Constitution for ISKCON As It Is - Article 9

BY: SUN EDITORS - 2.5 2023




9.1 The Association of Devotees

9.1.1 "The spiritually powerful message of Godhead can be properly discussed only in a society of devotees, and it is greatly pleasing to hear in that association. If one hears from devotees, the way of transcendental experience quickly opens, and gradually one attains firm faith that in due course develops into attraction and devotion." [73]

9.2 Sadhu-sanga

9.2.1 "A sadhu, the first qualification is he must be a staunch devotee of Krsna…That is sadhu. That is the basic definition…Therefore sadhu-sanga…means to associate with devotees, those who are devotees of Krsna. That is sadhu-sanga…Sadhu sanga is very important. If we can associate with real sadhu, means real devotee, unadulterated devotee, anyabhilasita-sunyam jnana karmady-anavrtam, then the recommendation is that simply by associating with sadhu all perfection will come." [74]

9.2.2 Within the International Society for Krishna Consciousness As It Is, sadhu-sanga requires, first and foremost, that one associate with a sadhu who is strictly following in the footsteps of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, preaching in his mood and according to his standards.

9.3 Absence of Personal Sadhu-sanga

9.3.1 In the absence of a bona fide sadhu, one can take shelter of the vani of His Divine Grace, however reading the authorized books independent of devotee association is not optimal. "Nor by independent study of books of knowledge can one progress in spiritual life." [75] Therefore taking shelter of the vani of His Divine Grace, while studying and discussing with like-minded devotees, sravana-kirtanam, is preferable.

"Whatever you hear, you discuss amongst yourselves. That is called kirtana. Sravana kirtanam visnu smaranam. Remember about the topics of God." [76]

9.3.2 The vani of His Divine Grace's predecessor Acaryas should not be taken as synonymous with sadhu-sanga. While the writings of the previous Acaryas may be read and discussed, they should be understood and discussed in the context of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada's own books and purports.

"Whatever is to be learned of the teachings of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura can be learned from our books. There is no need whatsoever for any outside instruction." [77]

9.4 Sanga Outside the Society

9.4.1 Taking Vaisnava association in sadhu-sanga with those who are offering opinions that conflict with His Divine Grace's preaching shall be avoided by the Members. Such persons shall not be permitted to preach in Group Member temples and facilities, or at events organized by the Members.

9.4.2 When associating with other sadhus in the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya line who are not Members of the Society, and whose philosophical opinions do not differ from His Divine Grace's, but whose preaching mood or focus differs substantively, Members are urged to take such sadhu-sanga with a high degree of caution, and shall avoid emulating that differing mood, or encouraging other Members to do so. Members may extend invitations to, or engage with spiritual leaders or personalities whose preaching is not in line with His Divine Grace's for purposes of cultural exchange, local community interaction or public relations, providing such persons are not permitted to preach or make philosophical presentations to the Society's Members, or to represent themselves as being philosophically associated with the Society and its Members. Otherwise, with the exception of preaching engagements wherein Members are preaching to such persons, all other engagements shall be made with approval of the Governing Body Commission. Following in the footsteps of the most recent Sampradaya Acaryas, Members of the Society shall emphasize and focus on preaching the philosophy. Publicly speaking on and discussing the highest levels of Krsna consciousness, particularly the intimate pastimes of Sri Sri Radha Krsna, shall be avoided in order to protect neophyte devotees and the faithless from committing offenses. Such highly elevated topics should be discussed privately, and only among those who are spiritually qualified to engage in such discourse.

9.5 Association with the Gaudiya Matha

9.5.1 There are unprecedented comments found in the purports of His Divine Grace's authorized books as well as direct orders contained in letters to his disciples [78a-b, 79] which clearly establish his position on associating with his godbrothers in the Gaudiya Matha. In accordance with those instructions, Members of the Society shall not take sadhu-sanga of, or otherwise take shelter of the preaching or association of members of the Gaudiya Matha or descendents of His Divine Grace's godbrothers' disciplic line. In their dealings with members of the Gaudiya Matha, Members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness As It Is shall observe the rules of Vaisnava etiquette to the highest degree possible while maintaining the degree of cautious distance instructed by His Divine Grace.

9.6 Association with GBC/ISKCON Devotees

9.6.1 Extraordinary circumstances served as a catalyst for the formation of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness As It Is and the re-constitution of the Governing Body Commission. His Divine Grace warned his leaders of the gravity of duty necessitated by their post:

9.6.2 A high degree of emphasis shall be placed by Members of the Society on reconnecting and re-engaging with the disciples of His Divine Grace and all others who have been driven from, or have fled from the GBC/ISKCON. Every effort shall be made to overcome philosophical differences, many of which have been spawned primarily by the apa-siddhantic policies and deviations of the GBC/ISKCON. In a mood of strict fidelity to His Divine Grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, under the principles of this Constitution, all followers of His Divine Grace shall be encouraged to engage in active devotional service as Members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness As It Is.

"Therefore we have created these GBC. So they should be very responsible men. Otherwise, they will be punished. They will be punished to become a śūdra. Although Yamarāja is a GBC, but he made a little mistake. He was punished to become a śūdra. So those who are GBC's, they should be very, very careful to administer the business of ISKCON. Otherwise they will be punished. As the post is very great, similarly, the punishment is also very great. That is the difficulty." [80]

For some period of time, relationships between Members of the Society and members of the legacy GBC-run ISKCON (referred to in future as 'the GBC/ISKCON') may be strained. While maintaining the highest degree of Vaisnava etiquette possible, Members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness As It Is shall engage with members of GBC/ISKCON in a manner that respects the principles of this Constitution and their Oath of Allegiance to it.