Andhra Pradesh, India – At 3:30am on Sunday January 20, devotees at ISKCON's Sri Sri Radha Syama Sundar Mandir in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, rose as usual for their early morning prayers. But things took a far from normal turn when temple resident Jagannath Das opened a bolted door and discovered fellow devotee Lakshmivan Das on the floor in a pool of blood.
Other residents heard his cries for help and rushed to the scene. Lakshmivan, still alive, was immediately taken to the nearby General Hospital and admitted into the Casualty Ward. Doctors diagnosed his condition as critical, and did their best to save him by giving him oxygen and other treatment. Lakshmivan struggled for life, but finally passed away while chanting Hare Krishna.
Laskhmivan Das had been living at the Vijayawada temple for eight years and was a much loved devotee. Temple president Murali Mohan Das says, "He was humble, helpful, and an exemplary Vaishnava. He was like a son to me. His passing is a great shock to me, and a great loss to the Vijayawada project."
On the night of his death, Lakshmivan had been sleeping in the same dorm room as one Mr. Gopal Krishna, a local carpenter who had offered his services to the ISKCON temple and had been doing some polishing work there for the past ten days. The carpenter's two children, a 16-year-old girl and 10-year-old boy, accompanied him. "He had been coming to the temple for one and a half years," Murali Mohan says. "His first wife had died, and his second had been converted to Christianity. He was obviously disturbed by this."
Police investigation uncovered evidence to suggest that Gopala Krishna had been sexually abusing his own daughter, and that Lakshmivan knew about this. Fearing exposure, Gopala Krishna stabbed Lakshmivan several times in the head with a sharp tool in the middle of the night, and then ran from the scene.
Police deemed the Vijayawada temple a peaceful place, shocked by the violence of this unfortunate event. Gopal Krishna has absconded and is still at large. A police search is still underway.
Temple residents sang Krishna's names for 24 straight hours in honor of Lakshmivan Das, and on 21 January at 11am his body was cremated on the banks of the Krishna river. The funeral was attended by loving temple devotees, congregation, local people and family members.