Srila Prabhupada lived in a humble setting at the historic medieval temple of Radha Damodara. Here, in the holy city of Vrindavan, he accepted the renounced order of life In 1959. At the lotus feet of Radha Damodara Srila Prabhupada began work on his life’s masterpiece: The multi volume, annotated translation of the eighteen thousand verse Srimad Bhagavatam.
By leaving the Radha Damodara temple, he brought lord Chaitanya’s sankirtan mission to the world and sparked a spiritual revolution through the chanting of Hare Krishna.
When Prabhupada suffered a heart attack on his maiden voyage to America he wrote the following in his diary: “I feel better today, but I am feeling separation from Sri Vrindavan and my Lords, Sri Govinda, Gopinatha, Radha Damodara.”
When Vishnujana Maharaja would come to a temple, the whole temple become full of light, enthusiasm and ecstasy. I have never seen anyone within our movement who could transform people’s hearts like he did. He was full of that spirit of Bhakti.
Vishnujana Maharaja loved Radha Damodara so much. way he would talk about Them, the way he would chant before Them, and the way he would serve Them just made everyone want to bow down and serve Radha-Damodara. He would reveal Their beauty. He would reveal Their glories and their mercy to anyone who came in contact with them. His whole life was simply Radha-Damodara and he loved to glorify all the devotees spontaneously.-Radhanath Swami.
When Vaiyasaki Prabhu asked me to write the foreword for his book, Radha –Damodara Vilasa, I was overwhelmed with conflicting feelings of enthusiasm and trepidation. left enthusiasm because I love the subject. Basically the book deals with the history of Vaishnavism came west. it Swami Prabhupada, Particularly in relation to his loved Lordships Sri Sri Radha Damodara the manifestation of Radha and Krishna with whom he has a special mystical relationship (as is brought out in this book). The work also focuses on the early development of the international society for Krishna consciousness (ISKCON) with special attention to the lives of two of its unsung heros: His Holiness Vishnujana Swami and his Grace Jayananda Prabhu, both of whom I had the good fortune to associate with.
My trepidation in writing this foreword came from to associate with the enormity of its subject. I remember when Vaiyasaki first told me that Vishnujana and Jayananda, as a theme for his upcoming book. “How will he do it?” I wondered. “There is so much rich material such deep theological implications in each of these subjects –this s a major, herculean task and I’m glad I’m not taking it on. I could never do it justice.” And yet Vaiyasaki has one a splendid job. Going through his manuscript, I see that he has not only researched the subject with the expertise of a master historian, but he has captured the emotional component of the lived of Prabhupada, Vishnujana, Jayananda and the many devotes who surrounded them.
My diverse feelings in writing this foreword then are grown from the same seed and in this sense this sense they are simultaneously one and different. I wanted to do it because of my deep regard for the subject but I was hesitant to do it for the same reason.
This dichotomy of feelings is just the kind of world of opposites I experienced in the lives of Vishnujana and Jayananda the book’s main protagonists. Take Vishnujana for instance. To me he embodied the best of the aisvarya/ madhurya dichotomy. in Gaudiya Vaishnava theology, aisvarya represents the majesty of God that aspect of the supreme that evokes awe and reverence. Madhurya on the other hand represents the sweet nature of the lord, that that quality in God that enables the devotee to relish an intimate relationship with him. While these terms are generally applied to god and his relationship with devotees, the same terms are sometimes used in general way, to describe the moods they embody. In Vishnujana this later definition is clearly invoked while he had a certain noble quality a quality that seemed regal and timeless evoking deep respect from those who knew him he simultaneously had this sweet charming almost innocent side; he was warm and friendly too. So you felt this mood of awe and reverence while at the same time he seemed like your beat friend.
As I remember him, Jayananda, too, had a personality that evoked seemingly contradictory feelings. On the one hand he was as humble as a person could be. Especially among younger devotees, he was as gentle as a kitten. He was the kind of guy you would find working under a truck or taking out the garbage even though he was given a position in major ISKCON temple as temple president. When he could have just sat back and taken it easy, he felt that he needed to work hard that he was so fallen that if he didn’t he would never make any progress in Krishna consciousness. On the other hand he knew for certain that he had found the truth. So while he was humble in his personal demeanor, he became almost ferocious if you questioned Prabhupada or the disciplic succession. Not that he didn’t appreciate good sincere inquiry. But if your mood was challenging, watch out! Jayananda wouldn’t tolerate it. The kitten would become a lion.
I am delighted to see that these diverse characteristics come out in Vaiyasaki Prabhu’s book. The primary mystery of Gaudiya Vaishnavism Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is said to be Radha Krishna combined-the Male and female Moiety as Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati has expressed it- in one body.
The full-fledged conception of “unity in diversity” is expressed in Sri Chaitanya’s doctrine of acintya-bhedabheda-tattva, or” the inconceivable simultaneous oneness and difference of God and the living being.” Although this theological term is generally reserved for man and his relationship with God there is another aspect of this truth that comes out in Vaiyasaki’s book: While the ISKCON universe will always have Prabhupada at ots center, Prominent devotees such as Vishnujana and Jayananda (Who form major constellations around him), are also significant parts of the hare Krishna cosmos. Or, to put it another way the sun’s full meaning is understood when one feels its warmth and heat. Prabhupada may be compared to the sin and his stalwart disciples are like the rays of the sun extending heat and lights to others.
