In the News:
GBC Meetings, Day 3
Posted March 4, 2005
The meetings began at 9:00 a.m. because there was no breakfast. Devotees were fasting, as it was the anniversary of the appearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur.
The first presentation was a report of the Child Protection Office (CPO). Anuttama Prabhu introduced Tamohara Prabhu, who has served as the CPO Director since June 2004. Tamohara has a doctorate in Educational Psychology and has been a Dean and a faculty member of graduate schools of psychology. Additionally, Hanuman Dasa has taken up the role of overseeing CPO activities in Europe and Latin America.
Tamohara discussed the current activities of the CPO. The office has worked on a number of current cases and investigations worldwide. He emphasized that child abuse is not a thing of the past, but is still a problem requiring constant attention. Specifically, he reminded the leaders of the importance of maintaining local child protection teams, carefully screening new temple or community members, and enforcing CPO judicial decisions. He also gave high priority to re-establishing the national CPO office in India.
The CPO plans to expand its training and educational efforts. New initiatives will include a newsletter and an expanded Web site. Plans are also being made for additional child-protection-team training and judges' training in various areas of the world.
The next presentation was the paper on "Female Diksa Gurus in ISKCON," prepared by the Sastric Advisory Committee (SAC). Purnacandra Prabhu gave an overview of the paper, presenting both sides of the issue. In the ensuing discussion, SAC member Drutakarma Prabhu mentioned that even in other Vaisnava lines there are opposing views, which induced SAC to rely more exclusively on Srila Prabhupada's statements on the subject. SAC's conclusion was that although considerations of time, place, and circumstance are valid, permanently disallowing women from giving initiation cannot be philosophically supported by either sastra or Srila Prabhupada's statements. The paper also gave suggestions to the GBC regarding possible requirements and circumstances for women to initiate.
At 11 a.m., there was a closed-door discussion about the Turley case.
At 12:15 the meetings adjourned and everyone attended the puspanjali and arati in honor of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur.
In the final session of the day the Deputies presented agenda items that they had discussed and voted on, and the GBC members conducted straw votes. Topics were:
- updating the rules for voting on issues via e-mail. This led to a discussion about the various GBC conferences and the need for confidentiality.
- a proposal by Abhirama Prabhu regarding permanently gifting the flat that was given by ISKCON, on Srila Prabhupada's instructions, for the use of his son Vrindavan De. This proposal met with opposition from some GBC members familiar with the history of this topic.
- a proposal from Madhu Sevita Prabhu about increasing the time gap for GBCs to serve on the EC.
- a proposal from Pranada Dasi on the Last Wills for ISKCON Leaders to ensure that ISKCON properties or items in individual names would go to ISKCON upon the demise of the leaders. This led to a discussion on the possible reasons for ISKCON property to not be in ISKCON's name (e.g., in countries where ISKCON is not registered or recognized).
- a proposal by the EC on Appeals of Decisions to the GBC Executive Committee. The discussion clarified that this refers to disputed decisions or stipulations made by a GBC member or body, and it was also reiterated that during the appeal process the decisions remain in place.