HISTORY OF TAMAL KRISHNA GOSWAMI
APPENDIX 15: HISTORY OF TAMAL KRISHNA GOSWAMI
Tamal Krishna Goswami is a central figure
in the history of Srila Prabhupada's pastimes and that of the Hare Krishna Movement.
He received hundreds of letters from Srila Prabhupada, served as chairman of the
GBC in 1975, headed the largest-ever book distribution operation in ISKCON, served
as Srila Prabhupada's personal secretary for the entire year of 1977, and has
always been at the prominent in the inner clique of GBC's who formulated ISKCON
policy and institutional philosophy. Further, he himself has invariably been at
the center of one serious controversy in ISKCON after another. TKG has certainly
had a colorful history.
There is no doubt TKG has rendered much
wonderful service to Srila Prabhupada, and this appendix is not meant to criticize
or belittle anyone who has spent a lifetime in the service of the Lord. However,
uncomfortable and tricky as it may be, it has become necessary to understand
and examine TKG's role and activities in ISKCON since the 1970's in order to:
1. Appraise the honesty and authenticity
of TKG's Diary and its accounts of Srila Prabhupada's illness and
events in 1977, the information from which is vital to the poison investigation,
2. get to the bottom of his changing
interpretations of the initiation system Srila Prabhupada wanted for the future
3. ascertain whether anyone in or out
of ISKCON might possibly have had a motive to poison Srila Prabhupada,
4. devise a list of questions for Tamal
regarding the particulars and mysteries of Srila Prabhupada's illness in 1977.
In TKG's book, A Hare Krishna
at Southern Methodist University, there is a chapter entitled The Perils
of Succession wherein many of the controversial episodes of ISKCON history
are clinically described, usually omitting the true details of Tamal's own role
in or orchestration of such controversies. One such event was the Radha Damodar
travelling parties which Tamal controlled in 1976. Srila Prabhupada became so
upset with Tamal's conduct of creating great disturbance in the USA ISKCON centers
that His Divine Grace relieved Tamal of all services and responsibilities, ordering
him to go to China. Tamal resisted and Srila Prabhupada became angry with him,
and held fast to Tamal's
"banishment" behind the Yellow Curtain. It was clear that by this
event, Tamal was disgraced, humiliated, and severely chastised before the entire
assemblage of devotees at the annual Mayapur festival, 1976. Adi Keshava agrees
that the affair made Tamal very resentful towards Srila Prabhupada.
After the 1976 Mayapur festival, Tamal
and Dristadyumna studied about China and prepared a report for Srila Prabhupada.
In a meeting with Srila Prabhupada in Hawaii on May 4, 1976, Tamal submitted the
bleak report and described how the
only method of distributing books in China would be to throw sealed, floating
bags of books into the ocean, hoping they would wash ashore and be found by coastal
residents. Dristadyumna and Tamal attended a book publisher's convention undercover
on mainland China for a few days. Tamal reported to Srila Prabhupada that there
was absolutely no way to preach in China, "maybe in fifty years (from
now)." Srila Prabhupada excused Tamal of the order to go to China, and
returned Tamal to his former position as head of the Radha Damodar bus program.
Tamal soon afterwards assumed the GBC position for New York zone as well. Adi
Keshava described Tamal's return to New York as pompous and triumphant.
While in New York, Tamal wrote and supervised
the production of a play done by Sudama Swami and the devotee actors. It was an
obvious indulgence in TKG's personal and emotional history of banishment and chastisement
by Srila Prabhupada. The play was entitled "The Emperor and His Chief
Counselor." The counselor created havoc in the emperor's kingdom, is
chastised, and realizing his mistake, repented and became re-situated properly
in the service of the emperor once again. Adi Keshava, however, thought the play
was frightening and bizarre, being all about court intrigue, pride, power, and
how Tamal had been wrongly chastised because although he had overstepped his bounds
with abuse of the counselor's position, he had done so with only good intentions.
Srila Prabhupada then came to Rathayatra
in New York in July 1976, staying for about a week as Tamal Krishna Goswami's
guest. At this time Srila Prabhupada's health began to decline, although Tamal
claims it began earlier with a "cold" in New Vrindaban. His Divine
Grace's strength and digestion decreased while in New York, to the point where
many GBC's asked Srila Prabhupada to stay and wait for recovery before travelling
to India. Srila Prabhupada left nevertheless; on the plane and upon arrival in
London only hours after leaving New York, He experienced a severe "illness"
with vomiting, weakness, mucus, and lack of energy. Unfortunately, the symptoms
appear very similar to those during the severe illness of 1977. Coincidence? The
detailed description of this illness, accompanied by heart palpitations, is contained
in Volume 4 of Hari Sauri's Transcendental Diary.
AND SENILE ?
Appendix 9 contains several unverified
and alleged accounts of Tamal's past actions and statements, which may shed
some light on how to accept the veracity of his diary's accounts of Srila Prabhupada's
illness. Nara Narayan posted an essay on VNN on 12.3.97, in which he claimed the
following: "I personally overheard a private conversation between
Shyamasundar das and Tamal Krishna Goswami in the Colaba Post Office flat of Mr.
Kartikkeya Mahadevia. Tamal was angrily blaming Srila Prabhupada for trying to
keep the Juhu Beach land. He said, 'He is old. Old and senile. He is simply attached
to that land! We will never be able to build on that land. He is simply old and
attached.'" The known facts in this incident are that Tamal sold the
Juhu land without permission, causing Srila Prabhupada to become extremely angry
and to personally re-negotiate the land's purchase.
TAMAL'S GURU SYSTEM PHILOSOPHIES
The following re-worked and edited article
was posted on VNN on January 7, 1999, called "Colorful
History Of Tamal Krishna Goswami":
This is an explanation of the different
colorful and contradictory interpretations of Tamal Krishna Goswami on the instructions
of Srila Prabhupada for an initiation system in ISKCON after 1977. It is pertinent
for us to carefully examine whether his record on this issue is solid and reliable.
TKG has offered only confusing and contradictory positions on what should have
happened after Srila Prabhupada's departure:
1) 1978: TKG agrees with the rest of
the new gurus that the 11
men listed in the July 9, 1977 letter had been exclusively chosen as the 'material
and spiritual successors' to Srila Prabhupada. He enthusiastically participated
in and supported this system, with the big vyasasanas etc. In a document he was
party to issued at Mayapur, March 2, 1978, it stated:
"The GBC members met together in
Vrndavana and prepared a few last questions to put before Srila Prabhupada. [...]
Then he said that he would name the initiating gurus later. [...] Then one day
in June he gave his secretary the names of eleven disciples who would be initiating
the disciples. [...] A delicate situation may arise when in one ISKCON temple
there are disciples of different gurus. The natural way to avoid this is for a
guru to perform diksa in his own zone. Srila Prabhupada deliberately chose gurus
in different parts of the world to arrange for this. [...] A second seat, however
a little below Srila Prabhupada's vyasasana, should be given to the initiating
guru. [...] Those who are already empowered to initiate will extend the number
by their consideration. In this way it will have spiritual characteristics. The
eleven picked by His Divine Grace will extend themselves. [...] Now these godbrother's
are worshipped by their disciples as genuine spiritual masters. This means for
example, that they are to be considered, as stated in the Guruvastakam, as nikunjo-yuno
rati keli siddhyai - intimate assistants in the pastimes of Krishna." (The
Process For Carrying Out Srila Prabhupada's Desires For Future Initiations; A
paper prepared by the GBC in consultation with higher authorities)
should note that out of the eleven so called "intimate associates of the
gopis," seven have fallen down. The remaining four are Tamal, Hridayananda,
TKG wrote in a letter to Upananda on
December 13, 1978: "The argument that after the departure of the spiritual
master anyone of his disciples can give initiation, cannot be applied in the case
of Srila Prabhupada who specifically named 11 persons only at first to fulfill
this function. These 11 persons were
named by Srila Prabhupada in the beginning of July, 1977... These names were dictated
to me as I was serving as his secretary , and now he had me write a letter to
all the GBC's and Temple Presidents which he also signed as approved on the
9th of July listing their names and defining their function. [...] Thus, we
can understand... that Srila Prabhupada clearly appointed 11 successors for initiation.
Whatever process may have been followed by past acaryas, Prabhupada chose to appoint.
[...] Even after having these facts clearly explained, if some one continues to
blaspheme the 11 gurus, their legitimacy, then he blasphemes ISKCON, the spiritual
vehicle created by Prabhupada to fulfill his will, and he blasphemes the GBC -
the approved driver of the vehicle - [...] he is not a disciple at all. Rather
he is the killer of gurudev and his spiritual whereabouts is unknown." It
is noted here that this understanding as described by TKG above has been refuted
by the GBC themselves as false. Another point to note is that in 1998 TKG claimed
in lectures given in Hongkong, etc, responding to the rtviks' use of the July
9th letter as evidence for a post-1977 rtvik system, that the July 9th letter
was actually never authored or written by Srila Prabhupada. TKG now claims that
the letter was written by him, and the contents of the letter were his creation,
even though ritually signed by Srila Prabhupada. Thus according to the convenience
of the situation and the particular climate of ISKCON, TKG again changed his position.
2) 1980: By this time TKG's understanding
of Srila Prabhupada's desires for guru-succession had become so deviant that even
the GBC, themselves following a deviated path, suspended him as GBC and guru,
relieving him of his zone. TKG had become convinced, amongst other things, that
even his godbrothers and godsisters could only reach Srila Prabhupada through
him! Many devotees hold Tamal accountable for the suicide of a well-liked devotee
named Gopijanaballabha Swami, who was thought to have become mortally depressed
on account of Tamal's demands and philosophy.
"Tamala Krishna Goswami, the
leader of a large number of sannyasa and brahmacari preachers, insisted that he
was now their via media in relating to Prabhupada and expected that his godbrothers
follow him absolutely," (The Perils of Succession', 1996, by TKG)
3) Having been suspended. TKG then gave
explanation at Topanga Canyon. California on December 3, 1980. He "admits"
and the other GBC have done the greatest disservice to this movement the last
three years (24 now) because we interpreted the appointment of ritviks as the
appointment of gurus. What actually happened I'll explain. I explained it but
the interpretation is wrong."
Here TKG not only confirms that his
understanding of the letter in 1978 was totally wrong, but also that now he
has finally properly understood what Srila Prabhupada really wanted. Of course,
within a very short time the GBC returned TKG to his zone as GBC and guru, fearful
that he might upset the apple cart and their positions any further.
4) 1982: TKG has changed his mind again
and goes back to the version of events that he had supported in 1978 and rejected
in 1980, as seen in a letter to Gadai
Prabhu on June 16, 1982:
"I do not think that there is
any problem in accepting the spiritual masters who Srila Prabhupada appointed.
The first qualification which you should have before you decide on this issue
is to chant sixteen rounds and follow strictly Prabhupada's orders... The real
proof is to see that they are acharya, not simply by appointment, but by actions.
Our movement is progressing and growing more and more, at least as much as it
was during Srila Prabhupada's time. [...] You have enclosed a clipping from Back
To Godhead in which Srila
Bhaktipada (Kirtanananda Swami) is advertised as 'Bonafide Spiritual Master'.
You say 'this is something that seems a little strange to me'. Would you please
explain to me what seems strange? "
Kirtanananda is now serving a 26 year sentence in Federal prison for various criminal
convictions. That is strange for an acharya.
5) 1984: This metamorphosis of TKG's
version of what happened in 1977 is completed by the publication of his book in
1984, Servant of the Servant. On page 361 we find:
"Since the disappearance of
our beloved spiritual master, we have seen such disenchanted persons come forward
trying to cast doubt on the legacy left by Srila Prabhupada. When Srila Prabhupada
appointed from among his senior disciples eleven persons to continue the process
of initiation, and when after their spiritual master's departure those ivhom he
selected assumed their duties by his command, the critics began to bark their
discontent. Though they leveled their remarks against the successor gurus,
in reality their criticism was aimed at Srila Prabhupada himself. Just as
in 1970, the present dissatisfaction is being unabatedly fed by some of his Godbrothers
in India. Doubt in Srila Prabhupada's successors is a thin veneer covering
the same malicious attempt as was made in 1970 to minimize Prabhupada's position
as the founder-acarya of ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada saw this attempt as the
greatest danger to his disciples and the Society which he had created, and he
acted at once to curb it. In the same light, we who are his faithful followers
must defend Prabhupada's successors to protect their young disciples and to
preserve the unity of ISKCON and the prestige of its founder-acarya. (COMMENT:
It is this heavy mood which caused thousands to leave ISKCON)
By his letter of June 21, Srila Prabhupada
did not merely confirm his own transcendental position as my spiritual master.
As he stated, "Any living entity who is conditioned can achieve the perfectional
stage of life by the above-mentioned processes and the vivid example is Narada
Muni." The critics may argue that appointment alone is not a guarantee that
one has actually achieved this perfectional stage of life; Prabhupada might have
appointed disciples for lack of anyone better, or hoping that they might one day
achieve the desired realization. To such irresponsible criticism we answer a decisive
"No!" Srila Prabhupada chose them because they merited his confidence.
How do we say so? - by their qualifications in regard to all categories as determined
in Srila Prabhupada's own books, the spiritual law books for this age, i.e., that
they repeat Krishna's words, received in disciplic succession.
(Quote from Teachings of Lord Kapila)
Srila Prabhupada conferred his blessings
upon these disciples, seeing that they had dedicated themselves heart and soul
to assisting him in the preaching mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Thus
he considered them to be uttama-adhikari, all highly advanced devotees worthy
to be accepted as spiritual masters. (Quote from The Nectar of Instruction)
Critics may doubt whether our
ISKCON acharyas are actually liberated. Do they know their rasa (liberated
relationship) with Krishna, and will they be able to instruct their disciples
similarly? But such questions bring one dangerously near the precipice of spiritual
calamity. We have experience of one "liberation-seeking" Godbrother,
impatient for his spiritual rasa, wandering into the arms of a so-called "rasa-guru.
" After being informed of his real identity as a peacock in Goloka, this
foolish neophyte began imitating behind closed doors the movements and cooings
of a peacock, preparing for his future role. Such behavior indicates little familiarity
with Prabhupada's teachings. Srila Prabhupada did not encourage such discussions,
did not reveal his relationship with Krishna, nor give anyone a special initiation
(COMMENT: Here TKG wants us to think we would be offensive to question his exalted stature) But to suggest that Srila Prabhupada was not therefore of the highest liberated realization, not qualified to fully guide his disciples, is preposterous. In a Bhagavatam purport Srila Prabhupada clearly defines how we should understand the spiritual master's liberated condition. (Quote from Bhagavatam)
Sometimes Prabhupada was asked, "Are
you perfect?" Prabhupada's humble reply was, "I may not be perfect.
But I have complete faith in the words of my spiritual master, and he is perfect."
Perfection, or liberation, means to follow a perfect person. (Quote from Bhagavatam)
Ultimately, however, the greatest
proof of the bonafidity of Srila Prabhupada's successor acaryas is their new disciples.
It is said, phalena pariciyate: One is recognized by the results of his actions....A
spiritual master is recognized as an actual guru when it is seen that he has changed
the character of his disciples. As a tree is known by the fruit it produces, so
we can know for certain that the fruit of our acaryas' preaching has unquestionably
been grown on the tree of Lord Caitanya. The new devotees who are now joining
the International Society for Krishna Consciousness bear every semblance of being
true Gaudiya Vaisnavas. In fact, judging by the results they are achieving in
the fields of book distribution, temple worship, etc., they are even surpassing
the previous generation of devotees. Undoubtedly this is only possible through
the causeless mercy of Srila Prabhupada who, being greatly pleased, is continuing
to shower his unlimited blessings upon the worldwide members of his ISKCON family."
This complete portion excerpted above from his 1984 book was
subsequently and mysteriously deleted in the 1991 reprint edition.
6) Post 1987: TKG again changes his
mind and whole-heartedly endorses the new guru "reforms" in ISKCON and
agrees that what he and the other 11 had been doing and teaching for the last
10 years was wrong. He agrees that
in new versions of his book 'Servant of the Servant' the above quoted passage
would be omitted. In a December, 1987 letter to Gauridas Pandit TKG said
that the guru issue was unresolved and that open discussion would be healthy.
7). At Mayapur in March 1990, TKG becomes
very angry about the Vedic Village Review and its propagation of the rtvik philosophy,
describing Nityananda das as ISKCON's "public
enemy number one," and arranging for the excommunication from ISKCON
of the three VVR editors in New Jaipur, Mississippi. With Rabindra Swarup, he
produces the ISKCON Journal which attempted to defend the ISKCON system of guru
selection and approval.
8) 1992-95: TKG's understanding of guru-tattva
takes a further twist. He now leads the formation of a "gopi-bhava"
club, preaching that Srila Prabhupada had not given us the 'highest understanding'
and that we should consult with a 'rasika guru', such as Narayan
Maharaj, whom Rabindra Svarupa, GBC chairman and close TKG associate, later
characterized in much less than flattering terms. (Taking Srila Prabhupada Straight,
9) 1995: TKG, under intense pressure
in a GBC showdown, relented, admitting the fault in thinking that Srila Prabhupada
had not given us everything and that we should consult
with the 'rasika guru', as he had himself done and also persuaded
many hundreds of others to do for the previous 4 years. It appeared that
TKG had been ready to push Narayan Maharaj to be accepted as the next acharya
for ISKCON, with himself being the right hand man. TKG was chastised and put on
restriction and probation by the GBC. Since, ISKCON defections to Narayan Maharaj
have snowballed and become a serious factor in the weakening of Srila Prabhupada
10) No sooner was Tamal restricted from
Vrindaban and the
association of Narayan Maharaj than he enrolled in college and began working
hard to become a religious scholar and academic authority on the Hare Krishna
Movement. The ten lives of Tamal! He is presently working on his doctorate at
Cambridge University in England and attends conferences of religious scholars
around the world. In this way, perhaps he will finally be accorded due respect
as a truly spiritual person and be able to transcend the many years of poor reputation
he has earned while participating in various and numerous controversial and debilitating
TAMAL TAKES OVER SRILA PRABHUPADA'S QUARTERS
Another part of Tamal's history worth
noting is that immediately after Srila Prabhupada's disappearance in November
1977, Tamal sent word to the Bombay temple to prepare Srila Prabhupada's quarters
there for his arrival. Going to Bombay, Tamal moved into Srila Prabhupada's rooms
and set himself up in charge of the huge just, opened complex. The Juhu Beach
property was perhaps the premier ISKCON property, and Tamal then ordered a marble
Vyasasana for himself. When the Vyasasana arrived and was being installed, Mahabuddhi
noticed that it was higher than Srila Prabhupada's Vyasasana. Mahabuddhi instructed
the workers to cut down the legs several feet, which was not pleasing to Tamal.
Throughout 1978 Tamal solidified his hold on the Bombay project; at one meeting
in the presence of Tamal, some of
Srila Prabhupada's disciples were grilled and harassed, "Do you love Goswami?"
Finally the situation became too radical for even Giriraj and Sridhar Swamis,
and TKG was summarily ousted while he was visiting the USA, and informed not to
Note by Aruna das: What an impudence and arrogance of Tamal. He takes over Srila Prabhupadas quarters to be celebrated as the sole successor guru, (he forged Prabhupada's signature), despite Prabhupadas instructions and last will, that no body is allowed to occupy his rooms, i.e. "During my absence no one shall live in my apartment." (qoted from the DIRECTION OF MANAGEMENT FOR THE GOVERNING BOARD COMMISSION (GBC) OF THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS)
TKG - TAMAL KRISHNA GOSWAMI'S HISTORY TIMELINE
TKG said that "arsenic is a poison" (that cannot be detected) to Srila
* 1971 TKG insisted on taking sannyasa and pestered Srila Prabhupada on this point (sannyasis are given high resepct).
* 1971 Nara Narayana Visvakarma das hears Tamal say that Srila Prabhupada is "a senile old man."
* TKG was the last person seen talking to Vishnujana and Gopijanaballabha, both of whom are reported to have commited suicide. Braja also tried to kill himself by beating himself on the head with a hammer -- after talking to Tamal. There are allegations that others tried to commit suicide due to the influence of Tamal.
* 1976 TKG started a war against the householders (varnasrama). TKG tried to move them out of the temples and to Australia. Srila Prabhupada had to stop this and he was very upset with Tamal.
* 1976 TKG tried to takeover ISKCON by draining manpower from the temples. Srila Prabhupada responded by saying TKG should be sent to China. TKG refused to go. Srila Prabhupada had to stop this and he was very upset with Tamal. Was TKG developing a grudge against Srila Prabhupada for blocking his takeover attempts?
* May 27, 1977 TKG and Bhavananda inform Srila Prabhupada that many (GBC) men will try to pose as guru after he departs. Srila Prabhupada warns them to "vigilantly manage" that this will not occur.
* May 28, 1977 Srila Prabhupada confirms that he is not going to appoint any guru successors. However, just after he departed, TKG said that Srila Prabhupada had appointed eleven gurus -- on May 28th 1977?
* May 30, 1977 Sudama said that Tamal and Bhavananda offered him "a piece of the pie." "Tommorow we are going to divide up the world."
* June 1977 TKG refused to allow all the devotees to come to India (afraid they might ask questions about guru succession)?
* November 1977 TKG refused to allow Srila Prabhupada on parikrama, despite that Srila Prabhupada said this would cure his illness.
* November 1977 TKG told Satsvarupa that Srila Prabhupada had wanted us to give him something to make him die. (Isa dasa has the audio of this on his website). Tamal: "A number of times he (Srila Prabhupada) would say: "Can you give me a medicine, please give me medicine, that will allow me to disappear now." At other times ..."I want most to disappear ...I want to die."* November 1977, declares that he is Srila Prabhupada's guru successor.
* November 1978, TKG begins to say that he is the exclusive "guru shakti" of Srila Prabhupada and he is better than all of the rest of the GBC combined.
* 1980 TKG admits that the GBC's "guru appointment" is a hoax.
* 1980 TKG admits that he was accused of killing Srila Prabhupada. (SHPM p.390)
* 1981 TKG tells his followers that Bhavananda (a homosexual) is his favorite of all of the GBC's "gurus."
*1985 TKG "kicks out" of Dallas a woman who was complaining that her children were being molested (Guruvastakam: Diane Stercowitz).
* 1986 TKG helps reinstate a known homosexual pedophile as a guru.
please also see the complete Bhaktivedanta Investigation Report on Tamal:
more: > klick here for the complete BIF-Report