BY ABHIJIT TOLEY
PHOTOS BY TUSTI MOHAN KRSNA DAS
PUNE,INDIA – Applause. The kind that bursts out from the hearts of the audience after a moment of stunned silence. The kind that seems to last forever. The kind that no one wants to ever end. The kind that follows a moment that everyone wants to etch into their memories for all time to come. The kind that typically follows an awesome performance that touches the hearts of the audience very deeply. Today, I was part of one such applause.
I am writing this while watching His Holiness Jayapataka Swami who is sitting in a wheelchair about twenty-five feet from me. It’s the 22nd annual Pune Yatra, in the bungalow of HG Krishna Chandra Prabhu in Pune, India. It’s as if the celestial giants have descended upon earth. What else would you say if you are amidst HH Radhanath Swami, HH Bhakticharu Swami, HH Jayapataka Swami, HH Chandramouli Swami, and HH Bhakti Vishwambhar Madhava Swami? A couple of days ago, on the first evening of this four-day Yatra, HH Radhanath Swami Maharaja indicated at the possibility that perhaps HH Bhakticharu Maharaja might join us all. This news was received very enthusiastically. But when he also told us that perhaps HH Jayapataka Swami Maharaja might also join us, the cheers were uproarious.
And why not? HH Jayapataka Maharaj is a darling of all the Vaishnavas. Srila Prabhupada declared that he is an eternal associate of Lord Chaitanya. Prabhupada gave him Sanyaas when he was just 21. He took up, and continues to execute, major responsibilities in Srila Prabhupada’s mission, including the Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir and many others. He is pretty much the spiritual master of the whole Navadwip Dham! One can’t think of Sri Mayapur Dham without thinking of Srila Jayapataka Swami Maharaja. His glories are unlimited. Not for nothing did Srila Prabhupada give him the name Jayapataka – the victory flag – signifying the victory of Lord Chaitanya’s Sankirtan Movement. Param Vijayate Sri Krishna Sankirtanam.
But recently, by the inconceivable will of the Lord, this glorious and extraordinarily brave soldier of Lord Chaitanya was put into a precarious situation. In the Sri Sri Radha Rasabihari Temple of ISKCON Juhu, Maharaja had a severe stroke of brain hemorrhage. Doctors said he had no chance. And even if he did survive, he would be no better than a vegetable. Devotees all over the world were shocked! The whole Vaishnava community of ISKCON united in their prayers to the Lord to let Maharaja stay longer on this earth and shower upon everyone his matchless association and mercy. Kirtans roared all over the world. HH Radhanath Swami Maharaja dedicated the Karthik Vrindavan Yatra to HH Jayapataka Swami Maharaja, where all devotees prayed fervently to the Lord for Jayapataka Swami Maharaja’s recovery. Thus there was hope, but the situation was still critical, and tense.
Over the next few weeks, I kept myself updated about Maharaja’s health by visiting www. jpsoffice. com. His condition has been steadily improving. According to the doctors, that’s a miracle. But for Krishna nothing is impossible. And how could it be, because He is the cause of all causes. Just before the Pune Yatra, only once, this thought had struck my mind: How nice will it be to have HH Jayapataka Maharaja with us in the Yatra? Surely, due to these recent events, devotees all over the world remembered the glories of Maharaja and thus got purified.
Maharaja is still recuperating, but things look in control now. He traveled for around four hours in an ambulance from Bombay to Pune just to give us his divine association. This is an example of his unlimited mercy. He addressed us briefly yesterday evening. He told us how grateful he was for all the devotees for praying for him. We were all touched. And then again, today while HH Radhanath Maharaja was showering us with the lotus words from his lotus mouth during the Srimad Bhagavatam class, entered the scene HH Jayapataka Swami Maharaja. As was planned, HH Radhanatha Swami Maharaja stopped his class and handed over the Vyasasana to HH Jayapataka Maharaja.