Although Radha Damodara vilasa does indeed glorify Prabhupada and his accomplishments, some may criticize that in this book Vaiyasaki is elvating Vishnujana and Jayananda to an unnecessarily high position sometimes even eclipsing that of their spiritual master. Not so. A close reading of this work reveals that the many good qualities of Vishnujana and Jayananda were nurtured by Prabhupada himself and that these qualities have little meaning without Prabhupada’s mission. Vishnujana and Jayananda are like the rays of the sun, which would not exist without the sun itself. In one sense th sun and its rays are non different, for each gives the other meaning. What is the value of a sun it if does not give off light and heat? And while certain great devotes are glorified in this work, Prabhupada’s unique position is always maintained.
But in keeping with the doctrine of simultaneous oneness and difference, let us not that Prabhupada us nit the original sun-he would consider himself merely a ray of Guru Maharaja, the ultimate sun, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur who saw himself as a mere ray of the sun of his spiritual master and on back to Krishna. Ultimately, then, this book shows that Radha Damodara is the efficient cause, or, one might say, the original sun, form which all others come. Prabhupada is like a secondary sun a direct manifestation of Radha Damodara’s energy in this world. This book also shows however that many of Prabhupada’s disciples are al miniatures suns as well at least in quality if not in quantity.
Meanwhile in the west the counterculture was coming to a boil. Vaiyasaki describes this with illuminating detail. While Prabhupada was spending his lifetime in preparation for his mission-studying chanting praying the technological world was progressing at a rapid pace. While Jayananda was being born in the west, Prabhupada was planning back to Godhead his Gaudiya Vaishnava magazine in the East. while Vishnujana was reaching puberty, Prabhupada was forming “The league of Devotees his first Krishna conscious organization, a precursor to ISKCON. Separated by thousands of miles and an even greater distance in consciousness, these personalities would one day meet and do something wonderful for the world. The gradual meeting of these children of the counterculture with Prabhupada and his mission is brought out in Vaiyasaki’s book with great style and emotion. it is the story of two cultures clashing, but more importantly, it is about the poignant merger of these cultures in Krishna consciousness.
Other Gaudiya Vaishnavas had come West prior to Prabhupada Premananda Bharati came to New York near the beginning of this century and several of Prabhupada’s own godbrothers too, had come west several decades before Prabhupada. but none of them were to realize his success for Prabhupada was the one predicated in scripture. He was the one who took shelter of Radha Damodara at their temple in Vrindavan and the one who came west to spread the Teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He was the pure soul who desired nothing but to please the Lord.
For this person he was sent at just the right time in world history the 1960s, the Hippie Era-when disenfranchised youth, by the hundreds of thousands, would mobilize to look for an alternative lifestyle. It was a pivotal point in American and European culture –it had never quite happened before and it has not happened sine. In addition, it was in 1965, the year Prabhupada chose to come west, the immigration laws were changed in favor of allowing those from the east easy entrance into western countries. and the pope, the same year presented a novel message to all Christians at the second Vatican council calling for a greater understanding between religious east and west.
Clearly Krishna paved the way for Prabhupada’s success. And countless youths, like Vishnujana and Jayananda were eagerly waiting when Prabhupada finally arrived. one can only guess who they were in their previous lives –to be born at the time when Krishna’s Pure devotee would come west and spread the timeless teachings of Mahaprabhu for the benefit of the world. To be able to help him in this glorious mission, they must be great souls indeed. On several occasions, Prabhupada himself said that they were sent by his Guru Maharaja just to assist him. “My spiritual Master knew it that alone I could not do this great work. Therefore he has very kindly sent you all to help me in this task. I accept you therefore as representatives of my Guru Maharaja playing as my affectionate disciples.
Whatever the case, Vaiyasaki allows us entrance into their lives as he vividly recreates the past. He brings us into a transcendental theater, if you will where Prabhupada directs the early script of the Hare Krishna movement. as the story unfolds, we see Prabhupada struggle and challenges as he connects with a sometimes antagonistic environment. More often than not however the western world is receptive to his message. We visit a hippie commune the morning star ranch in California and we witness the meeting of Vishnujana and Tamal Krishna, two friends who soon become central players in the rearing Prabhupada’s fledgling movement. Jayananda the cabbie, artists, musicians, an a cast of characters of all types begin to join –and we watch Prahupada’s drama develop, as he takes the movement from a small storefront in New York’s Lower East side to a confederation of temples in California, Canada, and the rest of the world. the plot thickens, and we see defection and heresy. But, while casualties are inevitable most devotees experiences spiritual evolution as the boundless mercy of the pure devotee is absorbed into their lives.
Prabhupada introduces deity worship. Judaeo-Christain admonitions against idol worship notwithstanding the forms of Jagannatha, shores and are embraced by a traditionalists in India for centuries it is mainly the non-traditionalists in the west the hippies, who initially take on their worship. Radha Damodara Vilasa shows how an alienated fringe community soon develops into an establishment more traditional than western conservatives could ever imagine.
but mostly this is a book about compassion about giving something valuable to others. it is about the Sankirtana mission of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. This was the mission of the six Gosvamis of Vrindavan. In the sixteenth century from their dwelling in Vraja they made plans to spread Krishna Consciousness throughout the world. They would hold meetings at jiva Gosvami’s Radha Damodara temple and soon Sri Jiva sent his three best preachers, living examples of Krishna consciousness, with their precious Gaudiya Vaishnava manuscripts to all parts of India explaining the exoteric process of divine love.
Just as India’s inundation of Krishna consciousness burst forth from the Radha Damodara Temple, so, too, in 1965, did Prabhupada leave that sacred place for his mission to the west? It is as if Jiva Goswami’s Deities, Radha-Damodara, were somehow the Deities in charge of sankirtan, or the spreading of the Holy Name of Krishna. This seems further confirmed by the fact that Prabhupada the gave same names to the major Deities you meet in this book the Radha Damodara Traveling Sankirtana Deities, so dear to Vishnujana’s heart. These Deities in the mood of Lord Chaitanya, traveled throughout America and placed Krishna consciousness within the easy grasp of men, women and children.
So I would say that just as the Madan-Mohan Deities are representative of Sambandha, or the process of God realization, and the Radha-Gopinatha are the deities of Prayojana, or the ultimate perfection of that process- we must conclude that Radha Damodara are representative of Sankirtan or the essence of that process. The essence is the congregational chanting of holy name and the spreading of that chanting to others the sharing Krishna consciousness.
But you have to have it before you can share it. And this brings us back to our original theme: the inconceivable union of opposites, Krishna consciousness involves both taking and giving. In this book, Vaiyasaki Prabhu clearly illustrates the enthusiasm and determination required to become Krishna conscious, the sort of spiritual greed one needs if he is going to achieve the goal of spiritual perfection. This is the taking aspect of Krishna consciousness. At the same time, one feels compelled to give this precious gift to others for this is the essence of the process (sankirtan). If one is actually making spiritual advancement one naturally want to share this grease treasure with everyone. This is the essence of Krishna conscious giving. Acintya-bhedabheda-tattva applies here, for it is only in giving it that one can truly take it and unless one takes it one has nothing to give.
The story of the Radha Damodara party is story of this kind of mystical give and take. It is epitomized by Vishnujana and Jayananda they embraced Krishna consciousness with all their heart and they gave it to others in that same enthusiastic way.
Satyraja dasa (Steven J. Rosen)-Author of several books on Vaishnava related topics and editor of the internationally esteemed journal Vaishnava Studies.
Every genuine movement attracts persons who stand out by their acts of selfless sacrifice. In the Hare Krishna movement, Vishnujana Swami and Jayananda Prabhu were two such persons. Their spirit of humble service and commitment spreading the glories of the Holy name of the Lord left an indelible impression on everyone who met them. Each become a legend in his own time. Vishnujana Swami was active in devotional service for only eight years and Jayananda for only ten before each passed from our vision. They left behind no disciple no book no temples.
This book is humble attempt to properly glorify these outstanding devotes. The goal is to preserve their place in Vaishnava history so that succeeding generations may know of the important roles they played in helping Srila Prabhupada establish Lord Chaitanya’s mission worldwide.
Although saintliness is rarely achieved, Vishnujana Swami and Jayananda Prabhu have been acknowledged as saintly by the people who knew them. The following personal memories us a brief look into the character and personality of these two great saints.
Kalakantha Dasa on Jayananda Prabhu
Jayananda Prabhu was always ready to do whatever was necessary to push on Krishna consciousness. he was expert at everything cooking, preaching, Deity worship, public relation, sankirtan, selling incense, construction, and everything else it takes to run a temple. He was tireless worker. her would be the first one up n the morning and the last one to sleep at night. It was Jayananda who was always running out to get the flowers, Jayananda who was washing dishes and making he was out to get the flowers, Jayananda who was often missing class while he was out doing some service and Jayananda who was always encouraging others to go out and preach setting the example himself. Whatever assignment he was given he would always get it done even if he had to suffer personal inconvenience.
Those who knew Jayananda always noticed one remarkable quality about him: he could not criticize others. It was against his nature. Even if a devotee did something that warranted criticism, Jayananda would usually say nothing or else say something that made the mistake appear to be perfectly understandable. No matter who was giving class or leading kirtan, he would always appreciate it. He never spoke harsh words or chastised anybody. If one devotee was criticizing another earshot of Jayananda, Jayananda would simply leave.
Rather than criticize others, Jayananda would contribute nothing less than positive Krishna conscious energy to any situation. Sometimes devotees would bring up their expansive aspirations for spreading Krishna consciousness Jayananda would always encourage their ideas however extraordinary. At the same time he was not a fool. He could always pick the right man to do a particular duty.
