LETTERS TO THE VOID #12

Posted September 9 2004

 

Vyapaka das writes:
 
22/6/04
 
Dear Krsnadasa Kaviraja and Praharana Prabhus,
Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

The following message was sent to the devotees as listed below. Since you have suffered through the endless back and forth debate, I thought why spare you now.

Seriously, I imagine you are interested in the process and outcome of the debate so it is best that you be continued to be informed. I do request that if you feel the arguments hold any water, that as GBC Deputies, you work on individual members to reconsider the situation.

Personally, the discussion with Praghosa Prabhu has degenerated and I feel that further correspondence with him holds little potential for progress. However, I feel that my arguments still hold weight and are worthy of further consideration since the downside to our movement is so grave. His arguments have struck me as missing the point and less than forthcoming, to be polite. I honestly do not know if he indeed reflects the will of the GBC even though he occupies the Chairmanship.

The fear of the fallout for the movement has sparked the penning of the following letter but this time it was sent to a wider audience of both GBC members and leading devotees in the movement. There are certainly scores more that it could be sent to but my email list is limited. If there are others that you feel would be interested and influential in this discussion, please forward it. I see no strong need for confidentiality amongst the devotees on this matter.

As mentioned in the attached email, to take up this cause does not signify one's belief that a poisoning occured or not. The issues are to see if we can minimize the effects of revealing this process to the public and to finally come to the bottom of this matter. If this hits the news media, even if the alleged poisoning is ascertained to have never occured, the negative effects will persist.

There are only two situations that can contain this situation. That is 1) the GBC begins cooperating and provides oversight of the investigation and 2) that the investigation concludes that there was no poisoning. If there was a poisoning, then it is going to get out no matter what structure the investigation takes. If it is proven that there was no poisoning, then it will fizzle into obscurity with a footnote of being another ill-conceived conspiracy theory. In any event, the truth will prevail and but it seems that we will all have to be a bit more patient.

You both have expressed your feeling that there has been no poisoning. I have no problem whatsoever that you hold this opinion. But if that is the case, then please try to exert any and all influence that you have to keep this inhouse. That can only be done if the GBC gets involved in the investigation. They seem to harbour so much distrust for BIF, so my question is why are they considering allowing these devotees to have carte blanche on an investigation if BIF is untrustworthy and unethical? It seems very short-sighted and ill-considered. It also appears that the GBC is not acting in an arm's-length manner and this could have serious consequences in the future if an attempted poisoning is proven factual. It must be understood that this is no longer a contest of winning the hearts and minds of  ISKCON devotees. This is quickly becoming a criminal investigation and forebodes criminal consequences. Buyer beware.

Anyway, that is my two-cents worth. Please do what you feel is best.
 
Thank you for your patience with me.
 
Respectfully,
 
Vyapaka dasa
 
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Sent: Monday, June 21, 2004 3:49 PM
Subject: On-going investigation re. Srila Prabhupada's alleged poisoning
 
Dear Maharajas and Prabhus,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada.
 
I have been corresponding with His Grace Praghosa Prabhu, this year's GBC Chairman, re. the request from the Bhaktivedanta Investigation Force (BIF) to conduct a joint investigation of the alleged poisoning of Srila Prabhupada. This letter does not aim to debate the pros and cons of the poisoning issue so we request your patience to continue reading.
 
We are not in possession of a full list of GBC members' email addresses so request that this be forwarded to those not listed in the Cc: of this email. Copies of this letter will also be sent to other leaders in the movement in an effort to spark awareness and debate.

On November 21st, 2003 the GBC was approached by BIF to participate in an investigation of the alleged poisoning. For your information, this request  is contained at the end of this email under the heading "Demand To Redress" (DTR). My understanding is that this action was initialized after BIF's checking of "facts" published in the GBC Ministry for the Protection of ISKCON publication, "Not That I Am Poisoned" (NTIP). The book "Judge for Yourself" (JFY) was then published refuting much of the evidence supplied in NTIP. The DTR informed the GBC that an investigation was still on-going and invited the GBC to join their efforts. If not, then BIF would be forced to proceed utilizing the press and outside agencies as part of their investigative arsenal.
 
Upon learning of the situation, I began a correspondence with Praghosa Prabhu urging him to request the GBC to take this matter seriously. He informed me that the GBC's two concerns were that the samadhi not be disturbed and that the expense of an investigation is beyond the means of the GBC. BIF responded that that they had no intention or need to disturb the samadhi and that they would shoulder the full cost of the investigation. A GBC Deputy involved in the discussion, Krsnadasa Kaviraja Prabhu, informed me in Mayapura that the GBC had received assurances by Indian legal authorities that no level of the judiciary would consent to 
any disturbance of the site. So the GBC concerns were put to rest by assurances offered by both  BIF and the Indian judiciary.
 
Throughout our communication, Praghosa Prabhu consistently emphasized that the GBC believes that no poisoning was undertaken and they still stand behind the conclusions of the NTIP. BIF then offered that a 5 man committee be formed to oversee the
> >investigation with the majority of seats being given to the group which funded the investigation (at this point in time, that would be BIF since they are promising to finance the matter. It has been reported to me that they have already invested US$100,000 on this effort, not including their time and energy. The opportunity to have a majority of seats on the oversight panel was also offered to the GBC if they would take on the cost of the investigation. Personally, I find this to be a reasonable proposal, especially if the conclusions of NTIP are as suspect as alleged. Transparency and accountability must be made primary concerns if any 
cooperative or independent investigation is to proceed.

