Chakra Discussions

More About Gulab Kali's Leaving

by Vrindavan Lila dasi, Mayapur, India

Posted April 15, 2006

Gulab Kali was a 27-year-old elephant. She was brought to Mayapur when she was 5 years old by Bhavananda das. At that time there was another elephant here, Sundar Kali. So for a while they were together, until Sundar Kali died at 32. The normal life span of an elephant can be up to 100 years.

Gulab Kali got a foot infection during the last Gaura Purnima festival, which at first did not seem to be too big a deal, and likely curable. But it grew into a bigger and bigger problem over the next month, as her other feet also started to get infected.

On February 30 at 2 a.m. she fell down in her shed, not being able to tolerate the pain of standing on her hurting feet any more. Once an elephant lies down, they usually don't get up again. She tried; she really, really tried.

I cannot write all the details. She left her body before my eyes, and this scene is still in my mind very strongly -- with her eyes that had life a second earlier, and next second became empty.

There are devotees who put a lot of energy in trying to keep her alive. Those devotees wanting more details of her departure can contact Ramadevi and Ganga prabhus. We will also try after a little while to put together an article for Mayapur Katha of devotee experiences: or

Ramadevi prabhu was with Gulab every day in her last days. She was dressing Gulab's wounds and sores and was keeping busy trying to help Gulab in many ways, as well as in trying to organise others who wanted to do something for Gulab.

Ganga prabhu was constructing scaffolds and arranging for turning Gulab over, so that she wouldn't be forced to lie on one side all the time and to try to get some circulation going; trying to lift her up vertically. He was working so hard till the very last moment of her life, trying to keep her alive. Gulab left us just as he practically finished the arrangements for supporting her weight in a vertical position. It was Ganga das who closed her eyes.

Nanda Krishna prabhu, our Goshala veterinary doctor, went through quite a lot of strain and anxiety, too. He had to perform Gulab's autopsy, which the government of India requires for elephants, just as much as for humans.

Gaura Hari prabhu, the Goshala in-charge, despite being very busy, was around Gulab a lot, to help with last arrangements. He was very respectful and caring for Gulab.

Nitai Prasad and Sankarshan Nitai prabhus are general managers of the central department which supervised Gulab's care. or

Many devotees came and helped and chanted and fanned Gulab. Her burial place is right next to her shed, on another side of the path running behind the shed, near Srila Prabhupada's samadhi. The back wall of the shed had to be partially demolished to get her body into the ground, with the help of a tractor and pulleys.

For future reference and, I hope, to contribute to improved care for any future elephants, I made numerous photos of Gulab's last days. Elephants especially require ample water to drink and bathe. Devotees who wish to care for elephants also need to be educated as to what is the best food and what to do if an elephant gets sick. I can't look at these photos now. I am in her empty shed today -- her aroma is still there.

Photographs Copyright 2006 by Vrindavan Lila dasi

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