Dear Maharajas, Prabhus & Didis,
Dandavat pranams, all glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga. All glories to Sri Sri Radha Vinode Bihariji.
Srila Gurudeva has ordered me to announce the formation of the Bhakti International Advisory Board (AB), which met for the first time at the Badger festival in June. The meeting was attended by fifty-two senior devotees (7 sannyassis, 34 men and 11 women) over a three day period. The meeting was an important milestone, that brought together experienced senior devotees who expressed their views and offered advise on a number of important issues related to Srila Gurudeva’s sanga.
The agenda, which was set by Srila Gurudeva, included a range of important topics such as: 1). the name and identity of our sanga (society); 2). preaching centres and how to facilitate them globally; 3). book publishing & distribution; and 4). the New Braja school (Badger).
Other topics included: 5). a presentation on the new Sri Keshavaji Gaudiya Math project (Navadvipa); 6). extensive discussions on the establishment of procedures for dealing with complaints of abuse in our sanga and how to support victims of maltreatment or abuse; and 7). our sanga’s relationship with the Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti.
Everyone who attended remarked on the convivial, fraternal atmosphere of the meetings. All were given equal opportunity to voice their views, and the respectful, Vaishnava-like exchanges echoed Srila Gurudeva’s own mood of love and affection.
Srila Gurudeva wants the Advisory Board (AB) to play a strategic role in guiding and supporting our sanga in its aims of practicing and preaching Bhakti around the world. He is asking all senior devotees who have an interest in the Advisory Board and the Bhakti International Trust to step forward and offer your energy, ideas and good counsel.
Srila Gurudeva has made a list of senior devotees that he wants to invite to be permanent members of the Advisory Board. Sundar Gopala prabhu as legal counsel for Bhakti International will send those invitations by email. At the same time, Srila Gurudeva wants that all devotees can participate in the AB meetings, table agenda points, and offer service and advise to the AB.
The Advisory Board will meet bi-annually, at the spring festival in Badger and at the Kartika festival in Vrindavana. (Details of how the AB will function can be found in the attached minutes of its first meeting). Regional chapters of the Advisory Board can be set up by senior devotees in cooperation with the main body of the Advisory Board to offer counsel and advise to local devotees and to report on local activities at the bi-annual meetings.
To appreciate the importance Srila Gurudeva gives the Advisory Board and to refresh our memory on his plans for the Trust, it’s worth reviewing excerpts of his original August 2003 announcement of the Bhakti International Trust.
“Gurudeva wants the trust to serve all the devotees, and to be guided by the essential principle of love and affection. Gurudeva’s desire is that the devotees feel free to participate in the aims and objectives of the trust, and – of their own accord – receive encouragement, advice and support from the trust to help them succeed in their respective preaching efforts.
Gurudeva expressly wants that the trust will not create self-serving hierarchies and ‘management’ structures that interfere in the affairs of individual devotees or group preaching projects. Rather, he wants the trust to function as an ‘advice bureau’ that devotees independently consult on how to make their activities complimentary and harmonious with Gurudeva’s desire and instructions. …Gurudeva will oversee and guide the trust …(and he) is the final spiritual arbiter in all trust matters.
…The trust will not take executive decisions on local devotee preaching projects, but will advise those projects in response to queries initiated by the devotees themselves. …The trust will also provide a central source of information, and where appropriate – resource to the devotees for their respective grass-roots preaching projects. Thus the trust, is not in any way a ‘executive control board’ but a vehicle for serving and facilitating devotees who are interested to practice and preach Bhakti-yoga.
The Bhakti Advisory Board will play a pivotal role in achieving the above aims and objectives, acting in an advisory capacity to both Srila Gurudeva’s Bhakti International Trust and various devotee projects. On behalf of Srila Gurudeva and all the senior Vaishnavas, I humbly invite the devotees to contact me or Sundar Gopala prabhu if you have any questions on how to participate. Please refer to the attached meeting minutes for more details on the AB’s first meeting’s discussions.
Aspiring to the service of Sri Guru and Sri Vaishnavas,