Tamal Krishna Goswami was indeed a complex, intense, and high profile personality but he also had a soft side that I personally got to know as did many others. Certainly, his numerous disciples don’t experience him to be the terrible monster that he is portrayed as by the oh-so-righteous Poop Team. Many people discovered the softer side of Tamal as the reactions he got from his more brazen earlier years caught up to him and as he entered into deeper realms of spiritual consciousness. Others may not have known the softer side of Tamal but he kept returning to Srila Prabhupada for shelter, guidance, encouragement, and survival. Many others can testify that but we see no acknowledgment of any of this by this self-congratulating brahminically equipoised Truth Committee. NO. What we find in their report is a crucifixion.
On several occasions, Tamal gives us a peek into the terribly difficult types of dilemmas he had to cope with while serving Srila Prabhupada and the stress he was under.
‘Srila Prabhupada said: My feet are swelling, my teeth are getting loose, I am passing urine too frequently. These are the first signs that death is coming.’
… Prabhupada was not taking very long walks,…His temperature rose to 104 or 105 degrees. For three days and two nights he had a high fever and was always moaning. […] Prabhupada could not eat anything and he had great difficulty passing urine. His body was very much swollen. No longer could he go down and give lectures, nor could he even talk with the devotees. Gradually the fever went away. Later on, Srila Prabhupada told us that he thought the time had come for him to give up his body.” – KGBG p. 484
This is easy to appreciate by the gentile, but a new generation of cross-burners lambasts these testimonies to tar and feather the man who spoke them. It is vividly clear by these and hundreds of other statements that Srila
Prabhupada complained about bodily difficulties. Bhavananda comes right out and tells us:
BHAVANANDA: Even when healthy, Prabhupada couldn’t tolerate pain. I’m afraid he’ll prefer to die. – KGBG p. 465
Yet how is this all interpreted by the compassionate folks who whipped up the Who Poisoned Prabhupada mystery drama? They dismiss it all with a misunderstanding of Vaishnava principles that leads to a reckless cold-hearted indifference to anyone who feels any adhyatmik (bodily) miseries.
Not the Pain
Srila Prabhupada’s health plays a very big role in the poison conspiracy. On one hand, we are told the poisoning was evident because of bodily symptoms Srila Prabhupada began experiencing as early as July of 1976.
“Suspicion that Srila Prabhupada’s cadmium poisoning began as early as July 1976 is warranted since Srila Prabhupada’s health symptoms in 1976 were very similar to those during the prolonged illness of 1977, namely extended heavy congestion with mucus, weakness, loss of appetite, nausea. These are the same symptoms seen in 1977, a period in which it been proven there were ultra-high levels of cadmium poisoning. (KGBG p.269)
So here it is acknowledged that Srila Prabhupada’s body was affected by what the investigator claims evidence of cadmium is poisoning. They are the ones who also assert that by March of 1977 the cadmium accrued to 300 times more than anyone could survive! Well if the Goof Team acknowledges that Srila Prabhupada’s body was affected by the cadmium then he would have perished when it reached 5 times the lethal limit, or certainly at 10 times the lethal limit, but he didn’t! How could he have possibly survived 300 times the lethal limit and then live for another 8 months?
The answer we get from the Goof team is because His Divine Grace was so transcendental that apparently somewhere during this so-called poisoning process he stopped being affected by all the cadmium he was ingesting! Initially, they agree that Srila Prabhupada’s body was affected by it but not later! Their idea is that Krishna decided to just let his body be impacted for the first few doses… and then later decided to throw some magic dust and walla… protect him for over a year from any further symptoms… except occasionally when Tamal Krishna Goswami happened to enter the room? This is a completely concocted manipulation of our Vaishnava philosophy which is self-contradicting. As Srila Prabhupada’s body aged he made it very clear on several occasions that it disturbed him enough to let others know about it.
