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The Structure
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Founder-Acarya Sri Srimad A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

The instructions of Srila Prabhupada form the basis for all aspects of ISKCON life. His words and directions hold the society together and keep it in the same basic direction. In the early 1970's, Srila Prabhupada created a basic direction of management wherein he created the Governing Body Commission of ISKCON. This ecclesiastical body of about 30 devotees, known as the GBC, was meant to take over the burden of management from Srila Prabhupada during his lifetime, and, after his departure, to manage all the affairs of ISKCON.

The GBC body meets at least once a year in Mayapur at its annual meeting. During this meeting resolutions are passed giving direction to the society. Part of these resolutions deal with designating GBC representatives for the different zones and functions of ISKCON. A GBC member in charge of a zone is responsible for the temples within that area, and a GBC member in charge of a function is responsible for a global duty, such as Communications.

These officially designated GBC secretaries act as the representatives of the entire GBC body in their specific zones. For the devotees in their zone, they act as the highest authority in terms of the spiritual management. They are responsible to the GBC body for the spiritual standards of the temples and devotees in their zone.

The temples, preaching centers and other smaller operations are complete units and must organize each their own economic, social, political, and spiritual activities to maintain the center and spread Krishna consciousness. Each center is managed independently from all other centers, although National Councils may assist a group of centers within a country to act consistently and compatibly according to the laws and needs of that area.

A temple is an ISKCON center of preaching activities wherein devotees gather together to worship the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna under the direction of the Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The devotees all follow the four regulative principles, chant 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra on beads each day, and follow all the regulated temple programs. A temple will usually have Deities of the Lord in a temple room wherein kirtan and classes are held.

Sunday feasts, school programs, devotee training, and a regulated temple program of kirtans, classes and prasadam are some basic elements of temple life. Ashramas for sannyasis, brahmacaris and brahmacarinis as well as certain qualified householders, are available for the devotees.

A Temple President is chosen from the most qualified devotees to manage each temple. He or she is assisted by a Treasurer, Secretary, and a Temple Commander, who oversee the daily functions of the temple. Each department in the temple, such as the kitchen department, is run by a Department Head, who is directly responsible to the Temple President. In most larger temples there is also a Temple Board, made up of the temple managers, department heads, and sometimes the most important congregational members.

A preaching center is like a temple, but it is of a smaller size and stature. A preaching center may be manned by one or two initiated devotees who are trying to preach Krishna consciousness in the area. The center will perform basically the same functions as the temple, but without elaborate Deity worship and other larger programs. It is a small unit meant for preaching whose goal is to gradually grow into a full scale temple with all forms of worship and training of new devotees.

A nama-hatta center is different from a preaching center or a temple in that there are initially no initiated devotees, regulated temple programs or expanded preaching. This kind of a center is a place where interested people, most of whom do not chant 16 rounds a day or even follow all the regulative principles, may gather together and occasionally chant kirtan or hold programs when travelling preachers come by. Later on, some members of the nama-hatta may come to the standard of being full time devotees and get initiated wherein the status of the center may change to that of a preaching center.

All temples, preaching centers, nama-hatta centers, restaurants, shops and so on, must be recognized by ISKCON before they may use the trade marked names of ISKCON such as "ISKCON", "The Hare Krishna Movement", "Govinda's", and so on.

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