An internal record of all the financial movements of
the temple should be kept. Srila Prabhupada was very
clear in this connection. All donations shall be deposited
in the bank and only taken out by check with the appropriate
explanation and receipts.
In addition the Temple President has to look that the several departments of the temple such as a restaurant or gift store keep their accounting in the required way of the local government. In Colombia, for example, a devotee accountant has kindly compiled a comprehensive guideline for the establishment of devotee owned enterprises and the respective duties the devotees have to fulfill. We shall not go into more detail here since from country to country the rules change. But every Temple President should make sure that he does not create a situation which will later be considered objectionable by the public. That would jeopardize the purpose of our preaching. It is a pleasure to keep the books of a little temple of Vaisnava programs. We are pure in purpose and have nothing to hide. We shall learn how to do this even if itgives us a little headache to become experts in accounting. It is not really difficult. Just do not limit yourself and do not be lazy about this subject. Even our Gurus had to keep books, so why should you not want to do this little service for Srimati Radharani?
The Temple President and debts
It is best if a temple functions without debts. First
work and then Samadhi, Srila Prabhupada used to say.
Different types of debts may be unavoidable. Under all circumstances a temple should not fall behind their debt payment schedules, otherwise depression will appear. Nobody likes to work for anothers' past negligence. Debts with the publication department are a big disturbance. Every temple has to manage in such a way that the different daily sums covering the cost of distributed materials be kept separate from the general profits so that respective payments can be made.
Not doing so will cause a great danger. If the money is out of reach it will not by eaten up by other demands. If any temple raises insufficient money and there is need for monies from the escrow account to be used to cover their bills, the Temple's emergency bells should wake up every member of the community to a "temple saving marathon". If we silently spend what is not ours and let everything slide into deeper and deeper debt, we may bring about a crisis which may even threaten the existence of an ashram. Therefore it is better not to work with borrowed capital since that is very risky. Those devotees who are involved but do not carry the load of responsibility in their name are more likely to be lax and irresponsible. Keep the moneys separate from the beginning and save yourself from future financial headaches.
If the temple buildings and vehicles are mortgaged we should make sure we have insurance in these properties in case of some calamity. (Our temple in Miami was saved twice by a few miles from a major Hurricane. Iskcon lost several properties through fire and hurricane, traffic accidents, etc).
Do not foolishly say that you do not insure Krishna's properties because he can protect them. Devotees should never live under severe financial pressure. If voluntarily some devotee accepts the charge to make certain payments, that is wonderful. But if due to bad management the temple is putting pressure on the members to raise funds it is very undesirable. Slowly but surely wins the race.
Do not try to impress others with borrowed laurels.
Once a property of Krishna has been fully paid, do not put a lean against it again. Mortgaging Krishna's property is wrong. The deity has to be protected from financial speculation of temple managers. Raise new funds if you want to further expand.
Whatever money the temple owes should be posted in the temple office on the bulletin Board to be taken care of at once. Manage your temples nicely, that will bring happiness to you and to all the temple members.
The Temple President and the inventory of the Temple
Every temple must keep a book listing all the deities properties. These items are sacred and should be marked, if practical, as property of the deity. If an item is taken into the temple for temporary use, it should also be specified in this book that this item is only lent for the purpose of the deity by a particular person and that he may decide to take with him again. This will serve to protect the temple from the horrible situation when some Temple President has purchased items for the temple either from his own money or in joint effort with other devotees as a donation, but then at the time of his withdrawal from the Temple President service he starts claiming that certain items actually belong to him, etc. This is a great disturbance to the preaching and to the donation mood of the congregation. Therefore there is no harm in keeping record that a Grihasta president is the owner of something which is also being used for Krishna for the time being. But if this is not specified in the Inventory book or recognized by the Vaisnava Board, it will cause problems if later he wants to claim the proprietorship for such an item. Therefore, in general, whatever is not recorded as such in the Inventory book shall be accepted as deity property without further discussion. It takes good organization to avoid unnecessary conflicts.
