Vaishnavebhyo namonamah. Jaya Srila Prabhupada!
If you would be so kind, I would like to bring to your attention a resolution of the ISKCON India Governing Council (aka ”Bureau”) regarding the ISKCON GBC’s recent resolution passed at Tirupati during October 2019, authorizing female diksa-gurus (FDGs) on a geographic region-by-region basis.
The ISKCON India Governing Bureau is overwhelmingly opposed to this resolution, as are ISKCON India’s divisional leaders (the “IIAC” = ISKCON India Advisory Committee) and local temple authorities (the “ICC” = Indian Continental Committee).
We oppose the GBC’s resolution because it is opposed in heart and spirit to Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.
The Bureau therefore passed its own resolution calling for the GBC to reconsider its resolution regarding instituting FDGs. The Bureau voted 14 in favor, 1 abstention and 1 against for the resolution copied below.
Thank you for your kind attention and consideration of this important issue,
Basu Ghosh Das
ISKCON India Governing Bureau
P.S. For those reading this who may not be aware, Srila Prabhupada registered ISKCON in India at Bombay during 1971, under both the Bombay Public Trust Act, and the Society’s act of 1860 (laws enacted during British Imperial Rule in India, that are still on the books today).
The Bureau’s Resolution regarding FDGs
On the last day of the meeting of the ISKCON India Governing Council (Bureau) at Ahmedabad, November 25, 2019, the following resolution was adopted by the Bureau: a response to ISKCON’s GBC having passed a resolution at Tirupati last month, sanctioning female diksha gurus.
Whereas, the GBC has passed a resolution at their mid-term meeting at Tirupati 2019, authorizing female diksha gurus. However, the Bureau had passed a resolution during its February 2019 meeting at Pune, calling on the GBC not to pass any resolution on female diksha gurus, before entering into a dialogue with the Bureau, but regretfully the GBC did not do so, and the Bureau feels distressed and disheartened by the disregard shown by the GBC towards the Bureau,
Whereas, we all know that “books are the basis”, and in our foundational book, Srimad Bhagavatam, 4.12.32, Prabhupada clearly stated that “being a woman” Suniti could not be Dhruva’s diksha guru”. The Bureau finds that the said resolution instituting female diksha gurus is in our understanding a contravention of this specific instruction of Srila Prabhupada,
Whereas, the resolution passed by the GBC on female diksha gurus is having a divisive effect on the worldwide community of devotees,
Whereas, the members of the Bureau find the said resolution instituting female diksha gurus to contradict established vaishnava practices, traditions, and the culture of the Saraswat line of Gaudiyas, as set down in various vedic scriptures,
Whereas, the effort to institute female diksa-gurus in ISKCON contravenes Srila Prabhupada’s instruction to institute varnashrama-dharma as the social system for ISKCON,
Whereas, Srila Prabhupada did not confer the sacred thread to women, therefore we understand that they are thus unauthorized to confer it to others,
Whereas, Srila Prabhupada had so many sincere and senior female disicples, but still he never appointed a single woman as a TP, GBC, or ritvik (guru – as per the July 9 letter), thus establishing his intent that as per teaching of the shastra that woman should always be protected and not have authority over men,
Whereas, the Bureau is afraid that since the GBC has the tendency to appoint women as TPs and GBCs, and now female diksha gurus, it will open the doors to more Western liberal egalitarian ideas that men and women are absolutely equal, a view that Prabhupada condemned time and again,
Whereas, this resolution and consequent implementation will cause the leaders of the four Vaishnava sampradayas and bona fide followers of Sanatana Dharma to call into question the authenticity of ISKCON,
Whereas, the members of the Bureau feel that the GBC resolution authorizing female diksha gurus even on a regional basis will adversely affect ISKCON India. As devotees around the world treat ISKCON as one united institution and not compartmentally, with each area having it’s own systems of initiation. So anyone who is intiaiated by a female guru outside of India cannot be denied as a bona fide initiated devotee within India. We wish to point out that ISKCON India has the most temples, the largest group of both fully dedicated and congregational devotees, and the most book distribution in the world. Moreover, we wish to point out that the vast majority of ISKCON’s congregation in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, as well as to some extent in Western Europe, are Indians, and they naturally have a relationship with ISKCON in India,
Whereas, the Bureau takes cognizance of the vote in the ICC – Indian temple presidents and managers meeting – (vote was seventy six in favor, three opposed, with four abstentions), and in the IIAC – divisional council representatives and Bureau members’ joint meeting – (twenty one in favor, three opposed, and six absentions) wherein both bodies voted overwhelmingly to reject this resolution of the GBC, and called upon us to convey their desire to the GBC for this resolution to be rescinded,
Whereas, this resolution that may have far reaching effects was passed by the GBC with only a simple majority, whereas to be confirmed as a GBC member a 4/5 majority is required,
Therefore, in view of the above, it is hereby resolved, that,
The Bureau hereby expresses its strong opposition to the GBC resolution on female diksha gurus, passed during their 2019 meeting, at Tirupati,
The Bureau calls on the GBC body to rescind the resolution on female diksha gurus during its 2020 AGM, and, as requested by the Bureau in February 2019, to enter into a dialogue on the issue with us, to come to a mutually agreeable solution on the basis of guru, sadhu, and shastra,
Further, the Bureau calls on the GBC body to reconstitute the Shastric Advisory Council (SAC), in consultation with the Bureau, as it appears that the conclusions of the SAC papers of 2005 and 2013 on the topic of female diksha gurus, which informed the GBC’s resolution, are incorrect.