Because he knew how to encourage people the temple leaders would always assign new men to work with Jayananda. He saw no distinction between new man a sense of identity and a feeling that he belonged in Krishna consciousness. A true Vaishnava he would expertly fan any little spark of interest into a big fire of Krishna consciousness.
Like the Six Goswamis Jayananda was “dear both to the gentle and the ruffians.” He was as much at home with the Italians at the produce market as with brahmacarls in the temple. Because of his genuine compassion, Krishna gave Jayananda the unique ability to make people want to serve, directly or indirectly. Whenever a new Bhakta would come, Jayananda made him feel that he was engaged in important work. He was willing to let people do things their own way, without getting finicky about details-unless somebody’s creativity interfered with practical necessity. New Bhakta or old everyone felt satisfied after a day’s work with Jayananda.
Jayananda leadership was especially evident during Ratha-yatra time. He would organize a crew of cynics, bloopers, uncooperative personalities, and nondevotees off the street to build the Ratha-Yatra carts. Although many of his men sat down for a smoke during breaks he would get them to work, ten, twelve, or fourteen hours a day. He was always glorifying others, while working hard himself. In fact he worked hard than anybody else. All these qualities constantly inspired his co-workers.
Jayananda was well known as a transcendental miser. He hated to spend any of Srila during his years as a householder. Jayananda would use his a personal charm with people to get them to give everything for free, or at a discount, for Krishna. Without spending huge sums of money, he would personally collect nearly all the bhoga, flowers, lumber, print and everything else needed to put on Ratha-Yatra each year.
Jayananda would get almost anything done for free, such as printing advertising and mimeographing for Ratha-Yatra publicity. What he couldn’t get for free, he’d get at a discount and when he said he’d get his money’s worth. Although he was a senior devotee and could have had anything he wanted, he always dressed in old dhotis, or work clothes that he’d buy for one dollar per set at the Salvation Army.
Jayananda was the back bone of the Bay Area Ratha-Yatra for years. During the weeks before the festival, Jayananda would sleep at the site where the Ratha-Yatra carts were under construction. He would rise every day 4.00 A.M. without fail, even of that meant he was getting less then three hours of sleep. To keep his crew enlivened he would cook fantastic prasadam on a tiny gas stove at the site. The preparations were always caredevotees would sometimes sneak down to the cart site just to get some.
Behind the scenes Jayananda was doing everything in preparation for each festival. He would beg food, flowers, and funds, buy material and build the carts, advertise and arrange for permits and organize the cooing and serving of Prasadam. Although things always went right down to the wire, he consistently succeeded in fulfilling all his plans. After the festival, Jayananda personally brought a prasadam cake or pie to each and every person who had helped in some way. Because of his efforts, the devotees i the Bay Area have enjoyed an amazingly harmonious relationship with the city officials.
Jayananda was very eager to see everyone engaged in Krishna’s service. He once wrote, “When I reflect on my consciousness, had I not had association with devotees and Srila Prabhupada, I shudder to imagine the nightmare I would be in. If we could become a little dedicated to distributing the many could be saved so much suffering”.
Satyanarayana Dasa on Vishnujana Swami
Vishnujana Swami impressed everyone with his unique” adult as spiritual child” persona. This was mixed with a natural unpretentiousness, and so it was not at all difficult to imagine him reincarnated from a character residing somewhere between the Pied of Hamelin and peter pan.
As the story goes, Peter pan nourished those he met the fountain of youth. He rejected all things adult, and everyone felt drawn to his youthful energy and attractiveness. Peter Pan symbolized the indefatigable spirit, and he awakened the child within all he touched.
The pied piper for his part enchanted the children of Hamelin with his rainbow robes and flute which played the notes of happy laughter and merry play. All the children of the town joyfully skipped and danced to the pipe’s call following him and disappearing into the green wood.
Anyone could see that Vishnujana this Pan/ piper character had finally received the blessing of all his good works and has taken that jump from the mode of goodness to transcendental life. Here he was his elfish garb replaced with the beautiful robes of a young sannyasa his forest songs upgraded to heartfelt bhajans for Radha Krishna. His playing of ancient Indian instruments like the mournful esraj, now provided an otherworldly background and an added poignancy to his emotional cries.
What’s more in this life the merry piper surrendered the flute playing and the flute itself to the Supreme player Lord Damodara. Now he himself dances to Damodara’s flute and induces all to dance to His lead, Vishnujana naturally seemed to turn everything even menial activities, into exciting adventures, and in that sense, it was also easy visualizing his as a cowherd boyfriend of Krishna surely a group leader who plans out daily fun mischief in Goloka.
I crossed paths frequently with traveling Road Show that amalgam of devotes, musicians, actors, book distributors, cooks, mechanics and preachers, headed by Vishnujana Swami Kirtanananda Swami, and above all, Sri Sri Radha Damodara. Aja was doing his “You know you’re not that body” routine along with the rest of the troupe and Radha Damodara were resplendent in elegant beauty on stage overseeing the festivities.