We were informed in Mayapura that the GBC discussed the situation and had passed a resolution that they would re-invigorate the investigation if new evidence became available. All parties were informed that they would be officially notified when the 2004 GBC minutes were made public. However, at the time of publication, no resolution  relevant to the alleged poisoning was included, though Praghosa Prabhu alleges that one indeed has been passed.
 
We have been informed that the lawyer over-seeing the publishing of the minutes decided that this resolution should remain confidential. Initially, this was of no real concern since the purpose of the discussion was not to publish a resolution but rather to inspire a joint investigation. To date, this resolution hasn't led to any action or communication on the part of the GBC Chairman with BIF regarding the issues dealt with in the DTR. 
 
I have two good devotee friends invovled with the BIF effort. Personally, I am not a part of this group but do find the findings of JFY to be more convincing than that of NTIP's. The information that has come to me has been the result of personal communication by email and telephone with these friends. They have informed me that they do have new evidence and are progressing in their investigative efforts and will only make this new evidence available to those directly undertaking the investigation. I presume, this has been decided based upon the distrust sparked from what BIF concludes to be inaccuracies published by the GBC in NTIP. It seems 
that BIF has contacted the press, police and private investigators in India as a first effort in continuing the investigation, since no overt effort on the GBC's part has yet been made to respond to the DTR.
 
The non-publication of a resolution does not purport sincerity on the part of the GBC to come to a conclusion in this matter but rather appears as legal posturing. If this matter does go public, the fallout for the movement will be considerable since I fear the main battlefield will be the Indian press with international media organizations quickly following suit. If NTIP is indeed full of faults, as BIF purports, the GBC will appear to be complicit in a coverup, especially since NTIP is an authorized GBC publication. Such a conclusion can only be reinforced by the non-publication of an alleged ghost resolution. This will be a public relations disaster for the movement, if allowed to occur. It will not go unnoticed that the NTIP investigation and publication were undertaken by a disciple of an alleged accomplice and financed by another alleged accomplice. Please consider the optics of the situation if this gets to the 
press. It is difficult to understand how NTIP will actually protect ISKCON as the committee's name purports if it is indeed inaccurate in many of its crucial assertions.
 
What puzzles me is that if the GBC members genuinely believe in the conclusion published in NTIP, i.e. that no poisoning effort was undertaken, then there is scant risk in conducting a cooperative investigation. It will once and for all provide conclusive evidence that no poisoning has been undertaken and the case will be finally closed. On the other hand, if a poisoning is proven to have been attempted, then the culprits will be brought to justice and the GBC will have played an instrumental role. This will go a long way in proving that no ulterior motive was involved in the inaccuracies published in the NTIP book.
 
Our prayer is that this email might provoke further discussion amongst the GBC and leaders of the movement. Herein lies an opportunity to bring this matter to a conclusion, but it is an opportunity I fear which will not present itself much longer. As mentioned above, I am not a spokesperson for BIF but feel and hope that they may still be willing to work with the GBC under the conditions outlined in the DTR, even though their defined time limit for a response has passed.
 
I request that the GBC reconsider its policy of cooperating with BIF on this important matter. Not only will this matter come to closure but it will go a long way in repairing relations amongst us and lessen some of the cynicism throughout the movement. Otherwise, the movement will needlessly continue to suffer under the weight of this issue.
 
To reiterate, the investigation is on-going with or without GBC sanction or participation. Doesn't it seem reasonable to take a pro-active stance and oversee the investigation? By no means does such action imply that the GBC or any individual believes that Srila Prabhupada was indeed poisoned. To date, no "smoking gun" has surfaced so it cannot be concluded that a poisoning was undertaken or not. But this is an opportunity to close the issue once and for all and to potentially stop this unsavoury issue from 
being publicized throughout the world.
 
To conclude, it appears that a decision to cooperate with BIF cannot produce a result worse than if BIF is ignored and allowed to proceed independently, no matter what conclusion the investigation comes to. On the other hand, a better outcome for the Hare Krnsa movement as a whole is likely if a cooperative effort is undertaken. Closure of this issue seems to be fast approaching and it is again only a question of how to manage the side effects and publicity of the investigation that is in question. Non-cooperation provides little influence over the collateral effects which cannot be in the best interest of the movement.
 
I pray that the members of the GBC will see some merit to these points and re-examine their conclusion not to participate in the investigation. Time truly seems of the essence so we ask immediate attention be given to this matter.
 
Respectfully,
 
Vyapaka dasa
 
Note from BIF:
 
The DTR mentioned above, can be found in the archives on this web site.

This letter concludes our series of "Letters to the Void".  As our readers can see, we have done everything we possibly could in attempting to keep the investigation a family matter.  Several months have passed since our first letter to the GBC, there has been no response; not even an indirect whisper.  We have no choice but to do as we have stated.  BIF requests readers to remember this series of letters, and place responsibility where it lies. Thank You.

Copyright 2003-2004 Bhaktivedanta Investigation Force