His Grace Jayananda Prabhu

Suresh das shares his memories of Jayananda Prabhu:

I first met Jayananda Prabhu in San Francisco, at the Frederick Street Temple, in Haight-Ashbury, in 1970. I spoke to him for a while in front of the temple. Then I asked him if I could move in. He told me it was a very serious decision, that I should go home, and think it over very carefully, before joining. I went back to the place I was staying, to think it over that night. Suddenly some force picked me up out the chair I was sitting in, and threw me into a wall. I ran to the temple the next morning, and moved in the very next day. I had enough time to think about it.

Jayananda Prabhu was very kind to me while I was a new devotee, and was always very caring and encouraging. I remember he used to give out a lot of hugs to the Brahmacaris. He seemed to have a knack for getting large bhoga donations for the Sunday Feasts.

Once when we were downtown chanting near Market & Powell, on Harinam, one of the devotees clumsily danced out of line, and bumped into and stepped on the mayor’s wife (it might have been me). All the devotees were then arrested and thrown in jail for the next three days. We all fasted for the entire time in our cell, continuously chanted japa, and held Harinam in the prison day and night (possibly the first 24-hour Kirtan). At the end of that time, our case was thrown out of court by the judge (much to the embarrassment of the city, after being humiliated in the press), and the devotees were released, Jayananda prepared a huge feast for us.

The Frederick Street Temple closed, and we moved to Berkeley for a time. Jayananda Prabhu became our temple president. I was having anxiety attacks during that time. I asked him for help. He called the head cook into his office, and scolded him stating “this man is not getting enough prasadam!”

After living in the temple for over a year, chanting 16 rounds and more each day, and following the 4 regulative principles, Jayananda Prabhu suggested that I write to Srila Prabhupada and request my initiation. I spaced it out and forgot about it. About two months later he requested again that I write. I again didn’t take care of it, so Jayananda Prabhu wrote to Srila Prabhupada himself, on my behalf, to ensure that I received my initiation.

After about a year or so in Berkeley, the temple was to be sold, and we were to move to a newly purchased temple on Valencia Street, in San Francisco. The Berkeley Temple was in rather shoddy condition at that time, especially the temple room. Some of the devotees asked Jayananda Prabhu if we could at least allow the painting of the temple room, but he wanted to conserve our limited Laxmi for the move and for the new temple as well. Right after that there was a mysterious and unexplained fire that took place in the temple room, and on the altar. Jayananda Prabhu immediately painted the temple room, the entire temple, and even the outside of the temple building from top-to-bottom.

I used to see Jayananda Prabhu regularly reading “Nectar of Devotion”. If you read the last paragraph of Srila Prabhupada’s Preface in the book, you will see the Jayananda Prabhu helped pay for the original printing. I was so inspired to see him always studying, that I began regularly reading Srila Prabhupada’s books as well.

I was transferred to a newly opened temple in Santa Barbara in 1972. I didn’t see Jayananda Prabhu again until 1976 at the Rathayatra in Philadelphia. As soon as he saw me he gave me a big hug.