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A Day in the Life of Jayananda Thakur

Diving into an ocean of kirtan rasa

Chapter 5

A nectarine kirtan of maha-mantra follows the Gurvastaka prayers, and soon the arotik reaches an ecstatic crescendo, and devotees are wildly jumping up and down like transcendental jack-in-the-box puppets, loudly chanting, "Hare Krishna! .. Haribol!"

Bhakta dasa's long and braided sikha bounces spritely upon his shoulders, up and down, right in time to the beat of the gong, and devotees are intensely feeling the extreme mellows of kirtan rasa, which is the life and soul of Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda and Their numerous eternal associates.

As the kirtan picked up gusto the Lord's joy also increased. The devotees were carried in waves of sublime joy. The Lord and husband of the goddess of fortune was dancing on Navadvipa streets and anyone who saw Him became free from all sorrows. Millions of flaming torches lit up the darkened sky matched by the millions of hearts kindled by the magic of sublime bliss. Words fail to describe the marvelous sight. One could be easily confused whether it was a full moon night or broad daylight or had Krishna Himself descended in the form of His Brahmajyoti. - Sri Caitanya-bhagavata

Bhakta dasa gives over the kirtan lead to Jayananda, who chants the Hare Krishna mantra for several minutes, and then he sings his original and patented composition, the Haribol song-

Hari Hari bol Hari Hari bol
dancing just like peacocks
Hari Hari bol
Hari Hari bol Hari Hari bol
Jai Srila Prabhupada
Hari Hari bol
Hari Hari bol Hari Hari bol
going back to godhead
Hari Hari bol

Devotees love Jayananda's original verses of his Haribol song, and they respond with joyful dancing while singing the refrains with great enthusiasm and radiant smiles adorning their faces.

While chanting Hare Krishna, the devotees try to remember Lord Krishna by chanting His holy name, knowing that Lord Krishna and His name are the same. They know that the most important regulative principle is to remember Krishna and never forget Krishna, and they try to do this as soon as they wake in the morning, and continue to think of Krishna throughout the day.

There are many regulative principles in the sastras and directions given by the spiritual master. These regulative principles should act as servants of the basic principle -- that is, one should always remember Krsna and never forget Him. - Padma Purana, Madhya 22.113

Different devotees try to remember Krishna in different ways, by practicing different methods. Some try to remember Krishna, by thinking of the 8th chapter, verse 9 Gita verse, by meditating on Him being the oldest, smaller than the smallest, luminous like the sun, and always a person;

One should meditate upon the Supreme Person as the one who knows everything, as He who is the oldest, who is the controller, who is smaller than the smallest, who is the maintainer of everything, who is beyond all material conception, who is inconceivable, and who is always a person. He is luminous like the sun and, being transcendental, is beyond this material nature. Bhagavadgita 8.9

Other devotees think of Krishna’s astonishing beauty, such as His blackish, bluish complexion and His yellow dhoti appearing like electrical lightening in the dark monsoon clouds of autumn.

"Oh sakhi! The luster of Syama's gorgeous body is more brilliant than a rain cloud. His yellow cloth shines more attractively than lightning. Krishna's captivating flute enhances His splendor and His face is more radiant than the autumn full moon. A colorful peacock feather adorns His head and a necklace of brilliant pearls spreads across Syama's broad chest like a row of stars. Oh sakhi! By such beauty, Madanmohan fully entices the thirst of My eyes." - Govinda-lilamrta 8.3 [spoken by Sri Radhika]

Some devotees think of Krishna’s universal form, as described in the 11th chapter of Bhagavad-gita;

Arjuna saw in that universal form unlimited mouths and unlimited eyes. It was all wondrous. The form was decorated with divine, dazzling ornaments and arrayed in many garbs. He was garlanded gloriously, and there were many scents smeared over His body. All was magnificent, allexpanding, unlimited. This was seen by Arjuna. If hundreds of thousands of suns rose up at once into the sky, they might resemble the effulgence of the Supreme Person in that universal form. – BG 11.11-12

Others meditate on Krishna’s universal form: the Virat-rupa, as recommended in the 2nd canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, such as the hills and mountains are the stacks of His bones, the omnipotent air is His breath, the trees are hairs of His body, the most alluring illusory material energy is his smile, the great ocean of material creation is the casting of His glance over us….

