THE FACTS ABOUT
"So as Krishna was attempted to be killed... And
Lord Jesus Christ was killed. So they may kill me also."
-Srila Prabhupada, May 3, 1976, Honolulu
A letter from
New Jaipur Press
...the evidence is solid that Srila Prabhupada was poisoned, but by whom is not yet known. The level of proof, coincidences, and circumstantial evidence, makes for a very compelling verdict. (Foreword)
This letter, or book, organizes the evidence and information to date (April 1999) regarding the poisoning of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, most probably carried out by some of His "closest" disciples. (Foreword)
"...the GBC is convinced that no such evil deed or even intention existed at the time. The GBC is certain that Srila Prabhupada's passing away was due to entirely natural causes, as his doctors stated. ...some persons are bent on establishing the false and malicious theory that some of Prabhupada's own disciples conspired to poison him." ISKCON statement, Dec. 7, 1997.
Srila Prabhupada: Vahi bat... je koi hamko poison kiya.
(That same thing I said, that someone has poisoned me.)
-Final statement about poisoning late on November 10, 1977.
Kaviraja: dekhiye, bat hi hai, ki koi rakshas ne diya ho.
(Look, this is the thing, that maybe some rakshasa gave him poison.)
Bhakticharu: He's saying that someone gave him poison.)
Tamal Krishna: Prabhupada was thinking that someone had poisoned him.
Kaviraja: Yadi bolta hai, to kuch na kuch sac hi hai, koi sandeh nahin.
(If he says that, there must be some truth to it. There's no doubt.)
Bhakticharu: He said that when Srila Prabhupada is saying that, there must be something truth behind it.
Tamal Krishna: Tssh.
Tamal Krishna: Srila Prabhupada, Sastriji says that there must be some truth to it if you say that. So who is it that has poisoned?
PAUSE of 13 seconds: Srila Prabhupada never answered Tamal.
-Excerpts from conversations on November 10-11, 1977.
"He noted a number of symptoms observed in Napoleon, and in that way managed a description that could have come straight out of a modern textbook on toxicology of the symptoms of arsenical intoxication."
...Assassination at St. Helena, Forshufvud & Weider
A lethal dose may be indicated by as little as 5 ppm of arsenic in the hair. Compare this to the 3 ppm found in Srila Prabhupada's hair. (Chapter 35)
Further, when the symptoms of chronic arsenic poisoning are confirmed by an actual hair analysis, as has been done, then there can be no doubt of the accuracy of this diagnosis. (see Chapter 33)
om ajnana-timirandhasya jnananjana-salakaya
chakshur unmilitam yena tasmi sri-gurave namah
I was born in the darkest ignorance, and my spiritual master opened my eyes with the torch of knowledge. I offer my respectful obeisances unto him.
nama om vishnu-padaya krishna preshthaya bhu-tale
srimate bhaktivedanta-svamin iti namine
I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is very dear to Lord Krishna, having taken shelter at His lotus feet.
namas te sarasvate deve gaura-vani-pracharine
Our respectful obeisances are unto you, O spiritual master, servant of Sarasvati Goswami. You are kindly preaching the message of Lord Chaitanyadeva and delivering the Western countries, which are filled with impersonalism and voidism.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any form
or by any means, without prior written permission of the publisher.
© 1999 New Jaipur Press
All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.
First printing: 5000 copies
New Jaipur Press
PO Box 208
Mayodan, NC 27027
Order line: 1-800-242-0115
Donation Requested: $10.00
Other publications available from New Jaipur Press:
Ray of Vishnu by Rupa Vilas das
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Seventh Goswami by Rupa Vilas das
Biography of Bhaktivinode Thakur….$12.95
Babaji Maharaja by Karnamrita das
Biography of Gaurakisore & Jagannath das Babajis….$6.95
Lessons from the Ayurveda by Navayauvana das
Practical Health Advice….$3.95
Om Shalom by Satyaraj das
Interreligious Discussions: Vaishnavism and Judaism….$1.95
Ramayana: Volume One by Karnamrita das
Childhood Pastimes of Lord Rama….$3.95
Mahabharata: The Fifth Veda by Purnaprajna das
A Full Summary of Srila Vyasadeva's classic epic of the Pandavas....$17.95
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1: Poison Becomes an Issue........................................................ 6
Chapter 2: Poison Whispers Discovered.................................................... 7
Chapter 3: Whispers Alarm Devotees....................................................... 8
Chapter 4: Poison Investigations Begin.................................................. 10
Chapter 5: ISKCON Statement.............................................................. 12
Chapter 6: Investigation Continues........................................................ 14
Chapter 7: Audio Forensics Commence................................................... 16
Chapter 8: More Audio Forensics........................................................... 20
Chapter 9: Obtaining the UHER............................................................ 22
Chapter 10: Virtual Originals from Archives............................................ 24
Chapter 11: More Whispers, No Editing................................................... 25
Chapter 12: Witnesses............................................................................. 28
Chapter 13: Are There Missing Tapes?..................................................... 30
Chapter 14: Researching the Tape Library............................................... 33
Chapter 15: Chandra Swami Connection.................................................. 34
Chapter 16: "Someone Has Poisoned Me".................................................. 41
Chapter 17: Introduction to 1977 Health Biography.................................. 53
Chapter 18: Kidney Disease Symptoms.................................................... 58
Chapter 19: Arsenic Poisoning Symptoms................................................ 60
Chapter 20: Health Chronicle: Dec. 1975 - Dec. 1976................................ 71
Chapter 21: Health Chronicle: January 1977............................................ 78
Chapter 22: Health Chronicle: February 1977.......................................... 83
Chapter 23: Health Chronicle: March 1977.............................................. 88
Chapter 24: Health Chronicle: April 1977................................................. 92
Chapter 25: Health Chronicle: May 1977................................................ 100
Chapter 26: Health Chronicle: June 1977............................................... 111
Chapter 27: Health Chronicle: July 1977................................................ 119
Chapter 28: Health Chronicle: August 1977............................................ 129
Chapter 29: Health Chronicle: September 1977....................................... 140
Chapter 30: Health Chronicle: October 1977........................................... 150
Chapter 31: Health Chronicle: November 1977....................................... 202
Chapter 32: Health Biography Analysis.................................................. 226
Chapter 33: Hair Analysis..................................................................... 233
Chapter 34: Napoleon: A Case History.................................................... 245
Chapter 35: Blanche Taylor Moore......................................................... 256
Chapter 36: Other Arsenic Case Studies................................................. 261
Chapter 37: Reverse Speech Theory........................................................ 264
Chapter 38: Reverse Speech Analysis..................................................... 267
Chapter 39: Balavanta's Investigation.................................................... 270
Chapter 40: Poisoning Methodology........................................................ 271
Chapter 41: Possible Motives of the Assassins......................................... 276
Chapter 42: Parade of Doctors, Treatments, and Mis-Diagnoses.............. 278
Chapter 43: Who Are The Suspects?....................................................... 281
Chapter 44: Dateline of Poisoning Highlights......................................... 282
Chapter 45: Conclusions & Summary.................................................... 283
Appendix 1: Perle Appointment Tape Analysis........................................ 293
Appendix 2: Audio Forensic Analysis: The Whispers............................... 295
Appendix 3: Audio Forensic Analysis: No Editing.................................... 314
Appendix 4: Statement by Abhiram Prabhu........................................... 343
Appendix 5: Appointment Tape Misquoted.............................................. 345
Appendix 6: Book Review: TKG's Diary.................................................. 347
Appendix 7: Diabetes Symptoms............................................................ 350
Appendix 8: Asutosh Oja Astrological Reports......................................... 352
Appendix 9: Unverified Information....................................................... 355
Appendix 10: Are There Missing Tapes?................................................... 358
Appendix 11: Hair Mineral Analysis........................................................ 361
Appendix 12: Sources of Arsenic............................................................... 366
Appendix 13: Possible Mis-Diagnoses....................................................... 367
Appendix 14: Poisoning Throughout History............................................ 368
Appendix 15: History of Tamal Krishna Goswami.................................... 371
Appendix 16: Was The Medicine Like Poison?.......................................... 379
Appendix 17: Astrology and Poisoning...................................................... 382
Appendix 18: Letter from Bhagavat Das................................................... 386
Appendix 19: Tamal Talks at Pyramid House.......................................... 389
Appendix 20: Black Magic and Tantrics................................................... 392
Appendix 21: ISKCON Answers CD That Never Was............................... 393
Appendix 22: Arsenical Photophobia......................................................... 406
Dear Godbrothers, Godsisters and others:
Please accept my obeisances. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news. For over 18 months I have worked on the accumulation of evidence that Srila Prabhupada was chronically poisoned by arsenic in 1977. That evidence is this book, a letter to the followers of Srila Prabhupada. Please take the time to review the evidence carefully and consider assisting in the further investigation that is required to resolve this issue completely. In my opinion, the evidence is solid that Srila Prabhupada was poisoned, but by whom is not yet known. The level of proof, coincidences, and circumstantial evidence, makes for a very compelling verdict. I want to inform you of this evidence because I believe it is my duty to Srila Prabhupada and His Mission to push this matter to a healthy closure. In this, I am humbly asking your advice and assistance.
On November 17, 1997 I was working in the yard on a fine, cool afternoon. I had had my fill of controversy long ago. The cordless phone rang; Mahabuddhi Prabhu was calling from Florida, and what he told me sent chills down my back, brought sweat to my brow and left my knees feeling wobbly. He described shocking whispers he had discovered on tapes which indicated Srila Prabhupada, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, our beloved spiritual master, and that to thousands of others, had been poisoned twenty years earlier in 1977. Thus I became involved, practically against my will, with the question of whether the greatest spiritual teacher of modern times had been poisoned.
Many times I have turned my back on this issue, once for a period of over six months, hoping someone else would take up the reins of the investigation I had reluctantly become involved with. Then one evening, Lakshmi Nrsingha Prabhu asked me what I could contribute to the local temple program in the observance of Srila Prabhupada's disappearance day. Instantly, my conscience screamed at me: "You must publish the evidence on the poisoning of Srila Prabhupada as your duty to Krishna and the truth!" I could not bear to allow this information to remain dormant or hidden any longer. So, with many mixed and conflicting emotions, here it is. I pray that I have done the right thing.
This letter, or book, organizes the evidence and information to date (April 1999) regarding the poisoning of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, most probably carried out by some of His "closest" disciples. This subject is certainly a difficult one to address, and it is also difficult to present properly in a publication. As Srila Prabhupada advised, we may say something, but we must be very cautious about printing it. Only because the evidence is so substantial do I venture to do so, and I hope that further evidence will show all of this to be no more than a false alarm, which unfortunately, does not seem even remotely likely. The compelling material contained herein intrinsically demands a full scale inquiry by truthful persons with the full cooperation of ISKCON, the GBC, and, hopefully, suspects such as Tamal Krishna Goswami, Jayapataka Swami, Bhakticharu Swami, and others.
Originally, this production was intended as an audio documentary. Rochan Prabhu had arranged most of the ingredients for producing a CD, except for funding, which I then contributed. Dhaneshwar Prabhu worked hard under difficult circumstances at a location in Lockport, NY, for a month until the CD was pressed. Somehow there were some unpalatable dealings and we were extorted sizable sums of money. Dhaneshwar was forced to leave and I could not obtain the CD or the production materials, including the interviews. Finally, after two months, a copy of the CD was received, but not before the GBC and Harikesh had gotten it first through some unknown shady deal. It was feared that the host and narrator of the CD would then threaten to sue for royalties and up front money if I reproduced it. I was left with the choice to totally rework and re-record the CD or take the chance of legal entanglement with the troublesome narrator in Lockport.
Although Dhaneshwar Prabhu had done his best with the CD's content as could be expected with the facility and time limits, there were many things that left me dissatisfied with the CD. Critical parts of the story and evidence were either confusing, wordy or missing. A CD was limited to 73 minutes, a cassette tape 120 minutes, and I was reluctant to cut out so much of the relevant information. Thus I reconsidered the strategy of how to best present the poison issue evidence.
At the time it appeared that most devotees were focused entirely on the incriminating, twenty year old whispers, as though they were the heart of the evidence. But gradually I realized that the whispers were but one valuable confirmation of many other pieces of evidence. Also, the whisper's real value lay not simply in their interpretations by the human ear, but in how they were analyzed by advanced technology and spectrographic charts. Such charts could not be seen on a tape or CD, where many would fall into the trap of analyzing whispers by speculating and arguing about what they thought they were hearing. Would not a book avoid this pitfall, and re-focus everyone on the primary evidence, namely Srila Prabhupada's own statements that He was poisoned? The whispers are attention-grabbing, but what Srila Prabhupada said is the primary evidence, and the rest is supporting evidence. Since then, a positive hair analysis has very much strengthened the case.(Chapter 33)
A CD must be accompanied by a booklet and, in composing that booklet, it would tend to become a book anyway. A fully documented, printed work can be easily referred to again and again, without depending on a CD player and fast-forwarding to some elusive portion for review. A CD was sensational, spiffy and technologically advanced, but a book, however, is the approved and standard method of distributing the truth. Those who must HEAR the whispers will be able to order the tapes from the BBT Archives or other sources.
My appreciation for literary and investigative assistance goes to Rochan, Dhaneshwar, Agrahya, Mahabuddhi, Paritrikananda, Isha, and Gupta Prabhus, and many others. I have tried to make this presentation as accurate, honest and complete as possible, noting plainly what is a fact, what is a "lead", and what is my personal commentary or thoughts. It is hereby emphatically stated that I have presented the evidence as it is, without serving any motive or purpose other than the pursuit of the truth. I know that this book will be extremely controversial; it will be both loathed and appreciated, both condemned and received favorably. My physical life may be jeopardized and I am not altogether positive it is good for my spiritual life or consciousness either. (But I do remember Srila Prabhupada telling Harikesh about acting in difficult situations: 'Damn your consciousness.') But whatever, I cannot escape my conscience. With this letter I hope to promote a widespread and ecumenical search for the truth: WAS SRILA PRABHUPADA INTENTIONALLY POISONED BY HIS LEADING DISCIPLES? We already know that He was poisoned, but by whom?
Assurance is hereby given that this book is not based on ignoble motives, and is not opposed to the principles of Krishna consciousness, ISKCON or the GBC. This is not an anti-ISKCON strategy or rtvik politics. Of course, many will disagree. I have tried to ensure that others, even those who may not be familiar with Krishna consciousness, will approach this issue with proper respect and appreciation for Srila Prabhupada's position and achievements. There is within this book an attempt to create the proper mood of inquiry and justice. Vengeance is not called for here. However, if Srila Prabhupada's mission has been usurped by some of the same people who attempted to kill him (only by Lord Krishna's arrangement did it happen), and those same people are among those who once proclaimed their divine right as the sole inheritors of the kingdom, it would truly be a disservice to His Divine Grace were we not to put our best effort into proving the truth of the matter. The proper mood of inquiry and seeking justice, I believe, is to seek the truth without malice or anger, but with unrelenting determination and in a cooperative spirit.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, wrote and translated with extensive commentary more than 60 volumes presenting devotional classics such as Bhagavad-Gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and Sri Caitanya-Caritamrita in the English language. He is an authentic spiritual master revered by perhaps millions around the world for the invaluable gift of Krishna consciousness which he continues to compassionately distribute to untold numbers of lost souls.
Coming to America at the age of 70, in only 12 years from 1965 to 1977, he ignited the Hare Krishna explosion, a spiritual revolution in the hearts and minds of thousands of devotees. Before Srila Prabhupada's arrival in the West, the Vaishnava tradition of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was practically unknown outside of India. Circling the globe a dozen times, Srila Prabhupada tirelessly taught the sublime message of Godhead, visiting and inspiring devotees and receptive audiences in countless cities, homes, temples and events.
In 1972 Srila Prabhupada created a Governing Body Commission or GBC from the ranks of his disciples to oversee the spiritual growth of the Hare Krishna movement. Entrusting his senior disciples with the details of management, Srila Prabhupada focused on translating the ancient Vedic scriptures and writing his Bhaktivedanta Purports to further enable our meager understanding of the message of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Contact with Srila Prabhupada was to catch a glimpse of the spiritual world. By his writing, words, and glance He fought the forces of darkness in a realm where illusioned souls had forgotten their own true spiritual identity.
Early in 1977 Srila Prabhupada became increasingly ill. Despite treatment from various Ayurvedic doctors, his condition did not improve. Yet, amazingly, in a bedridden state, Srila Prabhupada continued his work on translating the Srimad Bhagavatam until just days before His departure. Srila Prabhupada left this mortal world on November 14, 1977 to rejoin Lord Sri Krishna in the eternal abode of Vaikuntha, from which perfect, liberated devotees descend for the transcendental benefit of the conditioned souls. One should never think that Srila Prabhupada, a pure devotee of the Supreme Lord Krishna, died. Rather, He lives forever in His instructions, and His followers will always live with Him. One should know that an eternally liberated associate of Krishna is not an ordinary man and that His appearance and disappearance in this world are arrangements of Krishna's internal energy. As stated by Bhaktivinode Thakur:
He reasons ill who tells that Vaishnavas die
While thou art living still in sound.
The Vaishnavas die to live, and living try
To spread the Holy Name around
Although almost unthinkable, very serious evidence has recently been obtained regarding a conspiracy to assassinate Srila Prabhupada by poisoning. Even if one or more of His disciples attempted to kill Srila Prabhupada, we must know that He departed when and how He chose to do so. No one could harm Him in any way because He was fully protected by Lord Krishna.
But if poisoning took place by the malicious intent of any person who still has a place or hand in Srila Prabhupada's mission, it is our duty as His followers to find out them out and guarantee an accounting. How can we neglect this? There are those that attribute this issue to the imaginations of ISKCON enemies, rtviks or troublemakers, but we see that those who first brought the matter to public attention have been longstanding loyal ISKCON devotees. Because most people have heard of the poison issue via the rumor mill, the author of this documentary (myself) has therefore sought to present the facts as they are without innuendo or unfair characterizations. Indeed, there is the hope that under intense scrutiny, this will all be revealed as a dreadful misunderstanding, our worst fears misplaced. Not likely, however.
The producer of this report wishes to emphatically state his opinion that Srila Prabhupada's apparent death occurred only as a result of His own choice to leave this world. Srila Prabhupada had stated that this was in fact the case, that He could stay or leave as He decided. Further, it is widely accepted that Srila Prabhupada was an empowered devotee of the Lord who was transcendental to all material considerations, and if Srila Prabhupada were in fact given poison, while this may have affected His health, it had little to do with His departure. The purpose of this report is not to cast any doubt on the transcendental nature of Srila Prabhupada.
The question thus becomes how is it that Prabhupada decided to wind up his pastimes here. Did he not feel that His disciples wanted Him to stay? This exact question came up during His final days, and there was an overwhelming response "Yes, don't leave us—please stay with us longer!" Some argued that perhaps Srila Prabhupada had finished His mission and we should let Him go. Perhaps Srila Prabhupada felt He was not wanted because, as He Himself had stated, someone was giving Him poison.
Internally, Srila Prabhupada chose His own time of departure. Externally, He was poisoned by arsenic, unable to eat and His body withered away due to malnutrition and toxic cellular obliteration. It is our duty as Srila Prabhupada's diksha and siksha followers to defend Him, better late than never. First we must establish the truth, then take appropriate action.
As the reader progresses through each chapter and appendix he or she will become more and more convinced of foul play, and will want a full and honest investigation in the search for the historical truth so that the health of Srila Prabhupada's Mission may be preserved. Read the following presentation of evidence, and, with an open and unbiased mind, think carefully about what should be done.
POISON BECOMES AN ISSUE
Rumors about a poisoning of Srila Prabhupada have been circulating around the world of devotees ever since Srila Prabhupada's departure over 20 years ago. Rupanuga Prabhu remembers the subject arose in 1980 and Rupa Vilas Prabhu and this author heard about it in 1990. A few years ago, Satyaraj Prabhu asked his friend Tamal Krishna Goswami about the matter, and was told that these persistent rumors come back to life every so often, much to Tamal's dismay. Abhinanda Prabhu was recently disturbed by these rumors, as well as many others. Paritrikananda Prabhu in California began to research the rumors and assemble evidence and leads out of his own need for finding the truth. A list of notes in this regard is included as Appendix 9. In early 1996 Paritrikananda Prabhu tried to interest this reporter in the matter, but at the time there did not seem to be any way to convert the rumors into facts. Puranjana Prabhu, a well-known, controversial and vitriolic critic of ISKCON policies, amplified the issue in mid 1997, publishing on the internet information and questions on the subject. At the 1997 Los Angeles Rathayatra, Puranjana was picketing with a large sign which stated that Srila Prabhupada was poisoned, referring to Srila Prabhupada's own statements to that effect in the Conversations Books.
When Isha Prabhu in Miami heard of the poison issue, he became disturbed, disbelieving all of it as nonsense. He had been Satsvarupa Maharaj's secretary in Dallas in late 1977. When Satsvarupa Maharaj returned from Vrindaban just after Srila Prabhupada's departure, Isha was given 20 tapes with instructions to make 10 sets of copies to send to various ISKCON leaders before forwarding the original tapes to the BBT Archives in Los Angeles. Isha Prabhu did this, but kept an extra set for himself. He dug out these tapes after 20 years of storage and made copies for Mahabuddhi Prabhu's birthday. Isha asked Mahabuddhi to listen to the tapes carefully, as he himself also did, in hopes of finding an answer to the question: was Srila Prabhupada poisoned? These 20 tapes of Srila Prabhupada's last conversations, although the English portions were transcribed in the Conversations books, had never been released or advertised by the BBT Archives tape ministry. Thus, only a very few devotees had ever listened to them. However, copies are available upon special request from the Archives.
POISON WHISPERS DISCOVERED
Almost simultaneously, Isha, Mahabuddhi and Balavanta Prabhus found and focused on several whispers on a tape labeled T-46, the third from the last known recording of Srila Prabhupada, and dated November 10 & 11, 1977. Isha Prabhu, a devotee since 1974 and long-time supporter of the Miami ISKCON temple, stated:
"When I first heard of the poisoning issue I became concerned and investigated by listening carefully to the twenty tapes in my library from Oct-Nov 1977. After thoroughly listening to them I concluded that if Srila Prabhupada was poisoned it was the result of accidental overdose or misuse of his medications. That same day Mahabuddhi called and told me of suspicious whispers he had found on the same tapes of November 1977. I examined the whispers carefully using sophisticated electronic equipment, and had enhancements done on the tapes by FBI approved laboratories. My conclusion after hundreds of hours of analysis is that it is possible that Srila Prabhupada was poisoned. I called Balavanta and asked him if we could form an investigation committee. He agreed that Mahabuddhi, Jagajivan and myself would be on it and that we could create a forum on ISKCON's COM so we could communicate privately about these issues."
This reporter also interviewed Mahabuddhi Prabhu, former temple president, former promoter of Prabhupada's Palace bus tours in New Vrindaban, and founder of the Florida Vedic College:
"We listened to Srila Prabhupada's tape of November 10-11. My son Mahasimha, when I was out of the room, had heard a whisper, so he called me back and we played this whisper again. We enhanced it and listened to it, and it really sounded strange. We became a little bit shocked, because we thought we had heard something like: LETS POISON IN THE MILK, and the more we heard it, the more we listened to it, about 100 times that night, the more it sounded that way."
WHISPERS ALARM DEVOTEES
Mahabuddhi Prabhu e-mailed his discovery to Balavanta and phoned Isha. Apparently Balavanta and associates in Alachua were already aware of the whisper, because the next day, November 11, 1997, the Vaishnava News Network, or VNN, posted not only Mahabuddhi Prabhu's letter on the internet, but also a statement from Balavanta as the newly appointed "GBC special investigator." Apparently the GBC Executive Committee and the GBC Chairman, Madhusevita Prabhu, acted quickly, without full approval of the GBC, by immediately arranging for Balavanta Prabhu to investigate "independently" the alleged poisoning of Srila Prabhupada, beginning with research into the validity and nature of the alarming whispers.
Balavanta's report stated, regarding the November 10-11 tape (T-46 or #18 out of the last 20):
"…it contains a whisper which refers to poison. This tape was digitally processed for clarity by an independent laboratory in Gainesville, Florida. According to the laboratory technician the following is the probable contents of the whispered statement. Either:
1. "Lets not poison him and go" or
2. "Lets now poison him and go."
We are currently sending the tape to another laboratory with more advanced equipment for further investigation. We will report the results of that study as available."
It is noted here that, to the best of our knowledge, this was the first and last public statement made by Balavanta as GBC Special Investigator. Since then, however, Balavanta Prabhu has spoken with others about the investigation unofficially. He, Mahabuddhi and Isha discussed arranging for more testing on the whispers, and Balavanta disclosed that he had sent the T-46 "poison tape" to the National Audio Video Forensic Laboratory in California, headed by a Mr. Norman Perle. Just two months prior, Mrigendra Prabhu, a devotee attorney and former temple president of Los Angeles ISKCON, had sent the famous so-called "appointment tape" of May 28, 1977, to Perle's lab to test for evidence of alleged tampering or editing. The appointment tape forensic test results will be discussed later on in Chapter 11 and Appendix 1.
Meanwhile, Isha and Mahabuddhi were finding more incriminating-sounding whispers on the same "poison tape." In total, as reported on VNN, they were:
1. "Lets poison him and go," or perhaps, "Put poison in the milk"
2. " poison ishvarya rasa…get ready to go",
3. "the poison's going down, the poison's going down"
4. "put poison in different containers."
The level of concern and fear amongst devotees became greatly heightened. On November 30, Isha, very expert in manipulation of computer and sound recording equipment, reported on VNN his own personal findings in regards to the poison whispers on the "poison tape." They were:
1. Conversations Vol. 36, pg 373: After Srila Prabhupada asks to lie down flat is heard this whisper: "The poison's going down..(giggle) the poison's going down."
2. Con:36.373: After Jayapataka says, "follow the same treatment," a whisper: "Is the poison in the milk? Um hum."
3. Con:36.374: After Srila Prabhupada says, "Daytime we expose...", we hear the whisper, "Do it now." Then Srila Prabhupada drinks something.
4. Con:36.378: We hear the whispers, "Jayadwaita... will you serve Srila Prabhupada poison Jayadwaita?", then several negative responses followed by "Nette, nette."
5. Con:36.391: After Jayapataka says, "Should there be kirtana?" we hear a Bengali phrase, and then the whisper "Poison ishvarya rasa." Srila Prabhupada says weakly and very surprised, "Me?", then we hear, "Take it easy, get ready to go," then a few seconds later, "The poison's in you Srila Prabhupada." Then, "He's going under... He's going under." Then Hansadutta's kirtan began.
The audio clips including the above whispers were posted on VNN on December 5, 1997. It is difficult for many to make out the whispers due to so much of the quality lost in that means of transmission. Dozens upon dozens of devotees have been taken by Naveen Krishna Prabhu in Alachua to a local sound studio to listen to the enhanced and "cleaned up" whispers. Most agree, after listening carefully a few times, and there is no doubt in their minds, what the whispers are about: Srila Prabhupada was poisoned in a conspiracy by His own closest disciples. The number of devotees with this experience in Naveen Krishna's sound studio continues to grow as time goes on.
POISON INVESTIGATIONS BEGIN
While Perle was analyzing the poison tape as per Balavanta's instructions, Isha called Perle and discussed the whispers' locations on the tape. Perle stated that he had been asked to study only one whisper, and to do it on a shoestring budget. It has been unofficially learned that the report Balavanta received from Perle soon thereafter did NOT verify the whispers, and the report has never been made public. Surprised to hear this, Isha called Norman Perle to discuss his findings. Isha relates his talk with Perle:
"I had discussed with Perle about several locations of the tape which contained whispers but when Balavanta received his report there was a great deal of confusion about what Perle had actually analyzed. I called Perle the day after my conversations with Balavanta to discuss my concerns about which sections of the tape he was listening to. I could not get a clear answer from him but he did make a statement which raised my suspicions even higher. He said that conversations and events on the tape did not represent the actual events taking place. He said that he was 95% convinced of that."
Balavanta Prabhu also could not clearly identify for Isha which sections of the tape or which whispers Perle had examined. Thus it was speculated that Perle had analyzed the wrong whispers on the tape, as there are many throughout the tape, and did not examine the ones referring to poison. Interestingly, though, Perle had alluded to fraudulent tampering of the tape, a subject we address later. Suffice it to say at this point that Perle mistakenly thought that the stop-start routine of recording was evidence of tampering. Mahabuddhi and Isha were disturbed that Perle's report was not made available to them to verify or contradict their suspicion that the wrong whispers were examined. The credibility, accurateness and value of Perle's report to Balavanta was thus deemed highly questionable.
Also, at this time, Balavanta Prabhu now would no longer take a personal position on the whisper issue as he had at the start. He had become private, grave, and attorney-like in his behavior. Further, what had begun as a cooperative effort had now effectively split into two groups: the secretive, "independent" GBC investigation and the work done by an entity called the Independent Vaishnava Council, with Mahabuddhi and Isha Prabhus' participation. Isha explains his disappointment with Balavanta:
"Balavanta informed me that there was no longer an investigation committee and that he was going to act alone based on the GBC's instruction. I had already shared with him all the information I had gathered from the tapes and became further disturbed because of his breaking our agreement. Over the next several days I sent out several more e-mails detailing the results from the sound labs I had worked with in Miami. The VNN website (vnn.org) agreed to publish my findings. The CHAKRA website (chakra.org), which was created later, has refused to post my reports, however."
Mahabuddhi also states: "…we had cleaned some tapes and made some enhancements on some segments …we actually delivered these tapes to Balavanta who came to West Palm Beach to meet with us. We were always very cooperative, and at that point we thought we were working as a group or a team, but then he told me that actually he's now the only investigator."
Mahabuddhi and Isha then decided to continue with their audio forensics investigation on their own. At this point this reporter became intimately involved in their investigation. The whispers were digitally enhanced and cleaned for clarity by prominent and first-class sound studios, one of which was Soundtrack, Inc of Miami, headed by George Blackwell. Mr. Blackwell, who does a lot of work for law enforcement agencies, reported in early December, 1997:
"First of all, what I remember hearing on his tape after cleanup was "It's not poison in the milk" or, allowing for an unusual speech pattern by the speaker, "It's not poisoned milk." As in handwriting analysis, one calls upon other skills besides engineering for this type of work. At this point I relied heavily upon my 25 years of experience in musical training and in recording voices for commercials and narrations."
George Blackwell then describes how he adjusted the pitch, filters and equalizer to obtain a variety of listening conditions. His conclusions, it must be noted, however, were based ultimately upon listening with the human ear and did not include more sophisticated analytical methods.
Harikesh Maharaj, then the GBC for much of Europe and the principal guru-power/broker in ISKCON, reported on the internet that by listening to the whispers with the equipment used for his tape ministry, he and his aides could not hear anywhere the word "poison" being whispered. He did admit, though, that it remained a big mystery to him as to why Srila Prabhupada would say that he was being poisoned.
Bir Krishna Maharaj (GBC vice-chairman at the time), Bhakticharu Swami (ISKCON guru), and Rabindra Swarup Prabhu (GBC and ISKCON spokesman), made a joint statement on the internet on January 17, 1998 that they also had listened to the poison tape, and in their opinion, the whisper about "poison in different containers" was actually "posing different opinions." They also had several Bengalis translate the whisper "poison ishvarya rasa" as a Bengali term meaning "in a few days time." It should be clarified, however, that the whispered poison phrase comes right after the Bengali phrase so translated. This attempted sweeping aside of one of the four whispers is the same kind of error likely made by Norman Perle analyzing a non-poison whisper and then saying there is no poison word. One wonders whether these GBC's were doing shabby or dishonest reporting; it is quite obvious to anyone who listens to the tape that the poison whispers comes after the Bengali speaker.
News of the poison issue circulated quickly and was featured on the internet by the VNN and, later, by the "ISKCON-friendly" CHAKRA websites. Visits to VNN's site tripled as thousands checked in every day for "poison issue" news, showing that devotees worldwide were very interested and concerned about the poison issue. It was clearly not a non-issue.
Given the seriousness of the matter, it is surprising that for many weeks no official statement was issued by ISKCON. Finally, on December 7, 1997 it came, composed by Bir Krishna Maharaj and, as he put it, "stiffened-up" by Rabindra Swarup Prabhu and Mukunda Maharaj. It read:
"Certain conspiracy theorists have been propagating of late the allegation that the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON met his demise on November 14, 1977 due to intentional poisoning at the hands of his own disciples. The GBC of ISKCON considers this charge both absurd and offensive. Based on considerable testimony from those present at the time, and on its own preliminary internal study, the GBC is convinced that no such evil deed or even intention existed at the time. The GBC is certain that Srila Prabhupada's passing away was due to entirely natural causes, as his doctors stated.
Some persons have claimed that they heard the word "poison" whispered on a tape said to have been made in Srila Prabhupada's room. Many others, however, find the whispers indecipherable. In other words, one can read into the whisper almost anything one chooses. Nonetheless, some persons are bent on establishing the false and malicious theory that some of Prabhupada's own disciples conspired to poison him.
To refute this charge beyond the slightest doubt, the GBC has given the original tape over to independent forensic experts for detailed analysis. The singular purpose is to lay to rest malevolently motivated theories about Srila Prabhupada's passing. According to Balavanta das, head of independent investigation, "Initial reports from two of the forensic laboratories, both of which used equipment more sophisticated than any previously applied, do not find the word poison on the tape and do not support allegations of any wrongdoing."
It is now clear to the GBC that the report of taped whispering conspirators is a false alarm. The GBC is confident that the final forensic report will confirm these preliminary findings."
This official statement, one of only two issued by ISKCON at the time this publication went to press (the other is Appendix 21), has dismayed many devotees who had hoped ISKCON would lead the search for the truth. Now, anyone who would feel or express justifiable and legitimate concern over the circumstances of Srila Prabhupada's departure from this mortal world, has been condemned as a virtual enemy of ISKCON. It is perhaps this blatant shunning of efforts of cooperative goodwill offered by those outside the institutional walls that feeds the perception of a dishonest GBC, who many feel has become expert in keeping closed a Pandora's box of gruesome ghosts collected over 22 years of embarrassing history.
The GBC says they are "convinced and certain that Srila Prabhupada was not poisoned." Yet at least some of the GBC's arranged for Balavanta's investigation to research the matter, indicating that even they have some doubts. Suspicions arose in the minds of many about the GBC's honesty and the supposed independent investigation they initiated. Does the apparent half-hearted and non-aggressive nature of Balavanta's investigation have to do with the GBC's influence, who, in a state of denial, hopes this issue will fade away? Does this look like an open and honest attempt to satisfy natural and obvious questions raised by the evidence itself?
Has Balavanta Prabhu decided to maintain silence until he can accumulate enough evidence to make a complete report? Are Balavanta and Naveen Krishna Prabhus, past and former GBC members, compromised by their past political allegiances, or are they truly concerned in uncovering the truth of the poison issue?
