(Click to enlarge photo of Tribhuvanatha holding Arabic Gita and Padmapani, Bombay, 1978)
Our dear Godbrother, Tribhuvanatha das, departed from this world on October 16, 2001. A lot has been written about Tribhuvanatha Prabhu over the years — his dynamic preaching programs, his ecstatic harinamas, his fired up classes, etc. — but I simply remember him as my best friend.
Over the years there were so many special times that we shared together in England, India and the Middle East. Wherever we met the nectar always flowed with Prabhupada-katha. Sometimes due to flight delays and airport hassles we'd arrive at our destination late at night, but still we'd talk about Prabhupada into the early hours of the morning. Srila Prabhupada was always the priority when associating with Tribhuvanatha Prabhu.
One of my favorite memories is traveling to Rishikesh in 1979 to study Srimad-Bhagavatam together and to bathe daily in the frigid waters of the Ganges during winter time. The kirtans were long and deep. At sunset one evening we came upon a glowing murti of Lord Siva sitting alone by the sacred river. His features were beautiful and glorious. Tribhuvanatha immediately started a roaring kirtan for His pleasure and it was divine. You can't buy memories like that.
I think the most important thing that I learned from Tribhuvanatha is that one can serve the spiritual master in any condition of life and under any circumstances. We joined forces just after Srila Prabhupada's departure and from then on it was nonstop adventure and challenges. We had to quickly become self-reliant. It didn't matter if we found ourselves in a safe situation or not, or whether we had lots of association or none at all. The main thing was serving Prabhupada. Service was our lifeline. So the Middle East program was great training — like being thrown in the water without knowing how to swim. It was sink or swim, do or die. The material world is a war zone and only the strongest survive.
(Click to enlarge photo of a typical street scene in Beirut during the civil war)
Tribhuvanatha was a soldier and a comrade-in-arms. I couldn't have asked for better association. The war against maya isn't over, but I have a great example to remember. Krishna is very kind to me because He knows that I need such an example to help get me through, otherwise I would have been crushed by the material energy long ago. Who knows if I'll make it, but at least I have some hope and inspiration thanks to Tribhuvanatha Prabhu. In his last letter to me, Tribhuvanatha wrote:
"I am a rascal No. 1 but somehow Srila Prabhupada has saved us. His pink Lotus Feet are our only shelter in life — everything else is a bubble in the sea!"