The “Last Six Months”; Was He Systematically Poisoned?
A Introductory Mix of the Last Six Months of Srila Prabhupada Being Present
Prabhupada was in the same mood, lamenting that he was a botheration for us, and he had just spoken to Lokanatha Maharaja. There was some mention of Bhismadeva giving up his body. In that same mood Prabhupada called for all the leaders to come in. Whoever was there, I cannot remember all the devotees, but all the GBC’s and sannyasis. Yaduvara and other were there also. Prabhupada called then all in to his bed and he began to suggest,
“Let us go out for preaching”.
So, my immediate reaction was how is that possible? Prabhupada practically cannot go to the bathroom. He can hardly sit up for a few minutes. How can he go out He said?
“We’ll tour the different sacred places? We will start here in Vrndavana, then we will go throughout India travelling to the holy places”, Srila Prabhupada was saying.
So, then he asked,
“What do you think?”
And there were some positive replies by some devotees. . Giriraj was there. He said,
“Yes, because if you fight, then just like Arjuna, whether you win or lose does not matter. The preaching is the fighting”
“Well I do not have much fight, but let me go and preach”.
Then Jayapataka Maharaja said,
“Yes, just like a cow. If you take a healthy cow, and leave it in a room, it will become sickly”.
Prabhupada said, “Yes!”
He took that very enthusiastically. Just by remaining in his room, he had been in his room in Vrndavana for almost two months now, so he was becoming tired of it; he wanted to change. He wanted to go out. I presented the alternatives.
“Prabhupada, what about the risks involved of you going at this time?”
“What is that risk?”, Srila Prabhupada replied.
“What is the risk? practically I am already dead, this is a dead body and there is nothing left to it but bones and skin. What is the risk?”
But we were hoping against hope, or at least that was our feeling, that somehow, he could make some recovery and gradually improve his health, so that in six months or a year, he could again be strong. We were always thinking like that. Whereas in my mind, this going on a bullock cart was like throwing in the towel, admitting it was hopeless, and therefore like a suicidal; not suicidal exactly. But his body was so weak, how could he go out in the bullock cart in the cold? It was now November and was becoming cold. I presented that argument too. I or someone else said,
“It is so cold now. How will you manage?”
Prabhupada then replied,
“We can stay under a tree”.
But we were thinking that the doctor was not giving up hope. By this time a nice doctor had come, kaviraja from Calcutta. He was hopeful that Prabhupada would make some gradual recovery by talking this medicine and eating proper diet. He was giving him medicine for the kidney disease. But the meeting was adjourned at that time, and Prabhupada ‘s instruction was that we should make arrangements for him to travel. So, I went with Lokanatha Swami. We went and got a bullock cart from Mathura. We discussed amongst ourselves, and it was agreed that we would have another meeting with Prabhupada in the afternoon. I was not in attendance at that meeting, but again their arguments were presented pro and con. Hamsadutta Maharaja was very much in favor that Prabhupada should go out. Some others were hesitant, especially Bhakta Charu Maharaja, the Bengali sannyasi who was one of Prabhupada’s confidantes because he spoke in Bengali and Prabhupada conversed with him very intimately. He was against it. Then it was decided that Prabhupada would go next morning. The bullock cart was there. And because it was Govardhana Puja he was going to go circumambulate Govardhana Hill. So, the bullock cart was there, everything was arranged. I remember coming out of Prabhupada ‘s room and being completely flabbergasted, that how Prabhupada was going to do this. Many Bengali devotees were there. I told Bhavananda,
“Is this the right thing that we are letting Prabhupada do this?”
“Now it is already decided, What is the use?”
It was evening time. But then after that, Bhavananda and Tamal Krishna discussed amongst themselves; they were not satisfied with this decision, so they again approached Prabhupada in their capacity as personal servants. Bhavananda was the nurse and Tamal was his secretary.
