Jayapataka Swami Remembers Srila Prabhupada
Jayapataka Swami: Prabhupada’s presence was so powerful that when you came in his presence, you felt as if you were no longer part of the material world. You felt that you were in some kind of a spiritual, transcendental environment. I didn’t know about Vrindavan then, but now we would say that Prabhupada brought Vrindavan with him. We felt the Vrindavan mood whenever we came in Prabhupada’s presence. He was carrying Krishna in his heart. I didn’t understand that but I felt it. Just being with Srila Prabhupada I could feel myself change. I could see that he was a genuine spiritual master, and that he practiced what he preached. Other people that I visited had books and teachings, but they didn’t practice those things. Seeing this helped build my faith and Prabhupada was very merciful to me. He immediately engaged me in service by having me assist his secretary, either Govinda dasi or Gaurasundar das. When they went shopping during Prabhupada’s afternoon nap, I sat outside in case Prabhupada woke up and wanted something. Sometimes Prabhupada would call me in and ask me different things. He told me, “If I get a flower every day it will increase my longevity,” and he asked, “Can you bring me a flower; a rose?” I was very excited. My spiritual master was asking me to bring him a rose daily. I said, “Yes.” I went back to the temple and told the temple president that I was going to get a rose for Srila Prabhupada. He said, “What are you doing? You’re in maya. You can’t do that.” I said, “Why? Prabhupada told me to get him a rose.” I thought, “I do everything else you say, but Prabhupada asked me to bring him a rose and I am going to bring him a rose.” I phoned a florist and was going to go pick up a rose. The temple president got angry and said I couldn’t do that, that I should do something else. So I became a little angry because he was yelling at me. I walked off with the vibrations ringing in my ear, and I came to a dead end. Nearby there was a florist shop. I walked in and the salesperson said, “I’ve been waiting for you. Here is the rose.” It was the shop that I had called, but I had forgotten the address. I offered Prabhupada the rose, and he said, “Thank you very much.”
I was there with some other devotees when Srila Prabhupada went to meet Indira Gandhi. Prabhupada had a list of things he wanted to discuss with Indira Gandhi, but at that time she was very upset because the President of Bangladesh, Mujhibir Rahman, had just been assassinated. Still she made time for Prabhupada to see her on a Thursday afternoon. Prabhupada didn’t consult with astrologers much, but he didn’t want to have an important meeting on a Thursday afternoon. He said that it was not an auspicious time. That was about the only astrological thing he observed. He said, “Either in the morning or the evening, but not in the afternoon.” So they changed the time, and we all went together. But the devotees with Prabhupada only got as far as the door. Indira Gandhi came and met Prabhupada, and he went on alone to talk with her. Later he said that she was very respectful to him. She actually asked him, “How do you know that your followers are not CIA agents?” He explained, “I went to the West and preached. These people have sacrificed everything. They gave up their bad habits. They are getting up at four in the morning, attending mangal arati. If they were CIA, they would live in five star hotels and have a whole different lifestyle. They wouldn’t be vegetarians and give up all these habits.” She was convinced and said, “All right, I will give your devotees long-term visas.” After that meeting she passed some order, and the devotees who needed long-term visas got them.
When we moved from the grass hut to the lotus building, the first multi-story temple guest house where Prabhupada’s quarters were, we had a big feast and invited many villagers to come. After the feast was over, all the leaf plates were thrown behind the temple and Prabhupada went upstairs to his room. I was sitting with Srila Prabhupada in the room when we heard a dog barking in the back. Prabhupada got up and walked all the way to the veranda, looked over, and saw the big pile of banana leaf plates. So many people had taken prasadam that there was a big pile of leaves (using a leaf as a plate is the organic way that one eats in India). There were some very poor young children with torn clothes and sticks in their hands who were beating off the dogs to get the remnants of food that people had left on their plates. When Prabhupada saw how children had to fight dogs to eat throwaways, he started to cry. Tears were coming down. He said, “How hungry they must be.” Who would stoop to that situation, to fight off dogs to eat things that other people had thrown away? Prabhupada was so moved by these hungry children that he said, “We have to organize in such a way that nobody within a ten mile radius of the temple is hungry. Everyone should have food to eat.” That’s when they organized “ISKCON Food Relief,” which later became “Food for Life.” Prabhupada wanted a regular program of prasadam distribution, and we were distributing seven days a week; Five days for children and pregnant and nursing mothers, and seven days for anybody without discrimination—Hindus, Muslims, and Christians, men, women, young and old. Prabhupada was so moved when he saw that the people were hungry.