There is a tremendous misconception that as one raised their consciousness their body will magically stop generating distractions but this is an immature understanding of our predicament. The soul is eternal, but the body is not and because the soul currently resides in this conditional body, it must contend with the needs and pains generated by the body.
Consciousness is the symptom of the soul’s presence. Because the soul is in the body, the body feels pleasure and pain. When the soul leaves the body, the body can be hacked to pieces, and yet it will not protest. This is because the consciousness is gone. We feel pleasure and pain because consciousness is present, and Krsna advises us that it is this consciousness that is eternal, not the body. – TLK Vs 28
When someone falls ill, this understanding is sometimes eclipsed by insensitive individuals who quip with the knee-jerk response: “You Are Not Your Body Prabhu!” We can understand how wrong that is by observing how Srila Prabhupada responded when he was informed about a disciple getting ill. There are numerous stories about how he expressed his loving concern whenever that happened:
I am also very much concerned about your health. I have written Hayagriva in this connection. But I do not know what could be the cause of this illness.(SPL to Syama Dasi, 24th March 1969)
There is a big difference between caving into all the lusty, agitating daily demands of the body and taking careful notice of it when it generates pain to inform us we are walking barefoot on glass, getting sun-stroke, or may need to see a doctor.
Although I say I’m not this body, if somebody knocks me I feel pain. So this is temporary. Matra sparsas tu kaunteya sito sna-sukha-duhkha-dah [Bg. 2.14].Due to this body, I am feeling pains and pleasures.So the Buddha philosophy is you make this body nil, then there is no pains and pleasures. But that is imperfect.– Philosophy Discussions Hegel
There is no doubt that Srila Prabhupada’s consciousness was purely absorbed in Krishna’s lotus feet but there is a gross misconception that he did not have to go through any bodily inconvenience. It is how he responds to it that makes the difference between a great devotee and any ordinary condition soul. As disciples, we are to be very attentive to what the spiritual master tells us and in this regard, Srila Prabhupada made it very clear that he was not exempt to the disturbances generated by his body.
‘Before going on his walk Prabhupada complained of a toothache, but still, he went to Belle Isle.’ – TD 2-6: Detroit
“It was a long and bumpy drive up the dirt road, and afterward Srila Prabhupada complained about heart strain.’ – TD 3-1: New Vrindaban, West Virginia
“Prabhupada complained to me again about his chest pains. When I asked him what was the cause, he said simply, “Too much anxiety.” He explained that the problems in management have created too much stress.” – TD 3-3: New York
“After taking a very small amount of fruit for breakfast Prabhupada complained of exhaustion. He rested for a long while. His cold is now subsiding, but only after continually coughing up mucus for two days. He is still very, very weak, but he took his massage for the first time since our arrival,..” – TD 3-4: London
“Auckland was experiencing chilly weather, and shortly after his arrival Srila Prabhupada complained of the “pinching cold” in his room. He asked Tusta Krsna to seal all the windows with tape, and Tusta complied” – Friday, 14 April 1972
Gargamuni: I can remember. And one morning you said you were not feeling well. And the doctor said… I can remember. This is… Your left side was paralyzed.
Prabhupada: Yes. Paralyzed, yes. – Room Conversation- January 19, 1977, Bhubaneswar
Prabhupada: Everyone knows that I am not feeling well. – Room Conversation — March 31, 1977, Bombay
“There are two kinds of bodies for every individual soul — a gross body made of five gross elements and a subtle body made of three subtle elements. Within these bodies, however, is the spirit soul. One must find the soul by analysis, saying, “This is not it. This is not it.” Thus one must separate spirit from matter.” – SB 7.7.23
Krishna says it is the soul which is eternal, cannot be cut, or destroyed (Bg 2.23)… but immature devotees get confused and sometimes attribute the characteristic of the spiritual body to the physical body in this world. It is the inverse mistake made when neophytes come to the temple and only see a stone statue on the altar. In that case, those individuals are incapable of experiencing the transcendental spiritual presence of Krishna or the spiritual master in the murti. When devotees read that the spiritual master does not have an ordinary material body that is to remind us that he and does not allow the pushing agents of the body to come in the way of his service to Krsna. It does not mean he no longer feels what it is doing or doesn’t need to bath it, feed it and keep it from harm’s way.
