have sent me a big, big minutes, duplicated, for my consideration and approval, but, in the meantime, they have decided some appointments without consulting me. One of the items which struck me very much is as follows:

Ätreya Åñi däs was selected to be the Secretary for G.B.C. and receive all correspondence, including monthly reports.”

I never appointed Ätreya Åñi member of the G.B.C., and I do not know how he can be appointed Secretary to G.B.C. without my sanction.

He was also appointed to be on the Management Committee with Karandhara for the purpose of supervising ISKCON business and implementing the decisions reached by G.B.C.”

This has very much disturbed me. Çrémän Ätreya Åñi däs may be very expert, but, without my say, he has been given so much power, and this has upset my brain.”
Memo to All Presidents, April 8, 1972

“Under these circumstances, I AUTHORIZE YOU TO DISREGARD . . . ANY DECISION FROM THE G.B.C. MEN UNTIL MY FURTHER INSTRUCTION. You manage your affairs peacefully and independently, and try to improve the spiritual atmosphere of the centers more carefully. I shall be very glad to know the names of your assistants, such as Secretary, Treasurer and Accountant. Finally, I beg to repeat that ALL G.B.C. ORDERS ARE SUSPENDED HEREWITH BY ME UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.”
Memo to All Presidents, April 8, 1972

In the early part of 1972, without informing either Prabhupäda or another four G.B.C. members about it, eight commissioners convened a meeting (allegedly via a quorum of seven) in order to make changes. There were a number of votes taken. At that time, by unanimous or majority vote, these G.B.C. representatives appointed a new man to some kind of fabricated post with a great deal of power. This devotee held an influential job at an upscale investment firm in New York City. The rogue plan entailed centralizing all temples and revenues, the latter being then bundled and invested into an account at the new man’s investment house.

One of the G.B.C. commissioners who was present for these votes–and more or less duped by the whole initiative (change)–wrote a letter to Prabhupäda, duly informing him of the proceedings and conclusions that were scheduled to soon be enacted–or were already being enacted.

At least one of the commissioners (especially gung-ho about the new arrangement) immediately acted on it. In his upper Midwest zone, thriving centers in important preaching locations—Columbus, Cleveland, Chicago, and Madison—were all closed down by order of that commissioner. These centers were making devotees on a regular basis, were practically self-sufficient, and the movement had been expanding nicely in those important cities.

However, they were shuttered, and all their devotees, money, and machines were centralized in Detroit. Soon, collections were to be turned in there and then funneled to New York. Supposedly, this would increase profits for the movement via sophisticated and lucrative investments with monies “the thirteenth commissioner” thus received.

Prabhupäda nipped this conspiracy. He had thought that the G.B.C. would relieve him from having to deal with complaints and problems, but, even in late 1971, he acknowledged that the new G.B.C. managerial arrangement had thus far proven counter-productive. Now there was this, so His Divine Grace, in early April, 1972, ordered the G.B.C. suspended.

In doing so, he sent a Memo to all of his Temple Presidents, informing them to disregard any and all orders from the G.B.C. That order has been extensively reproduced at the beginning of this section. In other words, Prabhupäda returned his movement back to the previous arrangement, where the order of the Lord worked directly through him and then, in turn, through the temple president.

Prabhupäda was shocked that his right-hand men could do such things without consulting him, making big, big changes within the Society without even seeking his opinion or that of the other four commissioners. He was exasperated by it, perplexed why it had been done. He had appointed twelve senior initiated disciples and given each of them zones for brahminical administration. In one meeting, however, eight of them hadchanged everything.

So what was this? He wrote that he did not know. He reiterated that the new man at the investment firm had no position in Prabhupäda’s overall plan on how to manage the Society; he demanded that devotee’s immediate removal.

This event in early 1972 was a harbinger of what the power faction within the G.B.C. would do just a little over six years later, exploiting three words in Prabhupäda’s will as technical justification for the unauthorized concoction of an Acärya Board, along with the creation of eleven bogus gurus, falsely alleging them to be on the highest platform of spiritual purity. Factually, this power faction did not want to be checked in anything by anyone, including less-powerful G.B.C. representatives, but Prabhupäda did check them in 1972, viz., he suspended their operation and transferred all of their power back to his temple presidents.

Throughout the remainder of that year, he would refer back to the incident. In the second week of April, the wound was still raw. He wrote that he was surprised none of the G.B.C. members detected the defects in the procedure of the meeting until knowledge of it came to him. He wondered what would happen to his movement when he left the scene, and he answered his own rhetorical question with another one: Shall everything be spoiled by GBC?

