CHAPTER 33: HAIR ANALYSIS
If Srila Prabhupada was poisoned, it
stands to reason that evidence of this could be found by forensic analysis of
His hair cuttings, fingernail clippings, or a tooth which may have been removed
from Srila Prabhupada's physical body sometime during the period of poisoning
and prior to entombment in His Vrindaban samadhi.
In December 1997 this reporter took half of his Prabhupada hair relic, about 40 milligrams worth, to First Analytical Laboratories in Chapel Hill, NC. This hair had been received from a (name forgotten) travelling sannyasi in 1978 as a gift, and it might have been cut from Srila Prabhupada's head late in the course of His presence with us, maybe in 1977. If there was a long term poisoning of Srila Prabhupada, this author's hair relic might provide proof of poison, detectable by chemical hair analysis. However, it is not known when this hair was cut.
Then in mid-February 1999 this reporter received unofficial reports (rumors) that Balavanta's hair test at the University of Missouri had come in positive for arsenic at abnormal levels. Apparently Balavanta had received his report about two months ago and was maintaining strict secrecy. Further rumors had it that Naveen Krishna was travelling to Mayapur to quietly present a partial report to some of the GBC with the recommendation that Balavanta's investigation be continued and expanded. This turned out not to be true. They were still both in Florida, and quiet as usual.
On February 19 this reporter telephoned
Dr. Steve Morris and verbally obtained the detailed results of Balavanta's hair
test. Dr. Morris received Srila Prabhupada's hair on June 15, 1998, and after
six months had completed the neutron activation analysis. This reporter had originally
arranged with Dr. Morris to perform a test on one or two hair samples pro bono
(free), but decided to use Dr Chatt in Nova Scotia. Balavanta was told that he
could use the free services of Dr. Morris, as Balavanta had made it clear that
his GBC provided funds for investigative work were very limited.
Dr. Morris was quite knowledgeable on
what constituted normal and abnormal levels of arsenic in human hair. He described
that normally one would expect to find from less than
0.05 parts of arsenic per million up to perhaps 0.1 to 0.2 parts per million,
depending on exposure to environmental contaminants and so on. His experience
was that farmers who are regularly exposed over a long term basis to agricultural
herbicides and pesticides containing arsenic compounds MIGHT temporarily attain
a level of 1.0 parts per million, which is probably why so many farmers handling
these kinds of chemicals have such high rates of serious diseases like cancer,
heart disease, Alzheimer's, etc. Dr. Morris then related that his testing revealed:
THE HAIR CONTAINED
ALMOST 3.0 PARTS PER MILLION.
Dr. Morris conservatively summarized by saying that Srila Prabhupada, at the time represented by that particular half inch of hair, at a very minimum, had 5 to 10 times the normal amount of arsenic as would be normally found in a person. In his opinion, this could not be produced by typical environmental factors, but required the oral ingestion or skin absorption of unusually large amounts of arsenic.
Using Dr. Morris's range of normal hair
levels, however, a simple calculation shows that, from 0.05 to 0.2 parts per million
as being normal, to almost 3.0 parts as tested is 15
to 60 times over average.
The presence of such high amounts of the world's deadliest poison in Srila Prabhupada's hair confirms: Srila Prabhupada was poisoned with arsenic.
It was heard that Balavanta was going
to test the Vrindaban ground water to satisfy doubters that there was no way Srila
Prabhupada's highly unusual arsenic contamination level was due to water impurities.
