REMEMBRANCES OF JAYANANDA

 by

Svavas Das

 

REMEMBRANCES OF JAYANANDA

 

Svavas Das

   

In 1974, I recall I was a new devotee in Denver at the time, and I remember the temple president, his name was Kuru-srestha, he was always talking about this devotee in San Francisco who was actually very dear to Prabhupada and who was known to single-handedly manifest this Ratha-yatra. And it was always the talk of the movement, you might say, how Jayananda Prabhu used to go out and get donations for carrying out this Ratha-yatra festival. And we always heard about it. We also heard about Nara-narayana, who was actually working with Jayananda also in San Francisco to manifest this Ratha-yatra festival. And before we went, I remember, I was speaking with Kuru-srestha, and he was saying that we were going to get to meet a real great personality, a guy that just works day and night for Krishna and for Prabhupada. So we were very anxious to see him. We just kind of thought like, “Well, who is this person? He must be like a superhuman personality!” You always think of a particular individual as being some far-out personality, very handsome, strong, compassionate, loving, all of these kind of things. We were trying to conceive of what Jayananda Prabhu looked like, what he was actually like, some superhuman personality. I was just a new devotee and we were very anxious to see this guy.

 

So anyway, we went to Ratha-yatra and we couldn't find Jayananda anywhere. Myself and a couple other devotees, we were looking for him just to see what this personality appeared to be like. So we were looking all over for him and we couldn't find him, and we started asking devotees were he was. At that time they had a lot, a parking lot away from the temple, I don't recall where it was, but it was just somewhere away from the temple where they were still building the carts. They were actually still in the process of building them. And that's where Jayananda was day and night. He slept there, he ate there, and he worked there, day and night, to build these carts. So we were very enthusiastic and I went there. You know when you are a new devotee, you don't realize many things. You know, sometimes, when you go somewhere, they tell you, “Okay, go do this service over there,” and you find yourself stuck there for two or three days with no sleeping bag, no toothbrush. You don't have anything, you just have the dhoti and kurta you had on.

 

So we were sent there to the parking lot because we were very enthusiastic to meet Jayananda. We were sent there to help him on this project. Jayananda Prabhu is the kind of personality that once you show some enthusiasm, he'll definitely work you to the bone. So I was still a bhakta and then I went there, all of a sudden I met Jayananda Prabhu in about a five-minute encounter and I somehow opened my mouth and said that I used to do a little construction. Somehow that just came out, due to the puffed-up nature of a new bhakta, you can imagine how a new bhakta is very puffed-up, and he thinks he knows how to do everything. So due to my enthusiasm and puffed-up nature, I said, “Yeah, I am pretty good at construction.” So somehow or other, he put me in charge of Subhadra's cart, and he said that I had to be extra aware of how this cart appeared because Prabhupada was going to ride on this cart. And then at that time, I really freaked out! Because you know, you're just a bhakta, and Srila Prabhupada, the spiritual master, and the whole world, the universe was going to be riding on this cart! I thought it was like God Himself.

 

 


So there I spent at least three days and nights with no toothbrush, no other dhoti or kurta, and Jayananda wouldn't even let us leave the parking lot to go get prasadam or go to the temple or do anything. You couldn't do anything else, you just had to be there. And he just brought us some sleeping gear, like that. So that's where I stayed, painting and decorating Srila Prabhupada's cart that he was going to ride on, Subhadra's cart.

 

So that was my brief encounter with Jayananda Prabhu. I know that he was very hard working. We watched him, we were there with him. Of course, we had alot of fun. It wasn't like it was completely all austerity, but it was actually alot of ecstasy. That was the first time I think I was introduced to drinking 7-Up. See, I didn't think the devotees drank any pop or soda or anything like that, I thought we just drank nectar. So at that particular time, Jayananda would go and get a six pack of 7-Up and we'd all be freaking out, thinking, “Wow! This is really ecstatic! He's really a nice devotee!” because we got to drink 7-Up and things like that.

 

But we worked very, very hard, and I always remember Jayananda in that way because he actually gave me an opportunity to serve Srila Prabhupada directly, because I was decorating the cart, I decorated his chair that he was going to sit on, I got to do so many things. And then not only that, but I got to steer the cart. Of course, this may not be a very big thing right now because Ratha-yatra has been going on for so many years, but just imagine what it's like when you're a new bhakta and you're put in charge of a particular cart and you have to make sure it's decorated and all of these kind of things – it's exhilarating! It's just beyond belief of what your mind and your senses and your whole existence feels like. It's beyond calculation right now, actually. And you know, steering the cart in the middle of the night to go to the place where they were going to begin the festival, all of these things were unbelievable.

 

So personally, I always feel like I remember this first Ratha-yatra, and I am always very grateful to Jayananda Prabhu for allowing me to have this opportunity. And that might be the only reason why I am still in this movement. We don't know. That may be a big reason because I always remember these kind of things. And actually, it's very, very encouraging to me. It actually brings alot of ecstasy, alot of pleasure in my thoughts of Krishna Consciousness.

 

Then one other encounter I had with him was, I just remember this one. It was in New York, I met him in New York in probably '76. In 1976, he was sankirtan leader there, something like that, he was in charge of a party, parties of women or something, I'm not sure. But anyway, we had this brief encounter. It was very, very nice because I was eating prasadam with him and then we talked about this whole incident in San Francisco from about 1974, and he remembered everything, and he really congratulated me that I was still a devotee, that I was still going on in Krishna Consciousness. So it was a very nice meeting. We talked about old times like that, and it was actually very enlivening.

 

So I just wanted to say that's how I remember Jayananda.

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