- ISKCON Incorporation & the DOM
ISKCON Incorporation & the DOM
BY: AMEYATMA DAS (ACBSP)
Jun 08, USA (SUN) — The recent Sampradaya Sun articles concerning the history of ISKCON Inc. was brought to my attention and I would like to point out how the Direction Of Management is related to this discussion. I had previously (last year, June 2007) written an article (see attached file) on this topic as a rebuttal to an article written by Ravindra Swarup which appeared on Dandavats on May 24, 2007.
The Direction Of Management and the subsequent TOPMOST URGENCY legal document authored and approved by Srila Prabhupada dated July 22, 1974 together form a legal foundation and directive for the management of ISKCON.
ISKCON Inc was born in July of 1966 by HDG A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada via filing the legal papers in the State of NY. Thus, ISKCON became a “legal entity”. In the USA a corporation is filed under and in accordance with the laws of a particular State. Thus, the “entity”, the corporation, becomes a Legal entity under the laws of that state whose organization and structure is both recognized by the laws and treaties regulating commerce. This allows such a legal entity to posses (buy or sell) real property, etc. and conduct business and contract with other individuals and or other legal entities. It also enables that corporate entity to establish it's own bylaws which can be upheld and enforced in a court of law.
As other temples and centers were formed they were individually formed as “separate” legal entities, incorporating in their local states as a separate corporation, separate from the original ISKCON Inc. Thus, those temples/corporations were set up as ISKCON of Los Angeles, or ISKCON of this or that place. Each of these corporations were totally - in legal aspects - separate legal entities who had their own separate board of directors and president, and their own by-laws. Srila Prabhupada made an exerted effort to see that there was no single controlling corporation. There was no central Iskcon, although, there was only one Iskcon Inc (as opposed to ISKCON of this or that place), and to that original ISKCON Inc Srila Prabhupada had given it special and unique position as being the sole benefactor of his BBT (the BBT being a Trust that was set up in California and thus regulated under the State trust laws of California).
Srila Prabhupada formed the GBC in 1970 with the writing and signing of the Direction Of Management.
It is extremely important to note that Srila Prabhupada did not incorporate the GBC body. Thus, the GBC was not set up as a separate legal entity. Not being a legal entity, the GBC had no binding legal authority on it's own. Rather, the original GBC members were directly appointed by Srila Prabhupada and he appointed them to have authority over the individually incorporated temples per zones that he had set up.
Srila Prabhupada appointed or selected the original members of the GBC, and according to the DOM, Srila Prabhupada wanted that the GBC members be held to term limits of 3 years. Future elections were to be held by the Temple Presidents of the various individual ISKCON temples. And, they were to elect any new GBC(s) from among themselves. Thus, over the years the GBC body would become a Super-Set of temple presidents. Even though the GBC was not, itself, a legal entity, and thus had no real legal existence, if the election aspects of the DOM had been implemented and followed, the GBC would have become the elected authorities over the conglomerate of ISKCON centers, elected by those very same temple leaders. Thus, the GBC would have become a super-set of the Temple Presidents and would form a sort of conglomerate corporate authority structure, where as the GBC was not a part of the management of any single temple entity, and was not, themselves, a separate legal entity, yet, via the DOM, they would be an authority over the conglomerate of individual temples. The DOM set up a unique form of management.
Even though Srila Prabhupada's intent was that the DOM would be implemented and followed, one problem was that the DOM was not a part of the individual bylaws of the separate ISKCON temples. Thus, the GBC - whom the DOM was to empower as having authority over the individual temples - actually had no legal authority over such centers. Their authority would not have been recognized by the courts, or upheld in a court of law.
On July 22 1974 Srila Prabhupada authored a document which would have resolved the above problem. This document was typed on his official letterhead, yet this was not a letter. The document has no salutation to any individual or group, as in a letter. Rather, this document was written and intended by Srila Prabhupada to be a formal legal document, filed in a legal manner, that could be upheld in courts of law.
It was also, and remains, a DIRECTIVE, a Written ORDER, by the Founder-Acarya of ISKCON to his leaders. But, what is disturbing is that this standing directive and order was NEVER followed, to this date. Neither was this directive ever rescinded. Thus, it stands to this day as an unfulfilled Written Order by Srila Prabhupada.
