We present the following information in an effort to establish the context surrounding the current allegations of, and investigations into, the possible poisoning of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. Please note that the red text indicates a link to the document being discussed.

History of Concern and Allegations

On December 5, 1995, Puranjana dasa released a PADA mailing in which he called for assistance with his personal research into comments made by Srila Prabhupada regarding poisoning. Approximately one year later, Puranjana dasa began to voice allegations that Satsvarupa dasa Goswami had hidden the audio tapes of room conversations taking place during Srila Prabhupada’s final manifest days. Isa dasa responded, advising Puranjana dasa that this was not true, and that in fact, Isa dasa had first-hand knowledge of these tapes. Twenty years ago, Isa dasa had been Satsvarupa dasa Goswami’s right-hand assistant. The Goswami was acting as trusted courier on behalf of the Vrindabin delegation, who was looking after the needs of Srila Prabhupada prior to his passing away. Upon his return to Dallas at the end of 1977, Satsvarupa delivered these 20 tapes to Isa dasa, along with instructions that they be duplicated and distributed to 10 GBC members and the BBT. Within a few weeks, Isa dasa complied with that request, distributing ten sets of copies to various GBC members, and delivering the original set given to him by Satsvarupa dasa Goswami to the BBT. According to Isa dasa, "There was no attempt to hide the tapes from anyone. All the senior devotees listened to them in Dallas at the time."

In a further effort to counter PADA’s claims against Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, and to make more public the fact that these tapes were available, Isa dasa sent emails out to over 1,000 devotees and the GBC in early 1997. He received no responses to his letter, from either the GBC or Temple Presidents. On November 4, 1997, Isa dasa again sent emails out on this matter, and posted a message to the Vaishnava News Network (VNN). On that day, VNN's first report on the tapes included sections of the tape transcripts. Isa dasa again received no replies to his letter.

In addition to allegations about Satsvarupa dasa Goswami’s handling of these tapes, Puranjana dasa and PADA were increasingly voicing their concerns about the long-held suspicions shared by many devotees that Srila Prabhupada had been poisoned. Isa dasa notes that, at the time, he suspected that the medications containing mercury were at fault in bringing about Srila Prabhupada’s physical death. Because of PADA’s focus and allegations, Isa dasa began listening to the tapes. He discovered a number of anomalies which gravely concerned him, including suspicious whisperings, statements about poison and poisoning, and disparities between the conversations as they were preserved on the tapes, and the correspondent room conversations presented in the BBT folio.

It appears that simultaneously, several devotees began to independently examine various tapes, and all came to the conclusion that there appeared to be numerous suspicious audio events that indicated Srila Prabhupada had been poisoned. In late summer of 1997, Naveen Krishna dasa began listening to a tape on which Srila Prabhupada reports that he is being poisoned. This tape was in the Archives, but the Hindi had not been previously translated. Naveen Krishna dasa communicated his concerns to Balavanta dasa, and together they began listening to the tapes with other devotees in the Alachua area. On November 10, 1997, Isa dasa gave a copy of his tapes to Mahabuddhi dasa. When he listened to the tapes, Mahabuddhi dasa also discovered a number of whispered statements that caused him great concern. During November 1997, Isa dasa gave a copy of his tapes to a number of other parties for their review, including Naveen Krishna dasa, VNN, Tamal Krishna Goswami, and Agrani dasa, the Miami Temple President.

Balavanta dasa soon became "officially" involved in the situation, although the circumstances surrounding his involvement are not entirely clear. We do understand that Balavanta dasa secured a copy of this same series of tapes from the BBT Archives, and began an independent investigation into their content.

On November 11, 1997, Balavanta dasa distributed an email to the GBC and ISKCON. In it, he noted his appointment by the GBC Executive Committee as the special independent investigator responsible for examining charges that Srila Prabhupada was allegedly poisoned. He reported that suspicious statements/whispers had been identified on two different tapes. Balavanta dasa had one of these tapes digitally processed for clarity by an independent laboratory in Gainesville, Florida. Lab technicians there confirmed that the tape appeared to contain suspicious whisperings about poison. Balavanta dasa then sent the tape to another laboratory, the Norman I. Perle National Audio Video Forensic Laboratory, for further investigation.

On November 12, 1997, Mahabuddhi dasa sent a report of his personal findings to Balavanta dasa. In it, he noted his concerns about suspicious statements and whisperings on a number of tapes, and urged a full scale investigation of the matter.

On November 27, 1997, VNN announced that Balavanta dasa had received the Perle laboratory report on the previous day, and that it would be released to the public as soon as possible. No reason was given as to why the report could not be immediately made available.

We are told by Isa dasa that on December 1, 1997, Balavanta dasa released a report to Bir Krishna Swami stating that the preliminary investigation done by the Perle Laboratory had not verified that the word "poison" was contained in the segment of tape which had been examined. We have not yet seen a copy of this report.

Based on his own conversations with Norman Perle, Isa dasa became concerned with several aspects of the Perle Laboratory's investigation. His primary concerns were that, due to an apparent shortage of funds available to Balavanta dasa for the investigation, only one whisper had in fact been thoroughly investigated by Perle. In addition, Isa dasa noted a contradiction of information in his discussions with Mr. Perle. Initially, Perle reported that he was working on the "first whisper" on Tape 20|T-46. When Perle spoke with Isa dasa on November 26th, however, he was presenting his findings on an entirely different whisper. The latter whisper, which occurs in the context of a discussion regarding stool and urine, is situated at a significantly different point on the tape. This confusion on what is an extremely important point requires immediate and public clarification by Balavanta dasa.

Isa dasa's concerns were further fueled by the fact that Norman Perle said he was willing to change his mind on his findings. In fact, he remarked that if Isa dasa or Balavanta dasa presented him with reports from several "uninvolved" parties who had also heard poison being whispered, he would repeat his investigation, using more advanced testing equipment. We have not yet determined why the most advanced equipment was not used for the first investigative report. With respect to the official investigation, Mr. Perle seems to indicate in a recent letter that his client(s) in this matter are both Balavanta dasa and Mrgendra dasa (Harvey Mechanic).

Due to the fact that Balavanta dasa appeared to be presenting a report to the GBC stating a "negative" lab result, because Balavanta dasa had not willingly shared this report or findings of the investigation with Isa dasa or anyone outside of the GBC, and because of his personal concerns regarding the handling of audio investigations, Isa dasa distributed an anonymous posting on December 1, 1997 to 2,500 devotee addresses. Isa dasa chose to send the letter anonymously in hopes that it would slip through ISKCON's censorship filters on the COM channels. The letter briefly set forth Isa dasa's concerns about various aspects of the investigation. On December 2, 1997, Isa dasa further enhanced and more extensively studied a section of the tape mentioned in his December 1st letter, and reported the details of that enhancement.

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