Srila Prabhupada suspended the GBC for deviating from His instructions
Srila Prabhupada suspended the GBC
A secret GBC meeting was held March 25th-28th, 1972 in New York, with many GBC members present. In this meeting the GBC “elected” an accountant (Atreya Rsi) to the GBC post of secretary, and created a plan to completely centralize ISKCON (similar to how it is today). The purpose of this meeting was to overthrow the Direction of Management.
Atreya Rsi was a major accountant for Arthur Anderson, who later on headed the entire Arthur Anderson branch and presence in Tehran, Iran in the last years of the Shah.
Srila Prabhupada was not informed of this meeting and He was also not invited to this meeting. When He found out, Srila Prabhupada declared the meeting to be a conspiracy, dissolved the GBC, and stated that it was a great offense to Him to hold a secret meeting behind His back without His authority or permission, and wrote the following letters to this effect. Having dissolved the GBC, Srila Prabhupada later stated that He “reserves the right to nominate GBC during His lifetime”. The GBC may well have taken these words as Srila Prabhupada’s indications that elections would never be held again.
There are GBC resolutions from that year, they were sent to Srila Prabhupada in multiple copies for His approval, and they clarified the changes that they wanted for the GBC. A search is currently in progress to find the exact content of those illegal resolutions. We want to find the resolutions to prove or disprove that Srila Prabhupada was being asked to eliminate or bypass the Direction of Management and making ISKCON into a centralized corporate structure similar to how it is today, rather than the decentralized structure of independent temples that Srila Prabhupada clearly wanted to see occur (see letter to Karandhar).
My Dear Rupanuga,
Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated March 30, 1972 and the contents have greatly surprised me.
I had no intimation that you all GBC members have met and decided such big big issues without consulting me. So I have issued one letter in this regard to all of you and you may take note that I consider that both the meeting and the resolution is irregular and immediately there should be no change. Again, I am so much burdened by this administrative work that I feel great difficulty. I was very anxious to return to my Los Angeles home to sit down for translating work. But if you all, my right-hand men, are doing things without consulting me and making such big big changes within our society without getting my opinion and the opinion of all the GBC members then what can I do? I am so much perplexed why you all had done this. I have appointed originally 12 GBC members and I have given them 12 zones for their administration and management, but simply by agreement you have changed everything, so what is this, I don't know. You mentioned that you are taking great help from Atreya Rsi, but Atreya Rsi is not a member of GBC nor has he any position in my scheme to manage the whole society. And I am wondering what is Hamsaduta's idea to leave Germany and take larger position of power in the United States? I have just sent him one letter wherein I have told him to remain permanently in Germany and the German language countries. This is his best field, and I do not think that we shall change any of our managers throughout the world except as I shall direct.
Regarding MacMillan agreement, whatever is done with MacMillan company is done, so that can remain. The introduction by Mr. Dimock is nice and it will appeal to the scholarly class.
I am considering to fill up the two GBC posts which are now, vacant, one by the resignation of Krishna Dasa, and one by Tamala Krishna Goswami taking Sannyas. I am considering several persons, among them Kesava and Giriraja. I shall let you know when I have decided on these points. Meanwhile, you may inform the other GBC members that for the time being there shall be no change within the society and that they shall manage as before.
Hoping this meets you in good health.
Your ever well wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
[On April 6, 1972, the following message was dispatched by cable, one copy each to Karandhara, Rupanuga, and Hamsaduta.]
Letter to: All ISKCON Temple Presidents
MEMO TO ALL ISKCON TEMPLE PRESIDENTS:
YOUR MATERIAL LEGAL FORMULA WILL NOT HELP US. ONLY OUR SPIRITUAL LIFE CAN HELP US. HAMSADUTA MUST RETURN GERMANY IMMEDIATELY AND DONT LEAVE AGAIN. ATREYA RISHI HAS NO AUTHORITY FROM ME TO MANAGE ANYTHING. REMOVE HIM. I HAVE NO APPROVAL FOR ANY THESE PLANS. DONT CHANGE ANYTHING. ACKNOWLEDGE CABLE 26 RENNY STREET PADDINGTON SYDNEY.
