GBC Means No Change


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 52, Summer 2016

The first item of Srila Prabhupada's Last Will and Testament states:

"1. The Governing Body Commission (GBC) will be the ultimate managing authority of the entire International Society for Krishna Consciousness."

However, as we shall see, this was not a special declaration now granting the GBC some supreme authority over ISKCON which they did not previously possess.

The GBC's authority

The GBC's authority during Srila Prabhupada's physical presence was defined in GBC Resolution 1, 1975, as follows:

"Resolved: The GBC (Governing Body Commissioned) 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 Krishna Consciousness of which He is the Founder-Acarya and supreme authority."

Just as in the Will, it states that the GBC will be responsible for "managing the International Society for Krishna Consciousness". And as they have been empowered to represent ISKCON's supreme authority, Srila Prabhupada, to carry out this management, they become ISKCON's managing authority. Thus, in stating in his Will that the GBC will be the "ultimate managing authority" for ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada has simply stated that everything will remain unchanged in ISKCON. The GBC will continue to manage ISKCON on his behalf, just as it did when he was physically present.

Continuing with the GBC resolution quoted earlier, we are told how the GBC must carry out this management:

"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."

Thus, the GBC's "managing authority" means it can only take action to execute, preserve and spread the instructions and teachings Srila Prabhupada has given.

No change

One instruction Srila Prabhupada issued was the final order regarding initiations, on July 9th 1977. Although this directive called for actions only from Temple Presidents and representatives to conduct the initiations ("rtviks"), it was also issued to all the GBC members since they were responsible for managing the execution of Srila Prabhupada's instructions in ISKCON. This order ensured that Srila Prabhupada's position as ISKCON's diksa guru would continue without his physical presence. That this state of affairs was to remain unchanged even after Srila Prabhupada's physical disappearance is confirmed in 3 ways by Srila Prabhupada's Last Will and Testament:

1) Srila Prabhupada does not name any Acarya or successor diksa guru to take his place in ISKCON.

2) Instead, as already noted, Clause 1 of the Will ensures that the state of affairs which already exists in ISKCON will continue to remain unchanged. That is, the GBC will continue to represent Srila Prabhupada, the supreme authority, in managing all of ISKCON's affairs as the "ultimate managing authority", just as it did when Srila Prabhupada was physically present. And this state of affairs included Srila Prabhupada being ISKCON's diksa guru, and ensuring his order of July 9th, 1977 is executed.

3) To re-confirm this point, the very next clause of the Will states:

"The system of management will continue as it is now and there is no need of any change."

The GBC, on their website, unwittingly states the same in the following way (emphases added):

"The position of the GBC was carefully reaffirmed in Srila Prabhupada's will. Traditionally, the will of an Acarya first names an heir, a successor of the institution [...] Srila Prabhupada's will does not name an individual, however, but rather states "The Governing Body Commission (GBC) will be the ultimate managing authority for the entire International Society for Krsna Consciousness."

Two instructions Srila Prabhupada did not give are:

1) That he has authorised any successor diksa gurus (please see article on page 6);
2) That the GBC could authorise successor diksa gurus.

And, therefore, as per the definition of the GBC given previously, the GBC cannot allow the existence of any diksa gurus in ISKCON other than Srila Prabhupada.

Further confirmation

Srila Prabhupada states:

"It is also an offense to consider an empowered Vaisnava an object of disciplinary action. It is offensive to try to give him advice or to correct him. [...] The spiritual master must not be subjected to the advice of a disciple, nor should a spiritual master be obliged to take instructions from those who are not his disciples."
(The Nectar of Instruction, Text 6)

Therefore, it is not possible for other diksa gurus to exist in ISKCON under the authority of the GBC, as they currently do, since a bona fide diksa guru cannot be under the oversight of anyone in any way. Nor can such diksa gurus exist above or outside the authority of the GBC, because then the GBC would no longer be ISKCON's "ultimate managing authority". Rather, with the GBC having already been defined as being under the authority of, and representing, ISKCON's supreme authority, Srila Prabhupada, he is the only diksa guru that can coexist with a GBC in ISKCON. Therefore, the existence of the GBC as ISKCON's "ultimate managing authority" means that no diksa guru other than Srila Prabhupada can exist in ISKCON.



The GBC system of management means that there is "no change" to how ISKCON would continue to function after Srila Prabhupada's departure:

a) The GBC's authority is the same as it was when Srila Prabhupada was physically present, and therefore ISKCON continues to be managed without change.

b) The GBC must ensure that orders issued by Srila Prabhupada, such as those keeping him as
ISKCON's diksa guru, via the July 9th directive, are implemented.

c) It cannot implement instructions which were never issued by Srila Prabhupada, such as ordering successor diksa gurus, or the GBC being authorised to make successor diksa gurus.

d) The first two clauses of Srila Prabhupada's Will confirm these points.

e) The prohibition against a diksa guru being subject to the authority of the GBC, means that no diksa gurus other than Srila Prabhupada can exist in ISKCON.

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