September 10, 1999 VNN4697 Related VNN StoriesComment on this story
Poison CD Hoax
BY JAGANNATHA DASA
EDITORIAL, Sep 10 (VNN) My name is Jagannatha Dasa. I came to this movement in 1969 and I've been, I feel very closely associated with it since that time. I've had a nice career in book publishing. My secular name is Geoffrey Giuliano. I have written 18 books on the Beatles and a couple more. Done about a hundred spoken word CDs and have established a center, a spiritual center ö Gaudiya Vaisnava center which I hope and pray is a very ISKCON-friendly place, called Sri Puri Dham outside of Buffalo New York and I seek to do my seva there and elsewhere throughout the world.
I met Srila Prabhupada in London in 1971 and it was at Bury Place, we were all waiting outside to see Prabhupada and wait for his arrival there, and I was given the job of (from the balcony above), to throw flowers down on Prabhupada as he walked through. But as soon as the car drove up, I got so excited, I was 18 at that time, sorry 19, I forgot about it, I just dumped all the flowers overboard and ran down the stairs and I ran right up to Srila Prabhupada, which of course now at 46 years old I sit here and realize that this was probably inappropriate, but at that time I ran right up to him and said "Oh Prabhupada, I am Geoffrey Giuliano, I really read all your books, I just love them and I think it's just terrific, this whole thing is great." He put his hand up as if to say "Ok very nice, but, you know..." and then he walked away. I immediately felt very dejected. And I was standing there at the kerb and Prabhupada had taken maybe ten, fifteen steps up towards Bury Place.
Now I was feeling so dejected and you know rejected as well I should for that impertinence and impetuousness of youth that I had shown. However, Prabhupada also felt this with his back turned toward me and turned around, looked at me and said, in the midst of all these devotees, their jaws were dropping that this guy ran up to Prabhupada and said this, acted like this, and he turned around and said, "Alright, you can walk next to me, but don't talk anything".
So I thought this was very instructive to me, and has been throughout my life, by inference, that perhaps I talk too much. Which indeed has been both my means of making a living and also my downfall with many people.
So, that's one thing, and the other thing interesting that happened that same day is: I was just a kid, I wasn't initiated, and so many big guns were there with their dandas, and there was a narrow staircase going up to the top, where Prabhupada was in some room getting a massage. And you couldn't even get onto the first step; it was completely jammed with devotees. So again I thought, "Well, what chance have I got? I'm never going to be able to see Prabhupada". You know, you see people go into his room, talk to him, and he gives them prasadam. I thought, "Well I won't have that opportunity."
So I went back down into a room, I believe- I'm going to guess now- that it was not the temple room, but it was some adjacent room in Bury place, probably a prasadam room. And I stood there alone, just kind of standing there in this empty room, and lo and behold, about ten minutes later, and I have no idea how this occurred, why this occurred. Was it mystical? How did he get down those stairs without everybody following him? To my knowledge there was only one stairwell in Bury Place, but Srila Prabhupada walked in absolutely alone, no one was with him at all, he walked up to me, he said, as God is my witness, these words, "You will go back to home". And I said, "Back to Godhead?" and he went, "Jaya", and put his head back in that regal, kingly way that he had about him.
Now, of course, another interesting boon in my life has been that Srila Prabhupada personally told me that I would go back to Godhead. Of course the catch 22 to that and the challenge of that for my life has been, "When?" So obviously we're all going back to Godhead, but you know, when are we going back?
And then there was a couple of days of seeing him and having darshan and handing some prasadam, and that was really all. And other than that I have been very attached to listening to Srila Prabhupada's tapes and videos for now over thirty years.
I took my degrees as an actor but I fell into book publishing and was very successful at that; probably it's the subject matter I write about rather than my stellar writing ability, but the fact is that I've been able to ferret out commercial ventures which have made me a reasonable amount of income.
So I purchased a very big Victorian mansion on the Erie Canal, outside Buffalo, in Lockport, New York, between Niagara Falls and Buffalo, and I lived there for some time in what I used to call my mini-rock star estate, and then decided, pretty much I believe as a subconscious catalyst predicated on the fact that my mother, father, and brother died within a very short period of 3 or 4 years, that I should perhaps try and live up to my Krishna Conscious vows in a more mature way, and try to be a better example both to my children, my family and the community. So I turned that big Victorian house into an ashram, and that ashram has been operating now for several years, it was made into a legal entity by Sesa Dasa, it's a 501c3 not for profit' New York State religious corporation. We have a free vegetarian food bank called Dasa Food for All', and we have cows, we have peacocks, we have two big temple rooms, we have two big guesthouses. And that's how I live now, not in ISKCON, but not not in ISKCON.