The pure devotee uses every breath to worship Krishna whereas the conditioned soul engages the body in either subtle or gross sense gratification. So conditioned individuals measure life based on the capacity to enjoy sense gratification and that is why they refer to someone with a defective body as “crippled.” This word means impaired or flawed and indeed one who is crippled will be at a disadvantage in regards to the pursuit of sense gratification. However, a seasoned devotee has some realization regarding the futility of sense gratification.
“One who is in knowledge of the Absolute Truth, O mighty-armed, does not engage himself in the senses and sense gratification, knowing well the differences between work in devotion and work for fruitive results.”- Bg 3.28
A symptom of a neophyte devotee is to unconsciously slip back into material thinking, even without noticing it. To help us remember NOT to do that, we are given a strong admonishment not to confuse the material body with the spiritual body.
“Being situated in his original Krsna conscious position, a pure devotee does not identify with the body. Such a devotee should not be seen from a materialistic point of view. Indeed, one should overlook a devotee’s having a body born in a low family, a body with a bad complexion, a deformed body, or a diseased or infirm body. According to ordinary vision, such imperfections may seem prominent in the body of a pure devotee, but despite such seeming defects, the body of a pure devotee cannot be polluted.” – NoI: verse 6
What sets the exalted soul apart from the conditioned soul is that they are not interested in pursuing sense gratification. They may even reduce their bodily demands down to just a cup of milk a day or rarely sleep like Srila Prabhupada did. But they still must eat something, drink water, and tend to the maintenance of the body which can become very problematic as it crumbles out from beneath us. As we get older we should strive to overcome the urges of the body so when it becomes more demanding due to illness, we can continue to stay focused on our service. That is what distinguishes an advanced devotee from others. Even when there is great difficulty with the physical body, still they press on undeterred due to persistent spiritual training. Srila Prabhupada continued to translate the Srimad Bhagavatam despite all the intense bodily challenges he faced.
Prabhupada: Now, if I do not identify myself with this body if this knowledge is fixed up, then… The miserable condition of this material world is due to this body, but if I don’t identify with this body, then what relationship I have got with all these miseries? This is theoretical knowledge, of course, but one has to practice. But this is a fact. Just like for the time being, if there is any pain in the body… I feel pain because I am absorbed in this bodily concept of life, but actually, I am not this body. That is a fact. It is due to my absorption of bodily concept of life; therefore I feel. The more I become enlightened, the more I shall not be affected by all these miseries. Go on. …
Virabhadra: I thought you said in Bhagavad-gita a pure devotee wouldn’t feel pain because he’s always chanting and Krishna will always protect him.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Pain was there, but it was not too much. The boys, the disciples, were chanting and I was chanting, so there was not so much. It was not so much painful. That is already explained. When there is distress, the devotee takes it that “I am suffering for my past deeds, but I should have died at this moment, but Krsna is simply giving me a little pain, that’s all.“ Actually, that was the thing. That day I should have… The heart attack was very severe. I should have died. Nobody survives such heart attack. But Krsna saved me. That’s all. -Bhagavad-gita 2.46-62 — December 16, 1968, Los Angeles
So what is going on here? Prabhupada was clearly indicating that his body was impeding his service to Krishna and we find that Arjuna was also challenged by the adhyatmik influences of the body. Krishna even tells us Arjuna is an expansion of Himself (Bg.10.37) and yet even Arjuna reveals that he was so disturbed from severe bodily reactions he too was unable to perform his service.
“My whole body is trembling, my hair is standing on end, my bow Gandiva is slipping from my hand, and my skin is burning. I am now unable to stand here any longer. I am forgetting myself, and my mind is reeling. I see only causes of misfortune, O Krsna, killer of the Kesa demon.” – Bg 1.29-30
From this we can understand that Krishna uses his pure devotees, who are completely surrendered unto him, in a variety of ways, sometimes very challenging situations specifically to teach the rest of us important lessons. In Arjuna’s case, he faced one of the worst possible forms of mental torment having to literally kill his own friends, mentors, and family. Instead of caving into the tribulations he faced and wimping out, he showed us how to surrender to Krishna, ask the proper questions and then act according to his instructions to prevail. In the case of Prahlada Maharaja, the lesson was to illustrate how even the biggest demon in the world cannot harm his devotee if Krishna wants him to remain safe. In Draupadi’s case, the lesson was how Krishna can protect the dignity of his devotee even when all hope appears to have been lost. In Srila Prabhupada’s case, his service was to teach all of us in the west who were raised thinking happiness comes from pampering, spoiling, and even worshipping our body, the final lesson in how to completely transcend it. He showed us that even when faced with so many unfavorable physical situations, he never let his consciousness slip. He stayed completely focused on the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord right up until his last breath.
To make all of this clearer, let us say that devotional service might be compared to the task of building a house of cards. If you have never done it before it can be challenging at first because you must learn to steady your hands and understand just how and where to place each of the next cards. As one becomes more focused on the task of building a card house, one might eventually be able to stack up a very elaborate structure. The knowledge of how to build such a delicate structure is compared to developing one’s own Krishna Consciousness. Similarly, over time as we practice sadhana bhakti, it gets easier to stay focused and not let mundane distractions interfere with our devotional service. However as the body gets older, our ability to accomplishing the same task gets more challenging due to the limitations of the body. Our hands might start to shake, our eyes may not see as well, and our stamina may dwindle especially if arthritis sets in.
This is, in fact, the very reason why we are advised to start practicing Krishna Consciousness when we are very young so we will have many opportunities to practice overcoming the difficulties of old age as the body becomes physically incapacitated. King Kulasekara takes this concept to the extreme and prays to die immediately, while still young before his throat becomes choked with mucus.
“O Lord Krsna, at this moment (Immediately*) let the royal swan of my mind enter the tangled stems of the lotus of Your feet. How will it be possible for me to remember You at the time of death when my throat will be choked up with mucus, bile, and air?”
Purport: The practical difficulty, brought up in Kulasekhara’s verse, is that although it is crucial to remember Krsna at the time of death, that time also produces the greatest disruption of one’s physical and mental functions. Srila Prabhupada explained that death occurs when the body becomes so painful that the soul finds it unbearable to live in the body any longer. Therefore the paradox: At the time when we should be the most meditative, fixing our mind on Krsna and preparing to transfer ourselves to the spiritual world, we are also faced with the greatest possible distraction in the form of agonizing pain. Thus here King Kulasekhara prays to die now, in good health, so he will be able to absorb his mind in thoughts of Krsna’s lotus feet. – Mukunda Mala Stotra mantra 33
* Another example of how unreliable the words are from those who bring us the poison conspiracy is how much they misinterpret and object to the use of the word “Immediately” in regards to how this verse is translated. They assert:
(Note: Tamal’s translation is very incorrect; there is no mention in the Mukunda Mala Stotra of “immediate death”… and Maharaja Kulashekhar was not suicidal.) –KGBG p.464
However the Sanskrit word adya means “now, at this moment” and any child can understand that is equivalent to “immediately.” Those who still find this too difficult to comprehend are referred to the purport of SB 4.28.15 where Srila Prabhupad clearly translates the first portion of this verse: “My dear Krsna, please help me die immediately…”
King Kulashekara was no slouch and he understood that when the body starts to collapse it will become “…choked up with mucus, bile, and air.” At that time if we have trained our consciousness adequately, we will still be able to remember Krishna even if our ability to physically serve him becomes severely impaired. It would be equivalent to trying to make a house of cards in the back of a moving pickup truck racing down a dirt road. You may still be very expert at knowing how to construct a house of cards, but the conditions under which you now have to work make the task virtually impossible. Srila Prabhupada confirmed that was the situation he felt trapped by. His spirit remained fixed on the lotus feet of Krishna, but his physical ability to carry out his services had become almost impossible.
