REMEMBRANCES OF JAYANANDA

 by

Adi-keshava Das

 

 

REMEMBRANCES OF JAYANANDA

 

Adi-keshava Das

 

 

So today we are observing the disappearance day of Jayananda Das Brahmachari. By the order of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, we are observing this day as the disappearance of a great Vaishnava. It's interesting that we are used to thinking of the passing of the Vaishnava acharyas of the past and the great devotees of the past in a certain light, but we do not think so much of the qualifications of some persons who are even among us who are also elevated personalities, obviously possessed of some special potency. In the case of Jayananda Prabhu, to anyone who knows him or knew him, it is a good one in point, in that he was never recognized as a good manager or a “big gun” in ISKCON. But rather, he was one of the most renowned devotees simply on behalf of these Vaishnava qualities that endeared him to practically everyone he ever met, and it was on the basis of those qualities that he became known.

 

After Jayananda's passing, Srila Prabhupada sent a letter in which he said:

 

“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 Jagannath, 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 Vaishnavas.”

 

(excerpt from letter to: Rameshvar in New Delhi,

11 May, 1977 from Hrishikesh)

 

So such a festival is called an utsava, just like we talk about utsaha, or enthusiasm. So utsava means a celebration or a day of celebration. Just like when we talk about krishnotkirtana-gana-nartana-parau, we talk about the utkirtana performed by the Six Goswamis, that means that their kirtana was very enthusiastically jumping up and down. So similarly, we perform utsava by having kirtana, and traditionally the senior Vaishnavas speak on the qualities of the departed Vaishnava, and then there's a feast, an offering of prasadam in honor of that personality.

 

Just like you'll see in Vrindavan when there's a passing of a Vaishnava, then in all of the temples they hold the offering, and then the maha-prasad is sent to the ashram of that great personality. This is traditional for the worship of a great Vaishnava, and certainly those who know Jayananda or knew him would recognize that he was such a personality, and for those who don't know him perhaps we can give some introduction. But let it suffice that on the authority of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, he has said that such observation should be held. The answer why is given in the letter that Srila Prabhupada wrote to Jayananda after his passing. Prabhupada sent it when he was staying at Bombay and he was on his way to Hrishikesh. He wrote this letter:

 


            “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 Krishna. You were the first man to give me some contribution ($5,000) for printing my Bhagavad-Gita. After that, you have rendered very favorable service to Krishna in different ways. I so hope at the time of your death you were remembering Krishna and as such, you have been promoted to the eternal association of Krishna. 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 yogi's or a brahmana's or an aristocratic family, where there is again chance of reviving Krishna Consciousness. But as you were hearing Krishna-kirtana, I am sure that you were directly promoted to Krishna-loka.

 

                        janma karma ca me divyam

                        evam yo vetti tattvatah

                        tyaktva deham punar janma

                        naiti mam eti so 'rjuna

 

“Krishna 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.

 

Your ever well-wisher,

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

 

(letter to: Jayananda, from Bombay, 5 May, 1977)

 

So in remembering the passing of Jayananda, Kala-kantha saw in Los Angeles community quite a few devotees who had known Jayananda Prabhu well, and he assembled some remembrances of Jayananda, enumerating his qualities as a Vaishnava. So although I personally... anyway, it is very nice. I find it a little wanting for those who knew him well, in capturing some of the aspects of his character, still in many ways it gives an understanding of what kind of person Jayananda was.

 

For us as Vaishnavas, we can see very clearly his example how to aspire to the platform of pure devotional service. There are some devotees here who worked alongside of Jayananda especially during the Ratha-yatra in 1976. That Ratha-yatra probably gave him the fondest memories of Jayananda that anyone could possibly know, but this also will give us some remembrances even of his early days. Some devotees, I was speaking to Trayi Das earlier, came to the movement under the influence of Jayananda and can directly experience the kind of shelter that he was able to give to even the newest devotee coming to the process of devotional service. And so I think that with some of us there may be special remembrance in hearing the following essay:

            (reading of remembrance paper by Kala-kantha)

 

[Remembering Jayananda Prabhu ... attend the Swami's lectures.] Jayananda told me many times that actually in that early period he had practically nothing left to do. He said, “I was simply sitting in my room and had even given up just getting drunk, and I was simply sitting in my room with no thoughts of anything.” He said, “And when I saw this newspaper article, immediately I felt that this person could help me.” He told me, “I was a little afraid because I wasn't a hippie and I knew that this place was a place where hippies would be hanging out. So I didn't know if I could do it.” But reflecting the simplicity that was his very nature, he said, “I went anyway, just seeking whatever could relieve my anxiety. I was in so much anxiety that I couldn't stand it anymore.”

