Tamal Krishna Goswami served as ISKCON Governing Body Commissioner from 1970-2002, and ISKCON Initiating Spiritual Master from 1977-2002. He is fondly called “Śrīla Gurudeva” by his many disciples, and “Goswami” by his godbrothers and members of the academe.
Tamal Krishna Goswami was born in New York City, 18 June, 1946, as Thomas G. Herzig. He joined the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in 1968 and was accepted as a disciple by ISKCON’s Founder-Ācārya, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, in San Francisco the same year. Immediately he emerged as a leader and assumed various positions of leadership, spearheading the establishment of ISKCON temples and centers in India, France, Great Britain and the United States. He worked closely with Śrīla Prabhupāda as his secretary and as Governing Body Commissioner for India, developing major ISKCON projects in Vṛndāvana, Bombay and Māyāpura.
In 1972, he was awarded sannyāsa, the renounced order of life, in Jaipur, India, and assumed the title of Goswami, meaning controller of the senses.
In 1974, Tamal Krishna Goswami returned to the United States to work on large-scale preaching programs, organizing and leading book distribution and the unparalleled Rādhā-Dāmodara Saṅkīrtana/Book Distribution Party.
As one of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s most trusted disciples, Tamal Krishna Goswami served as personal secretary to Śrīla Prabhupāda in 1977, during the seven months before Prabhupāda’s passing in the same year.
In 1995, Tamal Krishna Goswami enrolled at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, graduating in 1998 with a B.A. in Religious Studies. He then moved to England to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge, where under the supervision of Dr. Julius Lipner, he wrote his dissertation on the theological teachings of Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Tamal Krishna Goswami was a respected figure in the academic world and a regular and popular presenter at the American Academy of Religion annual conference. He is the author of nine volumes, including two collections of essays, two memoirs, a novel, two dramas in classical Sanskrit form, and a doctoral dissertation. His lectures are widely distributed and help listeners understand Vedic culture and philosophy from a practical present-day perspective.
Tamal Krishna Goswami passed away in a vehicular accident on 15 March, 2002, in the sacred place of Phuliyā in West Bengal, India. He left this life the same way he lived it, completely absorbed in service to his spiritual master and Krishna. His samādhi is placed beside Śrīla Prabhupāda’s samādhi in ISKCON Śrī Māyāpura-dhāma, West Bengal, India.
Though no longer physically present among us, he lives forever through his instructions, books, academic work, and in the hearts of all those whose lives he touched.