What is new?


Vishoka's books & blog posts

Video gallery

A Day in the Life of Jayananda Thakur

Sriman conch shell heralds mangala arotik

Chapter 4

At the precise moment prior to mangala arotik, Makhana Taskara dasa appears in front of the doors and purses his lips to a white conch shell, held high in his hand, he draws his lungs full of air and trumpets the conch, which blazons loudly over the drone of japa, heralding the glorious and imminent appearance of Their Majestic Lordships.

All devotees take their respective positions in a line leading to the left doors that are soon to open. They prompt Jayananda to take the lead position in the front of the line. Upon the third conch trumpet of Lord Krishna's glories, the deity doors swing open wide as the devotees sing in unison, "Jaya Jagannatha, Jaya Jagannatha," loudly, again and again. Some exclaim, "Jaya Gour Nitai!" and some cry, "Jaya Sri Sri Radha-Gokulananda!" upon seeing Their Lordships. They proceed to bow down to the temple floor like sticks falling in the dust, for prostration and total surrender to the Lord.

Jayananda marvels at the beauty of Lord Jagannatha, thinking about the upcoming festival and Lord Jagannatha riding on His cart.

Lord Jagannatha is an ocean of mercy and He is beautiful like a row of blackish rain clouds. He is the storehouse of bliss for Laksmi and Sarasvati, and His face is like a spotless full-blown lotus. He is worshiped by the best of demigods and sages, and His glories are sung by the Upanisads. May that Jagannatha Svami be the object of my vision. - Jagannathastaka verse 4

Jayananda fondly remembers that Lord Jagannatha was the first deity to appear in the western world. Malati found a colorful figure with round eyes, and a big smile, in a barrel at Pier One store, in the Fisherman's Wharf district. She purchased the figure and brought Him to Srila Prabhupada, who bowed down before the figure, and the devotees were amazed to witness Srila Prabhupada do this. Srila Prabhupada said that Lord Jagannatha had chosen to appear in America in this way.

All devotees fall flat in dandavats to receive the grand appearance of Lord Krishna, and His eternal consort Srimati Radharani, Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda. Sri Sri Gour Nitai's golden forms stand regally upon a golden lotus altar, dressed in beautiful white and purple night outfits, Their beautiful arms extended to the heavens in rapturous kirtan rasa.

Mangal arotik promptly begins with, "samsara-davanala lidha-loka," the Sri Gurvastaka prayers, led by Bhakta dasa, who deftly strikes a gong, which sets a rhythmic beat, and the congregated devotees respond in sweet melodic unison, with angelic voices and sweet mrdanga, and kartalas resounding.

The final verse resonates in their gladdened ears, "yasya prasadad bhagavatprasado, yasyaprasadan na gatih kuto 'pi...."

Jayananda always meditates on the meaning of this final verse, "by the mercy of the spiritual master one receives the benediction of Krishna; without the grace of the spiritual master, one cannot make any advancement..." The import of this verse is Jayananda's life and soul, his formula for spiritual success; he takes these words very seriously and acts in that spirit with every minute of his day.

After completion of the Sri Gurvastaka prayers, the jubilant mellows of Hare Krishna maha mantra begin to gracefully pore out from the devotees’ lotus mouths into their earholes like cascades of nectar, and the devotees are beaming with bliss. Chanting Hare Krishna and exchanging smiles of deep contentment, the devotees are feeling great joy from being the eternal servants of their dear master and father and guide, Srila Prabhupada.

Chanting Krishna's sweet names purifies the heart; sanctifies and steadies the mind; destroys the six enemies [lust, anger, greed, envy, illusion, madness]; stops birth and death; dissolves sins; scorches samskaras; annihilates attachment; induces detachment; uproots desires; empowers one; makes one fearless; removes illusion; bestows supreme peace; delivers prema; reveals the Lord and His dhama; shows one's svarupa; showers bhakti-rasa; and engages one in his nitya-seva for the pleasure of Radha-Syama. - from The Art of Chanting Hare Krishna


I remember the first time I was there in the San Francisco temple, and that when the deity doors first opened up I was standing right in front of Lord Jagannatha. Actually, the first deities I saw that year were in Portland, the golden forms of Sri Sri Gour-Nitai. Also, I bought one of my first books in Portland; it was "Lord Caitanya in Five Features" which is the 7th chapter of Caitanya-caritamrta, and I read it with great interest.

The part I remember most was how Lord Caitanya sat down in the hallway and became as effulgent as "millions of suns." The picture of this lila stuck in my head as the wonderful pastime of Lord Gauranga.

