Ramesvara was NEVER a BBT Trustee
Ramesvara was NEVER a BBT Trustee
BY: HANSADUTTA DAS
In response to "A Reply to Rupanuga’s Article" by RAMESVARA DASA,
published on Mar 23, 2013 — NEW YORK, USA by Sampradaya Sun —
If Rameswara was ever a BBT Trustee, then when I was in litigation with ISKCON / BBT International, Inc. (the bogus BBT that illegally converted the assets of Prabhupasda’s trust into their “For profit” corporation BBT International, Inc.), why when they attempted to bring Rameswara for testimony as an expert witness, claiming he had credentials as a legally appointed BBT for-life Trustee by Srila Prabhupada, he (Rameswara) could produce no legally acceptable BBT document supporting his claim as a legal BBT Trustee? And none have been produced since that time, about 15 years to date.
The court found that he had no standing, no position as a BBT Trustee legally appointed by the trust, filed by Srila Prabhupada, or added since the original filing. Rameswara was subsequently DISMISSED BY THE COURT and excluded from testifying in that case.
Comment by Das:
Ramesvara operated BBT as ISKCON dba “BBT”, meaning BBT was a registered fictitious business name for ISKCON. If that’s not a shell, then what is? We also have to thank Ramesvara for publishing the first revised Bhagavad-gita As It Is, while he boycotted Hansadutta’s reprinting of the 1972 MacMillan edition. And not only was Ramesvara not a BBT trustee, he also proved not to be so “lily white”. He knows better than anyone that he was never guru material. So what does he have to say about Srila Prabhupada’s instructions with regard to initiating? I’m referring to the July 9th, 1977 directive. Or does Ramesvara harbor an ambition to get back into the ISKCON guru club?
Comment by Ramesvara das:
Here is one of many examples: Srila Prabhupada wrote a letter to me dated May 26, 1976. In the last paragraph His Divine Grace wrote: “I am sending a copy of this letter to Jayatirtha and Bhagavan to discuss this matter. Since you are all BBT Trustees, you can discuss and come up with some idea how this can be done. I hope this meets you in good health. Your ever well wisher, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami”
I suppose this was just Prabhupada giving us “honorary titles”?
I beg to remain your aspiring servant,
Just what was Ramesvara’s Role?
by Hansadutta das
The following is a repost from harekrishnamalaysia.com/KRSNAinsight: How ISKCON bypassed the BBT
In your post "Copyrights Transferred to the BBTI?", published up on the Sampradaya Sun, you’ve understood correctly that BBTI is not the same as Prabhupada’s BBT.
BBTI (Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc.) is a California corporation (non-profit) that was registered in 1988, in a deliberate attempt to bypass the legal trust.
Immediately thereafter, ISKCON GBC voted to assign the copyrights from BBT to BBTI. However, they had no legal authority to do so, because Prabhupada gave express instructions in the trust document that ISKCON was to have no jurisdiction over the trust. more
Over at Rochan das’s Sampradaya Sun, Ramesvara has retorted to Brhatasloka’s statement that Ramesvara was instrumental in bypassing the BBT, operating a shell. Ramesvara claims that Srila Prabhupada made him trustee at Mayapur in 1976 after the marathon production of 17 volumes of Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita. He also suggests that Hansadutta had nothing to do with BBT after 1975, that he himself was running the entire BBT operations in North America, and that Hansadutta had no part in the conversations that Ramesvara had with Srila Prabhupada pertaining to the BBT structure and accounts. Read Ramesvara’s article.
When ISKCON and BBT International, Inc. brought the courtcase against Hansadutta and Srila Prabhupada’s BBT, Ramesvara could not produce any document showing his appointment as trustee, and so the court excluded him from giving testimony. The court found that he had no legal standing to claim that he was a trustee. Whether Srila Prabhupada named him a trustee or not, without the formal resolution on record, he was never a legal trustee. This, from Hansadutta.
A little history…
In 1972, Srila Prabhupada formulated the California trust named “Bhaktivedanta Book Trust”, with himself as Settlor and Karandhar das and Bali Mardana das named as trustees. The trust agreement allows for no more than 5 trustees at any time, and furthermore states:
[cited, III. Purpose of Trust, Paragraph 1] -
This trust shall exist independently of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and the Trustees’ functions and duties stated herein shall be separate and not dependent on the Governing Body Commission of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
In 1974, Srila Prabhupada named Hansadutta das as BBT trustee with the following resolution:
BHAKTIVEDANTA BOOK TRUST RESOLUTION
The written resignation of Kelly Gifford Smith (Karandhara das Adhikari) is hereby accepted by the trustees of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.
Hans Kary (Hamsaduta das Adhikari) is hereby appointed as a Bhaktivedanta Book Trust trustee to replace Kelly Smith.
