Written by Nandan
After a full day of classes and meetings, in the evening Kadamba Kanana Swami attended the Appearance Day celebrations of his spiritual master HH Jayadvaita Swami (24 November). The celebrations were held at Sacidevi’s (a senior Mauritian disciple known for her loyalty and resourcefulness) apartment. The apartment was beautiful with gorgeous Krsna pictures all over the place. Behind the building was a green field where jackals would howl at night. There was also a quiver of impressive looking wooden arrows which I learned belonged to Samba Prabhu (husband of Sacidevi) who is really into archery.
An august assembly of around 40 devotees were present in Sacidevi’s home. They seemed to be from all over the world. There was a nice kirtan to welcome Maharaj from some gurukulis and then Maharaj started a slow light ambient kirtan to set the mood. Initially, Maharaj started off with the mangalacharan prayers and then was going to go into the Guruvastakam prayers but for some reason, the chords on the harmonium were too high so instead he decided to go straight into a Hare Krsna kirtan. It was fantastic!
Maharaj then spoke on HH Jayadvaita Swami, starting off by mentioning how Jayadvaita Swami could not come because he is a revolutionary who was busy promoting a book he had recently written on a most awkward part of the Bible called Ecclesiastes. This scripture tells of a King called Quohelen who enjoyed all the worldly pleasures but found it all empty. But why in the world did Jayadvaita Swami write a book on that!?
He was part of a Jewish background and went to Sunday school which was really boring but on one occasion, the normal boring Rabbi was not there and instead a young dynamic Rabbi came there and spoke on the Ecclesiastes. It resonated with Jayadvaita Swami so much and he realised that most of what is out there is meaningless. Eventually, he checked out the Hare Krsna movement because University was also meaningless and the rest is history…
Even though he joined the Hare Krsnas at a very young age, Jayadvaita Swami still conceded that it was too late! It was already a burgeoning movement by then and the days of Brahmananda Prabhu’s leadership were gone. Anyhow, he was a ten fingered typist and soon began his career as an editor of books and quickly became part of the core editing team. Then Maharaj read out his own offering which was based on the Srimad Bhagavatam 6.3.19.
Maharaj reminisced about his various experiences with his Guru such as the time when they went to the Taj Mahal with Jayadvaita Swami’s mother and how his mother marvelled at the romanticism of the monument to which Jayadvaita Swami simply replied, “YUCK!” Then there ensued an argument between mother and son in which Jayadvaita Swami’s mother had to accept defeat after admitting the transitory nature of the Taj Mahal’s beauty! This recollection raised immense laughter from everyone present in the room.
There was also the time when Jayadvaita Swami took out the plug from the amplifier in one of the Mayapur establishments as they were playing disproportionately loud music. So getting back to why Jayadvaita Swami wrote the book was because never was there a book that questioned life so much as the Ecclesiastes and never was there a book that answered those questions like the Bhagavad-gita.
Maharaj then said that he does not know who Jayadvaita Swami was in his previous life but it is obvious that he was someone special. Maharaj made the interesting point that different people have different types of intelligence. Like Ravindra Swarup Prabhu whose intelligence is like bubbles, popping up with new elucidations, whilst Devamrta Swami’s is like a razor – sharp and to the point. Trivikrama Maharaj’s is like a grinding stone, slow but gets through everything. But Jayadvaita Swami’s is like lightning, illuminating from one point to another and deeply penetrating. Ravindra Swarup Prabhu once said that Jayadvaita Swami is an intellectual giant.
Maharaj went on to say how his book is very scholarly and it may leave you cross eyed. But the book has been written primarily for outsiders. His editorials for ‘Back to Godhead’ were so exciting. One day, he may just decide to go and peach on the moon and Maharaj guessed that he would have to get involved too. More laughter!
Maharaj spoke of the special walk that Jayadvaita Swami has where he just floats right through. It is like he is not affected by things, whereas when Maharaj was asked to do difficult things, he admitted that he would be on the ground getting scratched and battered and eventually getting through it!
When Maharaj got initiated by Jayadvaita Swami, he knew he would not just be a manager.
Soon he was asked to be GBC for France but then Jayadvaita Swami just laid it down raw for Maharaj and told him, “No, you be a Guru… on my behalf!” Like a Ritvik!! And this was slap-bang in the aftermath of the whole Ritkvik debate in which Jayadvaita Swami was a key player. Then with a grin on his face, Maharaj told us he then realised this was a game and he was the ball. Anyhow, Maharaj eventually became a guru in his own right so it is true that Jayadvaita Swami didn’t make him a manager but he made him something else.
After Maharaj got shot, Jayadvaita Swami told him to go to a famous astrologer called Ashok Ray. Incidentally, this was the same astrologer who made the famous comment about Srila Prabupada, saying he has the ability to build a house in which the whole world can live. Anyhow when this astrologer met Maharaj and Jayadvaita Swami, he said of Jayadvaita Swami that he is the most broadminded person he knew and he would do anything to push the movement forward. Maharaj found this amusing, afterall you would think Jayadvaita Swami would be a conservative as he is so strict.
It is very hard following in the footsteps of a celestial but that is what it feels like with Jayadvaita Swami but Maharaj expressed his determination to do just that and eventually become a saintly person just like Jayadvaita Swami.
After a few more stories, Maharaj asked his various disciples to talk about their recollections on Jayadvaita Swami. Various stories, anecdotes and realisations came from a variety of devotees such as Samba Prabhu, Ter Kadamba Prabhu, Sadbhuja Prabhu and Gurudas Prabhu.
After hearing the other offerings, Maharaj gave a final thought on Jayadvaita Swami and that is that he is very grave and grave people fix their minds and never change their minds. This summed up Jayadvaita Swami perfectly. Afterwards, kirtan and sumptuous prasadam followed and right at the very end, Maharaj performed a first grain giving ceremony for the baby of Yamunarcharya.
When the program finished, Maharaj strolled back to the senior brahmachari ashram with a host of disciples under the Mayapur night sky.
HH Kadamba Kanana Maharaj ki Jai