After sitting on the ground, Caitanya Mahaprabhu exhibited His mystic power by manifesting effulgence as brilliant as the illumination of millions of suns. - Cc Adi 7.60

Remembering those mangala arotiks, set within a dimly lit temple room, and Bhakta dasa striking his gong, and the beauty and spiritual ambience of the flowing, lightly dancing devotees, and the beautiful ritual of peacock and yak tail fans, and ghee lamp offerings to the Lord, and the song to our master, Srila Prabhupada, and the rich scent of exotic incense offered to the Lord ... it all remains fresh to this day. I respectfully offer my full dandavats to the Vaisnavas, who eternally worship Sri Sri Radha Krishna with beautiful arotiks, as a regular daily function, in both the material and spiritual worlds. May such beautiful memories always remain within, especially the sacred images of our dear Jayananda dancing and singing joyfully in those arotiks.

I remember one day we were at the Ratha cart construction site, and Jayananda was telling me about this bar across the street, and he was observing how some men and women were dancing in intoxication and feeling lusty, and some small children were trying to join in with the adults. But, they shooed the kids away in disgust and continued their lusty dance which strongly suggested sexual intentions. Jayananda felt compassion for their ignorance and perverted desire of trying to get some pathetic pleasure from this dance and song. He commented how nice Krishna consciousness was, that even small children can join in with joyful singing and dancing along with the adults.

Humanity throughout the ages has always invented all kinds of music and dance styles, in order to aquire some so-called pleasure. They dance their dance, and play their music, in an effort to reach some state of ecstasy, which is actually the perpetual desire of all souls to procure the original esctasy found in the arotiks in Vaikuntha. But of course, their song and dance always falls short of the real esctasy, which everyone is hankering for, life after life. This is because their material music is only temporary and illusory, motivated by selfish and lusty desires, and not aimed at pleasing the supreme, Lord Sri Krishna. Therefore, it is never satisfying to the soul. When a person is fortunate enough to find a bonafide spiritual master, only then can he cultivate the real song and dance that will unite him with Lord Sri Krishna and the spiritual world. Jayananda worked tirelessly to help people connect to Srila Prabhupada and Krishna, and thus find the perfection of music and dance, and obtain everlasting happiness and pleasure in the blissful service to the supreme.

Where every tree is a transcendental purpose tree, where the soil is made of purpose gems, where the water is nectar, where every word is a song and every step a dance, where the flute is the favorite attendant. - Sri Brahma-Samhita

Jim Sullivan-

“And that year I was doing something...Prabhupada came, it was before the Ratha-yatra, and I was standing out in front of the Valencia Street temple on the north side of the front door, right in the front, and Jayananda was walking northbound from the south side of the door. It was the middle of the afternoon, and all of a sudden Prabhupada walked out the front door. I don't know what he was doing or where he was going, maybe it was to preach to someone. But as soon as Prabhupada saw Jayananda, a huge smile came on Prabhupada's face, a bigger smile than I ever saw, it was like a smile from ear to ear. And then recently after that I read in the Nectar of Devotion where it says, "When the spiritual master sees that a disciple is making very nice advancement, he smiles very nicely," and I knew that's what that was about.”

Meditation Two

Some devotees pray to Saint Jayananda Thakur

A devotee revealed to me that he often prays to Jayananda when he is down and in need of upliftment, and he gets wonderful reciprocation from Saint Jayananda. Another said that Jayananda was like his constant guardian angel, protecting him, being his constant source of inspiration. I found the spiritual desires of these devotees to be wonderful. Usually, I was thinking of how most devotees were relating to Jayananda as a fellow godbrother, or spiritual uncle, and as a fellow servant of Srila Prabhupada and Krsna. But now, it seems that we may pray to him as we would do to other saints, or previous acharyas, to ask for his blessings and spiritual guidance.

It dawned upon me that things have changed from those limited concepts we had before, that the reality of a saint is far beyond our arbitrary designations of godbrother, householder, sanyasa, or brahmana, and so on.

Srila Prabhupada writes-

“The whole process is that we should always pray for the mercy of the superior acaryas and keep company with pure devotees. Then it will be easier for us to advance in Krsna consciousness and receive the mercy of Lord Caitanya and Lord Krsna.” -purport of song by Narottama dasa Thakura

Srila Prabhupada says that the "whole process" is praying for the mercy of the "superior acharyas." How is praying to Jayananda different from praying to previous acharyas? I see no difference, because he is also there in the ranks of the previous acharyas. Srila Prabhupada asked us to follow his wonderful example, and that is the definition of “acharya” — he who teaches by example. Jayananda exemplifies the definition of acharya, as he virtually teaches multitudes of devotees by his extraordinary life and his shining example of pure devotional service.