What are the findings of the "considerable testimony and preliminary internal study"? What in this material has so thoroughly convinced the writers of the ISKCON statement that there is no cause for concern- why not share this with the Vaishnava community? Where are the doctors' statements verifying natural causes to Srila Prabhupada's passing away? (There is no indication that such a thing ever existed!)
If ISKCON is really to refute the supposed charges of poisoning beyond the slightest doubt, as they say, then they should immediately enlighten everyone with full disclosure of all their findings, such as their audio lab reports, interviews, if any, and a full explanation and answering of questions by Srila Prabhupada's secretary and primary caretaker for most of 1977: Tamal Krishna Goswami. When contacted by Dhaneshwar on behalf of this author, Tamal refused to discuss the issue or answer questions, saying that there was already an ongoing investigation. Tamal previously told Satyaraj Prabhu that if he answers one question, there will be hundreds more (Yes! and all should be answered! Why not?)
Also, what was the second audio forensic lab report obtained by Balavanta Prabhu? One report was the Norman Perle report, which may be of dubious value, as we will see later herein when reporting on Perle's appointment tape analysis. Was the other lab the sound studio in Gainesville? What other audio forensics had Balavanta Prabhu done, if any?
This reporter interviewed Balavanta Prabhu in mid January 1998, learning that he was receiving very limited funding for investigative work from the GBC, and that he was donating his time, as it may be available, to work on the investigation. Balavanta flatly stated that unless there is some new evidence or major breakthrough, such as a witness coming forward, that his poison investigation might soon close down with an inconclusive report. As this book goes to print, it is understood that Balavanta has not yet conducted any interviews, and may never, with possible suspects such as Tamal Krishna Maharaj, Jayapataka Maharaj, Bhavananda, Hansadutta, Satadhanya, Bhakticharu Swami and others. He did say that he was making arrangements for the chemical analysis of a sample of Srila Prabhupada's hair and fingernail clippings from October-November 1977. He was in the process of locating a suitable testing laboratory.
It was also understood that Balavanta had retrieved various containers left in Srila Prabhupada's Vrindaban quarters since 1977. In accordance with the whisper about putting poison in different containers, apparently he was going to test those containers for traces of poison. A long shot, indeed.
In October 1997, an entity called the Independent Vaishnava Council, or IVC, had been formed with Balavanta as the chairman, but who then, very soon afterwards, resigned when he became the "GBC investigator." The leadership of the IVC was taken up by Rochan Prabhu, former temple president of Seattle, who explained the development and purpose of the IVC:
"In September 1997, the VNN announced that an Independent Vaishnava Council was forming, headed by former GBC chairman Balavanta das, who practices as an attorney in Florida under the name William Ogle. The Council was formed for the purpose of investigating recorded statements uttered during Srila Prabhupada's final days, which indicated that he was being poisoned. A few weeks later, after the poison whispers surfaced, Balavanta announced his appointment by the GBC as their special independent investigator into these allegations. He made it clear that his activities on the GBC's behalf disqualified him from working with the independent Council, which was then at risk of dissolving. I was asked to take responsibility for moving the Council forward, primarily because I had already developed a comprehensive Internet website -harekrishna.com We launched this pioneer attempt at facilitating a virtual investigative council by creating interactive meeting areas for the Council.
"From day one, the volume of e-mail and incoming calls was overwhelming. We were approached by a number of individuals who offered financing, audio engineering skills, technical and legal support for the investigation. There was a common sense of urgency to compile and distribute a comprehensive summary of all available facts. So, the founding members of the Council began the process of discussing investigative protocol, the philosophical implications, administrative issues, etc. Meanwhile, individual members launched an audio CD project, a series of forensic tape analyses, and various legal and investigative inquiries. We were all moving forward, and making every attempt to cooperate together to pursue the truth."
Mahabuddhi Prabhu, an early IVC member, stated:
" it was a pretty difficult kind of jump to think that one of our godbrothers would even consider doing something like this to Prabhupada. We did not want to be so bold as to accuse anyone, so we thought that, having heard these strange whispers, we had better continue the investigation. Some people clearly heard the word poison, and some didn't. However, we weren't really interested in arguing over who heard what, as we felt that there would always be different opinions. We concluded that the way to resolve this matter was to have the tape analyzed by a forensic laboratory who had the technical expertise to give a definitive statement. We hoped the lab results would disprove that the whispers had anything to do with the poisoning of Srila Prabhupada, which is a totally detestable idea. It is very disturbing to think that any of our godbrothers could do such a thing."
AUDIO FORENSICS COMMENCE
Up to this point, most analysis was done by the subjective human ear, such as was done by George Blackwell, Harikesh Maharaj and Bir Krishna Maharaj. Mahabuddhi learned, however, that speech recognition has become an extremely diverse and advanced science, as researchers are improving equipment, computers, and software that accurately recognize the human voice. Sounds of Speech Communication by JM Pickett and Acoustic Analysis of Speech by Kent and Reed are two definitive texts on the science.
One of the oldest tools used in speech recognition is still unexcelled in definitive identification of words, namely the Wide Band Voice Spectrograph. It provides detailed information about the many frequencies and intensities of the various sounds which make up the spoken word. The spectrograph clearly presents the complex harmonic structure of voiced phonemes, of which there are only 40 in the English language, being the elements of sound used to produce every word. The voice spectrograph displays one phoneme after another, providing a "picture" of each word, and will have a similar pattern regardless of the accent, cadence, and the peculiarities of a particular voice. Unlike the human ear, the spectrograph is fully objective in identifying spoken words. Voice spectrograph analysis accurately determines even barely audible whispers with a confidence level of greater than 90% and is used by law enforcement agencies and as evidence in court, for decades now.
Mahabuddhi Prabhu consulted with the American College of Forensic Examiners to locate a very professional audio forensic laboratory. He settled on Jack Mitchell with Computer Audio Engineering (CAE) from New Mexico. Although Balavanta had obtained a report from Norman Perle, the results were not released and was considered of dubious accuracy (see Appendix 1). Mahabuddhi understood the grave need for a good forensic acoustic analysis.
This author offered to bear the expenses of the work. Mahabuddhi arranged for the analysis, carefully detailing the whispers' locations for CAE and how we wanted to analyze EXACTLY what was being spoken. Jack Mitchell was not told in advance by being what we thought the whispers were, as we wanted an unprejudiced analysis without any subtle predisposition of the analyst. CAE was given no information as to the nature of the controversy, but was apprised of the foreign language on the tape.
This author elicited Jack Mitchell's credentials, given as follows:
COMPUTER AUDIO ENGINEERING, Jack Mitchell, A.C.F.E.
Member American College of Forensic Examiners
John J. Mitchell ("Jack"), Years experience: 30+/audio - 3/forensic audio.
Education: *1964-1976; The Pennsylvania State University
*Undergraduate & graduate study - music education and music composition.
*Began study of electronic music in 1967. Such study includes recording and editing techniques, signal design, analysis, processing and full semester physics courses which were specific to the physics of sound. Have been involved with audio and signal analysis and processing in one form or another ever since.
*1992: Univ. of New Mexico: 1 credit short course - Music and Technology
*Other: Have taught both public school and college. From 1987 to 1995 was the editor/arranger/orchestrator for the John Donald Robb Musical Trust, University of New Mexico Foundation.
Thus far, I am able to boast a realistic 99% success rate with regard to my forensic work. (That assessment has come from clients, not myself). JM
Jack Mitchell owner/engineer: Commercial Audio | Forensic Audio
Computer Audio Engineering aka: CAE Studio
Web Site: http://biz.swcp.com/CAE... E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
After a week, Jack Mitchell called Mahabuddhi and advised him that we should be arranging for legal counsel, as it appeared that what he was analyzing was a poison conspiracy, judging from what he had already found on the tape. Mahabuddhi was pleased that Jack was confirming what he had heard, but also depressed. Three weeks later the report arrived, and stated:
"Each segment was subjected to analysis using both Signalyze and Soundscope software. Methods employed were: F-T-A sonogram display, amplitude envelopes, 100ms segment FFT, LPC formant tracking – of particular interest was F2 trajectory tracking of the tongue movement, sound file amplification and normalization. The analysis activity involves data measurement, aural and visual alignment and segmentation of sonic events.
During signal analysis and dialog decoding, nine hours of consultation was done with Dr. Helen McCaffrey, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Texas Christian University." (see Appendix 2)
This first complete audio forensic report by CAE is included in Appendix 2, and details the exact methods and technology used. Five color spectrographs of the whispers, conclusively verifying their actual content, are displayed on the front and rear book covers, and near the front of the book.
Technical language aside, the heart of the report left Mahabuddhi, Rochan, and this author in shock and depression. Two of the four whispers had been verified as containing the word POISON. There was now far less doubt that there had indeed been a poison conspiracy. Mitchell also verbally communicated that he had isolated another very faint whisper on the same tape which he felt quite sure contained the word poison, but it was too faint to verify by phonemes. He also found whispered words adjacent to what we had asked him to study, such as "We know he's trying to trap us", and "I'm not afraid to die", which, unfortunately, fits in better with the discussions of a secretive and nefarious plot than normal devotee discussions in the course of caring for a prostrate and bedridden Srila Prabhupada.
The first whisper verified takes place on page 373, Conversations Book #36, dated November 10, 1977, but the correct date is the 1th. Srila Prabhupada says, "Hmmm. You make me flat," and then, in the background, an as yet unidentified person says what had previously been thought to be "THE POISONS GOING DOWN." However, Jack Mitchell's analysis ascertains the long, two part hushed whisper to be:
"PUSH REAL HARD, ITS GOING DOWN HIM.
THE POISON'S GOING DOWN"
The second whisper verified takes place on page 391, Conversations Book #36. (November 11, 1977) Someone speaks three or four words in Bengali, and then Jayapataka Maharaj (it almost definitely is his voice) says what previously sounded to many like POISON ISHVARYA RASA. In reference to this whisper, Bir Krishna Maharaj and Rabindra Swarup Prabhu issued a statement on January 17, 1998, claiming that three Bengalis in Philadelphia (one was Bhakticharu Swami) translated the Bengali spoken as "kayek din pare asha", meaning "in a few days time", and that there was no poison word. However, Jack Mitchell's analysis starts after that loudly-spoken Bengali phrase, and ascertains the subsequent whispers to be:
VOICE 1: Bengali (kayek…)
VOICE 1: POISONING FOR A LONG TIME
SRILA PRABHUPADA: TO ME?
VOICE 2: THAT'S REALLY ORIGINAL.
VOICE 1: GET READY TO GO.
VOICE 1: MY NUMBER'S IN THE PASS (PORT OR BOOK).
VOICE: GOING NOW, (PRABHU).
SOFT ELDER VOICE: (YES, TODAY or YESTERDAY).
VOICE: ANYTHING MIGHT OF HAPPENED TODAY.
VOICE: (LOOK), I'M NOT AFRAID TO DIE.
SOFT ELDER VOICE: VERY GOOD.
VOICE: YOU'RE TAKING IT RIGHT NOW.
SOFT ELDER VOICE: HOW'S THIS?
VOICE: LET IT GO.
We can find no positive manner in which to interpret these words; they speak the unthinkable. It is obvious that no definitive conclusion can be drawn simply by listening with the human ear, and that therefore audio forensic analysis should carry much more weight as to what actually is being said, or whispered. The CAE report makes the whispers a hundred times more significant, and, coupled with other evidence, should help convince all those silent fence-sitters with political interests or weak hearts to get off their duff and get behind a broad, impartial inquiry as will be proposed later.
A third whisper was also analyzed by Jack Mitchell, namely the one which takes place on page 380 (November 11, 1977) of the Conversations Book #36. This whisper has been previously reported to be Tamal Krishna Maharaj saying, "Put poison in different containers…" This whisper has been explained by Bir Krishna Maharaj and others to be, "we're voicing different opinions…" and this is exactly what Jack Mitchell verified.
The explanation by Bir Krishna Maharaj makes sense, especially when looked at in context, where the word opinion is used just a little earlier and how there is a discussion about whether to go on parikrama or not. Now, with verification by forensic analysis, it does not seem that this whisper should be given much further attention. It should be noted, however, that CAE's analysis coinciding with the GBC explanation is significant in demonstrating how his work is honest and not tailored to suit any biased motive his client might have. It is very important that the search for truth not be compromised by serving someone's personal agenda or opinion, and so it is hoped that the CAE report will be appreciated as being truly impartial.
We see how the whispers have been variously and subjectively interpreted by the human ear, as by hearing poison in several other whispers prompts us to hear "VOICING" as "POISON IN." Distortions and low amplitude play tricks on the imperfect senses. But, thanks to audio forensics we can extend the range of the human senses and determine more than what we thought we heard by the ear alone.
Nevertheless, the same person who says, "…we're voicing different opinions…," was analyzed just prior to this point to have said in a whisper,
"WE KNOW HE'S TRYING TO TRAP US."
This person has been invariably identified as Tamal Krishna Goswami. What is meant by this statement is unknown.
The work done by CAE stands in quality and thoroughness far above what was done by any of the subjective listening by various human ears, and will be very difficult to scientifically discredit. Audio forensics is a method of evidentiary proof accepted by courts and law enforcement agencies; so we also should give it great credence.
In February of 1999, Jack Mitchell offered to post the poison whispers on his website as demonstration of his work and as assistance in making the evidence in this poison investigation available to more people. He explained that recent improvements in software (Yamaha Sound VQ) allowed sound bites to be downloaded with exceptional quality in a very short time. His website address is: http://biz.swep.com/CAE. Check it out and hear for yourself those who are assumed to be engaged in the very act of poisoning the pure devotee of the Supreme Lord, Srila Prabhupada.
Historical truth is often not understood by one obvious piece of blinding evidence, but is re-constructed from many small bits of information and evidence, developing into varying degrees of certitude by progressing from a doubt to suspicion, then from a credible proposition to a probability, and finally, a certainty. The revelations provided so far and those coming in the future are due to the divine arrangement of Srila Prabhupada and Sri Sri Radha Govinda. Hopefully this issue will be fully resolved soon, so that further dissension will not plague Srila Prabhupada's Mission. The total evidence to date, as one will see by the end of this publication, clearly points to a poison conspiracy. The consequences will be far reaching and profound, as Srila Prabhupada's followers gradually realize that our only secure basis is Srila Prabhupada's instructions and books, and not the leaders and policies that have created havoc in the Mission since the pure devotee's departure.
MORE AUDIO FORENSICS
In January 1998, Mahabuddhi decided to divest himself of the responsibility for the CAE forensic report, and step into the background. He encouraged this reporter, who had funded the entire $15,000 cost, to decide what to do with it. Mahabuddhi wanted the report made public at some point, but his work and family responsibilities were wearing him down. He was getting dozens of calls at all hours about the forensic work; some were intimidating, some threatening, some boring, all of them time consuming. Thus this reporter was now solely responsible for the CAE forensic analysis already done, and for whatever other forensics might be done in the future.
Early on, Mahabuddhi repeatedly mentioned his suspicion that the poison tape was edited and that the sections recorded seemed to him to have been rearranged out of chronological order. Specifically, he thought that the "Get ready to go" episode was actually the last recording made, but moved ahead of previous days' room conversations. He also speculated that there was "poisoning for a long time," and that Srila Prabhupada was given a final lethal dose of poison when told "Get ready to go." He thought the poisoners were worried Srila Prabhupada going to expose them and thus they needed to quickly finish their nefarious work. Or, the poisoners were concerned that the last kaviraja would restore Srila Prabhupada's health in spite of "poisoning for a long time," something the kaviraja emphatically declared his medicines were capable of doing. Note that these were merely suppositions.
For many years there has been a samilar suspicion of tape editing on the so-called "appointment tape" of May 28, 1977. As editor of Vedic Village Review in Mississippi about ten years ago, this reporter had almost had the appointment tape analyzed for editing. Many devotees wondered if the appointment tape had been spliced, if words had been rearranged, or if words had been deleted to change the import of Srila Prabhupada's words.
This reporter then learned that Mrigendra, by GBC request, had the appointment tape analyzed, and it was a reminder of issues set aside years ago due to life's turmoil. Mrigendra, a devotee attorney (Harvey Mechanic), arranged for a copy of the appointment tape to be sent from the Bhaktivedanta Archives to Norman Perle's lab. He asked that there be a determination as to whether or not the tape had been edited.
In September 1997, Perle's report was released to the devotee world and immediately caused great confusion. Learning of the report two months later, this reporter was told that the appointment tape had been edited and tampered with, which is probably the general understanding of most devotees outside of the ISKCON temples. Upon discussing the matter with Bir Krishna Maharaj, former GBC chairman, he explained that Perle was simply identifying the points where the tape recorder had been turned off and then on again. This was the method in which room conversations with Srila Prabhupada were taped; the tape recorder would be then turned on whenever there was discussion, visitors or darshan, and then turned off again. A tape was filled over a day or more, with many sections separated by "breaks." When a tape was full, another cassette was popped into the recorder.
Part of the summary from Perle's report states:
"In conclusion, this recording exhibits strong signs suggestive of falsification. I do not believe that these deficiencies might possibly be the product of some mechanical process or problem within the recording or duplication process and I believe that they exist at what is considered to be a higher degree than that of a coincidence." (complete report in Appendix 1)
Perle identified six points on side A of the tape, each documented with a waveform and spectrograph analysis, plus a commentary, typically "…consistent with a recording made from an edited Master recording."
Interviewed, Mrigendra explained that no instructions were supplied to Perle as to the manner in which recordings of Srila Prabhupada were typically made. Perle was not apprised as to the start-stop routine and the resultant "breaks." Perle did not call back to ask any questions as to the circumstances or details of the tape. Perle was put on an extremely minimal budget, completely inadequate for actually doing any comprehensive and thorough analysis. Genuine quality work, as I found out with CAE, costs many thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, Mrigendra was simply not aware of how important this information would have been to Perle, nor was he even aware of it himself. As a result, Perle's appointment tape analysis is misleading, which is typical GBC mismanagement, and should have been remedied by further funding to complete the analysis properly.
This reporter felt a responsibility to clear up the confusion and decided, at great expense, to finish the GBC project of analyzing the "appointment tape," and to do it expertly and conclusively. (see Chapter 11 & Appendix 3) Then it dawned on this author that the next logical step in the poison investigation would be to see if the poison tape had been edited, as was going to be tested for on the appointment tape. It would be invaluable to complete and review Perle's analysis on the appointment tape. There was suspicion of editing on both tapes, May28, the other November 11, 1977, six months apart, and that needed to be checked out.
After several lengthy conferences with Jack Mitchell at CAE and strategizing on how to go about this next stage of forensic analysis, looking for possible edits, copies of the appointment tape from the BBT Archives and Perle's appointment tape report were sent to CAE. We discussed the technical differences in spectrographic signatures of a start-stop compared to various types of edits. Edits can be accomplished by copying over, "punching in" electronically, or the simple and old-school razor blade butt-splice. CAE explained about differing "ramp times" created by start-stops on different recording machines. Thus, as we shall see, CAE was able to confirm and identify many stop-start points on both the poison and appointment tapes. Most of Perle's six points on the appointment tape that he characterized as consistent with edits were, sure enough, as we shall see, nothing but typical stop-starts.
OBTAINING THE UHER
However, there were other unusual anomalies on both tapes that could not be explained away so easily. Jack had made note of them when he had done the poison whisper analyses. Jack emphasized the need to know exactly what tape recorder had made these two tapes, as each recorder makes its own specific electronic "signatures" on the magnetic tape, with its different functions of pause, auto reverse, limiters, internal vs. external microphone, fast forward, etc. It was crucial, if CAE were to be able to make a truly definitive analysis, that we obtain the actual tape recorder used to record the tapes. And so began the search for information about the current location of the tape recorder last used over twenty years ago.
After two weeks of phone and internet searching, the picture became clearer. There was a UHER reel to reel recorder used to record Srila Prabhupada up till about early 1976. Hari Sauri Prabhu, Srila Prabhupada's servant, arranged to have a new UHER cassette recorder obtained, as cassettes were so much easier to handle and he hoped that thus more of Srila Prabhupada's words would be captured on tape. He was right; the amount of recordings increased dramatically in 1976 over previous years. A second, identical UHER cassette recorder was obtained in Los Angeles for use when Srila Prabhupada was there (which was often) and also as a back-up in case the first recorder broke. Paramrupa Prabhu, founder of the BBT Archives, told this reporter that he used the second UHER in LA in February of 1978, after which it was sent to India. Its location today is unknown.
So where was the first UHER cassette recorder that recorded the two tapes we were analyzing? Mahabuddhi suggested that I call Puru Prabhu, who had the extensive Bhaktivedanta Memorial Museum in the Brooklyn temple for many years. Suddenly, this reporter remembered touring his exhibits in 1989, and how Puru had proudly pointed out Srila Prabhupada's tape recorder in a showcase. Upon contacting Puru, it was clear that he was anxious to help disprove that the appointment tape had been edited. Puru was assured that CAE needed his UHER recorder to definitively ascertain the truth about the appointment tape, which was this reporter's only motive. Puru sent the UHER by Fedex to CAE to assist with the analysis work.
Upon receiving the UHER, Jack found that there was an electrical short somewhere in the machine. It did not work, and would need to be repaired before tests could proceed. The former USA distributor for UHER tape recorders was of no help, and UHER in Germany did not reply Jack's e-mails. Jack got on the web and put out the alert for a schematic, hoping some electronic packrat had one from the seventies. Sure enough, within days, there was confirmation from New Zealand and a schematic was sent over to New Mexico. Without the schematic, it might have taken a small fortune to find the electrical short. Jack's repairman got to work and the short was isolated in the roller mechanism area, and the machine was taken to another shop that had better diagnostic equipment.
Three weeks later, repaired, the UHER was operational and was returned to Jack Mitchell for the final and critical tests. Could the UHER make the unusual-looking anomalies found on both the poison and appointment tapes? Or were these anomalies due to edits and tampering?
There was also a small silver SONY cassette recorder used as a backup in India when the UHER was unavailable or not working. It is on display in Srila Prabhupada's quarters in Vrindaban. However, due to the similar patterns found on both the poison and appointment tapes, we initially thought that there was very little chance that either tape was made on the SONY. After the testing was completed, it was ascertained otherwise, as explained in the next chapter.
Puru received his UHER recorder from Tamal Krishna Goswami shortly after Srila Prabhupada's departure. Tamal distributed much Srila Prabhupada memorabilia at that time. There is next to no doubt that this UHER is the one used to record Srila Prabhupada in India in 1977. Puru asked Tamal to document in writing the history of his UHER and the SONY for the Bhaktivedanta Memorial Museum, but Tamal politely declined.
VIRTUAL ORIGINALS FROM ARCHIVES
Discussing with Jack Mitchell his challenges in being able to cover all bases and to research all possible explanations (other than an anomaly being an edit), we decided on direct consultations and cooperation with the Bhaktivedanta Archives in Sandy Ridge, North Carolina. We wanted to make sure that when Jack identified a point on either tape as an EDIT, that it was for sure an edit and nothing else. Subsequently, Jack Mitchell had several technical consultations with Paramrupa at the Archives, and these two techies figured that any possible anomalies on Archives-produced copies that might be created by the dubbing machine could be eliminated if direct-wired DAT copies were made. Original tapes could not be sent to New Mexico because by Archives policy, tapes "do not leave the Archives without one of the Archives directors watching every second it is out of the vault."
A recording procedure for these copies was agreed upon by Paramrupa Prabhu and Jack Mitchell. Jack said, "It should also be noted that these recordings, for the purpose of enhancement and speech decoding are most likely as good as having the original. The clarity on these digital copies exceeds the previously provided analog copies by magnitudes." This special DAT copy, almost as good in quality as the original tape itself, was sent to CAE in early March, 1998. Finally Jack Mitchell thought he had all the ingredients he needed to do a thorough, complete and definitive analysis to identify and verify points of tampering by editing.
CAE also consulted with Norman Perle on his appointment tape analysis, arranged through the cooperation of Mrigendra. CAE interviewed Mrigendra and Puru at length. This was truly a cooperative and comprehensive endeavor. The forensic study involved many participants. No one thought the GBC and Tamal Krishna Goswami would cooperate, so they weren't asked. Given the anti-"poison issue" rhetoric being posted at the time on the CHAKRA website, this reporter hoped that perhaps the publication of all evidence accumulated to date would spur them into cooperative action. Then again, perhaps that hope is ill-conceived and naive.
To claim Srila Prabhupada's sacred words on tape to have been edited or tampered with would not be an insignificant thing. Witness the brouhaha regarding the editing and changing of Srila Prabhupada's books. If His Divine Grace's sacred words on tape also could not be trusted, then what is left as sacred anywhere? It would be like the Bible, with its purity and origins unknown and unverified. Meanwhile, pressure was building for this reporter to release the results of CAE's analysis of the whispers, but this reporter decided to wait until the package was complete. After all, providing tantalizing tidbits for the gossip circuit was someone else's agenda. We wanted the whole truth and it was worth waiting a little longer for. Hopefully, this explained Balavanta's delay in the release of his results as well.
MORE WHISPERS, NO EDITING
On March 26, 1998, an addendum report was received from CAE. CAE had not yet begun the final testing for possible edits and tampering, but, with the new digital copy of the "poison tape", there were more whispers discovered, analyzed and noted. After "Poisoning for a long time", there was more discussion in whispers which has already been added into the earlier report of the whisper analysis in Chapter 7. But furthermore, on side A of the "poison tape", November 11, 1977, was found the following whispers:
WHISPER: 00:57.692…"GOING DOWN."
WHISPER: 03:25.485…"DID IT HURT?"
WHISPER: 21:40…"HE'S GONNA DIE"
WHISPER: 21:58.641…"LISTEN, HE'S SAYING…GOING TO DIE."
WHISPER: 46:51.445…"YES, A HEART ATTACK TIME."
ALSO, on side B of the same tape:
LOWER UNDER-TONE VOICE: (21:25.878)…"I TOLD YOU WHAT'S GOING ON. ORDERED TO (?). HE'S AS SLY (SLAY) AS THEY COME."
This is what CAE found on the new analog to digital transfer tapes received from the Archives. What to make of these new whispers? Again, we see the words "going down," probably referring again to poison. Thus two separate "going down" whispers confirm each other, being very near each other on the same tape. Heart attack time? Who's as sly as they come? These secretive whispers about Srila Prabhupada's death and slyness have raised great suspicions as to the whisperers' conspiracy to poison Srila Prabhupada.
Also, the whispers CAE had analyzed and reported on in January (Chapter 7) were reviewed on the new tapes and all previous findings were re-confirmed. With McCaffrey's confirmation, this makes triple verification of the forensic analysis of these whispers, what to speak of Balavanta's multiple confirmations of the same whispers.
In late April 1998 this reporter received Part Two of CAE's audio forensic analysis, which focused on the authenticity of the appointment and "poison" tapes, but also revealed again more additional background whispers.
These new whispers found on the poison tape show how audio forensics are able to hear what the human ear would miss or cannot understand, and are listed below to illustrate the point. Background whispering became common in Srila Prabhupada's room in those last days, perhaps because Srila Prabhupada's hearing had become so poor that the poisoners no longer worried about speaking incriminating whispers in the same room. But the tape recorder heard them.
When one takes ALL the incriminating whispers together from just one tape, any possible explanation to allay fears of the worst scenario, namely the poisoning of Srila Prabhupada, becomes a real stretch of the credible. Plainly put, these whispers clearly indicate a poisoning conspiracy.
The additional whispers are (entire report is found in Appendix 3):
"IT LOOKS TO ME HE'S STUPID"
"LOOKS THAT WAY, YEAH."
"LET'S GO OUT"
"ENERGIES CONSERVED AND BUILT UP, AND
"LET'S REDEEM OURSELVES"
"DID YOU DRINK? HOW MANY?"
"GOD DAMNIT JAY'S …OH GOD"
"FIFTY PERCENT'S YOUR CUT"
"WELL, NO GOOD REASON"
"YOU DOIN' ?"
"DO IT AGAIN"
"SOMEBODY COULD EXPECT TO…EXPERIENCE…"
"CHECK THESE THING AND …"
"COULD HAVE BEEN TEN PERCENT OF IT"
"CAN YOU BUCK THE…"
"Fifty percent's your cut" and "God damnit." What do we make of this? The most disturbing whisper comes last, where what sounds exactly like Jayapataka Maharaj's distinct nasal voice, speaking with Srila Prabhupada.
VOICE: "YOU'RE TAKING IT RIGHT NOW."
PRABHUPADA: "HOW'S THIS?"
VOICE: "LET IT GO."
Taking what? Poison? Medicine? Some of these phrases are very unusual and puzzling. Whatever is being referred to in these whispers, when held together with other evidence (especially Srila Prabhupada's own words), and knowing the last 22 years of ISKCON history, how could any sensible person not become highly suspicious? Many would become thoroughly convinced that Srila Prabhupada was indeed poisoned by his own leading disciples, the whisperers. This reporter is among the latter.
RESULTS OF TAPE ANALYSES FOR EDITS & TAMPERING:
CAE had obtained and repaired the original UHER cassette recorder upon which both tapes were thought to have been made. CAE experimented with all combinations of manual and electronic functions of the UHER and examined the results. The idea was to attempt to duplicate the dozen or so suspected "anomalies" identified on the two tapes, to determine as positively as possible if these were produced by tampering or editing, or through normal machine operations. However, most anomalies were fully reconciled as normal. NO EVIDENCE OF TAMPERING OR EDITING WAS FOUND ON BOTH THE APPOINTMENT TAPE OR POISON TAPE.
Two of the six "anomalies" identified by Perle on the appointment tape (Perle's exhibits 1 & 6) are simply lack of recognition of the tape "leader" at the start and the end of the tape. This could not have been ascertained by Perle unless he had the original tape, which he did not, but which Jack Mitchell confirmed with the BBT Archives, who examined their original tape. The other four anomalies appear to be stop-start points and nothing more. None of the suspected anomalies that both Perle and CAE analyzed were in or near the vicinity of the critical, brief "appointment "conversation on side A.
The poison tape's "anomalies," such as a 3 second blank spot, sudden amplitude changes, spiked "ramps" and so on were mostly reconciled. We now have renewed confidence in Srila Prabhupada's taped recordings, something we no longer have with His books due to BBT "editing." This should be some relief to the Bhaktivedanta Archives crew, now that extensive testing has found no tampering or editing to date on at least these two tapes.
However, there are some reservations about these conclusions. CAE found the May 28 tape was not recorded on Puru's UHER cassette recorder, whereas the November 11 "poison" tape was recorded on the UHER. But the May 28 tape was only found to have stop-start points and not the irregular types of apparent anomalies as did the poison tape. There are no suspicious areas on the appointment tape that could not be explained by CAE, and none were in the area of the critical "appointment" discussion. Therefore, even though the May tape was probably recorded on the Sony and not the UHER, still we can be fairly sure of no editing.
Jack Mitchell, in a later phone consultation, noted that the certainty of no editing or tampering on the two tapes was about 80 - 85 %. The limitations could be overcome if the original Archives tapes were tested by the "fluid magnetic development" process. Such a test does not negatively affect or damage the tape in any way. In this test, under 6X magnification, the magnetic signatures on the tape surface reveal "tank tracks" which would be broken by gaps every time the recorder was shut off for a "break." On a copy, however, the tank tracks are always continuous. The original tape would thus be required for testing to be 100% sure that there was no editing or tampering. An absence of gaps at stop-start points on the original tape would be proof that the original was really a copy, and if editing had taken place, it would become known from studying the "tank tracks'" features.
Perhaps in the future the funds and original tape will be available for this kind of test. In an expanded investigation conducted with the support of the ISKCON leadership (is there any left?), this should be on top of the list of things to do. That last 15 to 20 % possibility should be checked out. The summary of all this business about wondering if the tapes are edited is:
*The two tapes tested are not edited, with about 80% certainty.
*There is no technical or forensic indication that the tapes were edited.
* Perle's appointment tape analysis, stating "consistent with editing," is now debunked and refuted. Perle was not informed as to the nature of the recordings and he cursorily concluded the stop-start routine to be an irregularity and evidence of tampering. CAE clearly disproves this assumption in a thorough and first-class analysis, found in Appendix 3.
NOTE: Gupta Prabhu, the California attorney who represented Hansadutta in the 1998 BBT copyright case, wanted that the names and locations be changed so that, in his opinion, a possible future criminal indictment would not be jeopardized by early disclosure of information. This reporter apologizes to Gupta Prabhu that his desire is not being accommodated herein. The rationale for this entire publication is to honestly and openly reveal whatever information is in hand because it is believed to be the best approach to instigating a resolution on all levels of this darkest of all secrets. May the truth set us free!
According to Paritrikananda Prabhu, rumors circulated in the Los Angeles devotee community in 1982 that Srila Prabhupada's poisoning had been witnessed by a young Vrindaban gurukula boy. His name was Bhakta Vatsala, he was Mexican and he was about 12 years old in 1977. Bhakta Vatsala had various duties in and around Srila Prabhupada's quarters and supposedly he overheard a group of senior disciples discussing the poisoning of Srila Prabhupada. When Bhakta Vatsala returned to Mexico in 1978, several devotees remember him talking openly about what he had overheard. One devotee who remembers this is Durlab Prabhu, now living in Mexico City and operating an incense business.
Durlab Prabhu was contacted in December 1997 by members of the investigative team, and he forthrightly verified how he and his brother, among others, had heard Bhakta Vatsala speaking repeatedly about overhearing a hushed discussion by eight senior devotees on the poisoning of Srila Prabhupada. The conversation took place in the Vrindaban temple near Srila Prabhupada's room as Bhakta Vatsala heard through the doorway. Durlab also remembered that two ISKCON gurus, namely Kirtanananda Swami and Bhagavan Prabhu, had come to Mexico around 1982 to 1984 looking for Bhakta Vatsala, who had by then left the movement with his family. Whether Bhakta Vatsala was found at thayt time or not is unknown. Durlab believed that Bhakta Vatsala had become unfriendly towards ISKCON and had become an airline pilot.
Various IVC members discussed how Bhakta Vatsala might be located and the story of a witness verified. Rochan called upon Mr. Powers in Seattle, who had long experience with a private investigator's office in Arizona, headed by "Benny". Benny was engaged by Mr. Powers to use his Mexican affiliates to search for Bhakta Vatsala. However, by late March, 1998, Benny reported that the leads provided were inadequate and provided no results. Bhakta Vatsala could not be located. The only lead was that he was employed at a leading hotel in the Mexico City vicinity, but this may have been Gupta's disinformation to this reporter. Gupta refused to share the information he had acquired with this reporter.
It is interesting to note that at the height of the poison controversy in December 1997, Tamal Krishna Goswami traveled to Mexico for about a week. Tamal went with Guruprasad Swami and attended a large festival in Guadalajara, then went alone for "rest and recuperation," as it was described by Bir Krishna Maharaj, to Acapulco on the Mexican Riviera. It was also reported that Tamal stayed with Hridayananda Swami in a four star Mexican hotel for a few days. Did this visit to Mexico have anything to do with Bhakta Vatsala?
