BY HARI-SAURI DASA
Now we have another major crisis with HH Jayapataka Swami in hospital in Mumbai with a severe stroke caused by brain aneurysm. His condition is very critical, and the doctors have admitted that there is not much they can do, and the main thing now is our prayers for Maharaja’s well being.
At this moment I can’t describe my feelings. The apprehension of the loss of this very dear friend is not something I want to contemplate right now. And despite his current crisis, as Ravindra Svarupa prabhu just put to me, Maharaja has more prana than anyone he has ever met. He is a fighter and he has tremendous strength of constitution.
We have clearly entered the era where the disappearance of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples is going to be a regular affair. That’s the material world, always hankering and lamenting. Our consolation is Srila Prabhupada’s statement that we shall have another ISKCON in the spiritual world and that our spiritual relationships are all eternal.
I was just with Jayapataka Maharaja in Mumbai. We had our MVT meeting in Chowpatty on the 18th. He appeared to be very tired and didn’t look well, but like everyone else, I thought it was simply the symptom of the almost perpetual jeg-lag that Maharaja suffers due to his intense and continuous travels. I thought with a few days in one place he would catch up his rest and be back to his usual energetic self.
It only takes a second and everything changes.
I first saw him in 1975 but I didn’t get to know him until early 1976. Srila Prabhupada had arrived in Mayapur on January 17 and stayed for just over two months. Jayapataka Swami was his stalwart assistant in developing the Mayapur project. I remember one particular incident that nicely summed up their relationship:
[TD 1] January 18, 1976 – Sri Dhama Mayapur
With the festival only six weeks away, Jayapataka expressed doubts how it [the Long building] could be completed in time. Prabhupada told him if they engage at least one hundred men it could be done. Then Bhavananda Maharaja raised the objection that there was no money. Prabhupada told him that if that was the only problem, he would give him the money. But he said they must start immediately. Jayapataka, however, was still apprehensive. He said there was a shortage of bricks. Nevertheless Prabhupada pushed him to begin construction. He told them that they should do whatever they can, but the work must begin immediately.
Leaving the pukkur we hesitated to go down the steep incline of the embankment. Jayapataka, however, had no problem running down, even in his wooden shoes. Srila Prabhupada laughed. “Victorious flag — Jaya-pataka,” he called out, appreciating his disciple’s dexterity.
Since those days Jayapataka Maharaja has been carrying the flag of victory all over the world on behalf of Srila Prabhupada, spreading the glories of Sri Mayapur Dhama far and wide and increasing the family of ISKCON devotees for the pleasure of his spiritual master. Now that seems to be at the end of an era.
We can simply pray that Srila Prabhupada’s victorious flag is not lowered to half mast any time soon.