This particular letter was quoted at the beginning of Part Five.

He said that the Commission had to remain suspended until he revised its procedure. At that time, the G.B.C. failed the spiritual master by an act of commission. They failed him, being unable to resist a temptation to create what they rationalized was an upgrade to his movement; they flunked in an unsuccessful attempt to transform the management and financial structure of ISKCON.

By late July of 1973, they would fail another test, but this would be by an act of omission. Although the Governing Body’s charter called for elections no later than July, 1973, such elections were never held then or at any later date. Prabhupäda was never consulted about this neglect of the Direction of Management particulars, but he most definitely should have been consulted!

Indeed, except for the temple presidents who were also original G.B.C. appointees, most, if not all, of the other presidents in the movement were never even made aware of the directive (by the commissioners of their zones) that they had a fiduciary responsibility mandated in the Direction of Management. The fact that His Divine Grace much later, in 1977, decided to grandfather in the commissioners (still on the board at that time) and to nullify the voting requirement mandated by the Direction of Management neither condones nor justifies this falldown by the G.B.C. men in 1973. They were obliged to seek confirmation of their course of action well before Prabhupäda departed physical manifestation.

A Change in Direction

“I made the G.B.C. to give me relief, but if you do like this, then where is the relief? It is anxiety for me. This is the difficulty, that, as soon as one gets power, he becomes whimsical and spoils everything. What can I do?”
Letter to Hansadutta, 9-12-74

“ . . . we have created these G.B.C. So, they should be very responsible men. Otherwise, they will be punished. They will be punished to become a çüdra. Although Yamaräja is a G.B.C., but he made a little mistake. He was punished to become a çüdra. So, those who are GBC’s, they should be very, very careful to administer the business of ISKCON. Otherwise they will be punished. As the post is very great, similarly, the punishment is also very great.”
Platform Lecture in Geneva, Switzerland, 6-4-74



1). It is declared that His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupäda is the Founder-Acharya of (ISKCON) International Society for Krishna Consciousness. He is the supreme authority in all matters of the society. His position cannot be occupied by anyone else, and his name and title must appear on all documents, letterheads, publications, and buildings of the Society.”
Topmost Urgency Addendum, 6-22-74

It would not be the cakewalk they expected.

In 1971, Prabhupäda had mentioned that he did not find the G.B.C. agenda actually created effective programs to reform the anarthas of its own members. As such, although the duty of the body was to help each center remain spiritually strong, how could it carry out that essential responsibility if it was not extricating its members from their own bad habits?

Indeed, after the 1972 centralization fiasco, Prabhupäda wrote one of his G.B.C. men (a member of the ill-fated quorum) that he simply wanted the G.B.C. to see how his other students were doing and then report to him. He wondered how this commissioner, as part of the centralization scheme, could miss so many important points that were so clearly spelled out in the Direction of Management.

In another letter to a different commissioner (also one of the notorious eight), Prabhupäda, in February of 1973, reaffirmed that any G.B.C. conclusion had to be submitted to him in order for it to be eligible for final approval. Then, in March, he reaffirmed that the commissioners were still in training.

A mere four months after that, as mentioned above, these trainees somehow or other neglected to act on a key mandate in the Direction of Management. Prabhupäda appeared to let it go at that time—and, indeed, in 1977 did let it go—but that does not mean he was unaware of their failure to fulfill his order, a directive explicitly contained in the charter of the G.B.C., viz., the Direction of Management.

His tone changed in 1974, however. That June, he gave a lecture at the Geneva temple wherein he compared the G.B.C. men to the demigods in charge of universal administration. This excerpt has been reproduced, above. In this comparison, the demigod in charge of cosmic punishment had once made an error. Çréla Prabhupäda pointed out that Yamaräj, who he said was a kind of G.B.C. in charge of universal management, was punished for his neglect. Prabhupäda said that the G.B.C. men were in a similar situation.

They had to be careful to administer his movement properly. Because they had some power, the punishment for mismanagement would be great. He seemed to almost predict that they were going to be punished, indicating that they were not meeting the standard that their posts required. One month later, as we shall see, His Divine Grace acted on this warning in an official way, in a hard copy way.

He wrote a letter to another G.B.C. (also part of the fateful quorum) wherein he expressed exasperation. He said that the G.B.C. was supposed to be giving him relief from management, but they were simply creating even more anxiety for him. He then, in his own way, reiterated a well-known maxim: As soon as someone gets power, he becomes whimsical and spoils everything. The essence of this letter has been reproduced for your perusal, as well.

