When Srila Prabhupada went to the United States of America to preach Krishna Consciousness, he attracted thousands of westerners to the movement and created a new breed of empowered Vaishnavas who helped Srila Prabhupada spread Krishna Consciousness all across the globe. Sriman Jayananda Prabhu was one such Vaishanava and of the best disciples of Srila Prabhupada. He was the picture of purity and utter humility that Lord Chaitanya has taught in His shiskashtaka.
Jayananda Prabhu, an engineering graduate from Ohio State University, happily performed all kinds of services, including driving a cab, for expanding Srila Prabhupada’s transcendental movement. A tireless worker, he had endless energy for offering to Srila Prabhupada through his various services.
Jayananda Prabhu was revered and loved by all the devotees of his day. He was expert in engaging people in Srila Prabhupada’s service. All devotees cherished his powerful association. His ever-positive outlook of people and circumstance enlivened everyone near him. He never allowed negativities like criticism to linger in his presence. His mind and body were fully engaged in the service of Srila Prabhupada. Jayananda Prabhu incessantly served from morning to night and meticulously did services like cleaning and arranging that many devotees neglected out of laziness.
Jayananda Prabhu is famous for building the first Rathas that were used to carry Baladeva, Subhadra & Jagannath through the streets of San Francisco, New York, and Philadelphia. He organized the first ever ISKCON Ratha Yatra in the year 1967 at San Francisco. At a time when devotees did not have much money, Jayananda Prabhu employed transcendental techniques and arranged material and manpower to manifest beautiful Rathas for the grand Ratha Yatra festivals. His endeavors were deemed superhuman and divinely endowed. As the majestic carts rolled into the streets colorfully splashing the concrete skyline of the world’s major cities, Jayananda Prabhu could be seen dancing incessantly while intently gazing upon the Deities in the Rathas. Srila Prabhupada had enjoyed Ratha Yatra as a child with Rathas his father built for him and he made a powerful spiritual impact on western mindscape with Rathas built by Jayananda Prabhu.
Jayananda Prabhu passed away after a prolonged illness at Los Angles on May 1, 1977. On May 5, in 1977, from Mumbai, Srila Prabhupada wrote the following letter addressing his beloved disciple Jayananda Prabhu, four days after he departed from this world at the Los Angeles temple
May 05, 1977
My Dear Jayananda,
Please accept my blessings.
I am feeling very intensely your separation. In 1967 you joined me in San Francisco. You were driving my car and chanting Hare Krsna. You were the first man to give me some contribution ($5000) for printing my Bhagavad-gita. After that, you have rendered very favorable service to Krsna in different ways. I so hope at the time of your death you were remembering Krsna and as such, you have been promoted to the eternal association of Krsna. If not, if you had any tinge of material desire, you have gone to the celestial kingdom to live with the demigods for many thousands of years and enjoy the most opulent life of material existence. From there you can promote yourself to the spiritual world. But even if one fails to promote himself to the spiritual world, at that time he comes down again on the surface of this globe and takes birth in a big family like a yogis’ or a brahmanas’ or an aristocratic family, where there is again chance of reviving Krsna Consciousness. But as you were hearing Krsna-kirtana, I am sure that you were directly promoted to Krsna-loka.
janma karma ca me divyam
evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma
naiti man eti so’ rjuna
Krsna has done a great favor to you, not to continue your diseased body, and has given you a suitable place for your service. Thank you very much.
Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami