In 1972 Srila Prabhupada protected the copyrights to his books by placing them in a trust, He named the trust The Bhaktivedanda Book Trust, and in the founding document, he named himself, Bali Mardan Prabhu and Karandhar Prabhu as trustees. In the document, he gives instructions about how the funds generated by the copyrights are to be used and he names the beneficiary of the trust to be The International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
Because he had incorporated The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in New York in 1966, most people who were aware of the trust and the corporation probably assumed that Srila Prabhupada was referring to the corporation named ISKCON. However, before his physical departure in 1977, there were probably over a hundred ISKCON corporations, so who or what did Srila Prabhupada intend to be the beneficiary of his trust? All the corporations? Just the New York corporation? Or some other entity entirely?
The members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness know in their hearts what Srila Prabhupada is talking about when he declares himself on the cover of every book to be “Founder/Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.” We know that we are a part of a spiritual society that exists because of Srila Prabhupada’s directions and love. We know that ISKCON is something much greater than a mundane corporation that is registered within the legal framework of a materialistic government. ISKCON is the spiritual vehicle to transport us all back to Godhead.
Fortunately in the United States, the foundation for the court system is what is known as common law. Common law is the law that we know in our hearts. For instance, we know that we shouldn’t lie, cheat or steal. We know that we shouldn’t clonk others over the head except in defense and we know when we owe a duty to others. Similarly if we see two people of opposite genders, living together, sharing household duties and perhaps producing children, that the couple are, in fact, married. Most people are aware of the existence of a common law marriage: a marriage that occurs without a ceremony or license, but rather one that happens spontaneously due to the behavior and consciousness of the couple involved.
In common law, there is also what is known as a common law trust. A common law trust, like a common law marriage, need not be written or recorded to be valid, but occurs when certain conditions are met. These conditions are:
A Grantor who gifts something of value to a Trustee(s), along with directions about the use of the valuable gift.
The Trustee(s) who gains ownership of the gift from the Grantor along with instructions about how he is to distribute the gift to the beneficiary(ies).
The Beneficiary(ies) who enjoy the benefits of the gift.
Trust property is like the goose and the trustee owns the goose and makes decisions regarding its care and feeding. However the trustee is duty bound to deliver each golden egg laid by the goose to the beneficiaries.
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness Common Law Trust was born the moment Srila Prabhupada delegated responsibility for his growing movement. He was the Grantor, giving the most valuable gift, the gift of the knowledge of how to return home, back to Godhead. The leaders that he empowered to spread this gift of knowledge to other conditioned souls became the Trustees and the souls who were able to accept the knowledge are the beneficiaries. All the conditions for the creation of a common law trust were in place, and the common law trust exists as long as those crucial elements remain.
Bring up the subject of trusts, corporations, contracts and fiduciary responsibilities, and people’s eyes glaze over. Such things are the bailiwick of attorneys and the courts and many people believe that it is dangerous to attempt dabble in that realm without having an extensive education. The fact is, however, that we all deal in these matters constantly in the normal course of our lives.
Take the concept of a “trust”: While we may think of a trust as a document that is written by lawyers and recorded within the court system, actually anytime we place our faith in someone to protect something that we hold as valuable, we are creating a trust. For example we value our children and if we leave a child in the care of a babysitter or nanny, we have created a trust: we have faith that the nanny will look out for the welfare of the child and that she will act in the best interest of the child, who is the beneficiary of the trust. The nanny has become a trustee of the parent and she has the fiduciary responsibility to act in such a way that the child’s interests come before her own.
This concept of a trust can even be examined on the Highest level: Krsna has created a valuable environment in which He gives the living entities the opportunity to try to enjoy separately from Himself. Because the environment, the material world, is valuable, He has trustees such as Srila Prabhupada who are His agents that act on His behalf with the fiduciary responsibility to act for the welfare of the beneficiaries, the living entities. One of the most important responsibilities of Krsna’s trustees in the material world is to recruit other trustees and give them increasing responsibilities to act on Krsna’s behalf.
Another concept used in law that is a part of our daily lives is the concept of a corporation. The word corporation comes from the same Latin root as the word corpse and really just means “a body”. Any body, real or fictional (just in thought) that is used to fulfill desires is a corporation. We can understand that Krsna gave us these bodies, corporations, so that we have a vehicle in which to fulfill our desires. In law, if a group of people unite together to fulfill a common purpose, the group creates a legal fiction, a corporation, as the ethereal body to carry out those purposes. When Srila Prabhupada incorporated the first ISKCON temple in New York, he described his corporation as having seven purposes. Then he subsequently instructed his followers to similarly incorporate independent ISKCON centers in cities all over the world. These corporations are the vehicles that the society uses to accomplish its seven purposes.