Srila Prabhupada resided in Vrindaban from May 17 to August 26 (100 days) and
from October 2 to November 14 (43 days).There was some news a few years back about
health problems in Bengal due to arsenic contamination in deep well water. However,
Srila Prabhupada left Mayapur, Bengal in March 1977 after a stay of six weeks
only (2.7 - 3.22). If it was the water, then why hasn't any of the permanent
residents in Vrindaban or Mayapur taken seriously ill by drinking the same
water for the last twenty years? This anticipated argument of discounting the
value of 3 ppm and attributing it to environmental factors and not to foul play
is what Balavanta was wanting to debunk in advance. This is commendable but seems
In a 1970 study by McCabe, et al., 99%
of 18,000 community water systems in the USA provided an average of about 0.015
milligram of arsenic per person per day. Contamination of well water with arsenic
has been a cause of serious health problems in a relatively few and isolated areas,
such as New Zealand, Argentina, Taiwan, Chile. The manifestations of illnesses
from well water contaminated with arsenic, however, involved permanent residents
of that area, not constant world travelers like Srila Prabhupada. The consistent
and cumulative effect of localized contaminated well water over a period of
years is what produced the negative health effects in those cases. Srila Prabhupada
spent at most only a few months in each location, in effect regularly changing
His water supply, while His health continued to steadily deteriorate. The source
of the arsenic was not the Vrindaban water.
Dr. Morris explained that the test measures
elements and not compounds. All arsenic compounds would be measured in terms of
their component elements, such as arsenic, oxygen, sulfur, etc. Within 12 to 24
hours of ingestion, arsenic will begin to be deposited in the hair. Periodic ingestions
of arsenic can be seen in a hair profile analysis and would show as changing amounts
along the length of the hair. The graph below shows a hypothetical relationship
of time, amount of arsenic ingested and the amount of arsenic deposited
in hair. Gradually, with a half-life of residence in the body of 3 to 5 days,
arsenic is eliminated by urine and other minor avenues or deposited in hair, skin,
nails, teeth and other bodily organs and tissues.
While present, arsenic does great damage, and those amounts which are not eliminated
continue to destroy the body internally. Unfortunately. Balavanta's hair sample
had insufficient length for this kind of profile study.
This hypothetical graph shows how hair levels of arsenic fluctuate greatly according to the timing and frequency of arsenic ingestions.
As this reporter has several
times seen since the beginning of the poison investigation, some devotees working
with the investigation, including the
attorneys Gupta and Balavanta, may think secrecy is the best approach. However,
any advantage there may be in surprising the suspects with a thick dossier of
evidence and extracting dramatic confessions has already been spoiled by the rumor
mill, and, although popular in television and Hollywood, may not be very practical
in the reality of our situation.
is firmly convinced that this book is necessary to compel the followers of Srila
Prabhupada to openly confront the fact that it is certain Srila Prabhupada was
"assassinated," probably by His closest disciples for the sake of their
To keep the evidence collected to date a secret seems unproductive, and a perpetuation of the most serious crime since the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Pusta Krishna Prabhu strongly advised this author that to publish this book would be a defamation of Srila Prabhupada and constitute a horrible offense against Him personally. Such are the illogical and emotional responses that are to be expected. If the evidence was unsubstantial, then Pusta Krishna has a good point. But if it is the truth and verified by substantial evidence, as is the case, then the "defamation" of poisoning Srila Prabhupada should be established and dealt with. This is another area that we do not have space herein to digress into; the conclusion is that the truth, not false rumors, is worthy of presenttation and will always result in good. Hiding the truth is dishonesty and always reacts negatively.
Since the nature and circumstances of
crimes of poisoning do not lend themselves to easy or smooth legal indictments
or convictions, the next best effective forum to obtain justice and historical
truth is in the public domain. Through the press and various other media, everyone
who cares to know may be informed of the evidence, out in the open. The hope is
that this will spur further participation and research into the investigation
at hand, resulting in further verification and the ultimate identification and
apprehension of the poisoners. Otherwise, are Srila Prabhupada's followers to
be deliberately left in the dark? Suppose our parents had died under suspicious
circumstances long ago. Is it wrong to try to discover the real story? And after
finding it, we should leave it secret? This makes no sense. Silence means complicity.
Let us not take this book as entertainment reading and then forget the matter.
There is already too much history in
Srila Prabhupada's movement of keeping truths from its members and thus a privileged
few then manipulate those kept in the dark. This reporter apologizes to Balavanta,
Gupta, the GBC, and others if they cannot appreciate this approach, and trusts
that time will show that this book was the right thing to produce.
