March 28, 1999 VNN3445 See Related VNN Stories
Announcing IRG vs GBC Legal Action
BY IRG INTERNATIONAL OFFICE CALCUTTA
INDIA, Mar 28 (VNN) The IRG has filed a legal action against the GBC over their flagrant violation of Srila Prabhupada's final directive on how initiations would be conducted in ISKCON, sent to the whole movement on July 9th, 1977. By abandoning this directive from Srila Prabhupada, they are also in violation of Srila Prabhupada's Last Will and Testament, with specific regards to the clause calling for no change to the system of management.
This relates directly to the issue of Srila Prabhupada's continued diksa status since part of that management system covered initiations. The lawsuit has been filed in West Bengal, India, where the GBC are currently registered as a legal entity. The case will be handled by a reputable legal firm Sandersons and Morgans. Below is set out some of the background that has made this litigation, however regrettable, nevertheless quite unavoidable.
Srila Prabhupada wanted all ISKCON members to respect the GBC and work together cooperatively under its authority. For this ethos of respect and voluntary submission to exist the GBC body themselves must be seen to be acting, to the best of their abilities, within the stringent boundaries set them by the person who originally authorized their existence, namely Srila Prabhupada. By clearly and blatantly acting outside, and even in direct contradiction to those strict boundaries, the GBC have tragically precipitated their own loss of authority. Indeed, in the eyes of many devotees in and around the movement, they have become an embarrassment to Srila Prabhupada through their speculative introduction of unauthorized systems, practices and philosophy. Our aim is to place the GBC back firmly within their prescribed boundaries, and thus assist in the restoration of their authority. We want to serve under a GBC everyone can be proud of and respect as faithfully upholding Srila Prabhupada's teachings and instructions. Thus our action is designed to strengthen the GBC body in the long term, not weaken or undermine it. In their present consciousness they will undoubtedly see things very differently.
It may be argued that Srila Prabhupada wanted us to sort our differences out amongst ourselves, and not resort to outside 'karmi' courts. It was certainly Srila Prabhupada's intention that the GBC act as sole arbiters over any disputes arising within ISKCON. However, what does one do if the GBC themselves are seriously abusing their power? How can the GBC sort out the problem if they are the problem? If the GBC voted tomorrow that Krishna was not God, would we all accept it simply because they passed an official sounding resolution? Of course not, and why? Because everyone knows the GBC must act within the parameters Srila Prabhupada set for them. These parameters were clearly set out by Srila Prabhupada in the following definition of the GBC, which he himself approved:
"The GBC has been established by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to represent Him in carrying out the responsibility of managing the International Society for Krsna Consciousness of which He is the Founder-Acarya and supreme authority. The GBC accepts as its life & soul His divine instructions and recognizes that it is completely dependent on His mercy in all respects. The GBC has no other function or purpose other than to execute the instructions so kindly given by His Divine Grace and preserve and spread His Teachings to the world in their pure form." (Definition of GBC, Resolution 1, GBC minutes 1975, emphasis added)
The ' instruction' they were authorized 'to execute' was the July 9th directive. They 'had no other function' but to execute this instruction.
And in terminating this instruction without authority from Srila Prabhupada, they have acted outside the authority given to them by Srila Prabhupada. Thus they were NOT acting as the GBC authorized by Srila Prabhupada, but in their own capacity as a self-regulating body - which the GBC are not. The GBC are directly regulated by Srila Prabhupada, as given in the definition above.
Srila Prabhupada often expressed concern over how the GBC conducted itself, on one occasion in 1972 he even disbanded it altogether. As the quotes below demonstrate he was well aware of their fallibility and tendency to deviate:
"But the difficulty is that our GBC men are falling victim to Maya. Today I trust this GBC and tomorrow he will fall down. This is the difficulty." (Srila Prabhupada letter 16.12.74)
"I made the GBC to give me relief, but if you do like this, then where is the relief? It is anxiety for me. This is the difficulty, that as soon as one gets power he becomes whimsical and spoils everything. What can I do?" (Srila Prabhupada letter 12.9.74)
"What will happen when I am not here, shall everything be spoiled by GBC?" (Srila Prabhupada letter 11.4.72) "I have appointed originally 12 GBC members and I have given them 12 zones for their administration and management, but simply by agreement you have changed everything, so what is this, I don't know." (SP Letter to Rupanuga, 4/4/72)
Srila Prabhupada's worst fears were realised the minute he departed. The transgressions are so clear that we are confident any neutral party, or jury, will see it. We have for some years warned the GBC of this fact. We have preached to them individually and as a group. We have answered every question, dotted every i, crossed every T, and gone to every length we could possibly go to to bring about a peaceful non-confrontational resolution. Unfortunately the GBC simply refuse to listen to reason, and instead openly mock, intimidate and ban our supporters.
