Jayananda is Krishna's lobbyist
by Vishoka dasa
When you think about it, the lobby is a very important part of the temple. The lobby is the introduction, or the entrance into Krishna’s spiritual world. This place is often where people get their first impression of Krishna consciousness, as they say, first impressions have a lasting effect. So the devotees who first meet new people in the lobby, they are lobbyists for Krishna and Srila Prabhupada. Jayananda was a great lobbyist for Krishna and His parts and parcels. The lobby was one of his favorite places to meet guests with a maha tray when they came in. Jayananda was always distributing maha and making guests feel good and telling them about Krishna, often in the lobby. He truly enjoyed giving prasadam to others, more than taking it himself.
I remember well my first impressions of my entrance into the lobby of the San Francisco temple, incredible memories to think back on those days. At first I saw them in Golden Gate park, at hippie hill, the same hill that Srila Prabhupada and the devotees had kirtan with the hippies in the 60’s. I actually heard the devotee’s kartals before I saw them. I mentioned to my friend that “here they are” because I heard a “chink chink” over the hill, and then they came running into view over the top of hippie hill, and then danced down the hill to a flat area and chanted there for a while. Then they walked on the path near us, and Jivana dasi came over and put a big red and white carnation garland on me and gave
us a Sunday feast ticket. We later came to the temple for the Sunday feast.
I walked into the lobby and it was another world, the incense, the mystic colorful paintings on the wall. There were a variety of young people standing around waiting for something to happen in the other room, everyone seemed happy and content. Some were hippies, some black devotees too, one smiled at me, and I was thinking they were truly equal and
spiritual to all persons, color wasn’t a distinction. Most of them had a bag with a strap around their heads, and a hand in this cloth bag, with the hand jiggling it up and down. It impressed me as something very spiritual though I didn’t know what it was. I remember I had a ridiculous thought that maybe they had tired arms, due to some spiritual practice, and used this sling to support their arm, but I quickly dismissed it as a crazy thought, I didn’t know what to think. Then later we all went into the temple, and WOW, the color, the incense, the flowers, and the Deities and chanting, the good vibrations, it was out of this world.
Then after staying at the temple, I have many good experiences in the lobby, as every night we would read Krishna book and sipped hot milk, with some devotees sitting on the staircase steps. The hot milk came in a big metal bucket and every night was a different variety of hot milk. Sometimes it was seasoned with cardamon, some nights it was cinnamon, or cloves, sometimes bananas, sometimes there was butter or ghee swimming
around the hot milk. Sipping the hot milk and listening to the reading of Krishna book is such a cherished memory, now that I remember it. I remember one night my godbrother Ganga-narayana was reading a Krishna pastime about Krishna and His cowherd boyfriends. Ganga finished the page and commented, “I love it when Krishna plays with the boys.” This meant to me that Ganga really relished the sakhya-rasa pastimes of Lord Krishna.
Another lobby memory was my first encounter with the 4 o’clock maha tray offering, and it was on Thanksgiving day, it was the day after the day when I decided to stay in the temple and check it out. I was in the lobby and some devotees brought in the maha tray, the devotee holding the tray was Lankesa prabhu. I was new and naively asked, “Is this Thanksgiving?” Lankesa chuckled, and other devotees were snickering too, and he said
impishly, “Yeah, it’s Thanksgiving.” Boy, was it ever a Thanksgiving feast for me, as I was new, and Lankesa loaded me up with lots of maha prasadam. What I didn’t know then, was that every day was Thanksgiving for the devotees.
Another memory I have of the San Francisco temple lobby was Srila Prabhupada’s picture above one door. I gazed and gazed at his picture many a times, I’m not sure if it was a painting or a photo, it was hard to tell. It’s known on the internet as PrabhupadaSmiling.jpg. It’s a picture of Srila Prabhupada looking up to Goloka Vrindavan with a wide smile and the most incredible spiritual rapture in his eyes and face, his
head partially covered by a grayish cloth. His painting made me acutely and ecstatically aware of the topmost state of Srila Prabhupada’s prema, his unparalleled love for Lord Krishna.
The lobby was the scene where Bhakta dasa told me of my great fortune, by Krishna’s mercy, to get the privilege of going on a long trip with Jayananda, on an incense run to Salt Lake city Utah. I remember the visual situation of the lobby when Bhaka dasa gave me this benediction, and the premonitions and feelings of spiritual expectation of what was to happen soon.
Then there’s the favorite passage of mine, in the Jayananda Thakur book, which has to do with the lobby of the San Francisco temple-
“When I got to the scene, [the lobby] it was a wonder. San Francisco was famous for its Sunday feast kirtans. After the feast, there was always a huge kirtan in the hallway. Why the hallway? I suppose there was no time to clear out the temple. But these hallway kirtans were wonders. When I got there, I saw Jayananda in the center, surrounded by 40 or 50 devotees, just going wild. The kartals and drums were like staccato transcendental machine guns annihilating every inch of maya for miles around. Jayananda was doing this dance, legs back and forth, twirling, going nuts, playing kartals like a madman, and everybody was equally mad, it was really powerful. I never saw such powerful energy, it was Krishna's internal energy. Maybe the sweet-rice had a little something to do with it! Yeah, mix ecstatic prasadam with ecstatic dancing and chanting, and you'll get a crowd of madmen/women there at the Frisco temple, every Sunday. It'll happen every time.”
(JT >>> Ref. VedaBase => Jayananda in powerful kirtan)
All glories to the famous lobby of the San Francisco temple, and all the memories of Jayananda and his exalted service of being Krishna’s great lobbyist in Lord Caitanya’s sankirtan movement.