I have been a kind of a political creature myself earlier in my life, when you turn 46 you begin to think a little more deeper about things, I decided that it might be more appropriate for me to really, really try to be friends with just about all the Vaisnavas. As Pusta Krishna once said to me (the man who brought me to the movement, "the tree of Mahaprabhu has many branches".
I wrote the book Dark Horse- the secret life of George Harrison, or known as the Art and life of George Harrison. There was a genre of rock biography in the late eighties, which was the more salacious the better', being to sell as many copies as possible for the publisher, and that together with my proclivity to speak very brutal truth, it's the way I'm built, I just speak whatever the truth is that I feel, and I think journalists should do that.
You couple that with the fact that I did have some entree into the inner' world of George Harrison, it was a fairly controversial book. Meaning that I was anxious to pen a biography of George Harrison which would fully document, to the best of my ability George's entire life...(more details about the book)
I was successful in book publishing, and I used to drive by, on the way to Niagara Falls, a place that said Audio Books'. And I saw this and thought, "I write books, perhaps I some of my books can be put onto tape". So I went to see them and the idea developed, this is maybe ten years ago, that I could do some original productions, loosely based on my books, but include the actual voices of celebrities, and I'm sure many of the listeners perhaps, may have some of my stuff, because its been all around the world.
So I did these audio books, now, to make that happen I put in a recording studio in our ashram, Sri, in Buffalo, and when this whole poison thing first brewed, first came up in the internet, cause I used to read VNN and various things on the internet, I was interested, I was intrigued. From time to time I have had ambivalent feelings against certain factions within ISKCON. Overall, I was thinking "I've been around this movement 30 years, they've accommodated me all over the world, my entire philosophy and life, the way I conduct my family life, my business, my community efforts, the raising of my children, is wholly based, to the best of my ability on that which I've gleaned from ISKCON."
So, while there may have been some dips in the road, to my mind a lot of that could have been predicated, half-truths, innuendos, obviously there's some problems as well, but you know, ISKCON has given me personally so much, (and here I sit before the world proclaiming it publicly) that I could never repay.
So in that sense, yes have I been critical of ISKCON over the years? Vaguely. Can I ever repay the personal debt to ISKCON that I've had? Absolutely not, nor can now my children, in the second generation.
So anyway, I had a studio and kept reading this thing, and I started thinking, "Well maybe there's something to this. And in fact if there is something to this then it behooves all devotees, around the world, to immediately get on the bandwagon and see what we can do and bring these culprits to justice. So I e-mailed Nityananda and he got back to me, and I said, "I have a recording studio, would you like to use it? You can come its not a problem. Its vacant most of the time, I'm happy to use for any devotional purpose." And still am if anyone's listening you can contact me, we'll talk about it.
Bottom line is, he got back to me and said, "Yeah, we might." So I pitched to Nityananda, "Let's do a CD because this is an aural thing, this is to do with sound, these clues, these bits of evidence', you can hear them, so lets put them on a CD and we'll do some narration and state the case and get this thing out to the world, and, as they say, run it up the flagpole and see who salutes it."
So he in fact, after some, maybe 6-7 phone calls back and forth over a period of time, he said, "Well I'm gonna send some boy to come out there." And Dhanesvara came out to inspect' the facility, found it's in fact a state of the art digital studio, so there wasn't much not to like, he reported that, "Yes, we could do a lot of the work here."
Because one of their problems was (not being conversant with the audio world) they'd been, I believe, getting ripped off to a certain degree on some of the prices they were paying. So they were anxious, this circle of people concerned about Prabhupada being poisoned, were very anxious to decrease their costs. So, you can't get much better than free, so they came there and Dhanesvara came there and then we began the Poison Project'.
Now one of the things people say to me is, "Why did you get involved with this rather spurious thing to begin with?" You know, the whole thing is suspect, many of the players are indeed suspect, in terms of their character and their history. You know, one of the things, good, bad or indifferent, is that the ringleader of this entire (I feel) farce or even, to put a finer point on it, fraud, is a convicted felon himself. Now, that's just a matter of record, it's not, "I don't like Nityananda so I'm calling him bad names." The man is a convicted felon. Any other aspersions that one could cast on his character or indeed somebody could cast on mine or anyone else's, might be a matter of conjecture, but one thing you cannot take away is that this man got embroiled in a legal situation at some point in his life which resulted in him being convicted as a felon. And I believe that that should indeed raise at least a red flag.
So that is how I first got started, of course I didn't know that at the time. But basically the short way around to answer the question is: I got convinced that there might be something to it and felt that it was my duty to get involved.
