The Disappearance of Jayananda Thakur

Ratha Yatra Festival in Jagannath Puri

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Yesterday, July 10th, marked the start of the annual Ratha Yatra Festival of Lord Jagannatha in Jagannath Puri. Millions of pilgrims visit Jagannath Puri to participate in the Ratha Yatra car festival of Lord Jagannatha. Lord Jagannatha, along with His brother Baladeva and sister Subhadra, travel in gigantic chariots and go to the Gundicha Temple. The previous day of Ratha Yatra (i.e. July 09, 2013) devotees assemble in Gundicha Temple and clean the temple. This event is called as Gundicha Marjana. Lord Jagannath stays in Gundicha temple for a week and then comes back to His own temple. This return journey is called Bahuda Ratha Yatra (July 18, 2013).

In the Brahmanda Purana it is said, “A person who sees the Lord’s Ratha-yatra car festival and then stands up to receive the Lord can purge all kinds of sinful results from his body.” In the Bhavisya Purana, it is said, “Even if born of a lowly family, a person who follows the Ratha-yatra car when the Deities pass in front or from behind will surely be elevated to the position of achieving equal opulence with Visnu.”

In 1967, Srila Prabhupada inaugurated the Ratha Yatra Festival, the Festival of the Chariots, in western countries and thanks to him, today people all over the world observe this festival.

Ratha Yatra in the West More

Jayananda

Jayananda Prabhu: Staunchness Personified
By Sriman Padmapani Prabhu

The first time I saw Jayananda Prabhu was in 1974 in San Francisco. A number of devotees had driven down from Vancouver to participate in the Rathayatra Festival there. As soon as we arrived, the brahmacaris were sent over to help out at the cart site. There were many devotees there lifting wooden beams, hammering nails and working like mad to meet the deadline. Then along came a tall serious looking devotee who struck me as a genuine no-nonsense leader. It was Jayananda Prabhu. He immediately took charge and began engaging everyone in Lord Jagannatha’s service. Along with Visnujana Swami, I had never seen anyone with such a powerful devotional aura about him. There was no mistaking his total dedication to his service. In fact, I recall thinking to myself at the time, “This devotee is staunchness personified.” To this day, I always remember him in that light.

Every day we had to help work on the carts and around the grounds to help get things ready in time for Rathayatra. I heard that there were about 500 brahmacaris there from all over the U.S. and Canada. It seemed like total mayhem to me, but Jayananda always

looked like he knew what he was doing, so I assumed that everything was in complete control.

Jayananda Prabhu was all over the site and beyond during those Rathayatra Festivals, attending to every little detail and making sure that everyone was engaged and well fed so that we could try and keep up to his pace. But it was obvious to everyone that he was specially empowered to perform this service like no one else. Yet he made no big fanfare about it nor showed even a trace of false ego. He was just totally sincere and worked harder and longer than anyone else.

While working alongside him, I think that the best word which comes to mind in describing his attitude is “determined.” His mind was totally fixed on devotional service. His consciousness was unlike that of an ordinary conditioned soul, prone to wandering here and there. He was blessed with pinpoint concentration, which he fully engaged in the service of his beloved Srila Prabhupada and Lord Jagannatha. What a blessing just to be in his presence and watch him serve with such unparalleled devotional zeal.

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