Balavanta's hair analysis is no fluke,
accident, error or set-up. This high amount of arsenic could not have been accumulated
by ingestion of water or medicines which may have contained normal, tiny amounts
of arsenic. Water or medicines are not suspect. The conclusion
is that this amount is very abnormal and is totally consistent with poisoning,
almost certainly malicious in intent. How could it be accidental?
Referring to The Heavy Elements by
J.E. Fergusson, we find some test results for various categories on the arsenic
content of human hair: Keep in mind
that a mean weights the low and the high, so even one or a few high readings will
raise the mean far beyond the average. Those one or few persons testing relatively
high were undoubtedly exposed to more than usual amounts of arsenic due to environmental
or workplace conditions.
1. Normal hair: Mean of 0.62 ppm
2. USA males: Average of 0.12 - 0.14 ppm
3. Bulgaria, washed hair: 0.037 - 0.625 ppm, Mean of 0.158 ppm
4. Pakistan: Range of 0.04 - 1.41 ppm; Mean of 0.26 ppm
5. Rural Malaysia: Mean of 0.27 ppm
6. Rural and urban: Means of 0.68 ppm & 0.75 ppm
7. "Controls": Median of 0.23 & 0.38 ppm
8. Korea: Range of 0.015 - 0.74 ppm, Mean of 0.275 ppm
Thus we can see that the amounts differ
due to diet and environmental variances. Overall, however, we see commonly averages
much less than 0.5 ppm. It should be noted that we would expect that Srila Prabhupada's
arsenic levels would be probably lower than the average person who has resided
in urban areas of industrialized nations where the environmental contamination
is much higher than in Vrindaban, Bhubaneshwar, Hyderabad farm, Mayapur, and ISKCON
temples. Furthermore, Srila Prabhupada led a very healthy life of eating pure
foods and was exposed to very little (if any) modern agricultural products which
may contain toxic chemicals. The likelihood of environmental contamination causing
hair levels of 3 ppm in Srila Prabhupada is practically nil.
To illustrate the extreme toxicity of
arsenic, note that only 150 ppm of arsine gas in the air will cause immediate
death. Ordinarily a person ingests less than 1 milligram total of arsenic a day
from water, food and environmental pollution. According to the medical toxicology
texts, once this amount is tripled to about 3 mgm a day, chronic poisoning will
follow with serious health ramifications, compounded the longer the poisoning
continues. Arsenic is required in tiny amounts for the proper metabolism and health
of most living creatures. Once that tiny amount is increased even slightly, there
ensues a health hazard. The body tolerates arsenic with much more sensitivity
than with many other toxic elements, such as mercury and lead.
From the Miami Poison Control Center,
Mahabuddhi provided a reference from Poisindex: HAIR: Normal concentration
of arsenic in hair and nails is less than 1 meg/gram (1 ppm) (Baselt & Cravey,
Another source, Handbook on the Toxicology
of Metals, Vol.11: Specific Metals, by Friberg, Nordberg and Vouk, 1986, states
that the median amounts of arsenic in the hair of residents of Scotland who died
accidentally due to various causes (none poisoning) was 0.46 ppm. In Japan, a
very industrialized and urban country, the median arsenic content of human hair
was 0.174 ppm. Further, Friberg, et al. State:
"Attempts have been made to
correlate normal concentrations of arsenic in hair to exposure to inorganic arsenic.
Smith (1964) found that 80 % of 1000 people tested had a concentration below 1
part of Arsenic per million in hair, with... a median of 0.51 ppm."
The seriousness of 3 ppm in Srila Prabhupada's hair is further reinforced by Friberg's reference to a study done in 1973 by Ishinishi wherein retired workers who had been extensively exposed to arsenic in the past showed normal hair arsenic levels even in the presence of serious symptoms of chronic arsenic poisoning. In other words, Srila Prabhupada's hair may have contained 10 or 20 or more ppm earlier in 1977, and even though He had only 3 ppm in October, the results of arsenic poisoning still remained and could well have been at their peak. The damage was already done.