Resolved this 15th day of September, 1974;
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami [signature appears on original]
William Berke (Bali Mardan das Adhikari)
Ramesvara claims his appointment as BBT trustee was handed to him publicly at Mayapur festival, 1976. If so, there should be witnesses who can back him up. There is no mention of Srila Prabhupada addressing him as BBT trustee in the letters from Srila Prabhupada on microfiche or VedaBase, but Ramesvara did sign letters between himself and Srila Prabhupada’s secretaries or GBCs as BBT trustee from 1976 on, so perhaps Prabhupada might have called him trustee, like an honorary title. Certainly he was pleased with Ramesvara’s management of the BBT operations in North America. Ramesvara also claims that Hrdayananda, Bhagavan, and Harikesa were appointed BBT trustees by letter. Again, there is no record of any such letter of appointment or BBT resolution in the VedaBase.
There does seem to have been confusion between the Indian BBT (a publishing trust) and the California BBT and what was referred to as the “international BBT”, with any number of devotees being called trustees. A letter from Srila Prabhupada dated 26 May, 1976, addressed to Ramesvara alludes to Ramesvara, Jayatirtha and Bhagavan as all being BBT trustees. By 1977, Tamal Krsna Gosvami is also calling himself a BBT trustee. However, Srila Prabhupada was meticulous in his dealings, particularly when it came to legal matters, and the fact that the trust agreement limited the number of trustees to just five (5) at any one time meant that not all these persons who were called trustees could have been trustees of the California BBT. There is no record of any BBT resolution noticing the resignation or removal of any trustees except for Karandhar das. That means up until Srila Prabhupada’s departure, the legal trustees of the California BBT were Srila Prabhupada, Bali Mardana das, Hansadutta das and possibly two others at most. So was Ramesvara BBT trustee? Was Bhagavan trustee? Was Jayatirtha trustee? Was Harikesa trustee? Was Tamal Krsna Gosvami trustee? Not possible that all these persons were trustees of the California BBT.
The confusion carried forward even after the incorporation of Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc. in 1988, when the GBC appointed “trustees”, who were in fact not trustees, because the BBTI, Inc. was not a trust at all, but a corporation, and they were not even the directors of the corporation. So evidently a number of persons were loosely called trustees, and given some kind of portfolio, but in fact had no legal status as trustees.
If Ramesvara’s claim is true, why did the court say he had no legal standing in the courtcase brought by ISKCON and BBTI against Hansadutta back in 1998? ISKCON and BBTI claimed that the BBT was not a valid trust, that the trustees were not legal trustees of the BBT, that the BBT did not own the copyrights to Prabhupada’s books, and that Prabhupada himself never owned the copyrights to his books because he was only a hired worker of ISKCON? Where was Ramesvara the BBT trustee when all that happened? He could not produce any documentation showing his appointment as trustee, and so the court excluded his testimony. This means that as far as the law is concerned, Ramesvara was never a legal trustee.
Then we get to the part where Ramesvara asserts that he alone was running the BBT. Ramesvara refers to a letter from Srila Prabhupada to Hansadutta, dated 8 December, 1974, wherein Srila Prabhupada rejects the proposal of organizing an umbrella corporation with BBT as satellite of ISKCON. Ramesvara suggests that after this letter, Hansadutta was no longer consulted on BBT matters, and that he became redundant. However, letters from Srila Prabhupada to Hansadutta since that date point to Hansadutta’s continuing role as BBT trustee.
This particular letter from Prabhupada does raise a question, though: Was this perhaps the origin of the ISKCON dba BBT? Srila Prabhupada instructs that ISKCON LA should act as agent of BBT India, with monies going in and out of the ISKCON LA account instead of creating a separate BBT account, and so as to keep BBT legally separate and safe in case ISKCON should go into liquidation. At some point Ramesvara operated BBT under the fictitious business name BBT, but in fact it was just another name for ISKCON of America or ISKCON of Los Angeles. We would like to hear explanation from Ramesvara how he did operate the BBT accounts and how it came to be that BBT was registered as a dba, or fictitious business name.
In a letter dated 29 July 1975, Srila Prabhupada wrote to Hansadutta das:
You can send the new German publications to New York. I am going to New Vrindaban on August 20th. I am glad you are selling the books nicely there in Germany. Therefore I have elected you BBT Trustee. Sometimes you should come to L.A. to see the BBT affairs. Ramesvara and Jayatirtha they are doing it, but still sometimes you may come and check. Sometimes you may come and sometimes Bhagavan das may come.
Ramesvara says that Hansadutta did not have a hand in management of North American BBT at any time from 1975 onwards. That doesn’t mean he was not acting BBT trustee; he took his orders from Srila Prabhupada, and wherever he was located, continued to act as GBC and BBT trustee.
After Srila Prabhupada departed from this world, GBC assigned Hansadutta to the zone covering Northern California, Oregon and Washington, and so in 1978, Hansadutta found himself in Berkeley, California, just up the road from Ramesvara in LA.
At once, Hansadutta cleaned house, and put an end to the prostitution of the Berkeley women’s party (Jiva’s girls). He got most of the Berkeley brahmacharinis married off. The women’s party was practically disbanded, which resulted in sudden considerable loss of revenue flowing into Ramesvara’s hands. I personally witnessed Ramesvara’s tirade to these sankirtan women in a tent at the LA Rathyatra in 1979. He was furious, and made strong objection, saying “What right does Hansadutta have?”, and referred to a BBT debt that Berkeley must pay nevertheless. Ramesvara tried to direct the women to continue to go out on sankirtan because the BBT depended upon their collections, and said that they should answer to him and not Hansadutta, because he (Ramesvara) was the BBT. King of the hill.
