GBC Meetings update
Posted February 19, 2004
The GBC meetings on the 12th and 13th were filled with sub-committee meetings discussing the following topics:
- Unity in Diversity--Srila Prabhupada instructed the GBC to discuss this topic every year in Mayapura.
- Parallel lines of authority--Srila Prabhupada set up the hierarchy of the GBC body, individual GBC members, and then temple presidents. But where do the spiritual masters fit into this? In Srila Prabhupada's time it was clear, but now what?
- How to keep devotees satisfied serving within ISKCON?
- Sannyasa Candidates committee: This year there is a large number of applications for sannyasa: 10. There are also 10 other sannyasa candidates going through the (generally) 5 year waiting period.
- France--There are difficult situations both in Paris and New Mayapura.
- BBT/GBC Relations--This is a standing committee that meets every year to try to ensure good communications and cooperation throughout the coming year.
- A number of regional meetings for GBCs in Russia, North America, Australasia, India and Europe. These are helpful for regional leaders to touch base with one another, and develop plans for the year.
GBC Meeting 14th of February 2004
Bhakti Caru Swami made a presentation on the 'Abhay Charan' video project. He finds this project a powerful means of familiarizing the public with Srila Prabhupada's life. He showed The latest episodes of this docudrama to the GBC body.
GBC Meeting 15th of February 2004
On behalf of the Sastric Advisory Committee (SAC), Purnacandra Prabhu presented the paper "LOOKING FOR A GURU? THE CHOICE IS YOURS!". The paper is in a draft form, and will soon be finalized and ready for distribution. This year the SAC also wrote a paper on what to do when Srila Prabhupada's instructions seem to differ from those of a previous acarya (this was in regards to whether the Deity of Advaita Acarya should have a beard or not). The SAC also wrote a response to the Prominent Link, and is now researching the topic of women in the role of diksa guru.
The next presentation was: "ISKCON Resolve: Two Years Down the Road", presented by Braja Bihari Prabhu. ISKCON Resolve is the name of ISKCON's alternative dispute resolution program. Braja Bihari Prabhu reported that in the past year over 300 devotees worldwide have been trained as mediators, and that 200 mediations have taken place in ISKCON. He also explained that as an ombudsman he's had 75 visitors this past year including cases such as:
- a devotee contemplating suicide
- a devotee being asked to leave the office he was using
- a Guru requesting the ombuds to facilitate communication with a disciple
- helping a community deal with the improper behavior of one of its senior members
- arranging a number of mediations between quarreling parties
He reported that ISKCON Resolve has gained much interest in the media being the first global dispute resolution system in a religious organization. "India Today" published two articles on ISKCON Resolve, a dozen papers and magazines covered the establishment of an ombudsperson at the Bhaktivedanta Hospital, and an article will appear in the American Bar Association's Spring Dispute Resolution magazine.
Plans for 2004/2005 include:
- Implementing the Ombuds program by identifying potential Ombuds, training them, and spreading awareness of this service to the ISKCON devotees.
- Holding mediation training courses in Australia, New Zealand, America, Poland, Russia, and South America.
- monitor the program statistically
In the next presentation, Bhakti Vijnana Maharaja described the struggle the Russian devotees are undergoing to build a new temple in Moscow. After months of unsuccessful attempts to procure land for a temple, they were suddenly called to the Mayor's office and told that the City was giving ISKCON two and a half acres in the heart of Moscow--just 7 minutes from the Kremlin. It seemed too good to be true, and it almost was. More intrigue followed, as the news spread that ISKCON was offered this land. The press was filled with bad publicity, and the electricity and water in the present temple were cut off. The devotees responded by gathering 50,000 signatures on the streets of Moscow asking the City to keep its' promise of gifting the land. That seems to have worked, and the devotees will soon take possession of the new land. Indeed, a construction company, the biggest in Moscow, has agreed to build within one month a temporary dwelling for the devotees in the next month. This will be on the new land, and they are doing it for free.
Srila Prabhupada had said: "It will be a great victory if we can open a temple in Moscow."
The model of the temple has been made. It is about 80,000 square feet.
The next presentation was made on behalf of the Ministry of Educational Development (MED) by Sesa Prabhu and Braja Bihari Prabhu.
They started with a quick overview of the MED's strategy of developing education from "cradle to samadhi". In Oxford, where Krishna Kestra Prabhu and Radhika Raman Prabhu both successfully defended their PhD dissertations recently, there is a growing number of devotee scholars at the Oxford Center for Hindu Studies. (OCHS)
Those Oxford graduates are then perfect candidates for teaching at the Bhaktivedanta College (BC) which is now in Radhadesh, and will gradually expand elsewhere. Three such devotees from the OCHS taught at the BC this year.
The BC is now affiliated to the University of Wales, Lampeter UK, and thus offers accredited classes. Graduates from the BC will hopefully go on to any number of ISKCON services such as becoming teachers in our primary and secondary schools (as one did last year), going on to higher studies in Oxford (as another did last year), or becoming preachers / administrators / counselors in ISKCON centers (as a number of graduates did last year).
Krishna Candra Mataji, a twenty-one year old graduate, spoke of her
experiences at the BC. She explained that she learned a tremendous amount at
BC, but even more than that, she relished the association of the teachers
and students. Her father, Krishna Dasa Kaviraja Prabhu also spoke about how
happy he was to see his daughter happy in Krishna consciousness by attending