In April 1998, Rochan, Paritrikananda, Gupta and this reporter were at a loss as to how to pursue the search for this possible witness to Srila Prabhupada's poisoning, now a grown man once called Bhakta Vatsala. Yasodanandan Prabhu, a former Vrindaban gurukula headmaster, remembers Bhakta Vatsala and has agreed to meet with him for interviewing if he can be located. Rupa Vilas Prabhu, now living in Florida, also remembers well his student Bhakta Vatsala in Vrindaban. The boy was not particularly inclined towards academics, but worked hard. He remained there in school for about five years until about age 14 or so, and then returned to Mexico. Both Rupa Vilas and Yasodanandana have no knowledge of Bhakta Vatsala's witnessing of any conversations as mentioned above.
In the health biography of Srila Prabhupada, November 6, 1977:
Srila Prabhupada: What is that sound?
Tamal: That's one of the brahmacharis shaking out the dust in the rugs. In my office we have some rugs, so he takes them outside and shakes them. He's a nice brahmachari, young boy from the Gurukula, from Mexico.
This boy is believed to be Bhakta Vatsala, who was engaged in menial cleaning tasks by Srila Prabhupada's servants and would have been well positioned to overhear discussions going in those otherwise restricted areas.
Through the years, there have been wispy rumors of other witnesses, two in particular (Yadudharma and Narayan), that saw or heard things in connection with Srila Prabhupada's poisoning This reporter and Balavanta have both noted these leads with no verification to date. It is hoped that this publication will stir the memories, conscience or guilt of persons who have knowledge of the possible poisoning of Srila Prabhupada, witnesses included.
One recent anonymous letter pulled from the internet website called VADA, Allegations of Poisoning, reads:
"I had a conversation with Prabhupada's sister Pishima, just after Prabhupada's passing, in which she mentioned that Prabhupada had called her to Mayapur to cook for him some time before because he was concerned that he was being given poison. Prabhupada wanted her personally to supervise all aspects of his food preparation including purchasing bhoga."
(To this letter's author: please help by contacting this author anonymously.)
The best witness is an accomplice who testifies against the others involved in the crime. Let this be notice to those who were involved in or who know about Srila Prabhupada's poisoning: your days are numbered, and soon the truth will catch up to you. Confess now and Yamaraj will give you some consideration of mercy, or be apprehended and punished anyway, with no consideration of mercy. You will be found and caught sooner or later.
ARE THERE MISSING TAPES?
It is often wondered if entire tape recordings of Srila Prabhupada's 1977 conversations, perhaps with crucial information or instructions, were destroyed or lost. Paritrikananda did a study on the subject of missing tapes, which is included in Appendix 10 . In the archival library of Srila Prabhupada's tape recordings, there are 75 out of 92 days between July and October for which there are no tapes, including 45 consecutive days from August 18 to October 1. Further, from March 1 to October 1, 1977, there are recordings for less than one of every three days.
That Srila Prabhupada would have spoken less during severe illness is understandable, but that He would have said nothing for such long periods is inconceivable. Were there recordings made during that time? The answer is yes, there was a standard procedure to record everything Srila Prabhupada said, with recorder and operator ready. Judging from the sequence and content of the available tapes, and observing the gaps, it appears very much that a tape here, a tape there, and then a string of tapes every so often were recorded but are missing. It is almost as though someone picked out the ones that should be lost and missing. How else do you manage such a pattern?
It does appear very curious that one of the possible suspects in a poisoning scenario would also be the one person responsible for recording, collecting, labeling and sending to the BBT all recordings of Srila Prabhupada after February of 1977. That person is Tamal Krishna Goswami, who did not attend the GBC meetings in Mayapur 1998 and 1999 and remains quite elusive. However, Tamal made a brief statement in May 1998.
Tamala Krishna Goswami Explains the Missing Tapes:
"We kept a small Sony tape recorder by Prabhupada's bedside and turned it on whenever possible to record whatever he said. Often two or three days or more would pass before an entire tape was filled. The tape would simply be given one of these dates, though in fact what was recorded often represented many days of conversation. This would explain why there appeared to be so many "missing" dates. Furthermore, on August 26, Srila Prabhupada left Vrindavana for London. While in London he underwent an operation due to a worsening condition and became almost entirely bedridden thereafter, seeing practically no one. Although his intention was to travel on to America, he instead returned to India, fearing the worst. Arriving in Bombay on September 14, he entered into a crisis situation. My diary entry for September 15 indicates the situation: "Throughout the day Srila Prabhupada has been lying in bed. He does not speak at all and hardly moves." When I asked Prabhupada how he was feeling, His Divine Grace simply said: "Crisis." On Oct. 1, Prabhupada left for Vrindavana. Obviously, this period represented days and even weeks when no recording was made.
Now, regarding how the recordings were transferred to Los Angeles. They would be sent conveniently with some responsible devotee returning to America. As an example, Isha dasa claims that one batch were brought back by HH Satsvarupa dasa Goswami who turned them over to Isha for sending to the archives. Hari Sauri Prabhu writes that his own experience is that sometimes the tapes were mislaid after reaching the archives. At least that was his experience with recordings he made in Hawaii in 1976; he states that Krishna Kanti, who was in charge of the archives at that time, must have mislaid them. If we look at the above dates, it seems most likely that I would have personally carried whatever tapes I had at the time in Vrindavana with us to London, with the idea of giving them to a responsible person to take to Los Angeles. Although I cannot recall the system of recording Prabhupada in London (I don't have the same type of remembrance of the Sony tape recorder by Prabhupada's side as I do in Vrindavana), I cannot imagine that we did not record him there at least some of the time. And yet you state that there are no available tapes at all within that period of his London visit. I find it hard to believe that there were no recordings because there were some very sweet meetings between Prabhupada and his disciples there.
The question, therefore, is what happened to these tapes. Again, I wish to emphasize that I am only surmising that there must have been some conversations recorded; I cannot state certainly, but it seems reasonable. In any case, if there were such tapes, there would be no point in me bringing them back to Vrindavana. Rather I would have sent them along with whatever I had brought with me from Vrindavana with a responsible person to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, I cannot recall who that person might be. Nor can we be certain what happened to the tapes, if there were any and if they arrived in Los Angeles, once they entered the hands of those in charge of the archives at the time. It is entirely possible that they may have suffered the same fate as those recorded by Hari Sauri Prabhu in Hawaii."
Basically Tamal said he doesn't know if tapes were recorded or lost. But, Tamal was responsible to get these tapes recorded and safely delivered to Los Angeles. Is it likely that the LA tape ministry/Archives would lose so many tapes, especially so many in a row, and then one here and there throughout the year? It is very suspicious. Considering Tamal's history (Appendix 15), how he changed his guru philosophy many times and invariably is at the forefront of ISKCON crises, one naturally suspects tapes were purposely lost to conceal their contents.
In preparing Srila Prabhupada's health biography for this book, this author extensively studied the Conversations Books containing Srila Prabhupada's taped conversations and also traveled to the Bhaktivedanta Archives in Sandy Ridge, NC, to physically examine the 1977 tapes, and hold discussions with Ekanath, Ranjit, and Paramrupa Prabhus. The following information relevant to the issue of missing tapes was found.
On April 18, 1977, Tamal wrote to Radhaballabha stating that he was personally taking responsibility for the tape recordings of Srila Prabhupada. (see Ch. 23, April 14) The tapes were dated with a felt tip pen in Tamal's handwriting. Tamal had an office for secretarial work and arranged for tape batches to be sent to the BBT. Tamal's job was to see that the tapes were properly recorded, labeled, and safely delivered to Radhavallabha's care. Any missing 1977 tapes are ultimately, if not directly, Tamal's fault. There are many 1977 tapes no longer available, either lost by accident or intention.
Some "missing" tapes are explained by tapes covering more than one day. This was confirmed by the content of the tape and comparison to Tamal's and Abhiram's diaries. Thus perhaps a fifth of the missing days in 1977 can be accounted for. However, for the large blocks of missing tapes covering many consecutive days, there is no other explanation than the tapes were lost or destroyed. Was some subject matter contained in those tapes, or instructions Srila Prabhupada gave therein, that someone did not want to be known to other devotees? Trust in Tamal has degenerated to such a point.
For example, on May 28, 1977, Tamal asks Srila Prabhupada, "Is that called rtvik acharya?" The previous conversation in which Srila Prabhupada introduced the concept of rtvik initiation is missing. Tamal wouldn't know to ask this question unless he had already discussed with Srila Prabhupada about rtviks BEFORE May 28. Just as there were rtvik conversations before May 28 that unavailable, there are very likely similar conversations AFTER May 28 which are unfortunately not available either. There are so many questions to ask Tamal; fortunately his recent surgery was successful so that he may perhaps agree or be compelled in the future to answer some of them.
In the foreword to TKG's Diary, Rabindra Swarup, obviously in cooperation with Tamal, makes this statement regarding missing tapes:
"...all the tapes from August 18 to October 3 are missing. TKG supervised the recording, and the tapes would pass out of his control when periodically he would entrust a batch to somebody or another to deliver to the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust in Los Angeles. I have heard devotees recall how the tapes thus sent sat without supervision in an open box, from which community residents felt free to borrow and return at will. We should accordingly be glad to have as many tapes as we do."
In response, one might wonder how TKG could remember or detail in his diary so many minute details of health, banking, and conversation month after month, but have absolutely no details to offer on:
1. who and when he gave "batches" of tapes to for taking to LA?
2. how often he sent tapes to LA, and how they were packaged?
3. what instructions he gave to the carrier; who was the final recipient?
4. why bother going to all the trouble to record Srila Prabhupada's words (lugging a recorder around, finding an operator, turning it on and off hundreds of times, labeling and switching tapes) if there was no method to preserve, protect and safely deliver the tapes to their final destination?
5. Why does Hari Sauri's record of delivering tapes to LA in 1976 not show three major gaping holes in time as Tamal's record shows in 1977? Those holes are 19 days in March, 14 days in June, 45 days in September and August, and 31 out of 44 days between July 4 and August 16?
In conclusion, Tamal's explanations just don't satisfy people. They leave much to be desired. His answers just don't cut it. It all looks too suspicious to think that it was anything but at least partially deliberate.
RESEARCHING THE TAPE LIBRARY
We must note that the present recorded evidence regarding Srila Prabhupada's poisoning comes just one tape that only a handful of devotees even knew existed prior to two years ago. The 20 tapes which Isha and Mahabuddhi listened to and upon which they discovered the poison whispers are among many scores of tapes that have not been studied except by a very few. These tapes are available from the BBT Archives by special order at $5 each. If any reader of this report would like to assist in this investigation, or if just to listen to new Srila Prabhupada conversations, any of these "unreleased" conversation tapes from March through November 1977 may be ordered from:
PO Box 255, Sandy Ridge, NC 27046.
or call Ekanath there: 800 800 3284
or email at: email@example.com
By scouring through these tapes, perhaps specific information relevant to the ongoing poison investigation may be "discovered." Please consider participating in the poison investigation by obtaining and listening to these heretofore unknown tapes. Further, the Hindi and Bengali portions of the tapes need to be transcribed, particularly those of October and November 1977. Please help us find more information from these tapes.
CHANDRA SWAMI CONNECTION
In India today, and even more so twenty years ago, one can find Ayurvedic physicians, herbal medicines and various drugs or poisons just about anywhere. It is part of the Hindu/Indian culture and an area very loosely regulated by the authorities. Thus, to obtain any of a number of poisons would not be very difficult. On the other hand, it is difficult to obtain high quality and pure medicines.
On October 20, 1977 Srila Prabhupada had a dream wherein he saw a Ramanuja-vaidya preparing makharadhvaja medicine, and he interpreted that Krishna had given some idea of how to be treated. The devotees had already obtained what was supposed to be makharadhvaja from Bonamali in Vrindaban, but he was not a Ramanuja kaviraja. Bonamali gave instructions that its administration be only after the weather had cooled down.
But Srila Prabhupada wanted the makharadhvaja prepared only by the Ramanuja-kaviraja, as He had seen in His dream. On the 24th of October, Smara-hari was going to South India to see the chief priest in Sri Rangam temple. He was going to purchase the medicine's ingredients himself, and then have the Ramanuja kaviraja make it while he watched. He hoped to be back to with Srila Prabhupada's medicine in one to two weeks.
There are three accounts thus far as to how the makharadhvaja was obtained from Chandra Swami: Tamal's, Adi Keshava's, and that of the Conversations Books. First, we quote from TKG's Diary:
October 23: "Gopal Krishna and Adi Keshava went to Delhi for phoning. October 24: "We received a phone call from Delhi, however. Adi Keshava Maharaj had a very prominent sadhu friend from New York who happened to be in Delhi. He had called his friend, Candidas, who knew the best kaviraja available, one of the Ramanuja sampradaya. Candidas phoned the kaviraja, who amazingly had just completed a ten-day preparation of makharadhvaja. Candidas had saved seven tolas and was going to donate them to Srila Prabhupada." October 25: "In the early evening Satadhanya Maharaj arrived with the makharadhvaja. The kaviraja had also treated Morarji Desai, and his office was filled with members of Parliament, etc. There are six kinds of makharadhvaja medicine. He had prepared siddha makharadhvaja. Seven tolas were not required. As it was being made for another, when the kaviraja heard it was needed by Srila Prabhupada, he donated it. It was made from gold, pearls, musk, mica, and other ingredients, and could be taken with milk or honey. The kaviraja had given twelve grams, enough for 24 days at two doses a day, each weighing two ratis. Both Satadhanya and Adi Keshava were very impressed, though the kaviraja was not a Ramanuji but a sakta wearing Siva tilak. Prabhupada heard all this from Satadhanya Maharaj, then said that Bhakticharu Maharaj and I would take charge of the medicine..." (TkgD.293-9)
In March 1999 this author interviewed Adi Keshava Prabhu, who was very forthcoming and informative. Oddly, he now has a PhD in Biochemistry and works in plant pathology research, being very familiar with arsenic toxicity and various testing methods. At the mention of Chandra Swami, Adi Keshava immediately muttered, "Oh, that old rat!" and variously described the "sadhu" as a wheeler dealer, a Punjabi truck driver, a slimey character, etc. Chandra Swami was a fortune teller and his offers of help to people were always very self-motivated. In November 1976 Chandra Swami had come to Adi Keshava in New York to offer help with his court case. Chandra Swami referred Adi Keshava to certain contacts and individuals who actually were of great assistance. Chandra Swami invited Adi Keshava to join him in a meeting with President-elect Jimmy Carter in January 1977, and Adi Keshava provided an oil painting of Krishna as a gift for the occasion. The meeting never occurred but Carter did receive the painting.
Chandra Swami came and went from New York, and Adi Keshava would sometimes visit him at an upper Manhattan deluxe apartment. After winning the court case in March 1977, Adi Keshava went to see Chandra Swami at a house in Delhi, and thanked him for his help. After Indira Gandhi's fall from power, a man came to the Vrindaban temple gate for Adi Keshava with a message from Gandhi's appointment secretary. Chandra Swami was somehow involved with Indira Gandhi's wanting to meet with Srila Prabhupada in Vrindaban, but Srila Prabhupada did not want to meet her. Adi Keshava went to Delhi to decline the offer, and met Chandra Swami at Gandi's secretary's office. Chandra Swami was informed of Srila Prabhupada's ill health, and Adi Keshava never saw him again.
On October 23 Adi Keshava went to Delhi to try to extend his plane ticket, but he could not and would have to fly back to New York within days. Satadhanya accompanied him to Delhi on business of his own. Adi Keshava phoned Chandra Swami's office and a "minion-psycophant" was asked for suggestions on where to find a qualified Ramanuja kaviraja who might have or could make makharadhvaja. The minion called back after apparently contacting Chandra Swami and referred Adi Keshava to a very prominent kaviraja in Delhi who was treating Morarji Desai.
Satadhanya and Adi Keshava went to the Delhi kaviraja's large clinic and described Srila Prabhupada's condition and dream, requesting makharadhvaja. The kaviraja wore Shivite tilak, but knew of Srila Prabhupada and expressed appreciation for His work and stature as a true holy man. The kaviraja had just completed making some makharadhvaja for another person, but scooped out from an apothecary-type jar the sufficient quantity for Srila Prabhupada and donated it free of charge. He said that this medicine should not ordinarily be taken by one as deteriorated in health as was Srila Prabhupada, but who was he to argue with Bhagavan in Srila Prabhupada's dream? He wrote a letter to Srila Prabhupada expressing these serious reservations and giving the instructions for its dosages, etc.
Adi Keshava left from Delhi back to the USA while Satadhanya returned to Vrindaban with the makharadhvaja. Just before his flight, Adi Keshava phoned Vrindaban and was shocked to hear from Gopal Krishna that Srila Prabhupada was taking the makharadhvaja while no one had showed Him the kaviraja's letter. Very upset, Adi Keshava left for New York.
Meanwhile, on the 25th Satadhanya arrived in Vrindaban with the makharadhvaja. In the Conversations Books, Vol. 36, pg. 73, we read:
Satadhanya: I have brought the makharadhvaja from the kaviraja in Delhi. This kaviraja, he's not Ramanuja-sampradaya, but many people say in Delhi that he's the foremost kaviraja in India. He treats the Prime Minister, Morarji Desai, and all the ministers also. So many people trusted him, and he mixed this medicine…He was mixing it for some other person, but when he heard that you were ill, he gave it to us.
Bhavananda: What kind of makharadhvaja?
Satadhanya: There's different kinds of makharadhvaja, six kinds. This is the most potent kind. This is called siddha makharadhvaja. This contains gold and pearl and musk and mica and many other ingredients…
Prabhupada: That's all right. What did he charge?
Tamal Krishna: What did he charge?
Satadhanya: Nothing. We got it for free because we got it through one influential man named Chandra Swami.
Tamal Krishna: Oh, Chandra Swami. That's that person Adi Keshava was always working with.
That same day, October 25, Srila Prabhupada took the first dose of makharadhvaja, and one dose the next day, after which He discontinued its use due to the negative effect of causing loose bowels. Thus Srila Prabhupada only took the makharadhvaja for one day.
In the summer of 1977, Bhagwat Prabhu recalled being sent by Adi Keshava to the New York airport to pick up Chandra Swami, who he thought stayed at the New York temple for some days, but which Adi Keshava denied, saying Chandra Swami had his own accomodations. Bhagwat also recalled that Chandra Swami cured Sudama Maharaj from a very serious illness with his medicines, and that Chandra Swami was a Shivite tantric and very expert in medicines and Ayurveda. Another devotee from the New York temple, Antima Prabhu, also had extensive association with Chandra Swami, but could not be located for an interview.
Lakshmi Nrsingha Prabhu, also from the New York temple, recalled that Adi Keshava and he went to see Chandra Swami at a rich lady's uptown Manhattan apartment, unsure of the date. They met with Chandra Swami for about two hours, when his mind reading abilities were displayed.
Gurudas and Giriraj spoke with Srila Prabhupada about Chandra Swami in December 1976 and January of 1977. Chandra Swami was mentioned as wanting to meet Srila Prabhupada and as going with Adi Keshava to meet the new USA President Carter. Tamal Krishna Goswami was working with Adi Keshava in New York as GBC from before July 1976 until mid February 1977, and presumably could also have met and associated with Chandra Swami, who spent much time in New York. However, Adi Keshava does not recall any meeting of Tamal with Chandra Swami. References to Chandra Swami in the following health biography are found on 12.26.76, 12.27.76, 1.8.77, 2.14.77, 4.11.77, 4.29.77, and 10.25.77.
OK, so what?
So, Chandra Swami is reportedly serving a life sentence in India's Tihar Central Jail for unspecified but numerous and serious crimes. The ISKCON Chakra website posted an internet article in December 1997:
"...so Srila Prabhupada suggested that someone go to Delhi. On October 24, the GBC sent Adi Keshava to Delhi, where he found a kaviraja preparing makharadhvaja. At the time, this kaviraja was not known to be a criminal. He had a reputation for impeccable morality and was even treating Morarji Desai, then prime minister of India."
A little history: Morarji Desai was imprisoned by Indira Gandhi after her proclamation of emergency rule for 19 months from late 1975 until March 1977, along with 150,000 other opposition politicians. Indira Gandhi held elections in March 1977 and was defeated. The jailed opponents were released and the Janata party, led by J.P. Narayan, selected Morarji Desai as the next Prime Minister on March 24, 1977. J.P. Narayan had called for massive civil disobedience in protest of Indira Gandhi's corrupt regime in June 1975, leading to his arrest with others. After five months in prison, however, J.P. Narayan was released to house arrest due to very bad health. There were stories in the Indian press in 1977 that Indira Gandhi had poisoned J.P. Narayan and others in jail. J.P. Narayan was still in a Bombay hospital in April 1977 when Giriraj and Gopal Krishna went to visit him. Srila Prabhupada noted that J.P. Narayan had the same kidney disease as He himself had. J.P. Narayan went to the USA for medical treatment, and died two years later in 1979.
Chandra Swami somehow moved as a favorite from one leader and regime to the next, apparently playing many sides simultaneously. He treated Prime Minister Morarji Desai with his expertise in Ayurvedic medicines, even though he was previously so intimate with Indira Gandhi that he could call her on the phone at any time. Later it was thought he may have been involved with the mysterious prison poisonings where "kidney disease" became a common ailment. Srila Prabhupada was purported to also have the same kind of kidney disease.
Considering his complex history of shady dealings, Chandra Swami was probably never an honest Ayurvedic physician who supposedly only went crooked after Srila Prabhupada's disappearance, as suggested by Chakra. Adi Keshava clarified that even in 1977 Chandra Swami was a crooked, slimey character. We are left to wonder if Chandra Swami was involved in the poisoning of Srila Prabhupada by supplying poison and giving instructions in its use. Considering his rap sheet today, it is not far-fetched to wonder what the Indira Gandhi/ Chandra Swami/ makharadhvaja/ Srila Prabhupada poisoning connection might be. Not only may the makharadhvaja from Chandra Swami have been "tainted," but he may have supplied poison for use against Srila Prabhupada. Enemies of Srila Prabhupada from outside of ISKCON could have hooked up with the poisoners inside ISKCON. The whole Chandra Swami connection smells bad.
Chakra's "brushing-off-as-coincidence" story is stretched even thinner when we read INDIA ABROAD's article of December 12, 1997:
CHANDRA SWAMY'S LINK TO
MURDER IS ALLEGED: (New Delhi)
Controversial religious guru Chandraswamy had links with the alleged assassins of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and had planned to help them escape from India after the killing, OUTLOOK magazine quoted a key witness as saying last week.
The witness, Jayaram Ranganathan, in custody in a high-security prison in Chennai, owned the house in Bangalore in which Sivarasan and Shubha, believed to be members of the assassination squad sent by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), took refuge and later allegedly killed themselves on Aug. 6, 1991. Ranganathan also claimed that a Congress Party leader from Karnataka had provided Sivarasan with details of Gandhi's itinerary.
Gandhi was killed by a woman, Dhanu, believed to be a suicide bomber of the LTTE. Sivarasan, her alleged accomplice, was found dead after reportedly consuming cyanide when the police surrounded his hideout in Bangalore.
"I am the only person alive who stayed with Sivarasan and Shubha (after the assassination) and heard what they had to say about the killing," Rangarathan was quoted as saying. He alleged that DR Karthikeyan, chief of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that probed the killing, had threatened him not to name Chandraswamy or Congress Party leaders. "From what he (Karthikeyan) told me, it was clear that he was shielding Chandraswamy and some key Congress people," he said.
Karthikeyan, who is also special director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and Chandraswamy were not immediately available for their reaction when contacted by INDIA ABROAD.
Rangarathan said Sivarasan was told by LTTE chief Velupillai Phabhakaran that the "Jain Muni" (a reference to Chandraswamy whose real name is Nemichand Jain) would arrange his safe passage to a foreign country.
OUTLOOK had recently reported that crucial files related to the assassination were missing from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) since the tenure of former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao. The magazine said the files included intercepted messages from foreign intelligence agencies, said to be addressed to Chandraswamy.
Complicity in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi? Connections with foreign intelligence agencies? International arms deals? The editor of INDIA ABROAD also told this reporter in a telephone interview that Chandra Swami had been implicated in several Indian administrations as a go-between with bribes, shady dealings, and as a "bag-man." ISKCON COMMUNICATIONS JOURNAL, January-June 1993, contained an interview with a Mr. Vineet Narain, a man who was recently instrumental in weeding out large sections of corruption in India's government as a news reporter and investigator. Mr. Narain, an ISKCON devotee named Vishnumurti, who is now very interested in the poison issue, stated:
"I can give you an example of a person, (Chandra) Swami, you must have heard of him, he is a notorious swami, he is very good at winning people, he is a low-class person, he has no spiritual knowledge, not a fine person, he is not very sophisticated in his behaviour, yet at different stages he has cultivated hundreds of influential people in the world."
VNN posted a story on the internet about how Prithu Prabhu met someone on a plane wherein there was allegedly a revelation about a link between Adi Keshava, his father and the CIA. Adi Keshava explained that his father had retired from Defense Intelligence in 1962 and had taken up farming and engineering consultation work. His father was never in the CIA.
So what is the Chandra Swami connection, if any?
Nara Narayan Vishwakarma wrote to Rochan on 12.29.97:
"During the 'emergency' of Indira Gandhi... she imprisoned most of the important members of the opposition to the Congress party, including the Maharani of Jaipur who wrote a book which exposes Indira Gandhi's excesses. When the prisoners were released, many of them had experienced kidney failure. When I was in India in 1976, many Indian friends of ISKCON whispered about the fact that it was well known that kidney poison was being administered to Indira's political enemies (in jail). In 1977... kidney poisoning of very important men was well documented. (Also)... Vrindaban (and India) was full of enemies of Srila Prabhupada... the obtaining of the correct poison would not be at all difficult for any person close to Srila Prabhupada. At that time, kidney poison was being discussed in the (Indian) newspapers. Anyone who could read would know what to do."
It would be interesting if anyone could provide further information on this aspect of Indian history. Morarji Desai was chosen Prime Minister because Janata leader J.P. Narayan was too ill. On July 15, 1979, Morarji Desai resigned due to dissension within his party and criticism of his government as ineffectual. Desai was in his eighties and in good health, but not the charismatic leader J.P. Narayan could have been. In the January 1980 election, Indira Gandhi was re-elected in a landslide victory. Her son Sanjay died in a plane crash in 1980 and she herself was assassinated by her own military guard unit in 1984. Her older son, Rajiv Gandhi, later became prime minister and was also assassinated in 1990, a crime in which Chandra Swami was apparently involved.
An interview with Dristadyumna Prabhu revealed that he had met Chandra Swami at the New York temple in 1977, and was surprised to hear of his being in jail due to illegal activities. He remembered that Chandra Swami was "guru" for Adnan Khasnoggi, the infamous Saudi Arabian arms dealer, and that Chandra Swami spent time at Khasnoggi's palace in Spain.
In a letter to VNN on December 13, 1997, Bhagavat das wrote "...It was said in certain circles that when Indira Gandhi held Jayaprakash Narayan under house arrest she had poisons slowly administered that caused the deterioration of his kidneys and his death." The entire letter from Bhagavat is included in full under Appendix 18, as it is a valuable essay on the value of Srila Prabhupada's own words that someone had poisoned him, and this information will be presented in the next chapter.
Is there any relationship between Srila Prabhupada's poisoning and the dark and notorious Chandra Swami? Between Chandra Swami and Tamal Krishna Goswami or Jayapataka Maharaj? Many New York devotees and possibly some West Coast devotees also had been acquainted with Chandra Swami for about a year. Considering Srila Prabhupada's enemies in India, and Chandra Swami's connection with politicians and international intrigue, would going to Chandra Swami for medicine not now seem a little suspicious or out of place? There is no solid proof of any wrongdoing in the Chandra Swami connection, but it has the appearance of much more than a series of coincidences. (see also Appendix 20)
What really is the Chandra Swami connection?
"SOMEONE HAS POISONED ME"
Now we come to the evidence which is to many is the strongest evidence that Srila Prabhupada was poisoned. (see Appendix 18) Srila Prabhupada stated "…someone has poisoned me," found on tape recordings from November 9 and 10, 1977. Some portions were spoken in English and thus have been widely available in the Archives Folio program or in the Conversations Books, but much was spoken in Bengali or Hindi, which was omitted due to not being translated by the Archives or anyone else.
Now, for the first time in 22 years, this report presents newly obtained translations of Bengali and Hindi portions of these same conversations. One version comes from a Hindi devotee, Naveen Krishna Prabhu, a GBC and a longtime Srila Prabhupada faithful. The other translation comes from Dr. Jan Brzezinski, who also gave us the exact Bengali and Hindi being translated. Dr. Brzezinski learned to speak fluent Bengali and Hindi during his eleven years in India. He was seriously injured in the Muslim attack on Mayapur that is mentioned in the health biography. He later received his Ph.D. in Sanskrit from the University of London, School of Oriental Studies. He has taught courses in Hindi at the University of Manitoba, and his current work is translating various Vaishnava literatures. Dr. Brzezinski was employed by this reporter to render these translations.
Much of the Bengali and Hindi conversation regarding poisoning is between Srila Prabhupada the Calcutta kaviraja, also referred to as Sastriji. Dr. Brzezinski has listened to many of the last twenty tapes and has made some interesting notes included at the end of this chapter. It is clear that a full and accurate translation of all of Srila Prabhupada's Hindi and Bengali conversations should be done, as information critical to the poison issue may well be contained therein. Upon inquiry, this reporter learned that the Bhaktivedanta Archives has not had the manpower or funding to undertake this project, although past attempts were made but did not produce results.
In speaking to Naveen Krishna about his translations, he pointedly stated that only a native of India who was born and raised with the language could accurately understand the subtle nuances and meanings contained within these conversations. From his own judgment, he has no doubt that Srila Prabhupada was clearly stating that He was being poisoned. Translations by Naveen Krishna are shown as NAV, those by Dr. Brzezinski (formerly Hiranyagarbha das, initiated by Srila Prabhupada 1970) are shown as HIR, followed at the end by his comments. Thus we have both a scholar and a native providing us with two versions to compare and to be doubly sure of the true meanings, avoiding the curse of the phrase, "lost in the translation." Sometimes we have only one translation version because, simply, that is all we obtained. Bhakticharu Swami has also translated most of these same portions in exactly the same way, and this was posted on the internet in ISKCON's answer to the CD that never was. (see Appendix 21)
Room Conversation: Vrindaban, November 9, 1977. (Not the 8th)
Srila Prabhupada's Conversations Books, Volume 36,page 354:
Book states: "Hindi conversation between kaviraja, Prabhupada and others."
(Balaram Mishra exchanges greetings with Srila Prabhupada, and asks if he is still recognized since they had not met in a long time; Srila Prabhupada says yes. A few moments later:)
001: Srila Prabhupada: Keu bole je keu poison kore diyeche. Hoy to tai.
NAV: Someone says that I've been poisoned. It's possible.
HIR: Someone says that someone gave poison. Maybe it's true.
002: Balaram Mishra (?): Hmm?
003: Kaviraja: Kya farma rahe hain?
NAV: What is he saying?
HIR: What are you saying?
004: Srila Prabhupada: Koi bolta hai je koi mujhko poison kiya gaya hai.
NAV & HIR: Someone says that someone has given poison.
005: Kaviraja: Kisko?
NAV & HIR: To whom?
006: Srila Prabhupada: Mujhko.
NAV & HIR: To me.
007: Kaviraja: Kaun bolta hai?
NAV: Who said?
HIR: Who is saying this?
008: Srila Prabhupada: Ye sab friends.
NAV: These all friends.
HIR: All these friends.
009: Bhakticharu: Ke boleche, Srila Prabhupada?
NAV: Who said, Srila Prabhupada?
HIR: Who said this, Srila Prabhupada?
010: Srila Prabhupada: Ke boleche.
NAV: They all say.
HIR: Everybody's saying it.
AUTHOR'S COMMENT: Did Srila Prabhupada overhear "all these friends" (his disciples) whispering in his room about how they gave him poison? Why does Srila Prabhupada state this in Hindi and Bengali, and only later in English? END COMMENT
011: Tamal Krishna: Krishna das?
012: Kaviraja: Ao ko kaun poison dega? Kis liye dega?
HIR: Who would give you poison? Why would anyone do that?
013: Tamal Krishna: Who said that, Srila Prabhupada?
014: Srila Prabhupada: I do not know, but it is said.
AUTHOR'S COMMENT: It is puzzling why Srila Prabhupada says He has been poisoned, but twice becomes evasive when asked directly by Tamal Krishna. Could it be that Srila Prabhupada did not want to discuss it with Tamal but wanted to bring it up with the kaviraja? END COMMENT
Summary of following Hindi conversation: Srila Prabhupada asks Balaram Mishra if he knows astrology. He denies it and the kaviraja confirms that Balaram Mishra is a Pandit, not a jyotishi, whose area of expertise lies in the performance of rituals. Bhakticharu then elicits a response from the kaviraja establishing his credentials as a jyotishi. All this takes place at the top of page 354 in the Conversations Book #36.
101: Kaviraja (to Srila Prabhupada): Apko kisne bataya hai ki kushthi ke andar apko markiz hai. koi jyotish ne bataya tha?
NAV: Who has told you that your end is near? Some astrologer has said that?
HIR: Did someone tell you that according to your astrological chart your death is near? Did some astrologer tell you that?
102: Srila Prabhupada: Balaram Das.
AUTHOR'S COMMENT: Who Balaram das is, is not understood. It does not seem to be Balaram Mishra, but another Balaram. END COMMENT
103: Bhakticharu (to Srila Prabhupada, Bengali): Apnar ayu sesh hoy giyeche, apni bolchen, seta kono jyotishi bolechen?
NAV: You were saying that your end is near… Who has told you that, some astrologer?
HIR: You were saying that your life has come to an end. Did some astrologer say that [to you]?"
[No answer from Prabhupada]
104: Bhakticharu (to Kaviraja): Koshthi ka vicar nahin. vaisha tha.
NAV: It is said in his chart.
HIR: This is not according to his chart. It was like that.
105: Bhakticharu (to Prabhupada): Kintu sastriji bolchen seta thik noy.
NAV & HIR: But Sastriji is saying that is not correct.
106: Bhakticharu (to Kaviraja): Ap to bolte hain aur das sal...
NAV: You are saying that he's going to live ten more years.
HIR: You say that another ten years..."
107: Kaviraja: Abhi kya ho to.
NAV: Now what, this…
HIR: Whatever else takes place now.
108: Bhakticharu (to Srila Prabhupada): Sastriji bolchen je apni aro das vatsar amader sange thakben, Srila Prabhupada.
NAV & HIR: Sastriji says that you will be with us for another ten years, Srila Prabhupada.
