By Bhakta Mark
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Sorry, it has been over 4 years since I was at the Long Island temple.
As such my memory of the Iskcon Inc. incorporation and bylaws, which I read at the time, is a little fuzzy.
Therefore I stand corrected about the small details of my misunderstanding about the Incorporation of Iskcon Inc. bylaws, especially pertaining to the center used as the address on the papers.
I still comprehend the ESSENCE of the situation, as well as most of the details, as I will show below. And furthermore, thank you for providing the exact terminology of Section 16(c), which even further works against the proposed changes made in that manifesto of yours, as I will clearly question below as well.
First let me reiterate my position on the voluntary nature of affiliation with Iskcon.
It is a fine line to speak of Iskcon Inc. separate from Iskcon, but it is true that the distinctions can be finely enumerated. I did so GENERALLY. I also made a distinction between the “voluntary or involuntary” affiliation with Iskcon inc. and Iskcon saying,
Each temple or preaching center was absolutely beholden to the rules of ISKCON (aka Iskcon Inc.) Srila Prabhupada never wanted anyone to start their own society with its own rules.
HE WOULDN’T STOP ANYONE FROM DOING IT OF COURSE. But if anyone wished to have the benefit of using Iskcon’s name and having the privilege of the special relationship each center had with BBT, they were meant to be governed by the GBC.
We don’t need to speak about any Vaisnava center of worship that is “VOLUNTARILY” not affiliated with Srila Prahbupada’s Iskcon. They are all irrelevant to this discussion.
It is true that the NY incorporation laws state that the religious institution referred to as the “principal place of worship” must be governed by the bylaws of that registered society, and that the trustees and officers of that registered society are meant to have jurisdiction ONLY over the principle place of worship. (or its branches) (16-c)
The bylaws for how to govern Iskcon Inc. as a center (and by extension GENERALLY each center associated with it as a branch) were certainly constrained by the template given by the State of New York, USA for incorporation of a religious society.
In addition “principle place of worship” implies that other centers within the state of NY or any other state, may consider themselves a “branch” and are thus covered under the same incorporation bylaws, and thus governed by the trustees of Iskcon Inc. as chosen by the principle center.
Otherwise, they have the option of incorporating individually in the state of NY or any other state, if they have the membership numbers to vote their own trustees, etc.
Common sense, and a little research, will show that the religious societies incorporation template is more or less boilerplate throughout the US, and thus very similar from place to place.
Reason dictates that if Srila Prabhupada was willing to subject his original center to the religious society bylaws as promulgated in the USA, specifically NY state, that a similar format is appropriate for every center in the US. Each center was meant to be RELATIVELY UNIFORM. The only differences in trusteeship, administrative office holding, and financial structuring should arise in response to some LOCAL state county or city limitations. Otherwise, each temples “independence” should not be construed to suggest that they can just make up their own hierarchical structure as they fit.
Which means that IN GENERAL, the general rules for how to administrate Srila Prabhupada’s original center (Iskcon Inc.) were meant to be applied to each center where the local incorporation bylaws would allow. Including the protections for open public worship, local control, potential term limits for trustees and officials via elections, use of finances, etc.
Additionaly, Srila Prahbupada only used those NY state incorporation bylaws as a blueprint, and he filled in the blanks with many other rules and regulations over time which were meant to be applied uniformly in each center affiliated with Iskcon, as long as they did not break local laws, OR could be manipulated to avoid those local laws.
It is a FACT that the trustees and administrators of each and every center (place of worship) that was to be blessed with the name of Iskcon and the benefits of such affiliation, have jurisdiction only in so far as they uphold the spiritual standards of worship and the spiritual standards of ADMINISTRATION (including use of finances).
The GBC was meant to police each center. And “see that the spiritual standards are being kept up”. And if not, they were to take action to correct deficiencies. Including having the power to revoke Iskcon affiliation, and benefits of that affiliation, from any center. Yes that means excommunication.
So to the meat of our contention.
Srila Prabhupada and Krsna chose NY religious societies bylaws to incorporate their first temple. NY bylaw 16c governing religious societies holds that..
The Trustees and Officers of ISKCON, Inc. have jurisdiction only over the principal place of worship. [i.e. currently Long Island temple]. The rules governing this control are laid out in the Bylaws of the corporation. Apart from that, the trustees or officers cannot interfere in any administrative or financial matters of the temples maintained by a Branch. They have no jurisdiction over the branches…
The fact that jurisdiction is given to the trustees and officials, by LAW, to the center directly associated with Iskcon Inc. is an even greater reason to NOT make any ammendments as proposed in 6 and 7 of your manifesto.
