Jayananda Thakur

excerpts from Jayananda book





The Beautiful Life of

Jayananda Thakur

Remembering an American Saint

 by Vishoka Dasa


Edited by Dasaratha-suta Dasa

*  *  *  *  *

This book has 18 chapters and 3 appendixes, 12 inside photos, and an introduction of which Satyaraja dasa gave some final editing touches. We thank millions of times the devotional labor of Dasarathasuta dasa in his editing work. . 

[for those who love to ruin their eyes with a monitor, we may someday have an online version (which would take time to do, to do it right), meanwhile everyone is preferring the book to reading online, nothing compares to a book in one's hands, reading oneself to sleep, plus the fantastic cover and transcendental pictures inside.]

Jayananda's incessant devotion

Jayananda practiced the yoga of hands and legs, doing lots of things nobody else wanted to, doing the needful, doing the practical. He dumped the trash, he made the bhoga runs, and he cooked breakfast prasad for the sankirtan devotees and served it out to them. He stayed up late into the night cleaning the kitchen. He was sort of like our mother, always doing the things we were too lazy to do. He was always in the garage welding Ratha cart wheels, fixing automobiles, building prasadam carts. He was always serving out the maha-prasadam to the guests. He worked tirelessly, and simultaneously always glorified the other devotees for their service. In this way he endlessly inspired us with his enthusiasm and service attitude.

A moment expands into eternity

Actually, I did not get his association. What I mean is that it wasn't enough. It was only a year, and that year went by like a moment.That is the cruel handiwork of fate, that somehow by some causeless mercy you may come in contact with a pure soul like Srila Prabhupada or Jayananda, and fate just takes them away before the full realization hits you of how sacred those moments are. One year, or two, or ten years are not enough to satisfy the hankering for pure association with the servants of Krishna. Yet, lava-matra, sadhu-sange sarva-siddhi haya-

The verdict of all revealed scriptures

is that by even a moment's association

with a pure devotee,

one can obtain all success.

(Chaitanya-Charitamrita, Madhya-lila 22.54)


Just a moment's association with Krishna's dear servant gives all perfection. That moment expands into eternity, by divine grace.

Young, old, made no difference

Jayananda was there for so many people. Young, old, made no difference. He was there for the seven-year-old boy that Jiva­dhara spoke about, how Jayananda told him of Krishna and they chanted and danced, and then Jayananda gave initiation to the boy and gave him the name of Parameshvara. The boy was ecstatic and painted one of Lord Jagannatha's wheels. There were also the cops Jivadhara Prabhu spoke about, how they respected Jayananda so much. They would come to the Ratha site and talk to him, and they took a day off to come to the parade, brought their families and cameras. Then there were the tool business people who always gave rental tools to Jayananda free of charge. This was happening all the time, every day, so many ordinary people were charmed by Jayananda's big and golden heart, and their lives were changed.

One of Jayananda's servants in the final months was Indranatha Prabhu, who always praised his golden heart so nicely, saying how Jayananda always made everybody feel good and happy in Krishna Consciousness, always there with nice prasad and Krishna-katha and good vibes. Jayananda was always saying how “Krishna Consciousness is so sweet,” and always saying how “Whatever you do, just get a taste for the Holy Name, and that will save you.”

Moon in the sky

The fame of an ordinary man is like a burning meteorite speeding through the night sky and burning to a crisp. Fame is like a shooting star. The great devotee is like a bright moon in the sky. Only the pure devotee of God achieves lasting fame. Lord Chaitanya said a man is famous when he is known as a great devotee. This is real fame, as Srila Prabhupada says in his purport to Bhagavad-Gita 10.4-5:

Yashah, fame, should be according to Lord Chai­tanya, who said that a man is famous when he is known as a great devotee. That is real fame. If one has become a great man in Krishna Consciousness and it is known, then he is truly famous. One who does not have such fame is infamous.”

Jayananda was a moon in the sky of Srila Prabhupada's disciples. We can see this in a picture of the Vyasa Puja book of '97. Srila Prabhupada is at the airport and there is an umbrella above him, held by the same hands that hold a bouquet of flowers for Srila Prabhupada. The picture only shows the hands, but it is Jayananda. I remember the shirt he wore that day, and how he held the umbrella. You can see Srila Prabhupada's loving look on Jayananda. You can see how pleased Srila Prabhupada was with Jayananda in this picture. Srila Prabhu­pada's face is radiating. I remember that scene at the airport that day. Srila Prabhupada said he was always thinking of Jayananda.

Too busy for staff and clean cloth

No, Jayananda did not want people to bow down when he entered a room. He did not want to carry a stick around, because he was too busy building carts and stuff. He did not want a maha plate every day, because he always wanted to serve out the maha himself to the guests. He did not want the praise of a sannyasi, or have to give the class all the time. He gave great classes, but he did not want to all the time. Jayananda was too busy being our father and mother and doing all the needful things. He deserved our worship, but would have none of it.

