4:00 am, summer of 1974, Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple, Valentia Street, San Francisco.
Amidst a kaleidoscope of swirling colors and loud kirtan, Lord Jagannatha's beautiful face smiles benevolently at His many devotees ... as He sits upon His royal throne, situated within the majestic and colorful decor of His opulent carriage. Srila Prabhupada rides upon Lady Subhadra's cart, while Jayananda dances jubilantly within the grand procession of enthusiastically chanting and dancing devotees.
A buzzing sound fills the air and time and motion seems to stand still, the parade vanishes, and Jayananda's eyes gently open; he murmurs, "Hare Krishna! Nice dream." He is a little tired. Well, that is to be expected, because he was up late again the night before, doing chores and finishing his rounds. He had to finish his rounds despite the late hour, because he had to fulfill his vow to Srila
Prabhupada. The kitchen needed cleaning, and Jayananda wanted it ready for the breakfast offering to Lord Krishna in the morning.
"At night you will fall asleep immediately, and in the morning you will awaken thoroughly refreshed even with less hours' sleep than you normally need." [From Jayananda's notes on the front jacket of his Krishna Book.]
Jayananda thinks, I'm ok, I'll take a “snap” later today, and so my body will be fine. Jayananda thus turns over and does his 20 pushups, while thinking — I gotta keep my body in shape so I can serve Lord Krishna.
Cold shower loka-
After exercising, Jayananda gathers some clean clothes and a towel, toothbrush, etc, and proceeds down the steps into the spacious garage where the morning shower stall serves its daily function. Upon seeing some devotees standing around the stall, Jayananda immediately falls flat and offers his respectful obeisances to the devotees of Lord Krishna, and they reciprocate with offering their heartfelt obeisances to their dear godbrother, Jayananda Prabhu, murmuring, "vanca-kalpa-tarubhyas ca krpa-sindhubhya eva ca."
I offer my obeisances to all the devotees of the Lord, who are just like desire trees, who are full of compassion for the fallen souls.
Jayananda then gets into line for the shower, and some devotees try to move him to the front but he humbly refuses and remains in line to take his turn. The shower stall looms before some bhaktas like a daily torture chamber of horrors. The water is like freezing icicles raining down from black samvartaka clouds.
The first devotee steps into the shower to demonstrate the exact reason for such trepidation, as he turns on the ice cold water and proceeds to shriek vocal protestations to the shocking effect it has upon his material body, and he calls out, "Krishna! ... Govinda! ... Gopala!" over and over again, while he scrubs away the dirt, thus cleansing himself both internally and externally.
This is Bhakta Ray’s first morning in the temple, and his first shower experience at 4 o’clock in the morning. The wee hour of the morning was bad enough, and the walk to the garage and shower stall via outside, on the ice-cold street sidewalk, that was bizarre … but this cold shower routine really takes the cake. He is not prepared for the spectacle unfolding before his eyes.
Tapan Misra picks up on his consternation and proffers him some reassurance, “Haribol, uh, Ray is your name? It’s kind of crazy looking the first time you see this, but it’s not as dire as you might think. Cold showers are great for your health, and once you get past those first few freezing seconds, it gives you a blast of energy, great for your spirit and body as well, whereas a hot shower makes you lethargic.”
Bhakta Ray feels better after hearing Tapan’s pep talk, but still he wonders how he’s going to survive those first few freezing moments.
It’s all Krishna’s mercy-
Jayananda then takes his turn and yelps, "Krishna!" tersely, as the icy missiles pelt his skin ... and he chants, "Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare" loudly to the delight of all the devotees. Stepping out of the shower with towel and gumpsa, Jayananda quips, "It's all Krishna's mercy; this cold shower is there to remind us that we're not these bodies."
"Jaya!" exclaim all the devotees in unison to Jayananda's realization. However, Bhakta Ramon offers a weak "Jaya" in the angst of anticipation of his imminent turn. He fondly reflects on the hot showers of days gone by, and now here's the stark reality of a freezing torture that soon awaits him. More yelling from the
next devotee exacerbates his dread. Oh well, he thinks, it's the first lesson we have to learn, that we're not these bodies.
Gunga-narayana dasa discovers that a new bhakta is brushing his teeth after he showered, so he gives instruction to the new bhakta; "Please brush before showering, don't be like an elephant who takes a bath and then throws dirt on his body. And always chant Hare Krishna! The holy names cleanse both mind and body." Gunga was always giving spiritual nectar to the new devotees, and quoting Bhagavad-gita verses to them, as well as giving them pragmatic advise.
The bhakta says, "Ok, thanks prabhu."
Jayananda dresses in clean dhoti and kurta and applies fresh tilak, grabs his beadbag and then repairs to the temple with other devotees following in tow. The devotees are joyfully walking alongside their hero and exemplar, Jayananda, and everyone is chanting upon their beads with glee, as intermittent utterances of Krishna’s holy names of “Govinda! Kesava! Damodara! Madhava! and Giridhari!” fill the atmosphere with jubilant vibrations.
