Srila Prabhupada warns of GBC deviation
"The GBC (Governing Body Commission) has been established by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to represent Him in carrying out the responsibility of managing the international Society for Krishna Consciousness of which He is the Founder-Acarya and supreme authority. The GBC accepts as its life and soul His divine instructions and recognizes that it is completely dependent on His mercy in all respects. The GBC has no other function or purpose other than to execute the instructions so kindly given by His Divine Grace and preserve and spread his teachings to the world in their pure form".
(GBC Resolution No. 1, 1975)
As soon as Srila Prabhupada departed, the GBC went beyond their call of duty (the above GBC Resolution). They minimised Srila Prabhupada's position as Guru and artificially became gurus themselves, and it is a fact that Srila Prabhupada prophetically warned of these deviant tendencies, as we can see here below:
Srila Prabhupada: "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." (Srila Prabhupada Letter, April 11th, 1972)
GBC dictatorship condemned
"GBC members are simply to see that things are going on. Other centers have got president, secretary, etc. and they are managing separately. That is the formula. So how is it that the GBC are the final authority? They are simply to examine that things are going on nicely, that is all." (Srila Prabhupada Letter, July 9th, 1971)
"GBC does not mean to control a center. GBC means to see that the activities of a center go on nicely. I do not know why Tamal is exercising his 'absolute authority.' That is not the business of GBC. The president, treasurer, and secretary are responsible for managing the center. GBC is to see that things are going nicely but not to exert absolute authority. That is not in the power of GBC. Tamal should not do like that. The GBC men cannot impose anything on the men of a center without consulting all of the GBC members first. A GBC member cannot go beyond the jurisdiction of his power." ( Letter to Girirāj, 8-12-71)
"GBC men should not dictate very much, simply supervise and see that the standards are maintained."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, February 14th, 1972)
GBC’s actual function
“The GBC should all be the instructor gurus. I am the initiator guru, and you should be the instructor guru by teaching what I am teaching and doing what I am doing. This is not a title, but you must actually come to this platform. This I want.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, August 4th, 1975)
GBC ambition leads to falldown
“It is now evident that some of our top men are very much ambitious and there has been so many fall-downs.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, January 27th, 1975)
“But the difficulty is that our GBC men are falling victim to maya. Today I trust this GBC and tomorrow he will fall down. That is the difficulty. If the GBC men are so flickering then what to speak of the others. Unless this problem is solved whatever we may resolve it will not be very useful.” (Srila Prabhupada Letter, December 16th, 1974)
GBC’s guru programme condemned
“Our mission is to serve bhakta-visesa and live with devotees. Not that you take the place of the guru. That is nonsense, very dangerous. Then everything will be spoiled. As soon as you become ambitious to take the place of guru—gurusu nara-matih. That is the material disease.” (Srila Prabhupada Conversation, April 20th, 1977)
“Now has the GBC become more than Guru Maharaja? As if simply GBC is meant for looking after pounds, shilling, pence. The GBC does not look after spiritual life. That is a defect.” (Srila Prabhupada Letter, November 10th, 1975)
GBC punishment will be very great
“Therefore we have created these GBC. So they should be very responsible men. Otherwise, they will be punished. They will be punished to become a sudra. Although Yamaraja is a GBC, but he made a little mistake. He was punished to become a sudra. 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.” (Srila Prabhupada Lecture, June 4th, 1974)
Future GBC destruction of ISKCON predicted
“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.” (Srila Prabhupada Letter, April 11th, 1972)
“I made the GBC 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.” (Srila Prabhupada Letter, September 12th, 1974 )
“I am training some of my experienced disciples how to manage after my departure. So if instead of taking the training, if in my lifetime you people say I am the Lord of all I survey, that is dangerous conspiracy.” (Srila Prabhupada Letter, October 8th, 1974)
Srila Prabhupada's instructions for the GBC
Srila Prabhupada: "I am practically seeing that as soon as they, our students, begin to learn a little Sanskrit, they immediately feel they have become more than their guru. Then the policy is to kill their guru and become guru themselves". "As soon as he learns that Guru Maharaj is dead, now I am so advanced I can kill guru and become guru. Then he is finished." (Srila Prabhupada 1976).
NOT THAT YOU TAKE THE PLACE OF GURU. THAT IS NONSENSE, VERY DANGEROUS. Then everything will be spoiled. As soon as you become AMBITIOUS to TAKE THE PLACE of GURU -gurusuh nara matih. That is MATERIAL DISEASE.