Maharaja’s speech is not completely back yet. So he had a devotee repeat his words, although one could understand quite a bit of what he spoke directly. Just his presence was electrifying. He spoke about his last year’s Bangladesh trip, his various helicopter rides, and also he spoke very fondly about his recent stay at the Bhakti Vedanta Hospital in Bombay. His every word was nectar for all the devotees. He informed us that every month around twenty-five patients become devotees in the Bhakti Vedanta Hospital. And then, out of his natural humility, he said that now that he had also been a patient in that hospital, he might also become a devotee.
More than once, my eyes were moistened by his words. He spoke for about an hour. The devotee who had made tens of thousands of devotees was all the while exhibiting his natural humility. Who can fathom the glories and sweetness of a true Vaishnava?
But what was it that was touching everyone’s heart? I had not been able to put it in words. That thought was there somewhere in my sub-consciousness, but I had not yet expressed it in words. HH Radhanath Maharaja had hinted at it more than once. This was a historic event, he said. But exactly what was historic? After enthralling the devotees by his humility, love, and humor, even in his far-from-perfect medical condition, he ended with: “It’s good to be back in the preaching field.”
That was it! That was the historic event. This great general of Lord Chaitanya’s army was back. Back from the dead. There was no chance for him, but here he was. Inspiring devotees, distributing Krishna Prem. Once again! “It’s good to be back in the preaching field”, he said.
Stunned silence. Applause!
Notes of Pune Yatra lectures
BY HH JAYAPATAKA SWAMI MAHARAJ
Day 3 – January 25, 2009 (Morning) My obeisances to HH Radhanath Swami, HH Chandramauli Maharaj. Srinathji Prabhu’s father had helped me to get citizenship when I was rejected by the communists of West Bengal to get citizenship of India. HH Radhanath Maharaj and HH Gopal Krishna Maharaj kept praying for me so that I can recover. I am especially indebted to HH Radhanath Maharaj who kept doctors 24 hours keeping a watch over me in Hunduja hospital.
After I was released in Hinduja hospital, I went to Bhaktivedanta hospital where I was doing different kinds of therapy. In Hinduja, I used to see sisters a lot. In Bhaktivedanta hospital, I see more doctors than the sisters. They are taking nice care of me. They are telling me all kinds of stories about the hospital there. There was one Bengali lady and she had become completely atheistic. Her father came to the hospital with cancer of the lungs. So the spiritual care ladies asked her if she would like to read Bhagavad Gita for her father. She was not interested, but they encouraged a lot and then she was inspired. They got a Bhagavad Gita for her in Bengali and she was reading it for her father. And she got a change of heart. She thought that the spiritual people were just greedy and were doing for them, but she saw they are selfless and she got inspired to practice. Eventually her father left her body. She wanted the Hare Krishna people to perform the final rights. And she sponsored one of the Monday programs in the hospital. In this way they are making so many devotees at the hospital. May be I will become a devotee. They are really touching the heart of many devotees. May be some of the stories, it is not good to tell because some of the people may be here as devotees now. They may feel embarrassed.
Last year we went on the safari to Bangladesh. We started off by going to Kethuri gram. This is the place of Narottam das Thakur. I am inspired by how Radhanath Swami went to Bangladesh too. Although in my zone, I don’t get to visit all the holy places, but yet I go to half the places. I hadn’t been to Kheturi. I had gone to Sunam gunj, the birth place of Advaita Prabhu. I went there in helicopter. And the helicopter driver got lost. So he had to landtwo times to ask people for directions. And where he landed, there was a festival going on. We got to the place where Advaita was born, we installed the deity. Like this so many places are remote, I hadn’t visited them.
Narottam’s birth place is on the side of Padma river. There was a tree called prema tali where the love of Godhead was left. I went to the tree to see if there is any leftover love of God. But I think Radhanath Swami took it all. I am trying to get some remnant. We went to the Padma river to seek out a few drops there. In the Ganges Bhagirathi, one gets all kinds of pious activities. But in the Padma river, you get love of Godhead if you are a Vaisnava, but if you are a Vaisnava aparadhi, then you get suffering. We had a dip there. Since then I got this … may be I am a Vaisnava aparadhi. I will try to avoid apradh to Vaisnavas. We heard some nice pastimes that at Kethuri gram, Narrottam das was the crown prince and he wanted to be a Vaisnava. So, he abnegated his throne. They requested him to stay there. So he stayed and made a temple. He was staying with Ramachandra Kaviraj.