109: Kaviraja: Vicar to chor dijiye ap bilkul yah ki kushthi men ayu sesh nahin. Sesh ho gaya hai.
NAV: Completely dispel this thought that your end is near.
HIR: Please give up this idea completely that, according to your horoscope, there is nothing left of your life, that your end has come.
AUTHOR'S COMMENT: The assumption appears to have been made by Bhakticharu and the kaviraja that when Srila Prabhupada says, "Someone told me", that he is referring to some astrologer. Note that on October 14, a lengthy astrological chart was read to Srila Prabhupada by Pradyumna Prabhu, stating that Srila Prabhupada's life was to end after 81 years. END
(SKIP to bottom of page 354)
201: Srila Prabhupada: Uncut, yes.
202: Tamal Krishna: OK.
203: Indian man: (Hindi: unknown translation)
204: Kaviraja: Yah, maharaj ji, kotha ap kaise bola aj ki apko koi bola hai ki apko poison diya hai. Ap ko kuch abhas hua hai, kya?
NAV: Maharaj, how did you say this, that someone has said that someone has poisoned you? Have you felt something?
HIR: So, Maharaj, what is this that you said about someone telling you that you had been poisoned? Did you feel something?
205: Srila Prabhupada: Nahin, aise koi bola je… debe-sa hi ja hota hai. Shayad koi kitab men likha hai.
NAV: No, not said, but when one is given poison, it happens like this. It's written in book.
HIR: No, some people say like this, that... it is like that when it is given. Perhaps it is written in some [...] book.
AUTHOR'S COMMENT: This reference to the symptoms of poisoning justifies the exercise in previous chapters of examining Srila Prabhupada's physical symptoms to determine a correct diagnosis. END COMMENT
206: Kaviraja: Kai karanon se ho jata hai, kacce mercury se ho jata hai, ya aur koi bhi ciz aisha hai vaisha ho jata, lekin apke liye kaun karega ham to yahi samajhta hai. Aise devpurush ke liye koi manasi vicar karega, vo bhi rakshas hai.
NAV: If you take raw mercury, it can happen, or several other raw things. But who would do such a thing to you? For a saintly person like you, even if someone thinks such a thing, then he is a demon.
HIR: It could be for a number of reasons, because of raw mercury, and there are other things which can have a similar effect. But who would do such a thing to you, I cannot understand. Anyone who could even consider doing such a thing to a divine personality like yourself is a rakshasa.
Page 359, still the 9th.
301: Tamal Krishna: Srila Prabhupada? You said before that you… that it is said that you were poisoned?
302: Srila Prabhupada: No. These kind of symptoms are seen when a man is poisoned. He said like that, not that I am poisoned.
303: Tamal Krishna: Did anyone tell you that, or you just know it from before?
304: Srila Prabhupada: I read something.
305: Tamal Krishna: Ah, I see. That's why actually we cannot allow anyone to cook for you.
306: Srila Prabhupada: That's good.
307: Tamal Krishna: Jayapataka Maharaj was telling that one acharya, Sankaracharya, of the Sankarachary line - this is a while ago - he was poisoned to death. Since that time, none of the acharyas or the gurus of the Sankaracharya line will ever take any food cooked except by their own men.
308: Srila Prabhupada: My Guru Maharaj also.
309: Tamal Krishna: Oh. You, of course, have been so merciful that sometimes you would take prasada cooked by so many different people.
310: Srila Prabhupada: That should be stopped. (pause)
311: Tamal Krishna: Are you feeling any pain, Srila Prabhupada? ...Should we again continue some kirtan...? (Hansadutta leads kirtan)
Page 366. Tape 19, Side B. Afternoon or evening, November 10, 1977.
Summary: There is discussion about Srila Prabhupada's condition. The pulse was strong, blood pressure normal, liver was working, and the kaviraja says that from the pathological point of view, there is nothing wrong. ("General condition good.") This is now the 10th, not the 9th.
Page 367. November 10, 1977.
401: Tamal Krishna: But what did Prabhupada just say?
402: Bhakticharu: Prabhupada just said that I mean, this morning his condition was bad, not now.
403: Bhavananda: Prabhupada was complaining of mental distress this morning also.
404: Bhakticharu: Srila Prabhupada?
405: Srila Prabhupada: Hm?
406: Bhakticharu: Ota ki byapar hoyechilo, mental distress?
NAV & HIR: What was that all about, mental distress?
407: (Some noise)
408: Srila Prabhupada: Hm hm.
409: Kaviraja: Boliye, boliye.
NAV: Say it. Say it.
HIR: Go ahead, say it. (COMMENT: Does Srila Prabhupada not want to talk about it?. It seems that He needs to be pushed.)
410: Srila Prabhupada: Vahi bat... je koi hamko poison kiya.
NAV: That same thing I said, that someone has poisoned me.
411: Bhakticharu: Accha. [not surprised; unclear (Hindi to Kaviraja?)] ... unhi socna...
HIR: He's thinking...
412: Bhavananda: [to Bhakticharu] Hmm?
413: Kaviraja: dekhiye, bat hi hai, ki koi rakshas ne diya ho.
HIR: Look, this is the thing, that maybe some rakshasa gave him poison...
414: Bhakticharu [to Bhavananda and others]: He's saying that someone gave him poison.
415: Kaviraja: Caru Swami, Kisi rakshas ne diya ho, to ho sakta hai. Impossible nahin hai. Vah Sankaracarya je, kisine unko poison diya, che mahinon ke bad, tabhi to taklif paye. Kanc hai na, botal ka kanc, vah pis ke khane men khila diya to. To, usko kya natija hua, barah maine ke bad, uske leprosy hua sab sarir ke andar. To karam to apna ko bhogta hai. Jo medicine ham de rakha hai, yadi koi uska effect hoga poison to reh nahin sakta hai, guaranteed bolta hai. Jo bhi affected hoga, to reh nahin sakta hai. Kintu abhi to ham pakar nahin sakta usko jo diya hua hai. Vahki pakarta hai jiska abhi kidney kharab ho gaya, kisi karan se, bimari se ho jay, kisi greh se ho jay ya poison se.
NAV: It is possible some demon has given it. It is not impossible. Just like Sankaracharya was poisoned over six months with powdered glass, etc. But the poisoner after twelve months got leprosy… one has to suffer one's karma. But whatever medicine I've given will counteract either the effect of bad planets or poison on the body. Now we cannot catch who may have poisoned. And if his kidneys are bad from disease, curse or poison, my medicine will counteract.
HIR: Caru Swami, some rakshasa might have given it, maybe so. It's not impossible. Someone gave poison to Sankaracharya for six months before he started to suffer. [The poisoner] ground glass, you know, bottle glass, and mixed it with his food. So what happened to him [the poisoner] as a result was that after twelve months, his entire body was covered with leprosy. So, you have to suffer the results of your actions. But whatever medicine I have given will, if it has an effect the poison will not be able to stay. That is guaranteed. Whatever it has affected, it will not be able to stay. But we cannot now catch the fellow who gave the poison. No matter what reason his kidneys are bad, whether from disease, planets or poison, my medicine will counteract it."
416: Tamal Krishna: Prabhupada was thinking that someone had poisoned him.
417: Bhakticharu: Yes.
418: Tamal Krishna: That was the mental distress.
419: Bhakticharu: Yes.
420: Kaviraja: Yadi bolta hai, to kuch na kuch sac hi hai, koi sandeh nahin.
NAV: If he says that, there must be some truth to it. There's no doubt.
HIR: If he says that, there must definitely be some truth to it.
421: Tamal Krishna: What did kaviraja just say?
422: Bhakticharu: He said that when Srila Prabhupada is saying that, there must be something truth behind it.
423: Tamal Krishna: Tssh.
HIR: (COMMENT: Surprise and serious.)
424: Jayapataka: What did the kaviraja say about Sankaracarya?
425: (People all speaking at once)
426: Bhakticharu: Someone gave him some poison powdered glass...
427: Kaviraja [to whom?]: (Somewhat unclear.)
HIR: (He appears to be saying that he will give Srila Prabhupada a certain medicine to be taken with pan, cold water or milk and the results will be seen in the morning.)
Continued on Page 368:
501: Tamal Krishna: Srila Prabhupada, Sastriji says that there must be some truth to it if you say that. So who is it that has poisoned?
502: (PAUSE: 13 seconds)
Why did He not answer?
AUTHOR'S COMMENT: Srila Prabhupada never answered Tamal Krishna's question. Why? From November 10 till 14, a total of four days, not one disciple raised the issue again? Why? Did no one take Srila Prabhupada seriously anymore? END COMMENT
503: Kaviraja: Sabse bara poison je hota hai, vah mercury ka hota hai.
NAV: The strongest poison is mercury.
HIR: Mercury is the most poisonous thing that exists..
504: Bhakticharu: [Diya] gaya tha inka oi jo. [?]
HIR: which was given to him [Prabhupada]
505: Kaviraja: Nahin nahin. Swarupa Guha ka... ap parha tha, swamiji? Kalkatta men... Swarupa Guha.
NAV & HIR: No, no. Swamiji, did you read about Svarupa Guha? In Calcutta.
506: Bhakticharu: Unko malum nahin. Unko nahin patta.
HIR: He known nothing of this. He has never heard.
507: Kaviraja: Us ke pati ne diya tha. Uska koi medicine nahin ata. Itne dose de diya jisko ham raskapoor bolta hai.
NAV: The husband poisoned the wife, gave a dose of raskapoor. There is no medicine for it.
HIR: Her husband gave it to her. He gave her a dose of a poison called raskapoor, for which there is no medicine.
508: Bhakticharu: Accha. Mercury is men tha, makaradhvaj men.
NAV: Mercury was in the makharadhvaja.
HIR: Right. Mercury was in this makaradhvaj.
509: ??: Before that.
510: Kaviraja: Uska dusra… Ras kapoor. Amiras.[Beng] tate poison ache.
NAV: No, no. Not that mercury. Another form of mercury.
511: Bhavananda: What did he say?
512: Bhakticharu: He's saying that it is quite possible that mercury, it's a kind of poison...
513: Tamal Krishna (Both NAV & HIR agree this is not Bhagatji): That makharadhvaja.
514: Bhakticharu: No, he's saying not that.
515: Kaviraja: Seta very poison.
NAV: It is very poison.
516: Bhakticharu: Makaradhvaj aisha hota hai, kya?
No translation available
517: Bhavananda: What was he taking, Prabhupada?
518: Kaviraja: Makharadhvaja to amrit hota hai. In ke liye bish hota hai, yah bat dusri hai. Baki vah to sab ke liye poson hota hai.
NAV: Makharadhvaja is like nectar, although not suitable for him. But that (raskapoor) is poison for everybody.
HIR: Makharadhvaja is like nectar, but for him it is poison. The other ones are poison for everyone.
519: Bhavananda: What medicine was he taking before that?
520: Bhakticharu: Kon sa (?)
521: Bhavananda: Jagen (?)
522: Bhakticharu: (repeating Bhavananda) (?)
523: Kaviraja: Kuch nahin.
No translation available
524: Bhakticharu: He was referring to a case, a big murder case, in Calcutta. The husband poisoned the wife...
525: Bhavananda: Guha, yes.
526: Kaviraja: Swarupa Guha, ami uska case...
No translation available
527: Bhakticharu: Sankar Das Banerjee.
528: Bhavananda: Oh, yes. Our lawyer is the...
529: Tamal Krishna: Bhagatji doesn't think...
530: Kaviraja: Yah inka sarir aisha hai jo bajr ki nai hai jo hajar kuto, to kuch nahi hone ko.
HIR: But his [Prabhupada's?] body is such that it is like a thunderbolt. You can beat it a thousand times, but nothing will happen.
531: Bhakticharu: Bhagavan jisko raksha karta hai, vaise to Prahlad Maharaj ko bhi to...
NAV: When the Lord protects, just like Prahlad Maharaj…
HIR: If God protects someone, then just like Prahlad Maharaj..."
532: Kaviraja: Swamiji, mujhe ek sloka alap hota hai, je:
araksitam tisthati daiva-raksitam suraksitam daiva-hatam vinasyati
jivaty anatho 'pi vane visarjata krtaprayatno 'pi grhe na jivati
Ap to siddhang hain, Maharaj, to isliye koi sanka nahi rakhna.
HIR: Swamiji. I know a Sanskrit verse about this: 'Without protection, one remains fixed if protected by fate, whereas one who protects himself but is condemned by fate is destroyed. Without a protector, one person can live carelessly alone in the forest, whereas another takes all precautions in his home, and still dies.' You know this truth, Maharaj, so don't be afraid.
533: Tamal Krishna: No poison is strong enough to stop the Harinam, Srila Prabhupada.
534: Kaviraja: Bas. [in agreement] Harinam ke samne, to Meera ko kitna poison diya gaya tha. Ek bund par jane se admi ka death ho jay. So bhagavan ke prasad lag jata ta hai, na, to poison bhi amrit ho jata hai.
NAV: Don't doubt Meera drank so much poison; one drop could have killed, but because it was the Lord's prasad, nothing happened to her. Even poison when offered to the Lord becomes nectar.
HIR: Right. Before the Holy Name... How much poison was given to Meera, a single drop was enough to kill a man. So if prasad is taken with it, then even poison becomes nectar.
535: Unknown: Prahlad Maharaj.
536: Bhakticharu: Prahlad Maharaj.
537: Kaviraja: Prahlad se jyada poison diya tha halahal iska Meera ko. Itne jabardast banaya lo.
NAV: More than Prahlad, Meera was given such strong poison.
HIR: An even stronger poison was given to Meera than to Prahlad. It was made so strong!
538: Srila Prabhupada: [sighs, breathes]
539: Kaviraja: Jaisha allopathy men ek poison ata jiska taste aj tak koi bata nahin saka.
NAV: Allopathic poison even till today nobody can tell the taste.
HIR: In allopathic medicine there are some poisons that nobody can recognize the taste of.
AUTHOR'S COMMENT: Is the kaviraja speculating that an allopathic poison is involved? Tamal then puts an end to these talks. END COMMENT
540: Tamal Krishna: You want some more kirtan Srila Prabhupada? Lokanath can lead. Lokanath, you lead!
Dr. Brzezinski (Hiranyagarbha das) makes these comments: (He studied tapes 18, 19, 20 thoroughly and the previous 17 not as thoroughly):
It is in the beginning of tape #18 in which Prabhupada says both in Hindi and Bengali that he has been poisoned, and later on in the same conversation, the kaviraja asks him to explain what he meant. This is followed by a discussion of astrology in which the kaviraja and Bhakticharu try to convince Prabhupada that he will live for another ten years. This I believe is significant, as it gives a connection between the "I read it somewhere" and what the kaviraja and Bhakticharu believe is going on in Prabhupada 's mind.
There is a short section in which the kaviraja again asks about whether he has had any abhas, or "inkling, hunch, idea, hint, appearance, semblance; impression"; more likely "indication, symptom, evidence" of being poisoned. Prabhupada answers, "no, but that he read somewhere that this is how it happens." The kaviraja is grappling with the idea of possible poisons; he must be thinking in terms of what poisons could be having the effects of which Prabhupada is complaining.
A third portion comes on the next day, (Folio says 8th, tape says 9th, but is really the 10th) This long piece can be divided into two sections, before and after Tamal's significant question. First, Prabhupada says that he is feeling alright. The kaviraja also says that Prabhupada 's body is functioning properly according to pathological tests (heart, blood pressure, etc.). The physical pain was "us samay hua tha" which is unclear. Is he talking about that morning or another time? This leads into discussion of mental distress, which refers back to the morning, confirming that stomach pain was being experienced in the morning.
Tamal asked his significant question which results in a silent pause of 13 seconds; Prabhupada does not answer. Why? The kaviraja then jumps in with a description of the effects of various poisons and the story of Svarupa Guha. When Bhakticharu suggests that mercury was present in makharadhvaja, something which Tamal also suggests, the kaviraja says that he is not talking about that, but about raskapoor which had been used by Svarupa Guha's husband. The kaviraja may have had some involvement with that case. Bhakticharu presses about the makharadhvaja and the kaviraja answers that makharadhvaja is amrita (nectar), but that in Prabhupada's specific case it was poison; but that raskapoor is poisonous for everyone. It is clear that the kaviraja has NOT been giving Prabhupada makharadhvaja and is waiting until the kidneys are stronger before prescribing it.
The conversation then turns again to Sankaracharya not accepting food cooked by others than his own men. Prabhupada makes a noise during the talk about Mirabhai and allopathic poisons, indicating discomfort.
I have gone through the lengthy conversations which precede the Nov. 9-10 period with an eye to important Hindi and Bengali conversations and also to better understand the context of Prabhupada's comments. The following things have come to my attention.
The word poisoning comes up on Oct. 18, when Bhavananda on two occasions talks about infection as poisoning. This is related to the kidney condition and certain symptoms, such as blood and pus in the urine. On Oct. 25, a kaviraja from Delhi, through Chandra Swami, sends 48 doses of makharadhvaja brought by Satadhanya. Tamal Krishna and Bhakticharu take charge of administering this medicine. On Oct. 26, already, Prabhupada says that this medicine is "not acting," and "In this condition I do not wish to live," even though the devotees seem to notice a positive effect.
On Oct. 27, Prabhupada has diarrhea five times. The word poison comes up again. Tamal says: "That medicine turned out to be poison.". They blame the kaviraja for being a Sakta. In connection with this same medicine, Prabhupada uses the expression janiya suniya bis khainu. This is after only having taken two doses. Tamal suggests that Prabhupada "take rest from the other thing that he has taken," i.e., stop taking the makharadhvaja. It is revealed that Dr. G. Ghosh, who is 82, a respected allopathic doctor from Allahabad, had said that any medicine which contains mercury and arsenic is poison to him. So the idea of poison has been floated about by the time of November 9th. (A long Hindi conversation follows that should be translated.)
Tamal says that the problems Prabhupada was having were due to makharadhvaja. Bhavananda reports that in Prabhupada's condition, makharadhvaja would be poison. This is apparently the kaviraja's opinion also. Makharadhvaja is too strong a medicine for someone in Prabhupada's condition and therefore alternative medicines are being given,. such as vrkkasan jivani.
Some questions naturally arise after hearing these conversations. First, we note that Srila Prabhupada did NOT raise the issue with his disciples, but first Balaram Mishra, whom Srila Prabhupada had probably not seen for many years, and the kaviraja, both outsiders. We must wonder why he didn't take the issue up with His Western disciples? Was Srila Prabhupada deliberately avoiding His own disciples because they were the ones poisoning Him? (Note: the poison whispers occur on the 11th, not 10th)
Srila Prabhupada first says that someone has said that someone has poisoned Him. He then clarifies by saying "all these friends" were saying this, meaning perhaps His disciples or those in the room. Did Srila Prabhupada overhear the same kinds of poison whisperings that we do on the 11th? Asked by Tamal, Srila Prabhupada denies knowing who has done the poisoning. Then, asked by the kaviraja, Srila Prabhupada says that He has the symptoms of poisoning, as may be described in some book. Asked by Tamal again, Srila Prabhupada denied being poisoned and again notes that He has all the symptoms of one who has been poisoned. It is agreed that no one would cook for Srila Prabhupada except His own disciples, lest there be poisoning as in the case of a Sankaracharya guru. This shows real concern about real poisoning, not just an observation of a coincidence of symptoms. Then, the next day, November 10, Srila Prabhupada tells the kaviraja and Bhakticharu in Hindi again, clearly, that He has been poisoned. A long discussion takes place about various poisons and a Calcutta poison and murder case. Apparently Tamal, Jayapataka, Bhakticharu and Bhavananda had previously discussed several poisoning cases with each other, being very familiar with all the details of these cases. Is it any wonder we suspect them?
At the time, Srila Prabhupada's shocking statements created nothing more than a temporary buzz of conversation. It is more than slightly puzzling and rather disturbing how Srila Prabhupada's disciples, particularly the main caretaker and Srila Prabhupada's secretary Tamal Krishna, did not pursue the matter aside from a few questions. No qualified doctor was consulted in the next five days before Srila Prabhupada's departure to check on the poisoning matter, nor was any autopsy or test of any kind (hair, urine, blood, etc) performed before or upon after Srila Prabhupada's departure. Srila Prabhupada flatly stated three times that He was being poisoned, yet no one did a thing to validate that statement, what to speak of protecting Srila Prabhupada. At the end of about fifteen minutes of intense discussion about Srila Prabhupada being poisoned, the conclusion was that Tamal Krishna asked Lokanath to lead another kirtan, since no poison is stronger than the Holy Name. End of discussion, until 1997 and now, in this book.
Questioned by Tamal Krishna Goswami (301), Srila Prabhupada says "He said like that" (meaning the kaviraja ?), "Not that I am poisoned." By this statement to his disciples he sort of denies he is being poisoned. Yet, Srila Prabhupada discusses this with the kaviraja the very next day, and again speaks to him in Hindi, stating very frankly "someone has poisoned me." The fact that Srila Prabhupada spoke openly to the kaviraja about being poisoned and not to the devotees again leaves us to wonder. We see that Srila Prabhupada obviously did not care to speak with his disciples on the matter as Tamal Krishna's last question about his statement is met with a long 13 seconds of silence before the conversation turned elsewhere. Prabhupada obviously could have named his suspects at that time, but he declined, and this mystery can only be answered by a poisoner's confessions. Yet Srila Prabhupada must have intended to reveal the fact that he thought he was being poisoned because it was He who first brought it up.
Today many who hear these statements are shocked, and also by the apparent lack of alarm by those who were around Prabhupada at that time. Some have suggested the idea that Srila Prabhupada's references to being poisoned was a result of senility, dying hallucinations, or incoherent ramblings due to the delirium of pain which may have caused him to say anything. Dying hallucinations? The kaviraja clearly didn't think so. His opinion was that if Srila Prabhupada said it, it must be true. Further, witness the clarity of thought expressed by Prabhupada throughout this time period. Pradyumna das assisted Srila Prabhupada with translation of the Srimad Bhagavatam and he tells of how Srila Prabhupada translated until just days before his leaving. Anyone who reads those final purports can understand that Srila Prabhupada was lucid, and focused. He could understand Sanskrit verses just by listening, and he then spoke the purport into a microphone held by Pradyumna. Yet Tamal and Bhavananda tried to explain away Srila Prabhupada's statements as due to "mental distress," pooh-poohing the seriousness and importance of them.
Srila Prabhupada's statements were ignored and brushed aside, and then covered in the dust kicked up by the mad rush of disciples to divide the world and take Srila Prabhupada's place as absolute gurus. But now, by Krishna's design, this information has re-emerged from 22 years of obscurity, almost lost. Those concerned about a capital crime being committed, including those who have devotion to Srila Prabhupada, His contribution and His movement, would serve their conscience well by participating in the search for the truth about Srila Prabhupada's poisoning. END COMMENT
We conclude with an excerpt from ISKCON's answer to the Poison CD that never was, May 1998: "These translations and transcripts do in any case reveal a confusing scenario. Srila Prabhupada indicates first to Tamal that he had the symptoms of someone poisoned, not that he was being poisoned. Later he states more positively that he thinks he is being poisoned. ...we may never know exactly what was in Srila Prabhupada's mind, or how seriously he took the suggestion that someone was poisoning him..." (see Appendix 21)
INTRODUCTION TO 1977 HEALTH BIOGRAPHY
On his taped memories of Srila Prabhupada, Tamal Krishna Goswami recalls that Srila Prabhupada developed a "cold" in New Vrindaban during His visit there June 22 to July 2, 1976. Tamal states that this cold marked the onset of poor health, which he observed when Srila Prabhupada came to visit New York on July 9. However, Srila Prabhupada first became ill on May 4, 1976 in Hawaii, the day after Tamal arrived there to discuss with Srila Prabhupada the futility of his directive to go to China. By the time Srila Prabhupada was leaving New York on July 20 for Europe and India, Satsvarupa's biography describes:
"Srila Prabhupada's health was worsening, as often happened when he traveled extensively. Particularly in New York his health began to suffer… Senior devotees entreated him to rest awhile before going to England and India. He had spent a very pleasant day at the ISKCON farm in Pennsylvania, and the devotees suggested he go there for two or three months to rest, recover his health, and write."
Satsvarupa recounts that there were daily pleas for Srila Prabhupada to stay, including on the last day in New York. "…even as he left his room and got on the elevator, a few men followed, still suggesting he not go… Srila Prabhupada had remained jolly so far, despite his physical weakness, and despite his disciples' pleading…" Srila Prabhupada then said, "I want the benediction to go on fighting for Krishna, just like Arjuna." (Sat:6.208)
Tamal states on a tape recording that Srila Prabhupada "never fully recovered" from His New York illness. (Tamal Krishna Goswami was GBC of New York temple at the time.) Hari Sauri's diary better describes the New York illness than did Satsvarupa's biography. Srila Prabhupada became very ill within hours of leaving New York, remaining ill for the next month in Europe. After recovering from the July-August illness, there were no more serious health problems until January 1977. But by the time Tamal went to Mayapur in February 1977, Srila Prabhupada was even more weak than when he had last seen Him in New York.
From Satsvarupa Goswami's biography we read of vague health problems prior to 1977, such as swelling of the hands and feet, that were aggravated by old age and the rigors of constant travelling and preaching engagements. Satsvarupa notes that Srila Prabhupada was supposedly mildly diabetic, although there is no available officially rendered diagnosis to this effect. Perhaps this notion comes from the 1967 visit to Bellevue Hospital at the time of Srila Prabhupada's heart attack. He had no significant heart troubles since the attacks of 1965 and 1967. He had the usual colds and occasional bronchitis, and briefly became very ill in Vrindaban in 1974. Srila Prabhupada was very regulated and deliberate in His eating habits to maintain optimum digestion and health. He received massages daily and took regular morning walks for His good health.
In TKG's Diary, Srila Prabhupada's health and medical condition is not clearly defined, except with vague and contradictory so-called diagnoses, such as "internal fever", which makes no sense whatsoever. At the end of Tamal's book, we are left confused as to what illness had befallen Srila Prabhupada. To illustrate the point, see Chapter 42: Parade of Doctors, Treatments, and Mis-Diagnoses. On November 5, 1997, Abhiram Prabhu published a letter on the internet giving a summary of his knowledge and experience as Srila Prabhupada's nurse, but it also is very limited. The diagnosis therein of dropsy is also completely inadequate. Dropsy is a kidney disease, which we will see only partially explains Srila Prabhupada's medical condition.( See Chapters, 18, 32 )
Srila Prabhupada's 1977 medical history is poorly documented and recorded, and though He was seen by a "parade" of allopathic and Ayurvedic physicians, many of their names and most of their treatments are unknown. Satsvarupa's biography is cursory, giving only the briefest health information. In Satsvarupa's and Tamal's accounts, we read of periodic downturns in health and of general symptoms like swelling and no appetite, of various unspecified pills, tonics and of dark sunglasses. Thus the whole matter seems a little mysterious and more than a little frustrating.
Specifically, what was Srila Prabhupada suffering from? Kidney problems? What was the specific disease or ailment, and what was its cause? To study Srila Prabhupada's physical symptoms and thus be able to diagnose His illness, this author has compiled information from all available sources into one synthesized health biography, contained in the following chapters.
We will see that Srila Prabhupada certainly had kidney problems, but also that He clearly had all the signs of chronic arsenic poisoning. The coming chapters will illustrate the difference between kidney disease and arsenic poisoning, and demonstrate that both conditions were present in Srila Prabhupada's body, judging from the symptoms chronicled in a composite and lengthy health history from May 1976 to November 1977.
A review of the health history of Srila Prabhupada in 1977, presented in Chapters 20 through 31, lends the impression of a band-aid approach to health care coupled with a resolute avoidance of any qualified medical attention or evaluation. There was no coherent or intelligent approach to dealing with Srila Prabhupada's health problems. Understandably, Srila Prabhupada would be cautious in dealing with hospitals and doctors, as the Western medical profession can just as easily ruin one's health as well as restore it. Nevertheless, sufficient funds and contacts were available to procure a wide choice of qualified and cooperative doctors without being subjected to injections and operations. Instead, the horrors and defects of modern medicine were repeatedly described to Srila Prabhupada in what almost seems to be a determined attempt to steer Srila Prabhupada AWAY from any proper medical attention. Why? Was there something to conceal that only modern Western medical techniques could discover? Tamal was especially emphatic is discouraging the use of doctors and medicines, a fact that can be seen clearly in the Conversations Books but not in TKG's Diary.
It is ironic that 22 years after Srila Prabhupada was repeatedly discouraged by Tamal Krishna from availing Himself of proper medical attention that Tamal himself, through modern medicine, was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. On January 26, 1999, Tamal employed the best doctors and surgical procedures in a modern Western hospital in the hope of becoming cured. (it seems he was) Why did Tamal not take the advice he gave to Srila Prabhupada, and go to Vrindaban to chant and die out of distrust in Western medicine and doctors? Why the apparent double standard?
At the best, it appears that Srila Prabhupada's caretakers stood by helplessly, perhaps even somewhat uselessly, while Srila Prabhupada withered away due to misunderstood health problems and a series of contradictory mis-diagnoses. It might seem farfetched that the avoidance of modern medicine was deliberate and necessary to prevent detection of the real cause of Srila Prabhupada's declining health, namely poisoning. Yet, that is what this book is about; and such a conclusion may not be so crazy after all. Indeed, very unfortunately, it appears to be all too true.
From the accounts available, Srila Prabhupada was already in a weakened condition on February 26, when the first and very serious attack of 1977 illness occurred. Thereafter, the grave worsening of Srila Prabhupada's health was marked by a series of abrupt, repeated, and sudden downturns, in May, July, September and October, illustrated in a later graph. Each downturn brought increased weakness and inability to eat or digest food.
We can understand that Srila Prabhupada most probably had weak kidneys, but, as we shall see in the health biography, there were physical symptoms not consistent with kidney disease, diabetes or poor digestion, the 3 ailments offered to explain Srila Prabhupada's poor health in His last year.
Abhiram Prabhu, who served Srila Prabhupada as his nurse from July 25 through October 16, 1977, notes that Prabhupada was actively involved in his own health care. He has said that much to the chagrin of those closely involved, Srila Prabhupada's approach was to accept the help of anyone who came forward with sincere goodwill, apparently accepting that such a person was sent by Krishna for that purpose. Hari Sauri also offers his analysis on this subject in Appendix 21. Nevertheless, it remains clear Srila Prabhupada was serious about restoring His health. This is evidenced by His calling for certain doctors from His past and how He remembered or invented medicines and treatments to use in the pursuit of improved health. He was, though, more inclined towards natural and Ayurvedic procedures and cures.
Throughout 1977, Srila Prabhupada primarily entrusted His health care to His servants, depending on their best judgment and arrangements. Although He would sometimes initiate some action regarding His health, generally Srila Prabhupada abided by the recommendations and decisions of Tamal Krishna, and, to a lesser extent, His other servants and the GBC members. This was especially true later in 1977. The GBC meetings and decisions regarding Srila Prabhupada's health were compliant with Tamal's emphasis on avoidance of doctors and real medical attention.
The summary is that Tamal alone directed to a great degree the course of Srila Prabhupada's health care in 1977. Tamal filtered the news, the letters, the guests. Tamal ruled the situation with a strong hand and he was firmly situated as Srila Prabhupada's guardian, advisor, and personal secretary. Tamal was more or less in control, at least from an external perspective. He had great latitude in charting and steering the course of Srila Prabhupada's health care, travel plans and interaction with the outside world of devotees, guests and doctors.
Aside from the written sources available, further information about Srila Prabhupada's physical symptoms was obtained from the recollections of individual devotees, such as Dristadyumna, Udayananda, Bhagwat, Sura, Pradyumna, and others. Most information was accumulated from the Conversations Books, based on actual tape recordings of Srila Prabhupada. These recorded room conversations provided many details and "the rest of the story" in many incidents poorly or not chronicled by Tamal or Satsvarupa.
Each remedy that was undertaken to restore Srila Prabhupada's health, however, produced no lasting results. Adridharana, in a recorded interview (which was stolen and ended up with the GBC), recalled feeling a mood of frustration with these various and ineffective health care attempts. Some, including Adridharana, had hoped a qualified doctor would be found who would be able to treat Srila Prabhupada consistently until cured. There had already been a parade of various practitioners, (see Chapter 42) some good, some bad, all who came and went, and the treatments and medicines also came and went. Adridharana located and brought the last kaviraja to treat Srila Prabhupada at the end of October 1977. Despite the stellar qualifications of the last kaviraja, his treatments were ineffective, either because he was too late or he had mis-diagnosed the ailment. It was both.
Why was each new treatment soon discontinued, one after another? Why were there adverse reactions almost EVERY time Srila Prabhupada began a new treatment? The result was the repeated rejection of doctors, medicines and treatments, one after another. Bhavananda and Tamal were "relieved" that Srila Prabhupada decided to die peacefully, without further botheration with "the struggle to live." Could something unknown to us have caused those adverse reactions, besides the various medicines themselves? Or is it an odd coincidence? (see Chapter 40 )
Gradually Srila Prabhupada's health deteriorated and He finally decided to finish his pastimes in this world on November 14, 1977. We now know there was a poisoning of Srila Prabhupada, (see Chapter 33 ) which, of course, occurred only by the sanction of the Supreme Lord. Srila Prabhupada may or may not have been aware of it earlier than November. (see Appendix 18 ) We know Srila Prabhupada knew that He was being poisoned because He said exactly that a few days before His disappearance.
The final pastimes of Srila Prabhupada have very much of the flavor of Jesus Christ's crucifixion, where the pure devotee willingly accepts the Lord's arrangement without protest. Srila Prabhupada may have known that He was being poisoned throughout 1977, and the absence of His protest or an earlier acknowledgement to this effect can be understood as His surrender to Krishna's plan, while, out of His boundless mercy, still accepting service from those who were His poisoners.
As stated before, the symptoms of Srila Prabhupada's illness in 1977 are recorded in bits and pieces in various publications. The information from all sources was combined into one comprehensive, synthesized health biography by this author in Chapters 20 through 31. This synoptic chronicling provides a sound basis for evaluation and diagnosis of Srila Prabhupada's illness by symptom analysis.
We understand that Srila Prabhupada had weak or problematic kidneys long before His serious 1977 illness. Did Srila Prabhupada have the symptoms of kidney disease in 1977? Yes. But were there additional symptoms which are not found in kidney disease? Yes, again. Kidney disease symptoms are described in Chapter 18, and upon examination, we can ascertain quite positively that there was more going on with Srila Prabhupada than simply kidney disease. Although the symptoms indicate that Srila Prabhupada had kidney problems, there are many symptoms which must be attributed to some other cause, and this book establishes that other cause to be chronic arsenic poisoning.
The same process used to ascertain the correct diagnosis of Srila Prabhupada's illness by examination of physical symptoms is applied to diabetes in Appendix 7. Diabetes symptoms do NOT match the symptoms that Srila Prabhupada displayed, as there are several diabetes symptoms which Srila Prabhupada positively did not display, such as obesity and excessive hunger. There is definitely some other cause besides diabetes which is producing the kind of symptoms that Srila Prabhupada had. This book shows that cause to be chronic arsenic poisoning.
