BY LOCANANANDA DAS
New evidence has just been discovered that suggests a GBC conspiracy to suppress instructions given by Srila Prabhupada concerning how he wanted initiations to be performed after his departure.
In May of 1977, the members of the GBC were summoned to Vrindavana, India to meet with Srila Prabhupada when His Divine Grace thought his departure from this world was imminent. His Divine Grace revealed to a committee of GBC members that he was going to recommend some of his disciples to act as officiating acharyas to perform first and second initiations when he would no longer be with us. As evidenced by the following document, the GBC decided at the time that devotees throughout the world should not be informed of this most important revelation made by their beloved spiritual master.
The repercussions of the decision to suppress the truth and the subsequent deviation from Srila Prabhupada's instructions have left devoted followers of His Divine Grace deadlocked over the issue of guru succession and initiations in ISKCON for more than two decades.
The document in question is a summary report of the GBC meetings held during the three days from May 27-29, 1977. The report was sent out to all ISKCON temple presidents and begins with a list of names of the GBC members in attendance. The first point mentioned in the report is that a list of trustees of all ISKCON properties was submitted to Srila Prabhupada. The second point states that committees were formed to improve the original charter and expand the Bureau of Management in India. Point number three deals with the questions posed by the GBC committee concerning how Srila Prabhupada's mission was to be continued under the direction of the GBC after his departure. It is this third item that is of great significance.
A review of the document shows quite clearly that the GBC deliberately omitted from the report Srila Prabhupada's answer to the question concerning initiations. This intentional omission was apparently made to conceal Srila Prabhupada's wishes from his disciples worldwide concerning the initiation procedures he wanted followed after his departure. Had this been an honest presentation of the facts, the report would have stated:
"When asked how first and second initiations would be performed after he was no longer with us, Srila Prabhupada said that he was going to recommend some of his disciples to act as officiating acharyas."
The text of Srila Prabhupada's conversation with the GBC committee was not disclosed for many years, which has created a credibility gap between the leaders of ISKCON and ISKCON's general membership.
Six weeks later, a letter issued on July 9th, 1977 bearing Srila Prabhupada's signature was sent to all temple presidents to explain changes that were being made in initiation procedures. It was the outcome of a discussion that had taken place two days earlier between Srila Prabhupada and his secretary. In that conversation, to resolve the problem of an initiation backlog, Srila Prabhupada first recommended that senior sannyasis could again perform initiation ceremonies as had been done before his illness. However, when the secretary reminded Srila Prabhupada of the May 28th meeting with the GBC, this historic conversation evolved into the naming of the officiating acharyas, referred to in the letter as "ritvik representatives".
Srila Prabhupada had said he was going to recommend some of his disciples to perform initiations on his behalf after his disappearance, and the July 9th letter was the fulfillment of that promise. According to the May 28th announcement to the GBC, those initiated during his physical presence by representatives of the acharya would be considered his direct disciples, while those initiated after his disappearance by officiating acharyas would be considered his second generation of disciples, or granddisciples. The difference was considered to be one of formalities, since all members of ISKCON throughout the course of its history would perpetually serve, worship and follow the teachings of their great preceptor acharya, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. That is the principle that unifies the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
The document presented below was transcribed exactly from the original which accounts for any spelling or grammatical errors. Because the only remaining copy may be the one in my possession, I recommend that devotees save copies in their files for future reference.
Beginning of Document
GBC MEETINGS Vrindabana (Krsna Balarama Mandir) May 27-29, 1977
Signatures of Attendence
Adi Kesava Swami (acting GBC)
Atreya Rishi dasa
Bali Mardan dasa
Bhavananda Goswami (non GBC member)
Giriraj das (non GBC member)
Gopal Krsna das
Swarupa Damodara das
Guru Kripa Swami
Tamal Krsna Goswami
1. A list of trustees for all ISKCON properties worldwide was submitted to Srila Prabhupada at his request. Properties in India can never be sold, mortgaged, etc. Properties outside India in principle should never be sold, but in the event it is necessary, they can be mortgaged, etc. only with the signed approval of all the appointed trustees. The list of trustees (and instructions for setting up this "trustee-system" legally) will be circulated by the GBC Property Committee to all GBC members and temple presidents for immediate implementation.
2. For ISKCON India, committees were formed to protect the Society by making improvements in the original "charter", expanding the Bureau of Management (for India), and seriously researching permanent residency visas as our top priority.
3. A list of questions was presented to Prabhupada, some of which he said he would tell us later. Two significant questions His Divine Grace did reply to are:
a. GBC members shall remain permanently. If a member leaves, the GBC can appoint new GBC members.
b. New translations of Vedic works can be published in the future, even after Srila Prabhupada's departure, by the BBT but they can only be done by one who is very expert and advanced in his realization. At present, Prabhupada acknowledged, there is no one yet qualified.
4. In order to help the India Yatras, a co-GBC was appointed for liasion purposes, especially to assist with manpower and financial requirements- for each of the major India projects as follows:
a. Bombay: Ramesvara Swami and the Western USA Zone
b. Mayapura: Tamal Krsna Goswami, Adi Kesava Swami and the Northeast USA Zone
c. Vrindavana: Bhagavan dasa and the Southern Europe Zone
d. Hyderbad Farm: Harikesa Swami and the North Europe Zone
e. Hyderbad temple: Hrdayananda Goswami, Pancadravida Swami and the two Latin America Zones
(note: this does not mean that assisting these projects is the exclusive responsibility of these western zones- these still remain the whole Society's projects, and we are all responsible)
5. The Australia GBC Zone and Hari Sauri dasa will be responsible for assisting Fiji.
6. As the date for the Bombay opening is fixed (October 21) funds are required immediately and a short term solution adopted was that Nama Hatta would make one more substantial payment in June, and funds would be borrowed from Spiritual Sky Incense Co. in LA for a comparable payment in June. The main source of increased funds is recognized as increasing book distribution, and the US BBT must resume its monthly payments at the end of July.
7. Each temple must donate a fixed contribution each month to ISKCON Food Relief, on the following allocation:
small temple: $50.00 medium temple: $100.00 large temple: $150.00 maha-large temple $200.00
Each GBC man shall open one zonal account, and be responsible to collect money from all his temples, then send it in one sum to Adi Kesava Swami for forwarding to ISKCON Food Relief in India. The India centers distributing food must send the GBC regular reports of their prasad distribution, including photos.
8. The profit made by the US BBT by selling 100,000 records to temples will be set up as a travel fund for the 20 Argentina devotees going to India, and for repaying the Food Relief debt of Rs. 50,000 to Mayapur.
9. As each BBT division must allocate funds for temple construction, and as the Latin America zones are responsible for assisting the Hyderbad temple, the Spanish BBT construction money will be sent each month to Hyderbad to complete the temple construction there (estimated completion by January 1) and thereafter their monthly allotment sent to Srila Prabhupada to repay Hyderbad's loan from His Divine Grace.
10) RESOLVED: Whereas Srila Prabhupada's desires and goals for expanding ISKCON activities through special projects in India (construction, development, maintenance, food distribution, etc.) are known to all GBC members, it is resolved that the GBC body accepts the final responsibility for these.
End of Document