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- Further Considerations on the DOM -

Further Considerations on the DOM

Jun 20, 2011 — LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA (SUN) — What with motherhood, being out of town for 8 months, and maintaining daily sadhana practice, it took some coordination and many delays to sit and respond to the many well thought out points made in your article of December 2010, entitled "Further Comments on the DOM. I apologize for the lateness of this reply. You wrote:

    "Our thanks to Roupa Manjari devi dasi and her husband, Nara Narayana das Viswakarma, for their replies to the recent articles on the Direction of Management submitted by Sun Staff. In her article, "Conditions on Donations", Roupa Manjari devi notes that we have pointed out the obvious by asking:

      "…how could a transition to the DOM model be made to work in the milieu of GBC's or gurus in charge of local temples, where their power is clearly leveraged by installing temple presidents, who would then vote?"

    She suggests the solution to this problem:

      "Therefore the only course of action is to replace the present illegal GBC by the election of a new, legal GBC, and the power to do this is in the money. The current GBC/gurus/Temple presidents are utterly dependent on the money given by wealthy Indian donors."

    As we have pointed out many times in the past, dealing with the GBC alone is not a solution. As ISKCON itself admits in their 'lines of parallel authority' discussions, there is now an environment of conflicting agendas between the GBC body and the individual Gurus. While it's true that many temple presidents are dependent on Indian donations, the assets controlled by the current regime of Zonal Acarya Gurus like Radhanath Swami, Gopal Krishna Swami, Bhakti Caru Swami, etc. are also key to the money streams that keep temple presidents and temples in business. Simply cleaning house at the GBC level does not deal with the maha-guru phenomenon, and their leverage at the local level."

Unless we are operating under the assumption that the rich gurus such as Radhanath ($80,000,000.00) or Romapada Swami ($25,000,000.00), the original Mukunda Swami (almost $4,000,000.00), have inherited this wealth, we must look to the simple explanation that this wealth was drawn from the congregation – certainly not the brahmacaris in the ashram or the disempowered temple presidents.

Just as a plant operates by photosynthesis, drawing nutrients from the soil up its stem, into its leaves, flowers, fruits, etc., similarly ALL the money coming to the gurus (aside from inherited wealth) is coming from the bottom demographic, not the top.

The new ISKCON Bylaws created by GBC have created a gigantic castle-like wall in front of ISKCON, complete with parapets, drawbeds, moat, etc. Whoever approaches the front of this carefully constructed castle will be prone to say, "This fort is impenetrable. Only a fool would try to breach it."

There is a temple in Vrindavan that has very wavering stone columns holding up its portico, and it looks quite imposing, yet when you walk behind it, you find there is no building there at all – just a façade. This is the exact same case, presented by the ISKCON GBC/guru complex, now fortified with the new Bylaws declaring them to be the "ultimate ecclesiastical authority" of ISKCON (a position numerically opposite to that directed by Srila Prabhupada in the DOM).

So where does this money come from? Aside from restaurant profits and book sales, it comes from third parties who donate as congregation members, whether or not they are initiated by any particular "guru". To defeat the system, we must neglect the truly formidable façade of the present ISKCON structure, complete with its new "Bylaws", and go far afield into the homes and assemblies of Indians holding Kirtans and taking Prasadam and worshipping their Deities as instructed under the guidance of Srila Prabhupada's Presence in ISKCON.

We envision a system of in-home lectures, as well as 1/4 , ½ or full page advertisements in Indian expat publications, paid advertisements in Indian-American radio and television programs, all inviting Indians to lecture halls, individual homes, etc., to be shown clear Powerpoint presentations of the irrefutable reasoning at no point derelicted His idea that the individual temples be forever independent. With an elected GBC advising with a very very light touch on matters of authenticity, and strict adherence to Srila Prabhupada's actual teachings, in such a way that the Temple Members rise incrementally in their level of realization, so that each temple because a self-manifested haven of spiritual inquiry and realization.

All great revolutions have started without much to go on. As Schopenhauer stated, "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

Lamentably, at this point, we are still in the "ridicule" stage, and have not yet attained a level of effectiveness to be "violently opposed". Yet once "violently opposed", it will be a very short passage to the stage of complete acceptance in which it will be "accepted as being self-evident".

The French Revolution, the Russian revolution, what to speak of the American Revolution have proven Schopenhauer's prognosis to be quite real and true in every detail.

