Reply to Mukunda dasa

by Krishnakant

This is in reply to Mukunda das's recent article wherein he attempts to find 'contradictions' in the IRM paper - 'Does Srila Prabhupada Support Poisoning Theory'. Unfortunately, as with all those who have so far attempted to find 'mistakes' in the IRM papers such as the GBC, PADA etc., this latest effort is also based on a failure to properly read what we actually say. 
Mukunda's main comments will be boxed in speech marks thus " ", with my comments following underneath:

"In the following article we would like to point out some contradictory statements in IRM's paper - 'Does Srila Prabhupada Support Poisoning Theory?' [...] No IRM member can propagate any literature or messages to the effect that Srila Prabhupada was deliberately poisoned but the IRM leader and member, rather than waiting for the outcome of the "official investigation on this subject" (as he instructs the IRM members to do) in his next newsletter (no. 9) propagates the Web page chakra, who's view is certainly not neutral. Chakra's view is that Srila Prabhupada wasn't poisoned."
  1. Having told us that he is going to "point out some contradictory statements in IRM's paper - 'Does Srila Prabhupada Support Poisoning Theory?' ", the author immediately refers us to supposed IRM statements which are not even from the paper mentioned. This is itself a contradiction.
  2. The statement that we 'propagate' a non-neutral view on the poison issue is untrue. We simply stated that technical arguments regarding the effects of arsenic need to be replied to if we are to take Nityananda's book seriously:

"The above (articles on arsenic) has not been responded to by Nityananda Das and until it is we can only assume he has no answer to this apparent expose of most of the claims for 'evidence' made in his book."

We obviously cannot be categorically claiming that these articles on arsenic are DEFINITELY true, otherwise we would never have even raised the possibility of them being responded to. Thus the author's assertion that there is a contradiction here is incorrect, and this itself is another contradiction on the part of the author.

  1. ...Furthermore, if one is guilty of propagating a view simply by virtue of REFERRING to it in the context of asking for a response, then Mukunda, by quoting and referring to the IRM position in order to reply to it, would also be guilty of propogating the very IRM position he is trying to defeat!
    Thus this would be another contradiction.

Thus, far from pointing out any contradictions in the IRM paper, the author has himself stated 3 contradictions, and that is just in the very first statement he makes!

"Or in other words their view is: 'No Srila Prabhupada Doesn't Support Poisoning Theory!' But earlier they acknowledge that Srila Prabhupada says it is possible. Now they say Srila Prabhupada says no."
  1. The author has contradicted himself here by saying that on the one hand we actually say that Srila Prabhupada 'doesn't support' the poisoning theory', and then saying that what we actually say is that 'Srila Prabhupada says no'. The two statements are not the same.
  2. We do not say anywhere that: 'Srila Prabhupada says no'. We only say that he 'doesn't support' the theory that he has been poisoned because he has NOT made any statements directly in support of it - not because he HAS made a statement where he 'says no'.

To 'support' a theory means to 'corroborate' by 'bringing facts' - according to the Oxford dictionary. To simply say that an event is 'possible' is not the same as 'bringing facts' to 'corroborate' it. 
Indeed, even without Srila Prabhupada saying 'its possible', we all know it WAS possible that Srila Prabhupada could have been poisoned, especially given the history of nefarious activity by some of his disciples. But the issue is not if it was 'possible', but if it did actually happen; and whether Srila Prabhupada directly stated that it did (which he did not).

"If we look at how Srila Prabhupada always uses the word "it is possible" we will notice he and Lord Krsna use it to say it is a fact!"