“The holy names of the Lord that describe His transcendental pastimes are defined as principle names. Chanting these names reveals Krishna’s pastimes, gives Krsna-prema, and eternal residence in Vrndavana. Primary or principle names include Govinda, Gopala, Rama, Sri Nandanandana, Radha-natha, Hari, Yasomati Pranadhana, Madana-Mohana, Syamasundara, Madhava, Gopinatha, and Vrajagopala.” – Harinama Cintamani
Thus the few moments of freezing water were rendered insignificant by such loving Bhaktas, and that little discomfort catapulted into the supreme joy of sublime service to Srila Prabhupada and the holy name of Lord Krishna, which leads to eternal happiness in Their association. And so those few seconds of
austerity jump-started the devotees into another full day of jubilant and uninterrupted devotional service to Lord Sri Krishna, the supreme goal of life.
Gunga-narayana dasa is a very enthusiastic devotee. He once told me [years after the 70s] that he was in company of some devotees who regularly read the esoteric "rasa" sastras. Gunga was found by them to be reading the Gita on a daily basis, and they found this amusing, like Gunga was such a "newbee" in devotional service; they were chiding him as if they were so much more advanced. Gunga admitted to them that surely he was less advanced than they were, and therefore he had to continually study the "abc's" given to him by his spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, and he always prays fervently to remain a humble servant at Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet.
* * *
Letter from Jayananda to Bhakta Jim
Here is a transcription of an extremely nectarine hand-written letter from Jayananda to Bhakta Jim, expressing the glories of association of devotees and revealing to us Jayananda's rare humility and love for Srila Prabhupada.
Nama om Visnu padaya krsna-presthaya bhutale Srimati Bhaktivedanta svamin iti namine Namas te sarasvate devam gaura vani pracarine Nirvisesa sunyavadi pascaty desa tarine
Dear Bhakta Jim, Please accept my obeisances, all glories to His Divine Grace by whose causeless mercy we’ve been afforded the association of devotees. I’m hoping that someday I’ll develop a little appreciation for Srila Prabhupada’s causeless mercy upon me.
The most glorious association in the material world is like stool compared to the nectarine association of devotees. The association of devotees can free us from all miserable conditions because Krishna is in the center of their association and only Sri Krishna is infallible and unconquerable and the supreme pleasure eternal. So association of devotees is our life and soul.
So it was very kind of you to come here. Also Murli-krsna mentioned that you brought that Maha. When I saw that prasadam in that foil, my heart jumped about 10 beats. You know how lusty I’ve always been for prasadam. Practically I
honored all of it, I distributed a little, but I was overwhelmed with greed when I saw those milk sweets and Ksir, etc. I haven’t been taking those things for a long time, so somehow Krishna made a timely arrangement. Please offer my obeisances, to Citsukananda and all devotees there. Please accept my prayers for you continued advancement in Krsna consciousness and our eternal relationship with our beloved Spiritual Father, guide, and preceptor Srila Prabhupada!
Your servant, Jayananda das
* * *
The Cobbler and the Brahmin
Srila Prabhupada told us of the story of the cobbler and the Brahmin and Narada Muni. Narada often went to see Lord Narayana and one day the Brahmin requested him to inquire from Lord Narayana when he, the Brahmin, would go back to Godhead. A cobbler made the same request to Narada. So he went to Lord Narayana and asked Him when the two devotees would go back home. Lord Narayana said the Cobbler would promptly go back home, but the Brahmin had more lives to do. Narada was surprised and asked why. Lord Narayana instructed Narada to tell both cobbler and Brahmin that He, Lord Narayana, was threading an elephant through an eye of a needle, and see how they react. Narada did as told, and the Brahmin balked at the story, saying "bah, impossible." But the cobbler fell into ecstasy upon hearing the story, saying "my Lord can do anything."
The moral of the story teaches us a "central point" that Lord Krsna is always testing devotees by presenting contradictory situations, which seem materially impossible, and then He observes how they respond to those situations. He puts little glitches into the cosmic landscape, just to test our faith.
Cc Adi 16.81P- "The central point of all Vaisnava philosophy is to accept the inconceivable potency of Lord Visnu. What sometimes appears contradictory from a material viewpoint is understandable in connection with the Supreme Personality of Godhead because He can perform contradictory activities by dint of His inconceivable potencies. Modern scientists are puzzled."
Lord Krsna also sends His pure devotee to our world, and is very attentive to see how we treat His pure devotee. This is a big test. Similarly, His pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada, is often testing disciples. It is said that when the guru calls a
rope a snake, then the disciple will beat the rope as if it were a snake. Then the guru calls it a rope, and the disciple sees it as a rope. If the guru again calls the rope a snake, then the disciple again acts if it were a snake. The guru sometimes gives illogical puzzles, to encourage the disciple to relinquish his false ego of material logic.