    "Many wealthy Indian donors are tied by sentiment to their Gurus, and this loyalty is much stronger than their loyalty to a local GBC representative. Even if compromised temple presidents are driven out by tightening up the purse strings, and no GBC or maha-guru comes to their aid, a DOM-instituted vote might still come down to a local congregation whose individual sentiments lie with one of the very same GBC/Gurus who controlled the previous temple president."

In Plato's Republic, Socrates presents syllogistic reasoning to support the idea of representational government, based on the fact that a man will always act in his own self-interest. No matter what level or degree of loyalty may exist between one man and another, be he guru, king, or president, ultimately a man will act in his own self-interest. The signifier in this case, that separates the Direction of Management from what is called "democracy" is that in democracy, ordinary men elect one of themselves to be the head of state. That is the flaw. In our case, we already have the Head, and it is Srila Prabhupada. Our elected structure is not to dictate over the Head, as does the "Ultimate ecclesiastical authority", which the GBC fancies they have become, but to accept that the Head is and always will be Srila Prabhupada, first in Vapu, then in the form of His Vani. So in such context, the GBC becomes agents who absorb the siddhanta of Srila Prabhupada's Vani, and assist their mortal counterparts (the temple presidents) to absorb His Teachings also. Not to add. Not to dictate. Ever.

The Indian population is not composed of dumb and sentimental mediocrates, inferior in all ways to their "white" counterparts in ISKCON. It is our recent experience in Seattle and Portland, Oregon that there are many gatherings and households of initiated Indian Vaishnavas who practice Krishna Consciousness purely and earnestly in their homes. We were invited to many such homes, and we found temple-quality Deity worship and Kirtans far more reflective of Srila Prabhupada's Mood of Chanting than any of the ISKCON temples that we visited. They were not worshipping like Hindus, but they were worshipping like disciples of Srila Prabhupada who took their worship seriously.

On several occasions we were taken aside by our Indian hosts, who were troubled by inconsistencies in the ISKCON temples that they could clearly see were not a direct outcome of the study of Srila Prabhupada's Vani. They asked our advice, and they trusted us due to the fact that our chanting and Krishna Katha did not contain innuendos, hints for money, or political agendas, what to speak of condescension of the Indian people.

In one Indian home in Seattle, one of the top IT professionals of Starbucks Coffee Company was deeply concerned upon reading the copy of the Direction of Management which we handed to him, while we made some minor adjustment to the paint on one of his Deities. After reading the paper intensely and with great attention, he cried out in consternation, "Why was I not informed of this?"

    "This reality has been slowly developing in North American temples for many years, and it is now a prevalent phenomenon, here and elsewhere in the world. The reality is that the loyalty of many individual members is tied to their loving sentiments for Guru, not simply to their sentiments for Srila Prabhupada or the philosophy, what to speak of the GBC. Of course, good preaching can change hearts and minds, even in this regard."

Such surface emotions as "loyalty", "loving sentiments", etc., tend to quickly vanish when a man, acting in good faith, believing what he has been told up to this point, comes to his own realization that his social, human and membership rights in ISKCON have been violated, and that he has been made to play the fool to manipulative Westerners, who tend to sneer at Indian "skin". One need not immediately reject one's guru over this issue, but certainly, one must think for one's self, and engage his guru/GBC in conversation, to determine if it was pure ignorance or actual conspiracy that kept the Direction of Management "locked up in a safe" from 1970 onward, where no one (particularly Temple Presidents) could read it, and realize the actual nature of the feast that Srila Prabhupada had prepared for all of us. This feast stands in stark contrast to the "never adequate beggar" that each ISKCON member, Life Member, and initiated Indian member, has become.

The great revolutions of this world (such as French, Russian and American) were not fought over sentiment or even ideals. They were fought due to the painfully empty stomachs of those who faced death willingly against their Tyrant, rather than go on in an existence that could only be described as miserable.

    "Another dynamic on the horizon not mentioned by Roupa Manjari devi is the new mundane corporate model for ISKCON management being evangelized by Gopal Bhatta dasa & Company, which the GBC and Guru's appear to be embracing wholeheartedly. As it's been described thus far, this model would put a new bureaucratic firewall between the GBC members and Gurus and the rest of ISKCON's members. Adopting the scheme under the guise of "improving ISKCON", we can only assume that the individual leaders believe this new centralization of management will somehow or other make their lives easier. We think they are sadly mistaken in that regard."

