by Krishnakant

Chakra recently posted an opinion on the law of wills and trusts by Arjunanatha Dasa. Ostensibly this was an attempt to defend an article by Vipramukhya Swami on the meaning of the phrase "my initiated disciple" in Srila Prabhupada's will. In actuality he seriously contradicts Maharaja and commits a dreadful legal error.

In Vipramukhya Swami's original article on Srila Prabhupada's will, he had argued that the phrase 'my initiated disciple' could ONLY have meant siksa disciple. We argued that the phrase should be taken on its face meaning (mukhya vritti). On this basis the phrase 'my initiated disciple' could only refer to diksa disciples because of the presence of the word initiated. Arjunanatha prabhu clearly agrees with US:

"Thus, Srila Prabhupada's use of the term "my initiated disciple" CERTAINLY does mean DIKSA Prabhupada disciple,..."

This is yet another embarrassing example of the self-contradictory nature of the CHAKRA web-site.

Now to matters legal.

Fortunately the understanding and application of a will are not subject to anybody's speculation but to sound legal principles. Arjunanatha prabhu claimed the following:

"A will is a legal document that decrees where a person's property will go after the person's departure. It is normally a procedure to be followed on a one-off basis, not ongoing. Thus, once the will has been followed, it is up to the new custodians of the property to manage it. Thus, Srila Prabhupada's use of the term "my initiated disciple" certainly does mean diksa Prabhupada disciple, but the rules of the will are subject to sensible adjustment by the GBC of ISKCON according to time place & circumstance in the future."

Mrigendra Dasa, who is a qualified lawyer, gives the actual legal position:

There are some wills that, in the document, establish a trust to begin upon the demise of the testator (settlor). Such a trust is called a testimentary trust. When the terms of the testimentary trust are stated in the will, then those desires of the settlor (Srila Prabhupada) are to be followed as long as the trust exists.

In this case, Srila Prabhupada used the word trust in reference to each ISKCON property and the word trustee was also used several times. Therefore, what he desired to establish in his will were testimentary trusts and his desires as to who the initial trustees would be and how successor trustees were to be assigned is to be followed throughout the existence of the trusts, which, in this situation, are supposed to be in perpetuity. The significant terms of the trust are not up to the GBC Body's consideration at all.

Thus legally the mandate as given by the phrase 'my initiated disciple' must be followed as long as the property trusts remain (which in this situation are supposed to be in perpetuity), and cannot be altered.

In conclusion

by offering a totally bogus manufactured 'legal' opinion, and contradicting maharaja, Arjunanatha prabhu has succeeded in damaging the credibility of maharaja's position rather than supporting it.

(Also CHAKRA recently just printed another speculative opinion on Srila Prabhupada's will from Bhaktavatsala Prabhu. He expresses the opinion that he cannot envisage how the will could possibly be implemented 'practically' since it will involve having Diksa disciples as directors for the next ten thousand years. The writer has therefore simply assumed that which needs to be proven, viz. that Srila Prabhupada must cease to give diksa once he has left the planet. Having assumed this at the outset, he then goes on to speculate therefore how Srila Prabhupada could not possibly have meant what he said, and that a diksa disciple does not need to be the standard for future directors, even though the word 'initiated' is clearly stated in the will. It seems that CHAKRA is now willing to give credence to any opinion whatsoever as long as it is opposed to the notion of Srila Prabhupada continuing to give diksa. We prefer to assume nothing, not speculate, and actually follow what Srila Prabhupada has clearly written).