Seeking The Essence

Clearing Life's Webs and Weeds….

Only A Dead Body

Sankara Dasi Memorial Pic    Sankara Dasi Memorial    Gaura Nitai Statues    Sankara dasi Samadhi near Gaura Nitai Statues

My mother, Sankara devi dasi, left her body in 1985. She was originally buried in New Vrindaban near the place where the bird aviary and samadhi of Hayagriva prabhu are today. As New Vrindaban was building the bird aviary the person who was using a piece of heavy equipment to dig a drainage ditch accidentally disturbed two graves: my mother’s and Mathura prabhu’s.  Once the graves were opened the local medical examiner and prosecutor were called in to make sure there was no foul play involved. The local officials decided to call the media, who filmed the exhumation and later aired it on the evening news. “Only A Dead Body” is an article I wrote in the mid 1980’s (when I was 18 or 19) protesting the fact that the local TV station aired footage of my mother’s remains as they were being moved from her original burial site. You can read the article by clicking on “Read more” below.

2005 marked the 20th anniversary of her passing. The above pictures are of a Nama Samadhi (granite memorial bench) her family dedicated in her honor in July 2005. The memorial is situated along the scenic walking path that winds around the Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra Temple Lake at the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya and Nityananda and in the shadow of Srila Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold. The bench serves both as her memorial and as a place for people to relax and appreciate their surroundings as they follow the parikrama path through the holy dhama.

Only A Dead Body

The search party arrives at the grave.  A man jumps into the pit and digs trough the dirt.  As the camers rolls, he uncovers bits of decomposed bone and rotting fabric – a corpse!

Is this a scene from from the latest horror movie? No. It’s the Evening News from a local TV station presenting yet another story that depicts the Hare Krishnas as mindless killers.  Won’t there ever be an end to the harassment?

Yes, there was a body, as the News showed in such gruesome detail.  The grave site was known and registered with the State. The body was from a middle-aged woman who died died of cancer in a hospital nearly two years ago.

Evidently, the reporters must have thought she and her family hadn’t suffered enough.  Wasn’t it enough that they were forced to watch a loved one undergo years of chemotherapy, open heart surgery and a score of other operations as she slowly died of cancer.

Due to unfortunate circumstances her body had to be moved from its original resting place, reopening wounds not only of her immediate family, but her extended family as well: the entire New Vrindaban community.

I cannot understand how the news people could be so callous.  In their search for a sensational story, the media filled the airwaves with the ghastly incident, giving even her youngest child (only ten years old) an opportunity to watch.  It makes one stop and think about the motives of the people who decide what goes on the air.

During the same program they reported a man’s death by falling from a tree.  They showed the tree, but NOT the man’s smashed skull.  After all, it’s only common decency to keep things in good taste. But when it comes to the Hare Krishnas, there seems to be no need for such discrimination.

Some news people seem to think that the Hare Krishna devotees are no better than animals in a zoo to be put on display. How can anyone with any feelings sit idly and let this injustice go on?

I have never before seen such graphic detail on the Evening News, or for that matter on any television show, and  I hope to never see it again.  Then again, maybe I’m being too emotional – maybe I’m making too much out of this. Why should I care about a dead body? After all, she was only my mother….


September 5, 2006 - Posted by | Hare Krishna, ISKCON, New Vrindaban

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