Was perhaps Ramesvara just a little threatened by the proximity and influence of Hansadutta, the BBT trustee? One might have expected Ramesvara to cooperate with Hansadutta, acknowledging that he was a senior BBT trustee and senior devotee. Instead, Ramesvara took steps to thwart Hansadutta’s involvement with BBT.
1980 – 1981. Meanwhile, behavior inconsistent with that expected of pure devotees was cropping up amongst some of the new gurus, and lent credence to Hansadutta’s open acknowledgement that he was not an infallible and perfect pure devotee, adding to the dissonent voices already questioning the appointments and qualifications of the elite 11 – a crack in the dam that the new gurus had to fix.
The movement also encountered legal challenges on the preaching front, and the media had picked up on shifty tactics employed by some sankirtan devotees, cheating people of their money. Hansadutta went on TV and called for the cessation of the change-up trickery and prostitution of the women devotees, and introduced a plan for “contract sales” of Srila Prabhupada’s books, in which Srila Prabhupada’s books could be sold to families in affordable library collections or sets, like Encyclopaedia Britannica, under similar terms, accepting a deposit and payment by installments. But Ramesvara became incensed at Hansadutta’s public denouncement of the methods of his leading collectors.
Sometime before August, 1980, the GBC held court in LA to discipline Jayatirtha, Tamal and Hansadutta. Hansadutta was sent off to Vrindavan and prohibited from making contact with his disciples and initiating, and Ramesvara and Hrdayananda came to Berkeley in turns to manage. During their brief stint they bankrupted the Berkeley center. They emptied the coffers, sold one of the properties, and finished the stocks of books with a “free distribution” program (Ramesvara’s brainchild), and ran the place into debt. Many devotees left. The older Prabhupada disciples were first to go, then the new disciples. In Berkeley, where there had been 70 devotees under Hansadutta, there remained fewer than 25 under Ramesvara and Hrdayananda.
From Vrindaban, Hansadutta wrote in a letter, dated 25 August, 1980 to Yudhamanyu, Radha Govinda, Rahugana and Devananda:
The Gurus were trying to present themselves to the body of ISKCON as being Pure devotees, infallible and perfect. However, as you know I would not and could not act that part. This was a fly in their ointment, so first chance they got, they removed me, but on what grounds? What have I done? I never said or tried to play the part of being perfect. Whatever I was doing in N.W. zone was never a secret to my devotees. I did not try to hide my shortcomings, no one felt that I was forcing them to worship me. But all along they (Hridayananda and Rameswara) are trying to make some big secret thing out of my activities. But I have nothing to hide, even the diary, I wanted that the devotees should see it, and then if they think I am a demon they can leave me or whatever they want to do, they are free. But these two men, Rameswara and Hridayananda, would not allow me, just so they could use it again and again to keep the devotees in fear and confusion.
A handful of Hansadutta’s men rallied to call him back from India, and reinstated him in Berkeley. By that time, Berkeley was in serious financial trouble. Hansadutta regrouped his men and fired them up to go out on sankirtan to save the situation.
In December, 1980, at the Pyramid House in Topanga Canyon, Tamal Krsna Gosvami confessed:
Prabhupada never appointed any gurus. He did not appoint eleven gurus. He appointed eleven rittviks. He never appointed them as gurus. Myself and the other GBC have done the greatest disservice to this movement for the last three years, because we interpreted the appointment of rittviks as the appointment of gurus…
Hansadutta reported all of this to his disciples in Berkeley and admitted his own inadequacy, how he was not qualified, and directed everyone to worship Prabhupada, to regard Prabhupada as their guru. Ramesvara also gave up sitting on his vyasasan for a time. Afterwards, Tamal retracted his words, and Ramesvara resumed sitting on the vyasasan. But Hansadutta pushed the devotees in his zone to help him print Srila Prabhupada’s books and get the contract sales program off the ground.
At this time he initiated the publication of three editions of Bhagavad-gita As It Is: vinyl cover & Bible paper, paper cover and hard cover. It deserves mention here that this printing of Bhagavad-gita As It Is was the first printing of the original MacMillan’s edition (1972) by BBT upon the termination of the copyright license agreement with MacMillan’s.
In the meantime, Hansadutta had simultaneously launched an ambitious undertaking to publish the 30-volume sets of Srimad-Bhagavatam. Along with the 30-volume Bhagavatam, he also printed Golden Avatar (Teachings of Lord Chaitanya), and the one-volume Srimad-Bhagavatam and one-volume Chaitanya-charitamrita. Besides these major books, also he printed a Chinese Gita and a number of other books in Chinese, Tamil and English for distribution mainly in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and Philippines.