One of the amazing highlights of the show was Vishnujana performance-but the wasn’t acting. His uniquely attractive qualities were fully in evidence th day on a university campus. Vishnujana gave one of his inspiring talks on the glories of Sri Sir Ra-a-a-dha Da-a-a-mod-a-a-ra”, that deep, forever hoarse, lustful for Krishna voice of his –imitated but never equaled drawing everyone to rapt attention. He clearly communias if it were a right of passage to begin life within that higher consciousness he raised his arms high and, in his best voice beckoned everyone to bow down to their Lordships.
And just like that everyone every single authority despising collage hippie and arrogant professor alike all got down on their kness and touched their heads to the ground in obeisance to Radha Damodara.
Vishnujana inspired the instinctual feeling that this was simply the best possible thing to do, and also the coolest possible thing to do, at that moment. it was unspoken, but not to do so would obviously mean missing out on a most rare opportunity, something beneficial to the self to the ultimate degree. So even though many there really didn’t understand what was happening, their hearts brought them to their kness. Again this transcendental Pan/Peper figure was leading us to the real magic land. Sri Radha Damodara were blessing their devotes Vishnujana Swami to cast a joyful spell on all and for a few moments everyone knew that they were eternal devotees of Krishna. It was a moment of great comfort and communal peace everyone there felt it.
Vishnujana was that kind of conduit. He had many gifts and he was using them in the highest way: to attract and awaken the lost souls to the realization of their identity: It was wonderful to see Krishna plainly working through His surrendered devotee to such effect.
I met Vishnujana many times in India and his sweet and unpretentious kirtans and dancing in Mayapur and Vrindavan were wonderful to be a part of. But to me, it seemed that Vishnujana Swami was at his best and fully in his element as a sannyasa preacher to the young seekers of America. He made surrender look easy. And because his devotion was so natural, he was most effective. He seemed literally designed by Lord Damodara for this purpose. Those of us who heard him sing and saw him dance and express his uniquely attractive praise of Radha Damodara felt fortunate indeed to be bathed in the devotional light of this sincere and brilliant Soul.
Vaiyasaki Dasa on Sri-Sri Radha-Damodara
Another significant goal of this book is the introduction of the Supreme Lord and His eternal consort in Their childhood forms of Sri Sri Radha Damodara. The following discussion supports the observation that the advent and traveling sankirtan pastimes of Radha Damodara were indirectly but clearly predicted in scripture just has the advent and sankirtan pastimes of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu were indirectly, but clearly predicted.
The Lord sometimes makes unscheduled visits as part of his sankirtan lila. In Kali Yuga the Lord again makes His own appearance, but this time He comes incognito in the mood of a devotee. The advent of Lord Chaitanya is due to both internal and external considerations. The internal reasons, antaranga vicara, are for his own divine purpose.
The external reasons bahirang vicara are for the benefit of the conditioned souls. Bringing His associates and the full paraphernalia of his transcendental abode, he reclaims the fallen souls and gives pleasure to the devotees by chanting his own holy name. He establishes the yuga-dharma, by personally inaugurating the sankirtan movement, and teaches the process of Bhakti yoga, or devotional service.
Although this appearance is covert it is still prophesied in Srimad Bhagavatam:
yajnath sankirtana prayair
Yajanti hi su medhasah
“In the age of Kali intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the name of Krishna. Although his complexion is not blackish, He is Krishna Himself. He is accompanied by His associated, servants, weapons and confidential companions.”
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s advent and lila are also described in the Sri Vishnu-Sahasra-nama, which appears in the Mahabharata:
sannyasa-krc chamah santo
“In His early pastimes He appears as a householder with a golden complexion. His limbs are beautiful, and his body, smeared with the pulp of sandalwood seems like molten gold. In his later pastimes he accepts the sannyasa order and He is equipoised and peaceful. He is the highest abode of peace and devotion, for he silences the impersonalist non devotees.”
Chanting and dancing blissfully throughout the Indian subcontinent, Lord Chaitanya freely distributed the Holy Name of Krishna to enable everyone to taste the ecstatic mood of love for God. He tasted it himself first and then distributes to everybody else, even amongst the lowest of mankind. After inaugurating the Sankirtan movement in India, the Lord left the rest of the service to His surrendered devotees. But he guaranteed that the whole word would have the opportunity to drown I the ecstasy of Krsna prema by making his won prophecy :
sarvatra pracara hoibe mora nama
“In every town and village around the world My name will be sung.”
With this prophecy Lord Chaitanya reveals that he will come again because there is no difference between Krishna and His Holy Name kali kale name-rupe krsna –avatara. In kali-Yuga especially, Krishna descends as the sound vibration of the maha-mantra. Both the Holy Name, name, and the possessor of the Name, nami, are one. Both are on the platform of eternal existence, eternal knowledge, and eternal bliss. This is the Absolute nature of Krishna and His Holy Name.
