Srila Prabhupada said that when a Vaishnava departs we feel simultaneously happy and sad. We feel happy because we know the Vaishnava has gone to Krishna, but we feel sad because we will miss the Vaishnava’s association. I have no doubt that Srila Tamal Krishna Goswami Maharaja has gone both to the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada and to the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha-Kalachandji. By such service as he offered to Srila Prabhupada for so many years, one is naturally promoted to Their service.
The last time I spoke here, Goswami Maharaja was in his quarters, and as I recall, he sort of tricked me into giving the class. I think he said he had to do some service in his quarters, so I gave the class. And remembering that incident, it is easy for me now to imagine that I am giving class and he is in his quarters and that we are all together. Before that class, I’d had a very significant talk with Goswami Maharaja in which he gave me some important instructions.
The discussion had actually begun the night before, when I first arrived. We had both been sitting on the floor, and he had been saying how people thought that he was such a senior devotee, that he had been practicing Krishna consciousness for so many years, that he was a direct disciple of Srila Prabhupada, and that he’d had so much of Srila Prabhupada’s association. But, he had said, in spite of his hari-nama, Gayatri, and sannyasa initiations from Srila Prabhupada, and all his association with Srila Prabhupada and his practice of Krishna consciousness, he still felt he needed guidance from other devotees. He had said that he took their guidance and that he considered some of these guides to be siksa-gurus. And then he had listed the names of godbrothers whom he considered to be his siksa-gurus.
At the time, I was being prevented from returning to India, where I had served for many years—the first several with Goswami Maharaja—and I based myself first in Mauritius and then gradually divided most of my time between Mauritius and South Africa. So, I was pretty isolated from my godbrothers. At that time in the movement some of the biggest leaders had fallen down, and I was in such a state of shock that I had resolved within my heart that I would never take shelter of anyone else again—except Srila Prabhupada. So when Goswami Maharaja spoke to me as he did, I had to consider what he said. I always took what he said seriously, but at the same time I had vowed never again to place my faith in anyone except Srila Prabhupada.
The next morning while we were chanting our rounds in the temple, somehow the feeling, or realization, came in my heart that actually what Goswami Maharaja had said was true: we do need guidance; we do need a siksa-guru or siksa-gurus. And it became equally clear that the person who should be my siksa-guru, or who was meant to be my siksa-guru, was Goswami Maharaja himself. It was such a clear realization, such a strong realization, that I became very excited and approached him. In general, I wouldn’t have wanted to disturb him while he was chanting his rounds, but I couldn’t help myself. I told him that I had just had the realization that what he had said was true: despite all our association with Srila Prabhupada, we still need the guidance of other devotees. He nodded his head knowingly, in agreement and approval. Finally I had realized what he already knew.