ISKCON Melbourne
Founder: Acharya A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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Last update:
7/09/2007; 9:23:35 PM

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If you want news about Melbourne Mahaprabhu Mandir then this is the place to go. Updated with our Srimad Bhagavatam class and local news daily.

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Jayananda Prabhu's Mother

On the morning of Monday August 6, 2007 I began my day of work at the Hospice. After our daily report, medical staff check each patient and we begin doing our usual tasks of caring for each patient. Given that this is a small 10 bed facility it allows for us to give loving  care to everyone. Often while I care or bathe patients who are unable to do these tasks for themselves I chant or sing the Maha Mantra. On this particular morning I was caring for one woman who had been with us for almost a week. She was a kind and polite person and I enjoyed the time I had spent with her on her previous days.

Around 8 a.m. on August 6th 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 quite limp. I took this opportunity to sing the Maha Mantra one last time while she received her final bath. Hospice staff called her  family. Her family was always very friendly and appreciative for all of her care. When I finished with her care I spoke with some some family members in the hall. Jane's (our patient)  grandson approached me to thank me. He then pointed at his forehead, pointed out my tilak and asked if I was a Hare Krishna. I smiled and said that I am a devotee of Krsna! He said , "Well then maybe you know of my uncle , Jayananda?"

I asked,"The Jayananda?" He said, "Yes." He told me how his uncle had built the carts we use in festivals (for Ratha Yatra). He then walked in to inform his mother that I was a Hare Krsna. Gaynelle (Jayananda prabhu's sister) then walked out of the room and said she was so happy that a Krsna 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 Krsna.  She said she told her mother but she wasn't sure that her mom could hear her. I said I have a feeling she already knows and I laughed. Jane (granddaughter) mentioned that she remembers her uncle making really great Indian food, offering it to God and the family sitting on the floor and eating it. She remembers 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 that 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) who happened to be in Africa several years ago 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 called Gaynelle to share the news. They told me Jayananda was always so kind even as a child he never spoke badly of others. From the many stories they told me his saintly qualities shined through even as a child. Gaynelle told me that her brother once spent hours on a family vacation at the beach picking ticks and fleas off of a homeless dog. He couldn't stand to watch its suffering. Jayananda's nephew then told me he remembers running around the kitchen  table as a small child with his uncle laughing and chanting Hare Krsna.

Late morning I entered Jane Kohr's room. Her family was beautifully gathered around her bed holding her hand. Respirations were becoming faint and she was about to leave the body in which she inhabited. I stepped out, giving the family their space and about 5 minutes later they came to the front desk and asked for me to look at her. When I opened the door I saw her body lying there yellow and waxy in color. It was apparent that the soul had left and the physical body was all that remained. The RN reported that  she in fact had passed and family although 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 her brother was supporting her.  She felt that  a devotee being present and caring for her mother was not a mere coincidence. I believe it was Krsna's endless mercy! I thanked them for allowing me to serve their family and offered my pranama's and said " Hare Krsna."

Gaynelle then asked our Hospice chaplain if I could please speak at Jane's memorial service on August 15th. She wanted me took speak a little bit about her mother and also about her brother, Jayananda. I felt that this was a good opportunity to share Krsna Consciousness with some people who otherwise would never hear about Lord Krsna. I was really touched by their request.Below is the short talk I gave. Please forgive me if I misspelled any words or if I committed any offenses.

Your servant,
Kalindi devi dasi

Jane's Memorial service-Wednesday August 15, 2007

I want to begin by saying thank you for the opportunity to serve your mother and family.  It is a real honor. Like Gaynelle, I don’t believe this happened by “chance.”  Bruce commented to me that Gaynelle had asked/ prayed to her brother Jim (a.k.a. Jayananda Prabhu) for support. So I can only draw the conclusion that her prayer was heard.  Given that Jayananda Prabhu was a great devotee of the Lord, Krishna reciprocated quickly.  It so happened that Gaynelle’s son noticed that Jane’s care was in the hands of many caring individuals and amongst the nursing team was a Hare Krishna.