This was not just a verbal request. This was not just a verbal order. Neither was it just a written request or written order. But, on the very top of the legal document, in full caps, and underlined, are the emphatic words TOPMOST URGENCY. I have found no other documents written and signed by Srila Prabhupada that carry such unique and ominous weight as this. Thus, this July 22, 1974, document stands as the single most important directive, order, written order, ever given in writing and signed by Srila Prabhupada. It stands alone as being given the exceptional and unique and emphatic command as an order of TOPMOST URGENCY.
Therefore, it is most disturbing for me, as a direct disciple and follower of ACBS Prabhupada, that when we recently came to learn of this Topmost Urgent order by Srila Prabhupada and found that it was NEVER executed. The GBC of the time never carried out that TOPMOST URGENT written order. Neither have the current GBC shown any interest to do so.
Here is the most unique and important standing written order of the Founder-Acarya of ISKCON and yet it was never obeyed, followed or implemented!!!!
What was so important about this document? As noted above, the DOM laid out the foundational structure of the GBC and ISKCON's future management hierarchy. ISKCON's Direction of Management. Yet, the DOM inadvertently was written as a stand alone document and had not been made a part of the bylaws of any ISKCON corporation. Thus, it would have and still remains, a document that cannot be upheld in a court of law. The DOM, by itself, is toothless. It is not legally binding to any temple.
However, the TOPMOST URGENT legal document of July 22, 1974, would have, and will still, remedy this situation, as it was intended by Srila Prabhupada to do. The ORDER to the GBC and Temple Presidents was to Amend that very same July 22, 1974 document to ALL of ISKCON's corporate legal papers and bylaws. This amendment, the July 74 document, therein mentions the GBC and outlines the Authority of the GBC over the temples by the following statement:
"There shall be a Governing Board Committee of trustees appointed by the Founder-Acarya His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada according to the document Direction of Management dated July 28, 1970. The GBC is to act as the instrument for the execution of the will of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada."
[Note that the underlining emphasis of the words Direction of Management is there in the original document].
This July 1974 legal amendment would have bound, and today still would bind, the Direction of Management to all ISKCON centers in a formal and legal manner as the DOM is explicitly mentioned in this amendment document by name and by date signed. According to this (intended) legal document, signed by Srila Prabhupada on July 22, 1974, the amendment would give the GBC legally binding authority over the individual temple corporations which would be enforceable by State laws and upheld in courts of law. This Topmost Urgent document would have bound the DOM to all temples in a legal and formal manner. Without it, the DOM and even the GBC themselves, had no binding or legal authority over the individually incorporated temples.
It is, therefore, most disturbing for me and many other Prabhupada disciples and followers, this most unique and important TOPMOST URGENT written Order by our spiritual master, the Founder-Acarya of ISKCON and BBT, was NEVER obeyed, followed or implemented.
This unique and powerful legal document, however, remains just as viable and just as Topmost Urgent. This order was never rescinded in writing or words by Srila Prabhupada, nor was it ever superseded or replaced by him with another equally binding order or directive. Thus, it remains an unfulfilled order that DEMANDS to yet be fulfilled and obeyed.
A photo of the original 1974 document can be viewed at the end of this article.
This document remains, as I wrote last year, as a TOPMOST URGENCY.
Lets review some of the situations:
IF it had been followed in 1974: IF it had been duly implemented in 1974 then all ISKCON centers would have included in their bylaws this document. As this document (amendment) mentions the GBC and the Direction Of Management, this amendment would have also brought the DOM into each and every ISKCON bylaws, making the DOM legally binding by law as part of each and every ISKCON corporation. The DOM specifically states that GBC officers are to be held to a 3 year term, details how this works are in the DOM, and that future elections are to be held every 3 years by the individual ISKCON Temple Presidents, who are to elect any new member from among themselves. Had the 1974 Topmost urgent order, legal amendment, been obeyed and implemented then these term limits of the GBC and election process would have become legally binding within all of ISKCON, and would have been enforceable in a court of law.
IF this had been, or is now today, implemented this would give Temple Presidents the power to remove fallen or non-performing GBC members, rather then the GBC having the power to remove and replace Temple Presidents (there is a letter by SP telling the GBC they were never given the authority to remove or replace Temple Presidents, that Temple Presidents can only be replaced or removed by vote of the local congregation. And he informs the GBC to refer to the Direction of Management in this regard. [Letter to Rupanuga 74-11-07 - November 7, 1974]
IF this had been implemented it would have given Temple Presidents far more influence in the direction and management of ISKCON. If the GBC had made policies that the presidents of the temples as a whole concluded were wrong, the temple presidents could remove those GBC and elect new members from among themselves.