When Dhanesvara came there he had not done any, to my knowledge, interviews, perhaps one or two, with the principals involved in this matter. And that would be various devotees who were there at the time of Prabhupada's passing or shortly before, and various sound experts and various experts from the field I remember there were people he was contacting, on my phone bill of course, which to be fair was re-imbursed by Nityananda (just barely). So virtually all of the investigatory interviews were conducted form my home on my equipment onto DAT's from my studio, and there was a long list, which I may still have, written out by Dhanesvara, he'd called this person, that person, and he was on the phone all day. For maybe 6 days, every time I picked up the phone to make a call it was busy, engaged.
So he was pretty much constantly speaking to people all over the world about this matter, and he was recording the DAT's, and recording the source material, which would later be culled down into the infamous Poison CD'. I was involved in as much that it took place at my place, Dhanesvara would, when he got off the phone, or between phone calls would discuss strategies with me, as to like, "Okay now, this guy, these are his particulars, this is his mood, how do you think we should approach this, this is what I'm thinking?"
As the thing progressed and it was culled down into a script, I mean, you know, let's face it, in terms of quality we can argue about, but in terms of quantity, I mean I think other than Prabhupada, if Prabhupada hadn't written 80 books...I've written 20. I don't think there's anyone who's written as many books for public consumption as myself. I mean what have we got Yamuna 3 or 4. I mean 20 and 100 spoken word CDs. So I've done a lot of work, I'm a good writer. I'm just naturally a good writer, not really educated in that, but I know what's right, I can see and hear what's right. That's really my only talent.
So obviously I was intimately involved in the shaping of that script. Why? Because Dhanesvara's not a professional writer and I am. So obviously Nityananda and Dhanesvara, and everybody, Rocan, looked to me to put this script in shape. And to be honest with you it was mostly in terms of style and presentation that I was involved, however, you know, Dhanesvara was there and had no other engagement than the construction of this so-called poison CD and so therefore we just talked for hours and hours and hours, every day, about strategy and what was going on and looking at the evidence.
One of the things that bothered me about this man, (there were several things that bothered me about this man), which ultimately led to me inviting him to leave the premises. But I think one of the most bizarre things I found with this fellow...
First of all let me preface this by saying that there is a certain mentality which likes conspiracies, there's a conspiratorial mentality in this world, we've all seen it with JFK, there's people who just like these things, it's exciting to them to feel that they might have some inside track on some world or historic event. And I believe that Dhanesvara embraces that type of mentality. I'll tell you very specifically why and what was so bizarre about this man. And I don't think bizarre's overstating.
He has a theory that any audio tape; any audio tape of anything, of your grandmother, when reversed gives all kinds of implicit, specific messages, in English, which were meant to be there, which somehow psychically convey the actual content or actual purport or purpose of the person who has recorded the tape in the normal fashion. Vis a vis; this tape of mine, my actual agenda, my hidden thoughts, my innermost feelings about what I really feel and where I'm really coming from and what my motives are, could easily ascertained by taking this tape, reversing it, and then looking for things like, "I killed my grandmother", or, you know, some kind of bizarre (garbled noise) that sounded like English. That is absurd, it is preposterous, it is bizarre, it is crazy.
Now, I'm an audio professional, I'm a reasonably educated man of the world, and I say this from my opinion only, that indeed, "That is stupid". It is without basis, it is groundless, and I believe it connotates (sic) a state of mind, which can't be too well grounded to reality, to be polite. So, anyway I think that's really dumb, and bottom line, I don't put any credence in that.
So here we have, the chief investigator, the man that's conducting the investigation, who, himself, is first of all recording these interviews with these various personages involved, who then reverses them with great delight and great enthusiasm, and says, "Jagannatha, Jagannatha, listen to this he's saying, (garbled noise), did you hear that? That actually means..." And somehow, I mean I didn't buy it, I was polite because he was in my house, but I just thought it was really dumb. You know, I've done more work chronicling the Beatles careers than anyone in the world, good bad or indifferent I don't know, but I've done more of it. And there was all that nonsense about the Beatles putting backwards messages in their songs, and they never did. And this thing in the end of Strawberry Fields' ö"I buried Paul", by John. I mean I got the bed (original) tracks for Strawberry Fields and it says, "cranberry sauce", John Lennon's very clearly saying, "cranberry sauce", and as Paul McCartney once said, "If you don't b
Not to go on about that, but he had studied this, and felt it was a science, called it a science, so I mean, if this is the mentality of the lead investigator, and in fact he wanted to include some of these backwards bits and bobs on the Poison CD'. And I just said, "No". And I also said to Nityananda. "This will blow the credibility of this thing if you start putting backwards loops on the end." So it didn't happen.
