(Kadamba Kanana Swami, Untitled Lecture) Sometimes, we get so caught up in external practices that we are still not remembering Krsna – we wear tilak for years, we hear and chant for years, we … more
(Kadamba Kanana Swami, May 2017, UK Retreat, Wales, Srimad Bhagavatam 11.7.59)
Srila Prabhupada said that the highest placed vaisnava in West Bengal was Tarun Kanti Ghosh. He was elected as a member of parliament and was very popular. Tarun Kanti Ghosh owned several newspapers and was a very influential personality. He became elected in parliament by doing harinama sankirtan in all the villages, all over Bengal.
So in my days in Mayapur, I became acquainted with Tarun Kanti Ghosh. He had a house and in the garden, there was a nice temple with large Gaura-Nitai deities. He was worshipping them himself although he also had a brahmana who was assisting.
In those days, travel by planes was still not common for internal flights, so internal travel was by train. Members of parliament would have free travel on the Rajdhani Express, in two-tier AC. We would also travel on the two-tier AC but would have to pay for it. Anyway, one day we were on the train when we heard that Tarun Kanti Ghosh was also on the train. We heard that he had boarded the train that night and since we knew him, we thought, “Oh, we will go see him and take him prasadam.”
The next morning at around six we went to see him. He had a big wooden box which was open and in there were pictures of all his deities, like a full altar. It was a full puja box and everything was in there and he was doing his puja. He said to us, “What are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to chant your rounds? Why are you disturbing a man and his puja?” He was chastising us and continued his puja. He was not going to talk to us.
So, that was very nice to see. Prabhupada said he was the highest placed vaisnava in West Bengal and you could see that he was. He was not thinking like, “You know, I am a big government officer. I did harinama to get elected and I do my puja so that everyone can see that I am a great vaisnava.” No, he also did it for himself on the train because he had taste; he saw himself as the servant of Krsna.
He was not like, “Oh, now I am going on the train, what can I do? The brahmana will do it.” No, he was still in the mood, “I am the servant. I cannot do it in the temple now. The brahmana is doing it in the temple but I will still serve, myself, here in the train with my puja box.”
It was so nice to see that spirit. His solution was also very practical because his deities were big so he could not really put them into suitcases and carry Gaura-Nitai with him. He just worshipped pictures of the deity. But it is the same thing. It is said that the deity can be made either of wood or metal or clay or also in picture form, so a picture of the deity is as good as the deity. So what he did was bonafide actually according to scripture. We saw his eagerness to continue worshipping his deity.