Today we are celebrating Jayananda Prabhu's disappearance day. Here is a few excerpts from Srila Prabhupada's letters and other materials about and from Jayananda Prabhu, a very dear and humble disciple of His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who was instrumental to spread the sankirtan mission in the early stages of the Hare Krsna movement. He also is known as a devotee who has reached Krsna's abode and thus reached the perfection of Krsna consciousness. This has been confirmed by Srila Prabhupada himself. Let us all pray to follow in Sriman Jayananda Prabhu's footsteps.
“So therefore, we can have faith that Krishna will always protect us in any kind of situation. That's the potency of devotional service, that it's transcendental to the bodily concept of life even up to the point of death. Devotional service is more powerful, because devotional service can even attract Krishna. That's the strength of devotional service, the devotion can attract Krishna. So if we have ... if that devotion ... even Krishna says it's not so much the service that's there, but it's the attitude of the devotee, the sincere desire for Krishna's association. In that way, Krishna will protect us. Krishna says in the Bhagavad-Gita that for one who does good, he is never overcome by evil.”
(Jayananda’s Bhagavad-gita class)
Reporter (5): Where did the money come from to print such lavish editions of your books?
Prabhupada: The money comes.... We are selling books daily.
Reporter (5): No, but initially you do require a...
Reporter (5): Initially it requires some money to print such a lavish book.
Prabhupada: Initially I took some books from here. They are not so nicely printed, but still, I sold them. Then gradually increased. They paid the money and then.... They made contributions. One of my student, he first, Jayananda.... He.... No, first paid me.... He, he has first paid me five thousand dollars. Then Brahmananda paid me five thousand dollars. In this way gradually money came.
Conversation with News Reporters -- March 25, 1976, Delhi
Prabhupada: Our Jayananda was driving taxi and chanting Hare Krsna, and one day (laughter) he brought to me five thousand dollars.
Ramesvara: And you used it to print Teachings of Lord Caitanya.
Ramesvara: Was that the time?
Prabhupada: I think, yes.
Tamala Krsna: You kept it then.
Prabhupada: It was given for publishing Bhagavad-gita, but I think Macmillan took it. So I spent it for...
Tamala Krsna: Then you put him in charge to sell all the Teachings of Lord Caitanya, I remember. (Prabhupada laughs)
Jayananda: (indistinct) Didn't sell too many books, though.
Tamala Krsna: I thought he was the best, most appropriate person to drive you.
Prabhupada: He was chanting and driving. Very good boy.
Arrival Comments in Car to Temple -- July 9, 1976, New York
My Dear Jayananda,
Please accept my blessings. I'm so glad to receive your letter of Aug 30, and I know also that you are a sincere devotee of Lord Krishna. When you drive your car you always chant "Hare Krishna'' and when I was by your side I could understand how heartily you have accepted the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness. Krishna is very kind to all but He is especially kind to his sincere devotees. Krishna is always with us, within our hearts and He is always ready to give us direction but because everyone is independent Krishna responds cooperatively. Anyone who voluntarily cooperates with Krishna's desire He responds to his call very eagerly. Krishna descends to teach us Bhagavad-gita begging our cooperation and anyone who cooperates with Him becomes blessed. You are sincerely cooperating with Krishna and therefore you all boys and girls in San Francisco, working together harmoniously. Harmony means Krishna Consciousness. Without Krishna Consciousness there cannot be harmony in the world. I've received the report of successful performance of Janmashtami ceremony. I'm glad to learn that you are willing to come to India for further study. I received no letter from Dayananda or his wife Nandarani. I'm anxious to receive the report of the Los Angeles center. I do not know their address. Your acknowledgement "Krishna has been very merciful to me'' is remarkable. You are realizing the fruit of chanting. So far my health is concerned I'm improving, by Krishna's grace and it is due to your feeling of my absence and eagerly awaiting for my return. Please go on cooperating between your godbrothers. I'm always with you never mind if I am physically absent. Please convey my blessings to all the boys and girls and tell them that I'm very eager to return.
