Daily Reports GBC Meetings - Day 5,6 & 7
Posted March 8, 2006
This morning's pre-meeting kirtana was led by HH Bhaktisvarupa Damodar Swami and the verse read was Srimad Bhagavatam, 4.30.35.
This was followed by more proposals from the Deputies, such as the review of ISKCON Ministries. The Deputies suggested that some Ministries may better be seen as "International Offices" or "Standing Commitees". This led to a discussion about the roles of Ministries. The GBCs noted that even important and active divisions like the CPO and ISKCONResolve are not termed as Ministries.
Tamohara Prabhu of the CPO proposed a resolution that child abusers convicted by courts should automatically be restricted by ISKCON.
Another proposal, from Malati Devi Dasi, was that New Vrindavan be officially recognized as an ISKCON Memorial, like the Mayapur and Vrindavan Samadhis. Srila Prabhupada placed great emphasis on and spent a lot of time at New Vrindavan. This proposal would serve to recognize New Vrindavan's special status and encourage the residents there.
The second half of the day passed in Sub-committee meetings of the North American GBC, the CIS GBC, and the GBC Deputies.
February 21 was a full rest day. A boat excursion on the Ganga was arranged for all meeting attendees.
The day began with reading from SB 4.31.12 and continued with further proposals from the Deputies.
The creation of a Task Force on Abuse of Women was mooted. The Task Force would operate in conjuction with Tamohara Prabhu of the CPO and the GBC Chief Coordinating Officer. Sudharma Dasi of the Women's Ministry expressed the need of separating the activities of the Task Force from the Women's Ministry which has a more positive portfolio.
"Researching the Need for Reinitiation" proposed a definitive answer to this long-standing question. Jayapataka Swami noted that formal reinitiation is a question of faith of a devotee whose guru is no longer acting in that capacity. Having a siksa-guru, however, is imperative for all. Bhakti Caru Swami added that ISKCON as an institution provides shelter even for those whose guru has left which is an historically unique situation.
Jayadvaita Swami's proposal on proper and improper prasadam distribution in ISKCON provoked a lively discussion on Srila Prabhupada's desires in this regard. Prasadam distribution attracts government help, creates good will, and is an act of compassion, but at the same time it can develop into karmakanda if not done in the proper way. It was decided that this topic would be discussed further in a special sub-committee.
Bhakti Caru Swami, on behalf of Giriraja Swami and Radhanath Swami, made a presentation about the Vrindavan Hospice. The land for the Hospice has already been purchased, the plan for the building has been finalised and construction is due to begin in June this year, ending in December 2007. The Hospice will provide nursing care, pain management, comfort care, symptom management, cremation, spiritual care, memorial services, and grieving and healing and support for the family of the deceased Vaisnava.
The Hospice will consist of two guest rooms, eight patient rooms each with pantry, heating, and air-conditioning, TV and audio coverage from the Krsna Balarama Temple, plus laundry services, an ambulance, library, and garden.
Aniruddha Prabhu then presented the progress of ISKCON Law book Revision 2006. The Law Book Committee is editing the present outdated and cumbersome law book and is asking the GBC members for comments.
There was further discussion on the previously discussed proposals such as "Encouraging Srila Prabhupada disciples to Initiate, "Discipline of Officials", and "ISKCON Manager's Meetings."
The rest of the morning was devoted to a special presentation by Sivarama Swami entitled "Advanced Nectar of Devotion in the context of the worldwide preaching movement."
The origin of this presentation was a question by GBC EC Chairman, Devamrita Swami, as to what one should do while chanting Hare Krsna: simply hear the name or meditate on Krsna's pastimes?
Sivarama Swami presented various considerations on this topic based on Srila Prabhupada's Nectar of Devotion with additional quotations from Bhaktivinoda Thakur and other acaryas. Unsteady devotees are advised to concentrate on hearing the holy name. From proper hearing, further realizations will appear sequentially corresponding to the stages of Anartha-nivrtti (hearing), Nistha (form), Ruci (qualities), Asakti (pastimes), and Bhava (spiritual revelation).
Devotees at different stages of advancement engage in different kinds of cultivation, but whatever their level of advancement, devotees must externally conduct themselves as madhyama-bhaktas. Devotees situated on the spontaneous platform must cultivate that internally and privately.
This is particularly relevant in a spiritual institution like ISKCON.
The presentation was appreciated by the GBC body and drew many comments. In
particular Bhakti Caru Swami applauded the presentation and said that this
was the most enlivening part of the meetings. He also elaborated on
Maharaja's points with particular reference to Lord Caitanya and the