By Hanumatpresaka Swami
We have been asked by several agencies to write a report on the recent GBC-College in Brazil. This would include its broader implications for ISKCON’s global Sankirtan (playing the big mṛdanga).
First, it is a very big and powerful topic, so we will write this article as a preface to later dialogs. We write it with the audience of the ISKCON’s education journals in mind.
Like the six blind men approaching the elephant I can only see things from my perspective, either in my siddha-svarupa or currently embodied intelligence. With sincere attachment to my perspective on the elephant (maybe from the tail) I should be able to have a practical appreciation of the viewpoint of others, but a really practical view of the beast can only result from a dialog with other blind men attached to its other aspects: legs, sides, ears, tusks, trunk.
Many points come to mind, from many discussions and experiences, but most prominent seems to be the idea that many of these efforts at educating ISKCON administrators seem to be predominated by effective models from the current corporate environment. There is nothing wrong with this. We’ve read and use From Good to Great, The Purpose Driven Church, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Management means action, dealing with current realities. We need some practical solutions now. On the other hand this has to be done with the perspective that these are provisional means and gradual development of more fundamental resources will modify and improve these.
First thought: The current corporation environment is aimed toward Vaisya or business ends. At best they are Karmis as contrasted with Vikarmis (NOI 10). This means that the motivation in administration is different from ISKCON and this will result in practical differences in application. Administering volunteers in a non-profit corporation like PETA, Greenpeace or the Sierra Club involves motivating people from the level of intensely held ethical views, what to speak of a religious organization like ISKCON where people are motivated by that which is sa-cit-ananda. One very successful manager in the medical insurance industry told us that managing in ISKCON was like herding cats.
Currently this is our most prominent consideration, improving the Śastric basis of the College’s eﬀort.
From very interesting discussions with teachers, trustees, and organizers of the GBC-College we can see that they are quite aware of these things, but from back here at the tail, acting as a traveling Sannyasis, and having to counsel unwed girls, their families, about abortion etc. we have to emphasize and implement this a lot more.
Second, what resources do we have to do this? We would say that our basic management tool is Varna-ashrama-dharma. We would say that administrators are hesitant to access this because they rightly fear an artificial caste system where a bunch of Śṛṅgis (SB 1.18) are disrupting their service and creating a chaos for the society at large. As we investigate the Bhagavatam we feel that this problem can be properly identified and the solution also identified.
The resource materials in the Bhagavatam alone are cosmic (eg. SB 4.21) but beyond that Srila Prabhupada recommends that ‘qualified brāhmaṇas are meant to give direction to the kings for proper administration in terms of the scriptures like the Manu-saṁhitā and Dharma-śāstras of Parāśara’ (SB 1.9.27). Then there are letters, personal conversations of Srila Prabhupada, Santiparva of Mahabharata, Hitopadesa etc. etc. By sharpening our intelligence on Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita we can take these many management principles for the modern corporate world and apply them in ways that will amaze and attract even these successful businessmen and government administrators.
Let us conclude this preface to The GBC College and Iskcon’s Sankirtan with some of the extreme proposals we have heard to hopefully establish a reasonable outer-limit to these discussions:
- All GBC Secretaries and Zonal Supervisors must be married.
- GBC College should have appropriate courses to train ISKCON ladies in the very sophisticated role of being the wife of an ISKCON administrator.
- All ISKCON leaders should take Sannyasa after fifty years, renounce all administrative positions and lead the society by spiritual potency.
- The GBC is a Ksatriya minded Brahmanical function, Raja-gurus, to the Temple Presidents, like Dhaumya-rsi for the Pandavas or Vasistha for Maharaja Dasatha.
- All Zonal Secretaries, GBC Secretaries, must be Madhayama-adhikaris