Letter to: Jayananda — Delhi 16 September, 1967
My Dear Jayananda,
Please accept my blessings. I beg to thank you for your letter undated. I congratulate you on your being elected as president of ISKCON San Francisco branch. Your election as president is a recognition by Krishna and therefore I have got full support for you. Mukunda and other members have rightly selected you as president. Your service attitude for Krishna and your sincere attempts at being advanced in Krishna Consciousness will work with you and make your life more and more glorious and a happy state. I've been very glad that you are appreciating by your self the effects of sincere Krishna Consciousness. I've nothing new to instruct you, the same old instruction namely constant chanting and attentively hearing the transcendental vibration Hare Krishna is the only process for self realization in this age. In San Francisco while you were driving your car and I was sitting by you hearing your transcendental vibration, this very sincere attempt has enriched your consciousness and my only instruction is that you may constantly do this habit without fail. Regarding your dispute in your mind as to remaining a brahmacari, grhastha or becoming sannyasi, there is nothing to be bothered with. Anyone who is in full Krishna Consciousness and is dedicating his life for Krishna is already a sannyasi even if he is a married man. If you like you can become a householder and I've no objection to that. Our Vaisnava philosophy instructs to become "Vidvati sannyasis'', this means a man who knows things as they are, therefore a devotee who knows that everything belongs to Krishna and that He is the proprietor of all such a devotee is certainly a Vidvati Sannyasi. Our philosophy is that we should accept things as prasadam of Krishna and nothing for sense enjoyment. Anyone who accepts things for sense enjoyment even if he is externally a saffron dressed man is not a sannyasi. The mayavadi sannyasi considers himself as God, this concept of life develops under illusion. When a person fails to become the Lord of the universe it is like the sly fox who attempts to taste grapes and failing to do so says the grapes are sour. The mayavadi sannyasins are frustrated beings in their attempt to enjoy the world, therefore they say the world is fake or the grapes are sour, the world is not false, Krishna is the supreme truth and the world is His energy therefore the energy of the supreme truth cannot be false; but we must know that this energy is inferior to His spiritual energy. As there are hairs and nails on the body and sometimes we separate these parts from the body similarly when the the material energy is separated from the service of the Lord it is inferior energy. Inferior energy is not false but temporary. The same temporary energy when surcharged with Krishna Consciousness it transforms into supreme energy by the supreme will. By this will any energy can be transformed into another just like electronic energy in a refrigerator or in a heater, to an ordinary layman, he sees cold and hot but to an electrician, he sees electricity. So when one is engaged in the service of the Lord that person is already in the spiritual energy, and a sannyasi and the real purpose of a sannyasi is to transform himself from the inferior to the superior, spiritual energy. If your consciousness is absorbed in Krishna you are always a sannyasi.
Letter to: Jayananda — Delhi 29 September, 1967 Revatinandana: The room wasn't very big, and there were forty or forty-five of us in it, along with Prabhupada and a couple of guests. During the evening Bhagavad-gita classes he would sit in a chair at one end of the room, and the rest of us packed in. One night Prabhupada was looking around and everybody was there but Jayananda. Prabhupada said, "Where is Jayananda?" We said, "He is still out parking the van, Srila Prabhupada." Prabhupada waited, and when Jayananda walked in, Prabhupada looked at him, smiled, and said, "Oh, Jayananda looks just like Lord Chaitanya." Jayananda blushed purple. He blushed and blushed because he was a homespun, shy, humble devotee.
My Dear Jayananda das:
Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated August 11, 1975 and have noted the contents. What you have done is good. Why should you remarry? Rather you should take sannyasa. Now you are getting very good training. Why has Jayatirtha suggested you to remarry?
In Delhi there is a certain kind of laddu which has such a taste, that anyone who has tasted it once, he laments, oh how I would like to taste again. And anyone who has never tasted, he also laments, oh I have never tasted. So one who has tasted, and one who has not tasted, both are lamenting. Wife is like that. You have already tasted, now you are lamenting. But my advice to you is not to try to taste again, otherwise your lamentation will increase. You have got no children, so you are free, so take sannyasa.
Sex life is nasty, but out of illusion we think it is nice. Now you are experienced, so don't take sex life again. You should not take sannyasa out of sentiment nor artificially, but it is better to accept it anyway.