But, you know, that's my experience with that fellow, and then also his personal behavior in my house was such that, you know, feet on the furniture watching the football games, and demanding, "Where's dinner?" and things like that; he wasn't a very good house guest, so at the end of the day, when things began to wear down, in my mind, and the credibility began to erode, through things like, you know, wanting to hear backwards messages in Srila Prabhupada's words like, "Save me, save me, I'm being poisoned by my disciples, " or whatever ridiculous thing that it was in the background there, which actually wasn't there, I booted the guy.
Nobody, unless you're talking to your wife or something, in my experience in life, are people going to reveal their mind when they have an agenda. Everybody wants to be a good citizen, everybody wants to look good. So certainly I'm not a person who at that point was very well known to Nityananda. I certainly could never be referred to as one of his cronies, or one of his intimates, rather I was a person on the outside who happened to have this expertise and this equipment, and made available the use of it to these people.
So, no, he was very sincere in his presentation to me initially, as anyone would be, and certainly a man as accomplished and intelligent and slick as Nityananda Prabhu. I don't hate Nityananda Prabhu, I think he's severely misguided, and I feel some compassion for him as a Vaisnava, as a godbrother, that he's gone off, that he's wasting his time on this ridiculous tangent and has injured the hearts of so many innocent, mot perhaps quite as sophisticated or worldly minded people. We don't come into ISKCON to be worldly, we don't become Vaisnavas to become more worldly, but rather less worldly and more innocent and open and I think that it's very harmful and has been. That's actually the reason I came out, you probably will ask me this later, but that's one of the main reasons I did this because I felt sorry for the injured parties out there that had nothing to do with this, that just believe the propaganda that's spewed out.
Hey, nobody spewed out more propaganda than me; 18 books, 100 spoken word CD's, I know how to put information together in a palatable way and market it to the public so that it makes millions of dollars, not for me personally but for these publishers. Believe me, you don't write 18 books unless your books have made lots and lots of money for the publishers.
So anyway, back to the specific question, although his presentation...first of all, it would have had to have been, because I wouldn't have been party to anything in which he called me up and said, "Hey look, listen pal, we gotta do this number, I don't like the GBC, or I don't like this or that, this is my agenda so let's..." No, I wouldn't have been a party to that, so he presented it to me in a very palatable, reasonable, soft spoken, quiet tones, so I was, early on, never convinced, but convinced enough...his idea was, "Even if there is a glimmer of truth in this, we as Vaisnavas need to get to the bottom of it, so that we can root out even the possibility of it". In other words, let's disprove, which is a perfectly reasonable thing. Maybe Prabhupada wasn't poisoned, but we're the second generation from Prabhupada, this is a 10, 000 year movement, we need to erase any shadow of a doubt, so when presented like that it then becomes, "Well its our duty, it's our seva to do."
However, later basically the whole thing imploded, and eroded, while we were working on the project, both with my relationships with the principals, the project itself, the quality of the evidence... Because people say to me, "Why did you become involved, why didn't you come out sooner? Why did you wait so long?" Because, you know, it was a slow realization that it was all hooey. You know what I'm saying? It was a tempest in a teacup. There wasn't really anything to this, except the hidden agendas of people I call junior varsity Vaisnavas that wanted power but somehow or other weren't qualified or weren't chosen or didn't have the sukrti, or whatever; they didn't get it. So now they're trying to grab it. You know, power's very seldom handed out to people, generally speaking, historically, it's grabbed, and I believe that when you look at Rocan and you look at Nityananda, and this other boy, Dhanesvara, I got a mental block with that guy, he's a pawn and a rather (forgive me) pathetic one at that, kind of a los
I'd like to say something (it's extremely telling) about the early phone calls I had with Rocan in this regard. Rocan I had known very casually, just vaguely in Toronto in the early eighties and maybe late 70's, you know, just had seen him around, so I had no particular relationship with him, while Nityananda had, early on, shuttled my phone number over to Rocan, and Rocan then rung me up and we had had several discussions, and in my discussions with Rocan, very early on, his agenda became crystal clear. As clear as am azure lake in summer was his agenda.
He said the following to me, he said, "Jagannatha, listen, there's a guy up here who's a former producer for the Johnny Carson show, " (now at that point the Johnny Carson show had gone off the air so whatever former producers were doing in Vancouver I don't know), "and this guy's very interested in possibly putting together a major documentary for HBO or some of the cable stations, or maybe we could sell it to 60 Minutes, or for network broadcast. This could be a really big thing." And I think he mentioned $400, 000, but to be fair, you know, this entire interview I'm trying to err on the side of conservatism, because this is an important, and probably an historical issue in some sense. So he said to me there were several hundred thousand dollars, and I think he mentioned an amount, which I can't remember, which could be made from this, to be shared amongst all of the people involved in the production of this.