 

When Jayananda was in the hospital here at Mount Sinai when he first found out, actually he understood that he was going to die even before the Ratha-yatra. And he and I made a deal that he wouldn't have to go to the hospital to get treated or do anything about the disease until after Ratha-yatra, but that immediately after Ratha-yatra he would have to tend to it. So when he was in the hospital, he wrote a letter to Srila Prabhupada where he talked about the initial experience of joining the movement, and even after so many years later, practically speaking ten years later, there was nothing in his mood except for total gratitude to Srila Prabhupada for having given him not only this causeless devotional service but also having placed him in the association of devotees. Due to his very mature nature he was still reflecting upon that experience and he remembered it with the utmost relish, and therefore because of it Jayananda told me, “I never lost my feeling of gratitude to Srila Prabhupada.” That is perhaps the greatest example of a Vaishnava, to understand that he is always a fool and rascal before his spiritual master, and to be completely dedicated to him.

 

            (reading of Kala-kantha's collection of remembrances)

 

[Srila Prabhupada's early lectures ... and I kept eating.] In that regard, Jayananda told me that he felt guilty in the beginning because he was going over there mostly to eat, but that Prabhupada just kept encouraging him. He said Prabhupada would cook all the preparations and then put them on a big metal plate, and then he would just serve Jayananda from this plate. He would simply serve him until he couldn't take any more. And so Jayananda said simply from that service, automatically a little reciprocation began, and he started to give a little donation to Prabhupada from his earnings as a cab driver. And he said he knew that it was his special advantage because he would come in the morning and no one would be there, so therefore he would be sure to be fed.

 

But also, especially in the evening, he would come back and everyone was there chanting and relishing so many different Krishna Conscious activities, and he'd be out driving a cab all day. But Srila Prabhupada would personally either hold the prasadam for him or personally cook the prasadam for him when he came back in the evening, and would exclude all of the other devotees just so that he could give Jayananda prasadam.

 

            (reading of Kala-kantha's collection of remembrances)

 

[Jayananda soon donated ... prasadam ...want to take some.] In fact, when Jayananda was here he was distributing prasadam off of the festival truck, and he instituted the program of rather than giving it off the truck, throwing it off of the truck! But the funny thing was that whenever anybody else tried throwing it off the truck, so much prasadam was wasted, but when Jayananda did it everybody was eager to take it because his enthusiasm was automatically communicated. When I came back from India and told him that Srila Prabhupada had ordered us to take up prasadam distribution as our mission here in New York as our very means of conquest, Jayananda became tremendously enthusiastic and immediately took it up with the greatest fervor. Everyone he met, he'd always have some prasadam to distribute.

 

In fact, even years ago I remember when we were in Boston, it was on the basis of a tape that I heard of Jayananda giving a class where he talked about distributing prasadam to everyone. At that time, Trayi Das Prabhu had instituted a program of distributing bags of prasadam peanuts and raisins with little cards on them. But on the basis of hearing Jayananda we decided that, even though at the time I was doing business selling flowers on the street, we took the process of throwing these bags of prasadam out of the windows of the van at every stoplight everywhere we went. So everywhere he went, Jayananda always inspired that prasadam distribution. And it's a fact that he relished the prasadam as the most... to him it was the final achievement of any process of devotional service.

 

Even the night after the Ratha-yatra festival here in New York in 1976, we brought back the cart in the middle of the night and we had the equivalent of a nocturnal Ratha-yatra parade with everyone coming out of the bars and coming out of their apartments, hearing and chanting Hare Krishna. And the devotees were chanting the whole time and the police were escorting us. I don't know, some of the devotees here participated, and it was an absolutely wonderful experience. And we sent all of the devotees back, we radioed back to the temple on the walkie talkies, and Jayananda and I and a few devotees stayed right where we were. In fact, we were so exhausted he and I just fell asleep up on Lord Balarama's cart.