One day they saw two educated young men. They were herding buffaloes and goats with the help of some employees. They thought that these boys must be doing some Durga puja, that’s why they got these animals. So, Narottam said it will be nice if we preach them. If they become Vaisnavas, it will be good. Kaviraj said they are not going to listen to us, they are puffed up brahmanas and they are not going to listen to two Vaisnavas. They came up with a plan that they would have a mock argument following behind the two, and this way one would take the role of a Smarta brahman and the other as a
Vaisnava. And they are arguing behind each other. “What are you doing with these animals?”, “I am going to offer them to Kali, to Durga”. “But don’t you know that Durga takes only vegetarian food? She eats only what her husband eats and Siva is a vegetarian.” “No, but we eat all that food”. “The ghosts and the hobgoblins around, they take it. I think you are not taking the real prasadam.” Like this they argued back and forth. “Jai Kali Jai Krishna. It’s all the same”. “No, no, daivihyesha gunamayi. She is the energy of Krishna, she is not Krishna”. Like this two of those boys heard every word they said. They thought what are we doing with these animals? Why are we offering them? Then they went and asked, “Who are you two?” He is Narottam das Thakur. He is Ramachandra Kaviraj. They bowed down and they said, “We want to learn Vaisnava tatva from you”.
So many young people from different parts of the world come here. Narottam das Thakur was also preaching to the young people as Radhanath Maharaj is doing here. We have got many BACEs in India, which are following in the footsteps of preaching many young people. So like this two of them joined Radhanath maharaj’s bhakta program… I mean Narottam das program [Laugh]. They learnt Vaisnava tattva and went to Ramakeli. They wore Vaisnava tilak.
They went back to their father, the great mayavadi, Sivananda. When the father saw them he said, “Kuladam” worst of the kulas. He wanted them to wipe off their tilaks and put horizontal tilak. So they started to preach to their father. “Ohh, what are you doing, you are preaching to me. This is an insult. My son is preaching to me. I am the father.” He said, he would not preach to their children, he brought the local pandits. They got preached by the children, they got convinced, and they started following Vaisnava dharma. (Haribol) So the father started getting angry, what are these foolish pandits doing. What are they doing? I got a friend Digvijaya, Mithiladhisha, he is the greatest pandit, and he conquered all the four regions. So he asked the Digvijaya to come down. Then he came and said, “It is below my dignity to talk to this young people. I am a Digvijay”. What do you young people think about this? “Get me some elderly person, at least that will be according to my dignity.” They had a local Vaisnava. Her name is Bhagavadacharya. They brought him and they gave him the slokas they learnt from Narottam das Thakur. Digvijay said, “You speak first. I’ll give you a chance”. Vaisnava is more humble. Vaisnava has more qualities than a brahmana. A brahmana has 12 qualities, Vaisnava has 13 qualities – 12 plus Bhakti. I have difficulty in pronouncing B. P, M and F. (sounds)………
May be that’s where the helicopter I went. The Digvijaya did not have any answer.
Where is this sloka? Where is this sloka? Give me. Its given in the puranas, Upanishads, “Oh my god, I never studied this. I only studied the Smarta sastra. I am defeater. Oh NO!!! I should become a Vaisnava. But I am not humble enough to become a Vaisnava. I can no longer remain a Digvijaya. I am defeated. I will take the middle path. I will become a beggar.” There is no such middle path. You should surrender and become a Vaisnava. So, he went around as a beggar, a mendicant and an ex-Digvijaya. The Vaisnavas are not eager to go around and defeat them. They want to convince them. They want to go around and convince people. They don’t want a flag like Digvijaya.
