(Vishnujana Swami's Radha Damodara Traveling Sankirtana bus, 1974)
Remembering Vishnujana Swami
*Click here to listen to Vishnujana Swami chanting the Hare Krishna mantra (mp3).
I met Vishnujana Swami off and on from 1970 to 1976. From the first time I met him to the last, he was always the same, always on a mission, and he was unstoppable. I believe he found his relationship with Krishna in his brief time here on Earth as Srila Prabhupada's dear disciple. He came to Portland, Oregon temple in 1971 or 72 I believe, and gave a lecture that put me into a sort of trance that I think I never recovered from. Then he did it again in Los Angeles, and again in New York when I saw him there. So each time I was more inspired to go out on harinam with him and his traveling group of devotees and experience the real thing, the nectar of the holy name in congregational chanting. Anyone who knew him can tell you that he was created for Harinam Sankirtan. His kirtans set a precedent for full-speed-ahead, lose-yourself-totally-in-the-sound-vibration kirtans. When he danced and sometimes ran with the mridanga in his arms chanting till his voice was cracking, like he was crying out to Krishna, and sweating, and losing contact with the world around him, I would say it affected everyone in an emotional way that would make them also transcend the world around them and transport them into spiritual bliss. He was contagious. The milder side of his nature was deep and mysterious, thoughtful and intelligent. His lectures poured out like some kind of hypnotic river of perfectly timed overflow of nectar. And to this day I have not heard anyone ever preach like that.
One time when I was traveling the West coast with him on his Radha Damodara bus, we were looking out the window at the scenery going by and he said, "You see that beautiful forest over there and the rolling hills?" "Yes." "Well if you look closer you will find inside that forest or on those hills little living entities everywhere." "Uh huh..." "And if you look still closer you will see that behind all this natural beauty are these little living entities fighting each other and eating one another for survival! This is how maya works and keeps us in the illusion that this world is such a beautiful place to be in." An extremely effective speaker! I remember how he was so devoted to his beloved Radha Damodara Deities. While touring the campuses on the west coast, I would sometimes help Vishnujana Swami carry the Deities out from the bus to the campus grounds and up onto our portable stage we set up to have kirtans on. He was so careful with the Deities and he warned me to "be extra careful and treat Them as you would treat a baby." The college students would gather around and look totally mesmerized by Vishnujana Swami's delightful singing and harmonium playing. They would join in as the kirtan got louder and stronger, faster and more emotional. Then it would wind down and end with "Om namo bhagavate Vasudevaya." I feel very confident in saying that I believe he was empowered in a very special way to deliver the nectar of the holy name to the world. I will miss his transcendental association and will always remember the many wonderful days we spent traveling on his magic Radha Damodara bus.
Vishnujana Swami, if you can hear me, please save me a place on your eternal traveling roadshow bus, where the devotion and bliss never end! Hare Krishna! Sri Sri Radha Damodara ki jaya!