 

But then even though we were completely asleep, someone came down with a car loaded with burfi and watermelon. And immediately, as soon as the car even pulled in, Jayananda immediately woke up and said, “There's some prasadam here!” and so we had a late night feast at 2 o'clock, 3 o'clock in the morning. Jivadhara, were you there? Jivadhara was there. We had a feast at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning with the greatest relish and exuberance of any feast I've ever had, with nothing but burfi and watermelon! But there was so much ecstasy because of Jayananda's feelings of relish, and we all went to sleep completely satisfied. We fell asleep at about 4 o'clock, 4:30 just in time to miss mangal-arati! And, in fact, we were so ecstatic and blissful that I completely forgot about the fact that I had to organize an initiation ceremony that very morning in one hour! And finally somebody came down to get me and they drove me up to the temple just in time for Srila Prabhupada to walk out of the temple and ask me why I hadn't arranged for the initiation. But he could see the look on Jayananda's face and on all the other devotees' faces, and then he just walked on, and he wasn't disturbed. So this was a special relish that is always there. Again, something that we read about in the Chaitanya-Charitamrita that few of us as devotees actually can communicate – and that is the genuine relish for the transcendental process of taking prasadam.

 

            (reading of Kala-kantha's collection of remembrances)

 

[Jayananda knew how to attract people ... peanut butter halava ... check this out!] Anyone who knows him has the practical experience, I've heard so many stories from out of the San Francisco temple about the greatest relishing of prasadam. It was later carried beyond perfection by Keshava. But actually at that time it was definitely a fact, I can personally remember even in recent times so many nights when Jayananda would come in with the 9 o'clock maha, right into my room where I was sleeping, put it down by my head, turn on the light and say, “Time for a feast!” It was not at all an uncommon event. And no one could ever say they turned him down.

 

            (reading of Kala-kantha's collection of remembrances)

 

[Another example of his attachment ... bounced down to the temple room for aratik.] In fact, sometimes Jayananda would have kirtans just clapping his hands with one or two devotees and become completely ecstatic, start jumping around the room like a madman. Again, the example of krishnotkirtan – jumping up and down with enthusiasm, enthusiastic kirtan. And I think anyone can appreciate that.

 

I remember one day down at the Ratha cart, do you remember the day it was raining? When I came down and it started pouring? It was right when they were having this event called the “Tall Ships” here in New York, where all of the ships were sailing out on the river. And all of a sudden the rain came pouring down just in one part of the city. And we were stuck down there in the Pennsylvania Railroad yards, so Jayananda said, “Why don't we have a kirtan?” Then everyone was beating on coffee cans and we were using these monkey wrenches and beating sticks on the walls. There wasn't a pair of kartals, I think, in the whole place. And there was one real dead can. It had a whole in one end and the other end was just dead as a doornail. But Jayananda gave it to me and asked me to lead kirtan. And immediately, as soon as we joined in the kirtan, we became ecstatic even sitting out there in the middle of this miserable rain pouring like anything. And for the entire duration of the rain, every time I would be about to stop the kirtan, Jayananda was encouraging me, “Go on, keep on with the kirtan!” And then finally when the rain stopped, only then was he willing to stop the kirtan because immediately he wanted everyone to get back to work.

 

            (reading of Kala-kantha's collection of remembrances)

 

[Of all the processes ... wheelchair ... last days ... faith in the Name.] It is very interesting, when he was over at Mount Sinai hospital we used to go over to see him regularly. We'd bring him prasadam. And he would call me up and say, “Adi-keshava, you've got to get me alot of prasadam. Get lots of it, and get me lugdus. You gotta get me lots of lugdus. They love them over here!” So I went over there that day, and I was real upset and I said, “Jayananda, you've gotta eat.” He said, “Well, I can't really, you know. Anyway, there's this guy down the hallway I was preaching to. He's really into it and he loves pakoras. You've gotta get me pakoras.

 

So we used to bring him all kinds of stuff. We used to bring him tons of burfi, tons of pakoras and he'd distribute every bit of it. Then he started demanding books and magazines. Then he'd take me around and introduce me to all these people. Being the way he was, Jayananda would always make you feel like you were the big shot and he was the small fry. I always felt, you know, he was old enough to be my father. He was my senior godbrother, but he was so advanced that he made everybody, even a new man, feel like the big shot, like you're “the man.” So he would take me to preach to the doctors, to the nurses, and they were all just saying, as soon as you leave his room they'd say, “This guy is phenomenal! We've never seen anybody like him – he's not even scared of dying!”

