Editorial: “GBC Suppressed The Truth” Officiating Acaryas

The following is an older article but one of great importance, with perhaps the only remaining document of the GBC summary report of the meeting that took place between May 27-29, 1977.

Officiating Acaryas

Editorial: “GBC Suppressed The Truth”
by Locanananda dasa

EDITORIAL, Dec 13 [1999] (VNN)

New evidence has just been discovered that suggests a GBC conspiracy to suppress instructions given by Śrīla Prabhupāda concerning how he wanted initiations to be performed after his departure.

In May of 1977, the members of the GBC were summoned to Vrndavana, India to meet with Śrīla Prabhupāda when His Divine Grace thought his departure from this world was imminent. His Divine Grace revealed to a committee of GBC members that he was going to recommend some of his disciples to act as officiating ācāryas to perform first and second initiations when he would no longer be with us. As evidenced by the following document, the GBC decided at the time that devotees throughout the world should not be informed of this most important revelation made by their beloved spiritual master.

The repercussions of the decision to suppress the truth and the subsequent deviation from Śrīla Prabhupāda’s instructions have left devoted followers of His Divine Grace deadlocked over the issue of guru succession and initiations in ISKCON for more than two decades.

The document in question is a summary report of the GBC meetings held during the three days from May 27-29, 1977. The report was sent out to all ISKCON temple presidents and begins with a list of names of the GBC members in attendance. The first point mentioned in the report is that a list of trustees of all ISKCON properties was submitted to Śrīla Prabhupāda. The second point states that committees were formed to improve the original charter and expand the Bureau of Management in India. Point number three deals with the questions posed by the GBC committee concerning how Śrīla Prabhupāda’s mission was to be continued under the direction of the GBC after his departure. It is this third item that is of great significance.

A review of the document shows quite clearly that the GBC deliberately omitted from the report Śrīla Prabhupāda’s answer to the question concerning initiations. This intentional omission was apparently made to conceal Śrīla Prabhupāda’s wishes from his disciples worldwide concerning the initiation procedures he wanted followed after his departure. Had this been an honest presentation of the facts, the report would have stated:

“When asked how first and second initiations would be performed after he was no longer with us, Śrīla Prabhupāda said that he was going to recommend some of his disciples to act as officiating ācāryas.”

The text of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s conversation with the GBC committee was not disclosed for many years, which has created a credibility gap between the leaders of ISKCON and ISKCON’s general membership.

Six weeks later, a letter issued on July 9th, 1977 bearing Śrīla Prabhupāda’s signature was sent to all temple presidents to explain changes that were being made in initiation procedures. It was the outcome of a discussion that had taken place two days earlier between Śrīla Prabhupāda and his secretary. In that conversation, to resolve the problem of an initiation backlog, Śrīla Prabhupāda first recommended that senior sannyāsīs could again perform initiation ceremonies as had been done before his illness. However, when the secretary reminded Śrīla Prabhupāda of the May 28th meeting with the GBC, this historic conversation evolved into the naming of the officiating ācāryas, referred to in the letter as “ritvik representatives.”

Śrīla Prabhupāda had said he was going to recommend some of his disciples to perform initiations on his behalf after his disappearance, and the July 9th letter was the fulfillment of that promise. According to the May 28th announcement to the GBC, those initiated during his physical presence by representatives of the ācārya would be considered his direct disciples, while those initiated after his disappearance by officiating ācāryas would be considered his second generation of disciples, or granddisciples. The difference was considered to be one of formalities, since all members of ISKCON throughout the course of its history would perpetually serve, worship and follow the teachings of their great preceptor ācārya, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda. That is the principle that unifies the International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness.

The document presented below was transcribed exactly from the original which accounts for any spelling or grammatical errors. Because the only remaining copy may be the one in my possession, I recommend that devotees save copies in their files for future reference.