The Temple President and the temple profits
The profits of the temple are the life of expanding
the preaching work in the city and elsewhere. These
hard earned Laksmis are actually the mercy of the Lord
and his devotees. Every penny shall be reported nicely
and the Vaisnava Board will decide which preaching
projects deserve priority in the development. Donations
given for a special purpose should be used exclusively
for that purpose and the donation book shall report
the origin, donor and purpose of the Laksmi.
Temple profits are the offerings of the Vaisnavas for the service of their lord as well as the donations of those who were inspired by the Vaisnavas. We shall never fall in the illusion that we, the managers, are owners of these Laksmis or that it is to our credit that such Laksmis exist. We are just favored by the Spiritual master and the Vaisnava community to be trusted to faithfully manage the funds of our Lord. There must always be a checking system, established strictly by the very Temple President, that assures that every penny is spent as was planned. If this is not done properly very soon criticism will appear, questioning the honesty of the local managers. That is the worse that can happen to a temple. It pains my heart and it disturbs our Gurus mission because the people will loose faith in the Vaisnavas. Therefore consider this one of your most important services as a Temple President to inspire love and trust and to manage excellently.
The Temple President and his management of Bank accounts
If the temple is owned by the registered non profit
society and has a bank account in the name of that
society it is very important to keep the account with
all the in and outgoing transactions in perfect condition,
because the yearly balances of the society before the
government will be based on the movement of such accounts.
Other bank accounts have to be authorized by the Vaisnava
Board to facilitate other departments such as the Temple
restaurant, bakery etc.
Krishna's Laksmi shall always be kept with at least two trusted signers. In the Vaisnava Board meetings the accounts of Krishna and their balances should be reported. A meeting without knowledge of the financial situation is quite meaningless.
All accounts must be studied carefully in coordination with the Vaisnava Board, that they do not conflict with any law and assurance must be given that no private interests interfere with Krishna's Laksmi.
Always get the advice of a trusted devotee accountant to make sure you are doing everything within the law and nothing in the wrong way.
The Temple President and book distribution
Book distribution is the life and soul of a preaching
temple. Preaching is life. Without preaching a temple
is practically useless. Without serious book distribution
a temple has really no mercy distribution. And if the
mercy is not distributed, how do you expect the mercy
to come down .
Srila Prabhupada promised us he would come and stay in the temple where the largest quantity of books were distributed. That created a revolution in book distribution. Every Temple wanted Srila Prabhupada to stay there. And Srila Prabhupada published so many books. Without an intensive distribution system it would not have been possible to pay for the publishing of so many titles.
There are many ways that books can be distributed. Here is a short list of the main distribution places and systems used by the devotees.
Street distribution by walking from one person to the other and trying to attract them to buy one or more books.
Distribution in public transport facility by giving a speech to a group of passengers.
Door to door visits with books.
Hari Nam parties and their preaching as well as their book tables.
Parking lots to approach people as they park or want to drive away.
Stores and offices with personal conversations.
Airports and public transportation terminals.
Life membership programs to register new members and thus give books to them.
Yoga course sales to sign up members to read the books systematically.
Astrology charts to give to people joined with Vedic literature.
Full tables on public grounds or in fairs where the full amount of publications are exhibited.
Prasadam distribution jointly with book tables to attract attention to the literature.
Wholesale distribution of books to bookstores or other favorable stores.
Distribution to libraries and universities Vedic literature to introduce as class reading material.
Actually all these systems work if somebody with personal enthusiasm represents the spiritual master. The Temple President can carefully enthuse the devotees to compete in book distribution but he has to alert them not to become proud and number conscious, instead of being real, loving, compassionate preachers.
The temple can post the book distribution achievements on the temple bulletin Board and ecstatic book distributors, as well as other outstanding servants, shall be given an honored mention in the Istagosthis. In Srila Prabhupadas times we had a Samkirtan newsletter which kept the competition also on a world wide level. This system got carried away sometimes, even though it gave the leading book distributors the chance to know about each others existence and also published nectarine preaching experiences. At least on a national level there is nothing wrong in reporting the distribution, but again, and again, we should not forget the danger of becoming proud, which would be the worst to happen to any one of us. Already we have this horrible proud nature. Unless we become humble and kindhearted we will surely fail on this path of pure devotion.
