ISKCON’s Governing Body Commission (GBC) has released the minutes from its February 11th to 22nd Annual General Meeting in Mayapur, West Bengal (which took place before the Coronavirus pandemic).
Among them are several important resolutions.
1. The GBC resolves to provide a group called the SABHA with the resolutions they have passed, as well as tabled and rejected proposals. Formed in August 2017, the SABHA provides checks and balances on the authority of the GBC, and course correction for its decisions. By a two-thirds majority of its voting members, the group can formally object to any GBC resolution and return it to the GBC for re-evaluation. The SABHA can also request that a tabled and rejected proposal be reconsidered by the GBC.
2. The International GBC has accepted a Statement Against Domestic Abuse based on the policy adopted by ISKCON North America last year. According to the GBC, the guidelines contained within “give guidance to devotees and also provide resources to leaders and managers who are called upon to deal with domestic abuse in their communities.”
3. It was resolved that the ISKCON International Office for the Prevention of Leader Misconduct (PLM), established in 2018, will submit its policy and procedure guidelines to the GBC Executive Committee by the 2020 GBC Mid-term General Meeting. These will include protocols for preventing leader sexual misconduct across ISKCON, responding to complaints, and conducting investigations. Until this document is ready, the PLM Office Director will have the authority to accept complaints on a case-by-case basis at his or her discretion, using protocols from a working policy document.
4. The Guru Services Committee is directed to arrange for an in-depth study of the varying policies for second initiation in ISKCON and present their recommendations to the GBC at the 2021 Annual General Meeting. According to the resolution, different initiating gurus in ISKCON have established different policies regarding when second initiation may be offered to an ISKCON member. Some offer second initiation quite readily to all, regardless of the service they are performing in the society, and others offer second initiation readily only to those who are expected to be engaged in worship of ISKCON temple deities, and very few others. “This lack of uniformity in second initiation policies of ISKCON's initiating gurus may be the source of unnecessary conflict and confusion,” the minutes read.
5. Any ISKCON center that has applied to the ISKCON Deity Worship Ministry for a Certificate of Readiness to commence worship of deities, but their application has not been successful, may appeal the decision. The process is as follows: 1) They should communicate to the ISKCON Deity Worship Ministry that they are not satisfied with the decision 2) IDWM will then offer a written explanation of the decision. 3) If the center is still not satisfied with the outcome of that communication, they will have the option to follow the appeals process established by GBC resolution 604.2, Appeal of Decisions to GBC Executive Committee 2005.
6. In 2019, the GBC resolved that Vaisnavis (women devotees) are eligible to give diksa (initiation) in ISKCON. At the request of the ISKCON India bureau and a number of GBCs, a further dialogue on the topic of Vaishnavi Diksha Gurus will take place, and the GBC will make a final decision on any amendments to resolution 701.6, “ISKCON Spiritual Masters, Vaisnavi Diksa-gurus--2019”, in Pune at the 2020 GBC Mid-term General Meeting.
7. The GBC declared the week leading up to Srila Prabhupada’s arrival in America “Srila Prabhupada’s Book Reading Week,” which will fall between September 3rd and 9th this year. During the week, ISKCON leaders and centers are encouraged to inspire devotees to read Prabhupada’s books by organizing seminars on the topic, and highlighting its importance in all lectures, addresses and discussions. This is to ensure that present and future generations of ISKCON continue to follow Prabhupada’s instructions without speculation or concoction.
Other resolutions from the 2020 GBC Meetings appointed Govardhana Das as a new GBC member for South Africa; reconstituted the World Holy Name Committee as the ISKCON Harinama Sankirtana Ministry; encouraged ISKCON temples to use ghee in their cooking; and disallowed speakers from promoting their own devotional products such as books or CDs from the asana during Srimad-Bhagavatam class.
The full resolutions are available to read here: http://gbc.iskcon.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/GBCRES2020.pdf[ gbc ] [ gorverning ] [ leader ] [ leadership ] [ mayapur ]