[On the following morning, April 7, 1972, three replies were received:]
1. JAI! ALL MY MISGIVINGS CONFIRMED BY YOUR TELEGRAMS. RAISED STRONG OBJECTIONS AT GBC MEETINGS. LETTER SENT TO YOU ON 30TH ABOUT THIS. DETAILS TO FOLLOW. HAMSADUTA LEFT 30TH FOR GERMANY. ATREYA RISHI NOTIFIED. GBC NOTIFIED. NOTHING SIGNIFICANT CHANGED YET. DO NOT WORRY. HARE KRISHNA.
2. I WILL REMAIN IN GERMANY AND FOLLOW YOUR INSTRUCTION. WILL REMOVE ATREYA RISHI.
3. HAMSADUTA HAS RETURNED TO GERMANY. ATREYA REMOVED. AWAITING ANY FURTHER INSTRUCTION.
cc. All Temple Presidents.
APPROVED: A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Founder-Acarya, ISKCON
7 April, 1972
8 April, 1972
MEMO TO ALL ISKCON TEMPLE PRESIDENTS:
My dear ___
Please accept my blessings. 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:
"Atreya Rsi das was selected to be the Secretary for GBC and receive all correspondence including monthly reports.'' I never appointed Atreya Rsi member of the GBC, and I do not know how he can be appointed Secretary to GBC 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 GBC.'' This has very much disturbed me.
Sriman Atreya Rsi das may be very expert, but without my say he has been given so much power and this has upset my brain.
I also understand that immediate actions are going to take place even prior to my permission, and that, also, "without divulging to the devotees(!)''
I do not follow exactly what is the motive of the so-called GBC meeting, therefore I have sent the telegram which you will find attached herewith, and I have received the replies as well.
Under these circumstances, I AUTHORIZE YOU TO DISREGARD FOR THE TIME BEING ANY DECISION FROM THE GBC 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 GBC ORDERS ARE SUSPENDED HEREWITH BY ME UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
You may reply me at ISKCON Tokyo. Hoping this meets you in very good health and advanced spiritual mood.
Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
My dear Satsvarupa,
Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated March 17, 1972, and I am very much pleased to hear from you that everything is going nicely at our Gurukula school, and also that two travelling SKP parties from Dallas are having such good success by turning in $3000 to my Book Fund in one month only. That is such nice service to Krishna, and it is news that makes my heart gladdened. Actually, I have very great hope for these travelling parties, our Gurukula school, and all our other projects, that by engaging ourselves in these ways, so long we do not forget the purpose of such activity then we shall very much revise the nasty situation in the world as it exists present moment, and we shall observe that angelic persons like you all nice devotees will be very much prominent in public life everywhere. That is my hope. But I have been very much disturbed recently by the meeting which you all have had in New York, wherein you have passed so many resolutions and elected Atreya Rsi to GBC Secretary, and made so many other changes. I am very much puzzled by the whole business. Therefore I have not approved of it, and you may by now have received my letter why I have temporarily suspended the GBC. Let us not revive this old matter, but I want to know from you what is your opinion of the matter, and how is it that Hamsaduta and Atreya Rsi were able to persuade you all senior leaders of the Society to follow their foolish activities? Kindly inform.
From now on, the temples will operate independently and try to improve their spiritual life more carefully, so there is no more need for such financial arrangement of centralization, as you have proposed. Better you concentrate your time on improving Gurukula school, that is a huge task. You are responsible to train so many children in the highest knowledge of life, so that cannot be neglected in any way. You are also doing editing work, so I think that in these two ways you can remain yourself always busy in devotional service, without more work of management of many other temples required.
So far your statement, "Our final success will be when you actually sit tight and translate books and let us manage successfully,'' yes, that is my desire, but if you can do it or not, that has again disturbed me very much. Now I have given you everything, but I do not see that even the basic principles of advancement in spiritual life are always there, and sometimes there is tendency to neglect what is our real purpose of life, namely, to become mad after Krishna, and instead we become carried away by big big talk. So I am still thinking how things will go on.
Hoping this will meet you in good health.
Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
My dear Hamsaduta,
Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated April 7th, 1972, and I have noted the contents. The meeting of the GBC appeared to be very unconstitutional, because all the men were not informed or invited. Syamasundara was not invited, Sudama was not invited, Krishna das was not invited, Tamala Krishna was not invited, neither I was informed. Why? You cannot hold meeting of 8 persons without inviting the others. Seven may be a quorum, that's all right, but you cannot convene without a general announcement to all the members and myself, giving a proposed agenda, like that, the topics to be discussed, why the meeting is being called, etc. Then there is correspondence for deciding these things, and if there is great necessity, then meeting may be called, but not whimsically, only after much thought is given and there is clear intimation of all the members plus myself. Anything whatever is done is done, but the whole thing appeared to be giving all power to Atreya Rsi. I cannot understand why, instead of one GBC man, a person outside the Commission was given so much power, and there was to be immediate action without divulging the matter to the devotees. And I am surprised that none of the GBC 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 GBC? So for the time being, let the GBC activities be suspended until I thoroughly revise the whole procedure. In the meantime, you do your duty as president of Hamburg Temple, and try to improve spiritually. Our spiritual way should strictly observe the following points especially: (1). Neatness and cleanliness of all personal bodies. (I still see those who are initiated as Brahmins, they do not wash their hand after eating even; of course, there may be so many defects due to your births in non-Brahmin families, but how long it shall go on? It is very easy thing.); (2). Chanting 16 rounds daily. (I don't think everyone is following these principles.); (3) Temple worship, which should be performed rigidly between four and ten a.m.)
I find that the devotees are still sleeping up to six, seven o'clock. So in the GBC Agenda I do not find any such programs for reforming our past bad habits. So kindly as President of Hamburg center you try to observe yourself all the regulative principles and see all the members are following.
Recently I have received from one Sannyasi complaint about another Sannyasi who is not chanting regularly. So our view is that we shall be strictly following the rules and regulations. Monetary matters are secondary. On principle, we should better starve than neglect our rules and regulations. We are trying to present an ideal Society to the world, so although we are very rigidly following these principles, still, we are very liberal to everyone. For this reason we are being appreciated everywhere. So anyway, I am not at all dissatisfied with you, but it is my duty to point out the mistakes. You are in charge of the Germany organization. Please do it nicely there, not very much on the material side, more on the spiritual side. Example is better than precept. Every one of you must be the perfect examples, then everyone will follow.
Hoping this will meet you in good health, along with your good wife, Himavati devi dasi.
Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
Comment by Pratyatosa Dasa: I remember "my buddy," Atreya Rsi Dasa, giving me a blow-by-blow description of the infamous GBC meetings as they were being held in early 1972. He was obviously very excited and happy that he was finally being given some recognition by the GBC body for his talents. I got the distinct impression that he and many of the then current members of the GBC were "really on a trip" at the time.
"Later on in 1971, soon after I was initiated by Srila Prabhupada, I started “Hare Krishna Studios” in the Brooklyn temple sub-basement. As part of this project, I started ISKCON’s first (audio) cassette subscription service.
"Simultaneously, in Los Angeles, Krsnakanti started “Golden Avatara Productions.” As part of his project, he started ISKCON’s first radio show, “The Krishna Show,” which was aired on radio stations throughout the US.
"In early 1972, it was decided by the GBC that I should move my recording studio to Los Angeles, and merge with Golden Avatara Productions. I was fearful that the proposed future GBCs of New York would try and prevent me from taking Srila Prabhupada’s precious 1966 recordings with me, so I arranged to have them “smuggled” out of New York in the suitcase of the LA GBC man, Karandhara Prabhu.
"I got a “drive away” station wagon, and was able to fit all of my audio equipment in it, including my “cash cow,” an audio cassette duplicator which was capable of producing 7 high quality copies at a time.
"I clearly remember that I was laughing all the way to LA because the GBC of New York let me go. I was convinced that the only reason that he let me go was because he was under the illusion that he was going to be the new co-GBC of LA! I’m not sure how, but somehow I knew that this was not to be, so I thought that the whole thing was hilarious. As it turned out, the joke was on me, because I was allergic to the Los Angeles smog, so I was forced to leave LA, minus all of the equipment that I had worked so hard to accumulate. This was Krsna’s mercy upon me, because it taught me a valuable lesson in detachment. It turned out that Lord Sri Krsna had other plans for me."
I also remember Karandhara Prabhu telling me, soon after I arrived in LA, "Prabhupada didn't like that meeting that we had in NY." I distinctly remember me not being very surprised. Krishna is the controller. Even that bogus GBC meeting had some good results. Not only did it set a precedent, but it also allowed me to "escape from NY!"