The Berkeley sankirtan collection was divided between paying off Berkeley temple’s debts and the printing of the books under Hansadutta’s direction. Money for the publication came exclusively from sankirtan collections in Hansadutta’s zone. Although Ramesvara had promised that all the money remitted to BBT from Hansadutta’s zone would go towards printing for the contract sales program, he did not follow through, and ultimately blocked the program. Moreover, Ramesvara adamantly insisted that the Berkeley Temple still owed a debt to the BBT. Hansadutta disputed the amount owed to BBT, and getting no cooperation from Ramesvara, channeled the money to his own BBT printing.
In a letter dated June 6, 1981, Ramesvara requests Jayatirtha’s help to come up with a definition of a BBT Trustee:
Regarding the definition of a BBT Trustee, my original idea was to clarify the trustee’s position, as we did with the GBC member’s position, so his autonomy, responsibility, who his authority is, etc. was clear. Since everyone has to be responsible to someone and those guidelines and definitions must be clear to avoid problems in the future I felt it would be valuable.
He goes on to cite passages from the Direction of Management and Bhaktivedanta Book Trust Agreement. Then he says:
From these statements of Srila Prabhupada it is clear that the Trustees’ powers and position is limited, and in the absence of Srila Prabhupada’s physical vapu, we have to have some checks and balances. That brings up the difficult question of defining the relationship between the individual Trustees and the International BBT Trustees’ Board which meets each year at Mayapur.
There are other letters from Prabhupada to various Trustees, especially to me, defining what they can and cannot loan BBT money for, etc. But that is secondary, although very important, to the basic task given to us of defining what is a BBT Trustee.
Moreover, with butter and honey:
Since you are expert at these transcendental definitions, having authored most of the ones the GBC has, and since the matter of the relationship between the individual Trustees and the Trustees’ Board is very necessary and delicate, I leave the matter to you to prepare a rough draft. While the individual members don’t derive their authority from the Board, some at least were appointed by the Board, and must answer to the Board at least on some matters. Plus the Board must have some authority to review the operations of the individual Trustees, to have any hope for a system of checks and balances, which Prabhupada obviously intended when he originally created only one BBT, with various Trustees, who would all see financial reports of the one BBT.
What does Ramesvara mean here, when he refers to a “Trustee’s Board” and some trustees being appointed by the Trustee’s Board, and furthermore when he says “when [Prabhupada] originally created only one BBT”? Is he alluding to the existence of more than one BBT? We want to ask Ramesvara just how many BBTs were there. He is the one who created the first smokescreen, which led to the creation of the corporation that would serve to bypass Srila Prabhupada’s trust.
1982. Hansadutta’s three editions of Bhagavad-gita As It Is came off the press in time to be presented at the Mayapur festival in 1982. Bhima das had set up a table in Mayapur at the Gaura Purnima festival to exhibit the books, but then word came that the GBC had banned them. They were not allowed to distribute a single book there, and had to pack up the table, everything.
The 30-volume Bhagavatam, one-volume Bhagavatam and Golden Avatar came out later in 1982. The one-volume Chaitanya-charitamrita came out in 1984. But Ramesvara denounced the black covers as “demonic”, and refused to order them for temple distribution. The rest of ISKCON followed suit and boycotted the books.
Hansadutta’s vision of revolutionising book distribution bore fruit as the contract sales program got underway and reaped success through the efforts of the Berkeley sankirtan devotees, and devotees in Singapore and Malaysia. People were eagerly buying the sets – complete with Bhagavad-gita As It Is, 30-volume Srimad-Bhagavatam and Golden Avatara.
1983. Ramesvara published what was billed as BBT’s first printing of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is since the MacMillan edition, but it was the revised edition. Thus it was under Ramesvara’s watch that the BBT started printing the changed books.
The GBC cited Hansadutta for numerous transgressions, and named a special privilege committee to investigate the charges against him.
I have a copy of “Resolutions from the Special Meeting of the GBC Privilege Committee” dated May 31 – June 1, 1983 at New Vrindaban. Those who attended were Tamal, Harikesa, Kirtanananda, Satsvarupa, Jagadisha and Rupanuga.
Please note the following points pertaining to the BBT:
5. The P.C. has learned that the BBT in America is now operating, for legal purposes, as a corporation known as ISKCON of America, Inc. We resolve that only BBT Trustees should be the officers and Trustees of the ISKCON of America, Inc., and no others.
6. It should be firmly stated by the GBC of ISKCON that His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada gave the rights to print his books directly and independently to each GBC Trustee for publishing in their respective languages and it does not depend on permission from the owner of the copyright. A written statement confirming the above should be given by the custodian of the English copyright (now held by ISKCON of California), so as to avoid any future legal entanglement due to legal judgments or other reasons.
