ISKCON’s Sri Mayapur center saw an unprecedented crowd in the temple on the 68th appearance day, called Vyas puja, celebration of His Holiness Jayapataka Swami, the senior most Guru and a Governing Body Commissioner of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. All halls were packed with thousands of devotees wanting to have a glimpse of their revered spiritual master seated on a high throne, called Vyasasana, as the guru continued to take the austerity of following Vedic tradition and fulfilling his disciples’ wishes.
“There is a lot of people present here and I cannot reciprocate with everyone. Especially if they crowd around, offer flowers, garlands, money, smiles, pushing…. it is beyond my scope to reciprocate.” Swami ji said in a light gesture to advise the devotees to co-operate with the organizers.
A day before, literally thousands of people including devotees and curious guests received His Holiness Jayapataka Swami, lovingly called “Guru maharaj” by his disciples, with flowers, victory flags, colorful rangolis, loud blowing of conch-shells, auspicious ulu dhwani and ecstatic chanting of the Hare Krishna maha mantra. A series of ceremonies and programs followed as devotees from many countries offered homages to His Holiness through words, arts and various performances.
“Krishna is the Guru of all gurus, but just to show as an example he accepted a Guru. So throughout history, the principle of Guru and disciple is there. Although guru is a devotee of the Lord, he is not a Vishnu tattva usually, but he takes the role to guide the disciples back to Krishna and this role was taken by Srila Prabhupada”, Jayapataka Swami said highlighting the importance of accepting a bona fide spiritual master in one’s spiritual journey.
A social media text by a disciple read: “There were thousands of devotees, with practically no space to move. The Vyasa puja committee reported that over 10,000 people attended the Vyasa puja, which apparently exceeded the attendance for Gaura Purnima this year! The festival was conducted efficiently. The decorations were beautiful, with Srila Prabhupada’s instructions to Guru Maharaj depicted. The JSSS Mayapur had organised, for the first time, help desks for the visitors, which helped devotees find rooms, medical help, water supply etc. Guru Maharaj expressed his gratitude for the various arrangements. The ceremony ended with auspicious Guru puja. All the assembled devotees with so much emotion sang the Guru prayers, it was an overwhelming experience.”
In his homage to Srila Jayapataka Swami, one of his god brothers HH Radhanatha Swami wrote: “Your lifetime of devotional service, at times in most difficult situations is a tribute to your surrender and your love for Srila Prabhupada, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the Vaishnava community”.
HH Bhakticharu Swami, another god brother of Srila Jayapataka Swami wrote: “What you have shown is a real miracle. When you had the stroke, the expert doctors who were treating you, declared that you had very little chance of survival, and if you do, then you would become paralyzed for the rest of your life. But proving all of them to be totally wrong you not only started to move and speak, but travel around the world imparting spiritual wisdom to so many sincere souls for their ultimate spiritual benefit. Seeing your unbelievable performance those doctors have admitted that you have totally bewildered the medical science by defying their scientific concepts based on years of observations and research. They have never seen such a case in their entire history. People want to see miracles. Undoubtedly this is one of the greatest miracles that anyone has ever witnessed.”
Thousands of homages addressed to Srila Jayapataka Swami on his Vyasa puja day are on record and all of them glorify Swami ji’s distinct spiritual qualifications and unwavering determination to carry out the orders of his spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.
In his Vyasa puja address, the Guru spoke about his early life and introduction to Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON. “Srila Prabhupada told me to preach in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and later told me that it was the duty of all Sanyasis to travel around the world.”
In a stunning revelation, His Holiness Jayapataka Swami said that Srila Prabhupada, who is Swami ji’s spiritual master and the founder-acharya of ISKCON, had told him in Kolkata at ISKCON”s 3C Albert Road temple that he was born in India in a previous life. To this, Swami ji’s immediate reaction was, “I am very fallen”, but Srila Prabhupada corrected him saying, “Don’t disbelieve the words of the Guru.” There is another famous statement made by Srila Prabhupada and heard by a number of devotees in this regard when Srila Prabhupada said that Jayapataka Swami had taken birth in India when Lord Chaitanya appeared and that he has again taken birth to spread the message of the Lord. These are esoteric aspects of a pure devotee’s life and one needs advanced spiritual realization to understand the depth of such statements.
It is to be noted that His Holiness Jayapataka Swami has been overseeing and inspiring various ISKCON centers and devotees around the world from all six continents since he dedicated his life to Srila Prabhupada in 1968, at the age of 19. Despite having a severe brain stroke in 2008, Swami ji continues to preach around the world the divine message of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is none other than Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Apart from Sri Mayapur, the Vyasa puja celebration of His Holiness Jayapataka Swami Maharaj took place also in other parts of the world.