ISKCON’s community organization is best understood as a series of concentric circles, with the temple at the absolute center. Radiating out from the temple with increasing metaphoric distance are full-time residents of temples, ISKCON-initiated congregational members, non-initiated congregational members, and frequent visitors.
Though ISKCON’s temples undoubtedly serve as ceremonial and ritual centers for the movement, they also function as the center of community organization. With few exceptions, members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness live within easy driving distance of a temple, and have chosen to do so intentionally. The movement operates over three hundred temples, spread over every continent except Antarctica, and in most major cities around the globe. It also operates several dozen farming communities and rural communes, which generally function as temple equivalents for purposes of community organization.
For a full list of International Society for Krishna Consciousness centres worldwide click here.
Governing Body Commission (GBC)
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), established the Governing Body Commission (GBC) to be the ultimate managing authority for the society. In ISKCON’s Direction of Management written on July 28, 1970, Srila Prabhupada states:
As we have increased our volume of activities, now I think a Governing Body Commission (hereinafter referred to as the GBC) should be established. I am getting old, 75 years old, therefore at any time I may be out of the scene, therefore I think it is necessary to give instruction to my disciples how they shall manage the whole institution. They are already managing individual centers represented by one president, one secretary and one treasurer, and in my opinion they are doing nice. But we want still more improvement in the standard of temple management, propaganda for Krishna consciousness, distribution of books and literatures, opening of new centers and educating devotees to the right standard.
Srila Prabhupada reaffirmed the position of the GBC in his final will drafted in June, 1977:
The Governing Body Commission (GBC) will be the ultimate managing authority of the entire International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
Through legal documents, training, and discourse, Srila Prabhupada clearly identified the GBC as the highest managerial body in ISKCON.
At present, the GBC body is comprised of thirty-two members who are individually responsible for overseeing the management and spiritual standards of ISKCON centers in assigned geographic regions. GBC members also supervise specific projects, initiatives, and ministries. Following the instructions of Srila Prabhupada, the GBC body convenes yearly in Mayapur, West Bengal for their Annual General Meeting, during which time they discuss proposals, specific issues and projects within ISKCON, and pass resolutions by way of a voting process.