When asked to speak today, I wanted to talk about something that would be relevant to all of us.  What I came up with is the part a mother plays in one’s life.  To begin, in most traditions mother’s are to be honored and respected.  From Mother Earth to our birth mother, there is a special loving reciprocation.  In ancient Indian culture the birth mother is revered as one of seven worshipable mothers.  Not God, per se, but she is to be treated with the respect that one would give God. By the gathering of loved ones at Jane’s side during her passing on August 6th, one could see she did her loving duty as a mother and in exchange her children returned that love while supporting her during her transition from this world.

It is said in Bhagavad Gita, one of India’s holiest books: palena pariciyate. “One should judge the merit of an action by the fruits, or results, of that action.” The fact that Jane once had within her womb someone as saintly as Jayananda (Jim) is no coincidence.  It must have been do to her previous accumulation of good merits.  We can all see with our own eyes in this world that every action in life has a reaction. One may call this karma, fate or destiny, but I can only draw the conclusion that Jane had been truly blessed.  A Krishna devotee and good friend of mine who kept in touch with Jane after Jayananda’s passing, Nidra Devi, confirmed that the parents of saintly personalities receive special mercy and blessings.  I feel nothing but gratitude at being able to have been present along with your family during Jane’s final hours.

I also wanted to take the chance to honor and speak a little bit about the person and character of Jayananda Prabhu.  To begin with family members told me that he never spoke ill of anyone, even as a child.  Krishna devotees also attest to this wonderful attribute.  In the book Radha Damodar Vilasa, a biographical account of Jayananda’s life with the Hare Krishnas, Kalakantha Das writes, “one remarkable quality about Jayananda was he could not criticize others.” If one devotee was criticizing another within earshot Jayananda would simply leave. I recently spoke with Nidra and Jayo Das, another Hare Krishna acquaintance of Jayananda’s, at Govinda’s Buffet in Denver.  I asked if they could share a sweet story or remember any time they spent with Jayananda. Nidra said, “he had compassion in the heart for every person. He was willing to share the love of God and the chanting of the holy name with every person. He would engage any type of person from the most elegant to the most degraded.” Her eyes teared as she made this statement.

Just recently we celebrated the Ratha Yatra festival in Denver. (Ratha Yatra literally means Festival of the Chariots.)  This is a large festival held for centuries in the East Indian coastal town of Jagannath Puri.  The festival annually attracts millions of pilgrims and is broadcast live nationwide.  In 1967 Jayananda was inspired to inaugurate the first Ratha Yatra in the western world.  Year after year, with enthusiastic energy, sweat labor and organizational skills he pulled together a team of devotees and others (including the homeless and outcasts) to build chariots and organize the parade. When we celebrated Ratha Yatra in Denver on July 29, a large photo of Jayananda was hanging next to a photo of Jayananda’s spiritual teacher, Srila Prabhupada. Both were bedecked with flower garlands and were prominently placed on the front of the chariot.

The impact that Jayananda made during his short time on this planet is simply amazing.  Jayo tells of how Jayananda had so much devotion.  While preparing for a Ratha Yatra festival Jayananda would rise daily between 2:30 and 3:00am.  He would then gather up the young men saying, “Get up, it’s time to do service for the Lord of the Universe.” He would let devotees and the homeless alike stay at the site where the chariots were being built and would always be the first up and last to bed.  He also managed to cook for all present. He would do service and often would wear tattered dhotis (devotional robes) or old worn out blue jeans. He was so humble that he was reluctant to spend money on new clothes when it could be otherwise engaged in the Lord’s service. He was once asked to do service on the temple altar, but because his hands had so much cumulative dirt, cracks and calluses from his hard work, he declined because he felt he was not fit or clean enough.  Examples of his pridelessness and humility are endless.  You are all so fortunate to have such a family member amongst you.

I want to close with these timeless words from Bhagavad Gita:
man-mana bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yaji mam namaskuru
mam evaisyasi satyam te
pratijane priyo 'si me
“Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend.”

Jayananda truly embodied this verse wholeheartedly. Once again, thank you for inviting me.