(Srila Prabhupada Conversation - April 20, 1977)
Srila Prabhupada: "The GBC should all be the instructor gurus. I am the initiator guru, and you should be the instructor guru by teaching what I am teaching and doing what I am doing. This is not a title, but you must actually come to this platform. This is what I want." (Letter to Madhudvisa 4 Aug, 1975)
Srila Prabhupada: "I am the Spiritual Master of this institution, and ALL the members of the Society, they're supposed to be MY disciples. They follow the rules and regulations which I ask them to follow, and they are INITIATED BY ME spiritually" - (Srila Prabhupada Radio Interview, 12 March 1968, San Francisco)
Srila Prabhupada: "I wish that each and every branch shall keep their separate identity and cooperate keeping the acharya in the center. On this principle we can open any number of branches all over the world. The Rama Krishna mission works on this principle and thus as an organization they have done wonderfully." (letter 11th Feb. 1967)
Srila Prabhupada: "Now has our GBC become more than Guru Maharaja? As if simply GBc is meant for looking after pounds, shillings and pence. The GBC does not look after spiritual life. That is a defect" (Srila Prabhupada Letter - November 10, 1975)
Srila Prabhupada: Don't be allured by cheap disciples. Go on steadfastly to render service first. If you immediately become guru, then the service activities will be stopped; and as there are so many cheap gurus and cheap disciples, without any substantial knowledge, and manufacturing new sampradayas, and with service activities stopped, and all spiritual progress choked up. (SPL (VI 1987) 68.8.17)
Srila Prabhupada: We haven't got to manufacture. To manufacture ideas is troublesome. Why should we take the trouble? And as soon as you want to manufacture something to my...., that is DANGEROUS. ...That you are singing every day, "what our guru has said, that is our life and soul." ...As soon as this POISON will come -suppress guru and I become Brahman- everything FINISHED. Spiritual life is finished. Gaudiya Matha finished, ...VIOLATED the orders of Guru Maharaja.
...And as soon as you manufacture, fall down. This manufacturing idea is very, very dangerous in spiritual life. ...Our mission is to serve bhakta visesa and live with devotees. NOT THAT YOU TAKE THE PLACE OF GURU. THAT IS NONSENSE, VERY DANGEROUS. Then everything will be spoiled. As soon as you become AMBITIOUS to TAKE THE PLACE of GURU -gurusuh nara matih. That is MATERIAL DISEASE. (Srila Prabhupada Conversation - April 20, 1977)
Srila Prabhupada: He [Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaja] never recommended anyone to be acharya of the Gaudiya Math.... If Guru Maharaja could have seen someone who was qualified at that time to be acharya, he would have mentioned. Because on the night before he passed away he talked of so many things, but never mentioned an acharya. Therefore we may not commit the same mistake in our ISKCON camp. (Srila Prabhupada, letter to Rupanuga das, April 28, 1974)
Srila Prabhupada: "So far as personal association with Guru is concerned, I was only with Guru Maharaj 4 or 5 times, but I have never left his association, not even for a moment. Because I am following his instruction, I have never felt any separation. There are some of my Godbrothers here in India, who had constant personal association with Guru Maharaja, but who are neglecting his orders."
Srila Prabhupada gave clear instructions for the GBC to follow
"Therefore we have created these GBC. So they should be very responsible men. Otherwise they will be punished. They will be punished to become sudra. Although Yamaraja is a GBC, but he made a little mistake. He was punished to become a sudra. So those who are GBCs, 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." (Srila Prabhupada Lecture - June 4, 1974)
"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." (Srila Prabhupada Letter - April 11, 1972)
"I am training some of my experienced disciples how to manage after my departure. So if instead of taking the training, if in my lifetime you people say I am the Lord of all I survey, that is dangerous conspiracy." (Srila Prabhupada Letter - September 12, 1974)
"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." (Letter Rupanuga, 72-04-04)
"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. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI (Memo to all Iskcon temple presidents, April 6, 1972)
"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." (Memo to all Iskcon temple presidents Sydney, 8 April, 1972)
"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.
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.
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." (Letter to Satsvarupa, 72-04-10, Dallas)
"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?