7. As soon as possible, the BBT should be incorporated as a non-profit corporation.
8. The Minister of Legal Affairs (Balvanta Prabhu) should arrange to execute resolutions 5, 6 and 7.
9. The P.C. acknowledges the debt owed by Hansadutta Swami’s zone to the BBT, as claimed by the BBT. However, the P.C. resolves that Ramesvara Swami must find a Krsna conscious method of collecting this debt, without resorting to court
Please permit me to make some observations here. First of all, it is plain to see that they were confused about the legal identity of the BBT and the copyright ownership. The GBC Privilege Committee members believed BBT was operating as ISKCON of America, Inc., and that the copyrights were held in the custody of ISKCON of California, Inc. Secondly, they clearly were mistaken as to the identity of the BBT Trustees and the separation between the BBT Trustees and ISKCON as stipulated in the Trust Agreement. BBT matters do not come under the jurisdiction of ISKCON GBC at all. Thirdly, they recommended that the BBT be incorporated as a non-profit corporation, contradicting Srila Prabhupada’s own legal arrangement and ultimately his authority. Fourthly, Ramesvara’s status as legal BBT trustee is at question. Even if Srila Prabhupada called him a trustee, in legal fact he was not. And so, when in 1976 he represented himself as a BBT trustee in a letter assigning the BBT trademark to ISKCON of California, Inc, he did not have the legal authority to do so. Moreover, although Ramesvara was overseeing the jumbo operations of BBT in America, it was not his call to challenge Hansadutta’s authority to act as trustee in publishing books, nor was it his call to initiate a boycott of the publications, and in fact he should have been accountable to Hansadutta the BBT Trustee, not the other way around.
As for the disputed BBT debt, accounting submitted by Hanumat Presaka das (ACBSP) showed that whereas the Berkeley temple had funds amounting to some $200,000 at the time when Hansadutta was exiled to Vrindaban in 1980, by the time he returned the temple was IN DEBT to the amount of -$50,000. Ramesvara took the bank funds, and additionally took proceeds from the sale of a house belonging to the temple, helped himself to various temple equipments, took away and sold farm equipment, horses – all these things worth thousands and thousands of dollars – and diverted all sankirtan collection at the time to BBT, took a vehicle belonging to the temple, took from Hansadutta $150,000 dakshina monies and even at the airport took from Hansadutta the few dollars he had in his pocket! And yet Ramesvara still claimed that Berkeley temple had not satisfied its debt to the BBT.
Furthermore, Ramesvara and Hrdayananda deliberately set out to destroy the morale of the devotees, drove out Prabhupada’s men, and a large number of the new devotees as well, did not send any replacements, abandoned the farm project. Basically, they dismantled everything. So it is curious why the Privilege Committee did not instead direct Ramesvara to compensate the Berkeley temple and Hansadutta, but all that is beside the point here.
In a letter dated June 13, 1983, Hansadutta replied to the GBC Privilege Committee the following:
Regarding Rameswara and the BBT, it is my belief that Rameswara should not be able to solely operate the BBT and decide who are the trustees. We must always adhere to the original wishes of Srila Prabhupada and acknowledge the original trustees that he appointed to the BBT. Prabhupada had inconceivable spiritual knowledge and insight into the future of our organization, as well as full knowledge of the people he appointed to be trustees of the BBT. For any single devotee, at this point, to try to step into Prabhupada’s shoes before he is ready, and to try to appoint himself the chief trustee or overact any of Prabhupada’s instructions, is an immoral act against the whole society.
Prabhupada appointed as BBT trustees should remain trustees until a devotee with as great an insight as Prabhupada and able to prove himself as having such insight would then be able to overrule. If you minimize or take away this ruling of Srila Prabhupada, then you have to take away everything that Prabhupada ever said as wrong, because if we cannot believe entirely in Prabhupada with total trust, we can’t believe in him at all. Therefore, we must live up to the original instructions and arrangements of Srila Prabhupada, and no one man or one committee should be able to overrule him.
This same problem can be seen in the mundane example of the Constitution of the United States. All decisions in the courts must live up to the Constitution of the United States. And no court in the land can change the laws of the Constitution. Prabhupada promulgated the original constitution of ISKCON so that no one can be allowed to change any original decisions that Prabhupada made.
We must understand that Prabhupada really had the insight to know that ISKCON would come into difficulties in the future, and he definitely made his request, based on this insight, that the BBT should be a completely separate entity so that even if ISKCON fell, the publication and distribution of books would not be hurt. Based on these points, I seriously ask you to consider not changing the original wishes of Prabhupada regarding the BBT, its structure and function.
If you feel that you are stronger and more in knowledge than Prabhupada, then this means that all of the books and all of the teachings of Prabhupada are useless, because it implies that you feel Prabhupada didn’t know anything.
P.S. I might remind you that the original BBT document reads that there can never be more than five trustees, and that Prabhupada appointed me as one of them.
1984. Hansadutta was expelled from ISKCON. GBC resolutions as follows: –
1. Resolved that Hansaduta Swami is hereby removed from his membership on the GBC, his position as BBT Trustee his position as an initiating guru. .He shall no longer be considered a Sannyasi. All ISKCON corporations are hereby advised that Hansaduta is no longer qualified to serve in any authoritative capacity relative to such corporations. All of Hansaduta’s disciples are directed to accept initiation from another ISKCON recognized guru.