Now look, my business is audio production, production in the media, I'm a journalist. So I'm not going to try to kid anybody to say, "No, no I wouldn't want that", I said, "Okay great, if there's money there, that's fine."
I felt, a/ It was my duty and, b/ I'm a journalist, this is how I make my living, if indeed there was merit to this thing, I could make some money, no problems. As a matter of fact I'm willing to say for the record that I was paid about $2, 000 for my participation, by Nityananda, in this thing, and I did take the money, and, you know, only wish I'd gotten more.
So, anyway, Rocan was speaking to me like this that, "Hey we can make a big deal out of this, it could even be made into a movie, certainly a documentary, so many celebrities have been involved with Prabhupada, like George Harrison and so many others, this is quite a newsworthy thing, we could probably get a lot of mileage out of this, and ultimately make a lot of money."
So what am I saying? I'm saying that Rocan's talks with me centered around very peripheral... 10% of the conversation idealistic talk about how this is our duty as Vaisnavas, but 90% or 85% was how we can make money from this or how we can turn this into a highly commercial venture, how we can pull down those in power in ISKCON and build again our Gaudiya Vaisnava siddhanta again with the proper leader, which I'm quite sure would include Rocan and Nityananda somewhere in the hierarchy. But I was taken aback and I was, although I did discuss yes, and if somebody was passing out money would I have taken some? Probably. But I was taken aback that there was such an emphasis, not from Nityananda but from Rocan on turning this into a big bucks situation.
Rocan had little to do with the production of this matter, he was like a front-man. He came in, talked to me, discussed various issues relating to the poison issue with me, some of the evidence', but then he bowed out, and the work was done by Dhanesvara. But Nityananda had a phone conversation with me, at least one, after I had a chance to work with the engineer David S... of DMS productions in Wilson New York, and had listened extensively to the aural evidence', in this matter. I'm talking about the whispers and the little sound bites, whatever, of the people in the room, you know, Prabhupada, "Someone has poisoned me, " and these kinds of things. I'd heard all those, and not only heard them, but studied them. And they were now digital, that's one of the things I did, I digitized a lot of this information for them through my DAT machine and through my various equipment, put it on CD etc. etc.
So I'd worked with the stuff and in the course of, a/ working with it and b/ sitting there in my off hours and listening to it, and trying to hear and really understand what was going on, I was fully conversant, and am indeed, I believe, as fully conversant as anyone could be, with these whispers and sound bites, the supposed evidence.
Now in at least one conversation with Nityananda (we were discussing how we were going to put this together), and he said to me, "Is there any way that we could move things around", (I think was the term that he used), "to make the case a little bit stronger."
Now I'm not stupid, nor am I naive, I'm a self-employed businessman, I've never worked for anyone else in my life, and I've done reasonably well, and I understand exactly what somebody means when they say can we, move something around' in the audio field.
Now for the benefit of listeners out there who don't have a background in professional audio I should tell you that with the new digital technology, and we run Pro-Tools at our studio, which is the most up-to-date, highest technological digital editing audio system that there is. Edits can be, at the hands of an experienced engineer, (which is definitely what we have at our facility, having done over a hundred spoken word CD's for companies like Random House, Bantam, Doubleday Dal, Herbert Collins Audio, many other big, big companies), these edits are generally seamless. You can not detect, even with headphones. You do an edit and you take a layman or anybody and tell them to put the headphones on and you listen to where I did the edit, where I split the words to make it say something different than it actually said organically in the beginning, and if the person knows what they're doing and uses the right equipment, you just can't hear it. Hence audiotape is generally speaking, no longer admissible in a cou
But did Nityananda... am I willing to state here publicly, and if it ever comes to it, under the penalty of perjury, that on at least one occasion did Nityananda request that in the studio, that you enhance, move around, juxtapose, some of the internal content of some of these whispers and sound bites, in order to present a stronger case or to put a finer point on it, or to make a more damning piece of taped evidence? My answer would have to be, "Yes". To which I declined, or rather demurred, I just kind of blew it off, rather than just saying no I said, "I don't think that would be a good idea."
I don't trust him, I don't trust him, I don't trust, being an audio professional, I don't take anything on the surface. You know, the way you ask that question the implication is that we should take these at face value, I'm not even saying that, we shouldn't believe. I mean, do you know how many hands, I mean Nityananda himself in his book chronicles the number of people that he's hired, that have been in his employ, that were not devotees, who therefore only interest was remunerative, that they wanted to make some money, and you know, audio boys work on an hourly rate, generally speaking, so the longer they do, the more they do, the more money they get.