Thereafter, you should meditate upon the limbs of Visnu, one after another, without being deviated from the conception of the complete body. Thus the mind becomes free from all sense objects. There should be no other thing to be thought upon. Because the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Visnu, is the Ultimate Truth, the mind becomes completely reconciled in Him only. SB 2.1.19

Another devotee tries to remember Krishna by thinking of His inconceivable pastimes, such as child Krishna showing His universal form to Mother Yasoda, when she looked into His mouth.

After this incident, when Yasoda once was nursing her child and patting Him with great affection, there streamed a profuse supply of milk from her breast, and when she opened the mouth of the child with her fingers, she suddenly saw the universal manifestation within His mouth. She saw within the mouth of Krsna the whole sky, including the luminaries, stars in all directions, the sun, moon, fire, air, seas, islands, mountains, rivers, forests, and all other movable and immovable entities. Upon seeing this, mother Yasoda's heart began to throb, and she murmured within herself, "How wonderful this is!" She could not express anything, but simply closed her eyes. She was absorbed in wonderful thoughts. Krsna's showing the universal form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, even when lying down on the lap of His mother, proves that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is always the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whether He is manifested as a child on the lap of His mother or as a charioteer on the battlefield of Kuruksetra. - From Krishna Book

In these different ways, all the devotees are trying to remember Lord Krishna by various transcendental methods, and they feel great joy thinking of our Lord Krishna throughout the day, as often as possible. They are extremely grateful to Srila Prabhupada for giving this matchless gift to the western world.

Govinda heroically held Govardhana Hill as if it were a toy ball. Krishna’s spotless character and His spectacular pastimes fascinate the three worlds. Syama is so generous that He freely gives Himself to His devotees. Krishna’s mercy floods the entire world with nectar and His fame purifies everything. Who can possibly describe the unique qualities of Govinda? Krishna’s wonderful body emits a fragrance of musk-scented blue lotus flower. His hair, eyebrows, armpits and hips defeat the aroma of lotuses, parijata and aguru. The aroma of camphor-scented lotus flowers emanates from Syama’s face, eyes, nose, mouth, navel and feet. The nectar waves of Krishna’s fragrant body flood the world in joy. Govinda-lilamrta 17.9


Jayananda would often start kirtans at the Ratha cart building lot with the devotees, sometimes taking a transcendental time out. He would invariably sing his "Haribol" song and sometimes add fresh new verses to the song, such as "Hari Hari bol, lift that beam, Hari Hari bol..." as a dozen scrawny brahmacaris would lift this gigantic railroad beam into the air and place it as a part of the infrastructure of the Lord's cart, while singing the Haribol song.

Jayananda would always sing the Gurvastaka prayers in the early morning no matter where he was or what he was doing, like when we were out selling incense somewhere in California. He would always do a morning program and sing the songs and read the English translations. He did his morning programs, not just because he felt that he had to, but because he really wanted to, he really enjoyed the process and he liked the strict regulation. Even in his final weeks, he religiously listened to recordings of the morning program in his bed, and he would sing along or hum along with the program. Devotees can emulate Jayananda's sincerity here and follow his example of doing the morning program in all situations of life. By meditating on Jayananda's pleasure in the morning and evening programs, we can also increase our pleasure in the process of following these programs.

Karandhara recalls how one day after working very hard for ten hours straight, Jayananda suddenly announced, “Hey, it's ten to seven. Let's go to artik.” Everyone else was so tired that artik was the last thing on their minds, but Jayananda quickly jumped into the shower and then bounced down to the temple room for artik. – from Remembering Jayananda by Kalakantha Dasa

* * *

Jayananda loved the morning program

Jim started coming to the temple regularly. He especially liked the morning program, when most of the hippies were still sleeping. Sometimes he would be the only person in the class. Years later he revealed that he trusted the Swami and felt confident the Swami wouldn't cheat him. As a four-year-old, Jim had once stood up in church and looked around anxiously. When his grandmother had asked him what was the matter, he had asked, "Where is God?" Now he felt that Srila Prabhupada was answering this ancient question buried deep in his consciousness. In February 1967, Prabhupada accepted Jim as his disciple and initiated him with the name Jayananda Dasa. - Bhayahari Dasa.