Again, ISKCON GBC had no jurisdiction over BBT, and thus no legal authority to remove Hansadutta from the BBT trusteeship. Their pronouncement had as much bite as a raving lunatic shouting, “Let the Queen of England be deposed.”
1986. Ramesvara was caught out on a date with a 15-year-old disciple, and left the Society in disgrace.
1987. Incorporation of Bhaktivedanta Book Publishing, Inc. in the State of California.
1988. GBC Resolutions of February, 1988 that refer to BBT, as follows:
BBT Trustees. The GBC recommend that three of the current BBT Trustees resign and that five new trustees be added.
BBT Copyrights. The highly sensitive issue of what legal entity(ies) should ultimately hold the copyrights to Srila Prabhupada’s book was discussed at length, the issue was ultimately tabled until the new International BBT Trustees complete the reorganization process.
39. Since the BBT meeting on July 15 & 16, 1987 in Stockholm had an ambiguous and nondefinitive outcome, the GBC wishes the BBT to reconstitute itself. The present trustees, Harikesh Swami, Gopal Krsna Goswami, Tamal Krsna Goswami, Hrdayananda das Goswami and Jayapataka Swami, have voted to request the GBC to give them definitive guidance for consideration. Accordingly, the GBC asks that Jayapataka Swami, Hrdayananda das Goswami and Tamal Krsna Goswami to submit their resignations as International Trustees. However, before any resignations are accepted, the current trustees elect replacements and additions up to a total of seven, and place these names before the GBC for its blessings.
40. That the GBC direct its members, Indian and all other BBT trustees and management to follow the directives of the International BBT trustees regarding matters of International BBT concerns, such as the securing of copyrights to Srila Prabhupada’s books.
43. That the GBC gives its blessings to the plan conceived of by the current International BBT Trustees to replace the three resigning trustees with Sesa das, Isvara Swami and Naresvara das, under the condition that when they decide to add two additional trustees they again seek the blessings of the GBC Body at the annual meeting for these additional names.
72. That the four devotees present who were part of the former International BBT (Tamal Krsna Goswami, Gopal Krsna Goswami, Jayapataka Swami and Hrdayananda das Goswami) shall be requested to recommend an additional two persons to be part of the newly constituted International BBT. This resolution modifies Resolution #43 above.
73. That the local BBTs are requested to withhold transfer of copyrights to an International BBT, as under resolution #40 above, until a proper constitution and by-laws have been accepted by the GBC. The GBC Body appoints a committee of Gopal Krsna Goswami, Jayadwaita Swami, Hari Vilas, Sesa, Bhima and Sri Rama to study the issues involved and recommend a constitution and by-laws to the GBC body through correspondence vote.
74. That the GBC Body gives its blessings to Jayadwaita Swami and Hari Vilas das to be added to the International BBT Trustees, as per the recommendation of the four-man committee mentoned in Resolution #72 above.
And with the GBC stamp of approval, BBT International, Inc. was born:
October 12, 1988. Incorporation of Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc. in the State of California.
1989. Resolutions of the GBC AGM, March 1 – 16, 1989, Mayapur mention:
51. That all ISKCON devotees are hereby instructed to fully cooperate with the consolidation of rights to Srila Prabhupada’s works in the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust-International.
As you can see, there was a great mixup over the identity of the BBT, the BBT Trustees, the copyright ownership, and the few persons who knew anything cleverly took advantage of the others’ ignorance. But much came to light in the course of the court cases instigated by BBT International, Inc. and ISKCON against Bhima das in Singapore and later against Hansadutta das in California, in 1998.
ISKCON’s and BBT International, Inc. tried their best to perpetuate the illusions, going so far as to argue that Srila Prabhupada’s California trust had never been legally valid, and so there were no legitimate trustees, and certainly Hansadutta was not one of them, and moreover, the trust never owned the copyrights to Srila Prabhupada’s books, nor did Srila Prabhupada himself ever own the copyrights, because the books were “works for hire”, a legal term which translates to: Srila Prabhupada was the hired worker of ISKCON, who owned the books that Srila Prabhupada produced in exchange for giving him room and board, pen and pencil, etc. By that argument, Ramesvara certainly also was never a trustee.
So how does Ramesvara identify himself now? He says that Brhatasloka’s statement is an attack on his eternal relationship with Srila Prabhupada. But how did he serve Srila Prabhupada when he obstructed Hansadutta from acting as BBT trustee, when he boycotted the books Hansadutta printed, when he gutted the Berkeley temple, taking advantage of Hansadutta’s absence, and when he failed to administer to the devotees as a caretaker? How did he serve Srila Prabhupada when he printed the revised Bhagavad-gita As It Is, unlocking pandora’s box to allow Jayadvaita’s endless changes? How did he serve Srila Prabhupada when he was cavorting with a 15-year-old girl? We would rather remember Ramesvara for his extraordinary management of BBT North America, and not recall him for his machinations and pedophilia, but he is not humbled at all, and to this day would put down others, in particular Hansadutta, as if he alone was running the whole show. What a disgrace.
Looks like Ramesvara is making his way back into the BBT
Ramesvara wants back in
April 01, 2013 (VNN) by Bhima das HKM
Looks like Ramesvara is making his way back into the BBT.