Srila Prabhupada clearly fought the centralization of ISKCON from the very beginning of the movement. With the help of His senior disciples, He created the Direction of Management to specifically prevent any attempt at centralization. He wrote letters to Karandhar and others (Giriraj), condemning the notion of centralization, and disbanded the GBC after they elected a senior accountant for Arthur Anderson accounting firm, to specifically centralize ISKCON, in a secret meeting held in 1972 without Srila Prabhupada's knowledge or permission. Nor had they invited Srila Prabhupada to that meeting, which clearly violated Srila Prabhupada's DOM directive that He would give the final approval in all matters.

The enormity of what Gopal Bhatta and Co. have achieved via the very expensively contrived new "ISKCON Bylaws" takes matters much further than simply a management interface between the GBC and Temple Presidents. First, it should be understood that the GBC and gurus basically are the same thing and create each other in each other's image. There is not likely to be any rift between gurus and GBC, since both are in the category of "self-appointed non-elected" leaders of ISKCON, who remain unaccountable to anyone in ISKCON other than themselves.

The deeper significance of declaring the GBC to be the "ultimate ecclesiastical authority" of ISKCON may dawn on us more slowly than the urgency created by that preposterous self-entitlement requires. A very cold and careful reading of the ISKCON Bylaws indicate that unlike the Direction of Management, which specifies that the GBC executes Srila Prabhupada's Will, the "ultimate ecclesiastical" GBC have positioned themselves to have replaced Srila Prabhupada, instead of being His representatives, or via media channel of His Vani to the Temple Presidents and congregant members. They reserve the right of "orthodoxy" of scripture, and have retained for themselves a clear right based on their combined authority alone, to dictate what is to be taught and believed in the ISKCON temples, with the added penalty that those who deviate will be labeled "heretics" and then expelled (we can supply a copy of the new ISKCON Bylaws that all of the Temple Presidents were obliged to sign).

Unless we are mistaken, the governance structure resulting from the new ISKCON Bylaws will be more monolithic than the divided and multi-faceted governance that you described above. As far as we can see, there will be the "monolith" of the unelected management of ISKCON, and directly below that, the Temple Presidents, who have sworn enduring loyalty to this new management conception. To our view, they have created a very powerful fortress with ramparts, moats, etc., which cannot be crashed from the front, and they have done so to protect themselves from lawsuits, and the necessity of revealing internal documents under the protection of the laws governing ecclesiastical organizations.

What they have omitted from their calculations is that while the front is heavily fortified, the entire vast "backside" of the movement has no protection whatsoever, save and except for the "sentimental attachments" of the Indian congregation members for their respective gurus. This vast and unprotected "Donation Base" cannot be controlled by the "ultimate ecclesiastical authority", whose objective is to simply control the Temple Presidents and nothing more. The soft vast underbelly of the donation-rich Indian members of ISKCON are (we have found) extremely intelligent, highly trained engineers and IT professionals, who have factually taken away the jobs from American citizens trained in America universities. Their intelligence is not just equal to their Western counterparts; it is clearly superior. Such men and their families can be mobilized, because unlike the Western members of ISKCON, their brains have not been addled by years of disinformation on the level of Orwell's novel 1984. On the societal level, they are experiencing a type of cultural freedom unavailable to their tightly run family and social structures in India. When they realize that a similar structure of freedom has been denied them by self-interested conspirators in ISKCON, they will quickly realize that they have been paying "taxation without representation".

After their first realizations, they will then realize that with their money, education, and Indian patterns of social integration, that they will be able to create very interesting, profitable, and productive structures around their local ISKCON temples in such a way that both the temple and the devotee community (both Caucasian and Indian) will prosper and expand from self-generated income. Once engaged in this way, none of them would ever want to go back to being smiling supplicants in a "white man's temple".

    "Whoever the GBC men/women in charge are at the time administrative power is turned over to a group of paid mundane managers in a bureaucratic scheme that expressly disobeys Srila Prabhupada instructions – those leaders will go down in ISKCON history as traitors and offenders of the worst kind. They will never be free of the stigma of having sold out Srila Prabhupada's spiritual society."

With luck, endeavor, and accepting the freely given empowerment by Lord Krishna Himself, we may take it upon ourselves to see that this calamity of misguided governance may never come to pass.

