Dear Tamal Krsna Maharaja,
Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to our beloved master, Srila Prabhupada.
Goswami Maharaja, this is the first time I have visited your samadhi mandir in Mayapura. I have often walked past the samadhi since I have been here, but I could not bring myself to come in. Please excuse me, but in my heart of hearts I have still not reconciled myself with your leaving. It is too painful.
“What is the most painful thing in the life of a devotee?” Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked Ramananda Raya.
“But for separation from a Vaisnava, I can think of no unbearable pain,” the governor replied.
I have realized very little in my 35 years as a devotee, but I can say that as a result of your departure I have grasped those words of Ramananda Raya. Separation from you has left a wound in my heart that has yet to heal, and I know it never will. I can only think of the words of Narottam das Thakur about his friend Ramacandra Kaviraja:
ramacandra sange mage narottama das
“I shall always hanker for the company of Ramacandra Kaviraja” Goswami Maharaja, it is the nature of saintly persons to give their mercy to those less fortunate. By the grace of the Lord, I was blessed to have your association almost from the very beginning of my devotional life. The first time I met you was in France, and you asked me to lead kirtan. Throughout the years, whenever we were together, you would often ask the same of me.
I don’t know what you liked in my pretentious chanting, but your encouragement gave me hope that one day I could develop a genuine feeling for the holy names, such as I saw in you. As a boy acts simply to attract the attention of his superiors, I always liked to sing for you. Perhaps by the mercy of your disciples I will get to sing for you today and my mind will overflow with precious moments of our association once more.
I miss you more than I can say, for life without you is not the same. Your guidance was essential to my progress in spiritual life, especially when I was faced with major decisions. For the little problems, or even the intermediate ones, I could find a solution in the words of sastra or in the association of my immediate friends and companions, but it was only you, my wise and experienced Godbrother, who could solve the most complex issues.
One time I was faced with a serious dilemma when my beloved friend and associate Sri Prahlad had to decide between service on our tours in Poland or service here in Mayapura, in the Gurukula.
The thought of losing Sri Prahlad was more than I could take. We had built up the powerful preaching of the holy names together in Poland over many years, but I did not want to interfere with his desire to serve here in the holy dhama. For months Sri Prahlad and I discussed the problem, but we could come to no conclusion.
Finally I turned to you. I trusted you and was always sure you’d give the right answer. You seemed as if of another generation of devotee, a special and select breed of Vaisnavas who had been trained and refined in the personal association of our beloved Prabhupada.
You were a Prabhupada man. For me, you are the first and the best to bear this title, the most prestigious title an ISKCON devotee could ever have. When I asked you what to do about Sri Prahlada, you reflected for only a moment.
“Why this or that?” you said. “Why not this and that? He can serve six months in Poland and six months in Mayapura each year.”
It was the perfect answer, and I thank you for that, Goswami Maharaja. Sri Prahlada and I are both happy that his service on the tour continues and that with his help the school here continues to expand.
But my life is not over, and there will be many such questions in the years ahead, maybe even more difficult. I’ll miss your clear and concise answers and the assurance they always gave. And no doubt your disciples feel the same.
Goswami Maharaja, I want to add that I especially miss your lectures. After our Guru Maharaja, you were my favorite speaker on the Srimad Bhagavatam. I especially liked those lectures meant for inspiring us to push on our movement. You had imbibed Srila Prabhupada’s pioneering spirit, his desire to take the chanting of Hare Krsna to every town and village, and I would feel boundless enthusiasm whenever you spoke about sankirtan.
I remember a lecture you gave in France. It was 1984, and our yatra was at the peak of development after years of effort. Your lecture was right to the point: All our success had come from the mass distribution of Srila Prabhupada’s books. This was a fact, and your words confirmed Srila Prabhupada’s point that sankirtan was the source of all auspiciousness and success.
And how expert you were in delivering this message! The verse we were reading that morning was about something else, about the pastimes of Maha Visnu and the creation of the material world. Afterwards you came up to me with a smile and told me that you could dovetail any verse into a sankirtan class because sankirtan was the essence of service to the Lord in this age.
I have been especially absorbed in thoughts of you during the Mayapura festival this year, Goswami Maharaja, as it was you who gave me the thumbs up here in Mayapura to accept the renounced order and increase my service to the Lord. My GBC had agreed to the proposal but said I needed your approval to enter this asrama. I was nervous when I approached you in the Long Building, but you simply smiled, welcoming me into the sannyasa order that you so expertly upheld.
Then you spent several hours giving me instructions on how to proceed carefully but always with conviction about the value of sannyasa dharma. Goswami Maharaja, I come before you to today with a happy bit of news: This Gaura Purnima marks the 25th anniversary of my taking sannyasa here in this holy dhama, with you present. It is only by the mercy of our Guru Maharaja and your brotherly love and care.
Goswami Maharaja, now I’ve finally made it here to your samadhi mandir and have had to come to terms with your departure once and for all. Yes, you’re gone, but I know you’re firmly fixed in service to Srila Prabhupada, either in Goloka or, by his will, within the material world.
Please bless me that I may have the same resolve, that I may desire only to serve Srila Prabhupada, be it in America or Asia, in happiness or distress, in heaven or hell. I’m prepared to follow you, as I have always done, knowing that I’ll taste the bliss of full surrender in preaching the sankirtan movement of the Lord.
Goswami Maharaja, just one last question, if I may. I am sure that at ceremonies such as this one, well-wishers like you not only know our desires and hear our prayers but also respond. Please, then, instruct me once again and put me at ease. Tell me, How can I progress to the point where I know I can join you again in service to our beloved Srila Prabhupada? I liked your mood of service to our Guru Maharaja and your preaching spirit, and I’d be happy to assist you again.
You once asked me to travel with you, “for the rest of our lives,” as you put it. I lament now that I didn’t take up your offer, but I come before you today ready to fulfill your command. I look forward to serving you in what is left of this life and whatever lies beyond.
Your servant and grateful friend,