Trusts, on the other hand are created when something needs to be protected. We can draw an analogy to a father who wants his children to benefit from his property, but at the same time wants to protect the property from being used irresponsibly. In such a case, the father might make a legal trust, putting a trusted friend in control of the property that the friend, the Trustee, distributes to the beneficiaries, the children according to the father’s wishes.
Law exists primarily on the ethereal plane: it is really just concepts, thoughts, that we, as living entities, who are part and parcel of the Supreme already know. The courts and lawyers exist because sometimes people steal, injure, lie, kidnap, cheat or are unwilling/unable to fulfill their commitments. In an honest court system, it is the job of the courts and lawyers to seek truth in order to provide justice to society.
When a society is guided by people of a demonic nature, the result is that people tend to waste their lives seeking material gratification of the senses rather than focusing on pursuits of a higher nature. The demonic mentality is about exploiting others, and the justice system developed by such a mentality results in a system in which truthfulness is irrelevant.
How to get justice in an unjust court system
The demonic mentality is about exploitation. What better way to exploit than to create a system in which it is impossible to find justice? The demonic legal system in place is technically a system of sophistry. The word sophistry is defined as: the clever use of arguments that seem true but are really false, in order to deceive people. (Interestingly one of Srimati Radharani’s arts is the art of barbaric sophistry). The legal system uses such complex procedures that navigating through the court system practically requires a person to learn an intricate set of rituals whose rites are only revealed to initiates, also known as members of the Bar Association. Many, if not most people, would rather endure an injustice than impoverish themselves by hiring such an initiate. People tend to be especially wary of the initiates because they seem to tend to enrich themselves, at the expense of others, though the practice of the court rituals.
However, just as someone can home school if he wants to avoid the demonic education or seek alternative medicine to avoid the demonic “health care” scam, there is an alternative justice system that is obscured within the demonic justice system. It is called common law and it is the foundation for statutory and civil law. If someone is willing to do the research, it is possible to insist on and receive justice. You just need to know how to do it.
A Trust is very different from a corporation
When Srila Prabhupada created the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust in 1972, he was very careful to keep the Trust separate from the corporations of ISKCON. At the time of his passing, the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust had only one trustee, Hansadutta Prabhu, who was personally appointed by Srila Prabhupada. When Hansadutta Prabhu asked Srila Prabhupada why he was being appointed, Srila Prabhupada replied, ”
Somehow or other, some ISKCON leaders saw fit to convert (legalese for a type of theft) the property of the BBT, the copyrights, and use them in a corporation rather than protecting them as Srila Prabhupada instructed in the valid Trust. These leaders disguised their ruse by naming the corporation THE BHAKTIVEDANTA BOOK TRUST INTERNATIONAL. However, in spite of the name sounding like the Trust set up by Srila Prabhupada, the BBTI is a corporation and was established at odds to Srila Prabhupada’s wishes.
Using the example of the father giving his property to his children, sometimes ambitious children seek to seize the property that was put into a trust by their father. When this happens, it is illegal and wrong. If the children who seized the property further hid the fact that they wrongfully seized the property by creating a corporation and giving it an almost identical name as the valid trust, it would be fraudulent. This is exactly what has happened to the valid trust, the BBT which has had its assets, the copyrights, stolen and are currently being administered by a corporation, against our spiritual master’s wishes.
The real ISKCON is already a common law trust
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness is a common law trust. Srila Prabhupada is the grantor as evidenced by him declaring himself as the founder/acarya of the society. The trustees are distinguished from the beneficiaries because they were/are required by Srila Prabhupada to swear an Oath of Allegiance, in which they vow to “uphold (protect) the sovereignty and integrity of ….Srila Prabhupada” The assets are the tangible property of the society, including the bodies/work of the devotees and the beneficiaries are the spirit souls (devotees) who have consciously decided to participate in the society. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness has all the required elements of a common law trust.
