By Anuttama Dasa, ISKCON Minister of Communications
Ujjain, India, October 9—ISKCON’s Governing Body Commission (GBC) began its “Mid-Term Meeting” this morning in Ujjain, India. Approximately thirty GBC members, and fifteen other leaders and guests will be meeting in this historic and holy city for nine days, until October 17.
The Mid-Term Meeting is usually held during the month of October, while the location varies from year to year. Previous meetings have occurred in Europe, the United States, as well as other locations in India. The “Annual GBC Meeting” is always held at the society’s international headquarters in Mayapura, India, birthplace of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, during an international celebration held there in February.
The Mid-Term Meeting focuses on strategic, organizational and development issues, whereas the Annual Meeting focuses primarily on proposals for new legislation to become ISKCON Law.
This morning’s meeting began with an update on the progress of the GBC Organizational Committee (Org Dev). Org Dev’s role is to serve the devotees of ISKCON by building ISKCON’s administrative capacity; understanding that while ISKCON has grown substantially in its first 50 years, its administrative elements have not kept up. Org Dev reported it is working on multiple issues including:
- Establishing a representative body, or Spiritual Advisors Bhagavata Assembly (SABHA), to propose legislation and offer advice to the GBC
- Reassessing global GBC assignments to bring them gradually into a contiguous and thus more effective structure
- Assessing ISKCON economy: How to develop our global and local financial bases and assure funds are utilized most effectively in Prabhupada’s service
- Further development of the SGGS, the “Sannyasi, Guru, and GBC Sanga,” which was first held in 2013. (The GBC aspires to increase communication with these senior leaders to optimize shared services and preaching)
- The development of Zonal Supervisors, serving under the GBC, to support local temples. (Approximately 160 Zonal Supervisors are envisioned for long-term ISKCON growth.)
- ISKCON Alliances and Affiliates: Org Dev is studying different models for establishing affiliate organizations around the world, recognizing the variety of ISKCON-allied projects (Ex: Bhaktivedanta Hospital, Mumbai.)
The GBC has recognized that much of ISKCON’s growth has been sporadic, and not well planned. While ISKCON’s first 50 years has seen substantial growth, ISKCON has not established clear systems, standards, training models, means of networking, means of accountability, etc., that can ensure we serve Srila Prabhupada at our full capacity.
Senior members of ISKCON are aware of Prabhupada’s high expectations for his ISKCON society and GBC. As Srila Prabhupada wrote in his “Final Will,” the GBC is ISKCON’s “Ultimate Managing Authority” and thus carries the great responsibility to promote cooperation, development, and expansion of ISKCON around the world.
In that context the opening Org Dev presentations were replete with quotations from Srila Prabhupada, especially his instructions to the GBC, including: “Take this mission of Krishna Consciousness very, very soberly,” and, “I have built the skyscraper skeleton [of ISKCON], now you fill it in.”