Letter to: Jayananda: — Vrindaban 1 September, 1975
Tamala Krsna: Jayananda looks exhausted.
Tamala Krsna: He's worked so...
Ramesvara: Staying up all nights, working.
Adi-kesava: For five days he hasn't gone to sleep.
Tamala Krsna: Five days and nights he's worked continuously.
Morning Walk -- July 18, 1976, New York Tosan Krishna: The first Ratha-yatra in New York City was in 1976. In New York it's difficult to get a permit, and in 1962 the mayor had made an edict that no new parades could be held on Fifth Avenue. Yet somehow or other, with the advent of our new 55th Street temple, with Radha-Govinda moving into Manhattan, which is what Srila Prabhupada wanted, and with ISKCON celebrating its tenth birthday, there would be a Fifth Avenue Ratha-yatra.
When he was in India, Srila Prabhupada telephoned us -- which was very rare in those days because to even get a phone call from India was difficult -- to find out if we had gotten the permit. I was in charge of getting this permit, and the Police Department had initially said 'yes,' but then they said 'no.' At the very end, I had a so-called last piece of paper that the Chief of Police himself, at Police Plaza One on the south tip of Manhattan, had to sign. The secretaries said, "We'll run it down, he'll sign it and it'll be over." I said, "No, I'm going to run it down." They said, "All right, if you want, you can go." I said, "I will, thank you," because Srila Prabhupada had called on the phone. I took the subway to that building, went through heavy security, went to the right floor and found the Police Chief's secretary. She looked at the paper and said, "He's never going to sign this. There's a mayor's edict -- no new parades on Fifth Avenue."
I ignored her. I hopped over the turnstile, which was a minimal barricade, and went into the Chief's office. He was like a character out of a movie -- a big fat guy who'd been in the force for a million years. I put the permit on his desk and said, "You are to sign this, if you will." He looked at it, started chuckling and then said seriously, "I don't know why I'm doing this." By then, I knew. Srila Prabhupada wanted it and Krishna was in this Chief's heart. He signed it.
After that, Prabhupada, the leader of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, surrounded by disciples praising him, turned to Tamal Krishna Maharaj, who was then GBC of the New York temple, and said, "Who did it?" Prabhupada didn't say, "I did it," even though ISKCON was operating off of his energy and it was all his glory. He knew that things happen due to people, and his was a personal movement. Tamal Krishna Maharaj said, "Jayananda built the carts and Tosan Krishna got all the permits."
My dear Jayananda,
Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated February 21st, 1977, and I thank you for the check as well as the nice sentiments you have expressed. In the beginning you also gave me $5,000 and now again you have sent.
This body is today or tomorrow finished. We should not be very much bothered about the body. Trees also live for thousands of years but that does not mean a successful life. A successful life is one of Krishna consciousness. By the grace of Krishna from the very beginning you are a devotee and that is the real profit of your life.
I thank you for your check, but I would prefer that you may require the money for your treatment. So if you like I can return it. But I hear that you have some income. I pray to Krishna for your more advanced Krishna conscious life.
About a sadhu it is said, "jiva va mara va,'' a sadhu may live or die, it doesn't matter. While living he is engaged in Krishna Conscious business and when dying he goes back home back to Godhead.
Hoping this finds you improving in your health.
Letter to: Jayananda — Mayapur 26 February, 1977
My Dear Jayananda,
Please accept my blessings.
I am feeling very intensely your separation. In 1967 you joined me in San Francisco. You were driving my car and chanting Hare Krsna. You were the first man to give me some contribution ($5000) for printing my Bhagavad-gita. After that, you have rendered very favorable service to Krsna in different ways. I so hope at the time of your death you were remembering Krsna and as such, you have been promoted to the eternal association of Krsna. If not, if you had any tinge of material desire, you have gone to the celestial kingdom to live with the demigods for many thousands of years and enjoy the most opulent life of material existence. From there you can promote yourself to the spiritual world. But even if one fails to promote himself to the spiritual world, at that time he comes down again on the surface of this globe and takes birth in a big family like a yogis' or a brahmanas' or an aristocratic family, where there is again chance of reviving Krsna Consciousness. But as you were hearing Krsna-kirtana, I am sure that you were directly promoted to Krsna-loka.
janma karma ca me divyam
evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma
naiti man eti so' rjuna
Krsna has done a great favor to you, not to continue your diseased body, and has given you a suitable place for your service. Thank you very much.
