In regard to the GBC’s recent discussion of Krishna West in Mayapura, and their request to me, I wish to explain the following:
1. As everyone must know, there are few, if any, secrets in ISKCON and therefore the GBC must have known that the letter they sent to me would soon become a public document.
2. The GBC requested me to stay in America and not travel to other regions such as Europe and South America until further discussion of Krishna West. Thus effectively and literally, the GBC placed me in a state of quarantine. Quarantine is applied when a person has, or is suspected to have, a serious, contagious disease. Thus by placing me in a state of quarantine, the GBC, whatever their intention, sent the world a clear message: Hridayananda das Goswami has, or is suspected to have, a serious, contagious spiritual disease. Again, whatever their intention, this is the clear message they sent.
3. Before taking such a heavy, damaging step, did the GBC exercise ‘due diligence’ to verify there was a credible danger that I had a serious, contagious, spiritual disease? Did they follow normal standards of fair inquiry and discussion? Not at all. Here are the facts:
a) Before the GBC meetings, I repeatedly begged many GBC members to let me reply to any accusations at the meetings, before the GBC reached any decision. I did this because I knew that many false criticisms were circulating. Again and again I told the GBC that although health considerations did not allow me to travel to India, I would be available by phone, email, skype or any other media. They voted to quarantine me without allowing me to first answer my accusers. They arranged for a discussion to take place after, not before, causing significant harm to me and other devotees.
b) I was not alone in urging the GBC to be fair. Several of the most senior leaders of ISKCON, including senior GBC members, also urged the GBC body to wait and hear both sides BEFORE taking any decision. The GBC rejected this advice.
4. The inevitable result: the GBC voted to quarantine me based on obvious misunderstandings. Here are some examples:
a. At the GBC meeting on Krishna West, a ‘tipping point’ came when I was accused of disrespecting the Acarayas. This charge was based on a misinterpretation of a statement made someone else. In other words, it was not even my statement. And the GBC misunderstood the context of the other devotee’s statement. Further, this very issue, based on the same statement, came up one month before the GBC meeting on the Brasil forum. I explained there the misunderstanding and clearly stated that I fully respect the Acaryas’ statements according to principles taught by Prabhupada and the Acaryas themselves. Thus this issue, which so disturbed the GBC, had already been resolved and clarified weeks before the GBC meeting. A two minute phone call to me would have resolved this. The GBC did not make that call. Instead they voted on a misunderstanding that would have been easily resolved by fair procedure.
b. The GBC misinterpreted my statement that KW is a destination not a bridge. I explained over and over and over again before the meeting that this does NOT refer to starting a new movement, or promoting separatism in ISKCON. I explained this to a prominent Euro-GBC who wrote back to me that he was happy to have my answer, and that he would support me in Mayapura. I have his letter in my files. Yet the GBC still voted on a misinterpretation. Again, a two minute call could have resolved this. The GBC did not make that call.
It is a fundamental duty of the GBC to promote peace and cooperation in ISKCON within the boundaries of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. Like any large society, ISKCON has liberals and conservatives, preservers and innovators, both of whom are necessary and valuable. The GBC should not underestimate the number of devotees who believe, as I do, that given the current state of our western mission, we should at least try to apply in the preaching field certain opportunities and adjustments explicitly authorized and even urged by Prabhupada. Krishna West seeks to do this, cooperatively and within the laws of ISKCON.
I want to make clear that I fully support Prabhupada’s GBC system and like other devotees, I want the GBC to be respected and admired. I also acknowledge openly to the world my own imperfections and mistakes in presenting Krishna West. In the Bhagavad-gita 18.48, Krishna states that all endeavors in this world are flawed. This is certainly true in my case. I have repeatedly and openly stated to all devotees, including my disciples, that Krishna West has made mistakes and we are sincerely trying to correct them. In fact, KW has demonstrated time and time again that we cooperate with the GBC. History shows that every time the GBC requested KW to adjust something, we complied. KW has never refused a GBC request. Therefore there was no reasonable cause to doubt that in my travel to Europe I would cooperate with the GBC. Quarantine was entirely unnecessary and unjustified.
Further, KW has benefitted from the criticism and advice of other devotees, including the GBC. I pray that we can go forward in unity based on mutual respect and fair procedure.
With best wishes,
Hridayananda das Goswami
Devotees concerned at the GBC decision and how it was arrived at, can contact Braja Bihari Prabhu, Ombudsman, at ISKCON Resolve at the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“One leader justifies GBC procedure by saying that there were many complaints. But in what civilized society do complaints suspend one’s right to self-defense? The GBC took an action which caused much trouble to many people. They took that action before they had a fair and complete understanding. Actions that cause significant harm should be taken only with full understanding and when all other options are exhausted. These are basic principles of civilization.”