Dhanurdhara Swami November 28th, 2001
Was informed that my God-brother Sriman Tribhuvanatha Prabhu passed away three weeks ago and that a ceremony will be held today for him at the Krishna Balaram Mandir in Vrindaban. Although he was not a regular acquaintance, our exchanges were always pleasant. When I first came to Vrindaban in 1976, he was already here as a lead preacher. I have an eye for talent. I knew he was special.
Tribhuvanath was a young vibrant Irish devotee with a fighting spirit, a dashing hero type. He had intensity of purpose, but was never aggressive or exploitive. When one is compassionate energy becomes only an asset for helping others. Tribhuvanatha Prabhu dedicated himself selflessly to the mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He was non-envious and pleasant.
When I first saw Tribhuvanath, he was leading kirtan in the Krishna Balaram Mandir. He played the mrdanga so enthusiastically that by the end of the kirtan he would be stomping his left leg and feverishly banging the top of the drum with his right hand. At the kirtan?s crescendo, the clay drum gradually broke. He continued with fervor. It was gradually pulverized and it wasn?t the first drum broken by his innocent exuberance. It is hard to believe that one remembered as so exceptionally vibrant suffered an early death, a victim of cancer at just fifty years of age.
When a dedicated preacher leaves untimely, it can only be that the Lord has a more suitable body for them to serve the Lord?s mission, or they have gone directly to the spiritual world. Srila Prabhupada was so pleased with Sriman Tribhuvanatha for opening and running a successful temple in Edinborough before he was even twenty years of age! As an object of the spiritual pleasure, I would not be surprised if his untimely death brought him directly to Lord Krishna.
The next time I met Tribhuvanatha, he was on his yearly visits to Vrindaban. At the time, he was vigorously preaching and risking his life in the Middle East. I would sit in rapt attention as he would describe some of his exploits. He was fearless. He preached and distributed books in Lebanon during the war with Israel. One year, at the time of Guru Purnima, just before he was to leave for India to take sannyasa, he was unfortunately captured by the PLO and jailed as a suspected terrorist. He told me how painful it was to hear the jets flying overhead in the direction of India imagining they were heading to Mayapur.
Once he told how the car in front of him exploded. Like James Bond, he swung the door open from his taxi and jumped out to save his life before his car plunged into the fire.
He described to me how he distributed the first Arabic Gita in Beirut. The books were so big that practically one could only carry one at a time. When he ran into an office building to sell one, it looked like as if he was carrying a bomb. He had pleaded with his god-brother, Ravanari, the translator and publisher, to produce something more practical. Ravanari, however, was very stubborn. He was a former PLO lieutenant of Yasser Arafat, whose professed goal now was to march on Mecca and install Sri Sri Gaura Nitai. Sometimes Srila Prabhupadas?s books have been described as bombs, but perhaps only Tribhuvatha realized the importance, carrying and distributing the huge Arabic Gita, in a Muslim country, and during a war! Some men are just born heroes.
My association with Sriman Tribhuvanatha was occasional and brief, but left a strong impression. There is a saying that one can test the rice by tasting one grain. Looking back on those meetings, he was consistently enthusiastic, pride-less and good-hearted?a vaisnava fixed on the lotus feet of his spiritual master and fully dedicated to his mission. I can only assume, and it has been confirmed by others, he led his whole life that way. How wonderful to not only live dedicated to noble ideals, but to exemplify them as well.
From Sriman Tribhuvanath Prabhu we learn how to live a simple life with full dedication to the spiritual master without offense to others.