A complete and summary analysis of symptoms will be made after the health history, in Chapter 32. First, however, we will study the symptoms of kidney disease and arsenic poisoning. In this way, when the reader progresses to the health history in Chapters 20 - 31, he will know what to recognize as attributable to kidney disease, arsenic poisoning, or both.
KIDNEY DISEASE SYMPTOMS
In studying the various types of kidney disease, it becomes clear that Srila Prabhupada did not display the symptoms of urethritis, cystitis, kidney injury, cysts, tumors, kidney stones, bladder stones, or acute kidney failure. We do see that a general diagnosis of some sort of kidney disease, failure, or malfunction is reasonably synonymous with Srila Prabhupada's symptoms. The types of kidney disease which Srila Prabhupada may have had, judging by His physical symptoms, are as follows:
4. Chronic kidney failure
5. End-stage kidney failure
(And all of which, it is to be noted, can be caused by arsenic poisoning).
Srila Prabhupada was diagnosed as having dropsy, but this is a very shallow understanding the true nature of His ailment. Dropsy is another name for edema, or the swelling of the body due to kidney malfunctioning. Dropsy is more a symptom than a disease, and, as we shall see from a full examination of Srila Prabhupada's physical symptoms, in no way fully describes Srila Prabhupada's condition in 1977. It should be noted that dropsy can be the result of either arsenic poisoning or kidney disease.
Kidney disease can be caused by diabetes, drug abuse, high blood pressure, and among other things, poisoning by heavy metals. Chronic, or gradual, kidney failure may show few or no symptoms at first. Mild or moderate kidney failure may show only mild symptoms, and much damage usually has occurred before the symptoms become very apparent. The metabolic waste product called urea increases in the blood due to the inability of the kidneys to eliminate it from the body. Nephritis (infection of or damage to the kidneys) causes swelling of the body, called edema.
A list of the kidney disease symptoms that Srila Prabhupada displayed in 1977 are given in the next chapter. Kidney disease symptoms are remarkably similar to those of chronic arsenic poisoning, with one distinguishing feature. That feature is that arsenic poisoning will often produce additional symptoms not reconcilable with kidney disease. Those symptoms unique to chronic arsenic poisoning were clearly observed in Srila Prabhupada's 1977 health history, and are described in Chapters 20-31. Further, when the symptoms of chronic arsenic poisoning are confirmed by an actual hair analysis, as has been done (see Chapter 33), then there can be no doubt of the accuracy of this diagnosis. These two corroborating pieces of evidence, coupled with much other corroborating evidence, leaves little doubt.
What we observe in Srila Prabhupada's physical symptoms is this:
1. All of His symptoms are compatible with arsenic poisoning.
2. Many of His symptoms are incompatible with kidney disease.
If we had found that all the symptoms matched kidney disease and many were incompatible with arsenic poisoning, it would be a whole different story. But that was not the case. Therefore, chronic arsenic poisoning is the correct diagnosis without doubt. Remember, arsenic poisoning causes kidney disease or aggravates it when already present. A good example to keep in mind is a comparison of how high cholesterol foods cause heart disease, and similarly, arsenic will cause kidney disease.
Various types of kidney ailments display symptoms quite different from each other. For example, chronic kidney failure does not produce the swelling or edema characteristic to nephritis. Even so, kidney ailments are often "complex" and more than one disorder is commonly present. We cannot precisely diagnose which kind of kidney ailment Srila Prabhupada may have had, due to the complication of arsenic intoxication and lack of medical tests.
In the next chapter, all the kidney disease symptoms that were observed in Srila Prabhupada are listed in Section One, numbering 24 in total. They are all also symptoms of arsenic poisoning. The truth is that many of these 24 symptoms may have been solely due to arsenic poisoning and had nothing to do with the particular kidney ailment that Srila Prabhupada had. Even though many of these 24 symptoms probably were produced by arsenic poisoning, since they are also synonymous with kidney disease, they do not in themselves establish arsenic poisoning. For example, no appetite may very well have been due to arsenic and not kidney problems. But, to make a conservative scientific presentation, these symptoms have been placed on the list of joint kidney/arsenic symptoms. (namely Section One)
Nevertheless, we still have a separate list (Section Two) of 21 additional symptoms which are unique only to arsenic poisoning. Altogether, therefore, there are 45 symptoms of arsenic poisoning, which makes a very strong diagnosis. We find an overwhelming case for arsenic poisoning when we judge from both Section One and Two (listed in next chapter) of the symptoms.
As Srila Prabhupada had a history for years of some swelling in His extremities, it is very likely that He did have some kidney disability or disease, which became much worse in 1977. Abhiram's reference to back-pressure of urine causing damage to the kidneys (Appendix 4 )does not invalidate or contradict an arsenic poisoning scenario; it is wholly compatible with a case of chronic arsenic poisoning. The point is that the condition of His kidneys was aggravated and made worse, if not outright caused, by the arsenic poisoning. Until now it was easy to mis-diagnose Srila Prabhupada's 1977 ailment as simply "kidney problems". However, the new evidence presented in this publication proves it was chronic arsenic poisoning.
ARSENIC POISONING SYMPTOMS
Srila Prabhupada displayed the symptoms of poisoning, as He Himself stated twice. But which poison? There are many poisons which are effective in causing death. The factors which led this author to examine arsenic poisoning as the best match to Srila Prabhupada's symptoms, as studied in His 1977 health history, are as follows:
1. The opinion of an Ayurvedic doctor, Dr. Mehta, detailed below
2. Arsenic is an age-old method of choice for poisoning in politics and intrigue, during the Middle Ages and in India (see Appendix14 )
3. Arsenic is readily available in India
4. The speech reversals (see Chapter 37-38 ) reveal arsenic poisoning
5. It was found that Srila Prabhupada's symptoms were incredibly similar to those of Napoleon
6. Arsenic poisoning is very difficult to recognize, and looks like kidney disease and a normal "old-age" deterioration of physical health
Dr. Mehta, an Ayurvedic physician who lives in Houston, was shown several photographs of Srila Prabhupada during His last days, and he also observed the video documentary of Srila Prabhupada's last months entitled: "The Final Lesson." Dr. Mehta has been a practicing Ayurvedic physician since 1948. His summary comments are:
"The expression and symptoms of the face, the eyes and the manner of speaking indicate to me that Srila Prabhupada was poisoned, most probably by arsenic or mercury. He Himself said that He was poisoned, confirmed by dullness of the face and how the natural color of the body is gone. This is very hard for the average person to understand; only the experienced eye can tell."
Srila Prabhupada, as we shall see, clearly displayed the symptoms of arsenic poisoning, and not simply the symptoms of kidney failure alone. The symptoms of kidney failure were definitely present and are repeatedly observed. There are, however, many other very prominently displayed symptoms which are synonymous with arsenical intoxication, and these symptoms are not found in any condition of kidney disease or diabetes. Let it be stated here again that arsenical intoxication produces kidney malfunction and failure. Thus it is so easy to mistake arsenic poisoning for kidney disease, as many, perhaps about half, of the symptoms are identical or similar.
In consulting with Dr. Stopford of the Duke University Department of Toxicology, it was also confirmed that many of Srila Prabhupada's symptoms cannot be explained by kidney or diabetic diseases, but most surely can be attributed to arsenic poisoning. Symptom analysis is a very critical element of the research into Srila Prabhupada's cause of "death."
Chronic and acute poisoning differ in that chronic means exposure over a prolonged period of time in smaller amounts and acute is more all at once. Subacute poisoning is in between the two. Because Srila Prabhupada's health declined over ten months, chronic poisoning is compatible with His health history, whereas acute poisoning might apply to the final days and subacute poisoning applies to marked and drastic downturns in His health.
Arsenic is found in nature in low levels, and has been a common environmental contaminant in the twentieth century. In its various chemical forms, it can be highly poisonous and has actually been used for thousands of years for killing others, in political intrigue, revenge, murder, war, and the elimination of perceived enemies. Medicinally, arsenic compounds have been useful in the West at least since the time of Hippocrates in the 5th century BC. In modern times, arsenic has been used to treat skin diseases, anemia, syphilis, and other ailments.
Arsenic is a natural element having both metal and non-metal physical and chemical properties. In its chemical behavior, it resembles nitrogen, phosphorus, antimony and bismuth. In nature it exists as an element, and also in stable compounds, trivalent (-3 or +3) and pentavalent (+5). It binds covalently with most non-metals (notably oxygen and sulfur) and with metals such as cadmium and lead. In biochemical behavior, it resembles phosphorus, competing with phosphorus analogs for chemical binding sites. Toxicity of the various arsenic compounds in mammals extends over a wide range, determined, in part, by unique biochemical actions of each compound, but also by absorbability and efficiency of biotransformation and disposition.
Arsines (gaseous) are most poisonous, followed closely by arsenites and arsenates (inorganic trivalent compounds). Inorganic pentavalent compounds are somewhat less toxic than arsenites, while the organic (methylated) pentavalent compounds incur the least hazard of the arsenicals, with widespread use in pesticides. Inorganic arsenite as arsenic trioxide is the most prevalent natural form and is also the most toxic form of arsenic besides arsine gas. Arsenic metal is thought to be nonpoisonous due to its insolubility in water or bodily fluids. In animals and plants arsenic combines with hydrogen or carbon to make organic compounds.
Pentavalent arsenicals are relatively water soluble and absorbable across mucous membranes, while trivalent arsenicals, having some water solubility but greater lipid (fat) solubility, are more readily absorbed across the skin. The arsenite salts are more soluble in water and are better absorbed than the oxide. Experimental evidence has shown a high degree of gastrointestinal absorption of both trivalent and pentavalent forms of arsenic, most compounds exceeding a 90% absorptive rate. The greatest absorption occurs predominantly in the small intestine and colon.
Goldfrank's text states: "Tasteless and odorless, arsenic is well-absorbed via the gastrointestinal, respiratory, and parenteral routes." Ingestion has been the usual basis of poisoning and gut absorption efficiency depends on: the physical form of the compound, its solubility characteristics, the gastric Ph, gastrointestinal motility, and gut microbial transformations.
Once absorbed, many arsenicals accumulate in and cause extensive toxic injury to cells of the kidney, liver, spleen, lungs, heart, nervous system, blood vessels, gastrointestinal tract, and other tissues. Much smaller amounts accumulate in muscle and neural tissue, but cause great toxic injury there as well. If a victim survives arsenic poisoning after the first few days, the liver and kidneys show degenerative changes.
Two biochemical mechanisms of toxicity are recognized with arsenic:
1. reversible combinations with thiol groups contained in tissue proteins and enzymes
2. substitution of arsenic ions for phosphate in many reactions, including those critical to oxidative phosphorylation.
Arsenic is thought to cause toxicity by combining with sulfhydryl (-SH) enzymes and interfering with cellular metabolism.
Most arsenic compounds are tasteless and odorless. Arsenic trioxide (As2O3) used to be a common cause of accidental poisoning because it is readily available, is practically tasteless, and has the appearance of sugar as a white crystalline powder. Arsenic trioxide, also known as arsenious oxide, white arsenic or simply as arsenic, is extremely toxic as one of the deadliest known poisons, with 60 to 200 milligrams being fatal. This amounts to about 1/300 of an ounce or the weight of one quarter of a 3 by 3 inch post-it note. Arsenic also has been used and is stored around the world for military purposes as a poison gas. Arsenic is extracted from nature by smelting arsenopyrite, found widely around the world.
Children, embryos, the chronically-ill, and the elderly are more sensitive to arsenical intoxication. The type of compound, dosage, health condition and duration of exposure are critical factors. Arsenic compounds are commonly found commercially in treated lumber, wood preservatives, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, dyes, and paints, and is often present in tainted tobacco and some old folk remedies. Tryparsamide, carbasone and arsphenamine are a few arsenic compounds used in medicine to treat ailments such as intestinal parasites, syphilis, psoriasis and dysentery.
In arsenic poisoning, urinalysis may reveal proteinuria, hematuria, and pyuria. Urinary arsenic excretion varies inversely with the postexposure time period, but low-level excretion may continue for months after exposure. In cases of suspected arsenic toxicity in which the urinary arsenic measurements fall below accepted toxic levels, analysis of hair and nails may permit a diagnosis. Because of the high sulfhydryl content of keratin, high concentrations of arsenic are deposited in hair and nails. Chronic ingestion of small amounts of arsenic, as is suspected in the case of Srila Prabhupada's poisoning, result in highest concentrations in hair, nails, and skin, tissues which are rich in cysteine-containing proteins. Chronic accumulation also occurs in the lungs.
Deposition in the proximal portions of hair can be detected within 30 hours of ingestion, and arsenic stays fixed at this site for years (in Napoleon's case, 150 years). Hair grows at a rate of 0.4 mm per day (half inch a month) while nail grows 0.1 mm per day. Total replacement of a fingernail takes 3-4 months while toenails require 6-9 months of growth. Because of its chemical similarity to phosphorus, arsenic is deposited in bone and teeth and is retained there for long periods.
Humans eliminate and detoxify inorganic arsenic by a metabolic process of methylation, yielding cacodylic acid (dimethylarsinic acid) as the chief urinary excretion product. Biomethylation can quickly become saturated, however, the result being the deposition of increasing amounts of arsenic in soft tissues. Otherwise arsenic can be eliminated by many routes (feces, urine, sweat, milk, hair, skin, lungs), although most is excreted in urine. The half-life for urinary excretion is 3 to 5 days, during which time great damage is done to the internal tissues and organs. Another half of the remaining amount is eliminated within another week, the next half-life in another month, etc. Thus after 6 weeks there still remains about 10 to 15 % of the original amount in the urine. Thus repeated doses will begin to accumulate in the body quickly despite the process of elimination. As arsenic takes its toll, the body loses its ability to eliminate it, compounding the toxic accumulation and the rate of internal destruction of tissues and organs.
In single or acute arsenic poisonings, the arsenic is deposited throughout the body in most organs and tissues. If there is chronic poisoning of repeated doses over a long period of time, the efficiency of elimination by the body dramatically decreases and arsenic accumulates much more permanently in the internal organs and tissues. The blood, liver, brain, heart and kidneys are top priority in the body's cleansing, while arsenic is pushed out the urine and into the hair, nails and skin as much as possible. Chronic poisoning gradually takes a serious irreversible toll of damage to the blood manufacturing capability, the kidneys and liver, the brain and heart, the central nervous system progressing from the periphery inwards, and the muscular system, among other areas of acute damage.
Some of the symptoms of arsenic poisoning can be seen with other illnesses, making it very difficult for a doctor to detect it, and it is easily mis-diagnosed as more commonly understood ailments and diseases, such as kidney disease. (see Appendix 13) Chronic (low level) arsenic poisoning from repeated absorption of toxic amounts generally has an insidious (subtle or stealthy) onset of clinical effects and is very difficult for a doctor to recognize.
Arsenic poisoning can be detected by studying the patient's symptoms, or by the testing of tissue samples, hair, fingernails, teeth, or urine. The onset of gastrointestinal symptoms may be so gradual that the possibility of arsenic poisoning would be easily overlooked. Over all, arsenic intoxication has not been extensively studied due to its rarity, and its effects are not fully known.
In observing Srila Prabhupada's stubborn reluctance to take any food or drink for many months, and in light of the fact that Srila Prabhupada Himself stated He was being poisoned, it is interesting to quote Goldfrank's text with this advice:
"For all cases, if homicidal intent is suspected, patients should be advised against accepting food or drink from anyone. Visitors should be closely monitored and outside nutritional products should be forbidden."
Signs and symptoms of arsenic toxicity vary depending on the amount and form ingested; the rate of absorption, metabolism and excretion; and the time course of ingestion (chronic, sub-acute or acute). The principal manifestations of arsenic poisoning are gastrointestinal disturbances and result in four most common symptoms: thickening skin, discoloration of skin, swelling and muscle weakness. In chronic cases, skin manifestations may not appear for years. When toxicity is more acute, symptoms typically begin with nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea which may be rice water or cholera like. Gastrointestinal ulcerative lesions and hemorrhage can occur.
Arsenic poisoning results in the gradual onset of skin, blood and neuralogic manifestations, and less dramatic gastrointestinal symptoms. Initially patients (or victims) report progressive weakness, anorexia and nausea. With prolonged ingestion of small doses there may be increased salivation, inflammation in the mouth, running nose, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and many other symptoms. Small and repeated doses of arsenic poisoning may finally result in death or totally broken health after many months or years, as was the case with Napoleon Bonaparte and his son, the Duke of Reichstadt. (See Chapter 34: Napoleon: A Case History)
Cardiovascular instability often accompanies or quickly follows these symptoms. Intravascular volume depletion, capillary leak myocardial dysfunction, and diminished systemic vascular resistance contribute to the hypotension, or low blood pressure, that follows. Patients with severe poisoning may also quickly develop acute encephalopathy with delirium, seizures, coma, dysrhythmias, fever, pulmonary edema, respiratory failure, hepatitis, rhabdomyolisis, hemolytic anemia, acute renal failure, and death. The encephalopathy may develop over several days following an acute ingestion and is attributed to underlying cerebral edema and focal microhemorrhages.
Fever may occur and reinforce a misdiagnosis of sepsis, or blood poisoning from pathogenic micro-organisms. Hepatitis can develop. Acute renal failure has occurred in many cases. The etiology may be multifactorial, including renal ischemia secondary to hypotension, myoglobinuric- and hemoglobinuric-induced failure, renal cortical necrosis, and a direct toxin effect on renal tubules. Glutathione depletion, which can exist in alcoholics and malnourished patients, may enhance the nephrotoxicity of arsenic. Unilateral facial nerve palsy, acute pancreatitis, pericarditis, and pleuritis are also possible. Arsenic will also cause fetal demise in pregnant women.
Arsenic poisoned patients with less severe illness may experience persistent gastroenteritis and mild hypotension, necessitating hospitalization and intravenous fluids for days. This prolonged course is atypical for most viral and bacterial enteric illnesses (flu, etc) and should alert the physician to consider arsenic toxicity, especially if the gastroenteritis recurs. Patients may complain of a metallic taste. The garlicky breath odor of arsenic is typical.
Arsenic irritates mucous membranes. The irritated mucous membranes can appear to be pharyngitis or laryngitis, leading to a misdiagnosis of upper respiratory tract infection. Dry hacking cough and buildup of mucus is common, necessitating further coughing to spit out the mucus. Other respiratory symptoms include rales, hemoptysis, dyspnea, chest pain, and patchy interstitial infiltrates. Again, the possibility for misdiagnosis of bronchitis, viral pneumonia, flu, cold, or persistent upper respiratory infection exists. Usually several hospital visits may occur before a correct diagnosis can be rendered in the case of chronic arsenic poisoning.
Further signs and symptoms may develop sub-acutely in the days to weeks following the acute toxic episode. Peripheral neuropathy due to axonal degeneration typically develops 1-3 weeks after arsenic ingestion. Sensory symptoms predominate early, with patients complaining of "pins and needles" or electric shock like pains in the lower extremities. Early on, there may be diminished or absent vibratory or positional sense in the limbs. As the neuropathy progresses, symptoms include numbness, tingling, and formication with physical findings of diminished to absent pain, touch, temperature, and deep tendon reflexes in a stocking-glove distribution. Obliterative arterial disease may occur in the legs and feet. Blackfoot's disease, a type of gangrene of the extremities, may occur, as is common in southwest Taiwan due to highly contaminated well water.
Encephalopathic symptoms of headache, confusion, decreased memory, personality change, irritability, hallucinations, delirium, and seizures may develop or persist. Cerebral edema may occur. Sixth cranial nerve palsy and bilateral sensorineural hearing loss have been reported during this subacute period. Superficial touch of the extremities may elicit severe or deep aching pains. Diffuse, symmetrical painful neuritis begins in the peripheral extremities and progresses proximally. It also involves distinct muscle and motor weakness and wasting, perhaps manifesting as an ascending flaccid paralysis mimicking Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
In addition, prolonged central nervous system effects have been described. Abnormal electrocardiograms, peripheral blood vessel damage, and liver damage have been reported. Many types of cancer may follow arsenical poisoning: skin, lung, liver, bone, kidney, bladder and others, often as long as 30 to 50 years later. Virtually all parts of the human body are effected by arsenic poisoning. Laboratory tests for diagnosis should include complete blood count, liver and renal function tests, and blood and urine arsenic levels. An abdominal radiograph (X-ray) may well show radiopaque contents after ingestion of arsenic. Keep this in mind when you read about Dr. Gopal wanting to bring an X-ray machine to Srila Prabhupada's room in Vrindaban in October 1977. Such an X-ray could very well have shown a large white splotch in the liver or abdomen, as arsenic is radiopaque.
Dermatologic lesions can include patchy alopecia (hair loss), oral herpetic-appearing lesions, a diffuse pruritic macular rash, and a brawny, nonpruritic desquamation. Mees lines of the nails, horizontal 1 or 2 mm white lines which represent arsenic deposition, occur about 5 % of the time in acute or chronic cases. In those cases where Mees lines are found, a delay of 30-40 days after ingestion is required for the lines to extend visibly beyond the nail lunalae. Facial and peripheral edema may develop as well as diaphoresis. Numerous dermatologic lesions can develop.
Other potential toxic manifestations include pancytopenia, nephropathy, fatigue, anorexia with weight loss, as well as persistence of acute gastrointestinal symptoms. With chronic, low-level arsenic exposure, many sub-acute symptoms may develop or persist, including headache, chronic encephalopathy, peripheral sensori-motor neuropathy, malaise, chronic cough, and peripheral edema. Gastrointestinal symptoms may be absent, although cases with colicky abdominal pain, nausea, and persistent diarrhea have been reported. Other results of arsenic poisoning may be lung damage, eventual atrophy and degeneration of extremities, terminal hypoxic convulsions (in acute poisoning) due to lack of oxygen reaching the body, severe damage of the blood (hemolysis) and bone marrow, resulting in the decrease of blood manufacture and the inability to regenerate tissues.
Slow, partial recovery from peripheral neuropathy most commonly occurs, with mild cases having a better prognosis. In a case series of 40 patients followed for variable time periods, 60 % experienced partial recovery over 5 months to 5 years, 15 % had full recovery from 40 days to 6 years, while 5 % had no recovery over 5 years. The remainder either were lost to follow-up or died. Improvement in the peripheral neuropathy is often accompanied by transient severe pains in the extremities. Patients who develop encephalopathy may recover poorly.
The minimum lethal exposure of ingested arsenic is only about one milligram per kilogram of weight. A dose of 200 milligrams would usually be lethal in an adult, but considering Srila Prabhupada's weight, much less would be lethal. For arsine gas, immediate death has occurred at 150 parts per million. These figures demonstrate the extreme toxicity of arsenic.
As we progress through the health history, keep in mind these descriptions of chronic, low-level arsenic poisoning. A partial review of such general conditions are:
1. The principal manifestations are gastrointestinal disturbances
2. Initially victims report progressive weakness, anorexia and nausea.
3. Small and repeated doses of arsenic poisoning may finally result in death or totally broken health after many months or years
4. The irritated mucous membranes can appear to be pharyngitis or laryngitis, leading to a misdiagnosis of upper respiratory tract infection. Dry hacking cough and buildup of mucus is common.
5. Toxic manifestations include nephropathy, fatigue, anorexia, weight loss
While we see that Srila Prabhupada displayed some symptoms contrary to kidney disease and many contrary to diabetes, we also see that:
SRILA PRABHUPADA HAD NO SYMPTOMS CONTRARY TO THOSE OF ARSENIC POISONING. The consistency of Srila Prabhupada's physical symptoms with chronic arsenic poisoning is quite apparent and amazing. The health history in Chapters 20 -31 is very convincing in demonstrating that Srila Prabhupada displayed the symptoms of arsenic poisoning. It is to be remembered that arsenic poisoning causes kidney disease.
LIST OF SYMPTOMS:
A full list of symptoms variously manifested in arsenic poisoning are:
Symptoms Common to Kidney Disease & Arsenic Poisoning
Those symptoms which are common to both arsenic poisoning and various kidney diseases are marked "AK" for arsenic/kidney. Between arsenic poisoning and kidney disease there may be some subtle differences in some of the symptoms, but are similar enough to represent both.
AK1 LACK OF APPETITE, WEIGHT LOSS, ANOREXIA
AK2 VOMITING, NAUSEA, "VOMITING TENDENCY"
AK3 DIARRHEA AND LOOSE STOOLS
AK4 ABDOMINAL CRAMPS, GASTRIC PAIN due to inflammation of stomach and intestines
AK5 EXTREME WEAKNESS, LACK OF ENERGY, ANEMIA, beginning as a marked general fatigue (low-level doses of arsenic)
AK6 HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE: hypertension
AK7 SEIZURES, SPASMS, and convulsions
AK8 GENERALIZED ITCHING (parethesia): tingling, burning; abnormal skin sensations, especially of the extremities; wanting to rub, brush or massage the body for relief
AK9 STOMATITIS: inflammation and ulceration of the mucous membranes of the mouth and esophagus
AK10 SKIN COLOR CHANGES: Bronzing, yellowing coloration
AK11 PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE WEAKNESS (electromyography)
AK12 MUSCLE ACHING OR CRAMPS, GENERALIZED
AK13 SMALL AMOUNTS OF URINE; infrequently or frequently
AK14 DIFFICULTY IN URINATION: or inability to urinate (anuria)
AK15 KIDNEY MALFUNCTION (renal failure or damage)
AK16 DISCOLORATION OR CASTS IN URINE: hematuria (blood), proteinuria (protein), or oval fatty droplets in urine; cloudy, brown
AK17 EDEMA: the swelling of tissues
AK18 LISTLESSNESS, LANGUOR, LETHARGY
AK20 UNPLEASANT TASTE No taste or metallic taste in mouth
AK21 INSOMNIA OR SLEEPING BADLY
AK22 HEART PALPITATIONS (delayed cardiomyopathy), and heart damage due to direct toxic action and electrolyte disturbances.
AK23 IRREGULAR HEAT BEAT: ventricular arrhythmia, electrocardiographic abnormalities such as a prolonged Q-T interval
AK24 HIGH PULSE RATE: tachycardia: quickened heart beat, and sometimes a slow pulse due to varying amounts of arsenic
Symptoms Unique To Arsenic Poisoning And Not To Kidney Diseases
Those symptoms unique only arsenic poisoning and NOT kidney disease are listed in Section Two and are marked "A" for arsenic.
A1 PHOTOPHOBIA: extreme sensitivity by the eyes to light
A2 HOARSE, WEAK, OR SLURRED VOICE: sore throat,
inflamed pharynx and larynx, thickened vocal chords
A3 MUCUS AND COUGH: discharging mucus, clogged with mucus; inflammation and irritation of the respiratory and nasal mucosa, persistent dry cough, coryza
A4 RESTLESSNESS, IRRITABILITY, TOSSING & TURNING
A5 HYPERKERATOSIS: Abnormal enlargement of thick skin areas
A6 DROOLING: excessive salivation
A7 HYPOTHERMIA: coldness in body, especially limbs: poor blood circulation in extremities due to peripheral vascular insufficiency
A8 CONJUNCTIVITIS: watering eyes, mucus in eyes, tearing eyes
A9 LOSS OF VISION due to brain damage or optic nerve damage
A10 HEAVY WITH SLEEP: sleeping unusually long and deep, or disturbance in sleep rhythm; somnolence alternating with insomnia
A11 BEHAVIORAL CHANGES or changes of disposition such as unusual emotional displays, insecurity, depression, sensitivity, tearfulness, exaggerated optimism. Tendency to periods of emotionalism expressed by tearfulness.
A12 MENTAL DISTURBANCE OR LOSS OF MENTAL FUNCTIONS due to encephalopathy (brain damage)
A13 CONSTIPATION (alternated with diarrhea)
A14 HEARING LOSS: dysesthesia, impairment of senses
A15 INDIGESTION due to bile duct obstruction and intestinal damage
A16 FAINTING, DIZZINESS
A17 SUDDEN WEAKNESS OR COLLAPSE OF LEGS, WEAKNESS IN CALF MUSCLES, especially in early stages, due to fatty degeneration of muscles, difficulty in walking
A18 PAINFUL OR MALFUNCTIONING LIVER OR SPLEEN
A19 LACK OF MUSCULAR COORDINATION (ataxia)
A20 PARALYSIS OF AND PAINS IN LEGS(motor and sensory) due to nerve damage (peripheral neuritis and neuropathy) pains or numbness
A21 LOOSENING & LOSS OF TEETH or nails, bleeding, swollen gums
List of symptoms unique only to arsenic poisoning and not kidney disease which were not exhibited by Srila Prabhupada, as far as we know at present. Further information may verify more symptoms.
1. Garlic odor of breath, perspiration or stool
2. Exfoliative dermatitis: Scaly, flaky, inflamed skin (after about 3 years in low-level arsenic poisoning)
3. Mees lines: Transverse white striae of fingernail arsenic deposits
4. Frequent headache; delirium, coma
5. Nose bleeds (epistaxis)
6. Severe thirst and fluid loss
7. Paralysis of eye muscles (ophthalmoplegia) due to brain damage
8. Blisters and open sores, usually in more acute or prolonged poisonings (Srila Prabhupada had "bedsores")
9. Dysphagia: difficulty in swallowing (from the tapes, it sounds like Srila Prabhupada's swallowing and drinking were difficult).
10. Paresis (partial paralysis) to quadriplegia (paralysis from neck down)
Srila Prabhupada could not move his legs or torso near the end of His illness, but that may have also been due to extreme weakness.
11. Anesthesia: loss of tactile or skin sensation, numbness
12. Disappearance of the fine body hairs resulting in very smooth skin
In arsenical poisoning, or in any medical condition, not all possible symptoms may be manifest, and probably will not be present. This was confirmed again in consultation with Dr. Page Hudson, retired Chief Medical Examiner and forensic pathologist. One devotee said that because Srila Prabhupada showed no obvious sweating (an arsenic poisoning symptom), therefore arsenic poisoning could not be the cause of His ill health. This is not the way to diagnose or understand medical conditions except for those looking to support their conscious or unconscious prejudices. May the reader try to set those prejudices aside in the search for the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
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15. Ellenhorn's Medical Toxicology: Diagnosis and Treatment of Human Poisonings, 2nd ed., Matthew J. Ellenhorn, M.D., Williams & Wilkins
16. Case Studies in Poisoning, Shirley K. Osterhout, M.D., Medical Examination Publishing Co., Inc., 1981
17. Loomis's Essentials of Toxicology, 4th ed., Ted A. Loomis, A. Wallace Hayes, Academic Press, 1996
18. Basic Toxicology, Fundamentals, Target Organs, and Risk Assessment, 3rd ed., Frank C. Lu, Taylor Francis Publishing, 1996
19. Manual of Toxicologic Emergencies, Eric K. Noji, Gaber D. Kelen, Year Book Medical Publishers, Inc., 1989
20. Handbook on the Toxicology of Metals, 2nd ed., Volume II: Specific Metals, eds: Lars Friberg, Gunnar F. Nordberg, Velimer B. Vouk, Elsevier (pub), 1987
21. Case Studies in Environmental Medicine: Arsenic Toxicity, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 1990
22. Handbook of Poisoners, Raymond T. Bond, Rinehart & Co., Inc., 1951
23. Arsenic, Committee on Medical and Biologic Effects of Environmental Pollutants, National Academy of Sciences (pub), 1977
24. Casarett and Doull's Toxicology, 4th ed., eds: Mary O. Amdur, Ph.D., John Doull, Ph.D., Curtis D. Klaassen, Ph.D., Pergamon Press, 1991
25. Disposition of Toxicological Drugs and Chemicals In Man, by Baselt and
Cravey, 4th Ed. published in 1995 by the Chemical Toxicology Institute.
26. Preacher's Girl: Life and Crimes of Blanche Taylor Moore, Jim Schutze
27. Death Sentence, by Jerry Bledsoe (Account of Velma Barfield's crimes)
Instances in which a symptom is unique only to arsenic poisoning and not produced by kidney disease or diabetes will be identified and prefixed with "A". For example, photophobia is caused by arsenic and not by kidney failure, being listed as arsenic symptom (A1), and drooling is marked in the health history with (A6).
In the following lengthy account of Srila Prabhupada's health history, the reader is asked to study the various physical symptoms and compare them to the lists above. You will find a case of chronic arsenic poisoning.
Srila Prabhupada was afflicted with poor digestion, persistent colds, mucus, and cough, and weak kidneys. Was this due to arsenic poisoning or natural causes?
CHAPTER 20: HEALTH CHRONICLE:
DECEMBER 1975 - DECEMBER 1976
To reconstruct accurately and completely the particulars of Srila Prabhupada's health history in 1976-7, being twenty two years ago, has been a challenge. No single source is available which fully chronicles Srila Prabhupada's medications or health history, or the various doctors who visited Prabhupada, their diagnoses and their treatments.
The synoptic, synthesized chronicling that follows is based on:
1. Srila Prabhupada Lilamrita, Volume 6, by Satsvarupa das Goswami
2. TKG's Diary by Tamal Krishna Goswami
3. Conversations With Srila Prabhupada, Vol. 29-36, Bhaktivedanta Archives (transcripts of actual 1977 tape recordings)
4. Abhiram Prabhu's Memoirs, recorded November, 1978 (Archives)
5. Srutirupa Prabhu's Memoirs, recorded October, 1978 (Archives)
6. ISKCON in the 1970's by Satsvarupa das Goswami (1997)
7. Letters From Srila Prabhupada (Royal Thai BBT)
8. Letters from Tamal Krishna Maharaj and others (Archives)
9. Satsvarupa's little red Prabhupada Nectar series (5 volumes)
10. Miscellaneous other minor biographical sources
The resultant blending of all accounts actually provided a great deal of medical information, especially coming from the tape recordings. This account of Srila Prabhupada's illness in 1977 allows us to closely examine the historical facts to ascertain exactly what medical condition Srila Prabhupada suffered from. First we will briefly back-track into 1976 to earlier origins of Srila Prabhupada's poor health. There are indications that poisoning of Srila Prabhupada may have started in 1976. In this way, an assassin's cover would be generated by a long previous history of illness which begins gradually, wanes and waxes, and eventually culminates in death. In 1976 the symptoms of illnesses in Hawaii, New Vrindaban, New York, and London are compatible with arsenic poisoning, but could just as well have been simply Srila Prabhupada's weak kidneys and the manifestations of kidney problems. Since we have now verified arsenic poisoning by hair analysis in October 1977 (see Chapter 33 ), it is only natural to wonder when or how far back the poisoning began. Judgment is not rendered about 1976; this information is part of the health biography and is included for future investigative work.