When Sivanand Bhattacharya saw that Digvijaya got defeated by these boys, he went bananas. And the children went back to the ashram of Narottam das Thakur. They wanted to take initiation. They were two of them. They didn’t know whom to take initiation from. They respected both. So they decided “You take from one, I will take from the other. You accept mine as siksha guru and I will accept yours as siksha guru”. So they took initiation and no one could tell who is the disciple of whom, because they were serving both faithfully. So, we see how siksha guru is an important role in Vaisnava
dharma. I hope my disciples take Radhanath Swami as their siksha guru. He gives nice instructions. He sets a good example.
Narottam wanted to have a Gaur purnima festival. He invited Srinivasacharya to come. And he asked him to invite all the Vaisnavas to come to Gaur purnima festival. Srinivasacharya, in the mood of service, he said yes, I must do. Then the whole night he couldn’t sleep. How am I going to get everyone to come, everyone is feeling separation from Lord Caitanya
Mahaprabhu. Then he dozed down around one or two o’ clock. Lord Caitanya appeared in a dream and told him that, “I want you to do this. You go and get Jahnava devi to come. And he named some more people and told him to invite every one and they will invite everyone else.” And he woke up and he realized that this is meant to be. He went to the house of Nityananda where there was Jahnava devi. It is near to Panihati dham (6 kms). He went there and normally these associates don’t go anywhere. There is too much separation. But she agreed to come. Because she agreed to come, all the Vaisnavas came along the way. Advaita’s son Achutananda, and they got like this. Sri Kshetra, and from different holy places they got the Vaisnavas tocome. Whole Kethuri gram, they were so overwhelmed with happiness that the Vaisnavas are going to come, they decorated the city with sugarcane, waterpots and all auspicious items – banana leaves, banana trees. Like this, Narottam das Thakur had a full house of all Vaisnavas. He was singing bhajans. He was singing a song of separation from Lord Caitanya. Every one was dancing in ghee. They were dancing in slow motion. [Maharaj starts singing]
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare…
I cannot sing in the same mood of separation that Narottam sang. May be there are some people here who can. I got in my hospital room at the evening Prasad, where different groups of devotees come and sing. And some of them are very beautiful. They are singing. Most of them are beautiful. And the kirtan became slowed down, slowed down, it became very intense,finally Lord Caitanya appeared. He appeared with the associates of Vrajadham, Navadwip Dham and Jagannath Puri. All of the associates united again will all of the devotees. And the kirtan went on through a day of Brahma. And the devotees didn’t feel the time passing. This was a very rare occasion. I always wish that the Gaur Purnima festival in Mayapur has such a manifestation. This is the causeless mercy of the Lord that He appeared only a couple of occasions like this after His departure. This is called Aprakata lila – pastime after being invisible. But sometimes He appeared. Once He appeared in Swarup ganj. [The name of the place slipped off my mind] In Srikhand, Narahari Sarkar appeared there after his one year anniversary of his disappearance. I was thinking it would be nice if Prabhupad appeared, like Narahari Takur. But these are all Alaukik inconceivable lilas. Next tothe Am Ghata, where Lord Chaitanya planted the mango tree is this place.
(Not that place, next to it). He goes from Hari hara Kshetra to Aam Ghata….testing to see if you know your dham. (some one replies…Suvarna Vihar) Suvarna Vihar…Yes that’s the place Haribol!!! At Suvarna Vihar, the king of Suvarna Vihar saw Lord Caitanya there and there Lord Nityanada was showing Srivas and Sri Jiva Goswami and Lord Caitanya appeared along with some other associates. These are the only two places I know of. (If you know of something else please tell me) But two is enough. We need a third; Lord Caitanya appears to all of our devotees. So during our yatra in Mayapur we hope Lord Caitanya appears. So this Kirtan went on in Keturi, the first Gaura purnima festival, every one was so much ecstatic, and all of a sudden Lord Caitanya and his associated left, and every one was so much in separation they were rolling in the ground and crying at the separation after again being united with lord Chaitanya. And they looked at Jahnava devi who said continue the kirtan, continue the kirtan. And the kirtan this is our life, it is the association of Lord Caitanya and then Srinivas acarya took permission and he installed the 6 deities and performed aarti for them. Now those deities are in Vrindavana at different places. Deities started to emit their fragrance, so the devotees as they were doing kirtan, they could smell Lord Krishna’s divine scent. And then they again felt deep ecstasy. How many of you would like to be at the first Gaur purnima festival? (Loud HARIBOL from the devotees). HARIBOL!!!