    "It's easy to imagine how such an arrangement was sold to the GBC members… with flow charts and Powerpoint presentations touting the benefits of a scheme in which GBC/Gurus are no longer responsible for dealing with every problem that arises in ISKCON. Instead, they are being sold on the notion of having a buffer zone of managerial directors who will handle the problems for them, navigating the society through the many sticky wickets that mark the field, thus leaving the GBC/Gurus "free to preach".

    If we speculate on the future of that scheme, however, we see a number of possible scenarios that are not so rosy. Aside from the fact that Srila Prabhupada emphatically instructed against centralization in his society (which the GBC and their committees unabashedly acknowledge and admit they are transgressing) there are some archetypal problems inherent in such a model. One of the most obvious is that ISKCON will have a new focal point for taking problems, complaints and lawsuits to."

Srila Prabhupada's directive for dealing with "problems, complaints, and lawsuits" was the process of Istagosthi, which is conducted on the local level and nowhere else. It is actually through the process of Istagosthi that the donating members of ISKCON will be able to reach the Siddhanta required to establish new Temple Presidents and reject the old, as well as deal with all of the other routine and daily issues that plague all those in the conditioned state of mind. In this way each and every member has a voice, not just in the election of the GBC, and not just in the election of the Temple President, but in all ways in which his or her temple is run.

Those who are disciples of a Pure Devotee of the Lord (in this case, Srila Prabhupada) need to understand that whatever orders, recommendations and desires of their Spiritual Master, for the protection and governance of His ISKCON society, are the best method for the happy achievement of a satisfied life. The fact that Srila Prabhupada's order such as the DOM and the 1974 Topmost Urgency letter were rejected and ignored has led to an ISKCON composed of tormented and despondent inmates, which should be a clear indication that somewhere or other, and at some level or other, the clear Beneficent instruction of the Pure Devotee of the Lord has been rejected or ignored. How foolish does a man have to be to think that he can ignore or reject the Order of the Pure Devotee, and then expect that actual happiness will be his, what to speak of others?

    "In the past, there has been much confusion about the GBC's legal persona as a global ecclesiastical body, a corporate body registered in West Bengal, and a functional unincorporated body operating in countries around the world. We know of numerous prospective litigants over the years who have been left scratching their heads about who, what and how to sue. So a new body of directors would, it seems, come out of the starting gate with a big target painted on their backs. This group will presumably be more geographically stationary than the GBC members, and will be the new public face for executive level management of the global society, and may have some fiduciary responsible to the Society. This would seem to create at least the appearance, if not the reality of a much more defined target for lawsuits."

The title of "ultimate ecclesiastical authority" adopted by the "GBC" is centered in West Bengal, and is granted by law a body of secrecy that is the inherent attribute of an ecclesiastical society. Simply put, when asked questions, an ecclesiastical society is not obliged to answer (the lawsuits against the Catholic Church in recent years have produced surprisingly small results due to the ecclesiastical protection that keeps many Catholic documents sealed from the eyes of lawyers and courts.)

    "We hear rumblings about the very substantial budget being negotiated for the new office of directors, which will apparently be funded out of the coffers of the GBC members and Gurus. Surely it has dawned on these leaders that bureaucrats are always good at one thing – coming back to the trough for more money. And while the deep-pockets Gurus/GBC might be resigned to having to cough up a yearly budget – at least until self-funding money-making schemes can be kicked into action – we wonder if the GBC/Gurus who are funding this managerial phantasmagoria have considered what it will be like when their Office of Directors comes begging for even more money to refresh the legal defense fund, hire lawyers, pay retainers and court costs, etc. -- all the burdens of duty one would expect to come along for such a visible, stationary, legally empowered public face of a global organization."

If governance is brought in line with Srila Prabhupada's Directives, then the abuses that you describe will not occur. We should never forget that Lord Krishna Himself already knows what side of the vital issues He is willing to support. Duryodhana chose Krishna's army at the battle of Kuruksetra, and Arjuna chose only Krishna, without any army at all. Because Krishna was on Arjuna's side, the Pandavas prevailed at the battle of Kuruksetra, against all sagely calculated odds by the "bookmakers" of their day.

    "In the context of our discussion on the DOM, how this new cadre of bureaucratic directors will impact funding at the local temple level remains to be seen. At the least, we can expect it to add a new layer of bureaucratic 'noise' that will take some time to get a handle on and eventually filter out. At the worst, it will add a new level of politicians who must be dealt with before significant change -- such as the program of change suggested by Roupa Manjari devi -- can be brought about."