 

 


The first time we went to a meeting with the doctors, and the doctors were kind of pushing him around, so I went with him. And so the doctor gave us a whole long medical explanation. So finally I said to the doctor, “Look Doc, when's he gonna croak?” The doctor flipped out. He said, “You can't say this in front of a patient!” He got really upset. I said, “Don't worry about it. He's not worried.” I said, “You're not scared of death, are you, Jayananda?” He said, “Nah. I guess I am a little, but you know, I'm getting over it.” The doctor was just amazed, so I said, “Look, we just want to know the straight goods – when's he gonna croak?” The doctor said, “I don't particularly appreciate your terminology, but if we give him the chemotherapy and the x-ray treatments,” and this and that.

 

I said, “No, I mean without the drugs, when is he gonna croak?” So the doctor said, “Well, I can tell that if he takes advice from people like you he's going to die in a short time.” So Jayananda said, “Well, that's what I wanted to know.”

 

Then immediately he turned around, he's so transcendental, immediately he turns around, and he said, “Adi-keshava, I've got this plan.” Because you know, Jayananda had these checks he got every month from his trust fund. He said, “I've got this plan how I'm going to get all of the money out of my trust fund.” Immediately that was the first thought he got. “The last thing I want to do is get all of this money and then I'll send it to Prabhupada. Then there's nothing my father and mother can do anymore. There's nothing my parents can do, there's nothing my sister can do. So then all they can do is pay the bills anyway.” He had this idea immediately as soon as the doctor told him he was going to leave. “And,” he said, “the other thing is we've got to do is draw up plans for the Ratha-yatra cart. Go get Mayeshvar.”

 

And he was always preaching, always preaching, even when he couldn't walk. In the hospital he'd take me by wheelchair from room to room to room to room to room – “This is Mrs. So-and-so, she's got a son,” and he'd know the whole rundown on her entire family. She'd be there and he'd say, “Well, how far did you get in the book?” And she'd go, “Well, I read halfway through the magazine, and I got about halfway through the Krishna Book and I've got a question: who's Balarama?”

 

            (reading of Kala-kantha's collection of remembrances)

 

[Jayananda's humility ... if that Jayananda is into it, it must be all right.] I ran into one man who worked in that furniture factory down by the Tiffany Place garage, and when I ran into him, I remember he was talking about Jayananda. This man, incidentally, hated us, absolutely, absolutely hated us. All of the rest of the guys... [break in tape]

 

I also hated the devotees at first. I saw Jayananda and his crew building the Ratha-yatra carts out in some parking lot in San Francisco. They had a tarp set up where they could sit in the shade below it, and I picked up a glass bottle and threw at them. And so the bottle bounced off the tarp, and then it smashed. I also participated in this kind of demonic activity, and the thing that changed my mind more than anything else was that Jayananda sent some guy out, another hippie with scruffy hair, and gave me some prasadam. So I was greatly impressed by the fact that these guys who I was actually attacking in so many ways were willing to give me prasadam, which was very valuable to me. I had about twenty cents in my pocket and I was scared to death the first time I had ever been to San Francisco. And I was thinking how much I wanted to get back to the East Coast, how I was living with all these horrible people, and then all of a sudden these people who I even attacked gave me prasadam!

 

I didn't understand it, but later that same devotee, one of those devotees who was there at the time informed me that they specifically remembered me and specifically remembered getting the bottle thrown at them, and that they remembered Jayananda sending prasadam. And then later on a couple of devotees convinced me to go to the temple. That's why they say that Jayananda practically helped so many devotees come to Krishna Consciousness, I think half the devotees in the movement had some association with Jayananda.

 

            (reading of Kala-kantha's collection of remembrances)

 

[Once, near the Ratha-yatra cart work site ... so many could be saved so much suffering.] In this regard, I can practically say that every bum that we couldn't handle we immediately sent to Jayananda down at the Ratha crew. Remember Crazy Louie? We couldn't keep Crazy Louie in the temple anymore, but we sent him to Jayananda and he worked like anything. He worked like anything. How many devotees had that experience? We may think someone is an unengageable rascal, but they were engaged by Jayananda, and because of being in that service then one has the benediction.