It was like I too was praying to Jayananda, but in a different way. Not asking for benediction or for service, etc. I was just meditating on Jayananda, feeling that connection with him, which was restored once again. When he left, it seemed that it was all over, that death separated us. While the memories remained, still, the direct connection was not there — so I thought.

Then after 20 years or so, it seemed that connection was restored, as it was never gone, and I meditated upon that connection with intensity. Only time seemed to separate us ... but there is no separation at all. We are connected by eternal love ... forever. Now I am aware of how devotees are praying to Jayananda the saint and getting great benefit.

For us first generation devotees, disciples of Srila Prabhupada, he is our godbrother. How is it that we can pray to a godbrother? We had no thought of doing that before. The reason came to me, that our conception of protocol and hierarchical order was no longer important. It occurred to me that Jayananda had transcended into a unique category of sainthood. His devotional service was extremely rare, his surrender and enthusiasm for serving Srila Prabhupada was exceptionally uncommon. He now serves us as a Vaisnava saint, although he never wanted any special recognition.

On behalf of the Supreme Personality of Godhead a humble servant of God performs his activities in such a wonderful way that no common man can dare try to act like him. Yet a saintly person never takes credit for such actions. - Cc Adi

* * *

Vyasa Puja Offering to Srila Prabhupada - 2004
Dear Srila Prabhupada, please accept my obeisances millions of times at your lotus feet.
During a morning walk at Stow lake, in 1968, you had this conversation with Yamuna dasi - Yamuna said: Swamiji, Janaki-devi wrote me this very nice letter where she had a dream that there was a gigantic platform above the surface of the earth, and all of our devotees, our Godbrothers and sisters and you, were assembled on this gigantic platform for sankirtana. And we had such a thunderous joy, magnificent kirtana, that the whole earth... When you said, "Jaya om param paramahamsa," the whole earth bowed down to you like this. And we were all crying, so happy. And you said, "Now my Guru Maharaja is satisfied."
That was her dream.

Prabhupada said: Thank you very much. Yes. Thank you for your dreaming like that. It is very pleasing to me. Yes, I want to see like that.

You have told us that having a dream of the spiritual master is real, a direct experience with him. This dream communication is a form of spiritual telepathy, or an extra-sensory communication that is found extensively in our Vaisnava history. Another example of this is seen in this letter from Srila Prabhupada to Sudama-

In a letter to his disciple Sudama, who was trying to start a temple in Tokyo, Srila Prabhupada said: "Actually, I was thinking of you from London, and by the grace of Krsna my anxiety was televisioned to you in your dream."

Modern man is only recently investigating extra-sensory or paranormal abilities such as telepathy, such as the ability to journey in dreams and visions, into other dimensions across the boundaries of time. But the Vedic personalities, the Vaisnavas, are perfectly adept in such paranormal activities, such as communication from one mind to another by extra-sensory means, like in dreams, by the grace of Lord Krishna. Such abilities are as easy and commonplace for these perfected beings, just as surfing the Internet is commonplace for us.

Srila Prabhupada also received such messages in his dreams, from his Guru Maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, as we see in this talk in Seattle, 1968-

Srila Prabhupada - “Sometimes I was dreaming my spiritual master, that he's calling me, and I was following him. When my dream was over, I was thinking. I was little horrified. "Oh, Guru Maharaja wants me to become sannyasi. How can I accept sannyasa?" At that time, I was feeling not very satisfaction that I have to give up my family and have to become a mendicant. At that time, it was a horrible feeling. Sometimes I was thinking, "No, I cannot take sannyasa." But again I saw the same dream. So in this way I was fortunate. My Guru Maharaja (Prabhupada begins to cry, choked voice) pulled me out from this material life. >>> Ref. VedaBase => His Divine Grace Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Maharaja's Disappearance Day Lecture, (Srila Prabhupada's Sannyasa Guru) -- Seattle, October 21, 1968

Srila Prabhupada also was visited by Lord Krishna by dream on board the Jaladuta while coming to America. Srila Prabhupada wrote of some sea-sickness, and on the thirteenth day of the voyage, during the passage through the Arabian Sea, he suffered a massive heart attack. He was concerned that he might pass away, but in his uneasy sleep that night he had a dream, a vision. Lord Krsna appeared. The Lord was in an open boat, along with His other incarnations. Krsna was rowing the boat, and the boat was pulling Srila Prabhupada's ship with a rope. Krsna was smiling at Srila Prabhupada and was pulling the ship all the way to America! > VedaBase => JD: Introduction

Also, other great acharyas appear to Srila Prabhupada, in dream and in vision-

Gopal Ghosh prabhu relates: "That [Radha-Damodara temple] is where Prabhupada got the idea for ISKCON. It is where Prabhupada did his own personal bhajan, and there many times he told me that Rupa and Jiva Goswamis appeared to him in dreams.