Once in Los Angeles, two disciples approached Srila Prabhupada in his room, with a challenging mood. They brought up some seemingly material contradictions in the Krsna book, saying these things were impossible. Srila Prabhupada told them [if memory serves] that they could leave, because they were without a guru as of that moment. This was a severe case of flunking the contradiction test. This is where pride and material logic can get a careless devotee in very deep trouble.
I have heard that Sri Madvacharya once said that Lord Krsna purposely puts little contradictions into the sastra, just to facilitate doubting souls who are looking for holes in the philosophy, to give a little fodder to bolster their atheist mentalities. The Bhagavad-gita states that Lord Krsna knows what desires are in the hearts of the jiva, and facilitates that desire. If someone wants to doubt Krsna, then Krsna will help him do that, will direct him within the heart to focus on contradictory glitches in sastra, so that he can fulfill his doubt, so he can justify material desires.
Bg 7.21 purport - "As the supreme father of all living entities, He does not interfere with their independence, but gives all facilities so that they can fulfill their material desires."
The submissive devotee knows that Lord Krishna can do anything inconceivable and thus he passes the test, while the puffed up Brahmin maintains false ego and pride, which supplies his material logic and thus fails the test.
The cobbler was in spiritual logic and the Brahmin was in material logic. Spiritual logic is essential for surrender to Krsna and Guru, being vital for submission to the will of Krsna and Guru.
Jayananda prabhu is a perfect example of a devotee with spiritual logic, who was not bewildered when confronted with riddles in spiritual life. He passed Krsna's tests with flying colors, with an attitude like, "I will never understand Krsna or His pure devotee, and I'll never understand this material world, and if someone
asks about some apparent contradiction in sastra, I just say I don't know, and go on with my service, knowing everything is the inconceivable energy of Krsna." This is the humble attitude of the devotee.
Cc Adi 17.304P - "Such a contradiction can be reconciled only in the Supreme Personality of Godhead because He has energy that is inconceivable (acintya), which can make possible that which is impossible to do (aghata-ghatanapatiyasi). Such contradictions are very difficult to understand unless a devotee strictly follows the Vaisnava philosophy under the direction of the Gosvamis."
In the Krishna book, Mother Devaki recites prayers to Lord Krishna, saying that He contains the whole universe in His abdomen, and still appears in her womb, which seems to be a mind-boggling paradox-
“My dear Lord, at the end of the annihilation of the cosmic manifestation, You put the whole universe within Your abdomen; still by Your unalloyed mercy You have appeared in my womb. I am surprised that You imitate the activities of ordinary human beings just to please Your devotee." KB
In this regard, Srila Bhaktivinode writes beautifully about the inconceivable nature of mutually contradictory qualities of Lord Krsna, in Sri Jaiva-dharma-
"In the material world mutually contradictory qualities do not exist together in the same place, for they would negate each other. It is the inconceivable nature of Lord Krsna's potency that in the spiritual world all mutually contradictory qualities exist happily together and the result is very beautiful and pleasing. In Lord Krsna the qualities of having a form and being formless, being all
pervading and having a form present in one place only, being active and inactive, being unborn and being the son of Nanda, being the all worshipable Supreme Lord and being a gopa boy, being all-knowing and having the limited knowledge possessed by a human being, having qualities and having no qualities, being beyond conception and being sweet like nectar, being limited and unlimited, being far away and being very near, being completely aloof and also being afraid of the gopi's jealous anger are simultaneously present. These and numberless mutually contradictory qualities happily stay together in Lord Krsna's transcendental form, in Sri Krsna's transcendental abode, and in Sri Krsna's transcendental pastimes. That these mutually contradictory qualities help Lord Krsna's pastimes, making them more beautiful and pleasing is beyond human conception. Therefore it is said that the Lord's potencies are inconceivable." - Sri Jaiva-dharma
On the other hand, the man in material consciousness will say, "Yes, we can understand everything in this world with our science, and we will control everything, and we will disbelieve anything that does not mesh with our theories and our laws of physics." Although the old theories are always be replaced by new ones, still such arrogance persists.
Even a devotee, like the Brahmin in the story, can fall under the spell of thinking his material logic is so important, and will balk at the glitches which bend his mind, and thus cultivate doubts of Krsna's achintya energy, even have doubts about Krsna's pure devotee. There is great pride in material logic, and that is why Krsna puts us to the test sometimes, to curb our pride, to make us surrender to spiritual logic, and relinquish material logic and false ego. Material ego tells us, “Elephants are huge animals, eyes of needles are very small, so big huge animals through a little hole? Gimme a break!” But Krishna can turn matter into spirit, spirit into matter. He can make little holes suddenly huge, and huge animals suddenly small. To become fully surrendered we must take that "leap of faith" and surrender our puny glow-worm material logic unto the brilliant sun of Krsna and His pure devotee.
