Diary of a Traveling Preacher
HH Indradyumna Swami Maharaj
Dear Tamal Krsna Goswami,
Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Today I am writing you a posthumous letter, just as our spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, did in the assembly of his disciples in Seattle when his godbrother, Bhakti Prajana Kesvava Maharaja, passed away in 1968.
At that time Srila Prabhupada wrote:
ďBe it resolved that we the undersigned members and devotees of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in a condolence meeting, express our profound bereavement on hearing of the passing of Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, our sannyasa guru.Ē
Goswami Maharaja, this evening a number of your godbrothers, disciples, friends and wellwishers are also expressing our profound bereavement that, by the mysterious plan of the Lord, you have suddenly been taken from our vision. We are still in a state of shock as to how we have become bereft of one of ISKCONís great sankirtan generals. Each of us feels the loss in a different way: your godbrothers miss your sweet Krsna conscious association, your disciples miss your loving care, the congregation miss your awe-inspiring leadership, and even newcomers who may be present tonight will miss the chance of ever meeting you, who could charm the hearts of so many conditioned souls by your preaching and bestow upon them the priceless gift of devotional service to Srila Prabhupada and Lord Krsna.
As for myself, Goswami Maharaja, with your departure I have lost a dearmost friend who had my real interest at heart and who extended himself to me on numerous occasions. Our association goes back to the mid-1970s, when each year you, Bhagavan das and myself would go on a spiritual retreat to the sacred abode of Hrisikesh in the Himalayas. There we would read and chant, swim in the Ganga and have kirtans, just the three of us, in the spiritual atmosphere of that sacred abode. It was during those retreats that I imbibed from you (and you alone) a great zeal for the missionary activities of Krsna consciousness, for you would always preach to me the glories of the holy names, book distribution and the making of devotees.
But what amazed me the most was your brilliant plans and strategies for organizing these activities. Recognizing these abilities early in your devotional career, Srila Prabhupada entrusted you with the most responsible services, such as being part of the first Governing Body Commission, acquiring and securing the land for our Mayapur project in India, and heading up book distribution in America. Srila Prabhupadaís supreme love and trust in you was demonstrated by his making you his personal secretary - a service you executed faithfully for so many years up to the very moment of his departure.
As a result of that service, you had an intimate look into the life of a pure devotee, something which you have shared freely with us all these years. You were part of a rare breed of devotees, Goswami Maharaja - devotees who had intimate association of his Divine Grace and understood his mood and the particular way he did things for Krsna. No doubt, you earned the most prestigious title any ISKCON devotee could earn, for you were in every way a ďPrabhupada Man.Ē
As a new devotee, when I first met you I was in awe and reverance - perhaps fear is a better word. Like a commander leading the troops in Lord Caitanyaís army, you instilled such sentiments in your followers in order to push forward the sankirtan movement, as if in military fashion. Unfortunately, some devotees saw you only in that light. They didnít have the good fortune to know your soft heart, your love for the devotees, your thirst for associating with your godbrothers, and your eagerness to attain Vrindavan and the loving mood of the Vrajabasis.
You once showed your kinder face to me, when I approached you with the desire to take sannyasa in 1978 at the Gaura-purnima Festival in India. Being an itinerant preacher since the day I joined the Krsna consciousness movement, I had a strong desire to leave householder life and enter the renounced order. When I revealed my desire to my GBC representative, he replied, ďGo and ask Tamal Krsna Maharaja. If he agrees, then Iíll accept your request to take sannyasa.Ē
Petrified, I approached you on top of the Long Building in Mayapur. I revealed my desire and awaited a grueling interview regarding my plans and motivations. Instead, you sat down with me, and after a few questions about my determination to preach, you gave me much advice on how to practice the life of a sannyasi. I continue to follow those guidelines to this day.