In our earlier response, we have attempted to demonstrate concretely and structurally, that mobilizing the donating congregation into a potent partisan "army" intent on perfecting their natural self-interest according to the clearly stated DOM by Srila Prabhupada need not wait. This insurgent process of mobilizing the donors will not depend on any action performed by corporate ISKCON. And why should it? Srila Prabhupada did not want centralized corporate ISKCON, which means that Lord Krishna Himself does not want centralized corporate ISKCON. Simply Krishna and Srila Prabhupada are patiently waiting for someone to emerge whom they can empower. So far, few if any disciples of Srila Prabhupada can even imagine that they can be the "Arjuna" on this particular battlefield, and that they need not heed the odds, once they have had the glance of the "crushing teeth" of the Universal Form.

    "In her article, Roupa Manjari suggests that the GBC have been:

      "…misleading the donors with the lie that Srila Prabhupada entrusted and ordered them to do as they are doing, that is, running ISKCON as a topdown corporation, meanwhile siphoning off funds, properties and resources for personal luxury."

    While that's certainly true, it's also true that in some cases, temple assets are being siphoned off, diverted and put under the control of wealthy members of the Indian community, who are turning the temples in Hindu cultural centers, with the support of the GBC. We see numerous examples in North America where temples that were once Srila Prabhupada's now bear no resemblance to his original temples. Instead, they are called by names other than ISKCON, they have regular programs of demigod worship, and their fundamental mission is to serve as a local community center for Indian congregants."

The Vedic culture of Bharat Varshya first crushed by the advent of Kali Yuga was then further crushed by the Moghul invasions, and then crushed again by the British Raja. Out of that has emerged a bedraggled "slumdog millionaire" society which appears to be pitiful, not glorious, as it was reputed to be in days of yore. When a society has been crushed by the agents of Maya, the symptom of Maya Devi herself being worshipped in an ISKCON temple will be the lamentable result.

There is no topdown cure for any of this. The more the Catholic Church created a topdown structure, the more their vast holdings all over Europe began to dwindle, and in the 1800s, when a pope claimed the first "papal infallibility", the "Holy Roman Empire" was driven completely out of Italy altogether into the city of Rome, where the citizens of Rome then pushed the Pope and his associates into that tiny tidbit of land called "Vatican City". At the time of St. Augustine, when the "desert fathers" set a formidable standard of austerity for the newly formed church, bishops were (oftimes against their inclination) elected by the congregation, who in turn constituted the early definition and description of the "Host". Obviously, the freedom and liberty of the early church was a vast aid to its spreading throughout Europe and South America, and the more centralized and controlling the church became, the more territory and power they ended up losing, just as we now see with the unelected, topmost ecclesiastical, GBC fools.

As Princess Leia famously says in Star Wars, when she was a tortured prisoner of the Empire, "The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."

    "So while we agree with many aspects of Roupa Manjari prabhu's strategy for effecting change locally by voting with one's feet and wallet – a strategy we have advocated for many years – one should not assume that simply by preaching to the wealthy Indian donors, control of local temple management can be taken back so the DOM can be instituted."

It is a fact that no potent revolution can get off the ground until the revolutionaries themselves can envision the outcome of risking their lives for genuine change.

Those who wish to effect change within the ISKCON Movement should not endanger themselves by gazing at the GBC/guru complex and all the things that they might or might not do, just as Perseus never gazed upon Medusa, but slew her based on her reflection on his polished shield.

    "Regarding the language in the DOM about the "ballot of Temple Presidents", Roupa Manjari devi has given us her conclusion, and we think she's correct. Our point was simply that to the degree one wants to consider the DOM to be a legalistic document, they'll have to deal with language that is somewhat ambiguous, e.g. regarding how the system of ballots is to work."

    In our article on the DOM, Part 1, we wrote:

      "Srila Prabhupada also states that he will "choose to retain" four commissioners. These four, plus the 8 elected, form the 12-person GBC. Because he does not provide any distinction in this document between the roles of the 8 GBC members compared to the select group of four commissioners, the reader must ask whether he meant for there to be a functional difference between these roles, or whether he simply meant to have a small hand-picked group with greater longevity. [ ] To our knowledge, Srila Prabhupada never actually chose these four commissioners. Perhaps someone can confirm this, and tell us if the reason is known?"