This is further corroborated in the Caitanya-Bhagavat, Madhya-lila, chapter 27, wherein the Lord informs his mother, Saci-mata, at the time of taking sannyasa, that He will descend two more times and that she will also accompany Him. He will appear in the form of the holy Name, while she will appear as the tongue that vibrates the pure Name. Secondly, he will appear in the from of the deity and she will become the substance from which the deities are formed.
according to Vaishnava acharyas the following verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam wherein the sage Karabhajana discusses the Yuga avataras, is understood to predict Lord Chaitanya’s appearance as the kali-yuga avatar.
dharmistha arya-vacasa yad agad aranyam
maya mrgam dayitayepsitam anvadhavad
vande maha –purusa te caranaravindam
“O Maha –purusa, I worship your lotus feet. You gave up the association of the goddess of fortune and all he opulence, which is most difficult to renounce and is hankered after by even the great demigods. Being the most faithful follower of the path of religion, you thus left for the forest in obedience to a brahmana’s curse. Out of sheer mercifulness you chases after the fallen conditioned souls, who are always in pursuit of the false enjoyment of illusion and at the same time engaged in searching out your own desired object, Lord Syamasundara.”
The Vedic scriptures teach that the supreme personality of Godhead appears in this world to encourage us to begin the mystical process of devotional service. One way in which he descends is in his Deity or murti form. Although we cannot see his original form of pure spirit, we can, by his mercy, see His Deity from in the temple. Devotees, therefore, offer worship and loving service to Him in this form as intensely as they would His original form in the spiritual world.
In the early days of the Hare Krishna movement in America, Sri Sri Radha –Damodara were the first Deities that most people ever saw. This was because Radha Damodara did not remain confined to a temple building. Instead, since Their temple happened to be a bus, They were constantly on the move. There are historical precedents for this.
Lord Jagannath, by His infinite mercy comes out of the temple every year for Ratha Yatra. Those who see Him on this wonderful day serve Him in diverse ways including chanting, dancing, or pulling his chariot.
But Radha Damodara lived in the road for over six years on a bus converted into a traveling temple. Rather than wait for people to come to see Them, They were Deities who went out to engage sincere souls in Lord Chaitanya’s sankirtan movement. This was unprecedented in the history of Gaudiya Vaishnavism-indeed, in all history.
It was no ordinary circumstance that Radha Damodara lived in a traveling temple. Srila Prabhupada had given a special sanction that these Radha Krishna deities could be worshiped like this. They were thus unique because no other large Radha –Krishna deities lived on a bus for years on end. Rather it was a singular event because they spearheaded the spreading of the Holy Name as prophesied by Lord Chaitanya :< P>
The ups and downs of life on the road were not only experienced by the devotees, but Radha Damodara compassionately encountered these hardships as well just as the Lord in the heart witnesses the trials and tribulations of every living being. In keeping with Their prankish mood and displaying their sense of humor, Radha Damodara descended in Their sri murti forms to join the fun and help us accomplish Their goal. it is stated that lord Chaitanya is the is the combined form of Radha and Krishna. In the way Lord Chaitanya by His inconceivable potency came to fulfill his own prophecy.
The readers of Radha Damodara Vilasa relive this sankirtan mood through the lives of three of Prabhupada’s most influential disciples Jayananda Prabhu, Vishnujana Swami and Tamal Krishna Goswami joined the San Francisco temple within the first year of its opening in the mid’ 60s. Together they helped establish Lord Chaitanya’s mission in California while inaugurating the first traveling sankirtan party in the western world. After less than two years of preaching and touring together, however, they were separated by destiny.
Five years later were reunited by Sri Sri Radha Damodara as leaders of a sankirtan party dedicated to distributing the mercy of Lord Chaitanya to every town and village. In the years leading up to this they had grown and changed in their own ways. All three played significant roles in spreading the sankirtan movement while undergoing personal struggles and triumphs in their endeavor for enlightenment. after Jayananda’s passing a away, Srila Prabhupada confirmed that he went back to Godhead. He was considered ISKCON’s first saint-an average American who perfected his life.
Radha Damodara Vilasa is therefore a sankirtan adventure saga tracing the history of the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy- to bring the Holy Names of God to every town, village, and city street throughout the word.
Just as Lord Ramachandra engaged and army of monkeys to liberate Srimati Sitadevi, Similarly Srila Prabhupada recruited an army of the sons and daughters of the mleccha and Yavana countries to fulfil the prophecy of Lord Chaitanya. Attracted by Srila Prabhupada’s purity and love for Krishna, Young people from all walks of life embraced his teachings and took to the path of self realization. As he gradually introduced deeper truths of Bhakti- yoga, Prabhupada imbued his disciples with greater spiritual fervor empowering them to travel the glove to spread the gloried of itual fervor empowering them to travel the globe to spread the glories of the holy Name and to establish temples along the way.
The Radha Damodara party was the largest traveling sankirtan army the world has ever seen comprising six buses with numerous satellite vans and cars that crisscrossed the North American continent. They distributed millions of transcendental books and inspired other parties around the world to do the same.
