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Arsenic was used as an insecticide for a least a century prior to 1945 when the first antibiotics were developed...
was sick for a prolonged period of time
By Mary Nowak
To whom it may concern:
Please accept my humble obeisances, all glories to
Srila Prabhupada and the other vaisnava acharyas.
I have read several articles about the “poison
issue.” I was in the movement years ago when Prabhupada began falling
ill. He was sick for a prolonged period of time and deliberately went to
Vrindavana to die. I know there have been things written suggesting that
Srila Prabhupada was poisoned with arsenic. When Prabhupada was ill all of
his disciples were concerned about his health. Everyone was also aware of
his imminent departure. I really don’t believe that any of his disciples
could have, or wanted to kill him. It appears that no one has examined
other, harmless or blameless explanations for the presence of this element
in his system. There are other explanations.
Arsenic was used as an insecticide for at least a
century prior to 1945 when modern insecticides were developed. It was also
used as a medical treatment for syphilis from the mid 19th century through
1945 when the first antibiotics were developed. Arsenic tends to build up
in the body as it is ingested. As a child during the depression era, my
mother suffered from arsenic poisoning due to chewing on orange rinds. She
had to drink water mixed with lime powder for more than a year in order to
excrete the poison. It is well known that the groundwater in Bengal and
some of the environs is contaminated with arsenic. It may well be that
arsenic was also used widely as an insecticide in India and may still be
in use in some regions. Prabhupada could have been ingesting this poison
in small amounts for many years. Its presence in his system does not
confirm that his death was caused by arsenic. As indicated in the article
by Deva Gaura Hari Das, Prabhupada’s primary symptoms were related to
other ailments associated with aging. He was quite elderly after all.
As mentioned, arsenic was used as a medicine. Again,
In the west it was used to treat syphilis prior to 1945. Could some of the
Ayur Vedic doctors still have been using this as a medicine? Might they be
using it to treat other disorders? If the medicine brought to Prabhupada
had a small amount of this innocuous white powder mixed into it, would any
one have known? And, the intention to use it--if it was in the medicine
that he took--may have been an honorable one.
Conspiracy theories frequently emerge after the death
of someone who is famous or well loved. It took many years for this
particular theory to emerge. Why now and not at the time of Prabhupada’s
passing away? Is it because people are intrigued by conspiracy theories?
And also because of our popular culture in the west some people are more
attached to fault finding, particularly in those individuals who exhibit
few faults. Shouldn’t we be spending more of our time looking to improve
ISKCON and preparing for whatever Krishna may bring in the future? I know
that many devotees in ISKCON are working hard to correct the sins of the
past. And, yes, sometimes devotees have put on blinders to very real
problems. Perhaps the trials of recent months have been to teach us a
lesson, such as to face the future with greater prudence, compassion,
empathy and wisdom. But we should not be looking for problems where there
© CHAKRA 22-Sep-1999
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