IF this had been implemented GBC members would not have been electing their own members. They would not be deciding who they wanted to join them, but this would have been left to the temple presidents, alone. Thus, the GBC would not have become the Good'ole Boys Club (GBC), as it stands today.
IF this had been implemented the temple presidents would have had a voice in all matters, including the guru issue and Rtivik issues, or the issue of ordering a full investigation into the possibility that Srila Prabhupada had been poisoned. (It is SP's own words that he suspected that he was being poisoned).
Thus, ISKCON as we have known it for the past 34+ years would have been a totally different organization. Especially over the past 31+ years since SP's disappearance. This short, single page, yet most powerful document had the power to have changed the very direction and system of management and authority for all of ISKCON. And, that short single page document still wields this same power today.
Where does that leave the GBC and ISKCON centers today? Really, what is the legal standing of the current GBC? What authority do the current GBCi members really have over temples?
This is an interesting topic.
Without the DOM and the subsequent implementation of the TOPMOST URGENT legal document of 1974, the GBC really has no LEGAL existence at all, period. And therefore No Real Legal Authority over Any ISKCON Center, unless that center itself has amended it's by laws, or formed it's by laws, to give the GBCi authority over it. Without the by laws of each temple being amended then the GBC has no authority, and no real existence. It is the DOM only that gives the GBC its foundation. And it is the subsequent 1974 Topmost Legal Document that would have bound the DOM to the temples. These two documents stand as the only explicitly authorized written documents signed by Srila Prabhupada, and done so in a formal manner intending to become amended to all ISKCON temples in a legally binding manner. There is no other document authored by Srila Prabhupada which supersedes those documents. No other documents were written by him that carry the same legal weight or legal importance regarding the authority of the GBC and management of ISKCON.
Without the DOM and the 1974 document the GBC has no real legal existence.
Yet, the current lot who calls themselves GBC have shown absolutely no desire to ever submit to, obey , follow and implement this standing topmost urgent order of ISKCON's Founder-Acarya!!!.
For many of us who are studying this, there are no acceptable replacements for the DOM and the 1974 document and we see that the only acceptable solution is that the July 22 TOPMOST URGENT Written and Signed ORDER by Srila Prabhupada be Finally Obeyed, Followed, and submissively Implemented by all Temple authorities. Unless there is other evidence we have not seen, we can find nothing less than this as acceptable. When this is done, it will also legally bind the election provisions of the DOM. Thus, forcing a new GBC body to properly and legally elected by the temple authorities.
The current incorporated GBCi does not agree with this conclusion. But, really, what legal authority do they have? According to the DOM, after Srila Prabhupada has selected the original members of the GBC, in subsequent years the Temple Presidents are to hold elections and it is them up to remove/replace a fallen GBC and elect new members from among themselves. Since this process has never been implemented or followed, and rather, the GBC have Self-elected their own members, then there is a real legal question of whether the current GBCi have any legal claim to hold such posts as GBC of ISKCON.
By their very rejection of the DOM and their ongoing disobedience to implement the 1974 topmost urgent order of ISKCON's Founder-Acarya, then we must question, what the hell are these people? What actual authority do they have, and where do they really stand? Legally. Any so-called leader of ISKCON who overtly and purposefully disobeys or refuses to obey a direct written order by Srila Prabhupada is to be rejected as unqualified and fallen.
What does the current GBC Inc members base their authority on, if not the DOM and the subsequent unfulfilled July 1974 amendment? Other then they themselves self proclaiming their so-called authority, what real legal authority do they hold? What eclectic authority do they have if they refuse to implement and follow the still standing TopMost Urgent written order of ISKCON's Founder-Acarya?
What document written and signed by Srila Prabhupada can they turn to prove that they are the authorized GBC body? What legal document signed by Srila Prabhupada do they follow that proves they have the right to hold the posts of GBC for ISKCON?
Their authority, as delineated in the DOM, and the July 1974 amendment, and in SP's Final Last Will, is that their authority is incorporated in their duty to Execute the Will of HDG ACBSP. As much as they refuse to obey and carryout Srila Prabhupada's written TopMost Urgent Order of 1974, I see them as fallen, deviant and unfit to hold the esteemed office as members of the GBC. Their main duty and qualification in holding such office is to carry out the orders and will of ACBSP. Refusal to do so is evidence of their fallen and unqualified position. If they refuse to obey Srila Prabhupada's 1974 written order, his topmost urgent order, then I reject them as having any qualifications for occupying the post of GBC members.
