(Photos by Nitai Caran Dasa)
Mayapur, India, March 7, 3:45 PM – Following a break for lunch, members of the GBC reconvened for the afternoon session of the day’s 2019 GBC Annual General Meeting.
The first topic up for discussion was ISKCON’s Radha-Govinda Temple in Brooklyn, NY. The last few years have seen conflict over the managerial authority of the temple, prompted by an earlier proposed sale of the property.
The co-GBCs of the New York temple, Radhanath Swami and Devamrita Swami, assisted by Vaisesika Dasa and temple president Hansarupa Dasa, presented the New York temple’s current situation.
Hansarupa Dasa reported that as of November 3rd, 2018, the temple has again been under the care of ISKCON management and the GBC. Previously, the temple was managed by a renegade board of directors trying to operate outside the control of the GBC and the wishes of the local congregation.
Hansarupa Dasa reported that hard work has been put into cleaning and conducting repairs on the building, and it is once again open to all devotees.
“Srila Prabhupada had a special feeling for Radha Govinda,” Hansarupa Dasa said, referring to the Deities of Radha and Krishna that preside over the Brooklyn temple. “In that mood, we’re trying to preserve this temple for the next generation.”
ISKCON’s legal representative, Guru Gauranga Dasa, and the New York team are reported to be confident that the remaining legal actions will be resolved in the favor of the GBC by the New York courts. The court and the New York State Attorney General have ruled in favor of the GBC at each step in the legal process so far.
Members of the GBC expressed their appreciation for the hard work of Hansarupa Dasa, Guru Gauranga Dasa, and the New York team and community.
“New York is the birthplace of ISKCON,” Radhanath Swami said. “Prabhupada sometimes said that it was the most important city in the world. I believe that Prabhupada would want to see devotees from around the world coming together to revive his Radha-Govinda temple.”
The overall mood was one of confidence, especially considering the challenges that have been overcome leading to the recent string of court victories.
Vaisesika Dasa remarked, “Some people say that as New York goes, so does the world. ISKCON New York is an opportunity to work together with an international focus. I remember what New York was like in the days of yore, and it can be that way again: a place where everyone comes to experience the highest levels of Krishna consciousness.”
Praharana Devi Dasi reports to the GBC
4:30 PM – The next presentation was an update from the Executive Secretariat (ES). The Executive Secretariat was established by the GBC to assist the GBC in various areas, including assuring whether GBC resolutions are implemented globally.
Praharana Devi Dasi reported that the ES is working on creating more infrastructure to support the GBC.
She reported that in a survey conducted a few years ago, the ES discovered the limited access non-English speakers had to GBC resolutions. As a result, the ES started the GBC Translations Directory and now GBC resolutions, laws, etc., are available in ten different languages.
The ES also reported that they have worked to improve the ISKCON initiated devotees database, and created an ISKCON leaders contact database.
5:00 PM – On behalf of the Sastric Advisory Committee (SAC), Urmila Devi Dasi led the GBC in voting in three new SAC members. Bhakti Vijnana Goswami, Kanai Krishna Dasa, and Gopal Hari Dasa were each voted in as associate members of the SAC.
GBC votes for the new SAC members.
This was followed by the review and subsequent vote on the SAC’s Guru-pati paper. The paper will be available at the end of the GBC meetings.
6:20 PM – The day’s GBC meetings concluded with a presentation on the Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies, or BIHS, which was founded by Srila Prabhupada in 1974. BI is a scientific institution that promotes the science of Krishna consciousness using scientific methods and knowledge in conjunction with spiritual concepts.
Akhandadhi Dasa presented a report on a conference recently organized by the BIHS. The Consciousness in Science 2019 conference was held in Gainesville, Florida between the 18thand 20thof January, drawing 550 attendees from 26 fields of research.
The conference brought together scholars from around the world to network and collaborate with scientists working in different fields and different places.
Akhandadhi Dasa said, “The conference was designed as a call for global devotees to come together and see what we can do. It was meant to help us plan for the future, to come up with ways of broadening and expanding the science preaching of our movement. What would science look like if it was based on the fact that consciousness is an irreducible fact of reality? It’s not just relevant in neuroscience and fields like that – the point was to prove that consciousness is primary in every scientific field.”
The GBC was shown a video about the conference. Speakers in the video addressed the fact that Prabhupada sought to preach scientifically and was himself on the cutting edge of establishing Krishna consciousness on the basis of science. It is hoped that the conference will provide the foundation for devotee scientists to work together to fulfill Srila Prabhupada’s desire.
GBC members watching the Consciousness in Science Conference video
“As a result of the conference,” Akhandadhi Dasa said, “BIHS is now creating a database, an online portal, of all known devotee scientists throughout the world. We hope to publicize it so that any devotee doing research can find others in a similar field to collaborate with. We’re also working on curriculum development for schools and for devotee training.”
Ramesvara Dasa reported one significant result of the conference. “Dhrutakarma Dasa and myself made a presentation at the conference about the science wing of the ToVP,” he said. “The following day, we met with 50 devotee scientists. Our goal, and the goal of the ToVP exhibits committee, was to get all the members of the BI around the world to be inspired by a central project that would bring them all together.”
Rameshvara Das highlights the benefits of cooperation between the Bhaktivedanta Institute and the ToVP.
The project that they hope will unite members of the Bhaktivendanta Institute is the creation of the ToVP science exhibits.
“We asked the devotee scientists to think about this very carefully and to consider the exhibits we need for the ToVP,” Ramesvara Dasa continued. “We basically asked BI to become synonymous with the ToVP science exhibit team, and they enthusiastically agreed.”
Click here to watch the Consciousness in Science Conference video:
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