In the second-to-last day of September, 1974, he made it clear that the rules and regulations of the Direction of Management were still the law by which the G.B.C. was obliged to operate. In this letter (to a senior man not on the G.B.C.), Prabhupäda informed him that no individual commissioner had the power to change any temple president, that only by the vote of the G.B.C. body, along with Prabhupäda’s approval, could such a change transpire, as the final step in the process.

As of October of that year, the commissioners comprising the G.B.C. still numbered twelve, but only seven of the original members were still part of the body. These changes, however, happened separate from the scheduled 1973 vote, which did not take place (as has already been repeatedly noted). There had also been a change in connection to the prominent äçrama represented on the board: Most of the commissioners were, by 1974, no longer married students, but, instead, most of them had received sannyäsa.

In November of 1974, Prabhupäda wrote two letters on consecutive days to one of the original and then current G.B.C. men. His Divine Grace referred to the Direction of Management in both of these letters. This G.B.C. man wanted to replace two of the temple presidents in his zone, but Prabhupäda informed him that he could not do this unless all the devotees in each of those centers were consulted: They had to be allowed to vote on whether or not they approved that president being replaced. His Divine Grace referenced a particular rule in the Direction of Management charter which made it clear that this was the authorized procedure.

The G.B.C. had ignored the Direction of Management injunction in July of 1973, but Prabhupäda still referenced the document as the authority over a year after his commissioners had neglected to execute a key particular specified in it, viz., holding a vote mandated by it.

Nevertheless, he had referenced it in a much more direct way in the middle of 1974. Earlier that year, on July 22, 1974 to be exact, His Divine Grace had created an official Addendum that was to be amended to all official documents at all of his centers. This Addendum was entitled: AMENDMENTS TO BE IMMEDIATELY ADDED TO ALL OFFICIAL REGISTRATION DOCUMENTS, CONSTITUTIONS, INCORPORATION PAPERS, ETC. Above this title were two words: TOPMOST URGENCY. This Addendum was composed of two amendments.

Due to its importance, we shall again reproduce it:

The first one read: “It is declared that His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedänta Swämi Prabhupäda is the Founder-Äcärya of (ISKCON) International Society for Kåñëa Consciousness. He is the supreme authority in all matters of the Society. His position cannot be occupied by anyone else, and his name and title must appear on all documents, letterheads, publications, and buildings of the Society.”

The second amendment stated: “There shall be a Governing Board Committee of trustees appointed by the Founder-Äcärya, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedänta Swämi Prabhupäda, according to the document Direction of Management dated July 28, 1970. The G.B.C. is to act as the instrument for the execution of the will of His Divine Grace Çréla Prabhupäda.” It was signed in New York City by Çréla Prabhupäda and two G.B.C. men.

We see then that, in 1974, Prabhupäda still considered the Direction of Management to be the document ruling over the governing body itself. We see it thus reiterated that the G.B.C. had no independent power separate from the sanction of His Divine Grace, the supreme authority of his Society. We see that Prabhupäda had the sole power, at that time, to appoint commissioners and/or replace others.

This affirmation may well have been related to the failure of the G.B.C. to act the previous year, i.e., its failure to hold elections according to the Direction of Management charter almost certainly precipitated the TOPMOST URGENCY Addendum. Coincidentally, in the same month of that failure, but one year later, the Addendum emerged. Does its emergence indicate that Prabhupäda was pleased with the Commission? Or was he obviously displeased with it? Why else would such an Addendum have had to have been created?

It had one element that was very new, viz., that Prabhupäda also ordered that this TOPMOST URGENCY Addendum be attached to all important legal documents. Although it would have been very difficult to have attached it to some of the Articles of Incorporation in America, it could quite easily have been attached to any individual center’s By-Laws. As could only have been expected, in light of their abysmal track record in this connection, the Addendum was never attached to any legal or official document whatsoever by either G.B.C. men or by any temple presidents . . . until much later, and that was in one center only on the West Coast.

In the mid-Seventies, His Divine Grace was giving them all a chance to come to their senses, to remember that they were not independent, to remember that they were still supposed to be completely under his authority, as well as under the directives of the Direction of Management, which represented him. He was making it problematic for the power faction within the G.B.C. to overcome the direction he wanted his movement to take, even before he departed. Most importantly, he was planting seeds that would sprout in due course of time.

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1 comment

1 premi nitai das { 01.12.14 at 16:57 }

Just a simple thank you for all the hard work.

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