On 12th September, I was given the opportunity to attend a lecture by HH Jayapataka Swami Maharaj. I’m so grateful. I didn’t get to see him at the Janmashtami/Ratha Yatra festival on the 10th so Krishna gave me another opportunity 🙂
We got to the hall and Swami had still not arrived so kirtans were going on. That’s what I love about Hare Krishna festivals. There’s never an idle moment. Every time we have to wait, every time the sound system fails, somehow if something gets delayed, it’s just another opportunity for kirtan. And try as much as you want to not sing, to not be taken in by the kirtan, to focus your attention elsewhere… sooner or later, Krishna’s Holy Names will infiltrate us. We will dance and we will sing then, in joy that knows no bounds!
When Swami entered, it was crazy. Vaishnavas couldn’t care less for these Hollywood and Bollywood actors. These wonderful preachers, who have given their lives to God, who have taken up so much pain and struggle to spread Krishna’s message all around the world, who travel endlessly just to serve Krishna, they are the real heroes. The real celebrities. It really felt like that when Swami entered. Everyone stood up in respect, just to catch a glimpse of Swami, and people bowed down to pay obeisances. But Jayapataka Swami looked different from what I had seen in his pictures. Due to his stroke, he has lost a lot of weight now, he is in a wheelchair, and part of his mouth is paralyzed. He gave us a little lecture. He said many things that were inspiring. He encouraged us to chant. He said that for a person who chants 16 rounds everyday, when you do the math, you will find that he has become a millionaire (or a crorepati). Being a millionaire in the real world is useless, he said. We ought to become real millionaires, swimming in the mercy of the Holy Name rather than notes of money. He said that the seed of devotional service exceeds this world, it exceeds the heavenly planets, it exceeds Satyaloka, Brahmaloka, all these lokas. The seed of devotional service springs right into Krishnaloka! What divine mercy and grace!
Jayapataka Swami was also very funny. When Vallabh Prabhu (a disciple of Jayapataka Swami and a leading member of ISKCON Dubai) said to all of us that Swami holds a lot of love in his heart for us, Jayapataka Swami hugged himself to demonstrate! It was so adorable. At one time, when Vallabh Prabhu held the microphone in front of Jayapataka Swami to speak, Swami just looked at his watch to indicate that he didn’t have any more to say. Everyone started to laugh. Also, during the lecture, the translator who was translating to Hindi, was making some mistakes with the numerics Swami was mentioning. He kept mixing up the lakhs and crores. Jayapataka Swami asked him, “You’re an accountant?” He replied, “Yes, but I’m good at being a miser! However, your mercy is limitless!” Everyone just laughed! Gosh, Jayapataka Swami is just so lovable!
Jayapataka Swami told us that his paralysis doesn’t let him speak as well, so he hoped we would all understand him. I felt so sad. It hurt to see Jayapataka Swami in such a condition. Oh Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, please shower your mercy! Heal him quickly so he can further spread your sankirtan in more towns and villages! Hari bol.
Even though Swami is not in perfect bodily condition, he is still healthy and it shows, because he carries Krishna’s love in his heart. He is still traveling, although not as much as he used to, he is still giving lectures, he is still accepting disciples and students. He is still firm in his faith and devotional service. He is setting such a perfect example. Absolutely NOTHING should be an impediment to devotional service! Vallabh Prabhu mentioned how when he was applying for a higher job post, he had consulted Jayapataka Swami. The first thing that Jayapataka Swami asked him was, “Will you still be able to properly perform your devotional service?” This was so inspiring. It just goes to show how much of a priority we must give to devotional service – how important it really is in our lives.
Later, we got to have close darshan of Maharaj. We stood in a line and received some prasadam and got to take Swami’s blessings. He also initiated and sheltered many of his devotees.
May Krishna grant you a speedy recovery, Maharaj. Thank you for all that you have done for us, for being such a fantastic disciple and in turn, a wonderful role model. We love you, Jayapataka Swami!