Letter to: Jayananda — Bombay 5 May, 1977
Jayananda's death is glorious. It is very good that he had stated, what is the use of such a useless body, better to give it up. He has left his body very wonderfully, and he has been transferred to Vaikuntha. I have already sent a condolence letter for publication in Back To Godhead. Everyone should follow the example of Jayananda. I am very proud that I had such a nice disciple. If possible Jayananda's picture should be hung in the ratha of Lord Jagannatha, and in all of our temples a day may be set aside for holding a festival in his honor, just as we do on the disappearance day of the other great Vaisnavas.
Letter to: Ramesvara — New Delhi 11 May, 1977
BTG: Jayananda; how did you first get involved in Krsna consciousness?
Jayananda dasa: I heard Srila Prabhupada speaking in' San Francisco, and somehow I knew he didn't want to cheat me. So I just' wanted to work for him.
BTG: And now for ten years you've worked on the Ratha-yatra carts.
Jayananda dasa: Yes.
BTG: What were the first Ratha-yatras like?
Jayananda dasa: The first year, 1967, we just rented a flatbed truck and started out in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. We decorated the truck with flowers and put the Deities on the back, and the girls passed out fruit. A good crowd walked along with us at the beginning, and when we turned off Haight Street a smaller group of maybe fifty people came with us and we went all the way to the beach.
The second year we made our own cart, with saffron silk canopies, small ones. And we had the parade through Golden Gate Park to the beach. By that time the San Francisco temple had grown a little -- we had maybe thirty devotees -- and about one hundred people came with us through the park. The chanting was very nice that year.
Then in 1969 we built a much bigger cart, with a tall silk canopy, like the ones they build in Jagannatha Puri in India. But in 1970 we worked for two months straight and built the three big carts, basically the same ones we use now. Also we had all kinds of publicity -- TV, billboards, posters. And Srila Prabhupada came to that Ratha-yatra. So a lot of people came, maybe twelve thousand people. It was big -- a tremendous success. We had a few mishaps, though. One cart broke down in the middle of the parade. And it was a bitter cold day. But even though it was so cold at the beach, thousands of people stayed there with us and ate a lot of Krsna prasada [spiritual food offered to Krsna]. We brought twenty fifty-gallon barrels of prasada, and they ate it all.
Later that year the auditorium we used at the beach was torn down. So in 1971 we decided to end the parade in the park, at Lindley Meadow. That year, and in 1972 and 1973, the parade was a little smaller than in 1970.
In 1974 Bhakta dasa came to San Francisco to be temple president, and he decided to expand the Ratha-yatra. He spent more money on it than before, and maybe twenty thousand people attended that year. The police remarked that we were the only group that could get such a large gathering together without creating a problem for them. Srila Prabhupada came that year and gave a speech at the Meadow. He was sitting beneath the Jagannatha Deities on Their opulent three-tiered stage. Even without much understanding everyone could appreciate that here was a majestic, awe-inspiring celebration. Another wonderful thing we started that year was the fairground-type booths at the Meadow. You could see the unlimited scope of the Vedic culture. We had a Deity workshop booth, a transcendental art booth, a literature booth, and of course many booths selling food. Now that's become a regular feature of the festival.
In 1975 I tried out making steel wheels, but the chariots were so heavy they flattened the steel and made the ride very bumpy for the Deities. So now we're back to the standard wooden wheels.
BTG: What instructions has Srila Prabhupada given you about Ratha-yatra?
Jayananda dasa: I never got much personal instruction. He just told me to make everything strong. I'm not a real visionary about it -- I just built the carts.
BTG: Which Ratha-yatra do you think has been the best so far?
Jayananda dasa: In New York last year-that was the most festive. Not until then had I experienced so many of the transcendental qualities of Ratha-yatra. You know -- for a parade there's nothing like Fifth Avenue; it's the most important street in the world. And when we went to Washington Square Park to pull the carts home, hours after the parade had finished, thousands of people were still there chanting. They were everywhere. People were coming out of their apartments and coming out of bars shouting "Hare Krsna!" Only in New York could you get such a response.
