On November 6, 1997, the Vaishnava News Network (VNN) announced that an Independent Vaishnava Council was forming, headed by Balavanta das, for the purpose of investigating circumstances surrounding Srila Prabhupada's health care in 1977. Isa das, who recently came forward with tapes of Srila Prabhupada's final days, was joined on the Council by Naveen Krsna das, Bir Krsna Swami, Jagajivan das, Citrakara das, and Madhava Ashraya das, who also volunteered as participants.

The objectives of the Independent Vaishnava Council were reported to be as follows:

  • completely translate and analyze the audio tapes
  • interview all devotees involved in the care of Srila Prabhupada in 1977
  • interview all kavirajas involved in the treatment of Srila Prabhupada in 1977
  • analyze the content of the medications given to Srila Prabhupada in 1977
  • determine if there was ill intent or negligence on any party involved in Srila Prabhupada's care in 1977
  • On November 11, 1997, Balavanta dasa released a letter stating that he had been appointed by the GBC Executive Committee as special independent investigator into charges that Srila Prabhupada was allegedly poisoned. Since that time, it has become apparant that the investigation being led by Balavanta dasa is not intended to be open to public scrutiny.

    When confronted with requests that ongoing results of the investigation be made public, Balavanta dasa announced that he was unable to publicly discuss the investigation, and therefore could not represent the Independent Vaishnava Council. The Council, by that time, was comprised of a loosely knit group of devotees who were communicating concerns, comparing personal investigations of the tapes, and assisting with the gathering of information.

    The staff members at VNN and Isa dasa then requested that Rocana dasa take responsibility for ensuring the organization of the Independent Vaisnava Council. Rocana dasa agreed to begin the process of developing a more formalized structure for the Council, by coordinating interested participants, creating an on-line venue to house the Council's documents, and posting preliminary documents the Council can begin working with.

    On December 6, 1997, Rocana dasa distributed the following letter of invitation to a number of devotees. This letter was also published by VNN:

    Dear ........dasa/dasi,

    Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    I am writing to ask for your support of the Independent Vaisnava Council, which is coming together in order to direct an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Srila Prabhupada’s final days. I have been asked by Isa dasa and the staff at the VNN to take a leading role in helping to formally establish the Council.

    On behalf of the Independent Vaisnava Council, I would like to extend an invitation to you to participate as Council member. If you have not already done so, please see our reporting of the details of the allegations of poisoning at:


    A great deal of work lies before us. Not only have significant suspicions about poisoning been raised, but it is clear that a great many questions must be addressed as to the circumstances surrounding Srila Prabhupada’s last manifest days, and His departure from this world.

    The organization of the Council must be accomplished before we can even begin to undertake the investigation itself. Having established various facilities for the harekrsna.com website, Jahnava dasi and I are able to assist with the formation of the Council in a number of ways:

  • by creating a virtual space within which Council communications and organizational building can take place, at the least expense and with maximum speed;

  • by posting a number of working documents which may serve as a starting point for the Council’s constitution and administrative policies; and

  • by acting as a point of contact for devotees around the world who are concerned with recent allegations and tape evidences, and by supporting the concept of freedom of press and expression.

  • We can assume that the Council will grow to become an effective vehicle for independent study and investigation. Our immediate focus must obviously be on the recent allegations of poisoning and general issues surrounding Srila Prabhupada’s final days. However, I think the constitution and mandate should also allow that the Council may choose to expand its role in the future, and deal with other contentious issues, possibly including the initiation issue, changes to the books, gurukula abuses, and implications of the implementation of the zonal acarya system.

    I believe that this Council will be most effective if it represents the widest possible constituency of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples. We cannot deny that the devotees are now fragmented into a diverse number of “camps”. Therefore, I feel we should seek a core membership that includes representation of the following majority and minority groups: ISKCON leadership, senior disciples within ISKCON, senior disciples who are outside the shelter of the society, supporters of the Rttvik position, life members and the Indian community, women, and young adults. It is also foreseeable that the Council may wish to include, at some point in the future, representation from academia, the media, disciples of Srila Prabhupada’s Godbrothers and the larger Vaisnava community.

    Prior to the establishment of a treasury and budget to cover our working expenses, and because the Council will benefit from the inclusion of devotees living in various parts of the world, I feel that the Internet provides the only means of effective and affordable communications available to us. Therefore, I think Council members must have or must immediately establish daily Internet access. While this will undoubtedly be supplemented by telephone conferencing and eventually personal meetings, it seems clear that virtual communication is imperative at this stage.

    By Monday morning, we will have posted to the harekrsna.com website a series of working documents as mentioned above, which may serve as a beginning draft for the Council’s constitution and administrative policies. Included there will be basic information about two primary forms of governance, parliamentary (majority rule) and consensus process. Once we settle on an appropriate form of governance, we can establish an executive structure or decision-making system that will allow us to formalize our administrative procedures. At that point, I feel we’ll be ready to go to work.

    We are now also developing the technological facilities that will give the Council a reasonable electronic meetings system. This will include full document archival systems, threaded forum and chat room facilities, password protected spaces, on-line voting and surveying facility, etc. Details will be provided on-line.

    As I was requested to do, I am now making contact with a number of devotees who I believe would be valuable contributing members to the Council. Attached is a list which includes their names, along with the names of those who have expressed an interest in participating, those who have been suggested by other devotees, and those the VNN reported to have been initially interested in forming the Council. I encourage the Council to seek the support of those devotees who have, in the past, shown a willingness to listen to and engage with others who hold divergent viewpoints. In other words, I’d like to invite those who exemplify the willingness and ability to work cooperatively, as Srila Prabhupada requested we do.

    I encourage you to submit the names of other devotees you feel we should contact, along with a brief note about what you feel qualifies them for the position. Once the constitution is formed, the Council may decide to limit the number of devotees participating at various levels, for the sake of efficiency. Therefore, it is possible that some members who were initially invited to participate will become “executive”, and others will form a “general” membership. That is for the group to decide in due course.

    I will hope to receive your personal commitment to continue to assist the Council, and regardless of your ability or willingness to join us, I welcome your thoughts, criticisms, feedback and suggestions on how we might proceed. The Council’s webpages, which will be constantly updated, currently reside at:


    As we receive firm commitments from various devotees, their names will be posted on the Council site.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    yours in Srila Prabhupada’s service,

    Rocana dasa


    Isa dasa - Has decided not to join the Council at this time. He prefers to remain completely independent and focused on his work with the tapes. He has, however, stated is willingness to communicate with and support the work of the Council in their investigation.

    VNN Staff - The VNN has declined an offer to participate as a Council member. Having fulfilled their role of seeing to the establishment of an independent council, they now prefer to maintain their independence as a reporting body. They too have expressed a willingness to communicate and cooperate with the Council.

    Balavanta dasa - As the independent investigator appointed by the GBC, Balavanta dasa has stated that he is not in a position to join in the activities of the IVC.

    Naveen Krishna dasa
    Jagajivan dasa
    Bir Krishna Swami
    Citrakara das
    Mahabuddhi dasa
    Yasomatinandana dasa
    Bhakti Tirtha Swami
    Ambarish dasa
    Bhima dasa
    Rocana dasa
    Mrigendra dasa
    Bahudak dasa
    Vaisnava dasa
    Agrahya dasa
    Wolfgang Burtscher
    Krsna Kanta Desai
    Yasodanandana dasa
    Pavani devi dasi
    Madhusudani devi dasi
    Krsna Prema devi dasi
    Jahnava devi dasi
    Young Adults...
    Life Members/Indian Community...

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