The current GBCi may dislike what I have to say in as much as I have directed it at them, but, in essence they cannot refute the truthfulness of the above statement as to what is their duty. Their duty is to execute the orders and will of HDG ACBSP. That is an irrefutable fact.
What they may try to refute is whether that 1974 written and topmost urgent order still remains an order that is expected to be carried out. It is my conclusion that it does remain as viable today as it was in 1974 when the GBC at that time also appear to have purposefully disobeyed it (and Srila Prabhupada) by not implementing it.
But, lets assume the current GBC Inc members make the argument that Prabhupada simply dropped the matter, that in subsequent years he never kept insisting that the GBC still carry out that 1974 order... is this an honorable and proper view to argue???? Really? My guru gave me an important order to carry out, but, I disobeyed him and refused to do it, after this he never again asked me to do it, so, I am off the hook, and the fact that he never again asked me is proof that he no longer wanted that order carried out. Is this an honorable and noble stand to take? Is it proof that Srila Prabhupada no longer wanted it carried out? But, then, what did he replace it with. The Direction Of Management was written and intended as a form legally binding document whose purpose is as the title states, it is the Directions given directly by Srila Prabhupada how he wanted the Management of ISKCON carried out. What other Direction Of Management did Srila Prabhupada author and sign that carries such weight as the DOM that can be shown that he wanted the original document and it's directions to be abandoned in favor of following what other system of management that he wrote and signed off on? If no other equally significant legal document exists, then I reject the current GBCi's on going rejection of the DOM. Is there another legal document that Srila Prabhupada authored and signed that rescinded and replaced the 1974 amendment document? If not, then I reject the current GBC Inc members on-going rejection of obeying and submitting to this very powerful amendment. In my humble opinion there is simply no alternative or excuse other then to surrender and obey the 1974 Topmost Urgent order by Srila Prabhupada.
I have already shown above, the order still stands viable as no other written order of equal importance, and weight was ever issued by Srila Prabhupada in such a legal and formal manner as these documents (or in any other manner) that would rescind or replace the DOM or the 1974 legally intended amendment.
And, this brings me to another sharp point. WHY was that order, the July 22, 1974 Topmost Urgent order and amendment, never carried out?
It was to have been presented to all ISKCON authorities, all Temple Presidents, Temple Boards, and all GBC members who had the authority and positions to carry out that order. If it had been implemented by the majority of members and only a few failed, that would be one thing and all needed to be done would be correct a few incidents and get those centers to abide. But, the point is that not ONE Single GBC or temple carried this out at the time in the summer of 1974. This is most disturbing.
I wrote about this last year, and I am shocked that more devotees have not risen up and demanded to know WHY?
At this point I have no clue why it was never implemented. No GBC has ever contacted me and addressed by article since last year when I brought up this very question.
Lets look at several more What IF? scenarios.
What IF the GBC had obeyed SP and carried this out? Then, it would not have been possible to change the elections provisions of the DOM without another equally powerful document being written and signed by Srila Prabhupada requesting that each and every ISKCON temple again re-amend their corporate bylaws. It would have required another TopMost Urgent Order by the Founder-Acarya to have changed or altered the implementation of the voting provisions of the DOM once the July 1974 topmost urgent order had been implemented.
What about Srila Prabhupada? Did he know the GBC had failed to carry out his topmost urgent written and signed order? OR, did he assume that his leading men would have submissively carried it out?
Lets look at both sides.
Lets assume SP had, indeed, known his leading men had knowingly refused to obey his topmost written and urgent order. In this scenario then, we can see that Srila Prabhupada, from those days onward, knew either his men were totally incompetent, or that at least some of them were conspiring against him and making power plays to take over his mission. Those are the only two conclusions I can see can be concluded.
It is most interesting to note that the 1974 topmost urgent order contained only 2 points. The very first point was:
1. It is declared that His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is the Founder-Acarya of (ISKCON) International Society for Krishna Consciousness. He is the supreme authority in all matters of the society. His position cannot be occupied by anyone else, and his name and title must appear on all documents, letterheads, publications, and buildings of the Society.
In particular it shall be clearly understood that no real estate may be purchased or sold by any officer of the Society without the express permission of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acarya of ISKCON.
