A Joint Statement of: The BHAKTI Trust Public Affairs Office and the ISKCON Communications Ministry
October 24, 2009,
Vrindavana, India – On October 17, five representatives of Governing Body Commission of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), founder-acarya His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, forming an official delegation, met with Srila B.V. Narayana Maharaja, founder-acarya of the BHAKTI Trust Mission, near the pilgrimage site of Govardhana Hill, just a few miles from Vrindavana, India. The meeting, which had been planned for several months, was held at Narayana Maharaja’s Sri Sri Gauranga Radha Giridhari temple at Giridhari Gaudiya Math.
The ISKCON leaders in attendance were His Holiness Gopal Krishna Maharaja, His Holiness Lokanath Maharaja, Ravindra Svarupa dasa, Badrinarayan dasa, and Anuttama dasa. Besides Narayana Maharaja himself, BHAKTI Trust leaders present were Sripad B.V. Madhava Maharaja, Brajanath dasa and Jalakara dasa. The meeting lasted for more than thirty minutes. It was described by both sides as “respectful and cordial.”
Upon arrival at the temple, the ISKCON leaders had a brief darshan of the temple Deities. Afterward, they were escorted to Narayana Maharaja’s quarters. There, the participants were introduced to each other and there was an exchange of gifts and garlands.
Narayana Maharaja opened the meeting by expressing his appreciation for Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON’s founder-acarya, and for Prabhupada’s achievements in promoting Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission around the world. Narayana Maharaja reminded those present of the assistance he had offered to Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON in the early days of Prabhupada’s mission, and after Prabhupada’s passing in 1977.
Anuttama dasa, ISKCON’s Communications Minister, speaking on behalf of the GBC, offered a formal apology to Narayana Maharaja for “the GBC’s failure to communicate properly and in a timely personal manner,” to Narayana Maharaja regarding ISKCON policies that were established in 1995. Although the GBC decided at that time the policies were necessary, Anuttama dasa regretted that they had not communicated them properly and the lapse had contributed to further misunderstandings. Anuttama dasa also shared the GBC’s mandate from Srila Prabhupada that the GBC guide and manage his ISKCON institution.
Narayana Maharaja made several proposals how to improve the relationship between ISKCON and himself and his followers. The ISKCON delegation said it would convey those suggestions to the full GBC Body. Narayana Maharaja and the ISKCON leaders expressed their shared desire that the two Vaishnava organizations would like to see cordial relations between them based on mutual respect and understanding.
As the session drew to a close, both sides expressed gratitude to each other for the meeting and its pleasant tone. As the ISKCON emissaries prepared to leave, a delegation of senior devotees serving in the BHAKTI Trust (Jalakara dasa, B.V. Sajjan Maharaja and Jadurani (Syamarani) dasi) formally asked the GBC representatives to accept their apologies for all mistakes and offenses they had committed in their past relations with ISKCON. Obeisances were then exchanged all around.
Anuttama dasa, ISKCON Minister of Communications
Jalakara dasa, BHAKTI Trust Public Affairs Director