DECEMBER 20, 1975
"Prabhupada is not feeling well; swelling in his legs, feet, and hands trouble him. To see his body puffed with fluid is very disturbing. During his massage I pressed gently on Prabhupada's foot with my thumb to show him the swelling. It left an indentation for several minutes. Prabhupada said this is due to uremia, a toxic condition caused by waste products in the blood normally eliminated in the urine. It makes it very difficult for him to climb the steps to his apartment when returning from the temple. Yet, he tolerates the inconvenience without complaint and dismissed the sight of the dent with a smile and a shake of his head." (Tran Diary Vol 1)
DECEMBER 24, 1975
Morning Walk, Bombay
Dr. Patel: You have taken that tablet for passing more urine?
Dr. Patel: Daily or..., yes or no.
Prabhupada: I am passing (laughing).
Dr. Patel: Yes, sir, but you have got the edema on the leg, and I mean, when...
Prabhupada: It is cured. That one tablet, two tablets, has cured.
AUTHOR'S COMMENT: This establishes that Srila Prabhupada almost certainly had kidney problems long before arsenic poisoning began. END
At 1:00 AM on May 4, 1976,in Hawaii, Srila Prabhupada rang His bell and Hari Sauri and Pusta Krishna Swami rushed in to attend His Divine Grace's summons. "Looking strained, Prabhupada informed us that he was ill and would not take his usual walk or give the morning Bhagwatam class. He is again having trouble with uremia, using the bathroom every hour. His feet are badly swollen and he is suffering dizzy spells." Coincidentally, Tamal Krishna Goswami and Dristadyumna had arrived from New York "with a written report to give Srila Prabhupada on their China preaching endeavours. Since the Mayapur festival, when Srila Prabhupada ordered Tamal Krishna Maharaj to begin something in China, they have been very seriously studying books..." The report detailed the immense difficulties there would be met in trying to preach in China. Tamal said that the prospect was hopeless, saying, "it may be possible fifty years from now." Srila Prabhupada said, "Then give it up. If it is too difficult, don't waste time."
Thus the mission to China was cancelled. Dristadyumna thought that when it was described how Christians had resorted to floating Bibles in balloons on the ocean from hundreds of miles off shore, hoping some would reach Chinese coastal peasants, Srila Prabhupada was impressed with the difficulty of Tamal's China program. Srila Prabhupada dictated a letter to His secretary for all American GBC's, re-installing Tamal to his pre-Mayapur responsibilities as head of the Radha Damodar travelling parties and as a BBT trustee for North America. Tamal returned to Los Angeles on May 7 and soon thereafter relieved Madhudvisa as GBC for the New York zone.
Hari Sauri chronicles that on May 8, in Hawaii, Srila Prabhupada was "now feeling a little better." For a few days He had taken a half tablet of a diuretic daily and the swelling cleared up. On May 10, Srila Prabhupada complained that He was not sleeping well due to "feeling ill with dizziness and passing too much urine."
While in Hawaii, Srila Prabhupada went on regular morning walks and dramatically increased His Bhagwatam translations while also spending hours a day with Hayagriva on the upcoming book Dialectic Spiritualism. On May 22, however, Srila Prabhupada rested long in the afternoon and "complained of weakness due to heart palpitations." Thereafter, Srila Prabhupada visited Los Angeles, Detroit, and Toronto, going to New Vrindaban on June 21. Since His illness in Hawaii, Srila Prabhupada had no other striking health problems except for a short and minor cold and a serious toothache in Toronto.
JUNE - JULY 1976
Hari Sauri Prabhu states in his Transcendental Diary, Volume 3, in the preface: "...warning signs of His Divine Grace's deteriorating health grew stronger. He suffered attacks of toothache, high blood pressure, heart palpitations, kidney disease and flu with stoic indifference, and relentlessly pushed himself on despite his weakening bodily condition."
On June 23, in New Vrindaban, Hari Sauri describes, "Prabhupada said very little on his walk and the class was short. He is experiencing disturbing heart palpitations and his uremia has caused his legs and feet to swell again...(but) his face is no longer swollen."
On June 24 Srila Prabhupada had further heart palpitations and did not go on a walk. On June 25 and 26, again there were no morning walks, and Srila Prabhupada's heart was "still giving him trouble." On June 28 Srila Prabhupada felt "heart strain" while riding in a pickup truck on a bumpy road. Later He said, "Even in this weak (condition)... I am very weak nowadays. Still I am working... I think I shall not be able to go for walks. This morning my heart was beating too much."
On June 30, Hari Sauri describes, "Srila Prabhupada was not well again today and had an ashen pallor... He took only a very short walk..." and notes that Srila Prabhupada had Pradyumna Prabhu give class. He spoke for a few minutes at the end to make some comments. "When Srila Prabhupada is unable to discourse on Krishna conscious philosophy, it is a serious matter indeed." Later in the morning Srila Prabhupada began to feel better. However, the next day Srila Prabhupada skipped His walk and His class was short, perhaps fifteen minutes. "He is still weak and congested with mucus... He doesn't eat much of anything..." On July 2 there was no morning walk, and on July 3 His health was "still not good." On July 4, Hari Sauri describes, "His respiratory system is quite blocked with mucus, making his voice sometimes thick and husky."
Srila Prabhupada arrived in New York on July 9th and was hosted by Tamal Krishna Goswami as GBC and Adi Keshava Swami as temple president. On July 12 at 2:15 AM Srila Prabhupada called for Hari Sauri. "...he looked very ill. He was gaunt and complained of severe chest pains and an inability to either rest or work. He had already changed his diet to simple kichari because of these symptoms, but the problem has persisted... Despite his illness during the night, Srila Prabhupada still went on his walk this morning." At noon Srila Prabhupada again complained of chest pains, which He attributed to "too much anxiety." In the afternoon Srila Prabhupada had a pain in His foot, which Hari Sauri massaged for almost two hours.
On July 14, "illness forced Prabhupada to cancel his afternoon darshan." Early in the morning of July 16, while visiting Gita Nagari farm, Srila Prabhupada again called Hari Sauri to His room. Srila Prabhupada was sitting at His desk but was not using the dictaphone. "He was ashen, and told me he was experiencing severe kidney pain and could not translate. It was the same problem..." Later that day, back in New York, Dr. Bhagat, a life member, examined Srila Prabhupada. The diagnosis was very high blood pressure, a weak heart, and uremia which was probably due to a kidney stone. A diuretic, an antibiotic, a pain reliever, sleeping pills and a psychotropic relaxant were prescribed. No sugar or salt were to be taken either. However, Srila Prabhupada took no medicines and did not change His diet.
On July 20, Srila Prabhupada "now has a heavy cold which is worsening," causing Srila Prabhupada to take only a dry bath and skip His massage. Senior devotees encouraged Srila Prabhupada to delay His scheduled departure that evening so He could rest and recover without the difficulty of travel. Srila Prabhupada could not be convinced to stay. The overnight flight to London was very very hard on Srila Prabhupada. "Racked by a heavy cold, Prabhupada spent practically the whole flight lying down, coughing up large amounts of mucus every few minutes." He hardly moved for over six hours.
Coming off the plane, Srila Prabhupada walked slowly, wobbly, and hesitatingly. He was very ill. On the ride to the temple, it was necessary to stop twice on the roadside for Srila Prabhupada to vomit. "It was alarming because it consisted more of thick, yellow bile and mucus rather than food waste." Arriving at Bhaktivedanta Manor, Srila Prabhupada went straight to His rooms and "immediately took rest for the remainder of the day." Resting until the next morning, Srila Prabhupada "seems to have recovered a little... He had heart palpitations," was very weak, managed to eat only two spoonfuls of fruit, refused massage, ate no lunch except a few bites of kichari, and asked Harikesh that arrangements be made to return to Bombay at once. Srila Prabhupada rested all afternoon again, still very ill. On July 23 and 24 His health improved a little and the "cold" receded.
The strain of preaching, stairways, and lectures weakened Srila Prabhupada and on July 26 He rested all morning, "although he has begun to eat more today." When George Harrison visited and asked about His health, Srila Prabhupada replied, "I have old man's disease, cough and cold, so coughing.” On July 27 Hari Sauri notes that Srila Prabhupada was still coughing and full of mucus. The next day Srila Prabhupada flew to Paris, and "he is at least well enough to walk and resume his travels." On His first night in France, He resumed some translation work, the first since leaving New York a week earlier.
At the farm in France, Srila Prabhupada is reported on July 30:
"...still weak, and after a very short morning walk... He is still full of mucus and alters his diet frequently to speed recovery." On July 31, Hari Sauri describes, "Since we arrived Prabhupada has been resting until late in the morning, after 7 AM. He has not taken a full morning walk since leaving New York. This morning he ate very little for breakfast. He also told us to make all endeavour necessary to prevent him from catching cold. He said that, 'With an old body, it means thin blood, and this turns to mucus. And when there is too much mucus it blocks the heart, and this is very dangerous.' He has spent the last couple of days sitting quietly in his room, but at least he is once again having his massage in the sunshine and taking a full bath."
AUGUST - OCTOBER 1976
On August 1, Srila Prabhupada felt strong enough to make a short tour of the France farm grounds. On August 3, Hari Sauri says, "It was good to see him eating with relish even though it wasn't much. His appetite appears to be increasing, and he has requested fresh fruit and milk with Chyavana-prash for the morning. 'And when I'm feeling little better, someday we can take puri and...'" The next day Srila Prabhupada asked for some bada, made with dal paste and some neem leaf powder, which He had not taken since April in Bombay. Late on the 4 th, Srila Prabhupada "...fell silent for a while, occasionally still coughing, but at least not dislodging the heavy mucus of just a few days ago."
In Tehran on August 9, Srila Prabhupada again ate some bada which contains neem leaves, something He explained was very good to maintain a good appetite. On August 11 Hari Sauri observed that Srila Prabhupada ate at regular times in spite of the fasting till noon due to Lord Balaram's appearance day. "His health is always bad and even to miss one meal would be very detrimental to his body."
Back in Bombay on August 14, "Dr. Patel, Srila Prabhupada's Bombay walking partner, showed up... to go out onto Juhu beach with Prabhupada. However, because of the persistent swelling in Prabhupada's legs caused by his malfunctioning kidneys he wasn't feeling up to it..."
On August 15 Srila Prabhupada gave one of His teeth to Hari Sauri upon request. It had loosened and Srila Prabhupada simply took it out of His mouth the night before and placed it in the drawer of His desk. Hari Sauri says, "Prabhupada is attempting to treat his disease by adjusting the spicing in his diet. In the morning he instructed Palika to (cook)... We were delighted to see him eat and he told us that the spicing had given him a good appetite." In Hyderabad, on August 19: "We are all fasting for half a day (Vyasa-puja day) but unfortunately Srila Prabhupada is also practically having to fast. He has had bad digestion and is coughing up a lot of mucus. He had only a very small amount of fruit for breakfast and simply khichari and yogurt for lunch."
On August 22, Hari Sauri says, "Prabhupada's digestive problems are continuing, and so for lunch he elected to have only steamed vegetables and khichari, with a small amount of ghee in a separate bowl." It is also noted that a month after becoming ill upon leaving New York, Srila Prabhupada "...is still not going out for his morning walks." On August 27, in New Delhi, Srila Prabhupada's "physical health is still weak, and so he took the opportunity for a little well-earned rest." The next day on His morning walk, He was "still feeling weak. He sat for most of the time on a bench... Since returning from Europe his health has definitely improved."
In Vrindaban on September 11, Hari Sauri states, "Prabhupada's health is not very good. He has been suffering from high blood pressure for several days, and today he has toothache. Indeed, he seems to be suffering a general decline in health and strength. At this time last year he was striding strongly down the road every morning for at least an hour and seemed quite full of vigor. Now he rarely takes such walks." Srila Prabhupada went for a walk on the roof and had strained to manage the last few steps, commenting, "Now I am old." Harikesh also observed that Srila Prabhupada's muscle tone had declined.
On September 13, Srila Prabhupada is noted as having "great difficulty speaking very much at the moment due to his high blood pressure." His classes were becoming noticeably shorter. On September 19 and 20, Srila Prabhupada felt quite ill due to "high blood pressure." It is not understood from Hari Sauri's accounts exactly what led to this unofficial diagnosis of high blood pressure. On September 30, Hari Sauri again mentions the high blood pressure problems. In the night of October 7, Srila Prabhupada complained of chest pains.
The above information was obtained from Hari Sauri Prabhu's Transcendental Diary, Volumes 2, 3 and 4. Volume 5, which will begin
with October 9, 1976, has not yet been published as of this printing, but it is anticipated with great enthusiasm. We have very little information of Srila Prabhupada's health or activities between October 9, 1976 and January 8, 1977 since Satsvarupa Maharaj did not include anything in his biography from July 20, 1976 to January 9, 1977.. The only known source of information at present is the tape recordings transcribed in the Conversations Books.
DECEMBER 26: In Bombay, Giriraj, Srutasrava and Dr. Patel were discussing the challenges presented by the American deprogrammers.
Giriraj: And then Adi Keshava Maharaj is going with a swami? Chandra Swami, some Indian swami in America. He's going with Adi Keshava Maharaj to meet the new President of the United States on January 27th.
Srila Prabhupada: He's going to see?
Giriraj: Yes, Jimmy Carter… So Adi Keshava Maharaj and this one Indian sannyasi, they are going to make a representation to the new President.
Srila Prabhupada: Who is that Indian swami?
Srutasrava: His name is Chandra Swami.
Srila Prabhupada: Chandra Swami? So why…?
Guest: He's a young man.
Srila Prabhupada: He must be Mayavadi. He's taking advantage of this.
Guest: He's a man who is following Tantric.
Srila Prabhupada: So what is this nonsense? This should not be… He should not accompany. He's taking advantage of it.
Guest: He's also directly associated with the Prime Minister, this young man. Chandra Swami. (Con:28.72-3)
DECEMBER 27: The next day, Chandra Swami again is mentioned by Srila Prabhupada, Who apparently had been informed of Chandra Swami's being favorable to ISKCON because it was the only organization converting Christians back to Hinduism. It was also noted that Chandra Swami had spoken to Indira Gandhi about ISKCON in that regard, and that Gopal Krishna Swami knew of him quite well also. Srila Prabhupada then noted that "(Chandra Swami) said that 'I am not very much interested in Hare Krishna…" but that he appreciated the conversion back to Hinduism of many people. (Con:28.120-1)
SUMMARY 1976: Srila Prabhupada had an illness in Hawaii for a few days in May, a renewal of illness in New Vrindaban, and a more serious illness in New York in July, worsening upon leaving New York and lasting for months in Europe and India. The European illness was characterized by general weakness, heart palpitations, swelling, poor appetite, and respiratory infection-like symptoms of cough, cold, and mucus. It is certainly an unusual combination of symptoms to find all at once: digestive, cardiac, and respiratory. Is it possible that Srila Prabhupada's arsenic poisoning began in 1976? The symptoms, especially those upon leaving New York, appear wholly compatible with this possibility. That Srila Prabhupada was old and had a long-standing weakness in the kidneys is acknowledged, yet, we find that the May to August period of illness in 1976 resembles arsenic poisoning, if we judge by the symptoms.
Since we now know there was poisoning in progress in October 1977, it is only natural to wonder how early it may have begun. (see Chapter 33 ) How far back in time did the poisoning begin? The symptoms support the possibility that it may have begun as early as May 4, 1976 when Tamal and Dristadyumna visited Srila Prabhupada in Hawaii.
CHAPTER 21: HEALTH CHRONICLE:
Until January 1977, Srila Prabhupada remained in fairly good health, maintaining an energetic and busy schedule, and the first significant downturn in health occurred while at the Kumbha Mela on January 12-13.
Srila Prabhupada: So that, some Swami Chand?
Hari Sauri: Chandra Swami, minister for Air India. He's supposed to be wanting to see Prabhupada. He's coming to the Mela.
Gurudas: I'll look into that. You told me last time… So do you think I should organize this meeting with Chandra Swami also…? Or just meet him to get him to see you. Not any special, but I mean to say that he knows the situation. He can…
Srila Prabhupada: Or if he wants to see, he may come. He may find out.
Gurudas: Yes. He should come to see you.
Srila Prabhupada: Orissa is good for health?
Gurudas: Yes, he (Gargamuni) says.
Srila Prabhupada: Let him come to Bhubaneshwar, and I want to start a temple.
Gurudas: Yes. Your health is…?
Srila Prabhupada: From yesterday it is good.
Gurudas: 'Cause you cooked for yourself.
Srila Prabhupada: No. Because I could eat a little… Just rice, dahl, and vegetable.(A15) That's all, nothing extraordinary.
Gurudas: And you put lot of spice in it or not?
Srila Prabhupada: No. (Con:29.7-13)
Later, Srila Prabhupada spoke with a life member/ doctor:
Guest: How is your health?
Srila Prabhupada: Not good.
Guest: No, but you are taking that medicine or…?
Srila Prabhupada: I stopped that medicine.
Guest: Too much bitter, I think.
Srila Prabhupada: Not only bitter. I got some trouble in the teeth.
Guest: Pills are taken or not taken?
Srila Prabhupada: Pills? No. If required I shall take again.
Hansadutta: I heard you're not feeling well.
Srila Prabhupada: No. (Con:29.44)
Later, speaking with Mr. Asnani, the lawyer, and another guest:
Srila Prabhupada: And because my health is not good, if Allahabad atmosphere or Bhubaneshwar atmosphere helps me little, it is… Of all foodstuff, I see the kitri is good for me, little kitri.
Mr. Asnani: Easily digested also.(A15)
Srila Prabhupada: So I shall begin again kitri.
Guest: I came other day and you were advised by the doctors not to see you.
Srila Prabhupada: No- doctor says like that. I see everyone.
Guest: That was the first day with the doctor. You accepted that doctor's decision.
Srila Prabhupada: So I did not like that idea.
Guest: No, but sometimes, just to keep… So we, all the devotees, always pray to our Lord to give you long physical body and healthy so that the cause which you have taken up in your hand should be completely fulfilled. So for our sake your body has to last… because medically you are not advised to. You talk less… (Con:29.63-7)
Later Srila Prabhupada discusses His own medical neem program:
Srila Prabhupada: Then I can take two pills in the morning. That will help. This neem (A15), tickly, and bara is very good. But you people say that…(laughs)
Hari Sauri: The ghee's not.
Srila Prabhupada: Ghee's not good, that I can understand. But without little ghee, we cannot eat at all.
Hari Sauri: There's no harm for a small amount.
Srila Prabhupada: We have to take very little.(A15)
Srila Prabhupada then asked that Arundhati cook fresh neem leaves in chick pea flour batter, like spinach pakoras, called baras. Neem had a good medical effect on Srila Prabhupada's digestion problems.(A15) (Con:29.76)
JANUARY 9: Srila Prabhupada told Gopal Krishna that a certain medicine was "very bitter." Palika was cooking for Srila Prabhupada, and asked today what kind of dahl He would like. (Con:29.144, 152)
Setting out before dawn, Srila Prabhupada walked for an hour on the beach in Bombay so briskly that His disciples "were flagging" behind Him. Srila Prabhupada suddenly said, "There is a very big conspiracy against us." Dr. Patel inquired, "By the church? By the society?" Srila Prabhupada answered, "No. Hmm. Now they are determined to cut down this movement." Despite further inquiries, Srila Prabhupada would not give further details, but deprogramming was the current issue. (Sat:6.213)
Rameshwar replaced Jagadish as the monthly GBC secretary, and said in the morning, "Srila Prabhupada, you look well." (Sat:6.215)
JANUARY 10: The vigor with which Srila Prabhupada gave lectures and had numerous daily meetings, darshans and discussions during early January 1977 is to be noted. Yet, Srila Prabhupada "was now 81 and was bothered by certain persistent illnesses." (Sat:6.215) It seems that the reader of Satsvarupa's biography is being prepared for Srila Prabhupada's oncoming health deterioration, but it does so without much in specifics or detail whatsoever. No train tickets were available to Allahabad for the Kumbha Mela, but R.N. Gupta, Chief Engineer of Railways, arranged for a special car for Srila Prabhupada and the devotees. (Sat:6.219)
JANUARY 11: En route to the Kumbha Mela by train, Srila Prabhupada preached to His disciples for four hours and then took some lunch. Later, Srila Prabhupada asked, "You have got sugar candy?" H
After Hari Sauri could not find any, Srila Prabhupada asked again, "Sugar? Where you'll find?" When Rameshwar offered that Pradyumna had some sweet mango, Srila Prabhupada declined the offer. Again He asked, "Mango candy? Grape candy?" Finally Hari Sauri located some mango candy. This demonstrates that Srila Prabhupada's diabetes was not so serious to the point that He could not take candy or sugar. (Con:29.182-236)
JANUARY 12: KUMBHA MELA Srila Prabhupada arrived in Allahabad at 9:00 AM and met with His old doctor friend Dr. G. Ghosh. (Abhiram) Arriving at the site of ISKCON's camp, Srila Prabhupada became very upset at the poor location, lack of electricity, and absence of food for distribution. Srila Prabhupada asked Bhavananda and the Mayapur devotees to salvage the event with walking Sankirtan party and book distribution. (Sat:6.227)
JANUARY 13: All night Srila Prabhupada was very cold, sitting fully clothed by His desk with a small kerosene heater. "By morning, Srila Prabhupada had a bad cold with runny nose and eyes (A8)....His hands and feet were swollen (AK17), something that had happened to him before during illnesses." (Sat:6.228)
JANUARY 14: Abhiram Prabhu noted that, "Srila Prabhupada was a little swollen, not feeling well, very uncomfortable.(A4) His hands and feet were swelling, He was very ill with a mucus problem (A3)." Srila Prabhupada went for a slow walk. Rarely had Srila Prabhupada been so sick; He was finally convinced to leave for Calcutta. Edema and conjunctivitis together is peculiar.
JANUARY 15: R.N. Gupta, again arranged a special private railcar to be brought up from Bombay to Srila Prabhupada take to Calcutta. (Sat:6.228)
JANUARY 16: Srila Prabhupada arrived in Calcutta. (Sat:6.232)
JANUARY 18: Then: "After the intense cold of Kumbha Mela, Srila Prabhupada had recuperated a couple of days in Calcutta. His head cold had gone away, but the swelling (AK17) in his hands and feet persisted, as did other maladies(?). Externally, he was diabetic and suffered from poor digestion(A15), as well as from the general dwindling of physical powers common to an 81 year old body. His condition was not suited for continual travel, hard work, frequent lectures, and taxing management. Yet Prabhupada was transcendental to his apparent material condition. Although sometimes he would inquire about cures, mostly he was callous toward his poor health. Even after receiving a doctor's advice or concluding himself what was good for his health, he would often ignore it in favor of what he thought was best for spreading Krishna consciousness." (Sat:6.232-3)
At 10:00 PM Srila Prabhupada left for Bhubaneshwar from Calcutta on the Puri Express, arriving the next day at 10:00 AM. (Abhiram)
JANUARY 19: "Srila Prabhupada said that He has no digestion (A15) and that He was not feeling strong (AK5). His digestion was failing Him and He could not eat foods cooked in ghee. Srila Prabhupada referred to His kidneys (AK15)." Srutirupa and Palika cooked for Srila Prabhupada. (Abhiram)
"Srila Prabhupada's failing health prevented him from eating fried foods (A15)." (Sat:6.236)
Srila Prabhupada said, "Our immediately problem is toward my health. I am not digesting food, so therefore there is some swelling (AK17) in the hands and the legs."
Rameshwar: That's due to the kidney?
Srila Prabhupada: Kidney or whatever it may be.
Rameshwar: So is it affecting your translation work?
Srila Prabhupada: That is not affected. That is going on.
Rameshwar: We know you have a very low opinion of doctors.(laughter)
Srila Prabhupada: I wish to die without a doctor… I may be seriously ill, but don't call a doctor. Chant Hare Krishna.
Gargamuni: But maybe we could give you some temporary relief.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, but no severe treatment should be accepted. Better not to take. Better to chant Hare Krishna.
Gargamuni: Maybe for the swelling we can increase the massaging to three times a day.
Hari Sauri: That's what this guy told me, not to massage very much. At least not while the swelling is there. Actually that medicine that Shiv Sharma gave you, that was reduced. I don't think this homeopathic medicine is any good.
Srila Prabhupada: So you can give me that.
Gargamuni: My father, he also used to get swelling, but this was due to diabetes.
Srila Prabhupada: I have got diabetes also… There are many gentlemen who take insulin at least once a day. (Con:29.289-292)
Jayapataka Swami was present today. Gargamuni said that he was going to leave India proper for "a few days" to Dacca in Bangladesh because his visa was expiring. This was a common problem for foreign devotees in India; their tourist visas had to be reapplied for periodically by leaving and then re-entering India. It is thought that Tamal's visa was thus conveniently renewed in August when Srila Prabhupada flew from Vrindaban to London (six months from February 14 is August 14). (Con:29.275)
JANUARY 20: In Bhubaneshwar, Srutirupa dasi, Abhiram's wife, noted in her October 1978 memoirs that she brought Srila Prabhupada "medicine pills with water" twice daily at 11 AM and 6 PM.
JANUARY 21: Both Arundhati and Palika could not cook today, so Srila Prabhupada asked if Srutirupa dasi knew how to use His special cooker to prepare His "special diet" lunch (A15). She did and cooked well. (Con:29.332)
JANUARY 23: Satsvarupa das Goswami arrived in Bhubaneshwar around January 23 and replaced Rameshwar as the secretary to His Divine Grace for a month. Rameshwar left maybe the next day. Brahmananda visited for at least two days on January 23rd and 24th. (Sat:6.248; Con:30.38-292)
Srila Prabhupada's course was to follow a careful diet which He could digest satisfactorily(A15), avoiding ghee and spices. But sometimes He was not so strict, to the distress of His servants. Srila Prabhupada conceded that sometimes He wanted spices, "otherwise there is no taste." (Sat:6.236-7)
JANUARY 25-27: In the early morning of January 25, Srila Prabhupada drove to Jagannath Puri to look at properties, and ended up walking on the beach, remembering His last visit there in 1920. "Now I am walking with stick." Srila Prabhupada and His party stayed the night at the Tourist Bungalows and the next day Srila Prabhupada ate a hearty meal prepared by Gargamuni's cook in the back of his travelling van. Afterwards the devotees held an impromptu abhiseka for Srila Prabhupada at the ocean's edge; then Srila Prabhupada walked to the hotel and was carried upstairs in a chair.
That evening Srila Prabhupada spoke at a local pandal program and then went to visit two different Gaudiya Math temples in the area. Srila Prabhupada, sitting in a chair, prepared to leave: "…he (Srila Prabhupada) began to stand, using his cane as a support, but suddenly, as he was about halfway up, he dropped down again onto the chair. Hari Sauri had to lift him to his feet…Not everyone had noticed Prabhupada's temporary collapse, (A17) but Hari Sauri… wrote in a letter…"yet another sign that Srila Prabhupada's health is very quickly dwindling away." (Sat:6.241-7) There are two known incidences in early 1977 where Srila Prabhupada showed sudden leg weakness before the onset of His serious illness on February 26. They were here in Puri and on Sridhara Maharaj's temple steps in Navadwipa.
Gargamuni reminisced with Srila Prabhupada about His 1967 heart attack and how he had to stop the doctors from taking some blood.
Srila Prabhupada: They were examining my brain. Then I thought, 'I must go away.' I told, 'Doctor, I am all right. I can go.'
Gargamuni: They wanted to do so many tests. They wanted to take also from spine.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.
Satsvarupa: They did that. They did give you that spine needle.
Srila Prabhupada: Oh. Never call doctor. Never give me hospital. Let me die peacefully if I am in trouble. (Con:30:108-9)
Srila Prabhupada returned to Bhubaneshwar on Jan. 27, and Palika cooked thin chapatis, rice, etc for Srila Prabhupada's lunch. (Con:30.164)
JANUARY 30: At 2:50 AM this morning, Srila Prabhupada began His translation of the Tenth Canto of Srimad Bhagwatam. "His words were faint…(A2)" (Sat:6.247)
CHAPTER 22: HEALTH CHRONICLE:
FEBRUARY 1: Jayapataka was present today for at least one day. (Con:30)
FEBRUARY 2: Srila Prabhupada laid the cornerstone in a ceremony marking the beginning of construction on the ISKCON temple in Bhubaneshwar. Bhagwat das was personally asked by Srila Prabhupada to stay and supervise the construction project. Later Srila Prabhupada spoke about restricting His diet from ghee which He said "was not good for him." (A15) Hari Sauri expounded on the purported benefits of an all-fruit diet. (Sat:6.251-2)
Satsvarupa wrote: "We discussed Christ. Srila Prabhupada said that Christ's followers were so low-class that they killed him. I said, 'People say he didn't resist when the soldiers came.' Prabhupada said, 'Oh, does that mean you should kill him? What rascals.' I said, 'Christ is so compassionate that even if one insists on being a sinner, Christ wants to save him.' Prabhupada repeated, 'Yes, Christ is compassionate, but you are a rascal.'" (ISK70, 248-9)
FEBRUARY 4: Srila Prabhupada left Orissa at 11:00 PM the previous night and arrived in Calcutta today. (Abhiram)
FEBRUARY 6: Srila Prabhupada went on to Panihati today. (Abhiram)
FEBRUARY 7: Srila Prabhupada arrived in Mayapur. Srila Prabhupada's room had been decorated with thousands of flowers grown on the property. Later He went to survey the progress on construction work, walking about the grounds and inspected all the rooms of the 700 foot long guest house. "The next few days were quiet." (Abhiram; Sat:6.253)
Hari Sauri wrote to Radhaballabha, and after describing the tour of Orissa just completed, said: "As far as his health goes, Srila Prabhupada is not really any better. The swelling (AK17) is still there and digestion (A15) is still bad, although his appetite (AK1) is picking up now that his sister is doing some cooking. He is still avoiding ghee and salt though, so that vegetable salt is very important." (Archives)
FEBRUARY 8: "But Prabhupada's ill health persisted - an imbalance of pitta and vayu (bile and air), he said. One morning when his servant asked him how he felt, he replied, "Very bad." But sometimes after a "very bad" morning, he would feel much better. (Sat:6.255)
FEBRUARY 10: Srila Prabhupada went by car and ferry to visit Sridhara Maharaj's Math in Navadwip for lunch. But, "while walking up the steep stone steps, Prabhupada's legs suddenly gave way, and he collapsed. (A17) Fortunately, Hari Sauri was close enough to catch him. It was the second time Prabhupada had collapsed in less than two weeks." (Sat:6.255) In Satsvarupa's diary called ISKCON in the 1970's, there is no mention of any illness with Srila Prabhupada in Bhubaneshwar, no mention of the collapse at Sridhar's Math, no mention of Srila Prabhupada's terrible, near-fatal fever on February 26, and no mention of the London operation in September.
Tamal proffers an explanation for this weakness in Srila Prabhupada's legs : "Srila Prabhupada's health was not strong, even at that time. … he could only take short walks…upon leaving (Sridhara's Math) he had stumbled and almost collapsed… Apparently the food had been prepared in mustard oil… which… was very difficult for Srila Prabhupada to digest." (TkgD.1)
Question: Was Srila Prabhupada coming to or from lunch at Sridhara Maharaj's when He collapsed, going up or down the stairs? Also, how would mustard oil cause weakness in the legs one hour after lunch, or if He was going up the steps on the way to lunch?
FEBRUARY 11: The next day there were still after-effects of the lunch.
Jayapataka: So this morning you won't go, be going on a walk. You're not feeling up to a walk (AK11, A17) this morning? It affected your kidney or your digestion?
Srila Prabhupada: That I cannot say. But the foodstuff is not digesting. (A15) That I can say. I am not feeling at all appetite (AK1). (Con:30.325)
FEBRUARY 12: Palika dasi cooked Srila Prabhupada's meals according to His direction and choices. Oil, ghee and spices were avoided because Srila Prabhupada could not digest these things.(A15) Pishima came and cooked for Srila Prabhupada also, then one day, not even allowing Palika into the kitchen. Srila Prabhupada ate her lunch and "became sick. For the next two days he did not take anything except hot milk and medicine." (Satsvarupa: Prabhupada Nectar, Vol. 3, pg 98-100)
FEBRUARY 14: Tamal states: "I began my secretarial work for Srila Prabhupada on February 22, 1977. I arrived in Mayapur with His Holiness Brahmananda Swami…" (TkgD.1) However, the tape recordings clarify that Tamal's arrival date was the 13th or 14th, as he and Brahmananda were present in conversations with Srila Prabhupada from February 14th and on.
Tamal: Adi Keshava is here in India… He'll be coming here in about three days, he and Tripurari Maharaj.
Srila Prabhupada: So, when you arrived at the airport?
Tamal: Well, we first… The airplane that we came on landed in Delhi, and we went down to Bombay yesterday morning. So we stayed the day in Bombay… (and then) we took off in the plane to Calcutta…
Speaking about the imminent New York deprogramming trial:
Tamal: As long as we stay within the law they cannot find any fault with us. They are trying like anything, but they cannot find any fault.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. The poison has already entered. (laughs)
AUTHOR'S COMMENT: Is this a pun?
Tamal: I've brought some medicines for you from Bombay.
Srila Prabhupada: Hm. What is that medicine.
Tamal: I can bring them. I don't know.
Brahmananda: Were you expecting something?
Hari Sauri: We already got one big bag full.
Tamal: Oh. There's so many more things now.
Hari Sauri: Did Karttikeya give it to you?
Tamal: I don't know… Giriraj gave them to me. (Con:30.339)
FEBRUARY 15: In the evening, Srila Prabhupada asked Bhavananda to bring Him "one plate" of "freshly prepared" prasadam today at 1:00 PM. (Con:30.15-6) Later, Tamal instigated a lengthy narration of medical horror stories assisted by Brahmananda and Hari Sauri, leaving the impression that modern doctors were to be avoided at all costs, as they were cruel, careless, callous, inexpert and so on. Tamal also broke the news to Srila Prabhupada that Jayananda Prabhu had cancer and told about some nightmarish trouble Jayananda had while in the hospital. Tamal said that he personally went and rescued Jayananda from further harm at the hands of the "crazy" doctors. Tamal explained that doctors were now using electric shock treatments also. (Con:31. 29-33)
FEBRUARY 16: Srila Prabhupada spoke to Hari Sauri while they stood on the balcony veranda overlooking the surrounding land in Mayapur: "Actually it does not matter even if I die immediately. I have given the basis for everything, and now if they simply manage things nicely and follow whatever programs I have begun, then everything will be successful." (Sat:6.256)
FEBRUARY 17: The Conversations Books show that Adi Keshava Swami arrived in Mayapur today and for several days thereafter had lengthy discussions with Srila Prabhupada about American deprogramming cases and the specific court battle in which he himself was a central defendant.