I’m writing this article to formally declare The International Society for Krishna Consciousness to be a common law trust and to invoke the directions of the grantor of the trust, Srila Prabhupada. I’m doing this in an effort to bring justice to many society members who were disenfranchised due to the fact that Srila Prabhupada’s movement was hijacked by individuals that apparently craved prathista (distinction and worship). The fact that, soon after Srila Prabhupada’s physical departure, the 11 Zonal Acaryas blatantly lied to the members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, telling them that they had been appointed by Srila Prabhupada as pure devotee/acaryas is proof that they craved prathista. The fact that when this lie was discovered (years after the fact and after many discouraged devotees left ISKCON in disgust), that they (the remaining ones, anyway) were not severely sanctioned and removed from positions of authority proves that the spiritual movement known as the International Society for Krishna Consciousness had been infected with a serious disease. Further, the fact that any devotee who disagreed with the “official interpretation” of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions were banned from ISKCON properties is sad evidence that the disease within that institution was terminal and that the corporations that currently make up ISKCON are in fact, not the International Society for Krishna that came from Srila Prabhupada’s heart as a gift to his followers and the world.
Fortunately Srila Prabhupada left written instructions about how to keep his genuine spiritual society alive. Right now the society is fragmented because of the various factions, tribes really, that rally around the desires of various leaders/gurus. To unite the elements within the factions who sincerely want to serve Srila Prabhupada and to recognize the incongruous “tribes” that should be neglected, all that needs to happen is for every leader to swear the Oath of Allegiance that was required by Srila Prabhupada, having been written according to his instructions in 1975. To put the society back on a spiritual track, rather than the diseased institutional track it is now on, all the leaders need to do is to follow Srila Prabhupada’s Direction of Management. These two simple steps will transform the dysfunctional institution known as ISKCON back into the spiritual movement of Srila Prabhupada’s heart.
At this time, I’d like to request everyone who is, in his/her heart a member of Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON, to make a formal declaration to that effect. When you’ve written/filled in your declaration, please mail it to me at: Anuttama Budd, 151 Anderson Rd., Glenoma, WA 98336. I’ve included a template that includes the formal language that needs to be on a Declaration for it to be used in court proceedings.
Once we have enough Declarations to establish that Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON is still alive, we can proceed to put pressure on the BBTI to act according to the directions of the valid BBT Trust documents and to serve the beneficiaries as directed.
Please, if you are a follower/disciple of Srila Prabhupada and are reading this, share it with others who may be interested. Please make the effort to put you Declaration in the mail and be counted as a member of the real International Society for Krishna Consciousness that was born from Srila Prabhupada’s heart and that lives forever in the hearts of his followers.
You are also welcome to call or e-mail to discuss this further: 360-496-0058
Quotes from Srila Prabhupada regarding the Oath: https://vaniquotes.org/wiki/Oath_of_allegiance
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Declaration of ____(Legal Name, aka. Devotee Name)_____________
I, (Name, aka. Initiated Name), declare as follows:
I am a resident of the City of _____________, in the County of_____________, in the state of _______________.
I make this declaration of my own personal knowledge and, if called as a witness, I could and would testify competently to the facts stated herein.
I consider myself to be a member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
(Add any details that help validate your declaration that you are a member of ISKCON such as date/year/place you joined, Initiation dates and places, temples you’ve served in, type of service in the past and/or present, current devotional activities and level of commitment to Srila Prabhupada’s instructions.)
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of Californla and of the State of (your State) that the foregoing is true and correct.
Executed this______day of ______, 2019 at __(City, State)____
Oath of Allegiance to Srila Prabhupada
“I________________ (enter legal name and then initiated name), born _______________ (enter date of birth), at present residing at ________________________________( enter current address), particular nationality __________________(enter nationality, i.e. American, German etc) do hereby solemnly affirm, declare and state as under as follows:
I state I have been elected or nominated a member of the Governing Body Commission, Temple President or other leader – under the recommendation of my Guru Maharaja His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder, Acharya and Supreme Authority of the Krishna Consciousness Movement, under the banner of the ISKCON.
I state I have imposed all my faith, integrity and honesty in my aforesaid Guru Maharaja, with the result he is the sole responsible person and Supreme Authority of my present position and status which I have gained and I am holding in the organization of ISKCON.
I, the said_____________________________ (enter legal and initiated name) do hereby swear in the name of Krsna that I will bear truth and allegiance to the Constitution, by laws, rules and regulations and directives which have been given, including the 4 regulative principles (listed) chanting of 16 rounds very seriously or directions given me directly by my aforesaid Guru Maharaja, His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, or through his authorized person or persons, and I shall obey faithfully all instructions and directions, which shall be binding on me and that I will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of my Guru Maharaja, His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada and the managing body commission and or any other body appointed by His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, working under the said International Society for Krishna Consciousness and I shall faithfully discharge the duty upon which I am about to enter or have already been appointed to that effect.
I further pledge that His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada is the only source of authority, represented by his instructions and books and I shall follow his instructions only – of these books.”