A Day in the Life of Jayananda Thakur

A Day in the Life of Jayananda Thakur
Chapter One
By Sriman Vishoka Prabhu

As promised, we are posting some of the new book on Jayananda Thakur, entitled “A Day in the Life of Jayananda Thakur”, which has yet to be published, and is beautifully written by Vishoka Prabhu. He has kindly offered to let us post some of the new book before it arrives at the printers, and hopefully it will be nearing completion soon. The following is the first part of Chapter One. We will include the rest of the chapter in a later post, so stay tuned for more Jayananda Nectar.

Chapter One
4:00 am, summer of 1975, Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple, Valentia Street, San Francisco.

Jayananda’s dream-

Amidst a kaleidoscope of swirling colors and loud kirtan, Lord Jagannatha’s beautiful face smiles benevolently at His many devotees … as He sits upon His royal throne, situated within the majestic and colorful decor of His opulent carriage. Srila Prabhupada rides upon Lady Subhadra’s cart, while Jayananda dances jubilantly within the grand procession of enthusiastically chanting and dancing devotees.

A buzzing sound fills the air and time and motion seems to stand still, the parade vanishes, and Jayananda’s eyes gently open; he murmurs, “Hare Krishna! Nice dream.” He is a little tired. Well, that is to be expected, because he was up late again the night before, doing chores and finishing his rounds. He had to finish his rounds despite the late hour, because he had to fulfill his vow to Srila Prabhupada. The kitchen needed cleaning, and Jayananda wanted it ready for the breakfast offering to Lord Krishna in the morning.

“At night you will fall asleep immediately, and in the morning you will awaken thoroughly refreshed even with less hours’ sleep than you normally need.”
[From Jayananda’s notes on the front jacket of his Krishna Book.]

Jayananda thinks, “I’m ok, I’ll take a ‘snap’ later today, and so my body will be fine.” Jayananda thus turns over and does his 20 pushups, while thinking, “I gotta keep my body in shape so I can serve Lord Krishna.”

Cold shower loka-

After exercising, Jayananda gathers some clean clothes and a towel, toothbrush, etc, and proceeds down the steps into the spacious garage where the morning shower stall serves its daily function. Upon seeing some devotees standing around the stall, Jayananda immediately falls flat and offers his respectful obeisances to the devotees of Lord Krishna, and they reciprocate with offering their heartfelt obeisances to their dear godbrother, Jayananda Prabhu, murmuring, “vanca-kalpa-tarubhyas ca krpa-sindhubhya eva ca.”

I offer my obeisances to all the devotees of the Lord, who are just like desire trees, who are full of compassion for the fallen souls….

Jayananda then gets into line for the shower, and some devotees try to move him to the front but he humbly refuses and remains in line to take his turn. The shower stall looms before some bhaktas like a daily torture chamber of horrors. The water is like freezing icicles raining down from black samvartaka clouds.

The first devotee steps into the shower to demonstrate the exact reason for such trepidation, as he turns on the ice cold water and proceeds to shriek loud vocal protestations to the shocking effect it has upon his material body, and he calls out, “Krishna! … Govinda! … Gopala!” over and over again, while he scrubs away the dirt, thus cleansing himself both internally and externally.

This is Bhakta Tom’s first morning in the temple, and his first shower experience at 4 o’clock in the morning. The wee hour of the morning was bad enough, and the walk to the garage and shower stall via outside, on the ice-cold street sidewalk, that was bizarre … but this cold shower routine really takes the cake. He is not prepared for the spectacle unfolding before his eyes.

Tapan Misra picks up on his consternation and proffers him some reassurance, “Haribol, uh, Tom is your name? It’s kind of crazy looking the first time you see this, but it’s not as dire as you might think. Cold showers are great for your health, and once you get past those first few freezing seconds, it gives you a blast of energy, great for your spirit and body as well, whereas a hot shower makes you lethargic. ”

Bhakta Tom feels a little better after hearing Tapan’s pep talk, but still he wonders how he’s going to survive those first few freezing moments.

It’s all Krishna’s mercy-

Jayananda then takes his turn and yelps, “Krishna!” tersely, as the icy missiles pelt his skin … and he chants, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare” loudly to the delight of all the devotees. Stepping out of the shower with towel and gumpsa, Jayananda quips, “It’s all Krishna’s mercy; this cold shower is there to remind us that we’re not these bodies.”

