Chakra Announcements

Daily Reports GBC Meetings - Day 2 - 17th Of February 2006

by Lilasuka (das) BCS (GBC Secretariat)

Posted March 1, 2006

After the kirtana and Bhagavatam reading (5.10.14), Day 2 of the GBC meetings began with a continuation of the proposals that have been gone through by the GBC Deputies. Aniruddha Prabhu presented to the body mandates, mission statements and proposals regarding the Ministries of Book Distribution, Health and Welfare, and Arts. This stimulated a discussion about roles of Ministries and their funding, topics which will be further discussed by the Deputies.

Other proposals were also discussed and voted on, such as the system of voting by correspondence and Praghosa Prabhu's status in his role as Chief Coordinating Officer of the GBC. Two guru-related proposals led to lengthy discussion.

The second part of the day's meetings was devoted to a presentation by HH Jayadvaita Swami entitled "Unity in Perversity", which was a summary of a five day seminar he gave at Radhadesh on religious history, the sociology of religion, and where ISKCON stands in this regard.

The presentation was well-researched and thought-provoking. Topics covered included how schisms are an inherent part of religious movements worldwide, giving particular reference to Christianity; how different sects within religious movements feel they are more faithful to the tradition; how opposition to each other is a core element of these sects, etc.

A major topic dealt with how movements founded by a charismatic leader are affected upon his departure, how the followers relate to the authority of the new leader or leaders, how the devotion and enthusiasm created by the founder is no longer as pronounced as both the new leaders and followers consider their own needs and how despite the problems, the only way for the movement to survive is to institutionalize and regulate itself.

Maharaja then talked about schisms in Gaudiya Vaisnava history, particularly in relation to ISKCON after Srila Prabhupada, and the current status of other Gaudiya movements, particularly those who are interested in cooperating with ISKCON. He noted that many of these groups are going through similar patterns that ISKCON encountered.

He stressed on how to avoid schisms by not necessarily dealing with differences in a negative, combative way, but through dialogue.

Maharaja closed with ten recommendations which nicely encapsulate his presentation:

  1. Recognize that post-charismatic dilemmas are an inevitable part of ISKCON's existence.

  2. Recognize that efforts to shut down or drive out dissenters-while sometimes perhaps required or inevitable-have only limited effectiveness, and may sometimes backfire.

  3. Recognize the value of the diversity of views among ISKCON members, on all sorts of issues.

  4. Continue to support and encourage ISKCONResolve and the ombuds and mediation services it offers.

  5. Encourage "safety-valve institutions"-that is, opportunities for members to raise issues and blow off steam (such as the GBC open door sessions).

  6. In response to competition, recognize that combative responses alone are likely to fail without improvements in your "product, marketing, and customer service."

  7. Recognize that the appearance of "competition" within ISKCON, for example, two seemingly competing temples in one region, may serve to promote rather than hinder the spread of Krsna consciousness.

  8. Recognize the post-charismatic phase some groups are entering and how that is likely to affect its members.

  9. Vigorously explore opportunities for reconciliation.

  10. Take advantage of opportunities to learn more from conflict theory, the sociology of organizations, and the history and sociology of religion.

Maharaja's presentation attracted a lively question and answer session. It was highly appreciated by the GBC members.