Accountability– according to Srila Prabhupada

December 10, 2022 in Articles by Damaghosa dasa

Hare Krsna
I am presently reading about how Srila Prabhupada wanted a bona fide accounting system implemented in all his temples. One reason was for governmental accountability, another reason public trust, and finally, to stop whimsical spending.
Some may not think these topics important, but anyone who has any business sense knows these things are very important. What to speak of taking care of all of Krsna’s “business”
When you read how things were done or not done, we can understand just in this one way, what to speak of many others, that how so many deviations entered into Prabhupadas movement. Disobedience to the order of guru.
I even one time had the temple treasurer and VP tell me…”you know Damaghosa, you make the money and I spend it”. At that time I was sankirtan leader so my responsibility was getting and keeping the sankirtan devotees fired up-so that our accountant could “spend the money”. He later took off with the TP’s wife and later still, ended up in prison for selling drugs.
Or as SP once reportedly said, we have to make advancement –sometimes in spite of the devotees !
Chant Hare Krsna and BE Happy !!
damaghosa das
BG 3.7 purport…A householder can also reach this destination by regulated service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. For self-realization, one can live a controlled life, as prescribed in the śāstras, and continue carrying out his business without attachment, and in that way make progress. Such a sincere person who follows this method is far better situated than the false pretender who adopts show-bottle spiritualism to cheat the innocent public. A sincere sweeper in the street is far better than the charlatan meditator who meditates only for the sake of making a living.

Sept 26 1971 letter

Both in Calcutta and in Bombay there is discrepancy in accounts. You wanted to check them by auditors but so far I know the auditors will not pass any account not supported by regular vouchers. For all expenditures there must be regular vouchers. Here last night I was talking with one Mr. Patel at whose house we are staying now. He said that even for travelling expenses, the auditor requires vouchers in which the taxi cab number is also required to be mentioned. The auditor does not accept any expenditure without proper voucher. If the expenditure is not supported by proper voucher, the amount is debited to the personal account.

Oct 16 1971 letter
You have written to say that the accounts are being kept by our men in India not in a very proper way. That I admit because most of them were not accountants previously, neither they were very much responsible to their family or country. Somehow or other on account of their previous pious activities, they have come to Krishna Consciousness. So we should very sympathetically treat amongst ourselves so that our missionary activities may go on without being hampered. You are experienced in business dealings as well as accounting, so I am confident that by your introduction of system of accounting and business sight dealings will be very much helpful and in all our branches in India they will follow the system and the whole mess that is already done will be cleared up. My only point is that we are dealing with the public. They are paying us money and we should handle them so carefully so that they may think of us as spotless.
Jan 19 1972 letter 
Regarding distribution of magazines, you write each center and ask them how many copies they want. All collections from books and magazine sales should be sent to the Bombay Book Fund Account No. ISKCON Book Fund,* and if temples can pay for magazines in advance that is better, but they may also pay after receiving the magazines, within 30 days. All necessary expenditures will be paid by check from the Book Fund. For petty expenses, not exceeding Rs. 200/- may be kept with you always and everything should be accounted for with vouchers. No such items should be mentioned as “miscellaneous.” Anyone who takes money personally for miscellaneous expenditures must sign a voucher—this is accounting. 
Aug 6 1972 letter
Regarding your debt to the book fun and Back to Godhead fund and incense from ‘Spiritual Sky’, these debts must be paid, that is important business. Along with our preaching and propaganda work, we must also give attention to financial matters, otherwise the whole thing will collapse and it will be a farce. If there is good financial standing it is understood that Laksmi is favorable because her husband Narayana is being served nicely. If Laksmi is unfavorable, then we must increase our preaching efforts, and strive for pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Feb 1 1974 letter
Please see that accounts are kept carefully, not that money is taken for whimsical expenditure. Be vigilant. Syamasundara has made a scandal by taking money of the society’s and investing it in business. This kind of thing should be carefully watched. I am still awaiting repayment from Shayamasundar.
(Note-He did eventually pay SP back for his nefarious jewel business)
May 29 1976 letter
The daily collections from the temple should be counted before 3 persons together. The accountant has nothing to do with these things. He simply notes down the figure in the books. This is how it should be done. Yes, the collections will increase as people come more and more. The temple should become self-sufficient, that is wanted. However, see that stealing is stopped. I am doubtful that things are being stolen, otherwise how is the expenditure so high.