 

Like Jivadhara is a practical example. We asked him to do the Ratha-yatra, and Jayananda engaged him in such a way that originally Jivadhara was wanting just to work a little bit on the weekend. He was attached to his job, but practically by Jayananda's influence he gave up his job and everything else and just surrendered completely to working on the Ratha cart. And due to that surrender, it just so happened that a few days before the Ratha-yatra, Srila Prabhupada was coming around one side of the cart and Jivadhara came wheeling around the other with his hammer in his hand, and it was just one of those eternal moments. Jivadhara with this big drooping mustache and long hair, looking like some jazzy kshatriya of New York, and Srila Prabhupada, the swan-like pure devotee, and Srila Prabhupada looked at him and Jivadhara looked at him, and Prabhupada asked me, “What is his name?” And I said, “His name is John. He is a Hindu born in Trinidad.” And Srila Prabhupada said, “Oh.” And then he turned around and as soon as he turned around, Srila Prabhupada said, “So, he can be initiated.”

 

So by the grace of Jayananda, who engaged him in service, and by the grace of Prabhupada, this incident took place. And of course, he was initiated as a disciple of Srila Prabhupada.

 

            (reading of Kala-kantha's collection of remembrances)

 

[Because of his genuine compassion ... very inspiring to work with.] One day he came up to my office and said, “Hey Adi-keshava, can I borrow two bucks?” I said, “What for?” He said, “I've gotta buy a couple packs of Camels.” I said, “Jayananda! Wait a minute, we just don't do that. The next thing you'll be asking for is a six-pack for the boys down on the Ratha cart.” He said, “No, I've got this one guy. He comes and works every day, but I've gotta give him a couple of bucks. I know what it's going for, but I've got to help him somehow or other.” So I refused to give him the money. I explained to him that we can't do that. He said, “Oh, okay.”

So what he did was he arranged instead to get more prasadam. He tried feeding this boy prasadam and he managed to keep him for about a month working on the Ratha cart. He was a devotee, an initiated devotee, but he was a real space case, I mean he blooped due to his attraction to Camel cigarettes. You know who I am talking about? But it was just an example that Jayananda was willing to engage anyone, practically speaking.

 

            (reading of Kala-kantha's collection of remembrances)

 

[Moreover, there was something very personal ... became devotees as a result of Jayananda's preaching.] Jayananda used to tell me about his household days. “You know,” he said, “I just couldn't get into it. She just flipped out because I just wouldn't do anything that she wanted because I, well you know, I couldn't get into it. You know, she wanted me to fix up the place and I got a house and, you know, it's just too much. If you want me to get you some saris, I don't know where to get the money. So I'd go and Bhakta Das is going to buy a couple of saris and he would give them to her, but she'd say, `No, you're my husband – you're supposed to give me the saris.' You know, I couldn't do it. I would ask the temple to take care of these kinds of things for me. But anyway, I wasn't too successful at it. In the end I guess it was better. Krishna sent her away, or something like that.” So anyway he gave it up in disgust. “So I don't know whether I was a bad devotee, or maybe she was just a karmi.

 

He was incredibly renounced. And he'd go out and do anything. In fact, Jayananda did so much to save money that one day, I got on his case about the fact that his pants were ripped. Many devotees remember the story. I just said, “Jayananda, you can't look like a bum anymore.” Because his pants were, I mean, they were ripped to the point of being indecent. So what he had done was taken another pair of pants and cut the legs off and put them on over the pants. So I said, “Jayananda, you've got to be ridiculous!”

 

So Jayananda was up in, what was that town? I forget. Anyway, he lifted a pair of pants and he got caught by the cops. So the policeman called me up and I had to bail him out. And the cop said, “You know, we didn't want to arrest the guy. We just didn't want to arrest this guy. He was just, we couldn't, he's like a saint. But we had to, and what could we do? The guy complained, he stole the pants, and not only that he told us that he meant to do it! I don't know what to do. He said he just needed a pair of pants and he didn't want to take it from the temple because that money belonged to God and he didn't want to use God's money for his own set of pants and, you know, oh shucks!”

 

So I asked Jayananda about it. And he paid for the pair of pants, that was the penalty. Not only that, but somehow or other Jayananda got five bucks off the cop for a new pair of pants. And he came down, he was super apologetic, he came in and he said, “Well, I wonder what Tamal is going to say to me. I think I'm going to get it.” I said, “Well, I don't think he's going to bother you that much about it. Just go on.” He said, “I know I shouldn't have done it, but it wasn't in the Ratha-yatra budget.” So, actually he was always like this.