The Samkirtan leader shall hold regular Sankirtan meetings and at least once a week every devotee in the temple shall go on Samkirtan. The Samkirtan meetings shall be at leaast once per week and shall give the best distributors the chance to share their enthusiasm and experience with the others. On traveling Samkirtan we can repeat such meetings every day before going out. In the temples the Samkirtan office shall vibrate enthusiasm and good attention to the Samkirtan devotees every day. The Temple President shall see that all the material is ready for the distributors. Whenever there is a change in prices or articles for Samkirtan the devotee is faced with an obstacle of adopting to a new situation. That requires a special injection from the Temple President into the group. Best thing is being able to see the Temple President going out himself and creating an atmosphere of success in the new situation.
We have to utilize the saying," Utility is the principle" in order to define which Samkirtan system is the best for each and every individual devotees. It is good to use different systems, but it is also true that if the devotees concentrate on one system in a group, the enthusiasm grows. But the preaching has to be developed on all levels, and not all devotees are suited for the same condition.
Every person's preaching is his lifeline. There is no greater happiness than seeing new devotees who have came due to our little preaching service.
Every devotee should desire to help the Samkirtan. The cooks are helping the preachers as are the pujaris. But they should also feel that way. We are helping the preaching in our specific duty. And if they get any chance to also sell a book, they should not let such an opportunity escape.
Devotees shall go to preach well dressed. Either they dress as Vaisnava gentleman or they dress like a suit and tie person. Hippie presentation is not what Srila Prabhupada aspired for. Well dressed, you are already accepted by the general people as a respectable person. If we create repulsion by the way we present ourselves, the purpose of preaching is not served.
Make sure that in the very entrance of your temples all the publications of your mission are beautifully exhibited with a person available who can sell any book or tape desired by the visitor ON THE SPOT. The entrance to a temple or preaching center shall give full information about the purpose, literature and projects of this respective Vaisnava center. Out of sight- out of mind. If you do not exhibit, even the devotees forget what preaching nectar is available.
Every devotee shall always carry with him at least some book and lecture tape of his spiritual master. There is no reason not to. You can glorify Krishna and your Guru in an excellent way by leaving some of his writings or his spoken word in the hands of those whom you would like to benefit. There is another problem. Devotees are often careless. They put books in their bags with shoes or food and ruin the appearance. It takes the responsibility and awareness of an excellent salesperson to go out well prepared, fulfilling what is required. How can a no nonsense salesman give a first class presentation while the Vaisnavas cannot organize themselves in order to present their nectar to the world? It takes many many discussions in the meetings and istagosthis in order to improve the situation. But we shall not stop at any time. This is the Samkirtan Yajna, and we have nothing else to do, than to preach nicely. That is all.
Whoever can find out a newer or better way of distributing transcendental literature and especially Yoga Courses, will do a great service to the preaching and we want to learn from him. Samkirtan Yajna ki jaya. Our Gurudevas were all Book distributors and book publishers. This is a tradition of preachers, I beg you to keep this spirit alive in our temple
The Temple President and Preaching opportunities in the media
It is very valuable to know the press and to cultivate
friendly connections. Every newspaper has a cultural
page and will publish a little caption, just because
you went by and gave the editor a pack of incense and
told him about the drama you are presenting or the
visit of your spiritual master, etc. There is no limit
to this preaching field. Every Radio, Magazine and
TV station, especially Cable TV, has special forums
to present cultural subjects. We have to be experts
at conquering so that all doors open by themselves
after we cultivate our friendships. No doubt this is
a field of hard work, but you can be successful as
reporters are just as unhappy as everyone else, and
will appreciate your friendship since the rest of
their lives and businesses pivot around the selling
of advertisement for material objects, which does not
make anyone happy.