6. Also, it is proposed that the Certificate of Incorporation of ISKCON, Inc. be amended to have trustees of ISKCON, Inc. to be GBCs for a true representative management.
This is centralized govt gone wrong. Each independent center should be allowed to choose its own trustees and officers.
What if Iskcon Long Island devotees (who are now irrevocably governed by Iskcon Inc. incorporation) want to select trusted local devotees as trustees, and yet none are GBC’s?
What if only one is a GBC?
So then they are FORCED to choose someone from out of state or out of country?
Furthermore, the claim that this should be done in order to insure a “true representative management” makes no sense. Truly representative of what?
If the trustees of Iskcon Inc. ONLY have jurisdiction of the Long Island temple, including those centers who volunteer to be branches of that temple, why in the world would they all NEED to be GBC’s? I would LOVE to hear a logical explanation as to the rationale behind this proposed change.
7. The post of President of ISKCON, Inc. is sought to be removed with the amendment so that the GBC and the Trustees of ISKCON, Inc. become the true drivers and controllers of ISKCON, Inc.
my comment: Really? Again, if the trustees of Iskcon inc. are limited in jurisdiction to administration of the place of worship directly associated with it (currently Long Island temple) or its direct branches, then pray tell why does the GBC need to become the “true drivers and controllers of Iskcon Inc.” when in reality, the only control granted to trustees and officials of Iskcon Inc. is over the “place(s) of worship” directly associated with Iskcon Inc?
And as was stated earlier, the GBC are already the ultimate governing authority, if need be they already have the power to drive and control Iskcon.
I also noticed that on this his blogspot, Gaurangasundar dasa refers to all Prabhupadanuga centers as Iskcon Inc. temples.
Iskcon Inc. China
Iskcon Inc. Russia
Iskcon Inc. Glastonbury UK
Iskcon Inc. Brazil
Are the members of all these centers aware that they are now governed by the trustees and officers of the Long Island temple? Are they aware that their interests might be better served by incorporating locally?
The GBC rep who checked up on a particular temple in his region would ideally be wise enough take the possibility of local variations into account, but generally would see that each temple would have incorporation structures similar to Iskcon Inc. when applicable.
Not that Iskcon Inc. management officials would EVER have ANYTHING to say about what another center does or doesn’t do, if that center was not a vouluntary branch of Iskcon inc.
It is also a fact that a center need not incorporate locally as a religious society, or business. A shrewd leader can find other ways of working things out in the legal arena, while privately instituting trusteeship and filling administrative positions in a center.
As for the subtle personal challenges you made.
NPD: “Personally when I read any critique, which does not point good and bad points together in a balanced objective manner, I would normally look at the critique to see if I missed something, but do not usually take the author too seriously as he appears to be biased by some other motive, there can be many- to show feeling of importance, to want attention, to prove oneself better then everyone else, wanting others to listen to him only, dahdadah….etc.
Mark: Your criteria that you reject constructive criticism because I did not take the opportunity to glorify some “good points” is truly your own subjective idealism, and is not germane to the facts I am pointing out, so please spare me being held to your standard. You pointed out one small detailed deficiency in my remembrance, and used that as a pivot point to reject the essence of my challenge, as I just pointed out in excruciating detail in this post. If you ignore the challenge because I did not glorify your good qualities, do so at your own reputation.
NPD: “Mark Prabhu, I would humble suggest that, with all your good qualities and intelligence, good heart to serve Srila Prabhupada, this could be a quality which could have prompted devotees at the LI Temple to let you go within 1-2 months of being there. I was not there at the time, but did speak to you a couple of times from India and this was my impression too.
Mark: I really don’t want to have to list in detail the entirety of the list of abuses, subtle and gross, that I experienced in trying to manage LI temple in your absence. The promises broken (including why you were NOT there at the time, the deceptions (which seem to continue, as you state you spoke to me a couple of time, when we had almost daily contact for weeks at your convenience of course) and how I was ultimately hung out to dry. I am most forgiving and will consider it water under the bridge UNLESS you continue to use sophistry in an attempt to diminish my honest presentation here and ignore the challenge to your proposed CHANGES.
Then I will have no other choice but to engage more directly in a way I would rather not, so lets let bygones be bygones and cut to the chase shall we?
Yours in SRILA PRABHUPADA’S service, affiliated with ISKCON ONLY.