Note- Jayananda told me about the early morning programs in San Francisco, that some devotees were in sleeping bags, sleeping during class, and sometimes he was the only one sitting there with Srila Prabhupada, hearing his class. This was the secret to Jayananda’s success, he heard from Srila Prabhupada with rapt attention, and he took the words of his spiritual master into his heart, very seriously, and never deviated from them.

* * *

Jayananda Thakur, the acharya who teaches by example

Jayananda was cent-percent surrendered to Srila Prabhupada as malleable putty in his spiritual master’s hands, and thus Krishna empowered him to do extraordinary feats. For the common man, if death or cancer walks in the door, he tends to give up and prepare for death.

Jayananda did not give way to terms of the body, or affection thereof, and he did not yield to negative thoughts or despair … he just did his service to Srila

Prabhupada and Lord Jagannatha despite all impediments. He did the monumental task of building the NY Ratha-yatra carts, and then, despite being deathly sick and drained of energy and deprived of sleep, he danced for Lord Jagannatha all day long in the parade. When he was in the hospital, he didn’t give in to weakness, he continued to preach to the other patients, giving them a Krishna Book to read, and distributed prasadam to all. Later he did LA Rathayatra from his bed, and he gave a talk on his birthday despite being so weak as to barely talk, and he danced in mangal-arotik one morning, though he came in a wheelchair and could barely walk.

Devotees can do wonderful service in Krishna consciousness by following Jayananda’s example. They can become putty in Srila Prabhupada’s hands by taking his instructions to heart — like his desire for us to follow Jayananda’s example — and Krishna will empower them. If we neglect Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, then negativity will overwhelm us. Iskcon isn’t a collection of buildings and names; it is Srila Prabhupada’s transcendental vision of Vaikuntha in this material world, carried in the hearts of his sincere disciples.

* * *

Dancing like a peacock

In Jayananda’s association, we were always chanting “Jai Prabhupada,” on our way back home. Jayananda always seemed to take it for granted that we, as a group — the whole temple — were all going back home back to Godhead together. He made it seem like all was fun and games, as if we were frolicking in a continuous party while traversing on the road back to Godhead. He used to sing this Haribol song often at the Ratha cart site, when it took a dozen or so devotees together, to pick up a heavy railroad beam. Jayananda’s song went like this, “Hari Hari Bol, Hari Hari Bol, lift that beam, “Hari Hari Bol. Then we would sing, as we simultaneously strained while we lifted the beam together and then slowly walked it to some position in the yard. Then he would again sing, “Hari Hari Bol, Hari Hari Bol, dancing like a peacock, “Hari Hari Bol,” and we would repeat his chant, and then he would sing, “Hari Hari Bol, Hari Hari Bol, going back to Godhead, “Hari Hari Bol,” and then “Hari Hari Bol, Hari Hari Bol, Jai Srila Prabhupada, “Hari Hari Bol,” and we were in unadulterated bliss even though it felt like the beam was breaking our bones. It was always fun working with Jayananda; it wasn't work, it was play, and we felt as if we were jubilantly dancing our way back to Godhead.

Srila Prabhupada writes-

If, after a long time, somebody embarks on a homeward journey, the pleasure of being homeward bound diminishes the accompanying distress of the journey. The inconveniences of traveling become subordinate to the pleasure of heading homeward. > Message of Godhead

* * *

This incident is told by Caitanya caritamrta das, das anu das —

Days later we ran into Jayananda at the Rathayatra site in Golden Gate Park; my friend was still a bit egotistic about our meager service and before he even spoke Jayananda was suggesting efforts to expand our ability to supply the Temple with more bhoga. Again, my friend was instantly humbled; this was the power of a sincere Vaisnava — no false airs, no egotistical confrontations — he spoke from the heart — and I am finally beginning to listen. All Glories to Vaisnava

Jayananda Thakur! Sincerely, your servant in training, Caitanya-caritamrta das, das anu das

* * *

Jayananda is “service attitude” personified

Srila Prabhupada has given many quotes in this regard:

These mysteries are gradually disclosed to the various grades of devotees in proportion to the gradual development of their service attitude. Adi 1.52

If we want to revive our original position, we must again establish ourselves in the service attitude. That is the perfect cure. Otherwise, we shall suffer pain… JSD 5.4: The Ultimate Yoga

We cannot demand any grace or mercy from the Lord because of our service rendered to Him. He may accept or not accept our service, but the only means to satisfy the Lord is through the service attitude, and nothing else. KB 58: Five Queens Married by Krsna