(Do you know) how many hands these things have been through, over twenty years, twenty-five years? Many disgruntled people in ISCON, many unhappy people in ISKCON didn't get what they wanted. Who knows how long this thing could go on. In fact I did a book called Paint it Black- the murder of Brian Jones' which is now being turned into a movie by Miramax, and that whole book was taped (Brian Jones was one of the rolling Stones who was murdered, or I advanced the theory that he was murdered, and we had a taped confession). And I know how things can be juxtaposed, so I don't even trust, is you're asking now just on face value, "What do you think?" the first thing I would say (let me preface that by saying) I don't even trust that material, knowing what can be done.
Now if you say, well blow that out and speak to me on what you heard. If you're in a court of law, you have a body of evidence, and inherent within that evidence you have interpreters of the evidence and you have a referee called the judge. The interpreters are the prosecution and the defense. Now they both are working with the same body of evidence, but indeed they both have their own agendas, and predicated on the nature of their agenda, whether they're pro or against, they will interpret that evidence and they will hammer and present that evidence to the jury with a spin. And that is, if there is anything that can be gleaned from this it is (I'm a guy who's worked in the media, I know what spin is, I know how the organization of material can be put together in such a way that it can say absolutely anything).
Now the thing is, look, this has not been a scientific investigation nor could it be. Unfortunately, for better or for worse, too much time has elapsed. I believe that it has to remain a dead issue. Now the big thing that everybody's heralding now is this hair evidence. How do we know it's Prabhupada's hair? How do we know that it isn't? Yes, true, but how do we know that it is? Well there's only one way that I know, and that's to take something that was unequivocally from Prabhupada's body and do a DNA sampling and compare the two. That hasn't been done, and to my knowledge it can't be done.
So we have a guy now, a guy that has a long history (Nityananda) of being very dissatisfied with ISKCON, I believe he told me, bragged to me, that he was the only person ever formally excommunicated form ISKCON, you know, a guy that's very unhappy with ISKCON, obviously been unhappy with the GBC and the way that things have been going, for years and years and years, and has stated that publicly. Now it's he, rather than some devotee who's never had a problem, or that's been on the outskirts or kept a low profile, but isn't it interesting that this very, very controversial fellow, who's just had one axe to grind after another, has come forward and is the harbinger or indeed the messenger and absolutely the promoter of this thing to our devotee family around the world?
So, on the surface I'd say that, "I am not sold". I've been a person who with Virgin Books, Richard Branson, I mean these are big people, did my Paint it Black- the murder of Brian Jones', in which we relied solely on taped evidence and the interpretation of taped evidence. I am not convinced, both in my literary pursuits and my audio pursuits that there is even smoke here, let alone fire. Who knows where those bits came from and what the idea was behind them. Just going back to the Strawberry Fields idea, for years and years it was, "I buried Paul", therefore Paul McCartney's dead. And then here I get the bed tracks, and clear as it possibly could be it's, cranberry sauce'. So cranberry sauce' becomes I buried Paul'. So there you go. You take the Prabhupada whispers and bits and bobs and you can turn them into anything you want. And I believe its been picked up by people with an agenda.
First of all, when Prabhupada says, "Somebody has poisoned me", what does he mean? I mean, you have to look at the context. You can take the words and you can clip them at the head and you can clip them at the tail and you can throw them on a CD, and they can mean something entirely different from that which was the original intention of the speaker. Now, I can see many instances where Prabhupada was saying, "I am being poisoned", could mean that he's unhappy with the way its going with his godbrothers, or the karma from his disciples, or he's not feeling good that day, or he's being, as I express it, in his speech, a figure of speech. I've heard Prabhupada, I've all the ITV tapes and all the CD's from the archives, and a lot of the old cassettes, and I know that Prabhupada was a man who a/ joked around a lot, in certain moods that he was in, b/ used a lot of figures of expression, constantly using similes and figures of expression, sometimes was being a spiritual master and a nitya-siddha, advanced highly s
So if you couple all these things together, and the fact that there was always a lot of problems with his devotees. Prabhupada had a tough road to hoe. I mean he had a lot of American kids, mostly ex-hippies and substance abusers, very poorly brought up and spoiled by Dr. Spock or whatever, and he was having to deal with this worldwide movement based on these dumb American kids like me, by and large, in many cases. So he had a lot on his plate at all times. So poison could mean any darn thing.
I'm just saying that, "I have been poisoned", thing as an example, that's just one thing, but I'm sure you can look at them, pretty much all of them... the thing is a thirty year old piece of tape, you know, you might as well get a message in a bottle from somebody and try to figure out where it came from. It just never can inherently, organically, be ultimately believable.
