November 30, 1998 VNN2583 See Related VNN Stories
BBT Legal Case Ends
BY JAYADVAITA SWAMI AND GUPTA DASA
USA, Nov 30 (VNN) JOINT ANNOUNCEMENT
BBT Legal Case Ends
Devotees settle their differences and pledge cooperation
"Now all my disciples must work combinedly and with cooperation to spreadthis Sankirtan Movement. If you cannot work together then my work isstopped up. Our Society is like one big family and our relationships shouldbe based on love and trust. We must give up the fighting spirit and use ourintelligence to push ahead."
(Letter from Srila Prabhupada to Upendra Prabhu, dated 6 August 1970)
Hare Krishna. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada. All Glories to Lord Nityanandaand Lord Caitanya.
The BBTI-Hansadutta court case is over. By the grace of Krishna, the devoteesinvolved were able to settle the matter without need of a trial. On November13, the devotees appeared before the judge and placed their settlement onrecord, thus putting their legal dispute to an end.
In dispute had been several issues: Is the original American BBT trust, foundedby Srila Prabhupada in 1972, still valid? Is it the true owner of thecopyrights to Srila Prabhupada's literary works? And was Hansadutta Dasa stillrightfully entitled to serve as a trustee?
After some eighteen months of researching, analyzing and litigating the matteras adversaries, the devotees began to see clearly that to reach a final andlasting resolution, we had to shift from adversarial positioning to spiritualcooperation. Accordingly, after several weeks of intense negotiations, wereached an agreement meant to satisfy our various concerns. It was thisagreement that was then officially accepted by the court.
The agreement reaffirms the validity of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust formed bySrila Prabhupada on May 29, 1972. This was a legal California trust into whichSrila Prabhupada conveyed the copyrights to his books. All sides agree thatthis trust is still legal and alive, and that it is the true owner of SrilaPrabhupada's copyrights, as Srila Prabhupada desired.
This was an outcome upon which all the devotees, in a spirit of cooperation,submitted their willingness to agree. Now all sides are pleased to see SrilaPrabhupada's copyrights secure within this original trust.
Hansadutta Dasa, Veda Guhya Dasa, Bhagavan Dasa, and Dasa Dasanudasa Dasa Dasihave voluntarily stepped down from any role they might have had as trustees ofthe 1972 trust. And all concerned have agreed that now the trustees will befour trustees from the BBT International: Brahma Muhurta Dasa, Naresvara Dasa,Svavasa Dasa, and Jayadvaita Swami.
All parties agree that the rightful beneficiary of the trust is theInternational Society for Krishna Consciousness, founded by Srila Prabhupada in1966 and further defined by the GBC. (The "beneficiary" is the person ororganization that a trust is supposed to benefit. So, for example, when the BBTallots funds for constructing temples, they are to be used for the benefit ofISKCON.)
With the validity of the California trust now reaffirmed, what about the BBTI?Is it redundant? Is it useful? Is it needed at all? It's too soon to say. Fornow, the 1972 BBT trust will serve mainly as the safe shelter for SrilaPrabhupada's copyrights. And on its behalf the BBT International will continuehandling the active side of BBT operations.
Meanwhile, devotee attorneys who opposed one another in the case will worktogether to study how best to take advantage of the two legal units--the BBTand the BBTI--to serve Srila Prabhupada's desires. Gupta Dasa (who served asthe attorney on Hansadutta's side of the case) will work on this with AmarendraDasa (who served on the ISKCON side).
Another part of the settlement is a liberal licensing arrangement that allowsfor cooperative publishing. Under this arrangement, Hansadutta Prabhu and thedevotees working with him will form a company that can publish SrilaPrabhupada's books in the editions published before 1978. These will beavailable for sale in markets where they won't directly compete withdistribution by the BBT and by ISKCON temples.
The theme is "cooperation, not competition." The new company may also buy booksfrom the BBT, or vice versa. Or the two may work together on joint projects.
Finally, in recognition of the strong legal claims and defenses presented byHansadutta's side in the case (both in America and in Singapore, where thematter first started), the BBTI will reimburse Hansadutta, and the devotees whosupported him, for their attorney's fees and costs.
Clearly, the devotees involved in this case were able to settle theirdifferences only by treating one another respectfully, as spirit souls,servants of Srila Prabhupada. They had to focus together on strengthening andexpanding--rather than weakening and limiting--the Krishna consciousnessmovement.
The resolution of this lawsuit, a case full of emotionally and spirituallycharged issues, called for a great deal of personal, emotional and spiritualhealing between the devotees involved. We hope that the spirit and example ofthis unique resolution can now become a model for resolving other controversiesaffecting the Hare Krsna movement and its devotees.
We're all servants of Srila Prabhupada and Krishna, and we're all meant to workcooperatively in their service. Case closed, with pleasure. Hare Krishna.
Jayadvaita Swami and Gupta Dasa
With the agreement of all the devotees directly involved:
Akruranatha Dasa, Amarendra Dasa, Bhagavan Dasa, Bhima Dasa (from Singapore),Brahma Muhurta Dasa, Dasa Dasanudasa Dasa Dasi, Gopal Krishna Goswami, GuptaDasa, Hansadutta Dasa, Madhusevita Dasa, Naresvara Dasa, Svavasa Dasa, VedaGuhya Dasa.
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