The Beautiful Life
of Jayananda Thakur
Online hypertext version
[click on key words for added purports from Srila Prabhupada's books and lectures, and footnotes and links]
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a Heart of Gold
a Heart of Gold
who is equal to friends and enemies, who is
in honor and dishonor, heat and cold,
and distress, fame and infamy,
is always free from contamination,
silent and satisfied with anything,
doesn't care for any residence,
is fixed in knowledge and
in devotional service, is very dear to Me.
Neil Young once sang a song, “Keep me searching for a heart of gold, keep me searching and I'm growing old...” Some of you are probably cursing me for reminding you of this song, which is probably going through your head. But it's a good example of the real desire of the soul, as Neil was searching for that heart of gold, and his fans were saying, “Yeah, Neil, I'm searching, too – oh where, oh where is that heart of gold, man, I'm so sick of being cheated!” And somehow we all know there's a heart of gold somewhere out there, and somehow God exists, and somehow we should all get out of this mess someday.
dearmost servitor of Srimati Radharani
But Neil Young and his fans might not recognize a heart of gold if one stood right in front of them. That is the power of the illusory energy. They think a golden heart is a buddy who is a true friend who will be there for them in their sense gratification. Some think it is a woman, or a man, who will fulfill my desires. But yet the golden heart will not always give you what you think you want, but rather what you really need – the real need of the soul, or bhakti. He is not the phony smile, or New Age seminar person who loves you for a fee, but the real heart of gold is the pure devotee of God who gives us the real thing – love of Krishna. Gold to the average man is that yellow stool, and the place where there's lots of yellow stool is the abode of Kali, where irreligion also resides. The meaning of gold to the devotee instead is the effulgent complexion of Lord Gauranga, assuming the luster of Srimati Radharani, who is “resplendent with the radiance of molten gold.” Srila Prabhupada also had a golden luster all about his person, a golden complexion, which was just a reflection of the golden effulgence from within his heart, as he is the dearmost servitor of Lord Chaitanya and Srimati Radharani.
Sick of being cheated
Everybody is searching for a heart of gold. Where is it, oh where is that golden heart? Not everyone knows. But everybody wants that heart of gold. Some think it is a good friend who sticks with you through thick and thin. Or it is somebody who sees us as a person, and not just a body to exploit. Some think it is a heart full of love instead of lust. Mostly it is a heart that will not cheat us, as most of us are just tired of being cheated. Where, oh where is that person who does not cheat us? We're all getting cheated, real bad, and everybody knows it, down deep inside, we all know it. Every jiva soul is hankering for that golden heart. The heart with the real love, the real thing.
Two rare hearts of gold
My religion is not japa or scripture or penance or austerity. My religion is daily thanking Jayananda Prabhu for showing me to the greatest heart of gold – His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada – and also for allowing me into the association with his own heart of gold, too. Jayananda had a heart of gold, which was Prabhupada's gift to him. And he let the gold from Prabhupada shine into his heart, which then became full, and he let it shine on out to others. I somehow saw that golden effulgence, enough to melt my dirty heart somewhat, but not enough. Actually, I am the greatest sinner of all, because I chanced upon not just one very rare heart of gold, but two very rare hearts of gold. And Jayananda's golden heart not only shined on me profusely, but he also took me in as a friend. And I was such a sinner to get such gifts of two great golden hearts and still kept a tightly-bound steel-framed heart, with chains and padlocks and a cement overcoat. I am such an ungrateful wretch because I got two hearts of gold freely given, and yet I neglected to open my own and let it all in and thereby let it shine a little to others.
There for the little guy
Jayananda was there for the other guy, all the time. He was there for the little guy, for there were no little guys to Jayananda. They were all spirit souls lost in the world of maya, and he had a heart big enough for them all. I am the best example of that. So insignificant, but Jayananda was so golden to me, for his golden heart shined on one and all with no discrimination. Jayananda's heart was always overflowing, every minute of the day, and he always spilled out the golden mercy to others. There is a nice verse from Sri Hari-Bhakti-Kalpa-Latika, which goes like this:
“Krishna enters the listening ear and goes to the heart. Flooding the lake of the heart, He leaves through the mouth as a swiftly coursing stream of His transcendental qualities, names, and forms.”
In the same way, the effulgence of the golden luster shining from Srila Prabhupada's heart entered into Jayananda's eyes and ears and flooded his heart, until it also became golden, and then that same effulgence came flowing out through his eyes and mouth, out into the darkness of others' hearts, thus filling them with golden light and hope and love.
Young, old, made no difference
Jayananda was there for so many people. Young, old, made no difference. He was there for the seven-year-old boy that Jivadhara spoke about, how Jayananda told him of Krishna and they chanted and danced, and then Jayananda gave initiation to the boy and gave him the name of Parameshvara. The boy was ecstatic and painted one of Lord Jagannatha's wheels. There were also the cops Jivadhara Prabhu spoke about, how they respected Jayananda so much. They would come to the Ratha site and talk to him, and they took a day off to come to the parade, brought their families and cameras. Then there were the tool business people who always gave rental tools to Jayananda free of charge. This was happening all the time, every day, so many ordinary people were charmed by Jayananda's big and golden heart, and their lives were changed.
