February 5th, 2008 – Ananda-Lila “Lila” Salter passed away in the holy village of Vrindavan at 2:15 this morning. Her family, friends and well-wishers sat at her bedside, while heartfelt chanting of Krishna’s names filled the air.
The Australian Hare Krishna devotee, at only 17, had been fighting for her life after 28 year-old Saurav Singh shot her with a pistol early on Saturday morning. Lila’s family say the killer had stalked her for several years before raping her, shooting her and then turning the gun on himself.
“The circumstances leading up to Lila’s passing were extremely horrific,” said ISKCON Australia’s Regional Secretary, Tirtharaj Dasa. “But her final journey – in Vrindavan – is in itself auspicious because it is the spiritual world of Lord Krishna Himself.”
Their own strong faith in Krishna, as well as the prayers of so many people across the world, have helped Lila’s family through this difficult time. Lila’s mother Subhangi Dasi, who runs a Govinda’s restaurant on Australia’s Gold Coast, said: “We’ve been touched by the hundreds of well-wishers who have flocked here to offer their support, prayers and good wishes. Many of these people have known my daughter since she was a child.”
One of Lila’s friends, fellow second-generation devotee Kalindi Holbrook, often visited India where Lila had lived for many years. In memory, she writes: “I could not have asked for a better friend. You were always there to guide me with your kind words of advice. I wish I had a chance to tell you how much I love you, how much I appreciate everything you have done for me.”
Lila’s sacred funeral ceremony will include a procession past several Vrindavana temples and along the Yamuna river. “Then she will be cremated and her ashes put in the river,” Subhangi Dasi told Australian newspaper The Age, “Because we believe that is beneficial for her soul.”
Kalindi Holbrook summed up the mixture of sadness and auspiciousness in saying farewell to a devotee of Krishna. “Although we will all miss seeing her beautiful face, she is in a much better place now,” she said. “Lila’s dancing for Krishna, and I’m sure she could not be happier.”