To view the entire unedited video go to Memories 02 - Jayapataka Swami, Govinda dasi, Badrinarayana
Jayapataka Swami: Once, at a disappearance festival for Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, Prabhupada was explaining how the disciple tries to carry out the order of his guru and the previous guru, the grandfather guru, as well as the order of the previous acharyas. He gave us the example of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, how he had begged door-to-door to build the first temple at Mayapur Dham, and he explained how the different acharyas had contributed to the development of Mayapur Dham. Prabhupada said, “To please my spiritual master and the previous acharyas, I am also trying to do something in Mayapur Dham. I am very grateful to everyone who is helping me.” Then he couldn’t speak any further. He choked up and started crying. There was a long silence. We didn’t know what to do. Prabhupada finally said, “The secret of success is to satisfy the desires of the previous acharyas.”
Prabhupada invited all of his God-brothers from the Gaudiya Math to attend the Ananta Sesa inauguration to put the Ananta Sesa at the bottom of a twelve-foot foundation hole for the new temple. Prabhupada said to his God-brothers, “For the pleasure of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada, let us all cooperate together and form a governing body. If we unite and preach together he will be pleased.” Everyone was amazed. Prabhupada had already created forty temples, yet he was inviting everyone, “Let’s work together.” Prabhupada showed us what Krishna consciousness is. To please the guru he desired total cooperation. But nobody accepted. Maybe people had different attachments, but Prabhupada’s vision was universal. He said, “Okay, they don’t want to work together, but we will do it.” Then he established the Governing Body, and he said, “I am doing everything simply as an offering to please my spiritual master. There may always be detractors, but I am simply trying to do this to please the previous acharya.”
To view the entire unedited video go to Memories 15 - The 1996 NYC and LA Reunions
Jayapataka Swami: For us Bombay is a very important place. Prabhupada said that Vrindavan was his home, Bombay was his office and Mayapur was his place of worship. So for us in Mayapur, Bombay was also a very important place. It was one of the important places that Prabhupada was related with. He mentioned that because Bombay was the most modernized, financial powerhouse in India. It was also becoming the most westernized and the home of the Bollywood movie industry. Prabhupada wanted to establish a temple that would have a mission. The Bombay temple has a mission to stop the westernization or to preserve the Krishna consciousness of India. Sometimes Prabhupada would confide in us how his guru maharaj had ordered him to preach in the west. He said, “My guru didn’t specifically order me to preach in India, so whenever I preached in the west I was very successful.” So his idea was to build temples in Vrindavan and Mayapur for his western devotees to come and visit the holy places, but then he said how could he stand by and see India going to hell? Seeing how Indians were giving away their culture by following the west and becoming degraded in various ways of losing Krishna consciousness was disturbing to Srila Prabhupada. He said it was his personal mission to preach in India. Brahmananda Prabhu said that Prabhupada told him that the deity, Lord Dwarkadhish in Los Angeles, personally spoke to him and ordered him, “You have to go back to India and you have to organize the preaching there.”
I was there present when Sridhar Maharaj asked permission to get sannyas from Prabhupada. Prabhupada said, “Are you one hundred percent sure you can be a sannyasi.” Then Sridhar Maharaj, who was very humble said, “Well, no I’m not one hundred percent sure that I can.” Prabhupada asked, “Are you seventy-five percent sure?” Sridhar said, “Seventy-five percent sure? I’m not seventy-five percent sure either.” “Are you fifty percent sure?” He said, “Fifty percent sure? Well, yes, I am fifty percent sure.” Prabhupada said, “Okay. Then I’ll give you sannyas.”
To view the entire unedited video go to Memories 49 - Jayapat S, Sruto, Gargamuni, Gurukrpa, Narayani, RupaV, Hari, Ranjit, Nrsimhanda
Jayapataka Swami: I was in India with Achyutananda when we heard that some devotees had received sannyas initiation in Los Angeles. To young brahmacharis, sannyas was something super wonderful. Then one evening, when we were just taking rest, Srila Prabhupada called for Achyutananda. I didn’t have a clue what sannyas was, but I thought, “Maybe Prabhupada is going to give him sannyas.” Instead, I heard Prabhupada raising his voice to chastise Achyutananda. I thought, “Hmm, it doesn’t sound like he’s getting sannyas.” The next thing I knew, Srila Prabhupada was asking me questions about things that I didn’t know about. Then Prabhupada said to Devananda, his secretary, “He doesn’t know anything. He’s clean.” Just before this, in 1970 in New Vrindavan, four sannyasis had declared that Prabhupada was an avatar, and Prabhupada had to exile them from Iskcon. Prabhupada was afraid of this serious and dangerous situation. He explained to us how this mayavadi poison had crept into Iskcon. He said that one of his God-brothers had told Achyutananda that Prabhupada wasn’t actually preaching, but was acting as an extension of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Thakur. This God-brother of Prabhupada’s said that it was actually Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Thakur who was doing everything, initiating everybody, and that Srila Prabhupada was what they call a ritvik, not responsible for anything. Srila Prabhupada’s disciples were not his but were actually disciples of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur. Somehow, Achyutananda explained this in a letter to Brahmananda. And Prabhupada said that Brahmananda and the other sannyasis started to speculate that, “If we’re initiated by Prabhupada but are not Prabhupada’s disciples but Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s disciples, then we could also be Bhaktivinode Thakur’s disciples because Bhaktisiddhanta is representing Bhaktivinode. And if we are Bhaktivinode’s disciples, we could be the Six Goswamis’ disciples. And if we could be the Six Goswamis’ disciples, we could be Lord Chaitanya’s disciples. And since Lord Chaitanya is Krishna, then we’re Krishna’s disciples.” Through this logic, they somehow came to the conclusion that Prabhupada was Krishna. Srila Prabhupada said that Achyutananda was innocent as he had just transmitted this message. Srila Prabhupada warned us that we had to be very careful. Any little deviation from the philosophy, any little new introduction, could create a huge misconception in the future.