Every time Srila Prabhupada's hair grew
a half inch, it was cut and disposed of. If the hair from May contained 20 ppm
of arsenic, it would not show up in November's half inch hair cutting because
that represented only the growth for one month previous.
Even so, 3 ppm in the 60 to 70 pound
body of a very ill and elderly person, such as Srila Prabhupada was, constitutes
a much more serious intoxication of a deadly poison that it would be in the body
of a healthy, 180 pound person. No wonder Srila Prabhupada was anemic, could not
eat, had no strength and had regular heart palpitations, etc ! The
arsenic destroyed His health. It is also significant that we find abnormally high
levels of arsenic at the end of Srila Prabhupada's life: this is a very strong
indication of what caused the prior, year-long deterioration of health.
From the definitive text on arsenic
entitled Arsenic, by the National Academy of Sciences, 1977, there is reference
to a study by Lander, et al. of acute and chronic arsenic poisoning cases where
patients had hair concentrations of arsenic between 3.0 and 26.0 ppm. Chronic
cases in this study began at the level of 3 ppm. Thus Srila Prabhupada, in an
extremely debilitated physical condition, and having 3 ppm of arsenic in His hair,
compares to the lower end of cases of chronic arsenic poisoning that displayed
serious physical reactions. This is entirely consistent with an assassin's program
of gradual poisoning, a little by little, with just enough arsenic to produce
no appetite and anemia. In that way, Srila Prabhupada slowly whithered away, literally
from starvation and malnutrition.
This reporter consulted with Dr. Richard
Page Hudson, retired Chief Medical Examiner for the state of North Carolina. Dr.
Hudson is a forensic pathologist who teaches part-time at East Carolina University
and does private consultation work in many toxicological investigations. He has
been involved with many exhumations and the testing of various body tissues, including
hair, to determine toxic contents thereof. He has also been involved in many murder
and attempted murder cases involving arsenic, including the Blanche Taylor Moore
and Velma Barfield cases. We discussed the evidence accumulated in Srila Prabhupada's
investigation and he agreed that the symptoms from the health history of Srila
Prabhupada, as described to him, were definitely those of chronic arsenic poisoning.
Dr. Hudson pointed out that, to his
knowledge and from his experience, a different set of symptoms will manifest in
each chronic arsenic poisoning case, due to variances in the amount and number
of doses of arsenic, the type of arsenic compound, the victim's constitution,
etc. He did not think that a constant
level of 3 ppm of arsenic in the hair would result in that person having the type
of dramatic symptoms that are virtually guaranteed when the level increases to
about 10 ppm. He said that it would be most useful to see where on the "time
curve" of the entire year of 1977 that the 3 ppm hair sample fell. The preceding
months' hair might have readings higher than 3 ppm, and thus further confirm the
chronic arsenic poisoning. Therefore it is important to further document our case
with more 1976-7 hair samples tested for arsenic.
Dr. Hudson referred to one of his favorite
toxicological texts, the 4th Edition of Basel and Cravey's Disposition of Toxicological
Drugs and Chemicals In Man, published in 1995 by the Chemical Toxicology Institute.
Therein it gives an average level of arsenic in human hair of 0.307ppm.
This average is ten times less than the 3 ppm found in Hari Sauri's
Thus we can verify in this way of comparison
that Srila Prabhupada's arsenic content in His hair, although not evidence of
acute poisoning, nevertheless represents a very substantial deviation from
the norm and constitutes serious arsenical intoxication consistent with an assessment
of: CHRONIC ARSENIC POISONING. Besides the whispers, the statements by Srila Prabhupada
Himself, the speech reversals, the analysis of physical symptoms, the establishment
of motive, and the persistent rumors of witnesses, we now have additional solid
evidence... very abnormal amounts of arsenic in Srila Prabhupada's hair. One
test had 4 times over average, the other had 10 times over average. Even those
die-hard disbelievers will have to admit there is, at the least, more than substantial
cause for suspicion and the need for a full investigation managed by a trustworthy
If any reader
of this publication knows of or is in possession of even a very small amount of
Srila Prabhupada's hair that was collected late in Srila Prabhupada's pastimes
(mid 1976 to late 1977), please contact this reporter for possible nuclear testing.