They came down again to talk privately to Prabhupada to reconsider his decision. Bhavananda was feeling very much distress that Prabhupada was going to go out like this. The doctor also was feeling very discouraged. He was going to go back to Calcutta, he was feeling very discouraged; he was going to go back to Calcutta. It was a hopeless thing that Prabhupada was going to do this.
Prabhupada’s God brother Krishnadasa came. And Prabhupada decided not to go out. We got this information from Tamal Krishna Goswami and Bhavananda Maharaja. We were relieved that he had not taking this grate risk.
The next day Prabhupada was complaining he had a pain in his left hip. So Upendra, who was Prabhupada’s personal servant, applied some wintergreen ointment. But this had an opposite effect. It made it cooler. Prabhupada was very angry about it.
“Why has this been done? I am requesting heat and it is becoming cooler”.
So, an elaborate arrangement was made for…Fire was brought in, and hot coals, and they were wrapped up in a cloth, placed on his leg in this way to bring heat to that area in his left hip, that was causing him pain. We were thinking it was very fortunate Prabhupada did not go out in the bullock cart, otherwise how could we have dealt with something like this emergency condition.
Then the next day or so I suddenly woke up around two in the morning. I went into Prabhupada’s room and Giriraja was just entering too. I said,
“How is it you that you happen to be coming right?”
“I do not know. Just sonneting brought me here”.
We both entered the room and within ten minutes of our entering, Prabhupada had his first attack of some serious nature. Bhavananda was there. he did not know what to do. He was Prabhupada’s nurse. Prabhupada arms were thrashing, and he was making a sound which was incomprehensible. It was very distressing. This was the first time it appeared that Prabhupada was losing his consciousness. I should interject at this time, that the same last week, that Krishnadasa was there, Prabhupada’s God brother was sitting in the bed and Prabhupada’s physical condition was apparently very degenerated. There was some conversation, I forget the exact detail, but Krishnadasa was simply awe struck how Prabhupada’s consciousness was not least bit deteriorated, although his physical condition was completely finished, but still his consciousness was so very sharp. Prabhupada pointed out to us what Krishnadasa Babaji was saying so that we could appreciate.
How was he judging this? What were the symptoms of this?
There was some conversation and some mental work was going on.
This was before this attack?
Yes. A few days before. Prabhupada’s consciousness was so clear. So, this was the first sign that Prabhupada’s consciousness was somehow affected, although he would appear to be asleep. It was like a dreaming I should say. He was not actually awake but was making movement with his arms and some distressing sound was there. So, we did not know what to do, so we called for the doctor and he came down. By the time the doctor got there, the symptoms of the attack had subsided, and again Srila Prabhupada was resting quietly. This was early in the morning 3 0′ clock in the morning, of the 14th. But within a couple of hours, he had another attack and the same symptoms.
His arms were moving, he was making some sound. Then again, he would become peaceful. It did not last very long, but it was the first sign of something more serious. We were all distressed. Jayapataka left that morning for Calcutta for some urgent business. We were not so disturbed because Prabhupada as again was resting peacefully, the doctor came and said his vitals were ok and strong. We went about our business during the day. Then in the afternoon again there was a very severe attack. I did not have firsthand information of this.
Then I came in, when there had already been announcement, that Prabhupada’s condition had deteriorated very severely, and the Kaviraja said he only had six hours left to live. He said there was not a chance. Everyone was crying and Prabhupada was making some sounds again. According to Narayana Maharaja who was also called, these were ecstatic symptoms. They were not ordinary symptoms but were symptoms of ecstasy. Prabhupada was meeting Krishna and there were some ecstatic symptoms. I am not competent to judge what kind of symptoms they were, but they were not ordinary noises, which included belching. After that Prabhupada did not speak any more.
I was not actually in the room the second Prabhupada left his body. I had just stepped out. But then I heard all the devotee’s call; emotionally intense. I came back in the room and the doctor was shaking his head and Prabhupada had left.