===== Beginning of Document =====

GBC MEETINGS
Vrndavanaa (Kṛṣṇa Balarāma Mandir) May 27-29, 1977

Signatures of Attendence:

Adi Keśava Svāmī (acting GBC)
Harikeśa Svāmī
Ātreya Rishi Dāsa
Hridayānanda Gosvāmī
Balavanta Dāsa
Jagadīśa dās
Bali Mardan Dāsa
Jayapatākā Svāmī
Bhagavān Dāsa
Kīrtanānanda Svāmī
Bhavānanda Gosvāmī (non GBC member)
Pañcadraviḍa Svāmī
Brahmānanda Svāmī
Rāmeśvara Svāmī
Gargamuni Svāmī
Rūpānuga dās
Giriraj dāsa (non GBC member)
Satsvarūpa Gosvāmī
Gopal Kṛṣṇa dās
Swarupa Dāmodara dās
Guru Kripa Svāmī
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa Gosvāmī

SUMMARY REPORT

1. A list of trustees for all ISKCON properties worldwide was submitted to Śrīla Prabhupāda at his request. Properties in India can never be sold, mortgaged, etc. Properties outside India in principle should never be sold, but in the event it is necessary, they can be mortgaged, etc. only with the signed approval of all the appointed trustees. The list of trustees (and instructions for setting up this “trustee-system” legally) will be circulated by the GBC Property Committee to all GBC members and temple presidents for immediate implementation.

2. For ISKCON India, committees were formed to protect the Society by making improvements in the original “charter,” expanding the Bureau of Management (for India), and seriously researching permanent residency visas as our top priority.

3. A list of questions was presented to Prabhupāda, some of which he said he would tell us later. Two significant questions His Divine Grace did reply to are:

a. GBC members shall remain permanently. If a member leaves, the GBC can appoint new GBC members.

b. New translations of Vedic works can be published in the future, even after Śrīla Prabhupāda’s departure, by the BBT but they can only be done by one who is very expert and advanced in his realization. At present, Prabhupāda acknowledged, there is no one yet qualified.

4. In order to help the India Yātrās, a co-GBC was appointed for liasion purposes, especially to assist with manpower and financial requirements- for each of the major India projects as follows: a. Bombay: Rāmeśvara Svāmī and the Western USA Zone b. Māyāpura: Tamāla Kṛṣṇa Gosvāmī, Adi Keśava Svāmī and the Northeast USA Zone c. Vrndavanaa: Bhagavān Dāsa and the Southern Europe Zone d. Hyderbad Farm: Harikeśa Svāmī and the North Europe Zone e. Hyderbad temple: Hṛdayānanda Gosvāmī, Pañcadraviḍa Svāmī and the two Latin America Zones
(note: this does not mean that assisting these projects is the exclusive responsibility of these western zones- these still remain the whole Society’s projects, and we are all responsible)

5. The Australia GBC Zone and Hari Śauri Dāsa will be responsible for assisting Fiji.

6. As the date for the Bombay opening is fixed (October 21) funds are required immediately and a short term solution adopted was that Nāma Haṭṭa would make one more substantial payment in June, and funds would be borrowed from Spiritual Sky Incense Co. in LA for a comparable payment in June. The main source of increased funds is recognized as increasing book distribution, and the US BBT must resume its monthly payments at the end of July.

7. Each temple must donate a fixed contribution each month to ISKCON Food Relief, on the following allocation:
small temple: $50.00 medium temple: $100.00 large temple: $150.00 maha-large temple $200.00
Each GBC man shall open one zonal account, and be responsible to collect money from all his temples, then send it in one sum to Adi Keśava Svāmī for forwarding to ISKCON Food Relief in India. The India centers distributing food must send the GBC regular reports of their prasad distribution, including photos.

8. The profit made by the US BBT by selling 100,000 records to temples will be set up as a travel fund for the 20 Argentina devotees going to India, and for repaying the Food Relief debt of Ṛs. 50,000 to Māyāpur.

9. As each BBT division must allocate funds for temple construction, and as the Latin America zones are responsible for assisting the Hyderbad temple, the Spanish BBT construction money will be sent each month to Hyderbad to complete the temple construction there (estimated completion by January 1) and thereafter their monthly allotment sent to Śrīla Prabhupāda to repay Hyderbad’s loan from His Divine Grace.

10) RESOLVED: Whereas Śrīla Prabhupāda’s desires and goals for expanding ISKCON activities through special projects in India (construction, development, maintenance, food distribution, etc.) are known to all GBC members, it is resolved that the GBC body accepts the final responsibility for these.

===== End of Document =====

Text pasted from; Pratyatosa.com

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