    To which Roupa Manjari devi replied:

      "This is explained by Srila Prabhupada's Statement, "In the event of Srila Prabhupada's absence, the retiring members will decide which four will remain." The four commissioners are to be kept for the duration of one tenure, 3 years, so that the 8 new GBC members will have experienced GBCs from the previous term to guide them in their new roles and to balance the former GBC with the new GBC. At the next election these 4 commissioners will "retire", e.g., finish their term as GBC, and 4 new commissioners will stay on for the same purpose. In this way there will never be a completely new group, a clause affording multiple degrees of integrity and protection for ISKCON."

    We would have to disagree with this response. The question was, among an initial 12 GBC members, did Srila Prabhupada ever name four to be retained commissioners, and if not, why not? The answer she points to is a reference as to how these retained commissioners would be keep in office in succeeding years. She offers a speculative rationale for the arrangement Srila Prabhupada refers to in the DOM, but we see none of this actually stated in the DOM by His Divine Grace."

We do not find that there is any indication in the DOM that the 4 commissioners have a permanent or lasting role, or that they are retained past the second election. Your concern that Srila Prabhupada does not state the special purpose of these 4 commissioners is most easily satisfied by considering that they are not so special after all. Electing 12 men for 3 years and then electing another board of 12 men would lead to utter confusion, since no one would have adequate understanding of what the first 12 men had done or decided. The retained 4 commissioners simply act as a bridge to the new commissioners (they happen to know on which shelf the paper clips are stored).

Of course Srila Prabhupada never appointed commissioners due to the fact that they would have resulted after the first elected GBC had completed its three year term with its members either re-elected for an additional term, or retired back to their original role of Temple President.

    "This question is perhaps one of the most important ones that comes to mind in relationship to the DOM, because it deals directly with whether or not, or the degree to which Srila Prabhupada himself engaged in the process recommended by the DOM. In other words, what do Srila Prabhupada's own actions indicate with respect to his wishes that the DOM be instituted? As Roupa Manjari herself acknowledges:

      "Srila Prabhupada did not enforce elections by the DOM during His Manifest Lila as He personally selected the GBC, as He states in the DOM that He has the right to do. After He went into Samadhi however, this clause, along with the entire election process elucidated in the DOM, and reiterated strongly in the 1974 Topmost Urgency Letter was to be immediately enacted."

    It seems the many DOM adherents make an effort to de-emphasize the apparent fact that Srila Prabhupada himself did not institute and/or enforce the DOM as a functional process in ISKCON. Roupa Manjari devi sidesteps the issue by saying that Srila Prabhupada didn't enforce elections during his lila because he personally selected the GBC. But she doesn't answer the question, did he select four commissioners? Because if he did not, that would appear to make two significant ways in which he himself did not execute the DOM. This, of course, raises questions about whether or not he changed his mind about instituting the DOM, in whole or in part, for whatever reason."

The first important consideration regarding elections under the DOM is that between 1970 and 1977 there would have been only two elections that could have been scheduled. The first scheduled election would have been the year 1973, shortly after Srila Prabhupada disbanded the GBC for having conspired against Him and voted to centralize ISKCON under the guidance of the Arthur Anderson accountant, who had been illegally added to the GBC by some members of the GBC that did not constitute a voting quorum. Under those circumstances of reigning in a clearly visible GBC insurrection designed to obviate the DOM, holding an election at such a time would have been absurd.

As far as Srila Prabhupada having retained 4 commissioners is concerned, those 4 would have been retained out of the original 12 men appointed by Srila Prabhupada in 1970. The four commissioners would have remained acting GBC, and 8 new commissioners (or the same commissioners re-elected) would have taken their office in 1973. There was no election in 1973, therefore no need to retain 4 commissioners, particularly as Srila Prabhupada was watching the GBC like a hawk, and searching for signs of further insurgency.

The second election would have been held in 1976, and considering the turbulent nature of the GBC and ISKCON in 1976, again, an election would have served no practical purpose at all. In short, as an alternative to holding elections, Srila Prabhupada exercised His right as stated in the DOM to appoint GBC commissioners during His Lifetime.

It would be hard to say that Srila Prabhupada "gave up" on the DOM, considering that 4 years after He created it (July 1974), He wrote His "Topmost Urgency" letter, co-signed by Bali Mardan and Brahmananda, the second paragraph of which demands that the DOM be added to the incorporation papers of each individually incorporated ISKCON temple or group of temples. Later in 1974 Srila Prabhupada writes several letters referring to the DOM and several more letters referencing the election of Temple Presidents (http://www.iskcon-dom.com/dom-letters.html).