Also, a disciple and former personal servant of Srila Prabhupada said that Srila Rupa Gosvami once appeared to Srila Prabhupada while he was staying at the Radha-Damodara temple in Vrndavana. One day while honoring maha-prasadam, Srila Prabhupada was looking out of the window at the samadhi of Sri Rupa Gosvami. Suddenly, Sri Rupa Gosvami appeared before Srila Prabhupada and spoke these most encouraging words:

"Maharaja, don't worry about anything. Go ahead and travel to the West and preach. Just preach the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the chanting of Hare Krishna. You'll be successful. I guarantee because I will be right with you all the time." > GVSV: Darsana Stories

So we see that Jiva and Rupa Gosvamis have given their dream darshan to Srila Prabhupada, and Rupa Gosvami gave his personal darshan to Srila Prabhupada, and conferred upon him spoken words of blessings and assurance of success in his mission. We have heard accounts of many devotees, old and young, who have had Srila Prabhupada’s darshan in either dream or visions.

Another extra-sensory or paranormal ability is clairvoyance, or the ability to see into the future, and this is also commonplace in Vedic traditions, as seen from the following predictions from Lochan Das Thakur and Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, and the Bhagavat Mahatmya and Brahma-vivarta Purana-

Lochan Das Thakur, in his Chaitanya Mangal, predicted that a sena-pati, or a "great general," would come and accomplish this mission. This was Srila Prabhupada. Also, Bhaktivinode Thakur, in an article entitled "Nityananda Suryodoy," which was published in the 1800s, in his Sajjana-toshani magazine -- he predicted that soon a time is coming when the chanting of Krishna's name will be heard in England, France, Russia, Germany, and America. Srila Prabhupada brought this to fruition. There is also the Bhagavat Mahatmya. In this book, Narada, the great sage, has a conversation with bhakti personified. In the course of this conversation, bhakti says, "I will leave this country, India, and go abroad!" The same text informs us that this personified bhakti will go to South India and then leave to go abroad after staying in Vrindavan. This is exactly what Prabhupada did. >>> Ref. VedaBase => OS 6: Chapter Six

Here we see that Srila Prabhupada was sent to save our planet, as Lord Caitanya’s sena-pati great general. Also, in the Brahma-vivarta Purana, Lord Vishnu told Mother Ganges to not worry about the many sins of Kali-Yuga, because He will send His devotee to spread the sankirtan movement all over the world.

Jai Srila Prabhupada, all glories to your Divine Grace, your lowly servant, Vishoka dasa.

* * *

Jayananda was strong like a bull

Before becoming a devotee, Kesava had worked on a ranch, bailing hay, so when he joins the temple he is in excellent physical shape and really strong. The brahmacaris enjoy wrestling one another when they have some free time on a Sunday morning, and Kesava is quickly challenged. But he is difficult to defeat and wins handily. There are only two devotees who can defeat Kesava.

Kesava: I couldn't beat Jayananda and I couldn't beat Visnujana. They were the only two that I couldn't dominate, or eat more than. I wrestled with Visnujana once and he dominated me. Jayananda and I wrestled on more than one occasion. Jayananda was so strong you couldn't imagine. I was really strong, but Jayananda would just dominate me. Nobody could beat Jayananda. He was powerful. Jayananda was big and he was strong, like a bull. RDV

Note- Devotees sometimes love to wrestle for sport. I remember one time in Berkeley seeing Caru red in the face from laughing, as we were watching HrdyaGovinda and Ramashriya wrestle on the floor of his office. Visvarata told me that once Sridhara Svami came to New Vrindavan and they immediately began to wrestle each other on a rug in some room. Devotees often take delight in this sport.