To favor our preaching we should find out all the important dates in the year to see where functions are held in which the devotees can participate and preach their Hari Nam, etc. For example there are many peace marches, theater and song festivals. Devotees shall be there, presenting something very nice. Krishna consciousness is the culture of this iron age and the press has all the connections. We shall always try to be present in the different exchanges of opinions with our wonderful philosophy. If any news agency attacks devotees, as happens very often by negative writings on new cults along with our Vaisnavas photographs, we shall take the opportunity to write disclaimers and to preach our teachings. Srila Prabhupada used to say, "All propaganda is good propaganda in the long run". We want to defend the dignity of our spiritual school, but even if any devotee is responsible for some mistake, we shall always defend the purity of the Vaisnava line.
But be cautious with the press. Never create enemies. They often play friendly, try to get someone to say something and then distort it to make a slanderous good selling headline. But what can be done. We are trying to sincerely glorify Krishna. If any adverse propaganda appears, it is not happy. Let the expert devotees deal with the press and other public relationship matters. Even the receptionist of the temple shoud be prepared to guide news man to the leader. And if you have some kind of a press report on our activities it will be helpful, because they sometimes come with little time and want to get concise information.
If you have friends in the press that can also help if any type of emergency appears.
The Temple President and Business opportunities in the city to combine preaching and Grihasta opportunities
The Temple President shall try to conduct meetings with
devotees in the community to study how to help each
other and how to cooperate in different fields.
Our devotees need a secure future. Even though it is a fact that karma misra bhaktas get confused when they see how devotees earn their Laksmi and sometimes imitate their activities for their fruitive purposes, it is important to create a system which allows devotees with their families to earn a solid income. A financially stable Grihasta community will give stability to the preaching. No doubt the degree of envy and greed in this age make it very difficult to work together. Devotees are experts in food production. It is a good way to establish franchise systems. Devotees can produce food items, for example, allowing other devotees with a little capital to establish outlets. This can be combined with little lecture halls or at least a bookstall on transcendental literature. The devotees can also import or produce items which give a chance for others to open a little boutique.
Often devotees try to work together in manual jobs or in relationships where one devotee is like the owner of the company and the others are his paid employees. My own experience with this is very bad, even though some very expert devotee managers may be able to pull off such a relationship for a while. Usually the saying " familiarity breeds contempt", proves to be truth and such relationships very easy break in disgust. Very unhappy situations arise. Therefore it is better that in commercial relationships, at least to a degree, everyone is his own boss, keeping his own accounting and responsibility before the government and learning to handle his own capital responsibly. Those who are unable to do so are better of working for a non devotee and keeping their friendship with the devotees. International business opportunities shall be shared amongst the devotees through the Internet in the framework of the World Vaisnava Association. Actually the Vaisnava community is very young and small and has not yet discovered the incredible potential it has by working together, also in practical fields. New ideas will appear and very important fields of Vaisnava service will develop.
Education, Health Care, Retreats, and many other social services will naturally become part of the Vaisnava ways of executing Brahminical services and establishing their own situation.
Publications in the Vaisnava communities are also very important in order to exchange ideas and to establish contacts.
The Temple President and his manpower
The help of others is essential for actually creating
a Vaisnava family. All volunteers are the in the life
of a preacher because they help him to serve his spiritual
master in a better way. Therefore we should enthuse
and also correct those under our care. Above all we
shall always try to reach peoples' heart and not make
them feel bad, even if some mistake has to be corrected.
What is the use of a good instruction if the person
gets discouraged from it.
Sometimes we have to wait for appropriate moments to make someone else understand a particular situation. This is the real task for loving leadership. No person is obliged to help us. And we shall learn from others, as they may very well be more advanced then we are ourselves in their service attitude. To discourage one single external Mataji in her service is an offense which will disturb our advancement. Maya always tries to separate the devotees from each other but real advanced devotees always try to counteract that influence, bringing all devotees closer to each other regardless of their false ego disturbances.
