Dhanurdhara Swami March 18th, 2002
Vasant Falls, New York
Tamal Krishna Maharaja was a controversial person. Many loved him deeply and others were less favorable. By nature he was very strong, intelligent, and dominating, but also personable and soft; he had the thunderbolt/rose phenomena of a powerful spiritual personality. In the service of Srila Prabhupada he generally had no qualms about using the force of his character to get his way. It was irresistible and if one found himself on the other side of that force it could be quite unnerving–and only in rare instances was there any use in resisting. At times, however, I also saw him humbly lament to his close friends that this side of his character was a burden to his more internal development.
Tamal Krishna Maharaja was, above all, a practical person and very surrendered to Srila Prabhupada’s mission. He understood that the best way he could serve his spiritual master was to offer everything he had, including his nature, in the service of Srila Prabhupada. He set extremely demanding, seemingly unattainable service objectives, and then, like a powerful general, he commanded his forces to achieve his goals which were inevitably attained. Being in his proximity implied a wllingness to fulfill his objectives, to be driven toward those goals, and to live in his mission–a testing proposition at times for others with seemingly their own mission and needs, and their own world to live in. In that sense Maharaja’s temperament could sometimes appear heavy, even controlling, and often hard to understand or difficult to appreciate in terms of the life of a saint. I thus also, at times, wondered how he would be ultimately be judged by the greater community of devotees.
Although Tamal Krishna Maharaja was the most senior and prominent member of the GBC, he hadn’t been to the GBC meetings in seven years. At the end of Maharaja’s life, he was again brought to Mayapur, into the association of his dear Godbrothers, where once more he could resume his service as the most senior GBC member and respected advisor to its leadership. It is also the time of year when all Gaudiya-Vaishnavas, not just ISKCON, congregate to celebrate the appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. His passing was thus perfectly timed and perfectly placed to guarantee the appropriate recognition and glorification of his practically unparalleled service to the mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, all of which seems to have been obviously arranged by the will of providence.
Whatever individual opinions one might have concerning the legacy of Tamal Krishna Maharaja, it is higher authorities that ultimately weigh one’s life and contributions. Can anyone doubt–by the way Lord Gauranga has orchestrated the passing away of Srila Tamal Krishna and arranged for the consequent overwhelming outpour of appreciation and affection worldwide–that it is Mahaprabhu Himself loudly issuing the final verdict and a clear message:
“Srila Tamal Krishna Maharaja, a great and dedicated servant of Srila Prabhupada has passed from this world. His contribution to My mission is very significant and his life and teachings are to be forever remembered and honored. His life and passing is a message to all: Service to my mission is rewarded!”