May 5, 2000 VNN5925 Comment on this story
Reader Response To 'Homicide In New Mayapur'
FRANCE, May 5 (VNN) Reader Response to VNN story "Homicide In New Mayapur?"
I was present in New Mayapura when this fire happened. The police were able to find the source of the fire, in the ashes. An electric heater had been placed next to the beds of the children. The sleeping bag that was covering them had fallen onto it. It caught fire. The older child ran out and came to the temple to tell us. He was covered with smoke and screaming when he burst into the temple room where we were. The men, including Bhagavan, all rushed to the site, but the entire trailer was in flames. There was no way to get in to rescue the baby, who died in the fire. We were all devastated.
However, they came to the conclusion that the fire was accidental.
The mother, Bhaktin Anne, always thought that someone hated her and had done this to her. But no one hated her, and no one did anything to her. It was a tragic accident. Why tragic accidents happen is a good question, but there was nothing criminal in the case at all. The French police definitely tried to find out if there was a criminal cause, because that would have served their purposes in getting rid of us once and for all. However, they came to the conclusion that the fire was accidental.
My own house in New Mayapura burned down, a few years back. We lost everything we owned, but got out alive. My own feeling at the time was that perhaps someone had set the fire. To top it all off, people started rumors that we were using electric heaters in that house, which had been banned since the first fire. We were not, of course, but these people even went so far as to plant an electric heater at the site of the fire. It was obvious what they had done, since the heater was not burned in any way. The real reason for the fire turned out to be a short circuit in the electric wiring that came into the house. At one time, there had been a pottery shop there. A special high tension wire had been put in for the kiln. However, since it kept shorting out the electricity in that area, the fuses had been removed. So on the day of that fire, the short turned into a fire in the wall, which turned into a burned down house.
Like I said, I had bitter feelings about the devotees who had removed the fuses, about the ones who planted an electric heater, about the ones I imagined had wanted to kill me. However, with time and reflection, I realized that these fears and thoughts were unjustified and gave them up.
I feel that Anne and her son should also understand that accidents happen even to devotees. It is a time for becoming a better devotee, not a time for making enemies of your best friends.
Your servant, Aradhya devi dasi
I was a kid in the ashram in France at the time. I am making a comment because I truly feel that the fire was an accident and not some plot by the people in New Mayapure. Also I should mention that I have not had any affiliation with Iskcon or the devotees in more than ten years, so this should make it clear that I have nothing to gain or care by my comment. I do remember the incident of the trailer fire. The boy who wrote this letter was really quite young at the time and so was his little brother. There were three boys all together. Their mother as I remember was like most devotee mothers. Layman's terms, not a very responsible mother who left her little ones unclean and uncared for. The fire happened when it was pretty cold out or at least at night it was. The reason which we were told for the fire was that somehow the space heater caught on fire. In my opinion, if Iskcon is responsible for anything in this incident, it is for the lack of proper safe housing for its devotees. Yes, it was unfortunate and sad that the baby died and what made it even sadder for me was that the day before it had happened, I found the baby crying, hungry and dirty outside in it's stroller left all alone. Us girls where probably thirteen at the time and had stayed and soothed the crying baby while one us went to search for its mother.
To the boy who wrote this letter, I am sorry for your loss and for your sadness of growing up in Iskcon. I truly understand how difficult of an experience that was. We were all a bunch of children that needed and deserved to be loved and cared for. The best thing I did since leaving the gurukula and Iskcon was to give up my hate. My comments of my recollections of this incident was what I could remember. I hope it may shed some light on the unfortunate time.
Take care, Gaurangi
I was in Gurukula of New Mayapura when this happened. It was back in 1978 or 1979. The boy whose brother died in the fire was at the time 4 - 5 years old if I remember correctly. The fire happened after Mangal Aratik, at Japa time. As I remember it, and a few other people here who were around at the time, the fire was due to an electric heater. The family was living in an ALGECO, a wooden building usually used by builders and the likes to either store their tools or set up temporary office or living facilities. Quite a few devotees lived in them. Very often they would heat with an electric heater. As far as I remember Rama Kirtan das who had an older brother Mahamantra dasa, was in the Algeco when the fire started. From what he told people afterwards the baby's blanket had fallen on the heater. He ran to the temple to alert the devotees leaving his baby brother in the Algeco. These things burn really fast and there was little chance of the baby being saved. The local fire department came to the scene but there was little they could do.
Govinda dasa (aka Veda)
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