 

            (reading of Kala-kantha's collection of remembrances)

 

[Jayananda would use his personal charm ... that occasion was the perfection of my career in Krishna Consciousness.] In that regard, I just wanted to bring up a few more points. The history here I think is a little bit brief. It began when Srila Prabhupada told me in Vrindavan that he wanted to have the Ratha-yatra prepared. The devotees here who were planning still hadn't applied for permits. I was just a new sannyasi and I was being sent here by Prabhupada as the G.B.C. to take over New York, and Radha-Damodar, and Gita Nagari, and Boston – and I was scared to death!

 

 


So I came back here and Jayananda had said that he wasn't going to work on the Ratha-yatra because his back was bad, so he couldn't do Ratha-yatra that year. As soon as we got the permits, I wrote back to Prabhupada and Prabhupada immediately fired back a telegram and a letter saying, “Yes, your plan is approved.” I just read the letter now. “Yes, your plan is approved for Ratha-yatra on July 16 and July 18 down Fifth Avenue, and I would be happy to attend.” And then Srila Prabhupada said, “You must be careful to make the wheels strong enough.”

 

So the story was that Jayananda had made steel wheels the year before in San Francisco, and the wheels had been made with flat iron and the rims were too thin. So what happened was that as they rolled they went flat in between each spoke. So the carts were bumping down the road, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump. And the year before that, the wheels had almost fallen off the carts. So Prabhupada was very insistent about the wheels. So I went to Jayananda and said, “Jayananda, what am I going to do?” Jayananda said, “Adi-keshava, I'll build the Ratha-yatra cart. I'll do you a favor.” I said, “Well, okay, Prabhupada wants three.” He said, “Yes, do you got any money?” I said, “No, I am broke.” “Well, give me some money!”

 

So I just gave a couple thousand dollars. And I called up Srila Prabhupada on the phone, and I said to Srila Prabhupada, “Jayananda said he's going to do the Ratha-yatra.” Prabhupada replied through his secretary, “If he builds the cart, it will not hold up.” It's a fact! So, but then at the same time, it was obvious Prabhupada wanted it done. Prabhupada's next question was, “Are there Jagannath Deities carved yet? Have you carved the Deities?” So I replied, “No.” Prabhupada said, “You call back in one week and you had better have all of the answers for me.” So I went down to Jayananda and I told him, “Look, Prabhupada doesn't trust us at all!”

 

Both Jayananda and I had previously been recommended for sannyasa together, although I ended up taking sannyasa that year. Prabhupada had said at that time, “So here it is – the youngest and the oldest are taking sannyasa!” So Prabhupada made a joke again about that, how young or old, we were both unqualified!

 

So we were very anxious, but we went down to Philadelphia, got the boys to come up here from Philadelphia and got them to tell us all about the carts. Jayananda said, “Well, they're real nice carts.” He was enthusiastic and Maheshvar said they were junk, not good. But Jayananda said, “Still, I want to build them in the traditional style.” So we started on that and Maheshvar and Jivadhara started carving Lord Jagannath, which was another wonderful experience. They locked themselves in a room after we sent some devotees all the way up to Maine to get this tree that was lying in somebody's backyard, and we carved it and formed the Deities.

 

And I was pushing Toshan at that time, “You've got to get me a letter that guarantees we have the Ratha-yatra permit. Because they know we have to tell them decisively that it is not just a parade.” And I was pushing because Prabhupada was pressing me, “Do you have the permit?” And Prabhupada wanted a copy of the permit in his hand. He said, “I will not guarantee I am coming until you give me a copy of the permit in my hand.”

 

So we were becoming frustrated as anything, but in the end I called Prabhupada and he came to the phone and said, “Have you carved the Deities?” I said, “Yes. They are carved now. They are being painted.” He said, “Alright. Do you have the permit?” I said, “Yes. I have it in my hand.” This was after we lost the permit, and then he said, “Alright, then Jayananda may make the cart.”