Listen to what people have to say. Be an expert in inspiring others to reveal their heart to you. Only then will it be natural for them to accept some service under you guidance and to try to execute that service expertly.
Always be there for your devotee brothers, sisters and friends. Without a loving Vaisnava how can we tolerate this life? Older devotees, especially those living outside, should feel that you want them to be part of the family as a paternal friend of all. If you feel that they are giving more trouble than help to your program, then take them with you on a walk and reveal to them your feelings and plans, and how you feel, that they are not sensitive to the temple realities. If there is no heart to heart contact you may loose them from the congregation. This is a challenge, but that is what makes a very good Temple President. Actually the Temple President is the most important devotee in as much as he keeps the programs going, resting all the responsibilities on his shoulders. What mercy will come to him if he gets the blessings of almost all the congregation. Granted that it is not an easy task. Our new members have the tendency to accept our words without much criticism, but older members naturally have a different and sometimes even better idea, and that possibility must be accommodated if we wish to stay together.
The Temple President and his purchases
Whomever has the power or utilizes the funds collected
or donated for Krishna by the devotees carries a great
responsibility. Shopping with Krishna's Laksmi is a
holy duty and one should follow many carefully studied
Srila Prabhupada told us that money should not sit idly in Bank accounts. This will attract the influence of Kali Yuga. But to spend Laksmi carefully is actually hard work. When someone has earned money with severely hard labor he will value every penny with the sweat he spent to get it. Unfortunately, sometimes, devotees of careless nature do not value sufficiently the chance they have to serve Laksmidevi by fulfilling Krishna's desires. The following points should be avoided by all devotees.
a) Don't buy anything without knowing the real market value.
b) Don't buy before comparing prices with other outlets.
c) Don't take quality or quantity for granted. Always check on it.
d)Always try to get the wholesale price, cash discounts, etc.
e) Don't deprive the salesman of his fortune to give a special discount for Krishna. Just beg humbly and enthusiastically for your Guru. You will be surprised how many wonderful preaching opportunities will come from that, and how many people love to give extra facilities to the devotees and their service.
f) Don't buy to much of anything that can spoil.
g) Don't buy to small of a quantity so that it becomes a waste of time buying the same thing all the time.
h) Make sure all your good buying contacts, good advisers, special discounts are noted in the temple purchase guide. Tomorrow somebody else is going to do the shopping. If you did not write it down nicely, with all necessary details, you will be responsible for wasting the time of other devotees.
i) Always try to give out literature while you are shopping and see if their are any barter opportunities to save Laksmi.
In the construction of the temple of Sri Sri Gouranga Radha Vrajesvara at least 30% of all the building materials and tools were traded with paintings.
j) While shopping please do so humbly. You are giving them them the opportunity to contribute some of their energy to the work of Krishna. Even when buying a building you may save a lot if you humbly and aggressively make the selller aware of this point.
k) Make sure your purchase decisions always meet the approval of the other devotees, above all the Vaisnava Council of the temple. Better check with them, before committing a mistake that cannot be rectified.
l) The treasury and the accounting system have to be well understood by all those who spend Krishna's Laksmi. It is a grave offense if the purchaser even falls under the suspicion of mishandling his service in any way. Anyone who touches Krishna's Laksmi should not be in the slightest way reluctant to be checked upon, or to give clear reports, etc.,
m) Big expenditures should preferably be made by check .
n) Even so called big devotees have fallen prey to the allurement of money, all the way up to practically robbing the Guru and the deities. Very good devotees should do the shopping and even they should feel 108% accountable to Sri Krishna's Household in charge, who is none less then Srimati Radharani and her servants.
o) Devotees should not buy unnecessary luxury items and much less fall prey to the nonsense of brand names and false values. Exclusively for preaching, we may prefer the best quality of an item, but we should carefully keep our distance from those items which will make us look like a person who enjoys them under the pretense of a monks life. Cotton or jute is the best dress material we can recommend. Silk is very costly and unnecessary.
VRINDAVAN INSTITUTE FOR VAISNAVA CULTURE AND STUDIES