by Kadamba Kanana Swami, December 8th, 2008
I just returned from the lunch program which was dedicated to Tatpar Maharaja. He was one of the very first Bengali devotees to join ISKCON in 1970. Tatpar Maharaja was an unusual person, eccentric would be a word that doesn’t cover it. He was just different, without trying to be. He was very renounced. Once while visiting in Vrndavana, he slept on a bookshelf, when I wanted to give him a better arrangement, he was quite happy where he was. Subhaga Maharaja explained how he was a bold preacher, there was a slaughterhouse, one could see the dead animals hanging and Tatpar Maharaj just stood outside giving a lecture and saying that for such activity one would go to hell and only in being a vaisnava one could be saved, he was very bold, he was not afraid. I remember how in Mayapur there was a book cabinet, a simple counter and sometimes Tatpar Maharaja would sleep inside. One morning just after Deity darsana the doors of the book cabinet opened and suddenly he came out and started singing “kiba jaya jaya gauracandra”, wrong song Maharaja, it is guru puja time now. “Different” is the word. Frankly speaking some people thought he was a bit too eccentric, bordering madness. However his was not the madness of a man completely mad for sense gratification.
nunam pramattah kurute vikarma
yad indriya-pritaya aprinoti
na sadhu manye yata atmano ‘yam
asann api klesada asa dehah
“A materialistic person, madly engaged in activities for sense enjoyment, does not know that he is entangling himself in repeated birth and death and that his body, although temporary, is full of miseries.” (SB 5.5.4)
Yet maybe it was also not the divine madness in love of God as displayed by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Whatever may be Tatpar Maharaja remained loyal to Prabhupada and fixed in his vows, so his life was successful.
In recent years he stayed in Svarup Ganj just across the Jalangi where there is also a small ISKCON temple under the care of Sankarsana, another dedicated, Bengali disciple of Srila Prabhupada. In the last years of his life he spend most of his time reading. A few days ago he unexpectedly left his body. We put his body in samadhi in a pit in the ground of 3x3x3mtrs, I was invited to go in there and write mantras on his body with sandalwood paste, then the devotees threw bag loads of salt in there and we began to cover the body, then we came out of the pit and everyone threw a hand of salt and then earth. Today three days later there was a feast in his honor. Everything was auspicious.