When Adi Keshava Prabhu came from New York, Srila Prabhupada was energetic and showed few signs of illness or weakness. (Sat:6.260)
Adi Keshava was distressed about how he had been "dumped" by Tamal who wanted nothing to do with his legal troubles and would not allow any funding from the temple for legal expenses. Adi Keshava was on his own. Adi Keshava went to Srila Prabhupada privately and explained what had happened and said, "I can't deal with Tamal." Later, Srila Prabhupada called for Adi Keshava and told him privately, "I will take care of Tamal," and offered all funds and other assistance he might need. Accordingly, Tamal was asked by Srila Prabhupada to become His permanent personal secretary, which Tamal was definitely not at all happy about. Once again, Tamal had been removed from his prominent position in ISKCON. (Adi Keshava)
FEBRUARY 18: Srila Prabhupada, during deprogramming talks, asked that the light be turned off. Just a while later, He asked for some sweet water, some misri. Srila Prabhupada gave many arguments to make a counter-attack against the deprogrammers' false accusations, but emphasized that the devotees should go to court with robes and shaved heads, bringing all the books in the forefront. Tamal asked if Srila Prabhupada wanted to go on a walk the next morning, and whether He would just walk on the roof, or if going around the pond, would He need a chair to be carried up the walkway steps (AK11, A17). Srila Prabhupada said He would go around the pond without a chair-lift. (Con:31.88-142)
FEBRUARY 19: The first mention of Bhakticharu's presence is noted on this date, but he was known as Kshirachora Gopinatha. Satadhanya, Jayapataka, and Bhavananda Maharajas are also present during Srila Prabhupada's stay in Mayapur. (Con:31.161)
Srila Prabhupada: If Christ were not crucified, then his cult would not have spread so much all over the world. The Christian cult was spread all over the world after the demise of Christ, not during his time. Is it not? Because he was persecuted, his cult became so spread. (Con:31.163-4)
FEBRUARY 22: Tamal Krishna Goswami states that today he became Srila Prabhupada's personal secretary, replacing Satsvarupa Maharaj. Each month, by rotation, a different GBC would come to spend a month with Srila Prabhupada by serving as His secretary. However, Tamal remained as Srila Prabhupada's permanent personal secretary, assistant, and primary guardian until Srila Prabhupada's departure on November 14, a total of exactly nine months since Tamal's February 14th arrival.(TkgD. 1) In a letter some months later, Tamal told Radhaballabha that the GBC had voted and requested him to stay on indefinitely as Srila Prabhupada's secretary.
On Satsvarupa Maharaj's last day as Srila Prabhupada's secretary, Srila Prabhupada ordered a breakfast of soaked mung dal, cucumber and fruits (AK1), not the diet of one with good digestion. Srila Prabhupada attended the evening programs and walked with a government minister through extensive displays of preaching around the world. Srila Prabhupada was still very active at this time. (Sat:6.264-5)
Hundreds of devotees arrived for the annual Mayapur festival, including 350 on the first Boeing 757 to land in Calcutta. (Sat:6.266)
Srila Prabhupada said: "I am not feeling very well, but I am living in Vaikuntha. I am not fit for this place." Later on, Srila Prabhupada said, "So let me take prasadam. Then we can talk some more." (Con:31.205, 216)
FEBRUARY 25: Bali Mardan reported that there was a nice house in Australia available for Srila Prabhupada to stay in if He chose, and Srila Prabhupada asked about the climate. "One can get good appetite? (AK1) Nowadays I cannot eat." Also, Srila Prabhupada twice asked why certain light bulbs were not working. (Con:31.260, 267)
FEBRUARY 26: Satsvarupa's biography relates that Srila Prabhupada "became very ill again." (Sat:6.266) Late in the day, "Srila Prabhupada's health deteriorated noticably. Then a very serious illness began. His temperature rose to 104 or 105 degrees.(AK19) For three days and two nights the high fever continued, and he was always moaning." Tamal relates that he, Navayogendra and Hari Sauri were always attending Srila Prabhupada in shifts, constantly massaging Him. Srila Prabhupada could not eat (AK1), His body was very swollen (AK17), there was great difficulty in urinating (AK14), and Srila Prabhupada could not even talk to the devotees. He remained confined to His quarters and did not come down for the programs. Gradually the fever subsided, and Srila Prabhupada said later that He thought He was going to leave His body. (TkgD.2)
From Satsvarupa's book, Prabhupada Nectar, Vol. 4, pg.147: "In Mayapur, in February 1977, when Prabhupada first started to get really sick, we were taking turns sitting in his bedroom with him. He was just lying in his bed, so one person would always have to be there... If he coughed, you would have to make sure he had his spitoon there (A3) and a handkerchief to wipe his face, or you would help him with his blanket or give him water, or help him to go to the bathroom (AK5)... Prabhupada was so sick that he was sometimes moaning (AK4), and he could not sleep (AK21), because he would be coughing (A3) so much."
Srila Prabhupada's old friend Dr. G. Ghosh from Allahabad came and prescribed various allopathic medicines, "…including Lassix tablets, which helped Srila Prabhupada pass urine.(AK14) As these medicines were very strong, Srila Prabhupada passed not only urine but sometimes also blood." (AK16) Therefore Srila Prabhupada was forced to discontinue these medicines. Srila Prabhupada was left extremely weak (AK5) and semi-invalid (AK11) needing help with most activities, including going to the bathroom (A17). (TkgD.2)
Bhavananda began to give massages which helped greatly. "It was apparent to many who attended the festivals during Gaur-Purnima 1977 that Srila Prabhupada was extremely weak (AK5) as he required to be carried on a palanquin." (Dhaneshwar)
Srila Prabhupada said in late February, "The last fortnight I was thinking I was dead…" (Sat:6.269)
Srutirupa dasi, Abhiram Prabhu's wife, recalls that in February at Mayapur, "This is when Srila Prabhupada began getting ill, and it never stopped. He became weaker and weaker. Some deer musk grains were obtained…" (and given to Srila Prabhupada as medicine on March 10)
FEBRUARY 27: While discussing BBT business with Radhaballabha Prabhu, there is twice a mention of Srila Prabhupada taking some medicines. (Con:31.291, 294)
CHAPTER 23: HEALTH CHRONICLE:
MARCH 2: Abhiram: "Until recently, Srila Prabhupada has eaten full course meals (AK1), with Srutirupa Prabhu cooking for Him."
The GBC meetings endorsed Tamal as Srila Prabhupada's "permanent secretary," and another GBC would also rotate monthly to spend time with His Divine Grace. Satsvarupa read the GBC resolutions regarding Tamal's zone, concluding with: "And also Tamal Krishna Maharaj will retain responsibility for Red China, whatever can be done there."
Srila Prabhupada: That's very good. (laughter) I asked him to do this last year. Very good.
Later, Tamal spoke for the GBC: "Srila Prabhupada, we were wondering that one time when you were ill in Vrindaban you requested that the devotees in our temples around the world could chant kirtan all the time, twenty-four hours, till you recovered your health. So the GBC was wondering whether we could request again for that." Srila Prabhupada replied: "Yes... Bhavausadhac chrotra-mano-bhiramat. This is the real remedy for any disease." Soon thereafter Giriraj discussed whether Srila Prabhupada would see guests when He came to Bombay later in the month. "…if your health permits and if you could come every day (from Kartikkeya's to the temple), then we could arrange very leading people (to see You) for all of those days…" (Con:31.336, 363-7) Apparently Srila Prabhupada was still very ill and weak from the sudden attack of ill health on February 26.
NOTE: THERE ARE NO TAPE RECORDINGS FOR MARCH 3 - 21.
MARCH 6, 7: Abhiram: "Srila Prabhupada is getting sick and His appetite (AK1) is failing Him. He is feeling very bad, but He drank some barley water."
MARCH 10: Abhiram: "Srila Prabhupada is becoming very, very ill." Abhiram and Jayatirtha went to Calcutta and returned with Bimala Tanka Tirtha, Srila Prabhupada's old and blind Ayurvedic doctor, who prescribed medicines, allopathic and Ayurvedic. A very expensive medicine containing musk, gold and pearls produced no visible results. After two or three days, the doctor left and Srila Prabhupada discontinued the medicines. Abhiram left Srila Prabhupada's association from March 10 until July 19. (Abhiram)
Devotees recall being asked to donate for medication during the 1977 Gaura Purnima festival, and many believed that this was for makharadhvaja. Interviewed, Abhiram said the collection was for a medicine called Somara-rasayana, prescribed by Bimala Thakur. Abhiram personally went to Calcutta, purchased the ingredients for this medication, and brought these ingredients back for Srila Prabhupada. (Dhaneshwar, Abhiram)
MARCH 13: Hari Sauri left Srila Prabhupada's service and Tamal became the masseur as well as personal secretary. Srila Prabhupada did not like Tamal's massages, however. Bhavananda was recruited for this service. Giving two hour massages in the morning sunshine, Srila Prabhupada's "health improved." Navayogendra Swami cooked for Srila Prabhupada, Who began to eat again, although He was not fully recovered. (TkgD.3)
Earlier Dr. Ghosh from Kodaikanal (not the one from Allahabad) had invited Srila Prabhupada to his health resort in South India, where, he asserted, no one would die. Now Srila Prabhupada remembered Dr. Ghosh and told Tamal to write and confirm the journey there as soon as possible. Dr. Ghosh was well-known as a natural healer, using massage, dieting and no allopathic drugs. Srila Prabhupada also thought a change of location to be beneficial to His health. But, no word came from Kodaikanal. (TkgD.3)
MARCH 20: Swarup Damodar came in to see Srila Prabhupada, Who commented, "Sit down. I am little better today. Sometimes for the last… How many days? I am…" (?) When Swarup Damodar mentioned getting a visa for Srila Prabhupada's planned visit to Manipur, Srila Prabhupada said, "That may be suspended for the time."
Swarup Damodar: Prabhupada's health. It may not be so wise.
Srila Prabhupada, to Tamal: What is this? The same tablet? No.
Tamal: I've gotten a week's supply of these other tablets. I got the prescription filled.
Srila Prabhupada: Keep it here… That has given me great relief.
Tamal: Oh. Swelling (AK17) is reduced, Srila Prabhupada?
Srila Prabhupada: That I do not know. But internally I am feeling relief.
Swarup Damodar: Swelling here?
Tamal: No. His feet.
Srila Prabhupada: Not very much, but there is.
Tamal: Not so much. I think that pill (Lassix?) works for swelling. The swelling is due to urine, not…
Srila Prabhupada: (heavy coughing) (A3)
Then Swarup Damodar reported to Srila Prabhupada that he had just seen Upendra at the Calcutta airport waiting for some lost luggage, and that Upendra would be arriving that night to join Srila Prabhupada's party as personal assistant to replace Hari Sauri. Srila Prabhupada said, "Oh. He has received that telegram. He is coming from Hawaii?" Tamal said, "Yes." Tamal reminded Srila Prabhupada about the upcoming Bombay programs. Tamal: "A lot of the senior devotees are still there. They've gone from here to Vrindaban, and now they're in Bombay, and they're waiting for your coming." Srila Prabhupada said, "I am therefore going. In spite of my so much inconveniences, I am going there."
When Srila Prabhupada heard that policemen in Manipur were wearing tilak, He decided to go after all. "April 5 th. No harm. We are… Kodaikanal, we wanted to go by the end of the…" Tamal then postponed the planned trip to Dr. Ghosh's medical treatment center in Kodaikanal until about April 15 or 20. Later Srila Prabhupada was eating and Tamal asked: "Did this tangerine remove the bad taste? (AK20) So every day we can give some tangerine. Especially if you can give with this medicine, then it will take away the bitter taste." Later Srila Prabhupada asked for hot water and a chaddar and said, "So this tablet is effective. Prepare this." Tamal and Srila Prabhupada talked about the 8 tablets that were to be taken twice a day.
Tamal: Nobody can go through it. It's such trouble. An ordinary person can't do it. Unless you have a servant, you can't take kaviraja's medicine. (Con:31.180-201)
MARCH 22: An invitation has been received earlier from Bombay to participate in their upcoming pandal program, but "the senior devotees in Mayapur felt Srila Prabhupada was too ill to travel." Srila Prabhupada accepted the invitation, being very enthusiastic to preach in Bombay. Driving to Calcutta, Srila Prabhupada and His party flew by Bombay. When Srila Prabhupada arrived at the Bombay airport, Srila Prabhupada was lowered off the plane by hydraulic lift due to His weakness (AK11) and inability to negotiate the steep stairs. Several devotees assisted Him in walking (AK11, A17) and He appeared frail. Srila Prabhupada refused to stay in His old apartment, upset that His new quarters were not finished, and defiantly camped out in His unfinished rooms for one night. (Sat:6.269-70; TkgD.4)
Thereafter He moved to Karttikeya Mahadevia's home, and preached strongly every evening to the thousands who came for the lecture, kirtan and free prasadam. Bhavananda Maharaj assisted with the personal services given to His Divine Grace, and it is noted that Srila Prabhupada "could not stand and walk without assistance…(AK11, A17)" (Sat:6.272; TkgD. 4)
Srila Prabhupada was carried on a palanquin, and He attended the week long Bombay pandal programs. Srila Prabhupada's voice was weak (A2) and He remained motionless (AK18), yet somehow commanded enough energy to answer questions forcefully but briefly, saving His limited energy. "Ever since Srila Prabhupada's extreme weakness (AK5) of health had occurred in Mayapur, he would often sit for hours alone and silent (A11, AK18). When he spoke his voice was often hoarse or faint.(A2)." (Sat:6.274-5)
MARCH 25: Srila Prabhupada wrote to Gurudas: "Thank you, yes, I am feeling a little stronger now. On the 28th instant I shall be moving into my new quarters…" (Letters Books)
MARCH 26: Bhavananda questioned if Srila Prabhupada should strain Himself by going to this evening's pandal program, saying: "This Dr. Oja says that your blood pressure is about 210 to 220 over 100.(AK6) He said it should be about 150 over 90. He said any strain moving around will cause this." Srila Prabhupada remarked, "But after taking my meals, I require a little rest. One hour." Hari Sauri had come back from Australia for a few days. (Con:32.20-3)
Bhakticharu was by now in the personal service of Srila Prabhupada as of this date and remained so almost constantly until Srila Prabhupada's departure. After lunch, Srila Prabhupada stated, "I have taken six chapattis."
Tamal: Six chapattis!
Bhakticharu: Do you require anything specific at night?
Tamal: By starving you at night, Srila Prabhupada, your appetite (AK1) in the noontime is becoming increased.
Srila Prabhupada: No, I should not take at night. At night, a little milk and barley water. Light. (Con:32.26)
Later in the day, Tamal talks with Srila Prabhupada:
Srila Prabhupada: Still I am eighty percent not good. But twenty percent.
Tamal: It's very strange even now, because it doesn't seem to be anything apparently wrong, yet it's not good health. You know, like in Mayapur you were visibly ill, from fever and so many other things. So those visible symptoms have gone, but still, full health is not…
Srila Prabhupada: Strength, strength.(AK5) That requires a little time.
Tamal: I think it just requires some gradual recuperation… if there is still a chance of going to Kodaikanal for a month, you should take that opportunity.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.
Tamal: It may be Krishna's will that you… I think that if for one month you are under the care of Dr. Ghosh in a very first class healthy weather…
Srila Prabhupada: I think also. He is a very kind doctor. Whole family is attentive… This misri water and dob water… Always ready. That will clear my urine.(AK16) That I have experimented. And I don't require that exacting tablet (Lassix). That tablet by chemical reaction exacts. And when there is no urine, it exacts blood.
Tamal: That's what's wrong with these modern medicines. They work mechanically. They don't take consideration of the particular conditions. (Con:32.35-6)
MARCH 27: Srila Prabhupada had a cough.(A3) (Con:32.44) Ratan Singh Rajda, a member of Parliament, came to visit Srila Prabhupada, relating how he and 150,000 others had just been released after being jailed for 19 months, including J. K. Prakash, J. P. Narayan and Morarji Desai, due to the recent defeat in elections of Indira Gandhi. Srila Prabhupada remarked to Mr. Rajda, "I am not keeping good health at the moment…"(Sat:6.284)
MARCH 30: Srila Prabhupada wrote in a letter: "I was expecting to come to Vrindaban to be with my disciples during the Gour Purnima time but I was suddenly forced to change my plans due to illness. Now, by the grace of Krishna, I am gradually recovering." (Letters Books)
MARCH 31: Srila Prabhupada moved into His new private rooms upstairs in the Juhu temple. There was lots of light, a constantly blowing breeze and everything was very nicely done by Surabhi Swami, the architect. (TkgD.5)
Moved in, Srila Prabhupadasaid: "I shall go daily (to guru puja in the temple) in the morning. At seven. And I'll stay there half an hour or more… Those who are visitors, they can see me. And for lecturing, on Sunday I shall lecture (from Bhagwatam)… Walking should be stopped (AK11, A17) at least for some time. And if I walk, I may walk on the roof." (Con:32.64-5)
CHAPTER 24: HEALTH CHRONICLE:
Srila Prabhupada, of course, no longer went on His morning walks, (AK11, A17) and remained almost constantly in His quarters for the next month, except for daily attendance at the morning greeting of the Deities in the temple room. Srila Prabhupada arranged for quiet and solitude so that He could focus on His translation work. Srila Prabhupada had no appetite (AK1) and his health neither improved nor worsened. In early April Srila Prabhupada considered going to Kashmir but postponed those plans when Gurudas sent word that it was very cold there. (TkgD. 5)
"But Srila Prabhupada had little appetite.(AK1) He could not eat anything heavy,(A15) and sometimes he had no appetite even for a cup of milk. One morning Srila Prabhupada asked for orange juice..." When the cook, Ksiracora Gopinath (Bhakticharu), took longer than expected to deliver the juice, Srila Prabhupada reprimanded by saying, "I am sick with no appetite, and when I have a little hunger,(AK1) then you take hours!" (Sat:6.289-90)
Bhavananda Maharaj had been intimately serving Srila Prabhupada since His arrival in Bombay, but now took leave and returned to Mayapur. Srila Prabhupada said that Bhavananda's massages had been the best, but "for my bodily comforts, preaching should not suffer." Upendra Prabhu, newly arrived around April 1, noted the difference in Srila Prabhupada, His diet and lifestyle. "His intelligence was ever sharp and alert, and yet his health did not improve…(Upendra) could no longer cook the kichari which Prabhupada had previously liked."(A15) No more kicharis. Glances, nods, hand motions and "Hmmm's" (AK18) were common methods by which Srila Prabhupada communicated His desires. (Sat:6.296, Con:32.102-4)
APRIL 5: Srila Prabhupada gave an interview to a B.T. Koshi of The Current, a weekly magazine. At the end, Srila Prabhupada said, "And from the fifth year to fifteenth year you should chastise the sons and disciples just like tiger. After five years.
Mr. Koshi: Using the stick.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.
Tamal: That's how you trained us, Srila Prabhupada… Even though we were not five years old, he treats us just like as if we were five. Because spiritually we are still like that. So he is very strict with us.
Srila Prabhupada: All these boys I chastise vehemently. Even a little mistake. (Con:32.126)
An unnamed doctor came in the morning to check Srila Prabhupada, and said. "I would like to have the history of the present program which is going on. It will be apparent that so much will be there. The same thing is going on."
Srila Prabhupada: I have no appetite.(AK1) I cannot digest.(A15) This is going on.
After the doctor had left, Srila Prabhupada and Tamal discussed doctors. Srila Prabhupada felt that this last doctor was no good because he had asked about the history rather than ascertain the problem simply from feeling the pulse. Tamal added that present-day Ayurvedic doctors could not make enough money since their cures were too slow to suit people.
Srila Prabhupada: To study Ayurveda is now lost. Nobody takes seriously Ayurveda… As soon as he wanted history I rejected him. He is not Ayurvedic. And Kartikkeya was sorry that I did not give him for one and a half hours.
Tamal: He wanted you to stop talking to the reporter and begin talking to the doctor. What good the doctor will do, but the reporter can do so much good.
Srila Prabhupada and Tamal agreed that Bhakticharu and Upendra would make a good crew to serve Srila Prabhupada's needs. (Con:32.128-132)
During the darshan later in the day, a guest made a request: "Srila Prabhupada… I have a friend who is M.D., and he is doing research in Hyderabad. He is about 83 years old. So I was just wondering whether you would like to meet him some time for consultation. He has established one Ayurvedic college… whether you would like to take his advantage of the knowledge of the…
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, I can take advantage, but no medicine.
Shortly after this, Srila Prabhupada inquired whether Gurudas had reported back from Kashmir about the house offered by Dr. Karen Singh.
Tamal: You are eager to go there, I think.
Srila Prabhupada: Not very eager. I was eager only that if I simply get regular appetite, (AK1) then… I can get some strength (AK5) to work, that's all. So ask them to give me little orange… A little salt. (Con:32.152-154)
NOTE: THERE ARE NO TAPE RECORDINGS FOR APRIL 6 - 9.
APRIL 6: Srila Prabhupada wrote to Radhaballabha: "Just now I am not completely fit but as soon as I become fit I shall write an introduction to the Kapila book." (Letters Books)
APRIL 8: Srila Prabhupada met with Parliament member Sri Ratan Singh Rajda and asked him to arrange a meeting with Prime Minister Morarji Desai. Srila Prabhupada would meet important guests around 4:00 PM every afternoon. (TkgD.5)
APRIL 10: Srila Prabhupada resumed regular translation work again, recording 30 to 40% of a tape nightly while working of the Tenth Canto. Srila Prabhupada heard the political news of India from the newspaper daily now, very interested in that now the new government might afford better preaching opportunities. (TkgD.5-6)
Tamal advised Srila Prabhupada to take some rest, and noted that Srila Prabhupada had translated a little bit last night, but stopped, which Srila Prabhupada said was due to feeling "sleepy."
Tamal: Yeah, I mean you are taking so little prasadam that it is not to be expected that you can do very much physical activity… I think simply it is just weakness now (AK5)… You've been maintaining a fast now for nearly two months.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. I like that. If there is no appetite,(AK1) what is the use of forcibly eating? When appetite will come, we shall eat. Natural.
Tamal: So we are not at a loss. We can chant Hare Krishna.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, I am chanting… What can be done with this physical impediment?
Tamal: Yesterday you were questioning if we had an extra quantity of that, er, to fill up your container… of one of the things that you use… Oh, tooth powder.
Srila Prabhupada: Ah, yes, that.
Tamal: Do you know where it is?
Bhavananda: It hasn't been filled up yet?
Srila Prabhupada confirmed that Bhakticharu had already refilled His container with more tooth powder. Tamal stated that one of the advantages of Srila Prabhupada's fasting was that it cures diseases and was perhaps responsible for reducing His swelling (AK17). Srila Prabhupada added that it was His experience that doctors are only after money, sometimes using water injections as a means of cheating. (Con:32.155-7)
AUTHOR'S COMMENT: That Srila Prabhupada was poisoned is now known, but not how it was done. White, tasteless arsenic powder could easily have been mixed with Srila Prabhupada's tooth powder and the poison readily absorbed over the gums just like nicotine is absorbed from chewing tobacco. Tooth powder or another ingredient among Srila Prabhupada's personal items could easily have been laced with poison. In this way, the poison is taken in small doses regularly, maintaining a constant drain on Srila Prabhupada's health while the conspirator stands by innocently or may have already gone to "preach" elsewhere. END COMMENT
APRIL 11: Today another Parliament member, and India's most eminent attorney, Sri Ram Jethmalani came to visit Srila Prabhupada. The guest was quite impressed and pledged full support for ISKCON's preaching work. (TkgD.6) Tamal stated to Srila Prabhupada: "Anyone that is in power too long… There's a saying, "Power corrupts." Anyone who becomes too long in power becomes corrupted. That's why change is required." (Con:32.183) (Not bad advice!)
Tamal answered Srila Prabhupada's inquiry about Indira Gandhi, "Some young yogis she was keeping?"
Tamal: Yes, there was one (Chandra Swami) who was coming to America who seemed to have been very intimate with her. He was able to call her on the telephone. She would come to the telephone. He helped us, though, in our court case. Adi Keshava warned him. Because he was sometimes meeting all these women. Many women were coming to see him in New York. Many fashionable wealthy people. So Adi Keshava Maharaj warned him that 'If you associate with these women, you will fall down.' He liked Adi Keshava very much and helped him, because he could see that he was strict sannyasi. (Con:32.185)
APRIL 14: Upon reviewing the photographs in the Bhaktivedanta Archives of Srila Prabhupada in Bombay for early 1977, it was shocking. Most of the scenes showed only a silhouette of Srila Prabhupada in His darkened rooms. Already Srila Prabhupada was averse to light, becoming photophobic. (A1)
APRIL 15: Srila Prabhupada instructed that some of His disciples should learn to preach by writing articles. He was very weak (AK5) and did not have the strength for vigorous preaching as before. (TkgD.7)
Again Mr. Rajda came to visit, this time with his family.
Mr. Rajda: How is your health now?
Srila Prabhupada: Not very good, but as Krishna's mercy going on. These are some of our latest publications. (Con:32.208)
APRIL 16: Srila Prabhupada sent Bhavananda Swami back to his important preaching work in Bengal. Bhavananda had been giving massage and personal service since Srila Prabhupada arrived in Bombay. Massages were up to two hours long, and were giving Srila Prabhupada much benefit. (AK12?) (TkgD.7)
Srila Prabhupada wrote to Vasudeva in Fiji: "Your suggestion that I come to Fiji for recovering my health is very good. We are now thinking of going to Kashmir… My health is very slowly improving. I am simply trusting in Krishna." (Letters Books)
Srila Prabhupada was brought some medicine before breakfast. Later, a conversation ensued about Jesus Christ.
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore according to history, he retired. That is resurrection. He went to Kashmir. "It is hopeless."
Tamal: He didn't die on the cross.
Srila Prabhupada: It is not possible to kill him. Such a great personality, representative of God, he is not killed. That is not possible.
Tamal: Simply by putting some wounds. (Comment: or poison?)
Srila Prabhupada: He made a show that "I am killed." That is resurrection. And when you finished your business, then he will go (away)… He was a great yogi. I know that he is powerful representative of God. He sacrificed everything for God. He cannot be ordinary man. (Con:32.241-2)
APRIL 17: Palika dasi was called by Srila Prabhupada at 4 AM to cook various neem preparations, saying, "Now I have a taste for neem, and this will also be good for me." (AK1) A young, intelligent devotee, Dr. Sharma, came to see Srila Prabhupada and offered to do Russian translations of the books. Dr. Sharma also examined Srila Prabhupada's health condition. (TkgD.8)
Srila Prabhupada ate some bara and Srila Prabhupada said Palika's neem preparations were "very, very good. Have sukta-neem also. Pick the neem." (Con:32.277)
APRIL 18: Dr. Sharma examined Srila Prabhupada again and found excess water (AK17) in parts of the body, also noting diarrhea (AK3) and high blood pressure.(AK6) Srila Prabhupada refused some proposed injections and pills, preferring to stay with His special neem diet. "Srila Prabhupada has little confidence in western medicines. …if Krishna likes, He can help him get better. Prabhupada prefers dependence on Krishna to injections and pills and other artificial methods of treatment." (TkgD.9)
Very few devotees were allowed to see Srila Prabhupada and most information to and from Srila Prabhupada was filtered through His secretary, Tamal Krishna Goswami. Srila Prabhupada became more reclusive, withdrawn and apparently internalized. (AK18, A11)
Tamal wrote Radhaballabha: "…Regarding the UHER tape recorder… So I am keeping it here as the spare. Regarding the tapes of Srila Prabhupada's daily conversations and lectures, I am doing this, not Upendra. Enclosed please find a list of the tapes which were sent. I have noted on a list which of the tapes are particularly excellent." (Tamal letters)
Tamal rote Bir Raghava: "Srila Prabhupada is continuing his translation work every night even though he is not very fit in health. (Tamal letters) Srila Prabhupada wrote to Ranadhir: "Do not worry. I have not stopped my business. I am writing at night even though I am not quite fit. Thank you all for your prayers." (Letters Books)
Srila Prabhupada instructed Tamal and Bhakticharu how to make neem paste compresses for His feet and legs, meant for reducing the swelling.(AK17) (Con:32.299)
APRIL 19: Srila Prabhupada, due to lack of energy, (AK5) had a hard time doing translation work last night. Swarup Damodar held a press conference in Bombay. (TkgD.10)
APRIL 20: Again Srila Prabhupada had trouble (AK5) translating last night. Dr. Sharma came, being "very insistent about Prabhupada's taking the medicine," which Srila Prabhupada declined firmly since he had made up his mind not to "take western drugs." Tamal criticized the doctor, saying that Dr. Sharma's "intention all along had been to get Prabhupada to allow him to be his doctor, rather than translate the books into Russian." (TkgD.11)
APRIL 21: Srila Prabhupada's swelling (AK17) in the hands and legs had decreased almost to nil, and His appetite (AK1) had increased. His diet of taking neem in all His foods has continued. Srila Prabhupada was thinking of going to Lonauli, a cooler climate zone between Bombay and Poona.(TkgD.12)
APRIL 22: Srila Prabhupada became "very angry" when "no one could be seen working on the construction." Srila Prabhupada chanted japa throughout the afternoon and evening. (AK18) (TkgD.13)
Tamal: I was amazed to see how much you translated last night. You translated more last night than in months, almost 200 digits. I think it was 190. I think eating those pakoras at night is giving you strength.
Srila Prabhupada: No, not that. Something must be eaten. I was feeling weakness (AK5) in the evening. But what can I eat? I have no taste (AK20) for fruits. Milk also, not very much taste I have got.
Tamal: You have a taste for neem?
Srila Prabhupada: That is compulsory. Whatever little benefit is there in the leaf of neem… Still I have got taste for neem begon… I think I shall take little, little milk. That will give strength. Milk produces strength. And it is suitable for everyone: children, diseased, invalid, old men. It is such a nice food. Everyone in any condition can get some benefit. (Con:32.352-3)
A discussion ensued about Hansadutta's problems in Germany, as he apparently had tried to assume a post of initiating guru, causing complaints.
Srila Prabhupada: No, you become guru, but you must be qualified first of all. Then you become…What is the use of producing some rascal guru?
Tamal: Well, I have studied myself and all of your disciples, and it's clear fact that we are all conditioned souls, so we cannot be guru. Maybe one day it may be possible…
Srila Prabhupada: Hmm.
Tamal: …but not now. (COMMENT: How about in 7 months?)
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. I shall choose some guru. I shall say, "Now you become acharya. You become authorized." I am waiting for that. You become acharya. I retire completely. But the training must be complete.
Tamal: The process of purification must be there.
Srila Prabhupada: Oh, yes, must be there. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu wants that. Amara ajnaya guru hana. "You become guru." (laughs) But be qualified. Little thing, strictly follower…
Tamal: Not rubber stamp.
Srila Prabhupada: Then you'll not be effective. Just see our Gaudiya Math. Everyone wanted to become guru, and a small temple and "guru." What kind of guru? No publication, no preaching, simply bring some foodstuff… My Guru Maharaj used to say, "Joint mess," a place for eating and sleeping. (Joint mess means a type of cooperative hotel in India) (Con:32.356-7)
AUTHOR'S COMMENT: On May 28, Srila Prabhupada said that his disciples could become guru "on my order." No order ever came, however, for disciples to become acharya or full guru. END COMMENT
APRIL 23: Tamal was explaining an article from a small newspaper describing the "Moon hoax," and said about astronauts that may have been eliminated by the government, "Killing to them is nothing."
Srila Prabhupada: They can kill even the president. Because they are meat-eaters, there is no mercy… Mercilessly they kill animals, and they have become accustomed to merciless…
Tamal: Yeah. (Con:33.2)
Srila Prabhupada: (sound of metal dishes) …No taste.
Tamal: The milk has no taste or you have no taste, Srila Prabhupada?
Srila Prabhupada: I have no taste. (AK20)
Tamal: You might have more taste for lassi. That's a little sweet and nice. And it's also very good for digestion.(A15)
Srila Prabhupada: So give me.
Tamal: How are you feeling today, Srila Prabhupada?
Srila Prabhupada: Not feel so… That jhuri (?) was very heavy for me.
Tamal: Last night you translated only a little bit?
Srila Prabhupada: Not feeling well at all… Now I am getting old, old age, not good health, so try to give me relief… from this managerial…(Con:33.3-9)
Mr. Dwivedi came from Pohri, near Gwalior, wanting to donate land and buildings to ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada had been considering some travel, maybe to Kashmir or Lonauli, but now decided to go to Pohri for a four day program starting May 5. (TkgD.14)
APRIL 24: TKG's Diary notes that Srila Prabhupada's deteriorated health made it difficult to deal with the management of finance and construction, so more of His time was spent on preaching, chanting, translating. Mr. Dwivedi came again today and Tamal thought that Srila Prabhupada should arrive a day or two early after the long journey to rest sufficiently before the preaching programs would begin. Tamal: "I'm only trying to think for your well-being." Srila Prabhupada added, "And if I actually feel little healthy, I shall stay there for some time to improve my health." (TkgD.15; Con:33.21)
APRIL 25: Today Mr. Dwivedi said that he was in touch with Sri Jethi, the President of India, who might be able to open the Pohri programs in person. The tape recordings show Bhakticharu offering to Srila Prabhupada some Chyavana-prash, a herbal health tonic. (Con:33.46-55; TkgD.15-16)
APRIL 26: Srila Prabhupada received reports from Gopal Krishna on preaching in Chandigarh, Vrindaban and Delhi. (TkgD.16)
APRIL 27: Srila Prabhupada was very concerned about being cheated in the Bombay construction, so He asked Brij Ratan Mohatta to "oversee the rest of the construction himself," so cheating could be avoided. Mr. Mohatta readily agreed to help. (TkgD.16)
APRIL 28: There was expectation that the new Prime Minister Morarji Desai would come to Bombay in the next few days, and that he would be agreeable to meeting with Srila Prabhupada. But unless Desai came to see Srila Prabhupada, as was proper that a politician would seek out a sadhu, and not vice versa, Srila Prabhupada would not go to see him. Some disciples could go instead. (TkgD.16-17; Con:33.60-71)
APRIL 29: J.P. Narayan was going to the USA for medical treatment, just having been released from jail and house arrest after 19 months. Srila Prabhupada "commented that he and J.P. had the same disease." Apparently J.P. Narayan had gone to Jaislok Hospital without being cured, the same hospital Dr. G. Ghosh had wanted Srila Prabhupada to go to. On April 5, Gopal Krishna and Giriraj had gone to visit Jaya Prakash Narayan in his hospital room. Srila Prabhupada concluded that hospitals and doctors were no guarantee of a cure, and that "under no condition should we ever allow anyone to take him to a hospital or administer drugs, even if he was unconscious. He would rather die." Srila Prabhupada ate only fruit on this day.(AK1) (TkgD.17; Con:33.75, Con:32.141)
AUTHOR'S COMMENT: There is a possible connection between J.P. Narayan and Srila Prabhupada in that both had the same ailment and a possible tie with Chandra Swami, the notorious Tantric and Ayurvedic sannyasi. Chandra Swami was closely connected to Indira Gandhi and her political intrigues, possibly being involved in the mysterious poisonings of imprisoned rival politicians rumored in the newspapers. Chandra Swami was also the source of at least some of the medicines which Srila Prabhupada was given. END COMMENT
"Srila Prabhupada had no regular doctor. From time to time a kaviraja might show up to give a diagnosis and some medicine. But Srila Prabhupada wouldn't take it very seriously." (Sat:6.294) Srila Prabhupada had low opinions of these kavirajas, and stopped taking their prescribed medicines, Ayurvedic or homeopathic, whenever they were bitter or produced ill effects. Srila Prabhupada was more interested in preaching than health, which was determined by Krishna regardless of what doctors would do. Srila Prabhupada occasionally would speak of departing from this world, asking his disciples to manage everything nicely without spoiling the work He had done to establish the Krishna Consciousness movement. Meanwhile, Srila Prabhupada wanted to concentrate on writing His books. (Sat:6.300)
Srila Prabhupada: But now you can take charge of all money, one or two or three of you, and let me remain free from all management. And only request is, don't spoil it… I can live without any food, simply taking these fruits. (AK1) There is no difficulty… So, so far my physical necessity, there is no necessity of food… I have seen many men, for rising up, they require help.