Cc Intro- "That which is beyond our power of conception is called acintya, inconceivable. It is useless to argue or speculate about what is inconceivable. If it is truly inconceivable, it is not subject to speculation or experimentation."
Srila Prabhupada warned us to get out of this mess, not come back for another go-round, because Kali-yuga is sliding down and down into the muck of a
horrendous nightmare, as we see in every newspaper and newscast how the suffering of mankind is increasing. So we don’t want to prolong our stay by the mistake of thinking our logic is more than that of Krishna or His pure devotee.
* * *
Our prayers to Vaisnava Acharyas never go in vain
Letter to Mahananda-
“Regarding your questions are the Spiritual Master and the Grand Spiritual Master consciously aware of the prayers of a sincere devotee who prays in love to Them? -- the answer is that no conscious prayers go in vain. They are transmitted positively. But one thing you must know that any prayer you offer to your Spiritual Master and Superior Spiritual Master, all of them are conveyed to Krishna, so no sincere prayers goes in vain. We shall always offer such prayers to Spiritual Master, Superior Spiritual Master, Vaisnava Acharyas, Lord Caitanya, and at the end Radha Krishna, that is the system.
> Ref. VedaBase => Letter to: Mahananda -- Los Angeles 27 April, 1970
We can know for sure, our Srila Prabhupada tells us, that our prayers to him and the Vaisnava Acharyas, and Lord Caitanya and Radha Krishna, that is our system, and our prayers will never go in vain. Jayananda prayed that he would always be with Srila Prabhupada, serving him always. We know therefore that Jayananda’s prayer was answered, he is with Srila Prabhupada now, they are serving Krishna in His lila in Vrndavan, and in the celestial Goloka, along with the other Acharyas, nobody has gone away. They are all here to answer our prayers which never go in vain. I pray earnestly to Jayananda to let me always be with him. I was so foolish to think we could ever be separated, as death is not a boundary that comes between the love and connection of Krishna’s devotees.
The so-called material barriers of 3 dimensional space and time have no effect on the eternal spiritual connection we have with Srila Prabhupada and his followers. Srila Prabhupada said, “Go on chanting Hare rishna, and we will be packed up together.”
What do we care for this material body? Just go on chanting HARE KRISHNA, and we will be packed up together. You will be chanting here, and I will be chanting there, and this vibration will circulate around this planet." >Ref. VedaBase => Swami's Departure
People in general have this philosophy about departed loved ones, that they live onwards, they are always with them, they live in their hearts, and they live in their memories. As for our departed godbrothers and saints, yes, they live in our memories, in our hearts. But, our Vaisnava understanding of the reality of departed saints is that the saint lives on as a person who is really there in our world. They are actually there for us, and they reciprocate directly and personally with those who beseech them. They may be 10 feet away or thousands of miles away, that makes no difference, because we are clearly and intimately connected with them via Krishna dot com. Even scientists and physicists are saying that things in the universe are all connected, even at great distances. Our Vaisnava spiritual science also tells us that saints are tangibly connected to those devotees who pray for their guidance, no matter where we are, or where they are, and we are connected through Krishna’s energy, and Srila Prabhupada confirms this truth. Srila Prabhupada said that this is the “principle of relay monitoring” and that our sincere prayers to such saints never go in vain.
"Just like Krishna can be present simultaneously in millions of places, similarly the spiritual master also can be present wherever the disciple wants. A spiritual master is the principle, not the body. Just like a television can be seen in thousands of places by the principle of relay monitoring." (Srila Prabhupada letter, May 28, 19
* * *
Mother Yajna devi dasi:
We can communicate with Prabhupada and Jayananda even now, though being invisible they are always with us. We can stray from God, and that was how it happened with me, but they will always come to help us. They will get us out of
the ditch and bring us back on the way. This happened to me. It is amazing to believe and know this. True love is the most amazing, incomparable treasure, as it comes directly from Lord Krishna, and from our spiritual master Srila Prabhupada and from all the saints, and from our saint, Sriman Jayananda Thakur.
* * *
The perfection of Krsna consciousness culminates in shedding of tears-
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." – Adi-keshava Dasa
“They remain struck with devotion, and tears glide down from their eyes, illustrating vividly how they are embracing Krsna heart to heart." These phenomena indicate that even the cows and calves in Vrndavana knew how to cry for Krsna and embrace Him heart to heart. Actually, the perfection of Krsna consciousness can be culminated in the shedding of tears from the eyes. > Krishna Book ch 21: The Gopis Attracted by the Flute
Chapter 2 - Jayananda enters the temple