“Jaya!” exclaim all the devotees in unison to Jayananda’s penultimate realization. However, Bhakta Ramon offers a weak “Jaya” in the angst of anticipation of his imminent turn. He fondly reflects on the hot showers of days gone by, and now here’s the stark reality of a freezing torture that soon awaits him. More yelling from the next devotee exacerbates his dread. “Oh well,” he thinks, “it’s the first lesson we have to learn, that we’re not these bodies.”
Gunga-narayana dasa discovers that a new bhakta is brushing his teeth − after he showered! Gunga steps up and gives pertinent instruction to the new bhakta, “What are you doing? Bhakta Joe? You might as well defecate after showering … don’t you know that brushing your teeth is just as dirty? Don’t be like an elephant who takes bath and then throws dirt all over his body. Do all that dirty stuff before you shower from now on. Ok?” Gunga had the unfortunate task of correcting the ill habits of new bhaktas.

The bhakta says, “Ok, thanks prabhu.”

Jayananda dresses in clean dhoti and kurta and applies fresh tilak, grabs his beadbag and then repairs to the temple with other devotees following in tow. The devotees are joyfully walking alongside their hero and exemplar, Jayananda, and everyone is chanting upon their beads with glee, as intermittent utterances of Krishna’s holy names of “Govinda! Kesava! Damodara! Madhava! and Giridhari!” fill the atmosphere with jubilant vibrations.

“The holy names of the Lord that describe His transcendental pastimes are defined as principle names. Chanting these names reveals Krishna’s pastimes, gives Krsna-prema, and eternal residence in Vrndavana. Primary or principle names include Govinda, Gopala, Rama, Sri Nandanandana, Radha-natha, Hari, Yasomati Pranadhana, Madana-Mohana, Syamasundara, Madhava, Gopinatha, and Vrajagopala.” – Harinama Cintamani

Thus the few moments of freezing water were rendered insignificant by such loving Bhaktas, and that little discomfort catapulted into the supreme joy of sublime service to Srila Prabhupada and the holy name of Lord Krishna, which leads to eternal happiness in Their association. And so those few seconds of austerity jump-started the devotees into another full day of jubilant and uninterrupted devotional service to Lord Sri Krishna, the supreme goal of life.


Gunga-narayana dasa is a very enthusiastic devotee. He once told me [years later after the 70s] that he was in company of some devotees who regularly read the esoteric “rasa” sastras. Gunga was found by them to be reading the Gita on a daily basis, and they found this amusing, like Gunga was such a “newbee” in devotional service; they were chiding him as if they were so much more advanced. Gunga admitted to them that surely he was so much less advanced than they were, and therefore he had to continually read the “abc’s” given to him by his spiritual master. His humble position made me realize that the Gita is the most advanced rasa sastra. Spiritual identity precedes all other realizations.
* * *
Letter from Jayananda to Bhakta Jim

Here is a transcription of an extremely nectarine hand-written letter from Jayananda to Bhakta Jim, expressing the glories of association of devotees and revealing to us Jayananda’s rare humility and love for Srila Prabhupada.

Nama om Visnu padaya krsna-presthaya bhutale Srimati Bhaktivedanta svamin iti namine Namas te sarasvate devam gaura vani pracarine Nirvisesa sunyavadi pascaty desa tarine

Dear Bhakta Jim,

Please accept my obeisances, all glories to His Divine Grace by whose causeless mercy we’ve been afforded the association of devotees. I’m hoping that someday I’ll develop a little appreciation for Srila Prabhupada’s causeless mercy upon me.

The most glorious association in the material world is like stool compared to the nectarine association of devotees. The association of devotees can free us from all miserable conditions because Krishna is in the center of their association and only Sri Krishna is infallible and unconquerable and the supreme pleasure eternal. So association of devotees is our life and soul.

So it was very kind of you to come here. Also Murli-krsna mentioned that you brought that Maha. When I saw that prasadam in that foil, my heart jumped about 10 beats. You know how lusty I’ve always been for prasadam. Practically I honored all of it, I distributed a little, but I was overwhelmed with greed when I saw those milk sweets and Ksir, etc. I haven’t been taking those things for a long time, so somehow Krishna made a timely arrangement. Please offer my obeisances, to Citsukananda and all devotees there. Please accept my prayers for you continued advancement in Krsna consciousness and our eternal relationship with our beloved Spiritual Father, guide, and preceptor Srila Prabhupada!

Your servant, Jayananda das

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