The GBC have pronounced in the strongest possible terms that the 'No Change' presentation of Madhu Pandit and Adri Dharan prabhus is 'blasphemous' to Srila Prabhupada. This is in spite of the fact that the presentation is based entirely around Srila Prabhupada's own words, and the GBC themselves have been unable to provide any words from Srila Prabhupada in opposition.
On the contrary they have never provided any justification from Srila Prabhupada's instructions for their actions in this matter. It is for this reason we have been forced to take legal action. The Will says there should be no change to any systems of management, yet the first thing the GBC did after Srila Prabhupada's departure was to terminate his system of managing initiations, and in that way remove him as the diksa guru for ISKCON.
The GBC may argue that a court cannot decide on the matter since it is a philosophical dispute. This is a smokescreen. There never was any valid philosophical objection to Srila Prabhupada's continued diksa status as is evidenced by all the rebuttals on the IRG web site. Srila Prabhupada set up legal entities such as a BBT and wrote legal documents such as the Will so as to legally protect that which he had established. Thus it is perfectly legitimate to make a legal challenge if there has been some malpractice or illegality. Srila Prabhupada would expect his followers to protect his movement from unauthorised activity detrimental to the aims of the society, and if that protection needed to take the form of legal action then so be it. If the GBC's case is as solid and insurmountable as they like to claim then they have nothing to fear, since this is a legal case with clear legal guidelines.
The history of this dispute is well known. After years of complaints and campaigning of various sorts the GBC asked for our case to be written down in one definitive document so they could efficiently answer all our concerns. The result of this request was 'The Final Order' paper, which was presented to the GBC in Oct 1996. In partial reply the GBC released a paper called 'Disciple of My Disciple' in which they completely contradicted their previous explanations as to how Srila Prabhupada had authorised his displacement as ISKCON's diksa guru. On top of that the paper failed to address our central concerns and instead attacked arguments and propositions we had never made (please see 'The Final Order Still Stands' for details).
The GBC then changed tack and produced another paper, 'Prabhupada's Order', which again did not answer our concerns, again responded to points we had never made, and for good measure contradicted their previous paper - 'Disciple of my Disciple' - (as well as contradicting itself!)
Most recently the GBC asked us to present to them in Mayapur where, without even responding directly to our presentation, they unanimously decided we were wrong. How did they come to this conclusion? Was it by presenting evidence supporting modifications A & B from 'The Final Order'? Was it by presenting any clear counter evidence or cogent argumentation superseding the self-contradictory verbiage they had written previously? No. They reached their conclusion by a show of hands. No relevant evidence, no proper explanation, just a show of hands. Amongst them the same hands that had written self-contradictory and irrelevant rubbish only months before.
So confident were the GBC in the strength of their case that, despite great protest and dissension, they barred their own deputies from listening to our 'No Change' presentation.
In this way the GBC has simply become a law unto themselves, protecting their own positions and funding at any expense. The latest so-called 'guru reforms' are testament to this, comprising as they do of nothing but an arbitrary hotchpotch of hastily welded together measures, none of which having any basis in Srila Prabhupada's instructions (any more than the original system they were supposed to 'reform'). It is time to call a halt and bring the GBC to task for their behaviour. This is the only way we can see ISKCON surviving, and the GBC's authority being restored. The GBC shall be forced into compliance with Srila Prabhupada's order by the law of the land.
Isn't this the same as the Gaudiya Matha?
The Gaudiya Matha fought for property and power over whom would be the next acarya, with the very basis of the fight being in violation of their Guru's order that there was to be no acarya. Thus even before the court action started, the deviation from the Guru's order had already occurred, and they were simply going to the courts to assist in the enforcement of that deviation. Our action is not for control over land or property or false acaryaship, but to correct and reverse a deviation from the Guru's order.
Thus the nature and purpose of the IRG is completely the opposite to the Gaudiya Matha litigation:
"But just after his (Srila Bhaktissidhanta Sarasvati Thakura) passing away, his leading secretaries made plans, without authority, to occupy the post of acarya, and they split into two factions over who the next acarya would be. (...) the two unauthorised factions began litigation that is still going on after forty years with no decision." (Srila Prabhupada, Caitanya Caritamrta Adi.12.8)
We expect a far speedier outcome to the action over Srila Prabhupada's Final Will since it is a clear-cut case in support of our acarya's direct legally binding instructions. An expanded version of our 'no change' position has been posted on VNN & IRG in a paper entitled 'No Change In ISKCON Paradigm'. This will outline how our case is irrefutable.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada
IRG International Office Calcutta
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