In 1980, when we were together at the Los Angeles Ratha-yatra, you pulled me to one side and said, ďIndra, letís form a team - me and you. Weíll travel all over America, all over the world, just like I did with Visnujana Maharaja. Youíll lead kirtan and Iíll speak. Weíll make devotees everywhere.Ē Goswami Maharaja, how much I lament now that I didnít take up your offer. I also lament not accepting your many invitations to visit you in Dallas, in Vrindavan, in Cambridge and in Oxford through the years. Of all my godbrothers, I see you most appreciated and understood the value and need for associating with devotees, especially with godbrothers.
I am distraught that in this lifetime I wonít have your association again. I wonít hear your clear, logical and dynamic lectures. Goswami Maharaja, among all the devotees, you were my favorite Srimad-Bhagavatam speaker. What nectar you could have given us during the next twenty years. Itís hard for me to understand why Krsna took you now, at this particular moment. You had so much to offer. You had so much association with Srila Prabhupada, so much experience in Krsna consciousness, so many ideas for spreading the movement. And you were on the verge of a new and promising career in devotional service. It can mean only that Krsna has a greater plan for you. Iím somewhat jealous of those who will soon be serving alongside you. With you, Krsna consciousness was full of life - spiritual life.
Itís not that you didnít have your problems to deal with, Goswami Maharaja. I remember our long talks in Cambridge last year. You indicated your dissatisfaction with the ways things were developing in some parts of our movement, you had your opponents, and you had personal concerns over your health. But throughout it all, you remained chaste and loyal to Srila Prabhupada and his ISKCON movement. You were a pillar of strength for others, you were the best of spiritual fathers to your disciples, you were the best of friends to those who chose to love you, you were the inspiration for masses of devotees, and you displayed real compassion to the fallen conditioned souls by undergoing so many austerities in the pioneer days of Krsna consciousness and in the recent spreading of our movement in China.
In a number of fields you were the first, although I saw that you always cultivated the spirit of servant. And now, in typical fashion, but in an unlikely way, you are the first of the initiating spiritual masters to be placed in samadhi at Mayapur. Your departure and its circumstances were tragic. But death is always tragic - and even more so when a devotee leaves this world. With the departure of any devotee, especially one of your caliber, the world becomes a little less fortunate. Devotees are the ONLY good fortune in Kali-yuga - and they are few and far between. Thus my lamentation is all the more deeper today, for my beloved disciple, Vrindavanesvari dasi, also passed away in the same accident as you.
We mourn your demise, Goswami Maharaja. I know my life wonít be the same. Sankirtan, our primary activity, is based on the principle of teamwork. When one of the primary individuals is removed from the equation, we lose a little of our endurance, a little of the wind is knocked out of us. Iíll miss you, Goswami Maharaja. Iíll miss your presence on the battlefield of preaching, and Iíll miss our discussions in Vrindavan on vraja-bhakti. Who will I turn to now with my questions on how to love Krsna?
But as tragic as your departure was, it was also glorious. You gave up your body in the holy Mayapur dhama near Phuliya, the very village that Haridas Thakur chanted 300,000 names of the Lord a day. You departed on the Disappearance Day of Jagannath das Babaji and Rasikananda prabhu. Your samadhi ceremony was attended by all our movementís GBC men, many sannyasis, most of the temple presidents, and masses of devotees. Your samadhi ceremony was befitting a devotee of your stature, a devotee of your accomplishments - a devotee loved my many, many godbrothers, disciples, friends, and scholars, as well as common people.
We were together when my disciple Vraja Lila passed away in Vrindavan in 1997. At that time, you said that following her departure she would then be in a transcendental position to bless us all. Goswami Maharaja, you are also now in a transcendental position to bless me. Whether you are back home, back to Godhead, or are again the personal secretary of our beloved spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, as he continues to establish Lord Caitanyaís missionary movement in this material world, you are blessed, no doubt. So please continue to remember and think fondly of me, as always.
And Goswami Maharaja, the next time you ask me to be your partner, to be a team, I wonít be so foolish as to refuse. Iíll be happy to lead the kirtans . . . and you can give the classes. By your mercy Iím a sannyasi, and ready to follow you anywhere.