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. (Letter to Hamsaduta, 72-04-11, Hamburg)
Prabhupada: So there is nothing to be said new. Whatever I have to speak, I have spoken in my books. Now you try to understand it and continue your endeavor. Whether I am present or not present, it doesn't matter. "I shall remain your personal guidance, physically present or not physically, as I am getting personal guidance from my guru maharaja" (Srila Prabhupada to Tamal Krishna, 14 July 1977)
73-11-25. Letter: Cidananda "Srila Prabhupada on the Role of the GBC"
I should be returning to Los Angeles the last week of November and I should be more than happy to see you there. Please always try to remember me by my teachings and we shall always be together. Just like I have written in the first publications of Srimad-Bhagavatam, "THE SPIRITUAL MASTER LIVES FOREVER BY HIS DIVINE INSTRUCTION AND THE DISCIPLE LIVES WITH HIM.", because I have always served my Guru Maharaja and followed His teachings I am now even never separated from Him. Sometimes Maya may come and try to interfere but we must not falter, we must always follow the chalked out path layed down by the great acharya's and in the end you will see.
Srila Prabhupada: "This is the function of the GBC, to see that one may not be taken away by maya. The GBC should all be the instructor gurus. I am the initiator guru, and you should be the instructor guru by teaching what I am teaching and doing what I am doing. This is not a title, but you must actually come to this platform. This is what I want." (to Madhudvisa 4 Aug, 1975)
By Dasarath Das, Aug 21, SEDONA, ARIZONA, USA:
Srila Prabhupada wasn’t a conditioned soul like us: he didn’t commit mistakes, didn’t have imperfect senses, wasn’t illusioned, and didn’t have the tendency to cheat others. That is part of the definition of an actually liberated soul. What follows is a definition, in Srila Prabhupada’s own words, of the GBC’s duties:
“GBC does not mean to control a center. GBC means to see that the activities of a center go on nicely. I do not know why Tamala is exercising his absolute authority. That is not the business of GBC. The president, treasurer and secretary are responsible for managing the center. GBC is to see that things are going nicely but not to exert absolute authority. That is not in the power of GBC. Tamala should not do like that.
The GBC men cannot impose anything on the men of a center without consulting all of the GBC members first. A GBC member cannot go beyond the jurisdiction of his power. We are in the experimental stage but in the next meeting of the GBC members they should form a constitution how the GBC members manage the whole affair. But it is a fact that the local president is not under the control of the GBC. Yes, for improvement of situations such as this I must be informed of everything.” (Letter to: Giriraja — London 12 August, 1971)
Srila Prabhupada, when he was personally present, was the checks and balances on the decisions of the GBC. Now however, the only checks and balances is carried out by the GBC members themselves. And when some member does go “off” or beyond the threshold of their power and responsibility of deputation, it is the GBC only that becomes the “judge and jury”.
Unfortunately, that does leave a huge loophole for possible abuse. Many devotees who are or used to be in the formal ISKCON organization have witnessed that without their ever well-wisher, Srila Prabhupada, in the foreground and background of the ISKCON Society, standing ready to correct any situation that needS be, placing all the executive, legislative, and judicial policies in the hands of the exclusive GBC members doesn’t always equal justice, what to speak of accountability.
Why do we have to constantly be dependent on our imperfect and speculative approaches to solutions, and utterly faithful to their innate but defective choice of “change everything for change’s sake”, a fault that Srila Prabhupada pointed out was in our American psyche? Srila Prabhupada left an authorized and hand-signature document to protect his Society on a management level, that would disallow the GBC from having too much power — power that could even lead to corruption and breed a disregard of fellow Vaishnavas, who are the major body of the Sankirtan Movement. Power does sometimes offer an infesting place for blindness to reason, callousness to the welfare of others, and disregard of the whole picture for the sake of one’s own, or for “my wants”. None of such turbulence has a place in Lord Caitanya’s Sankirtan Movement. It is only to purify the heart.
Yes, the document is indeed there, but perhaps locked carefully away in the GBC’s archives - Srila Prabhupada’s "Direction of Management". Safeguards for protecting all the managers of Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON - both temple presidents and the GBC persons themselves, are thoughtfully and logically presented by the pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada himself, with an inclusive system to keep the “growing moss of illusion and attachment” from the head and heart of ISKCON’s managers and “watchdogs”. It’s a rotation system of responsibility, accountability, and also carefully maintains our most important bhakti principle of renunciation. It’s special contribution of content is in guiding the most important level of leadership of our ISKCON Society, the GBC or Governing Body Commission, in maintaining both it’s effectiveness of leadership, performance, and purity, supervised by the bigger body of ISKCON managers - the temple presidents.