 

So Jayananda continued making the cart with the help of Murli Krishna and his brother Laxmishvar, who at that time weren't even devotees. We had recruited them from Buffalo, I had preached to them just before we went to Mayapur, and they came down and they started working. And so Jayananda immediately attracted a crew of devotees, Jivadhara, Maheshvar and the factory got under way. He started welding the wheels down in the garage in Tiffany Place. And Jayananda was working harder than anything. In fact, he was very anxious to have everything work properly. So we would go down regularly and check on the wheels. Finally, he presented to us the first completed wheel, and we celebrated by taking Jayananda flowers, a half gallon of ice cream, and a bag full of candy. And then from there we began to work on the Ratha-yatra. In fact, there were so many men and they began working so hard, and they began to filch some wood here and there. That building site, they went there and clipped all the lumber, and the big thing with that was they got caught, but then the guy gave it up. They stole some urethane foam, and the wood from the building site down there.

 

Anyway, piece after piece after piece, Jayananda assembled the Ratha-yatra carts. And every time I'd say, “Jayananda, I don't have any money,” he'd say, “Don't worry about it. I'll come up with the goods.” So finally in the end, the carts were done by Krishna's grace, even to the point we had to water down the paint! And there was everything made from old railroad ties, and busted this and busted that. We decided the only thing we went big on was the canvas, we went out and bought colored canvas for the canopies instead of painting on old plain canvas.

 

So even at the last moment everyone was working on the Ratha-yatra carts and I took a group of G.B.C. men and sannyasis down to the carts. And everyone was saying, “Are the carts going to be done?” I said, “Don't worry about it.” Prabhupada had come down and inspected the carts personally the day before, and he was super pleased. He was extremely pleased with all of the devotees, especially with Jayananda.

 

And then afterwards I came with this group of men at about 5 o'clock in the evening. And the devotees were running up the dome on Balarama's cart just to make sure it ran right, and at that moment the wind came, caught the dome and blew it right over. It just snapped and there was this kind of groaning sound in the metal, and everyone freaked out. Everyone just cried. All the G.B.C. men and the sannyasis got back in the car and said I had to immediately go to the temple and tell Prabhupada we weren't going to have the carts ready for the Ratha-yatra, and so I turned around and told them, “I've got Jayananda.” I said, “Jayananda, will you be able to fix it?” Jayananda at that time turned around and said, “Yeah, we'll get it done.”

 

So Subuddhi and Jivadhara and Nandaki got to work. And sure enough, by the next morning they got it together. We all stayed down at the Ratha site that night, and also somebody ran over one of the styrofoam parrot decorations with the truck, and a whole bunch of other things went wrong, and so we were all working down there, and at about 11 o'clock at night I said to Jayananda, “Jayananda, what should we do?” Jayananda gave me a paint brush and said, “Start painting.” I love his attitude!

So then, the next morning I came back to the temple, just in time to pick up Srila Prabhupada for his walk. So I was driving his car. And we pulled down to the Ratha site and now all of the devotees worked a transcendental scene, in the early morning mist, with all of the devotees pulling the Ratha-yatra carts up the hill. And there was one cart that they couldn't quite get up the hill, and when all of the devotees saw Prabhupada coming, they started pulling like anything and the cart went straight up the hill, just like there was a motor in it and it just took off!

 

So I saw Jayananda. And Jayananda, about a week before that, two weeks before that, Jayananda showed me these things on his legs. I said, “Hey, Jayananda, you know my grandfather died of the same thing. You have cancer.” And he said, “Yeah, it hurts like anything.” But I made a deal with him that I wouldn't tell anybody. “Especially,” he said, “don't tell Prabhupada.” So I promised him I wouldn't tell Prabhupada until after Ratha-yatra was over.

 

So I saw Jayananda at that moment. He was just... the look on his face was so ecstatic, you know it was like his crowning triumph. I couldn't help just bursting into tears, and I turned around and Srila Prabhupada also was crying, looking at Jayananda. And he said, “I am so pleased with him because he is so sincere.”

 

And so we came back, and then that day we held the Ratha-yatra parade, and before I went out of Prabhupada's room, Prabhupada called me up to give me his blessing before we went out to start the parade, and Prabhupada said, “You go tell Jayananda that `I have given you my blessing.'” So then we went and the parade began, and of course there's this famous picture you can see on the altar there, of Jayananda at about 23rd Street steering Lord Jagannath's cart and just being in total ecstasy. I remember I was standing on Jagannath's cart just as we were entering into Washington Square Park, and Jayananda shouted up to me and said, “Hey, Adi-keshava! Find out what Prabhupada thinks.”