After testing, the hair will be returned to you, and your contribution to the
search for the truth about Srila Prabhupada's departure will be forever noted
and appreciated. (See APPENDIX 11)
Srila Prabhupada's October 1977 hair
was found to contain a concentration of almost 3.0 ppm of arsenic, which, when
compared to an average of 0.3 ppm, is 10 times more than average. Thus Srila Prabhupada
had exceptionally more arsenic in His body than one would expect and cannot be
explained by tainted water or environmental contamination. The level of 3 ppm
is comparable to documented case studies of chronic arsenic poisoning, and represents
a serious health hazard, especially if maintained for a period of months or longer.
Hari Sauri's hair sample represents only about four weeks of history in
Srila Prabhupada's last days, however, and provides an average amount of arsenic
in the hair for that month. Weekly sections could have read 10 ppm, 1 ppm, 0.5
ppm, 0.5 ppm, with an average of 3 ppm. indicating a level of poisoning at one
point that is much higher than the average. Even this author's hair sample containing
4 times average is rather unusual.
Undoubtedly Srila Prabhupada was maliciously poisoned.
APPENDIX 23: WAS THE ARSENIC IN THE WATER ?
In early April 1999 rumors circulated
around ISKCON that a hair analysis had revealed arsenic in Srila Prabhupada's
hair. This is true (see Chapter 33) but what is not understood is the significance
of a 3 ppm level. Doubters will minimize the 3 ppm discovery. This is what we
A. Everyone, especially in India, has arsenic in their hair.
On page 242 is a list of means and averages of hair arsenic levels in
various countries, including Asian. Commonly averages are under 0.5 ppm. Although
everyone (including Indians) has minute levels of hair arsenic averaging 0.3 ppm,
when one sees 3 ppm, this constitutes chronic arsenic poisoning as established
by text references in Chapters 33 and 34.
B. Since the late 1970's, there have been some serious health problems in parts of Bengal due to geologic arsenic contamination of deep well water. Thus Srila Prabhupada is expected to have had higher hair arsenic levels.
a.) Because there have been no obvious arsenic symptoms in the residents
of Mayapur (or Vrindaban either), we can safely conclude that Mayapur or Vrindaban
water did not cause Srila Prabhupada's symptoms.
b.) The hair analyzed was October-November
1977 growth, but Srila Prabhupada left Mayapur over six months earlier. Any
arsenic contamination from March 1977 or before would NOT show up in October's
half-inch of hair growth, and would have been eliminated from the blood within
3-5 days after arsenic ingestion had ceased.
c.) When we understand the medical
principles of arsenic in the human body, we understand that Srila Prabhupada's
physical symptoms of arsenic poisoning and His hair value of 3 ppm of arsenic
are not due to Mayapur well water being possibly contaminated with arsenic.
d.) Page 239 refers to contaminated
well water studies involving permanent residents, which Srila Prabhupada
was not in any location. The fact that Srila Prabhupada moved from one place to
another in 1977 makes it almost impossible to attribute His hair's arsenic
to an impure water supply.
C. Srila Prabhupada resided in Mayapur, Bengal for extended periods of time in the 1970's and thus arsenic poisoning symptoms can be expected.
Chronic arsenic poisoning symptoms will recede and clear up once the ingestion
of arsenic ceases. Symptoms would not continue to be present in Srila Prabhupada
six months after leaving Mayapur. This is illustrated in the case of Napoleon
(Chapter 34), who had highly elevated arsenic levels in his hair at the Waterloo
and Moscow battles, almost a decade before his death. He enjoyed fairly good health
and a recession of poisoning symptoms in between confirmed times of poisoning.
CONCLUSION: The arsenic found by Balavanta in Srila Prabhupada's last hair cutting cannot be attributed to contaminated well water, and neither can His chronic arsenic poisoning symptoms be so attributed. All the studies of poisoning by impure well water involve many years of contnuous and regular ingestion before producing serious health problems.
Srila Prabhupada was maliciously poisoned.