All of a sudden in early 1976, Vishnujana Maharaja mysteriously disappeared. By the end of the year Tamal Krishna Maharaja left the party to be with Prabhupada in India. By May 1977, Jayananda Prabhu contracted leukemia and passed away but not before staging the first New York Ratha-yatra and inaugurating the Los Angeles Ratha-Yatra
Radha Damodara retired from traveling during the summer of 1977 and settled at the farm Prabhupada had a plan to visit Gita Nagari to implement what he called the second 50% of his work varnasrama-dharma. It was to be his last journey abroad. He was in Poor health and at an advanced age. En route to Gita Nagari, Prabhupada stopped in London, where his condition became critical. He had to cancel his plans and returned to Vrindavan. Srila Prabhupada passed from our visio at the age of 81 on November 14, 1977, sending shock waves throughout the Hare Krishna movement that are still felt today.
Srila Prabhupada always had an intimate relationship with Radha-Damodara. For years he lived at the Radha-Damodara Mandir in Vrindavan, where he had written his Srimad Bhagavatam purports under Their shelter. Prabhupada told us that he lives eternally at Radha-Damodara temple has requested that we continually venerate his rooms there.
Radha-Damodara were also the beloved Deities of Srila Rupa Goswami and Sila Jiva Goswami. These two emient Acharyas were dedicated to spreading the mission of Lord Chaitanya world wide. Srila Prabhupada had regularly prayed for the mercy of these Acharyas whose life and soul were Radha-Damodara.
When Prabhupada suffered a heart attack on his maiden voyage to America he wrote the following in his diary: “I feel better today, but I am feeling separation from Sri Vrindavan and my Lords, Sri Govinda, Gopinath, Radha-Damodara”. By leaving the Radha-Damodara temple in Vrindavan he brought Lord Chaitanya’s sankirtan mission to the world and sparked a spiritual revolution through the chanting of Hare Krishna.
In its initial four years from 1966 to 1970 the Hare Krishna movement was spread primarily by householder couples. Prabhupada would send them to a city to start a Krishna conscious center, usually in a storefront or a hous. The Deities in those centers were always Lord Jayannath murti. If a center didn’t have Lord Jagannth murtis, then devotes worshipped a picture of panca Tattva. The first large Radha Krishna Deities in the movement were installed in December 1969.
Radha –Damodara came to America in 1970, in middle of an intrigue that Prabhupada called a “conspiracy”. During this time he introduced the sannyasa-asrama in the west. At the same time he formalized mangala arati at 4:30 every morning along with Tulasi puja and the prayers to lord Nrsimhadeva. It was at this juncture of history that the present format of worship in ISKCON was instituted.
At the same time Prabhupada left America to establish temples in the holy places of Vrindavan, Mayapur, and the important cities of India while Prabhupada was returning to India, Radha-Damodara were coming to America.
There are external and internal reasons for the advent of Radha Damodara. The internal reasons are for their own purpose which remain mostly inconceivable. The external reasons for Their appeareance are essentially for the benefit of others –for our benefits. But in either case whenever They descend how the surrendered souls disburse the Lord’s mercy and inspire others to participate, thus facilitating the conditioned souls’ exit from the material world
Krishna is famous for speaking the immortal Bhagavad-gita to his devotee Arjuna, thereby re-establishing eternal dharma for the benefit of future generations. But He is no less famous as Damodara, the naughty child of mother Yasoda and in these pastimes He reveals even more about Himself and His intimate relationship with His devotees.
The Sanskrit word damodara is actually two words dama and udara which mean “rope” and “belly” respectively. The Yasoda-Damodara pastimes are part of Krishna Maintainer of the entire material and spiritual existence assumes the form of a child, voluntarily placing Himself in the care of his devotees as if helpless without their love. Under the influence of the potency Yogamaya mother Yasoda and Nanda Maharaja feel that child Krishna will come to harm without their tender loving care.
When child Krishna is bound with rope around his belly by the love of mother Yasoda, the Lord becomes eternally famous as Damodara. By agreeing to be bound by mother Yasoda’s love Damodara displays a unique quality Bhakta vatsala whereby the supreme agrees to become subordinate to his devotee in the mood of loving reciprocation. This is a particularly sweet role for the supreme controller as well as for the devotee.
Vaishnavas aspiring for this pure devotional mood cherish the Damodara pastimes as exquisitely attractive. The poet Satyavrata Muni captures this attitude of devotion in his Sri Damodarstakam, eight Sanskrit verses that have been sung with great feeling for millennia. A benediction accompanies these verses. It is said that anyone who recites or even hears this prayer especially in the month of Kartik, will attract the eternal shelter of devotional service at the lotus feet of Sri Damodara.
The super-excellent pastimes of mother Yasoda with child Damodara portray the loving mood of vatsalya-rasa. But what is the role of Damodara with Srimati Radharani whose relationship with Krishna is in madhurya-rasa the sweet delicacy of conjugal love? What is the significance of Radha-Damodara to the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya, which emphasizes madhurya-rasa?
The vraja-gopis constantly discuss Krishna’s pastimes amongst themselves. Since mother Yasoda never wants to forget Krishna’s activities, she remembers all His pastimes in the form of poetry.
