The Spiritual Advisors Bhagavata Assembly (SABHA) voted unanimously to recommend that a permanent policy be created to not allow both a guru and their disciple to serve on ISKCON’s Governing Body Committee (GBC) Executive Committee (EC) at the same time, earlier this month.
SABHA is a sanga of senior devotees from around the world formed by the GBC in 2017, that offers input and suggestions regarding GBC decisions and priorities, and is meant to provide a ‘check and balance’ for the GBC.
The SABHA’s recommendation reads: “A guru and that guru’s disciple should not serve on the GBC-EC at the same time. Not only would that look like a conflict of interest, but it would make a vote of the guru and disciple a majority since ‘The only duty of the disciple is the faithful execution of the instruction…received from the spiritual master.’ SB 3.22.7 Purport. Not only would the perception of the guru and disciple acting independent of each other be difficult to avoid, but, in practice, the disciple could be unconsciously influenced by his philosophical and emotional relationship with his guru.”
The SABHA found that there is a quantitative difference between gurus and their disciples serving together within the much larger GBC body.
Several GBC members had raised similar concerns during an earlier GBC meeting.
“The SABHA makes valuable contributions to the GBC,” said Anuttama Dasa, ISKCON’s Minister of Communications. “In this case, SABHA helped focus the GBC’s attention on a possible problem before it manifested, and that’s the kind of cooperative leadership Srila Prabhupada wanted. Likely this will end up as a formal policy, and that is great.”
For more information about the SABHA organization: http://gbc.iskcon.org/gbc_res/The_SABHA_document_ratified_by_GBC_on_3_Feb__2018.pdf
Jan 22, 2023
Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies