Remembering Vishnujana Swami
I met Vishnujana Swami off and on from 1970 to 1976. From the first time I met him to the last, he was always the same, always on a mission, and he was unstoppable. I believe he found his relationship with Krishna in his brief time here on Earth as Srila Prabhupada’s dear disciple. He came to Portland, Oregon temple in 1971 or ’72 I believe, and gave a lecture that put me into a sort of trance that I think I never recovered from. Then he did it again in Los Angeles, and again in New York when I saw him there. So each time I was more inspired to go out on harinamwith him and his traveling group of devotees and experience the real thing, the nectar of the holy name in congregational chanting. Anyone who knew him can tell you that he was created for Harinam Sankirtan. His kirtans set a precedent for full-speed-ahead, lose-yourself-totally-in-the-sound-vibration kirtans. When he danced and sometimes ran with the mridanga in his arms chanting till his voice was cracking, like he was crying out to Krishna, and sweating, and losing contact with the world around him, I would say it affected everyone in an emotional way that would make them also transcend the world around them and transport them into spiritual bliss. He was contagious. The milder side of his nature was deep and mysterious, thoughtful and intelligent. His lectures poured out like some kind of hypnotic river of perfectly timed overflow of nectar. And to this day I have not heard anyone ever preach like that.
My good friend over at the Prabhupada Connection recently posted an article I had written some years ago. Seeing it again inspired me to post it here as well. Many thanks to Padmapani Prabhu for his years of dedicated service to Srila Prabhupada and the community of devotees.
Radha Damodara Traveling Sankirtan Party
by Vyasasan das
First let me begin by offering my respectful obesiences to all the Vaisnava devotees of the Lord, who are so merciful to the fallen conditioned souls that they put themselves in perilous and austere conditions of life voluntarily, in order to help others. And as always, let me offer my most humble obeisances to my beloved spiritual master A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is very dear to Lord Krishna, haven taken shelter at his Lotus feet.
I had the great fortune to be a part of the Historic RDTSKP in the years 1975-1976. What great and extraordinary personalities did I encounter in that time of my life. There was the legendary Vishnujana Swami who could bring the Hare Krishna revelers to a state of ecstasy with his vibrant and enthusiastic chanting. And his speaking was like honey dripping from the vine, so sweet and relishable. Then there was the remarkable Jayananda Thakur, so devoted to Srila Prabhupada’s mission that most of us never saw him sleeping. He woke me in the morning by touching my feet or shaking my leg and shouting jiv jago, jiv jago, gauracanda bole, “wake up sleeping soul, wake up sleeping soul, Lord Gauranga is calling! How long will you sleep in the lap of the witch called Maya?” Jayananda taught me what it meant to be a disciple of Srila Prabhupada by his enthusiastic and never ending service. Whether he was taking out the trash, or making 500 Simply Wonderful sweet balls for the festival, he was caught up in a world of joy and devotion. And of course there was Tamal Krishna Goswami, so powerful a personality, you just couldn’t ‘say no to Tamal’. And my dear friend ‘the rascal’ Gurudas Swami, who tricked me into shaving up and traveling on the bus for the next year by promising to introduce me to George Harrison “the Beatle”. But I love him dearly because through his cunning trickery, I instead got to meet His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada. And Gurudas was a gifted storyteller, and could entertain devotees and guests alike for hours with his gifts of “Prabhupada Katha”.
This morning I was doing a little internet searching and revisiting some of my favorite sites. This took me to The Prabhupada Connection. For some reason I clicked on the Editorial Notes and began reading some of the essays. I was a big fan of Visnujana Swami, as was everyone, and I enjoyed reading this memory by Padmapani Prabhu.
When Visnujana Swami led kirtan in Stanley Park, hundreds of people encircled our party, all transfixed by his melodious chanting. Usually we might have a couple of dozen onlookers in attendance for harinam, but this was a monumental occasion. The devotees twirled and jumped and danced with great abandon. The sense of harmony amongst us was real and palpable. The swelling crowd was a testament to the infectious joy of chanting Hare Krsna in unity and love.
A Time for Reflection
by Padmapani das
When I first joined the Vancouver temple in 1973, a devotee explained to me that everyone who comes in contact with Krsna is a great soul, a mahatma. He told me that even the postman who delivers Krsna’s mail is very special and should be respected. I was in total awe.