The author then uses examples such as the following to try and prove his point:

"The difficulty of controlling the obstinate mind, as expressed by Arjuna, is accepted by the Personality of Godhead. But at the same time he suggests that by practice and detachment it is possible." (B:G 6:35)

However all the examples he uses work just as well with the standard meaning of 'its possible' - which is 'it can or is capable of existing/happening etc.' - i.e. the conditional sense. In the above example the outcome is only 'possible' if various conditions are met - namely that there is the right quantity of 'practice' and 'detachment'. Similarly, although it is 'possible' that Srila Prabhupada was poisoned, we will only know if he definitely was if some solid evidence emerges - or if we can locate a statement from Srila Prabhupada where he says he definitely WAS poisoned. In that instant a mere 'possibility' (which we have always accepted) would shift into a definite fact. And to prove beyond a doubt that 'it is possible' is not always used by Srila Prabhupada to mean 'it is a fact' 
- the following example will suffice:

"This realization was achieved by Lord Brahma after he was purified, and it is possible for everyone." (7:7:35)

If we take the author's translation of the word 'Its possible', the above statement would have to say:

"This realisation was achieved by Lord Brahma after he was purified, and it is a fact for everyone."

Which would mean that everyone NOW has the same level of realisation as Lord Brahma! Which of course is absurd, and is the last thing the author would agree to. The only meaning that makes sense is the literal and standard meaning of 'it is possible' - the conditional - which is that everyone has the opportunity that IF they underwent the same type of purification, they CAN also achieve the same level of realisation. 

We have to say that this is the first example in history where a disciple has attempted to translate the words of the acarya in the SAME LANGUAGE. We would strongly advise the author to stop putting words into Srila Prabhupada's mouth and to allow him to say what he says - which is that 'it is possible' means 'it is possible' - instead of speculating that it must mean something else.

"They have tried very hard to prove that Srila Prabhupada was not poisoned by trying to eliminate the main evidence, Srila Prabhupada's own words, and the conclusion of their paper is No Srila Prabhupada Doesn't Support Poisoning Theory!"
  1. We have not tried to 'eliminate' anything. We have simply stated what Srila Prabhupada's words actually WERE - and we obviously can not 'eliminate' statements that do not exist.
  2. Further, by arguing that it is even possible to 'prove' Srila Prabhupada was NOT poisoned by 'eliminating' his words, the author is assuming that Srila Prabhupada's words alone can constitute proof for whether or not Srila Prabhupada was poisoned. 
    This would rule out the ability of OTHER evidence besides Srila Prabhupada's words to independently prove that Srila Prabhupada was poisoned.
    This would mean that the author would also have to 'eliminate' other forms of evidence such as the 'arsenic in the hair' and the 'whispers' etc., as being evidence that proves that Srila Prabhupada was poisoned - otherwise he would again be guilty of another contradiction.
"We would like to humbly suggest that the IRM should have also, at least concluded the title of their paper It is possible Srila Prabhupada supports the poison theory. Instead they say "Thus the answer to the title of this paper has to be 'no'."
  1. The answer 'no' is NOT in reply to the question - 'Was Srila Prabhupada poisoned' - but in reply to the question - "Does Srila Prabhupada Support Poisoning Theory". The two things are not necessarily the same. It is possible that a person can be poisoned without the victim having announced to the world beforehand that 'I have been poisoned'. Indeed some poison-theorists argue that Srila Prabhupada would indeed never make such a statement due to his humility - that is because he is so saintly he is not interested in self-preservation. Thus the 'poison-theorists' themselves have completely contradictory theories.
  2. The statement 'Its Possible' relates to the issue of poisoning - and we all agree that it is POSSIBLE. Unlike members of the GBC we have never categorically said that someone did NOT attempt to poison Srila Prabhupada. We have simply said that Srila Prabhupada did not HIMSELF directly say it. And the statement that something is 'possible' is not the same as saying that it did happen, or even that it was likely to have happened, or that indeed this is evidence of 'corroborating' the event by 'bringing facts'. Simply stating that an event is 'capable of happening' (definition of 'possible') cannot simultaneously also be evidence that it DID happen.
  3. And indeed we DO say right at the end of our paper:

"All we would say is that the title of his book should have been 'It's Possible', for these are the only words Srila Prabhupada himself offers on the subject of his poisoning."
(IRM Paper. 'Does Srila Prabhupada Support Poisoning Theory')

"One final nail in the coffin of the idea (picture in the mind or belief) that Srila Prabhupada is himself revealing that he is being poisoned" 

Please forgive my offenses but this doesn't sound like a very neutral approach." (Mukunda)

Please see the explanation above. We are neutral on the issue of whether or not Srila Prabhupada was poisoned. We are NOT neutral on what Srila Prabhupada himself said directly on the subject - and we never said we were - since his words can be easily ascertained by the simple act of reading and hearing.

