11th February 2015: After four days of Strategic Planning Network meetings, the GBC Body reconvened today beginning with a presentation by Anuttama Dasa on the ISKCON Disciples Course (IDC) which shall be a mandatory pre-requisite for all devotees accepting first or second initiation by an ISKCON guru, from Janmastami, 2015 onwards.
The ISKCON Disciples Course, which was developed under the direction of the Guru Services Committee with the help of leading educators in the society, is based on the teachings of Srila Prabhupada with references to ISKCON Law and the writings of the broader Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition. The program aims to deepen devotees’ understanding of guru tattva and guru padasraya within the multiple guru environment of ISKCON. The course would particularly focus on:
- Preeminent position of Srila Prabhupada
- Duties of a disciple regarding the guru and other ISKCON authorities
- Appropriate selection of a diksa-guru
- Importance of initiation vows
- Service to our parampara and the mission of ISKCON
- Other relevant matters
With a global team of 60 teachers, the course has been taught 47 times till date and is available in English, Hindi, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, French and German, while Italian, Tamil, Turkish and Oriya are being developed.
To further increase its accessibility and facilitate those devotees who wish to take this course, an two online electronic version has been made available in collaboration with the Bhaktivedanta College (http://bhaktivedantacollege.com/events/disciples-course) and ISKCON Desire Tree (http://bhakticourses.com/iskcon-disciple-course-material).
The current system for processing GBC proposals is that the GBC deputies first review and evaluate the proposal and then present their results to the entire GBC body. The GBC then discusses the proposal and holds a preliminary or “straw” vote. The deputies then implement any suggested adjustments and later on bring back the revised proposal for a final vote.
The rest of the session was taken up with this process and topics discussed included Sanskrit pronunciation based on Srila Prabhupada’s instruction as seen in the letter to Balmukundji, Pradyumana and others. The other topics included GBC College, GBC Database Web Application.
Later during the day, Madhavananda Dasa, Director of the Bhaktivedanta Hospital in Mumbai, began the afternoon session with a presentation detailing the services being offered by them. The hospital with a team of 50 doctors and 300 support staff is one of the most reputed hospitals in Mumbai and was awarded as being one of the top three hundred hospitals in India. So far nearly 950 patients who were treated at the hospital later on went on to become committed members of ISKCON.
The hospital also provides inexpensive and accessible medical care to devotees, treating 2000 members of ISKCON till now.
With the help of ISKCON Mayapur management, two years ago the Bhaktivedanta Hospital started its operations in the holyland of Mayapur. Though the facilities were very basic, today the hospital has a staff of 5 qualified doctors and is equipped to deal with Dental, Ophthal, Obstetrics, Gynecology, Non-invasive Cardiac and General OPD needs.
With a focus on primary health care, basic emergency services and hospice services, the hospital treated nearly 20,000 patients in the year 2014. Over the next three years, the hospital would expand to house a more staff and 50 beds for patients.
The GBC Body offered its unanimous support and help to expand the facilities in Mayapur.
Champakalata Dasi, Director of ISKCON Child Protection Office spoke next, updated the Body on how the CPO has been actively working with the Regional Governing Bodies to care and protect the children in ISKCON. Her office has also been working closely with ISKCON schools, leaders and community members and training them on child protection.