Now I can see, after all those years, how Jayananda made this plan. He was determined to wear white, and this was for a reason. Just like how he was always doing such mundane things (seemingly mundane, although it was all transcendental), like carrying out the trash and going on bhoga runs, working in the garage, welding cart wheels. He was always wearing dirty clothes. His hands were clean in the morning, but you could see the ground-in dirt and oil from the previous day. He would sit in class and look tired. This is because he was up late at night finishing his rounds (he never missed his rounds), and that was because he worked hard all day, and usually cleaned the kitchen at night when we were going to bed. Nobody really knew how much he slept. He had his own room in the garage. Nobody saw him go to bed. Someone said that at the old Fredrick Street temple in San Francisco Jayananda would sleep standing up in Prabhupada's class, and Prabhupada would tell the devotees not to disturb him because he knew how hard Jayananda was working. He looked really tired in class some mornings, and he would nod off and catch a little nap sometimes. But the funny thing was, when somebody asked a question at the end of class, Jayananda would suddenly wake up, as if he had not heard a word of class, and would give a perfect answer.

This cannot be imitated

A higher Vaishnava once said that it is easy to imitate some of the symptoms of bhava, or love of God. But, there is one symptom of bhava that we can never imitate, and that is “ahuituky apratihata” or nonstop, unceasing devotional service to Krishna and His pure devotee. THAT we cannot imitate. The advanced devotee remembers Krishna 24 hours a day, even in his sleep, and serves Him constantly.

That is what we saw in Jayananda. Those who knew him said he was the most advanced devotee in the Movement. This is what we saw in his service attitude and attraction for the Name and service of the Name. It is said that a pure devotee is not recognized by his social position, number of followers, or ashram or so forth, but by his attraction to the Holy Name. Jayananda showed an unswerving and selfless dedication to propagation of the Holy Name and serving Krishna and Srila Prabhupada and others with prasadam, philosophy, and hari-nama.

We have come to surmise that his advancement, which came so quickly, was not possible for the usual sadhana-bhakta devotee, who normally goes through a long process of sadhana before he is able to reach perfection. It is by either the kripa-siddha or sadhana-siddha process that a nitya-baddha soul comes to perfection. How did Jayananda do this so quickly?

This is my confession. A nitya-baddha-jiva is one with millions of years of conditioning. He does not become suddenly advanced. But by the mercy of higher Vaishnavas he makes gradual advancement. He's a fool, but when he hears from the perfect, then repeats the perfect, then he is in perfect knowledge and is on the perfect path, even though it may seem that his advance­ment is slow. In other words, I may repeat the perfect as I've heard it, and thus I speak perfect knowledge. If I follow the perfect, then I'm situated in the perfect platform. That does not mean that I am in an advanced siddha position, or that I am without anarthas. I confess that I am one of those foolish nitya-baddha-jivas who just follows the perfect, and I saw that Sriman Jayananda Thakur was not one of us. He advanced in a very short period of time. He showed us steady, unwavering service, without hidden anarthas. We can say that it was either due to receiving kripa-siddha from Srila Prabhupada, or it was from sadhana-siddha, probably continuing from his past life. At any rate, neophytes usually do not advance in sadhana that fast.

Krishna will never let you down

Krishna proves that He never stops loving us. He accompanies us as our friend, as Paramatma, in all our countless bodies, waiting for us to turn our face to Him. There is no friend like Krishna, nor will there ever be such a friend. Srila Prabhupada once told Pushta-krishna Prabhu, “Don't depend on me, I will let you down; depend on Krishna, He will never let you down.” Of course, this was Prabhupada's humility, he will never let his disciple down. He was conveying the never-ending love of Krishna.

And Krishna's devotees, like their master, have that same quality of endless love. This is what I found in Jayananda. There is a nice verse by Srila Rupa Goswami in his Sri Lalita-Madhava which shows the endless love of Krishna:

Great souls are always saved from sufferings.

Even if, somehow or other, a devotee

takes birth as an animal in the jungle,

as a human being in one of the directions of this world,

as a demigod in the three celestial planets,

or even as a resident of hell,

the Supreme Personality of Godhead always brings him

to His lotus feet. The Lord never wishes to abandon him.


Jayananda so good and saintly

There were a few times like this. One time was when Jayananda and I drove the large murti of Lord Chaitanya from San Francisco to Berkeley. The San Francisco temple has very nice mobile murtis of Gaura-Nitai. We were moving Them separately to the temple in Berkeley. Jayananda wanted me to ride in the back of the truck and hold Lord Chaitanya, so that He would not tip and fall. I was holding the chest of the Lord as we were crossing the Bay Bridge and the sun was rising. At that moment, it got really heavy for me. A rare moment. I was gazing at the Lord's face, seeing the sun coming up, and seeing all the iron of Kali-yuga all around, the bridge and cars and everything. I also saw the back of Jayananda's head and how he was chanting japa on his beads. It overwhelmed me how Lord Chaitanya was like the rising sun, as described in Chaitanya-Charitamrita, and how He was saving us from this iron age of Kali, how His face was so beautiful, and how Jayananda was so good and saintly in His service. How fortunate I was to have this daily association with Jayananda! I had a daily life with Jayananda, and those were the best years of my life, although I barely realized it at the time. I could not stop the tears of appreciation at the rare moment.

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more excerpts here- intro and index 



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