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From work in progress, from Jayananda Thakur volume two,
"A Day in the Life"
by Vishoka Dasa

Sriman conch shell sounds the alert

At the precise moment prior to mangala arotik, Makhana Taskara dasa appears in front of the doors and purses his lips to a white conch shell, held high in his hand, and he draws his lungs full of life air and trumpets the conch, which blazons loudly over the drone of japa, heralding the glorious and imminent appearance of Their Majestic Lordships.

All devotees take their respective positions in a line leading to the left doors that are soon to open. They prompt Jayananda to take the lead position in the front of the line. Upon the third conch trumphet of Lord Krishna's glories, the deity doors swing open wide as the devotees sing in unison, "Jaya Jagannatha, Jaya Jagannatha," loudly, again and again. Some exclaim, "Jaya Gour Nitai!," and some cry, "Jaya Sri Sri Radha-Gokulananda!" upon seeing Their Lordships. They proceed to bow down to the temple floor like sticks falling in the dust, for prostation and total surrender to the Lord.

Jayananda marvels at the beauty of Lord Jagannatha, thinking about the upcoming festival and Lord Jagannatha riding on His cart.

    Lord Jagannatha is an ocean of mercy
    and He is beautiful like a row of blackish
    rain clouds. He is the storehouse of bliss for
    Laksmi and Sarasvati, and His face is like a
    spotless full-blown lotus. He is worshiped
    by the best of demigods and sages, and His
    glories are sung by the Upanisads. May that
    Jagannatha Svami be the object of my vision.
                              - Jagannathastaka   verse 4

Jayananda fondly remembers that Lord Jagannatha was the first deity to appear in western world, how Malati found a colorful figure with round eyes, and a big smile, in a barrel at Piers One store, in the Fisherman's Wharf district, and she purchased the figure and brought Him to Srila Prabhupada, who bowed down before the figure, and the devotees were amazed to witness Srila Prabhupasda do this. Srila Prabhupada to them that Lord Jagannatha had chosen to appear in America.

All devotees fall flat in dandavats to recieve the grand appearance of Lord Krishna, and His eternal consort Srimati Radharani, Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda. Sri Sri Gour Nitai's golden forms stand regally upon a golden lotus altar, dressed in beautiful white and purple night outfits, Their beautiful arms extended to the heavens in rapturous kirtan rasa.

Mangal arotik promptly begins with, "samsara-davanala lidha-loka," the Sri Gurvastaka prayers, led by Bhakta dasa, who deftly strikes a gong, which sets a rhythmic beat, and the congregated devotees respond in sweet melodic unison, with angelic voices and sweet mrdanga, and kartalas resounding.

The final verse resounds in their gladdened ears, "yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado, yasyaprasadan na gatih kuto 'pi...."

Jayananda always reveres these lines of Gurvastaka prayers, and he meditates on the meaning of "by the mercy of the spiritual master one receives the benediction of Krishna, without the grace of the spiritual master, one cannot make any advancement..." The meaning of this verse is Jayananda's life and soul, his formula for spiritual success, he takes these words very seriously and acts in that spirit with every minute of his day.


I remember the first time I was there in the San Francisco temple, and the deity doors first opened up, I was standing right in front of Lord Jagannatha, it was such an experience that is hard to describe. Actually, the first deities I saw that year, were in Portland, the golden forms of Sri Sri Gour-Nitai. Also, I bought one of my first books in Portland, it was "Lord Caitanya in Five Features" which is the 7th chapter of Caitanya-caritamrta, and I read it with great interest.

The part I remember most, was how Lord Caitanya sat down in the hallway and became effugent as "millions of suns." The picture of this lila stuck in my head as wonderful pastime of Lord Gauranga.

    After sitting on the ground, Caitanya Mahaprabhu
    exhibited His mystic power by manifesting an
    effulgence as brilliant as the illumination of
    millions of suns.  - Cc Adi 7.60

Remembering those mangala arotiks, set within a dimly lit temple room, and Bhakta dasa striking his gong, and the beauty and spiritual ambience of the flowing, lightly dancing devotees, and the beautiful brahminical ritual of peacock and yak tail fans, and ghee lamp offerings to the Lord, and the song to our master, Srila Prabhupada, and the rich scent of exotic incense offered to the Lord ... it all remains fresh in my mind to this day. I respectfully offer my full dandavats to the Vaisnavas, who eternally worship Sri Sri Radha Krishna with beautiful arotiks, as a regular daily function, in both the material and spiritual worlds. May such beautiful memories always remain within, especially the numerous sacred images of our dear Jayananda, dancing and singing joyfully in those arotiks.

I remember one day, we were at the Ratha cart construction site, and Jayananda was telling me about this bar across the street, and he was observing how some men and women were dancing in intoxication and feeling lusty, and some small children were trying to join in with the adults. But, they shooed the kids away in disgust, and continued their lusty dance which strongly suggested sexual intentions. Jayananda felt compassion for their ignorance and perverted desire of trying to get some pathetic pleasure from this dance and song. He commented how nice Krishna consciousness was, that even small children can join in with joyful singing and dancing along with the adults.

Humanity throughout the ages have always invented all kinds of music and dance styles, in order to aquire some so-called pleasure. They dance their dance, and play their music in an effort to reach some state of ecstasy, which is actually the perpetual desire of all souls to procure the original ecstasy found in the arotiks in Vaikuntha. But of course, their song and dance always falls short of the real ecstasy of which everyone is hankering for, life after life, because their material music is only temporary and illusory, and motivated by selfish and lusty desires, and not aimed at pleasing the supreme, Lord Sri Krishna. Therefore, it is never satisfying to the soul. Only when a person is fortunate enough to find a bona-fide spiritual master, and only then, can he cultivate the real song and dance that will unite him with Lord Sri Krishna and the spiritual world. Jayananda worked tirelessly to help people connect to Srila Prabhupada and Krishna, and thus find the perfection of music and dance, and obtain everlasting happiness and pleasure in the blissful service to the supreme.

    Where every tree is a transcendental purpose
    tree, where the soil is made of purpose gems,
    where the water is nectar, where every word
    is a song and every step a dance, where
    the flute is the favorite attendant.....
                        Sri Brahma-Samhita

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Causeless Mercy (#155)