BTG: Tell us, from your own experience, what the public gets out of Ratha-yatra.
Jayananda dasa: The impact is so powerful that everyone's affected. In New York there were thousands of people out on the streets, and they were astounded. It's not that I'm claiming it; the people were interviewed on TV and that's what they said. Also I remember one man with his girl friend (she didn't like us at all) who told me some time after the festival that when he saw the carts coming down the street he felt a parade had just come down from heaven, and that he often remembers the carts and the chanting with pleasure. So people are hit by it. It's so far beyond their usual experience. You can't measure the impact. All year long they do more or less the same things. Maybe they catch a few parades, like the Thanksgiving Day parade. They stand and watch some big balloons go by. But it's all the same. Then, when you have a whole troupe of devotees singing and dancing around these lofty, transcendental chariots -- then the people are transformed. They used to be mundane creatures, but when they see the Ratha-yatra, they're angels. It brings out the best in people to see Lord Jagannatha smiling at them. I tell you, at first their faces looked like they hadn't changed in twenty-five years, and then all of a sudden it was like glass cracking, and you'd see the whole face transformed just by a few moments' association.
And what to speak of those who take part? Ratha-yatra encourages everybody to take part. "Come on, walk with us, dance, grab a rope and pull." We don't say, "Don't touch." No -- "Join in, have fun." By our nature we all want to participate. Nobody wants to be a bystander. And those who take part are purified of all their sinful karmic reactions just by chanting Hare Krsna and seeing Lord Jagannatha.
BTG: Are there people who regard it as idol worship?
Jayananda dasa: Yes -- they may feel that before, but the impact of the festival is so strong that after it they feel otherwise. They see Lord Jagannatha, and they see how merciful He is, and they can feel that it's not idol worship. And if they read Srila Prabhupada's books, then they'll understand logically how Lord Jagannatha is not an idol. Of course, at the festival there are always a few faultfinders. Last year in New York one of them had a bullhorn and was shouting, so one of our men poured water down it and that stopped him.
BTG: What is your understanding of the purpose of Ratha-yatra?
Jayananda dasa: To celebrate the pastimes of Krsna. Krsna's so kind; He comes to earth and displays so many wonderful pastimes. Ratha-yatra celebrates His going to Kuruksetra with Balarama and Subhadra, and His meeting there with the residents of Vrndavana, where He was born. The expressions of love shared between the Lord and His devotees make that one of the sweetest pastimes. Ratha-yatra offers a chance for so many people to be engaged in Krsna consciousness. People don't come to our temples much, but millions are out on the streets. Now here's a chance for them to advance in spiritual life -- here comes Lord Jagannatha's festival! They're touched -- they become part of the transcendental vibration, and they're purified.
Also, for the devotees it's very beneficial -- maybe more for me; Ratha-yatra is the service that's given me so many of my realizations, the flowering of whatever Krsna consciousness I have. It's not a long-term occupation. It happens all at once, like a big explosion, in the summer. It brings together so many devotees all working together under the spiritual master with one plan. And all the transcendental paraphernalia is there-the Deities, the prasada, the chanting, the booths, the theater -- it's such a surcharged atmosphere. You never forget it. For a devotee to be able to participate in Ratha-yatra is very good for his Krsna consciousness. When you have these festivals, it gives you a big, powerful event to look forward to, and to work towards. It helps your devotion.
BTG: How about the future growth of Ratha-yatra?
Jayananda dasa: One thing that's important is that all the temples should celebrate this wonderful festival. But it isn't practical for each center to construct three carts. So now in Los Angeles we're putting together a traveling party that can go from city to city, with displays and carts that you can assemble and take apart. Then the great expense will be eliminated. Also, we'll have year-round Ratha-yatras -- the South in the winter, the North in the summer. It can be expanded so people will be hearing about Ratha-yatra all year round-and that will be the perfection of their lives!
BTG: It sounds wonderful. Thank you very much, Jayananda.
Jayananda dasa: Thank you. Hare Krsna.
(BTG interview with Jayananda Prabhu entitled: Inside Ratha-yatra...With an Old Insider)