Memories Of HH Tamal Krishna Maharaja
Sarajevo, March 19, 2002
Dear Tamal Krishna Maharaja, my dear brother, friend and helper.
Feeling your separation we remember Lord Krishna’s words:
When somehow made mindful of those one loves, one is given back one’s life. Forgetting those more dear than one’s own breath is more painful than dying. Those dear as life one can never forget, but when reminded of them in a special way one feels happy, like one who has lived a life of good fortune. (Brhad-bhagavatamrta, Part 1, Chapter 7 Text 129-130)
I’m standing on a bridge over a cold river somewhere here in the town of death, Sarajevo.
We just completed a five-hour-long nama-yajna which was dedicated to you. Your blissful smiling face greeted us from a picture on the altar. It had a wonderful blue garland around it made from hyacinths. Devotees from this troubled town as well as the public offered you an aratik. The kirtan became more and more ecstatic till it finally reached a height which is difficult to describe—everyone was dancing with very serious but ecstatic expressions on their faces. In the devotees’ hearts were feelings of bliss mixed with separation.
Now I’m on this bridge. It is midnight and I am immersing the garland which was around you into the river below. The cold water grabs the garland and quickly carries it out of view. As another wave of pain suddenly overwhelms me, I remember the words Caitanya Mahaprabhu spoke to His mother Saci when He left her to take sannyasa:
I cannot repay the mercy you gave me. Birth after birth I am in debt to you. Listen, the whole world is dependent on the Supreme Personality of Godhead. No one is independent of Him. The Supreme Personality of Godhead brings people together, and then He also pushes them apart. Who has the power to understand what He wills? (Chaitanya Bhagavata, Adi-lila Ch. 28).
But then, when the garland is almost out of view, I see how it is carried by the liquid hands of the swift river to the moon. The moon... the Krishnacandra moon... And suddenly I feel an incredible feeling of security: The rising moon of Lord Krishna’s mercy has taken you.
I am remembering how you came into my life—like the moon which dispelled the darkness. It was sometimes in 1969 or 1970. The Hare Krishna Mantra had just hit the pop charts in Europe. The first devotees were now on a preaching campaign throughout the mainland and had reached Germany where they gave many concerts, enthusiastically chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantra.
At that time I was fourteen or fifteen years old and I accompanied my mother for some shopping in Hamburg City— I believe that it was for the birthday of my older brother. We had purchased all the presents and only needed to go into the Karstadt Department Store for a few items. In front of that department store my life changed, when for the first time in my life I met devotees and I met you. It was very cold and even a little snow was falling, but you were blissfully chanting with a few devotees gracefully dancing the swami step. Transfixed I stood and watched the kirtana party, when suddenly I felt my mother’s tap on my arm: “Come now, we have to do our shopping and catch the train home.”
Reluctantly I followed her, but the attraction to the kirtana party still remained in my heart and grew stronger. After some time, I had to excuse myself. Because I sensed that my mother would not be so happy if I stood ‘for too long’ near these unusual monks, I pretended that I had to go to the toilet. Then I quickly went down and looked again at the kirtana—this time from a safe distance.
Totally absorbed by the music, my attention was drawn to you, Tamal Krishna Goswami. Somehow, with your keen preacher instinct, you must have seen it. The next thing I remember is that you stood next to me very friendly asking me if I lived in Hamburg and soon we were discussing.
So many questions I posed as a very young person, but you politely and expertly answered them all. I think that you spoke in broken German. How happy and enthusiastic I became; how
convinced. I thought: "One day I will follow the example of this person."
The last thing you told me, before my mother found me was: "Please try with the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra. It is wonderful. By chanting you will meet the most wonderful person. And you gave me the mantra on a piece of paper.
For a long time this memory used to come back to me. Before falling asleep I would always see your kind face coming like the smiling moon into my life—comforting me and giving a very nice hope and the rays of this moon worked on me until I finally decided to join the devotees.
As I am standing on the bridge in Sarajevo and see how your garland is flowing towards the Krishna moon, I become very grateful. Thank you very, very much.
We had many discussions, always very open. They were always very personal, deep and loving. What struck me was your very determined desire to go back to Krishna, at all costs. We danced, dined, laughed and disagreed like brothers do. No half-hearted relationship!
Now you have left us and I am sure you are in the exalted state of Krishna consciousness serving the dear Lord. Thank you so much for kindly coming into my life as my vartma-pradarsaka guru - and please be so kind to forgive all my improper behaviour and stubbornness.
Always your humble servant