One excuse often raised, why not to implement this saving and sacred document, which was chalked out by our Founder-Acarya, is the false impression and pride that “no one else is qualified to replace me”. Overlook and excuse the mistakes that such a person makes in their duration of office, what to speak of the mistake of falling prey to false prestige, the mentality that they and only they can guide and protect our ISKCON Society. But, isn’t it “Krishna who is the ability in man”? And how many times did Srila Prabhupada say that if you are sincere (keyword - ’sincere’) Krishna will give you the intelligence to perform your service? We have all seen that in our personal devotional lives. On the other hand, sometimes people in high positions of control cannot even see their own weaknesses due to the blindness and infection of attachment to control and false prestige, which the position itself, or the wrong assimilation of it, may appear to create.
Another excuse is an old one, that is cautioned by our acaryas - that of tenaciously clinging to the illusion of position, to the material power, and the thrills and frills it provides. This mantra is not in Rupa Goswami’s Upadesamrta, however.
The last excuse is that the GBC person is there for life, which some give evidence from Srila Prabhupada’s own words during his last days. Ideally, if the GBC person is responsible, capable, pure and loyal, and effective as a “grower” of the mission, honest, unattached, etc., then the service he may offer may be valuable for some time. But what if there become apparent issues of accountability and lack of performance, and maybe even an occasional rise of corruption? Then the body of the GBC is “locked” in a mechanism only they have access to - of right, denial, and sanction. That is the danger, and something Srila Prabhupada protects his ISKCON Society from, and even the GBC persons themselves from, in his “Direction of Management” proclamation and device.
95% of the leadership of ISKCON, the temple presidents, are completely subordinate to this exclusive club of the GBC, whereby the temple presidents have been put outside “the locked doors”, and have no bearing or reaction reference to enforce both performance and accountability in the GBC. In today’s GBC system of management, the temple president’s are lucky to govern their own temples, if the GBC doesn’t manipulate their removal by even unethical means, as recently happened in the USA in the Phoenix temple.
Srila Prabhupada’s “Direction of Management” paints a different picture of cooperation and trust between the two most important levels of management in ISKCON. Accountability, or lack of it, is not tilted in that scenario in favor of the GBC. That would be dangerous in any corporation management scheme. Why? As the old saying goes, “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. We have to protect all our leaders from that pitfall, what to speak of Srila Prabhupada’s mission. Srila Prabhupada was thoughtful enough, and intelligent enough, to consider all options, opportunities, and also deviations in protecting and maintaining “his” Society. In following the “Direction of Management”, ISKCON remains his, and does not become the GBC’s or the initiating guru’s, and leaves no room for infestation of misuse or abuse of powers.
Anyone who does want to abuse Srila Prabhupada’s authority, may be very reluctant and non-receptive to this proposal. But where then, is their action and proposal for GBC accountability??? There isn’t any, in discussion on the table or the floor, that I am aware of. And then, who is more intelligent in safe-guarding ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada or……?
Our example and present situation today is not hypothetical, but rather an urgent need for the protection and survival of the pure Bhakti Movement Srila Prabhupada founded. We, the temple presidents, should request and demand the immediate institution of the device, “Direction of Management”, which the father of our ISKCON has willed to all his “children”. As temple leaders, we all carry the will and mission of protecting and perpetuating Srila Prabhupada’s institution. Nothing else, not brains nor brawn, but “purity, is the force” in that matter.
Perhaps we cannot depend on the GBC to acknowledge the present need or even the emergency, of implementing Srila Prabhupada’s “Direction of Management”, or even to recognize the danger of giving themselves absolute authority with no accountability. But for other leaders in the ISKCON Society, the temple presidents, who also care very much about the welfare and perpetuance of this pure Sankirtan Movement, it is in my and many other senior devotee’s humble opinion that their responsibility lay in encouraging and pushing this golden management directive of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada to the forefront.
This can be a motto if you wish: “Direction of Management” equals automatic accountability and encourages better performance, and stabilization and fortification of purity in our GBC leadership”. As things filter down from the top, the Sankirtan Movement will surge with renewed force, as more love and trust circulates amongst the Vaishnavas, and between management levels of ISKCON. We have nothing to loose and everything to gain. Fear and apathy gets us nowhere. Please don’t sit on the side benches. Persons wishing to do so can contact me at:
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
Founder of two ISKCON temples and Sedona Center of Vedic Culture
Note: For those who wish to see the original Direction of Management document, they can simply Google -
Srila Prabhupada’s Direction of Management document.