Of course their theory's been advanced, Well, you've got to kill a dying man because this dying man might come out and say something publicly which is going to then rebuke or throw down the phony guru thing, so that the ritvik thing can be... you know, you can say anything, mighta, woulda, coulda, shoulda, you know, its not journalism, its not fact, it's speculation, something I believe our guru maharaja has told us to try and avoid. So you know, if you want to take a dip in the ocean of speculation then jump into the poison issue, because really that's all it is, smoke and mirrors.
Nityananda was the only person who asked me to do anything deceptive, and that was on, I think just one occasion.
Dhanesvara was boorish in my home, you know like with the long distance calls, he'd contravened some agreements we had, and these were very long distance calls to India and things like that, you know, "Don't worry we'll pay you". That was a little odd, I was a little worried about that. Knowing that sometimes devotees, here or there, the history of ISKCON, (I've been around thirty years), he was a little suspect in the way he was acting, different things that he'd said that we felt were very impolite, demanding dinner, things like that. Little things if you think about it, but if you have to live with the guy it became tough, he didn't seem to following any sadhana. But the main thing to me was (I said to my wife), "If this guy believes (as he does fervently, I mean to the point of being a zealot), that anything that's taped if you play it backwards, psychically, (and I use the word psychically because I don't know how else it could be) that the actual truth and purport of what the person really wants to say
So if that's what this investigation is pinned on, if this is the kind of players we have, it's just far too spurious and far too suspect for me to be involved in.
Now I should tell you a little bit of the history because in his book Nityananda tries to make hay in the introduction about the fact that the poison CD and all the materials went missing. I'd like to explain to the world exactly how that happened.
When I formed SRI I went to India and I got at varying times, various numbers of Indian boys, which I paid their way and their expenses and sponsored them through the consulate in Delhi to come over. So I had some brahmacaris living there and we had a programme going, I wanted to start an ashram, so we needed devotees, and everybody knows devotees are in short supply all over the world, so I brought these boys over.
Now one of the boys there had a background in accounting, in management he was Mahaman's (temple president of Vrindavana) secretary, his names Gaura Daya Dasa. Now Gaura Daya Dasa is a fellow of a lot of contradictions, he comes from a very wealthy family; he's a Jayapataka disciple. He got into a serious car accident while he was at my house and almost died, and we had to nurse him back to health. And when I say nurse him, I mean nurse him. I mean take care of some of his bodily functions, and you know, help the guy and wash the guy. I think he tried to take a bottle of pills to kill himself, he was in such pain, it was a really tragic situation, and my daughter was driving the car so I felt very responsible, here he was, came from India and... So, to be honest with you, I like Gaura and I love Gaura to this day, he's a real character and he's just the kind of guy I like. And I like him, but he's a rascal (laughs), that's the other thing. Definitely a rascal.
So I went to Vrindavana with my wife, to take my wife Vrindadevi to Vrindavana. This was maybe 2 weeks after I'd finished the first draft of the poison CD. So when I left I gave these to Gaura...somehow or other Dhanesvara left his DAT's of the interviews at my place, and I think there was some arrangement to return them but somehow or other it hadn't been done yet, and I went off to India. So I said to Gaura, "Look here's the DAT tapes of the interviews, " (to the best of my recollection this is, because at the time it was just a peripheral thing, I didn't know all this was going to happen, it was just one of many instructions I gave Gaura, Gaura was in charge.) So I gave Gaura this box of DAT's and I gave Gaura...when we cut listening copies of the poison CD I made one for myself, of course I did for my reference. And I gave him that copy and I also gave him a copy of my lost Prabhupada CD, and I gave them to him and I said, "Look, this is very sensitive material, keep it very safe."