"An interesting point about this final nail (The kaviraja's testimony to Adri Dharana dasa) Earlier the IRM had said the views and opinions of others who were in the room with Srila Prabhupada were of no relevance to them and that they were only going to rely on what Srila Prabhupada himself said, rather than what feelings or suspicions his words might invoke in devotees minds and hearts."
  1. ... Here the author is claiming that it is contradictory for us to present the conversation with the Kaviraja since we had said earlier that we would only rely on Srila Prabhupada's words. But we do not RELY on the words of the Kaviraja, since before presenting the conversation with the kaviraja what we actually say is:

    "One final nail in the coffin of the idea that Srila Prabhupada is himself revealing that he is being poisoned is found in the following ... 
    [testimony of Kaviraja follows].

We say one 'final nail in the coffin' - which in figurative terms means we already have a COFFIN. That means we have ALREADY established that the idea Srila Prabhupada is himself stating that he was poisoned is unsupported by the evidence. So we can not possibly be RELYING on the 'nail' as evidence when we have already said that the 'coffin' exists. Thus, by definition the testimony of the kaviraja could not have had any relevance to establishing a conclusion that had already been established even before the testimony was introduced.

  1. Indeed, if the author goes back and reads again he will see that before presenting the testimony with the Kaviraja we had already presented over 90% of the paper, RELYING totally and exclusively on Srila Prabhupada's words to establish our conclusion, as we said we would. We then presented that conclusion under a heading called (not surprisingly) - 'Conclusion'.
  2. For those who are unfamiliar with the use of the phrase 'Final Nail in the Coffin' - it is used as an embellishment - literally 'over-kill' - when you have already 100% established an idea and rendered it completely useless - put it in the 'coffin'. We hope the analogy was not distasteful, given that we are talking about Srila Prabhupada's passing from us- but still in no way can we be 'RELYING' on the testimony of the Kaviraja as evidence. It was simply thrown in with a couple of other points at the end of the paper, once the conclusion had already been established. We appreciate that the author may have made an honest mistake here - clearly not having a full mastery of the English language. The main point is that if you took out the supplementary reference to the Kaviraja, the paper's established conclusion would be unaffected. Mukunda knows this full well and is thus clutching at straws here.

If we want to get picky, as the authour has tried and failed to do with us, we can note that the above point is stated by the author in a section called 'Further Contradictions'.
This is in itself yet another contradiction from the author, since he had already stated the exact same point in his main paper. 
So it is not a 'further contradiction' but rather the 'same' alleged contradiction, simply repeated.

This completes the reply to all the points that the author has put forward as supposed contradictions by the IRM. He has also made some other points that are not evidence of contradictions in the IRM paper, but merely the author's own arguments in relation to the poison issue. We can answer these after our own points are first understood correctly, and it is accepted that there are no contradictions in the IRM paper in question. The author had confidently opened his paper by quoting Srila Prabhupada stating the following, hoping it would be shown to apply to us:

'If he says contradictory things is he not a rascal'?
(Srila Prabhupada Conversation, Philadelphia, July 13th 1975)

Unfortunately for the author, due to his inability to READ what we actually say, and as we have shown very clearly far - the author has not managed to find a single contradiction in the IRM paper, but rather has only succeeded in stating many contradictions himself each time he makes a point. We shall display more generosity than Mukunda and say that his many contradictions are most likely due to ineptitude, rather than him being a rascal.