In 1975 the DOM was added to the incorporation papers of ISKCON California, and in 1976, the DOM was added to the incorporation papers of the ISKCON Bay Area (Berkeley). It would be very hard to say that Srila Prabhupada did not want the DOM, considering that He ordered it to be adopted by all temples as late as 1976. It would also be impossible to say that the direct, clear, gross disobedience by the GBC to add the Direction of Management to all of the incorporation papers of all of the temples as directly ordered by Srila Prabhupada in 1974, would constitute Srila Prabhupada's "giving up on the DOM", solely on the basis that this clear and very decisive order had been universally disobeyed.

It is very cheeky indeed for the GBC's refusal to obey the 1974 letter as proof that Srila Prabhupada did not want the DOM added to the incorporation papers of the temples (this is akin to the British having burned all of the sacred palm leaf libraries of Calcutta, and then mocking their young Indian students 20 years later by telling them, "You are primitive savages, because you have no libraries or books".)

    "Roupa Manjari devi tells us that Srila Prabhupada strongly reiterated the entire DOM election process four years later, in his Topmost Urgency letter. But we do not find that to be the case. The Topmost Urgency letter states that it particularly deals with the handling of real estate. It also says:

      "There shall be a Governing Board Committee of trustees appointed by the Founder-Acharya His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad according to the document Direction of Management dated July 28, 1970."

If Srila Prabhupada was no longer interested in the DOM, then why would He have mentioned it in the 1974 "Topmost Urgency" letter at all? Additionally, why would He write at least 3 letters referencing the DOM after the date of the 1974 letter? And of further significance, why would He add the DOM to ISKCON California and ISKCON Bay Area if He no longer was interested in the DOM?

A truly curious feature of the 1974 letter is the fact that "Topmost Urgency" orders were given in the first paragraph as contrasted with the second paragraph. The first paragraph, which gave clear instruction as to how to use Srila Prabhupada's full Title and relationship to ISKCON as Acarya, was fanatically and meticulously obeyed by every single temple in the ISKCON of that time. Signs were changed, promotional literature thrown in the trash, and many other areas where Srila Prabhupada was merely referred to as "Srila Prabhupada", "Bhaktivedanta Swami", etc., were brought up to the standard demanded by Srila Prabhupada in the "Topmost Urgency" letter. From that date onward He has always been referred to as "His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness".

That the second paragraph was completely disobeyed (except in two cases) would indicate that everyone had read the complete letter, agreed amongst themselves to obey the first paragraph, and subsequently agreed amongst themselves to disobey the second paragraph. Considering that the GBC later on referred to their post as "absolute authority" (1976), we can understand that at no point had they considered obeying the DOM, as it would render the post of GBC to little more than a city councilman in a not very large city. What these selfsame men did later is history.

    "As mentioned in our analysis of the Topmost Urgency document:

      "This is a very interesting statement. The phrase "There shall be" suggests that perhaps Srila Prabhupada had not yet appointed his GBC trustees, although this Amendment document was executed almost exactly four years after the original DOM."

    We know that the GBC was originally put in place before, not after, the date of the Topmost Urgency letter, so the language is somewhat open to interpretation. Furthermore, the Topmost Urgency refers to (or as Roupa Manjari devi says, 'strongly reiterates') the appointment of the GBC – not the re-election of them. And again, it does not mention the four retained commissioners.

    So if Srila Prabhupada meant the Topmost Urgency amendments letter to be an emphatic reiteration of the DOM, why did he not enforce it, either following the DOM's issuance in 1970, or during the four years between the release of the 1974 Topmost Urgency letter and his departure lila? If he was intent on seeing the DOM enacted, why did he not, during this seven year period, retain the four commissioners who are central to the elections process described in the DOM?

    Roupa Manjari's point of clarification on the election of a GBC chairman for each meeting, not for a year, is well taken.

    We hope that this further clarifies the points we attempted to make in our first two articles on the DOM, and we thank Roupa Manjari devi for her analysis in response."

I hope that you will find these responses satisfactory, and that they will lead to a new round of discussion concerning the finer points of the items discussed.

Your eternal servant,
Roupa Manjari devi dasi



Please also see:
Direction Of Management
What is the Direction of Management [DOM] ?
Direction Of Management For An Elected GBC