 

So I radioed back to Radha-Ballabha, who was riding on Lady Subhadra's cart along with Srila Prabhupada. And Radha-Ballabha asked Srila Prabhupada, and Prabhupada just answered, “It is a grand success.” And so the message came back and I told Jayananda. And at that point we were trying to, if anyone remembers, we were having trouble pulling one of the carts over the curb, and at that moment Jayananda just shouted to all the devotees, the cart moved, and again drove right over the curb, no problem.

 

And afterwards, that next morning Prabhupada called Jayananda and I up to his room, and he offered his thanks to Jayananda. Specifically, he cited Jayananda. He told me that Toshan and I were assisting, but he thanked Jayananda actually for doing the Ratha-yatra.

 

When Jayananda and I had come in that morning, we were covered with grease from head to foot from the night before, and we walked in just as Srila Prabhupada was coming out of the door. And Srila Prabhupada walked out of the door, and it was my duty to give Srila Prabhupada his garland every morning before he went out to his car. So this morning, someone came over and handed me the garland, and I stood there and looked at myself, I was just filthy! Everything had just spilled on there, I had been loading stuff, and I was covered with grease from one of the wheels from the night before when we had to move the cart into the railroad yard. And Jayananda, I looked at him and I said, “Jayananda, you can give the garland.” And I looked at him and he was worse! So Prabhupada came out and we were both standing there looking at each other, who would give the garland. So in the end, I handed the garland off to Jayananda, and Jayananda offered it to Srila Prabhupada, and I said to Srila Prabhupada, “I am very sorry we're so offensive and so dirty.” And Srila Prabhupada looked at us and he said, “There is absolutely no offense.” He said, “You may be dirty, but your hearts are pure.” And he went for his morning walk.

 

 


But Prabhupada always recognized Jayananda, and it was also at that moment of this Ratha-yatra here that was really his moment of glory. Jayananda always thought that. And that was why the Ratha-yatra here in New York became so special, because Prabhupada wanted it. Prabhupada said that, “I've always wanted a Ratha-yatra there.” And because Jayananda fulfilled that desire, he saw it always as the perfection of his very life. He saw it as the perfection of his life.

 

There are so many incidences that we could tell about all of these different devotees who were involved. Some devotees who became strong devotees, some devotees who really joined this movement at that time under his influence. But practically speaking, anyone who was here can't forget the glorious occasion of that Ratha-yatra festival.

 

So I just wanted to read one last section:

 

            (reading of Kala-kantha's collection of remembrances)

 

[Jayananda's Relationship With Srila Prabhupada ... to print my Bhagavad-Gita.] It is interesting even in his last days, Jayananda did conspire, he actually did trick his family into giving him $5,000 for medical bills, which he did send to Srila Prabhupada along with his last letter to him. I remember he called me up and I went over to the hospital there. And it was after visiting hours, so Jayananda particularly relished it when we would sneak into the hospital rather then come in at the usual time. So when we came in we'd then get a chance to see all the demonic treatments they were giving the patients. And so Jayananda was sitting there talking to me and there was some guy over there, he had tubes and pipes in every single arm, sticking down his throat, sticking in his nose. And Jayananda said, “Adi-keshava, do you really think I should become like that?” I said, “No, it's better that you give it up.” I said, “The body's really not worth it.” He said, “Yeah, that's what I was thinking. I don't want to become like that. Look at that old creep – he's dying terribly.” He said, “So, therefore I am going to do this, send Prabhupada the money. I am not going to pay the hospital. I'm just going to send it to Prabhupada.” That was always his sentiment. He was always meditating on Srila Prabhupada, and Srila Prabhupada's mission.

 

So I'm simply hoping that every one of us can take this as not a sentimental remembrance, but rather take it as an example for how we should engage in transcendental devotional service. Particularly, here it seems that somehow or other, Jayananda gave the unique and interesting inspiration to all of us. I can say that from personal experience. I saw in him, personally, the characteristics of what I would want to become as a devotee, what I would want to aspire to in devotional life, and I think practically everyone else who had contact with him would agree. We talk about lava-matra – getting the association of a devotee for even a fraction of a second – so what to speak of those of us who got more than a few moments but rather some extensive association? So I think that everyone, if they can take it in that light and understand that this is the purpose for remembering the activities of the Lord's devotee, how they are transcendental and how they are the means, by remembering their activities, of attaining again the spiritual world. That if you take such an example we can become enlightened within our hearts. And that will be an indication of us, as to what is the course for going back to Godhead. Jaya! All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

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