Letter From New Mayapur France GBC

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By Hrdaya Caitanya das

Dear Vaishnavas,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

We are profoundly saddened that in New Mayapur on Friday 23 July in the early morning hours (around 1:00 am) Citra mataji committed suicide by setting her body on fire.

Citra mataji joined ISKCON in Spain more than twenty years ago. For many years she has been serving Their Lordships at New Mayapur with great dedication and in a very devotional mood. Her life was very simple and centered around Krishna. She lived in a room in the castle and had no other aspirations than to serve the Lord with whatever means she had.

Two years ago she became physically more limited in her service because she underwent a hip operation, and to make matters more difficult, she became afflicted with Parkinson’s disease, a crippling disease characterized by muscle spasms and rigidity, tremors, slow movements and loss of control over many parts of the body. She thus had to give up her cherished service of dressing Sri Sri Krishna Balarama; gradually she had to phase out of all her pujari services, but she nevertheless continued making garlands and was even taking care of Tulasi devi as much as she possibly could.

Her suicide attracted much attention from the legal authorities. The senior devotees in New Mayapur are dealing with this in as mature a way as possible. Of course it is understood that for devotees, suicide is not an option.

The general consensus among the devotees is that Citra’s motivation for this dreadful decision was that she felt herself becoming a burden to others. It seems that because of her physical limitations, suicide by fire was the most accessible means. This terrible incident should also be taken as a lesson that ISKCON Europe’s devotees must start to seriously consider what we need to do in order to provide proper facilities for our devotees who have served for a lifetime, but who can no longer do so. Aged and sickly devotees should not become so isolated that they become overwhelmed by the idea of themselves being a burden.

Although suicide is generally considered a seriously sinful act, I agree with Praghosha prabhu who said that “Because Citra mataji was a devotee and performed so much service, whatever the standard ‘punishments’ are for living entities committing suicide will not be so stringently applied in her case.”

Let us remember with great appreciation the decades of dedicated service performed by Citra mataji, and let us pray that the Lords she worshiped so lovingly will intervene in such a manner that she will quickly be able to have more and more opportunities to find shelter in Their devotional service.

Your servant,

Hrdaya Caitanya das.

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1 Madhusudana

“This terrible incident should also be taken as a lesson that ISKCON Europe’s devotees must start to seriously consider what we need to do in order to provide proper facilities for our devotees who have served for a lifetime, but who can no longer do so. Aged and sickly devotees should not become so isolated that they become overwhelmed by the idea of themselves being a burden.”

It is not just ISKCON Europe’s devotees, but all ISKCON devotees, myself and leaders included. Somehow or other we have to remedy this situation. Devotees are valued when they are doing service but when THEY need service it seems like we are all “too busy.” The movement now is so large it is too easy to be impersonal, to just hide and turn a blind eye.

Perhaps members of each ISKCON community and temple can band together and endeavor to make those infirm devotees feel wanted and encouraged rather than isolated or neglected.

Comment posted by Madhusudana on August 20th, 2010
2 Puskaraksa das

On one hand, it takes a tremendous amount of courage (and cold-bloodedness) to perform sati on one’s own… Collect wood for the pyre, set one’s body on fire in the vicinity of the temple… No one heard anything !

On the other hand, one may also wonder how deprived of spiritual guidance one may have been, to set up such a plan on one’s own, in the loneliness of one’s mind….

This questions how intimate and comforting may the relationships amongst devotees be within our Movement, within and without ISKCON properties… and how attentive we may be to each others welfare and well-being…

Beyond the issue of euthanasia is also indirectly raised (be it self-performed), meant to escape the uncomfortable situation generated by disease, versus an attitude of tolerance and forebearance towards whatever may have come to us, be it due to our past karma or to the supreme arrangements of Providence…

Besides, as a structured society, we should certainly also envision how we can set up retiring homes as they, for instance, exist for the catholic clergy…

We also have to assist devotees at the end of their lives and provide them both with an appropriate spiritual and medical environment, which may be conducive both to their spiritual elevation and to bearing whatever bodily pain and discomforts they may have to face….

Beyond the spiritual will to make progress in these matters and look after devotees in a better way, the financial question may be raised of how to find the means to deal with these situations in an efficient way !

In this connection, our Movement, Srila Prabhupada’s Movement, also has to be structured in a proper way, so that we may have the monetary ressources to face the challenges of a welcoming shelter for the eternal servants of the divine couple…

But this is another issue which has to be dealt aside from these painful circumstances…

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on August 25th, 2010
3 Locanananda dasa

As soon as I arrived at New Mayapur on August 5th to attend the Kulimela, the first thing I was told by devotees was that Citra mataji had left her body. Two weeks after the incident, devotees were still visibly shaken.

No one can be happy if they consider themselves to be a burden on society. No matter how much service one has done in the past, unless one is on a very elevated platform, we all need to be actively engaged in service for the mind to be peacefully absorbed in thoughts of Krishna.

There is no doubt that the role of responsible devotees is to see to it that those around them are blissfully rendering devotional service to the Lord. If that is not the case, there are many signs that a devotee is experiencing difficulty. Depressing thoughts are the product of an unbridled mind that has come under the sway of the lower modes of nature. If this problem is brought to your attention, you must see it as Krishna’s arrangement for you to help His dear servant and bring him or her back to the blissful life of Krishna consciousness.

If depression persists over an extended period of time, one’s thoughts can become suicidal. A devotee has to be totally fixed in the understanding that suicide is one of the last snares of nescience, thinking that my misery will end with the death of this body.

Life is very dear, and the devotee who lives in this world purifies it by his presence. As the population of our movement ages, we must encourage one another to make whatever contribution we are capable of
to the propagation of Krishna consciousness. Proving to the world that one can remain a devotee throughout one’s entire life is in itself a great contribution. We should allow Krishna to reveal His plan to us with regard to how and when we will naturally leave this world. That would be most auspicious.

Devotees are compassionate by nature. We should let that compassion shine through by appreciating and caring for the devotees in our midst who are most vulnerable. Just as we say, “No one should go hungry in a ten mile radius of our temples,” similarly, no devotee should be left to feel isolated and neglected within a ten, fifty, or hundred mile radius of our centers. This is one of the benefits of developing a congregation of devotees and friends of devotees, that they can look after one another’s welfare, both material and spiritual. The temple itself is the spiritual hub, and the compassion of the devotees should expand outwardly in waves.

Comment posted by Locanananda dasa on August 27th, 2010

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