Unfortunately I am not able to get that blessing but may be the first Gaur purnima festival in the next universe. Lord Caitanya is going from universe to universe following Krishna’s pastimes. And we get opportunity to be part of Lord Caitanya’s sankirtan movement. Its only 500 years. Not much time has passed. Specially we need the young people to take this up because they have more years to spread the movement of Lord Caitanya. That the people get the mercy of Lord Caitanya.
In the Bhakti Vedanta hospital, so many people are taking up Krishna Consciousness. I heard about 25-30 a month are taking up. Even there are many non-Hindu patients. They also ask the devotees to do the final rights like sprinkling the Ganges water and things like that. That’s what our doctor does. They say that we are just following the doctor. See… they want to follow the systems. There is one case where … I don’t know if I should tell it… (Haribol from the audience) Are you sure? (Again Haribol)
Not very convinced. (A loud HARIBOL) Now you are very convincing. To make it shorter, the husband took a test and found that he had AIDS. I don’t want to go in to the details of that. But the wife was under the counselling system, she was told, serve your husband, of course, avoid relations. So, he was
amazed that his wife could have left him at that movement, but she was serving him, he became a changed person. He went to the spiritual programs.
He began chanting Japa. He went through another test. And his HIV was negative. (Loud HARIBOL from audience) Bhagavan Sri Krishna ki… Jai…!!!
This is how one more devotee was made in Bhakti Vedanta hospital. They told me that one of the nurses dozed off during her night shift. And Prabhupada appeared to her. He said, “you should read books in the library”. So she woke up and started reading the books and became a devotee. (Haribol)
Did you hear all these stories? I can’t remember all of them I actually have to write them down. It shows the magic of chanting and hearing the holy names. They are giving good medicine as good as they can. That’s a part of it. But they also give the spiritual care which no one else is giving. They told me that they are giving courses where other hospitals come and they learn about spiritual care. Because the human is spirit, mind and the body.
So, we should treat all the three. There is a hospital along the Pune highway. They have also started the spiritual care. There are so many people who meet accidents on the high way. They come all wrangled up. Doctors also need this spiritual care. Radhanath swami has started the spiritual care the doctors give the material care; together they are forming very nice spiritual-material care for the patients. Of course many of our doctors are also spiritually highly qualified and many of them are here for the yatra, a good break away from their duties there. So let’s give big HARIBOL to the doctors.
Anyway these are little pastimes from Bangaladesh. When I was coming back by helicopter I was caught in a storm. Every where we went there was a storm. So the driver said I can’t get anywhere, its all storm. So he stopped in a village. And thousands of people surrounded us and started knocking on the window…looking..hey there is a saadhu. The driver wastrying to scare them away, but he wasn’t so successful. They wanted to see the saadhus. And one lady came she was wearing tilak, and asked are you Jayapataka Swami, you are my Guru. I got two Gurus, my husband he is a non-veg so he has a fish guru. I have to respect him also. And you are my vegetarian guru. So she took us to her house and it is a joint family with three brothers and their wives. So we gave them all a talk on Krishna Consciousness. Then we drove to the next place and the helicopter was not ready to take off.
That’s my experience with the helicopter. So Bhakticaru Maharaj wanted to go by helicopter and I said “NO! NO!” So I hope you all had a very good yatra but you come to the Mayapur for yatra in the future. I thank you for praying for me in the previous yatra. I hope that I can finish healing soon.
HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE
HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE