Giriraj Swami

A Hospice Miracle: Krishna’s Mercy—Serving Jayananda Prabhu’s Mother

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May 012022
 

Jayananda Prabhu left his body on May 1, 1977. The following account is derived from a letter by Kalindi Dasi to her spiritual master, Candramauli Swami.

In mid-July I started wearing tilak to my work at the hospice. I thought that since many other spiritual practitioners were expressing their faith by wearing crosses, doves, silk threads, pentacles, and other items, I would wear my tilak, which tells the world that I am a devotee of the Lord. And I have found that simply keeping tilak at work has opened the door for spiritual questions and conversations.

On the morning of Monday, August 6, 2007, after our daily report and medical-staff checks, we began doing our usual tasks of caring for the patients. As ours is only a ten-bed facility, we are able to give loving care to each patient individually. Often, while I care for or bathe patients who are unable to do such tasks for themselves, I chant or sing the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. On this particular morning I was caring for a woman named Jane Kohr, who had been with us for almost a week. She was a kind and polite person, and I enjoyed the time I was spending with her. Around 8 a.m. on August 6, I entered her room and found that she was getting closer to leaving her body. She was unresponsive to verbal cues, and her body was limp. I sang the maha-mantra one last time, while she received her final bath. Hospice staff called her family, who were always friendly and appreciative of our care for her. When I was finished, I spoke with some of the family members in the hall. Jane’s grandson approached me to thank me, and then he pointed to his forehead and to my tilak and asked if I was a Hare Krishna. I smiled and said that yes, I was a devotee of Krishna. “Well,” he said, “then maybe you know of my uncle Jayananda.”

The Jayananda?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said. And he told me how his uncle had built the Ratha-yatra carts. He then went in to inform his mother that I was a Hare Krishna.

Gaynelle, Jayananda Prabhu’s sister, came out of the room and said that she was so happy that a Krishna devotee had cared for her mother. The whole family expressed that it meant so much to them. Gaynelle kept saying that she couldn’t believe that I was a Hare Krishna. She said that she told her mother but wasn’t sure that her mom could hear her. I said that I had a feeling she already knew, and I laughed.

Jane, a granddaughter, mentioned that she remembered her uncle making really great Indian food and offering it to God and then the family sitting on the floor and eating it. She remembered his robes and how happy he was. Jane said that he had been pretty depressed before meeting devotees.

I let Jayananda Prabhu’s family know that during the Ratha-yatra festival we hang a nice photo of him next to Srila Prabhupada’s photo. They told me that an old friend of Jayananda’s (who is not a devotee) happened to be in Africa several years ago and saw his first Ratha-yatra festival there, and to his astonishment there was a huge photo of Jayananda Prabhu on the front of the cart. He had called Gaynelle to share the news.

They told me that Jayananda was always very kind, even as a child, and never spoke badly of others. From the many stories they told me, his saintly qualities shined through even in his childhood. Gaynelle told me that her brother once spent hours on a family vacation at the beach picking ticks and fleas off a homeless dog. He couldn’t stand to watch it suffering. Jayananda’s nephew told me about running around the kitchen table as a small child with his uncle, who was laughing and chanting Hare Krishna.

When I went back into Jane’s room, the family was gathered around her bed holding her hand. Her breaths were faint, and she was about to leave her body. I stepped out to give the family some space, and about five minutes later they came to the front desk and asked for me to look at her. When I opened the door, I saw that her body had turned yellow and waxy. It was apparent that the soul had left and that the physical body was all that remained. The nurse reported that she had passed, and the family, though sad, also felt relief.

Gaynelle told me that she had asked her brother for support. Since he couldn’t physically be at their mother’s passing, she had been looking for a sign that he was supporting her. She felt that a devotee’s being present and caring for her mother was not a mere coincidence. It was, I believe, Krishna’s endless mercy!

I thanked the relatives for allowing me to serve their family, offered my pranamas, and said, “Hare Krishna.”

Sri Gadadhara Pandita’s Appearance Day

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Apr 292022
 

Today is the most auspicious occasion of Sri Gadadhara Pandita’s appearance day. As many of you know, Lord Chaitanya is Krishna Himself in the role of His own devotee. He is Krishna, but with the complexion and in the mood of Srimati Radharani. There are different purposes for the Lord’s advent. The internal reason for Lord Chaitanya’s appearance is that He wanted to experience the glory of Srimati Radharani’s love for Him, Her relishing of the wonderful qualities in Him that She alone experiences through Her love, and the happiness She feels when She experiences the sweetness of His love for Her—which only She can experience. And the external reason (not that it is any less significant) was to propagate the yuga-dharma, the recommended method for God realization in each particular age (yuga).

To assist the Lord in His pastimes, four principal associates descended with Him—Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Prabhu, Srivasa Thakura, and Gadadhara Pandita. Together with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, they constitute the Pancha-tattva. In Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi 1.14) the author offers his respects to all five together:

panca-tattvatmakam krsnam
   bhakta-rupa-svarupakam
bhaktavataram bhaktakhyam
   namami bhakta-saktikam

“I offer my obeisances unto the Supreme Lord, Krsna, who is nondifferent from His features as a devotee, devotional incarnation, devotional manifestation, pure devotee, and devotional energy.”

Krishna appeared in the form of a devotee (bhakta-rupa), as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu; as the expansion of a devotee (sva-rupakam), as Nityananda Prabhu; as an incarnation of a devotee (bhakta-avataram), as Advaita Prabhu; as a devotee (bhakta), as Srivasa Thakura; and as the devotional energy that inspires a devotee (bhakta-saktikam), as Gadadhara Pandita. Together they all came to propagate harinama-sankirtana as the yuga-dharma for the present age.

We are now in Kali-yuga, the worst age. But although Kali-yuga is the worst, it affords us the best opportunity to realize God, through the chanting of the holy names. At the end of Srimad-Bhagavatam Sri Sukadeva Gosvami says, kaler dosa-nidhe rajann: this Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults. An ocean—you cannot measure the length or breadth of an ocean. Asti hy eko mahan gunah: but within Kali-yuga there is one great opportunity. What is that? Kirtanad eva krsnasya mukta-sangah param vrajet: by chanting the holy names of Krishna, one becomes liberated from material association and attains the supreme goal of life. Continue reading »

Earth Day

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Apr 222022
 

Today being Earth Day, I thought of a prayer that resonated with me in my youth: “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For He has founded it on the seas, and established it on the floods. Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord, or who shall stand in His holy place? He that has clean hands, and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul to vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord.” (Psalm 24:1–5)

Later, when I met Srila Prabhupada, I came across a verse spoken by the Lord Himself, Krishna, which confirmed and expanded the same principle: “A person in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me to be the ultimate beneficiary of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries.” (Bhagavad-gita 5.29)

How, then, should we deal with the earth and its resources? “Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.” (Isopanisad 1)

Thus one should be happy and satisfied in Krishna (God) consciousness.

Hare Krishna.

Sri Balarama Rasa-yatra

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Apr 152022
 

For Balarama Rasa-yatra, we shall read from Srila Prabhupada’s summary study of the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, called Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead—about Lord Balarama’s visit to Vrindavan after He and Krishna had been away from Vrindavan for many years.

In our meditation on the deity of the Lord, we begin from His lotus feet and then gradually progress upward to His ankles, knees, thighs, waist, navel, chest, neck, and face. Srimad-Bhagavatam is also a form of the Lord, and so we begin its study with its lotus feet, which are the First and Second Cantos, and gradually progress upward until we get to the Tenth Canto, which is compared to the Lord’s smiling face. The topics in the Tenth Canto are very elevated and can actually be fully appreciated only by liberated souls—because Krishna’s pastimes with His pure devotees are enacted on the liberated platform—but on special occasions like Balarama Rasa-yatra we do explore such topics.

Some years ago I was in Vrindavan at this time, tending to a disciple, Arca-vigraha dasi, who was preparing to leave her body. Many senior devotees would come every day and read to her, discuss with her, and chant for her, and on this particular occasion I read the same pastime—about Lord Balarama’s visit to Vrindavan—from both the Tenth Canto and the Krsna book. The basic features of the pastime are the same in both texts, though there are little differences in terms of details and revelations of insights into the pastime. Today I shall read from the Krsna book, Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead—Chapter Sixty-Five: “Lord Balarama Visits Vrndavana.” Continue reading »