I vividly remember that night in Vrndavana — you were not feeling well, and although it was about 1:00 am, you could not sleep. As I massaged your lotus feet and you began to lament, “There is so much to do, but I am so sick and not able to do anything.” =>Vedabase: Bhakti Charu Swami
Therefore when someone’s health is obviously compromised it is our duty to get them off the dirt road and out of the pick-up truck as much as possible. That’s exactly what the devotees were attempting to do, not murder His Divine Grace! The grand irony here is that even after Srila Prabhupada made it abundantly clear that he was indeed experiencing so many uncomfortable disruptions from his physical body that he could not do his service, the poison boys then turn around and ask:
“…what kind of (person) will ignore a patient’s history and symptoms, saying out of sentimentality something like, “Oh, this person is not really sick.”? – KGBG p. 484”
What kind of people would do that? People who are incapable of distinguishing what is spirituality and what is sentimentality, that’s who
What Would You Have Done?
I have already pointed out how most of the people reading this have probably not experienced what it would be like to be looking after a physically incapacitated body. As such, the majority of us can hardly imagine the difficulties those who were caring for His Divine Grace had to contend with. Therefore it is insensitive to trivialize just how intense these moments must have been for those who were there trying to comfort His Divine Grace in any way possible. When caring for Srila Prabhupada during his last days, Tamal Krishna Goswami faced a very difficult dilemma. His Divine grace had expressed his desire to leave his body and was kindly requesting Tamal on behalf of all of us to allow him to depart this world. Yet also on behalf of all the devotees, Tamal knew we were all craving for Srila Prabhupada to stay here with us for as long as we could persuade him to do so. What an absolutely terrible dilemma! How would you have handled it? Let each reader consider the following exchange as if you were in the room during those last days faced with the same painful predicament that Tamal Krishna Goswami shares with us here:
A number of times he would say “Can you give me a medicine, please give me a medicine that will allow me to disappear now.” Another time he said “I want most now to disappear. I want to die peacefully. Let me die peacefully.”… KGBG p.842
…you were talking about Prabhupada asking for something to let him disappear, that he wanted to die… Prabhupada once said, recently he said, “It is becoming unbearable. Becoming unbearable.” We can understand that it wasn’t simply the material pain that was becoming unbearable, but that Prabhupada also wanted to be with Krishna, and not be burdened with this physically incapacitated body.- KGBG p.827
So here it is accepted Srila Prabhupada was feeling burdened with a physically incapacitated body. What would you have done? What would you have said? How would you have felt having to sort out the options? Ya think maybe you would be at a total loss of which direction to take? This is the proper way to understand all the confusion and emotions that Tamal Krishna Goswami was having to process. This is how healthy people in the behavioral sciences would explain what was going on. This is clear, compassionate and reasonable thinking. Only those with a twisted agenda would come up with a Zebra brain interpretation like:
One gets chills hearing Tamal’s voice evolve to a nervous, squeaky high pitch as he claimed that Srila Prabhupada stated: “Can you give me a medicine, please give me a medicine that will allow me to disappear now.” – KGBG p. 388
No. This is so obviously prejudicial. It reflects just how sinister this poison conspiracy is all about. The people who endorse this type of reckless projection and judgment are the ones who are suspect for the most egregious deviations yet because they are a direct impediment to the thrust of Lord Caitanya’s movement. They are the ones sowing the visaya-virya-bija.
Tamal Krishna Goswami has been very unfairly accused, tried, and condemned by this kangaroo-court of self-appointed prosecutors. That is why so many learned and sober devotees don’t give any credence to any aspect of this completely concocted conspiracy fable. The whole thing is founded on the worst form of envious stinking- thinking that only a wicked mind could possibly dream up.
Download the full book (PDF) at this link.