One of Jayananda's servants in the final months was Indranatha Prabhu, who always praised his golden heart so nicely, saying how Jayananda always made everybody feel good and happy in Krishna Consciousness, always there with nice prasad and Krishna-katha and good vibes. Jayananda was always saying how “Krishna Consciousness is so sweet,” and always saying how “Whatever you do, just get a taste for the Holy Name, and that will save you.”
Tiny speck of a life
And now, 20 years later, I got a wakeup call – it felt like heart attacks for a week, seemed like a brush with death. And that really let me know for sure how much I really did get that heart of gold, two hearts in fact, and how precious it was, how it was the only good thing in my miserable life. And how I could die anytime, and nobody really cares for this tiny speck of a life, which is just like an insect's life. I will die someday and a sound will be heard in the far distance, “Oh so-and-so died” ... “Oh yeah, that's too bad.” That's about how far it'll go. Our lives are so insignificant compared to the multitudes of devotees of Lord Krishna, and we should see our speck life as so insignificant, all the plans and desires within the subtle mind are so insignificant, and the best deed we can do is to be completely receptive to the heart of gold of Srila Prabhupada, and try to reflect it onto others.
Ungrateful wretch that I am, someone could drag me into the street and horsewhip me and get no sin, only pious credit for such a deed. That is because I received two hearts of gold, but my heart still remains steel-framed. This is inexcusable, as one goes out into town and look at the people – they are not people, but walking lumps of misery. They are looking and looking for the gold, but only getting fool's gold, only getting a flash in the pan, only a tiny glitter of maya, never the real thing. Look at all the suffering out there in the world! We devotees have two priceless hearts of gold in Srila Prabhupada and Jayananda's example. We must pray to Lord Krishna to please open our hearts and absorb the effulgence from these golden hearts, so that we can shine some of that effulgence out to others. And then, some who are sincerely looking may then find the genuine 24-karat article – in Srila Prabhupada's books, and in his life, and in his followers. All glories to the devotees of Srila Prabhupada, especially Jayananda Prabhu! His golden heart is to be praised and sung about for as long as life still remains within my worthless mortal coil.
Jaya Jaya Sri Vaishnava Jayananda Thakur.
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– lower-than-straw devotees
Srila Prabhupada loved Jayananda with all of his heart because of his selfless devotion and great Vaishnava qualities. Jayananda Prabhu is called the first ISKCON Saint. I was in Srila Prabhupada's room when he heard that Jayananda Prabhu had left his body. Srila Prabhupada showed his great affection for Jayananda Prabhu and glorified him with tears in his eyes. He prayed to Krishna for him and told us that he went back to Godhead. I think he left the planet just in time to meet Srila Prabhupada in Krishna-loka a short time later. – from Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
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Jayananda used to stand casually with the other devotees in the entrance hall to the temple, between various functions or before breakfast prasadam. Oftentimes the conversations took on current events within the society's walls, and sometimes this could sink to gossip or tremendous undue worry over different leaders or matters. I tended to watch Jayananda from some distance, often peripherally, so as not to interfere with his natural demeanor. When topics sometimes took a turn for the worst, that is, away from the delight of Krishna nectar to the refuse piles, he would gradually recede within himself. First, as he always had his hand in his bead bag, he would gently shake his beads and softly begin to chant. Within a few mantras his eyes would be closing and his consciousness withdrawing from the group of chatterers he stood amongst. His hand with his bead bag would draw slowly to his heart. Then transfixed, he would pull those of us who could manage to let go of the stranglehold we had on the conversation to the sweet taste of the Holy Names ... I remember whole rooms full of devotees gradually affected by a radiating wave of soft chanting, until unified, we would sanctify the whole universal atmosphere while Krishna danced on our tongues. – Dhanistha Dasi
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Karandhara recalls another incidence of Jayananda's humility. “One day, before Ratha-yatra, I spent the whole day running around with Jayananda. By the time we got back to the temple it was midnight. The whole building was so crowded that we couldn't find any space to lie down. Finally we found room in one little storage closet. I was so tired that all I could do was throw my sleeping bag on the floor and lie down. Then I saw Jayananda walking out of the room. I asked him, `Where are you going?' He said he'd be right back, but I kept pressing him, and finally he explained that he had some rounds of japa chanting to finish up. He didn't want to keep me awake by chanting in our room, nor did he want me to feel bad because he was going out to do something else. He just wanted to slip away to some corner and fulfill his vow. I remember saying, `Sometimes it's not possible to finish all one's rounds because there is so much work to do.' `That's okay, I'm not too tired,' Jayananda replied. I was amazed not only by his consideration for me but by his full submission to Srila Prabhupada.” – from Remembering Jayananda by Kalakantha Dasa
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