November 10, 2001 VNN6950 Comment on this storyThis story URL: http://www.vnn.org/europe/EU0111/EU10-6950.html
Memories Of Tribhuvannatha
BY RANCHOR DAS
ENGLAND, Nov 10 (VNN) Memories of Tribhuvannatha, a dear godbrother
Tribhuvannatha always was full of surprises. His apparent independence was really a complete dependence on Krishna, and he served Prabhupada and Krishna with his every breath in a way only he knew or even dared. Even down to the last, he did it his way, taking us all by surprise and quietly slipping away, in Brazil on 16 October 2001, far from the crowds which so unsettled him. He had been suffering from stomach cancer.
Perhaps he was influenced by his childhood experiences. Krishna took him from his family at a young age and placed him in an orphanage, teaching him to be independent of the world. When as a 17-year-old he came to London and met the devotees he held nothing back-he threw himself upon Krishna's mercy, and accepted Prabhupada as his father without reservation.
His relationship with Prabhupada was so real to him, that it became real for whoever was with him. I felt nearer to Prabhupada when I was with him. When I first joined the temple I often used to hear him say, 'Prabhupada saysÉ' and then he would quote an instruction, always a suitable saying for the occasion. He spoke with such authority that I believed he must have spent a lot of time with Prabhupada, so one day I asked him when had he heard all these things that Prabhupada says? He were surprised: 'I haven't met Prabhupada yet, but I have read all these things in his books,' as if it were obvious. Yet though we all read the same books, he seemed to know Prabhupada in a way that others did not. With him, Prabhupada came to life.
On Prabhupada's first visit to Bhaktivedanta Manor, kirtan got under way at the end of his Bhagavad Gita lecture. Prabhupada looked grave and we sat round him on the floor chanting. Tribhuvannatha was the first to stand up, with a mridanga, right in front of him.
He started to dance his crazy flat-footed dance, as someone once called it: his back straight and erect like a trained actor's, his weight back on his heels as his feet beat the ground and his head nodded up and down. His eyes met Prabhupada's and suddenly they were both laughing with each other. Prabhupada so enjoyed watching him. I saw that Prabhupada always had eyes specially for him. I wasn't the only one to notice this.
'Prabhupada likes Tribhuvannatha.' We all knew it.
Tribhuvannatha always had something to teach me. I came to believe that Krishna spoke through him because he seemed to have the right thing to say at the right moment. I regarded him as an oracle of truth, and I can look back upon key moments when he enlightened me with flashes of insight.
When he shaved my head on my first day in the temple I said joyfully, 'It feels so good to be surrendered to Krishna at last.' His reply was grave: 'Surrender is not so easy as having your head shaved,' he said. 'It takes time to learn.' He used to come and visit me in Manchester, where I was running a preaching centre. He was busy running the Edinburgh temple, but he knew that I needed encouragement, and I will always be grateful for the friendship and support he showed me in those early days.
He showed me love and unquestioning acceptance. He made me have confidence in myself, by demonstrating his own confidence in himself and in Krishna's protection.
What greater gift can anyone give to their brother, than belief in themselves and in Krishna's boundless love. That's where he got his immense courage.
In his last year, when his health began to deteriorate, he started losing energy, and he didn't know why. He told me that he found all he wanted to do was read Prabhupada's books, which he was enjoying immensely. He had never been able to find enough time before, he said, because he was always running around, busy serving Prabhupada. But now he had time and had discovered a deep taste for reading about Krishna, which made him very happy. I think this was Krishna's way of rewarding him for having been such a loyal and hardworking servant.
After he learned he had cancer he came to see me. It really came as a surprise to me to discover how humble his own opinion of himself was. He thought Krishna was teaching him to be more serious. 'I am not frightened of anything,' he said, 'And that's my problem-I'm too hard-hearted.' He believed Krishna had sent him this illness to soften his heart. Only the soft-hearted can serve Radharani, he said.
In the end, when his body was frail, his spirit shone stronger than ever.
He was joyful, totally without fear, and his eyes sparkled. 'What can you tell me?' I begged to know, before he left for Brazil for the last time. 'You are between life and death-what do you see?' He thought for a moment. 'Prabhupada wanted to warn us,' his voice was loving, but grave as the first time he instructed to me, 'Don't take the illusion too seriously.'
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