“One day when mother Yasoda saw that all the maidservants were engaged in other household affairs, she personally began to churn the yogurt, while churning, She remembered the childish activities of Krishna and in her own way the composed songs and enjoyed singing to herself about all those activities.
All the gopis love to hear Mother Yasoda sing about the glories of Krishna. Radharani is especially keen to hear Krishna’s pastimes, but She is particularly attracted to the Damodara pastime. Charmed by Damodara’s mood of surrender in agreeing to be bound by mother Yasoda’s love, Sri Radha longs to have that same exchange with Krishna. She desires to express such intense love for Krishna that he will also agree to be bound by her love. Appreciating this mood of mother Yasoda to enhance her own feeling for Krishna, She resolves to experience this same reciprocation of love. Srila Prabhupada states, “This position of Mother-Yasoda is the greatest.” And he adds that, “Mother Yasoda is in the super-most exated position, and thus Krishna has become completely subordinate to her.
Radha-Damodara thus refers to Radharani’s mood of intense attraction for this pastime between Damodara and mother Yasoda. In celebration of this mood of love, She performs katyayani vrata at the end of the month of Kartik to receive the benediction to enter into this intimate relationship of loving exchange. By performing to this vrata, Sri Radha is willing to under go any austerities so that Krishna will agree to be bound by her love.
according to Vedic civilization during the month of Kartik unmarried girls are required to worship goddess Durga and perform austerities in order to get a good husband. in KRSNA book, the unmarried gopis perform Katyayani vrata to get Krishna as their husband. They eat only havisyanna –a bland kichari prepared by boiling mung dahl and rice together without any spices-to purify the body before enacting a ritualistic ceremony. After taking bath in the Yamuna River, they worship a deity of goddess Durga with sandalwood pulp, garlands, incense, lamps, fruits, grains, and twigs of plants. After worship, they pray for the benediction to become the wives of Krishna.
Jiva Goswami has written that Srimati Radharani always performs austerities simply to bind Krishna more and more with her love. Because without Krishna, She cannot even bear to live. It is due to Sri Radha’s aradhana, or worship, that Krishna never leaves Vrindavan. Gaudiya Vaishnavas consider Radharani to be the presiding Deity for the month of Kartik, which, significantly, is also called the month of Damodara. Srila Rupa Goswami in his Sri Utakalika-vallari, Proclaims Radharani as Kartikdevi, the goddess of Kartik.
The Hari-bhakti-vilasa proclaims, “O learned Brahmanas! Lord Damodara becomes very pleased if during the month of Kartik one worships a Deity of Radhika solely for her pleasure.” For this reason Vaishnavas perform austerities in the month of Kartik to please Sri Radha. The consider Kartik as the month of Radha-Damodara because of the followings pastime in the Uttara-khanda of the Bhavisya Purana.
Once in the auspicious month of Kartik, Krishna came late for a rendezvous with Radharani in Her Kunja. In loving anger, Sri Radha looked at Krishna with frowning eyebrows. Using some golden vines, Radha then tied a rope around Lord Krishna’ s belly to punish him for not showing up as promised. Krishna said He was late because Mother Yasoda kept Him home for a festival. Seeing Her mistake, Radha quickly united Her beloved Damodara.
Radharani’s desire to bind Krishna with her love is fulfilled in this pastimes. Therefore, Vraja Vaishnavas worship this Damodara who is bound by Radharani’s love. Of course, Krishna is already famous as Holy Name. He is always know as Damodara, although it appears that His name comes into being as a result of the pastime with mother Yasoda, just as Krishna appears to take birth from Devaki.
There is another story. In their childhood forms Radha and Krishna are walking together in Bandiravan one day. They stop to rest under a Banyan tree. By Their mystic potency, They manifest youthful forms. A wedding is held and guests arrive. The marriage ceremony is performed by Lord Brahma with all the demigods in attendance. During the wedding ceremony Radharani’s sari is tied to Krishna’s dhoti as is the custom in Vedic weddings. When the ceremony is over and the gusts have left, they assume their childhood forms again and walk home. Due to the tying of clothes, same Vaishnavas consider this pastimes a lila of Radha-Damodara.
Certainly, in the mood of Radha-Damodara, Sri Krishna and Srimati Radharani display some of their most mystical pastimes. This is also evident in Radha-Damodara’s pastimes with Srila Prabhupada’s disciples and grand-disciples, who have embrace the holy name to become the instruments of Radha Damodara for spreading the sankirtan mission worldwide. Just as we relish the pastimes of Lord Chaitanya’s direct associates, future generatiosn of Vishnavas will relish the activities of Srila Prabhupada’s direct disciples with Radha-Damodara. These pastimes are important because Krishna in never without his devotees. The devotees and the Lord are interlinked and they cannot be separated. Therefore, talks about them are all krsna-katha, or topics of the Lord.” Indeed, only the most loving devotees such as Jayananda and Vishnujana can tie the Supreme Lord to their heart with rope of love.
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