by Vyasasan das
There are some things about becoming a devotee I will never forget, for instance; receiving my first book, relishing my first plate of prasadam, seeing the deities in the temple for the first time, meeting Srila Prabhupada, Visnujhana Swami and Jayananda das bramachari.
The first time I meet Jayananda, was in 1975 in San Diego. I had been traveling with the RDTSKP for the last few months, since I joined. I was very much enjoying being a devotee, and traveling and putting on festivals, distributing prasadam, books and the Holy Name. By this
time I had meet a number of Sannyasis; including Tamal Krsna Goswami, Gurudas Swami, Tripuari Swami, Vishnujana Swami, etc. and was very impressed by their character, and position.
One morning after Bhagavatam class we were all sitting down on the floor taking our breakfast. I was looking over at all the assembled sannyasis; there must have been seven of them eating together. They all had on nice orange clothing, and were eating off beautiful silver plates, and I was thinking, “Ya, that’s what I want. I want to be a Hare Krishna Sannyasa. Devotees will offer me respectful obeisances when they see me, and I will always get the best accommodations and best prasadam”. So I was thinking like this… when in walks in this guy in a greasy hooded sweatshirt, ripped doti, hands and face covered with dirt and grease, and he walks over to the prasadam table and starts filling a plate.
So I ask the devotee sitting next to me, “Who is that guy, is he supposed to be here?” I thought it was some bum wearing a dhoti. But the devotee replied; “Oh, that’s Jayananda Prabhu, he’s a really advanced devotee”. Well I was looking at Jayananda who was eagerly feasting on the morning prasadam, and I was looking over at the sannyasis who were carefully moving the prasadam around the silver plates, and I just wasn’t that sure?
As fate would have it, right after we finished our breakfast, I was told that I would be traveling with Jayananda. So with my head in hand I slowly went over to the sankirtan van he would be driving and opened the passenger side door. He greeted me with a huge radiant smile and an ear shattering “Hari Bol” and offered me some halava he had in a plastic bag. I liked him immediately. There was something about him that instilled me with faith and confidence. I couldn’t stop smiling the whole day as he told me stories about Srila Prabhupada, and his adventures when he was a taxi cab driver. As the weeks turned into months, I came to recognize that he was in fact a very advanced disciple of Srila Prabhupada.
He had such great love for Srila Prabhupada, and he worked all day every day, performing his service with such great joy and devotion. There was nothing he wouldn’t do, no service was beneath him. And it reminded me of a quote I read when I was back in college; that “The
master is the servant in disguise”.
Meeting Jayananda das bramachari (as he was known back then), was a lesson to me; “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. On the outside he seemed a little tattered, but inside, he had a heart of gold. And I am reminded that when Srila Prabhupada was present, and when Krishna Himself was present, not everyone recognized that here is Krishna, here is God. Here is Srila Prabhupada; here is the pure devotee of the Lord. Similarly, I could not, with my materially motivated vision, recognize who is an advanced devotee. But the truth was revealed to me as I began my association with the legendary Jayananda Thakur.
In loving memory
May 25, 2010
(Disappearance day of Jayananda Prabhu)