Once Srila Prabhupada got a letter about a devotee in Australia who had been asked to leave the temple because he had a problem. Prabhupada was crying. He said, “This devotee has done so much service. You should fall at his feet and beg him to take up Krishna consciousness again. Why you are throwing him away? At least fall at his feet and beg him three times. If he still doesn’t come after that, then what can you do?” Prabhupada wanted every devotee to be treated very nicely and given every opportunity to remain in Krishna consciousness. At the same time, if someone was preaching mayavadi philosophy, then Prabhupada had to take a strong action to protect the others.
To view the entire unedited video go to Memories 47 - Twenty Disciples Remembering SP
Jayapataka Swami: Srila Prabhupada went to Birnagar to make a courtesy call to Lalit Prasad Thakur, the brother of his spiritual master, Om Visnupada Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur. Birnagar is Bhaktivinode Thakur’s birthplace and Bhaktivinode Thakur spent a good part of his childhood in that beautiful place, which is about an hour drive from Mayapur. It was impressive to see Lalit Thakur, a pure soul who was from a whole other century. At that time he was 97 or 98 years old and he would chant nonstop all day. He had been a lifelong brahmachari and had worked for the government until he retired in his 50’s. But throughout his life he practiced sadhana-bhakti. It was nice to know that Bhaktivinode Thakur had more than one child who was active in Krishna consciousness. The Deities Lalit Thakur worshiped were on the second floor and he had a library of Bhaktivinode Thakur books. He was doing nama-hatta preaching in Bangladesh as well as in different parts of Bengal and he had a lot of disciples. One of his more intimate disciples was an elderly lady, in her 60’s or 70’s, called Bhakti Ma. Another disciple, Sacinanda, was actively preaching in the villages. Lalit Prasad Thakur used to sit on his bed in a little room and not move much. He was bathed in his bed, he went to the bathroom in his bed and his disciples bragged that even though he would go to the toilet there it smelled like roses. And I did notice that there was no bad smell in the room. When we first went there, Lalit Prasad Thakur seemed agreeable to ISKCON having a temple to honor Bhaktivinode Thakur at his birthplace in Birnagar. Prabhupada talked about building a library, a display, an exhibition, an ashram, a preaching facility, and fixing up the temple at Bhaktivinode Thakur’s birthplace. At that time a small, broken-down temple marked that spot and when Prabhupada saw the poor condition it was in he practically cried. However, later some of Lalit Prasad Thakur’s followers insisted, “We shouldn’t give ISKCON any land,” and so the second time Prabhupada went to finalize everything there was a different mood—they weren’t agreeable to having an agreement with ISKCON. Neither did they themselves have the capacity or the wherewithal to develop the birthplace of Bhaktivinode Thakur. Prabhupada became impatient and upset that everything was being canceled with no reason and that Bhaktivinode Thakur, who was so great and who deserved to have a wonderful monument for his greatness, was not being properly honored. Suddenly Prabhupada became intense. In a loud voice he said, “Isn’t it sinful that you cannot develop the birthplace of Bhaktivinode Thakur and you won’t let anyone else do it either?” In other words, the birthplace was their responsibility but they couldn’t develop it, and although we could develop it they wouldn’t let us. It was going to stay in an undeveloped state and in fact today it’s in worse condition than it was then. Prabhupada loudly and intensely asked this question four or five times very loudly, almost…I wouldn’t say shouting, but I would say just maybe one level below that. Nobody said anything. Then as Prabhupada walked out he turned to the few of us secretaries and assistants who were with him and said, “Because I asked a question, there was no offense.” Srila Prabhupada was talking to the brother of his spiritual master so the etiquette of seniority was there, but at the same time, from Prabhupada’s point of view, Bhaktivinode Thakur was being offended. Therefore Prabhupada expressed that he had a right to question the situation and that questioning wasn’t an offense. To accuse, to say, “You are nonsense, you didn’t give,” would have been offensive. But questioning, “Isn’t it offensive? Isn’t it sinful?” was not offensive. So if somebody intensively inquires, it’s technically not an offense.