Recently Ramesvara responded to Brhatasloka’s statement that Ramesvara was never a BBT trustee and that Ramesvara had created a shell of the BBT, never authorized by Srila Prabhupada. Ramesvara claims he was appointed BBT trustee by Srila Prabhupada publicly in Mayapur, 1976, and says he was following orders from Srila Prabhupada pertaining to BBT structure, orders given to him personally and to which Hansadutta (BBT trustee) was not privy. He further says no one besides him had anything to do with the BBT North America from 1975, and that Srila Prabhupada no longer consulted Hansadutta about BBT affairs after rejecting Hansadutta’s proposal for an umbrella corporation with BBT as a satellite.
But Hansadutta has replied that Ramesvara was never a BBT trustee. When the BBT court case was going on, the court did not allow Ramesvara’s testimony as BBT trustee, because neither he nor ISKCON/BBTI legal team could produce any record of his appointment. Thus it was decided that he had no legal standing, that he was not a legal BBT trustee.
Ramesvara was head of the BBT operations in North America from 1975, and while under his management, the BBT expanded rapidly and produced the 17-vol Chaitanya-charitamrita in record time, a phenomenal task. However, few devotees are aware of his role in the bypassing and takeover of Srila Prabhupada’s actual Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, how he blocked the BBT trustee from performing his duties, and that the changing of Srila Prabhupada’s books began under his watch. See “Just what was Ramesvara’s role in the BBT?“.
With the copyright license with MacMillan due to expire in 1982, Hansadutta published the 1972 MacMillan edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is in 3 different covers: vinyl, paper and hard. The books came off the press and we set up a table at the Mayapur festival, 1982 to display and sell. Ramesvara was unhappy that Hansadutta had acted on his own – never mind that Ramesvara had refused to cooperate with Hansadutta – and ISKCON GBC banned the books. The devotees had to pack up the books and table, and were not permitted to sell. ISKCON boycotted the Bhagavad-gitas printed by Hansadutta, as well as the 30-volume Srimad-Bhagavatam sets, and one-volume Srimad-Bhagavatam also printed by Hansadutta later that same year. As it happened, Ramesvara had his own Bhagavad-gita in the wings, but he had miscalculated the date of expiration of the MacMillan copyright license by one year. So finally in 1983, BBT North America came out with what was billed as the first BBT edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, BUT IT WAS THE REVISED EDITION. Under Ramesvara, BBT and later BBT International never did reprint the 1972 MacMillan edition, the original full edition bearing Srila Prabhupada’s signature. Since Hansadutta’s printing in 1982, only after the BBT court case was settled in 1998 was the 1972 MacMillan edition reprinted, under license agreement with BBT International, Inc., and that is only because Hansadutta stood up for Srila Prabhupada’s original BBT in the BBT courtcase. So the changes to Srila Prabhupada’s books began with Ramesvara.
Some devotees might not remember or perhaps are not aware that for several years, from the time when Hansadutta and then other ISKCON gurus were expelled from the Society, their disciples who did not accept to be reinitiated by other ISKCON gurus or who did not submit to ISKCON GBC or who challenged the GBC were blacklisted and could not purchase books from the BBT in any part of the world. Not only that, Jayadvaita stated his intentions to edit all of Srila Prabhupada’s books, and neither BBT nor BBT International, Inc. were printing any of the original books. Stocks of the original books were running out. Devotees outside ISKCON became greatly concerned that Srila Prabhupada’s books were not being made available. In Singapore, I went ahead to print for our distribution, under Hansadutta’s authority as BBT trustee. In 1991, BBT International, Inc. filed a legal action against me there for copyright infringement. Eventually they had to withdraw, because they could not show how the copyrights were transferred from Srila Prabhupada’s trust to BBT International, Inc. Then ISKCON and BBT International, Inc. sued Hansadutta and petitioned the court to declare that Srila Prabhupada’s BBT never existed and that Hansadutta was never a trustee and that the copyrights never belonged to the BBT. I put up the financing for defending both court cases, because Hansadutta opened my eyes to the danger that Srila Prabhupada’s unadulterated books might be lost altogether. Devotees have Hansadutta to thank for defending Srila Prabhupada’s BBT and winning a settlement that gave a license for printing all of Srila Prabhupada’s original books (pre-1978). Another outcome of the court case was that BBT International, Inc. agreed to sell to devotees, regardless of their affiliation. If not for Hansadutta’s action as trustee to save Srila Prabhupada’s legacy and make it available, Srila Prabhupada’s original books would have disappeared, because BBT International, Inc. is dedicated to printing only those adulterated books.
As for Ramesvara’s claim to have been a BBT trustee, there is no record of any BBT resolution appointing him as such.
• In September, 1974, Jayatirtha recommended Ramesvara to Srila Prabhupada for BBT trustee, but Srila Prabhupada allowed that he could be BBT secretary (Letter to Jayatirtha, 74-09-14), and the very next day, September 15, 1974, Srila Prabhupada appointed Hansadutta as BBT trustee to replace Karandhara.
