Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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Mayapur Executive Board Votes Unanimously to Relocate Temple’s Two Elephants
By ISKCON News   |  Apr 12, 2024

April 12, 2024 – On April 10, during a meeting of the Mayapur Executive Board, or MEB, it was decided that for the safety of the devotees, staff, and pilgrims to Mayapur, the two elephants Vishnupriya and Laxmipriya will be permanently shifted out of Mayapur.

“The MEB was unanimous in its decision that the safety of the devotees, staff members, and visitors to Mayapur must come first,” said Tapan Misra prabhu, one of the five Co-Directors of Mayapur. “While we are all sad to see these two beloved animals relocated, MEB members felt there was no option in the matter.”

The MEB made their decision in response to the tragic accident that occurred on Saturday, April 6 at the elephant sanctuary. At that time, Samudra Rabha, one of the three mahouts taking care of the elephants was killed by Vishnupriya, who first hit Samudra with her head and then pushed him, crushing him against a wall. A second mahout, Ajay Rabha, was seriously injured when he tried to help Samudra. Ajay is now in a Kolkata hospital for surgery on his severely damaged knee.

“The MEB was shocked and saddened by the death of Samudra Rabha,” said Tapan Misra. “We pray to Lord Nrsimhadeva to protect his soul, and our hearts go out to his wife and children.”

The decision to send the elephants away is supported by the Mayapur Deity Ministry, the department of Mayapur that oversees the engagement and care of the elephants.

“After the death of Samudra, we made the decision to close the campus of the Gurukula boys school and the two roads closest to the elephants, until its safe for all the devotees,” said Subhekshana dasa, the second Co-Director who is currently in Mayapur. “Today the MEB decided that the only way to assure that safety is to relocate the elephants,” he said.

The weekly elephant parades have become a beloved part of the Mayapur experience and culture over the past many years. MEB members acknowledged it will be hard for the community and our visitors to not have elephants in the Saturday evening Deity parade.

But, after this death, and considering that the crowds in Mayapur are becoming even larger—making walking with the elephants more dangerous—it is just too much of a risk to continue the parades and keeping elephants on campus.

Although Laxmipriya, the elder of the two elephants, was not involved in the attack, nor did she become aggressive towards the mahouts, the advice of elephant experts is to keep them together and not separate them. Instead of sending Vishnupriya away alone, since they spent many years together and have formed strong bonds of affection for each other, they will stay together.

Discussions are being held with three different sanctuaries to determine which is the best facility for the elephants. A decision should be finalized in the next few days, and the elephants will be transported to the best sanctuary possible after the necessary arrangements are completed.

“While we all love these two animals, the MEB decided they must be moved to another place for their well-being and the safety of Mayapur,” said Tapan Misra.

Mayapur Executive Board

Hrdaya Caitanya, Chairman