In Mayapur Prabhupada told us that the devotees in the Gaudiya Math are expert at taking care of guests, but we are not yet so expert. He said, “You should take nice care of guests, feed them nice prasadam, give them personal attention, ask them how they are doing and what they need.” At that time a VIP came, a commissioner from the government, and Prabhupada said, “Now I will show you,” and he sat there and instructed us, “Give him more water, give him more rice, give this…” The person was flattered, “The acharya is personally overseeing my meal.” While he was eating, Prabhupada told jokes—we never saw him tell so many jokes. Prabhupada said, “During prasad the talk should be light, it’s good for digestion. Do not preach heavily when somebody’s trying to eat.”
To view the entire unedited video go to Memories 44 - Arjuna, Bahushira, Gokularanjana, Jnanagamya, Jayapataka S Udayanand
The full Prabhupada Memories Series can be viewed here and also at www.prabhupadamemories.com
Following Srila Prabhupada
Interview DVD 03
Jayapataka Swami: At that time, Prabhupada lived in the grass hut. There was no other place to live in. I remember Prabhupada, one time we were sitting in the grass hut and he just said, “This grass hut is in the mode of goodness, and this is all you need for spiritual life – live in a grass hut and live by the side of the holy river, chant Hare Krishna. But if we do this, people won’t come here. So we have to build the big buildings with concrete and steel and bricks. Those buildings are in the mode of passion. But for preaching, we can build those buildings. But for our own selves, this would be enough.”This is Prabhupada establishing the Ananta Sesa in 1972. He invited all of his godbrothers to come. Many godbrothers had already left so there were disciples of godbrothers, his spiritual nephews. So he invited them all to come, and then he spoke to them that “Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur wanted us to all work together. So why don’t we all combine and work together? Now I have temples around the world and I can give you some devotees from foreign countries to help the preaching. We should all work together.” But they didn’t accept. They didn’t really say anything.
Interview DVD 04
Jayapataka Swami: When the devotees came to Mayapur, then Prabhupada took us out on parikrama. He took us to the different temples and showed us Lord Chaitanya’s historical pastime places. Then he wanted us to go out every year. So here we’re going to Srivasangan, where the original sankirtan party was held, and we are dancing very enthusiastically at the place of the original kirtan in the garden of Srivasa. Prabhupada wanted the devotees to be engaged. In those days there wasn’t so much interaction between ISKCON and the Gaudiya Maths, but once a year we could go and visit Lord Chaitanya’s places and that was the amount of interaction that we had.
Prabhupada was trying to involve his godbrothers and work cooperatively with them. Especially he made a lot of effort with Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Maharaja because they were very old friends. He used to come and visit Prabhupada in his house and stay at the guest house. So he was inviting him to come even to the West and see the temples, see how the preaching was going on. But he declined, he said it was too far. So he invited him to come over to Mayapur. So he agreed to come. So then Prabhupada had him share a seat on the vyasasana with him, and he was very accommodating and loving to him.
Interview DVD 07
Jayapataka Swami: Srila Prabhupada, when he would come, it was such a momentous occasion for everybody. The devotees would be waiting and waiting, and he would come in a caravan of cars. I remember that sometimes there would be lookouts on the top of the building watching to see when Prabhupada was coming. Then when they could see him, his car coming around the corner from a distance, they’d set off a firecracker. Then everybody would know that Prabhupada was coming and start blowing conches and running. When the news came, sometimes the devotees would run out several hundred meters from the temple to receive Srila Prabhupada and then walk with him in a huge kirtan and then accompany Prabhupada all the way to the temple.
Interview DVD 10
Jayapataka Swami: I remember we were walking one time and Prabhupada said, “You build the buildings and people will come and stay here, you will get plenty of guests.” Some people expressed how are they going to come when it was such a remote place. And Prabhupada said, “No, people will come here. You will see, so many people will come.” And now Mayapur is packed with tens of thousands of people every day – twenty-five, thirty thousand people on the weekends in the winter. Big festive days, over a hundred thousand. Initially there was nobody, it was very quiet in the early ’70s, and now it has become very active just as Prabhupada predicted. He had the vision. I remember one time he was walking with so many GBCs and he turned to one and then the other, and he would tell them how he was depending on one or the other to build a big temple in Mayapur. He was trying to inspire them to fulfill his mission. After telling them that they should do it, how he was depending on them, then he also told that he was depending on me. We knew it was a team effort and it was going to require many devotees’ cooperation to pull it off, building a spiritual city here and temple of the Vedic planetarium which will propagate the message of Lord Chaitanya all over the world, fulfilling the desire of the previous acharyas.