Why did Srila Prabhupada, in July of 1974, feel compelled to have to make this the first of only 2 points in a document that was written and intended to be a legally binding amendment to all ISKCON legal papers? What compelled him to have to make it a specific declaration that he is the Supreme Authority in all matters in ISKCON? That his position cannot be occupied by anyone else? Was their some incident that occurred that compelled him to make such a declaration with emphasis of being topmost urgent that this declaration become legally binding to all centers? Was their concern, on his part, that his authority was being challenged?
By the summer of 1974 it is obvious that the GBC were not conforming to the term limit and election provisions of the DOM or by that time they would have seen to it that the temple presidents held an election of ¾ of the GBC body. The GBC meetings came and went in 1974 and no such elections were held. Could this have been what caused Srila Prabhupada concern, that the men he had appointed as GBC were not adhering the provisions he had set forth in the Direction Of Management?
If so, then why not again disband the entire GBC as he had done previously in 1971 when the original GBC disobeyed the DOM? One reason may be that by 1974 such an act would have been too disruptive and too bothersome. In 1971 there were only a handful of centers and not so many disciples. But, by 1974 the mission had exploded with many dozens of centers all over the world, and many fold more disciples. If he were to have disbanded the whole GBC at that time it would have caused a tremendous burden on him. There were simply too many centers with too many issues that he would then be forced to deal with in detail, and all of this would literally stopped his translating work for a long time. In this way, he may have concluded that it would be in his over all best interest to let the current GBC keep managing as his time was limited, they were getting things done, even though there appeared to be some who were opposing his will. Some who were disobedient to his orders. (These are speculations at this point, but that is all we can do at this time, and try to asses the various scenarios. And in all scenarios we are still left with questioning why those men disobeyed these most important and urgent order.)
Even following this scenario, however, Srila Prabhupada may have decided to let it go for the time being, keeping his faith that Krishna, who is, after all, Param-Ishvar, will ultimately resolve the issue. After all, the DOM and that 1974 amendment were the only documents authorizing the GBC post. At some point they will resurface, by Krishna's arrangement, and sincere devotees will come forward to make a final resolve of the issue. After all, without the DOM and 1974 amendment, the GBC had no legally binding authority, and it would be a grave mistake to think that Srila Prabhupada did not know this at the time. After all, he was the one who authored those documents.
In our other scenario lets assume that SP had faith in his leading men and that he assumed they had carried out his written and urgent order. Following this scenario we see that SP's trust and faith in those leaders was severely broken - these men failed their guru and betrayed his trust in them. If he assumed they did carry out his 1974 order, then the follow up scenario is that SP would have then assumed that the DOM had now been firmly bound legally, via the 1974 amendment, to all of ISKCON centers. Thus, there was now no way to avert the term limits of the GBC and the election process without another such amendment to be made to all centers.
In either case, whether Srila Prabhupada knew they had not obeyed his 1974 order, or he assumed they did, neither scenario changes the fact that the 1974 order remains as valid today as it did then. Srila Prabhupada never replaced it with any document of equal import carrying the same legal weight. Thus, it remains as viable today as it was then.
In conclusion, I very much want to see those who were GBC in 1974 answer the question why they did not obey and carry out that topmost urgent order of their spiritual master, ISKCON's Founder-Acarya. And, it is my personal desire that this order be finally and properly obeyed.
Today, the current members of the GBC Inc, have tried to come up with “other” means, proposing “other” amendments that they have written, totally different then anything Srila Prabhupada has ever put forth, to try to resolve the situation. The situation being that the current GBC have no real legal authority over ISKCON centers unless and until those centers amend their bylaws and give the GBC such authority. It is my personal view that they ONLY acceptable solution is to simply go to that 1974 Topmost Urgent Order by Srila Prabhupada, and obey it and implement it by the temples amending their bylaws with THAT very same signed document that Prabhupada himself requested be amended. Anything less then this is simply a deviation and simply unacceptable. The only reason the current GBC members refuse to surrender to this order of Srila Prabhupada appears to be the reason some of the GBC of 1974 also refused to surrender, because they did not want to be subjected to term limits and elections by non-GBC members, they wanted to hold on to their positions of authority and power, and they feared if left to temple presidents to decide their fate, they would be ousted. Otherwise, what is the difficulty in simply surrendering to what Srila Prabhupada wanted? Fear of loss of power and position, false prestige?
Aspiring to become the most worthy and humble servant of the followers of HDG AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada,
Ameyatma das (ACBSP)
Please also see:
Direction Of Management
What is the Direction of Management [DOM] ?
Direction Of Management For An Elected GBC