• GBC resolutions for the annual meeting in Mayapur, 1975, March 29th, read: “1) Resolved: Ramesvara das is appointed a trustee of BBT.” But by whom? GBC had no legal authority to appoint BBT trustees.
• Contradicting the 1975 GBC resolutions, Ramesvara himself says he was publicly appointed by Srila Prabhupada at the Mayapur festival in 1976. Hansadutta was there, and one would think that he might have seen, or at least as BBT trustee he would have been informed. There is no BBT resolution confirming Ramesvara’s appointment. There is also no mention of it in the GBC resolutions for the annual meeting from that year. Instead, the 1976 resolutions read: “5) BBT Trustees: Jayatirtha is appointed BBT Trustee for Europe, Tamal Krsna Maharaj is a BBT Trustee in U.S.A., Hridayananda Maharaj is BBT Trustee for S.A., Gopal Krsna is Manager for BBT in India.” Again, GBC had no authority to appoint any BBT trustees, so what was happening here is unclear. It is also not possible for all these persons to have been trustees, because the BBT Agreement allows only 5 trustees at any time, and there were already 3: Srila Prabhupada, Bali Mardan and Hansadutta. So how could these persons have been legal trustees?
Ramesvara has replied Hansadutta’s response, “Here is one of many examples: Srila Prabhupada wrote a letter to me dated May 26, 1976. In the last paragraph His Divine Grace wrote: ‘I am sending a copy of this letter to Jayatirtha and Bhagavan to discuss this matter. Since you are all BBT Trustees, you can discuss and come up with some idea how this can be done. I hope this meets you in good health. Your ever well wisher, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami’ I suppose this was just Prabhupada giving us ‘honorary titles’?”
Count up the BBT trustees according to all these versions: Srila Prabhupada, Bali Mardan, Hansadutta make 3, and if we can believe the GBC resolutions for 1975 and 1976, there were 5 additional BBT trustees: Ramesvara, Jayatirtha, Tamal Krsna, Hridayananda, Gopal Krsna, and then the letter Ramesvara refers to mentions also Bhagavan, so altogether 9 trustees. Not possible, not according to the terms of the BBT Agreement.
Did Srila Prabhupada make a mistake? Assuredly not. We know he was exceedingly thorough and meticulous when it came to business and legal matters. So what was up with the number of so-called trustees? One plausible explanation is that on the one hand there were the legal trustees, and on the other, persons who headed up BBT operations in various zones might have been called trustees, but without legal authority. This was the practice (even now) within BBT International, Inc., which is a corporation and not a trust at all and has no legal trustees. The word “trustee” has been used very loosely without any connection to the actual trust.
So not only was Ramesvara not a legal BBT trustee; Ramesvara also ran BBT as ISKCON of America or ISKCON LA, using BBT as a fictitious business name. It was a shell. And along with the GBC, he planned for the incorporation of BBT, which happened in 1988, two years after Ramesvara left the Society in disgrace, having been caught out by his own disciples having illicit relations with a 14- or 15-year-old female disciple. Pedophile. So we have fake BBT, fake trustees, and the real BBT was set aside and taken over by ISKCON – completely illegally, see: "What happened to the BBT".
If Ramesvara wants back his BBT job, he should have to answer for these developments and endeavor to put things back the way Srila Prabhupada set them up.
Just like Srila Prabhupada ordered that Ramesvara should put things back to the original in his books when he learned that changes were being introduced under Ramesvara’s supervision. Ramesvara has come back, some say, but a real comeback would involve public apology to Srila Prabhupada and to the devotees, and an accounting for his mistakes and an effort to remedy them, with respect for Srila Prabhupada’s arrangements with regard to BBT, with respect to the BBT trustee Hansadutta, and by decommissioning Jayadvaita & Co, putting a stop to the ongoing changes to the books, and making only Srila Prabhupada’s original books available. If he is not willing to serve the actual BBT, not willing to acknowledge and cooperate with the legitimate BBT trustee, not willing to safeguard the integrity of the siddhanta by chasing Jayadvaita out, and not willing to stand up to the GBC and tell them hands off the BBT, then he has no business reclaiming any position. If his ambition is to be readmitted to the good old boys’ club (GBC) and steer BBT International, Inc. on its present course without correction, it will be a sorry affair for everyone.
Comment by Hansadutta das, April 14, 2013:
Bhima !… really the best summation of what has transpired over many years, 1991-2 to 2013 , it is heartbreaking to see our Bhaktivedanta community go off the cliff…….I wish I could say something more encouraging…. but I am at a loss for words….. thank you for putting all the facts into prespective,,,, everything is seen and Known to Krishna and Srila Prabhupada…. ( I am seated in everyones heart, from me comes knowledge rememberance and forgetfulness…. ../ ….. The living entity is seated as if on a machine of material energy, and I am directing the wanderings of all living beings all over the universe”,) Hare Krishna, Hansadutta das
Please also see:
Let's be completely honest about Ramesvara's complete honesty
BBT Vs. Hansadutta Court Case Singapore 1992-1996