Tamal: Oh, that's normal in old age. That's not unusual.
Srila Prabhupada: I can walk, there is no difficulty. But getting up…(AK11, A17) I can, if I try, I can get up also.
Tamal: But why should you take that risk?
Srila Prabhupada: No, I shall not. I fell down (AK11,A17?) in Calcutta. That is bathroom, very slippery.
Later Srila Prabhupada said: "…mentally to keep the brain, little fruit, milk, is sufficient. So I may live on fruit or milk.(AK1) There is no difficulty. What is the use of taking chapatis and rice?" (Con:33.75-76)
APRIL 30: Srila Prabhupada: "We are not after any degrees like Ph.D. The only title we will accept is to be know as a pure devotee." During the massage, Srila Prabhupada directed preparation of a special vegetable. (TkgD.18-19)
CHAPTER 25: HEALTH CHRONICLE:
MAY 1: Srila Prabhupada gave His darshan by standing on His room's balcony at the request of about three hundred kirtan performers. Srila Prabhupada accepted the decision of His servants to not go as planned to Pohri in Madhya Pradesh, near Gwalior, due to weakness (AK5) and poor health. (TkgD.21-2)
Patita Uddharan had brought a Ramanuja pandit from South India to Bombay to help design the planetarium and who supposedly knew the layout of the planets in the universal structure. Srila Prabhupada greeted him, "Hm. Hare Krishna. Jaya. I am little weak." (AK5) When the pandit astronomer could not answer any of Srila Prabhupada's specific questions, Srila Prabhupada dismissed him, and Tamal was emphatically derogatory of Patita Uddharan's intelligence. (Con:33.89-97; TkgD.22)
Srila Prabhupada wrote to Hari Sauri in Australia: "You will be glad to know that I am feeling a little recovered now and every evening I am again able to do my translation work. Now my only disease is that I have no appetite." (AK1) (Letters Books)
MAY 2: Srila Prabhupada discussed with some Hindu guests about different locations that would be favorable for His health. Bombay was hot in May, and it was decided to go to Rishikesh at the base of the Himalayas, where the air, water and climate were very pleasant. Jaidayal Dalmia would make arrangements to allow use of his bungalow there. (Sat:6.304-5) Srila Prabhupada participated in Lord Nrsinghadeva's appearance day feast, eating parathas also. (TkgD.23-4)
Tamal: Today there's a little swelling (AK17) in your… It seems to come and go. Is it bothering you? Is it disturbing?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. From last night things have gone bad.
Tamal: What in particular, Srila Prabhupada?
Srila Prabhupada: There is spasm in the heart.(AK22)
Tamal: On the heart. Still? (Comment: How often previously?)
Srila Prabhupada: Hm. If I lie down straight… Lie down means spasm. Sit up, not so painful.
Tamal: Maybe some gentle massaging on the heart would be good. (Con:33.104)
MAY 3: Srila Prabhupada shed tears remembering His dear disciple Jayananda, who had recently left his body. Srila Prabhupada complained of the slow progress with the Bombay construction. (TkgD.24)
Srila Prabhupada wrote to Akshayananda Swami: "My health is not very good, the doctors have advised against making the long train journey as well as the vigorous preaching involved." (Letters Books)
MAY 5: At midnight, Giriraj Swami remembers visiting Srila Prabhupada to inform Him of a meeting in the morning with the new Indian prime minister Morarji Desai. Srila Prabhupada decided to send Tamal and Giriraj in His place, and said: "Actually, with this sickness I cannot sleep at night. Even if I want to, I cannot sleep. (AK21) Due to this illness, I cannot eat also." (AK1) (Satsv 6.303)
MAY 6: Ratan Singh Rajda brought Tamal and Giriraj to Morarji Desai's office very late and thus the meeting was only a few minutes long. Srila Prabhupada was disappointed. (Sat:6.303-4; TkgD.25)
This author clearly recalls reading a story about Srila Prabhupada but was unable to locate it in any book. One day, while sitting at His desk in Bombay, Srila Prabhupada smiled and showed how His teeth were loose and wiggling by pushing on them with His tongue. He opened a drawer on His desk and showed Tamal a tooth which He had just hours earlier taken out of His mouth. Later Tamal went and took the tooth as a keepsake. (A21)
MAY 7: Srila Prabhupada and His party flew to Delhi from Bombay, and He chose to walk down the plane's steps by Himself. That night at 10:30 PM they all took the train to Hardwar. Srila Prabhupada's limbs were greatly swollen (AK17) again, but His Divine Grace slept better on the train than the whole previous period spent in Bombay. (TkgD.027)
MAY 8: From Hardwar, the party went by car to Hrishikesh to stay at the Swarga Ashram. Srila Prabhupada liked Rishikesh and right away ate jalebis and kicharis heartily, and then drank Ganges water. Later, Srila Prabhupada complained about the absence of chilis to help digest (A15) some ghee in the lunch. Kirtans were held morning and night, with darshan daily for one hour at five in the afternoon. (TkgD.27-8)
Tamal states on his Matchless Memories tapes that Srila Prabhupada wanted the fresh hot jalebis because it was the best treatment for a sore throat, (A2) which He had at the time. Tamal also acknowledged that he would personally give many of the various medicines to Srila Prabhupada during the time of His illness. Once Srila Prabhupada taught Tamal a type of massage to give relief to Srila Prabhupada wherein the fingertips barely touched the skin.(AK8) (Tamal tapes)
MAY 9 and 10: Srila Prabhupada directed and taught the cooking of many preparations, making chapatis Himself. Srila Prabhupada also increased His translation work. (TkgD.29)
MAY 11: Many local people and some Westerners are coming to see and hear Srila Prabhupada in the evenings, asking many questions. Followers of Maharishi also came but were philosophically "thrashed" by Srila Prabhupada's forceful preaching. (Con:33.141-150; TkgD.31)
Tamal wrote Radhaballabha: "Srila Prabhupada's health is slightly improving since we have come here to Rishikesh… the conversations are extremely enlivening as you will be able to tell when you get the cassette tapes." (Tamal letters)
Srila Prabhupada wrote to Giriraj: "Yes, my health is improving a very little. The house that we have been given is the best in Rishikesh. It is very nice and the climate is much better than Bombay's." (Letters Books)
MAY 12: Srila Prabhupada wanted that cow's milk be obtained wherever He traveled, because this was the bulk of His diet. (TkgD.031)
MAY 13: Srila Prabhupada made plans to go to New Delhi on May 29 and then to Srinagar in Kashmir by May 31. Srila Prabhupada said He did not want to eat food unless it was cooked by His own disciple. (TkgD.32)
MAY 14: Srila Prabhupada "very much appreciated" the Ekadasi lunch today and thought He would try to follow a non-grain diet. Bhakti Chaitanya Swami came from Chandigarh with a box of fruits. Srila Prabhupada immediately took some litchis. Travel plans were changed to go on the 20th to Chandigarh, then to Solon on the 23rd. (TkgD.33)
All went well in Hrishikesh for about a week, and it is noted that Srila Prabhupada's voice was extremely faint. (A2) (Sat:6.307)
MAY 15: Last night, with severe windstorms and no power, Srila Prabhupada could neither translate nor sleep, (AK21) and at 5 AM told Tamal He was feeling very weak. (AK5) Being massaged for an hour, Srila Prabhupada then felt better. In the night, His hands, legs and feet had swollen again (AK17) and Srila Prabhupada said that His symptoms were not good. (TkgD.34)
Satsvarupa's relates: "But on the eighth night (in Hrishikesh), a violent storm hit, and with the storm came a drastic turn in Srila Prabhupada's health. He said the end was near, and he asked to go immediately to Vrindaban..." In the evening, Srila Prabhupada's hands and feet were swollen, and He said: "From the material point of view, it is not good. Please consider how everything may be turned over to the G.B.C., so that in my absence everything will go on. You may make a will, and I will sign it." (Sat:6.307-8)
MAY 16: At 1:30 AM, suddenly Srila Prabhupada called Tamal and Bhakticharu, and said: "As I was telling you, the symptoms are not good. I want to leave immediately for Vrindaban. If I am going to die, let it be in Vrindaban. What time can we leave by?" Every time Srila Prabhupada had laid down that night, "he would have heart spasms." (AK22) Tamal found there were no train seats available from Hardwar to Delhi, so at 10:00 AM Srila Prabhupada, Tamal, Upendra and Damodara Pandit drove by car for four and a half hours to Delhi, surprising the devotees there with their arrival. Srila Prabhupada stopped on the way for some cucumbers, which He said were good for quenching thirst. The Kashmir, Chandigarh and Solon programs were all cancelled by the sudden downturn in Srila Prabhupada's health. "Practically, eating is finished," (AK1) Srila Prabhupada said after resting and eating a little at the Delhi temple. (TkgD.35; Sat:6.308))
MAY 17: This morning, staying overnight at the Delhi temple, Srila Prabhupada left for Vrindaban by car at 5 AM. Until now Srila Prabhupada could still walk and stand up, (AK5) but arriving in Vrindaban, He was carried by palanquin before the Krishna Balaram Mandir Deities and then was taken to His quarters, where He was offered worship. Srila Prabhupada spoke solemnly about His return to Vrindaban:
"So I cannot speak. (A2) I am feeling very weak. (AK5) I was to go to other places like Chandigarh program, but I cancelled the program because the condition of my health is very deteriorating. So I preferred to come to Vrindaban. If death takes place, let it take here. So there is nothing to be said new. Whatever I have to speak, I have spoken in my books. Now you try to understand it and continue in your endeavor. Whether I am present or not, it doesn't matter… So you have been taught to serve Krishna, and with Krishna we'll live eternally. Our life is eternal… Body is meant for disappearance… So live forever by serving Krishna. Thank you very much." (Con:33.197)
Srila Prabhupada had but a little cheese at lunch, later telling Tamal, "Yes, you become my eyes… You must give me complete relief from management… Now take it that I am dead." Tamal relates, "Since he speaks often about death, I feel I must now consider how everything should be managed by all of us, as if Prabhupada were not present…" (TkgD.37-38)
MAY 18: Due to heart palpitations (AK22) last night, Srila Prabhupada could hardly sleep. (TkgD.38)
Srila Prabhupada's lower room had an air cooler, and in His upper room, devotees had set up a desk, chair and bed on the outdoor veranda.
Srila Prabhupada instructed Tamal, His personal secretary and trusted assistant, that there were the two things, namely to try to survive and to prepare for death. He wanted to have always some men with Him, reading Bhagwatam or doing kirtan. "Now I am trying to take little food. (AK1) Pariksit Maharaj would not even take water."
Tamal suggested a will and Srila Prabhupada agreed to dictate one which could be signed by witnesses. (Sat:6.311-312)
Srila Prabhupada wrote to Guru Kripa: "I was staying in Rishikesh hoping to improve my health, but instead I have become a little weaker. (AK5) Now I have come back to my home, Vrindaban. If anything should go wrong, at least I will be here in Vrindaban. Vrindaban is for residence, Bombay is office for organization, and Mayapur is for worship…" (Letters Books)
Srila Prabhupada wrote to Hari Sauri: "For ten days I was staying in Rishikesh in a very nice house on the side of the Ganges River. But my health was not good and so I have come to Vrindaban where I will stay indefinitely." (Letters Books)
MAY 19: In the morning Srila Prabhupada went for an invigorating drive in the car, and enjoyed breathing the fresh air. Srila Prabhupada took a half bath late in the afternoon and met with Sri Sita Ram Singh, a Parliament member from Bihar. (TkgD.39-40; Con:33.198-203)
MAY 20: Srila Prabhupada recalled how Bhaktisiddhanta had made a will on a "scrap of paper" that prevailed in court over opposing parties. The will was made before an operation was to take place.
Tamal: He recovered from the hernia operation.
Srila Prabhupada: (laughs) No… He thought it that 'The doctor has been called to kill me.' So he did not undergo the hernia operation.
Tamal: He thought the doctor was paid off to kill him.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.
Tamal: 'Cause sometimes people were paid off to kill him.
Srila Prabhupada: So he did not go.
Tamal: Actually you and your Guru Maharaj are the greatest enemies of modern civilization in this century, Srila Prabhupada.
Then Tamal explained to a Hindi guest: "So Prabhupada has decided that the best medicine will be Srimad Bhagwatam and kirtan, and no need of any doctors who've promised that 'I will save your life' or anything like that. We shouldn't bring them. And no outsiders. No outsiders."
Hindu guest: No medicine for the body?
Tamal: No medicine.
Srila Prabhupada: Whatever medicine I am taking, that…
Tamal: He's taking a little bit. Yogendra-rasa he's taking. He's tried so many medicines. That is the point. Every doctor has come, and they've each given their medicine, and he's tried them. But they don't work. This medicine always works, Bhagwatam and kirtan.
Srila Prabhupada: …It pleases the ear and mind… Bhagavan, glorification of His activities.
Tamal: Prabhupada will come and he'll sit in front of Krishna Balaram every day for a couple of hours, and he's calling some of his, all the devotees here. They'll be here. No… Perfect medicine.
Srila Prabhupada: No, he's calling all the GBC.
Then Srila Prabhupada explained what to do after His departure.
"The system of management will go on as it is now. There is no need of changing. The money which is in my personal name in different banks, that is being spent for the society, and it will be society property."
Later Tamal spoke to Srila Prabhupada: "So I was thinking that when Krishna wants His devotee to come back to Him, then it seems like He gives the devotee notice… when you were in Bombay you were very much hoping to recover. Seems like you're not… You know… That will seems not to be as strong as it was then, maybe because there's been so many… You've made such an effort to get better and it still hasn't improved. So how long one can keep trying like that?
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore I do not wish to leave Vrindaban.
Srila Prabhupada: If by Krishna's desire I survive, then we shall see later on. Otherwise… (Con:33.204-209)
MAY 21: Today there was a morning car ride. Now Srila Prabhupada would spend his mornings and evenings listening to kirtan or readings, usually lying in bed with eyes closed. (AK18) His translation work still continued in the middle of the night, his massage and bath in the morning, and Tamal's daily report on ISKCON news. Tamal would carefully restrict most visitors and letters, answering them all himself and freeing Srila Prabhupada from all worries. (Sat:6.312)
Srila Prabhupada's morning rides and deity darshans all but ceased. Lying in bed, and sometimes sitting at his desk, He would be mostly silent, (AK18) but would sometimes speak on Krishna conscious subjects, albeit so weakly that His disciples would need to lean close to hear.(A2) "Eating was almost nil." Srila Prabhupada requested all the GBC's to be brought to Vrindaban for the preparation of His final will and to prepare for His departure, if it were to come soon. (Sat:6.314)
Tamal notified the GBC of the urgent situation and called them to Vrindaban on Srila Prabhupada's request. Tamal expressed his mixed feelings; that although he was sad that Srila Prabhupada's health was failing, he was also happy that Srila Prabhupada seemed relieved by giving up the struggle for life and giving up all worldly concerns. Bhavananda Maharaj also was sad that Srila Prabhupada was leaving, but also happy that He was leaving this horrible material world to rejoin Krishna. Srila Prabhupada warned the gathered GBC not to "spoil ISKCON and become another Gaudiya Math by splitting up." (Sat:6.315)
Srila Prabhupada did not take the mid-day heat very well. On the roof, Tamal massaged His heart from front and back, while Bhagatji massaged the legs. Tamal notes that at this time he felt that Srila Prabhupada's desire to "live was no longer as strong… I felt that he had tried hard to recover since Mayapur, but everything had failed. Since Bombay and Rishikesh he had grown increasingly weaker… it was a great strain for him to remain within his body, which was now malfunctioning so badly. It would be much easier to give up his body and join Lord Krishna…" (TkgD.41-2)
MAY 22: Srila Prabhupada went for a ride in His car this morning. Later, Tamal was massaging Srila Prabhupada and found a hard knot in His abdomen, and states that "his condition was deteriorating. For some time we discussed his health, the value of doctors and medicines, and diet. Prabhupada said the defect was in the kidney.(AK15) The problem was he had no appetite (AK1) and no digestion (A15)." That night, (TkgD.42-4)
Srila Prabhupada said: "This disease is not ordinary. It is always fatal. But by His special mercy anything can be done. That is another thing. Lost appetite (AK1) means life is finished." (Con:33.210)
Srila Prabhupada had grown very thin, (AK1) appearing like an ascetic described in the Bhagwatam, saying, "There is no hope of life…" "…from the physical condition there is no hope." Srila Prabhupada's voice was hoarse and weak.(A2) Speaking about His imminent departure, Srila Prabhupada said, "You are my body. Then you can do it", referring to the pushing on of His movement. Tamal said, "…for whoever follows the guru, the guru lives with him eternally." Srila Prabhupada said, "But if in the kirtan you die, oh, it is so successful. Not the injection and operation - that atmosphere. But in Krishna-kirtan. That is glorious." (Sat:6.319) Several devotees read or disclosed prayers they had made for Srila Prabhupada's restored health, including Tamal, who said, "…we may all pray to Krishna Balaram to save you." Srila Prabhupada replied, "…you are all pure devotees with no other motive." (Sat:6.316-323)
MAY 23: At 3:00 PM Srila Prabhupada signed His will which was witnessed by Upendra, Tamal and Bhakticharu. Srila Prabhupada said, "Your love for me will be tested how after my departure you maintain this institution." (TkgD.44-46)
MAY 24: Jayapataka and Bhavananda Maharajs arrived from Mayapur. Translating at night has gradually decreased due to its difficulty (AK5) for Srila Prabhupada, Who said to Bhavananda that there was now no hope, "I can only die. But if Krishna wants (I may live)." Today "Srila Prabhupada was unable to eat. There was no motion in his stomach." (A15)
Ikshvaku had returned after ten days with Dr. Ghosh in Kodaikanal, reporting that construction on the 15 room house for Srila Prabhupada had been discontinued since Srila Prabhupada was not able to go there. "Now, with the mention of Dr. Ghosh, who was not only a world-famous doctor but very devoted to Srila Prabhupada as well, a faint glimmer of hope came in Prabhupada's eyes. Although he had refused any doctors and medicines so far, he was now willing to be treated by Dr. Ghosh." Srila Prabhupada decided to ask Dr. Ghosh to come to treat Him, and if He became well enough to travel, He would then go to Kodaikanal. Tamal was supposed to write to Dr. Ghosh accordingly, asking him to come straight away. (TkgD.46-7)
MAY 25: Srila Prabhupada took His early morning car ride, chased for a mile by a barking dog. Srila Prabhupada said the dog was thinking, "You have not stopped and obeyed my command." Atreya Rsi brought fresh fruit from Iran, and Srila Prabhupada took some orange juice. Rupanuga, Adi Keshava, Dristadyumna, and Balavanta arrived today. Srila Prabhupada asked about Dr. Ghosh again, but later said to Bhavananda Maharaj that there was no hope. "I shall appoint some sannyasis as acharyas; the symptoms are very bad." (COMMENT: this acharya appointment statement is unverified and Tamal's account) In His room, Srila Prabhupada would now spend much time lying down and less time sitting up. (AK5)
Srila Prabhupada has had much trouble at night, His sleep and translations were interrupted by heart palpitations, (AK22) often caused simply by speaking. Massages of the heart area, front and back, were initiated to help calm the heart. Awaking, Srila Prabhupada told Tamal, "Now, either you will see me pass away or eat four chapatis." (TkgD.48)
Srila Prabhupada spoke of how Bhaktisiddhanta was sending 700 rupees a month to maintain Bon Maharaj in London, saying, "But he was a waste of money… What he has done? Has he published any books like that?"
Tamal: Well, he has a big degree now.
Srila Prabhupada: (laughs) Nonsense degree. Who cares for his degree? (Con:33.211)
Tamal: I was just inquiring whether you were drinking fruit juice.
Srila Prabhupada: Fruit juice is very good.
Bhavananda: I noticed, Srila Prabhupada, your complexion is yellowish. (AK10) Liver is…
Srila Prabhupada: There is no hope of life. Therefore we have called you. This condition is hopeless. We have given our will. Now we can.. If I die in Vrindaban, there is no harm. But Krishna can play anything wonderful. But from physical condition there is no hope… We have become very, very weak. (AK5) No appetite .(AK1)
Bhavananda: What can we do, Srila Prabhupada?
Srila Prabhupada: You can pray to Krishna. That's all. Krishna is all-powerful." (Con:33.212)
Later Srila Prabhupada was speaking about some of His godbrothers, saying, "These rascals, Gaudiya Matha." Srila Prabhupada compared them to a hooded snake that bites without poison. "Similarly, these people are envious. Although they have become so-called Vaishnava, they are ferocious. They have not acquired the qualification of Vaishnava." (Con:33.215)
AUTHOR'S COMMENT: Was this when Srila Prabhupada had discussed with Tamal about rtviks prior to the May 28 rtvik appointment? Since Tamal did not use the word rtvik in his May 28 diary entry, perhaps he is omitting the use of this word for the May 25 entry? At some point in the sorting out of the guru question in the Hare Krishna movement, Tamal will be asked to bring forth his diary for examination by an investigative committee to see exactly how the original diary entries were expanded or paraphrased in his book, TKG's Diary. END COMMENT
MAY 26: Today a large number of GBC's arrived. For lunch, Srila Prabhupada was offered fruit from many countries, but ate little (AK1) and drank some orange juice from Jaffa and tasted a puri. Tamal wanted to know where to repose Srila Prabhupada's body after His departure and Srila Prabhupada said He would answer later. (TkgD.49-50)
Srila Prabhupada appreciated the kirtans in His room. "It is very palatable. Not this ordinary medicine, some of them very bitter, pungent. It (kirtan) is always palatable. So kindly administer this medicine. It doesn't matter whether I survive or die. It doesn't matter. Both ways it is beneficial." (Con:33.227)
Satsvarupa noted that he was regularly commuting between Los Angeles and India: "Each time we were called, there was an urgency that Srila Prabhupada was about to leave his body any day, so we always had the feeling that we should go there and be with him." However, after going, he described that after awhile, Srila Prabhupada would seem to get a little better and the GBC would return to their zones, being restless with no service in the midst of the hot Indian summer.
"Tamal told us the position. Srila Prabhupada was not eating, (AK1) not sleeping, (AK21) and had written out his will. We should pray and chant and sometimes go in turns to his room to chant and read. My own thoughts are so fallen (?) I am ashamed to even note them here." A summary of other points made by Satsvarupa are:
*Srila Prabhupada had called for the GBC because His disease was fatal, being the inability to eat.(AK1) His body was finished.
*There was also some hope; a special doctor was coming, and Srila Prabhupada spoke of preaching.
*Tamal said that if Krishna desires, there could be a recovery.
*There is no talk that Srila Prabhupada is "disgusted" with His disciples.
*Until coming to Vrindaban, Srila Prabhupada had been eager to recover, by taking neem with His meals in Bombay and going to Hrishikesh.
*Between the struggle to survive and the preparation to depart, Srila Prabhupada has decided to come to Vrindaban to die.
*Bhavananda told Srila Prabhupada that "they felt mixed sadness that he was departing, but also joy that" He was leaving the nasty material world and rejoining Krishna. (ISK70, 279-283)
MAY 27: Today Srila Prabhupada felt a little better and received some "relief" from taking Gargamuni's Mahabaleshwar fresh strawberry-raspberry syrup, and defiantly ate fried food three times, saying, "that which is poison can sometimes be medicine." Gopal Krishna received the anger of His Divine Grace today due to pinching pennies and not getting books printed quickly enough. Atul Krishna Goswami visited and wondered who would take charge of the ISKCON property after Srila Prabhupada had departed. "Now I can understand there is a very big undercurrent to take our property. Our position, property, everything, is enviable. Now make everything so it is safe." (TkgD.50-53; Sat:6.326-7)
The exact quote from the tape recordings is, "Among yourselves, there is no strong man. That is the defect. All like child. That is the defect. And it requires a very strong man. That is lacking. In every minute details I have poked my nose." (Con:33.233)
Srila Prabhupada was disturbed and warned of a large plot and "undercurrent" of those who envied the assets of His movement, and worried that others would try to take over ISKCON assets after His departure. (It is interesting to note that perhaps the greater danger was from within, the takeover of ISKCON by Srila Prabhupada's own ambitious disciples in ways contrary to Srila Prabhupada's desires or instructions.) Srila Prabhupada wanted His will completed immediately. It was done soon thereafter and Srila Prabhupada thus felt relieved. Today, the GBC met and drew up a draft will to arrange for at least three GBC directors to sign on every ISKCON property before it could be sold. (TkgD.50-53; Sat:6.326-7)
Kirtanananda asked Srila Prabhupada if He could trade His old age with His disciples' youth. Srila Prabhupada answered, laughing: "No, why? You are my body. So you live on. There is no difference. Just like I am working, so my Guru Maharaj is there. Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati. Physically he may not be, but in every action he is there… So I am not going to die. Kirtiryasya sa jivati. One who has done something substantial, he lives forever. He doesn't die." (Con:33.248-9)
Later Srila Prabhupada, as He was fond of doing, made an imitation of a man choking at the point of death, "Ghara, ghara, ghar... Choking and… But in the kirtan if we die, oh, it is so successfully… Injection, operation… Who needs it?… Krishna-kirtan death, glorious death. Oxygen gas, (laughs) dying and so much trouble. Never call. Please accept my request. Chant Hare Krishna, bas, and let me die peacefully. Never be disturbed, call doctor- no. Chant Hare Krishna. Go on chanting."
Later Srila Prabhupada said further, " So I have called you for this purpose. So if death is to take place, let me die in your association and chant Hare Krishna. There is no harm. That is glorious." (Con:33.252,256)
MAY 28: Srila Prabhupada went for a car ride through the Vrindaban streets and the forests. After some encouragement through Yasodanandana's prayer to stay longer with the devotees, Srila Prabhupada ate some solid food and displayed a more positive mood. Late in the afternoon, Narayan Maharaj came and led kirtan and also gave some medical advice. (TkgD.052-3)
The GBC discussed the will which would protect and secure the various ISKCON properties and bank accounts, but also had some other questions. Herein took place the famous "appointment tape" conversation regarding initiations after Srila Prabhupada's departure. (Con:33.269-70)
A committee of six, including Tamal, were set up for governing the Mayapur-Vrindaban Trust. In Bombay, the signers were Tamal, Gopal Krishna and Giriraj, and in Los Angeles, Rameshwar and Satsvarupa. (Con:33.266-7).
AUTHOR'S COMMENT: Satsvarupa Maharaj's biography subtly alters the actual May 28 statements of Srila Prabhupada, the oft studied "appointment tape" discussion, by portraying Srila Prabhupada's choosing "rtviks" as the appointment of regular gurus. Today, in 1999, most leaders of ISKCON admit there was not an appointment of gurus, and now ISKCON has a system of no-objection certification for new gurus "authorized" to initiate their own disciples. For over twenty years, senior disciples of Srila Prabhupada have variously interpreted or twisted Srila Prabhupada's teachings and instructions for the sake of their own positions.
Satsvarupa's quotations do not quite match the actual tape transcriptions. His biography was written in 1983 when the self-appointed "acharyas" were busy establishing their supposedly divinely ordained positions. To compare Satsvarupa's version in his "authorized" biography, Volume 6, pgs. 324-5, and Tamal's version in TKG's Diary pg 52-53, with the actual transcription of tape recordings (Con:33.269-270) published by the Bhaktivedanta Archives, see APPENDIX 5, and note the differences and omissions. END COMMENT
MAY 29: Jayatirtha remarked, "You're feeling a little stronger today, Srila Prabhupada?" Srila Prabhupada replied, "Yes. Little improvement is there… I am very much confident of this medicine because nobody is prepared to die. That much strength I have got. Generally people do not like to die. But I will be very glad to die if Krishna wants… I have no objection either way. But I am not afraid of death. That much strength I have got. Why shall I be afraid?" (Con:33.277)
Srila Prabhupada chastised Bhagwat and Gargamuni for not keeping their heads clean-shaven. (Con:33.285)
MAY 31: Tamal describes that three devotees took sannyasi initiation today, but mistakenly identifies one as Bhaktiruci Swami instead of Bhakticharu Swami. (Con:33.289-293; TkgD.55-56)
AUTHOR'S COMMENT: This error was intentionally retained from the original diary to demonstrate the "untouched" and "untampered" quality of the book, as explained by Rabindra Swarup in the foreword to TKG's Diary. However, a photocopy of the original diary, or better yet, the original diary itself, donated to the Bhaktivedanta Archives would be a much better verification of the authenticity of TKG's Diary. If Tamal wants to earn credibility, then let us see the original diary! END COMMENT
CHAPTER 26: HEALTH CHRONICLE:
There are 14 days of missing tape recordings from June 3- June 16.
JUNE 1: The first days of June brought hope of recovery, and Srila Prabhupada wanted to start His morning car rides again. Srila Prabhupada began a new routine of going to see the Deities every morning while kirtan was held. Srila Prabhupada often sat in His private garden next to His main downstairs room, and it is noted that His voice was still "soft and weak." (A2) (Sat:6.330-1)
Narayan Maharaj's assistant, Sukhananda das brahmachary, came today to do expert massage and apply hot and cold compresses. Srila Prabhupada asked him to stay on for some days. Thus, Sukhananda would, on most days, come three times a day for this treatment which helped Srila Prabhupada greatly, (AK12) but did not increase His appetite.(AK1) Tamal quotes Srila Prabhupada: "Now it is not so bad. I am drinking fruit juices. It is hot, but by midnight it cools off. There is no need for me to eat cereals, (AK1) except that sometimes, someone must help me to the bathroom.(AK11, A17) And gradually, I will increase my translating." Tamal also notes that, "During the gurukula kirtana, Prabhupada is drooling more and more. (A6) These are transcendental symptoms." (TkgD.57-8) It appears certain from the description that drooling was common and not simply a one day occurrence. Whether transcendental symptoms or not, they are also arsenic symptoms.
Encouraging Swarup Damodar to press on with his scientific preaching, Srila Prabhupada said: "I can give you ideas… So I wanted to see that you are all busy. That I want because now I am becoming invalid. (AK11) I cannot move very swiftly here and there. But if you move, I take pleasure." Sometimes Srila Prabhupada would go up on the roof, and today He asked Kirtanananda for some cut oranges. (Con:33.302)
JUNE 2: Srila Prabhupada asked to resume His morning car rides, and, coming down to the car, He said, "Soon I will get down and walk myself." (Sat:6.328)
During Srila Prabhupada's massage, Sukhananda applied hot and cold compresses on the belly; Srila Prabhupada appreciated these massages greatly. (AK12) Dr. Ghosh from Kodaikanal finally arrived with his family and examined Srila Prabhupada, felt His aura, and diagnosed the disease as anxiety over the movement and devotees. Srila Prabhupada agreed, and Dr. Ghosh assured that He would be cured, wanting to bring Srila Prabhupada to Kodaikanal in south India for treatment and recovery. He was organizing a "Prabhupada Village" there with a nice house for Srila Prabhupada under construction. (TkgD.058-9)
Bhavananda told Dr. Ghosh that Srila Prabhupada was taking fruit juice, some cooked vegetables and black cow's milk. The GBC reviewed a draft of a will with Srila Prabhupada. A provision stated that all properties and accounts were the property of ISKCON, and Tamal suggested that Dr. Ghosh could be a witness at the signing. (Con:33.307-319)
Dr. Ghosh made a diagnosis (?), prescribing medicines, treatments and blood pressure monitoring. But Srila Prabhupada did not follow this program, instead taking the massages and saying that He hoped for recovery in six weeks. Satsvarupa misidentifies Dr. Ghosh as the doctor from Allahabad instead of Kodaikanal. (Sat:6.328)
JUNE 3: Dr. Ghosh's treatments were combined with Sukhananda's treatments: "hot and cold massages three times a day, special organ massages, spinal nerve massages, etc. Prabhupada slept well and ate three and a half puris with fried portals." (TkgD.059)
At the end of May, (actually in early June) after the assembled GBC had completed Srila Prabhupada's final will and made arrangements for the future management and protection of ISKCON, they all returned to their places of service around the world. Srila Prabhupada's health seemed to improve a little, and He even ate and digested some fried food, (A15) talking of resuming His translation work. (Sat:6.329)
The Times of India ran a front page story entitled, "Srila Prabhupada Seriously Ill," but a few days later, on page three, the paper responded to a statement from a devotee under the title, "Srila Prabhupada Now Better." This confirms the improvement in Srila Prabhupada's health. (Sat:6.332)
JUNE 4: Srila Prabhupada spoke with Dr. Ghosh of going to Bangalore and on to Kodaikanal for health recovery, yet, at the same time, stated, "I am not leaving Vrindaban until I am well." Dr. Ghosh's opinion was that there was a grave danger of a fatal coma due to very high urea content of the blood, (AK15) and thus Srila Prabhupada's condition was critical. However, Srila Prabhupada admitted to feeling better from the massage program, which Sukhananda said would cure Srila Prabhupada within six weeks. Srila Prabhupada managed two chapatis for lunch, after which Dr. Ghosh took a blood pressure reading and wanted to start certain unspecified treatments. Srila Prabhupada became irritable, (A4) confiding to Tamal later, "They will introduce so many things- injections, operations- therefore I don't want it. Gradually he is introducing so many things." (TkgD.060)
AUTHOR'S COMMENT: Keep in mind that the bibliographical references are tacked in after every piece of information in this health biography. Since Tamal is considered a suspect in the poisoning, we must note what it is that he says happened and whether it is verified by other sources. In this case, we have no verification how it was that Srila Prabhupada disagreed with Dr. Ghosh's treatment. END COMMENT
Satsvarupa's biography notes that Srila Prabhupada's "moods moved and varied within the realm of transcendental emotions…" Emotions ranged from feelings of being a burden to His caretakers to becoming upset over a disciple's carelessness. (A11) (Sat:6.333)