From the NOD-

Sometimes He [Krishna] would wrestle there with His different friends, and sometimes they would dance all together in the forest. These are some of the specific activities of the pauganda age. NOD 42: Fraternal Loving Affairs from Bhakti-Ratnakara-

The Wrestling Sport of Radha-Krsna-

"Radha asked Krsna in Her soft voice, ‘How do You play with Your friends at this place?' Krsna answered, ‘I dress as a wrestler and I wrestle with My friends. No one knows wrestling like Me and I win very easily.' Lalita smiled and requested Krsna again and again to show them His wrestling in His wrestler's dress. They all then changed into wrestler's costumes, but Krsna was very proud of His dress. Radha smiled sweetly when She saw Krsna's wrestling costume, and They both entered the wrestling arena. There was no question of winning or losing in that wrestling match and Kandarpa, the god of love, was satisfied to watch the game.

"This pastime is described in Vraja-vilasa-stava as follows: ‘I sing the glory of Bhandira, where charming Sri Radha, being eager to wrestle with Krsna, dressed Herself and Her sakhis in wrestling costumes. For the pleasure of Madana, She then cheerfully wrestled with Bakari, the enemy of Bakasura, who was also dressed as a wrestler.'

"In this way, various wonderful pastimes were performed in Bhandiravana. Who can describe them all? > VedaBase > The Wrestling Sport of Radha-Krsna


Jambavan, the king of the bears, appeared on the scene in a very angry mood and, being bewildered by the illusory energy of Visnu, he wrestled with Krsna day and night for twenty-eight days without understanding the glories of Krsna, who is non-different from his worshipable Lord Ramacandra. Finally he became completely exhausted, and his body began to shiver as he offered prayers to Lord Krsna, realizing that He was his worshipable Lord, Sri Ramacandra. > CB Adikhanda 15.195

From Mahabharta- Bhima wrestles with Jimuta-

In the fourth month of their stay in Virata, there was a festival held in honor of Siva. Among the festivities was a wrestling contest. Many powerful fighters from all over Bharata assembled in the city, roaring like lions. Those colossal-bodied men were maddened with power and strength. They strode about the wrestling arena slapping their arms and chests. Virata honored them and organized a tournament between them. One wrestler, Jimuta, was the most powerful and he emerged victorious from the contest. As he stood shouting out a furious challenge, none dared come forward to fight him. Virata then summoned his cook, Vallabha, and ordered him to fight.

Bhima could not defy the king's order. Reluctantly, he prepared for the match. Although he enjoyed fighting, he was afraid someone would recognize him if he displayed too much power. Praying to Krsna that he not be recognized, he went before the roaring Jimuta. The two wrestlers appeared like infuriated elephants about to fight for leadership of the herd. A fierce fight ensued with the combatants locked together, each looking for the other's weak points. Their blows sounded like thunderbolts striking mountains. The crowds gasped and cheered in turn. Each fighter dashed the other to the ground, threw him, pressed him down by force, and whirled the other around.

They slapped and kicked one another with tremendous power. Knees struck against knees and heads against heads, sounding like two stones crashing together. As they fought they shouted insults at each other. The crowd was delighted, some supporting Bhima and others Jimuta. Finally Bhima, decided to end the bout. He suddenly lifted his rival over his head and whirled him about. He spun him a hundred times with such force that he fell unconscious. Then Bhima dashed him to the ground. > MBK: 1.36: Draupadi Again Insulted

* * *

The true devotee of the Lord never offends anyone

Those who knew Jayananda always noticed one remarkable quality about him: he could not criticize others. It was against his nature. Even if a devotee did something which warranted criticism, Jayananda would usually say nothing, or else something that made the mistake appear to be perfectly understandable. No matter who was giving class or leading kirtan, he would always appreciate it. He never spoke harsh words or chastised anybody. If one devotee was criticizing another within earshot of Jayananda, Jayananda would simply leave. - Kalakantha > devotees give tribute to Jayananda Thakur

The Lord awards severe punishment to those who even after hearing blasphemy against the Lord and His devotees do not protest in order to make a show of tolerance. Even after hearing blasphemous words against Hari, Guru, and Vaisnava, the prakrta-sahajiyas' attempt to justify their abominable, mean, duplicitous nature as ‘Vaisnava etiquette,' guarantees their frightful degradation. Thakura Haridasa was truly the highest ideal of tolerance, and because the deceitful prakrta-sahajiya sampradaya tries to artificially imitate the quality of his tolerance, they ultimately achieve various miseries in life. > CB Adi-khanda 16.166

“If one does not care for the verdict of the sastras and dares blaspheme a Vaisnava, he suffers life after life because of this." SB 5.10.25

Chapter 5 - Diving into an ocean of kirtan rasa