Well I got a call from my daughter (I call every few days, I think probably most devotees do to see how everything's going), and my daughter said, "The boys have run away, they've stolen all the money, the bank account and they've taken all the stuff with them." So there was three boys, a boy called Srivas Das, Gaura Daya Dasa and another boy, Jayesh Nilakanta Deva. These three boys they ran away, in the middle of the night. And yeah they did clean out the bank account, they stole $1, 300, they forged the name on an ashram cheque for $1, 300, which has since been taken care of by Gaura Daya, who did the right thing, many months later. And he also admitted to me that he took all these other things. And what did he do? He turned them over to ISKCON. Probably through Tri Kala Jna in Washington DC. So now when I got home, everything was gone, at that point I was feeling not so good about Nityananda, but not so bad also, because he is a charming fellow, and you know, there was always the idea of doing some future b
So they kept sending me these nasty e-mails and putting up things on their web sites, you know, Rocan's Hare Krishna web site, and all this garbage that I had stolen them and sold them and was trying to be duplicitous and do something or other with them for my own material benefit...this and that. So anyway, to cut a long story short, I didn't do that. Gaura stole them and gave them to ISKCON. So to cover my tracks (cover my tracks means to do things properly as a businessperson and to deal with the matter in a professional way) I went to the FBI, Buffalo office and spoke to agent Joe something or other, (its written down at home), and spoke to him and made a report with the FBI that this such and such was stolen, and with the Lockport Police chief, Neil Merritt, and I have a copy of the police report. So when Nityananda came to me and said look, "What's the deal?" I will say that while others were being very accusatory, Nityananda, perhaps by being smart enough to know that you can catch more flies with me wi
I made a police report and an FBI report, (because these things had been taken to another state, therefore it becomes potentially a federal... although they could have cared less) but you know there's severe penalties for people that make false police reports and false reports to the FBI. So that's the truth and I didn't do that. And I'm happy to clear that up because that was one of the bits of ammunition and inferences in the introduction of that book "Someone has Poisoned Me', by Nityananda, that somehow the tapes went missing. They went missing because they were stolen. And yes they were given to ISKCON, but not by me.
I think that Nityananda and his cronies have chosen to make this a public issue through speaking and publishing, and I think that ISKCON should do the same thing. I think it should be very open and up front and I think things like this interview are terrific, not because I get a chance to hear myself talk but because this thing should be aired. I think its very unlikely, as a person who's been around for 30 years, and this is only my opinion, that Srila Prabhupada was poisoned. I don't think he was. You can see that being convinced conversely I was ready to act and ready to put my money where my mouth is and publicly take a stance that Prabhupada was.
And now after being given, in the minds of Nityananda probably 4-5 million dollars to say what I am saying by the GBC... No, that's not the case. I'm saying what I'm saying because this is what I firmly believe, having been on the inside of this matter.
This will only potentially cause me trouble. There's no gain in this for me. Everybody that subscribes to the poison theory is going to be very upset with me. There's no particular gain from ISKCON. There not giving out any blank cheques to Jagannatha Das Adhikari for his participation in this, giving the interview or whatever, writing these things on Cakra. It's just going to create trouble for me and potentially my family. But I'm doing it because I got thrown into the middle of this controversy, and I had certain information, and I just feel that it's my duty as some kind of aspiring lifelong kanistha Adhikari here, (if I can even say that) to do what I can for Srila Prabhupada and his movement.
And to defame his memory like this, you know Someone has Poisoned Me'. Actually the title of that book is correct, someone has poisoned Prabhupada, but that I feel, and I say this not happily, can only be Nityananda. Because he's poisoned the name of Srila Prabhupada, he's poisoned the reputation of his movement that he started.
Please all of the godbrothers and godsisters out there who have been wounded by this, which I have now after so long, many, many months now, have had time to think and reflect and meditate on the particulars of and evidence presented and my interactions with the principals, I apologize publicly for my participation in this, I wish I'd never gotten involved.
But perhaps, many of you may know that I was once Ronald McDonald on TV commercials and now that gives me a terrific platform from which to speak about vegetarianism (I've done so many things with CBS and big newspaper articles all around the world, that its kind of now turned into a blessing). So in this way, having been involved in this poison issue is not an opportunity to make political hay with anybody, but rather to speak out when I see something that's so blatantly wrong, so obviously pinned to an personal agenda of the progenitors of this matter. And I apologize therefore to all the devotees around the world for any offence I have done in that regard.
But now I'd like to apologize on behalf of all the conspirators, whether they like it or not, for those wounded hearts and minds, people that aren't quite sure. People that can't really take... people like Tamal Krishna, who's been really like the focus of this in many ways, you know, how they take him might be colored by this. Now they're not sure if they're dealing with a bona-fide representative of the acharya or a murderer. I mean what could be worse?
I myself have lived in the shadow of people casting aspersions on my character when I know that in 95% of the cases that it was based on some false evidence, but I had to suffer the consequences for that, so its not fair. I feel, coming from the platform that Prabhupada was not murdered, that for any of these senior devotees to have aspersions cast on their character and their motives throughout their devotional life, to be ruined or besmirched by this man, Nityananda... so I think its wrong and if he doesn't have the grace to apologize, I apologize on his behalf. And also for the rank and file of ISKCON, the hard-core people that have been out there for years collecting and don't have big positions, but, you know, just don't know what to think about this matter and are hurt.
So that's all and Hare Krishna and thank-you for the opportunity to speak this afternoon.
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