on Feb. 28, 2009
Devotees prepare traditional 'rangoli' patterns to greet Jayapataka Swami upon his return home to Mayapur.
Four months after suffering a life-threatening brain hemorrhage, ISKCON guru and leader Jayapataka Swami has made a triumphant return home to Mayapur, India.
Flying in from ISKCON’s Bhaktivedanta Hospital in Mumbai on February 20, the Swami was greeted at Kolkatta airport by hundreds of devotees. After thanking them with a short speech, he left for Mayapur, where he arrived at around 6pm.
Waiting for him just outside the main gate of ISKCON’s Mayapur complex was a chanting party comprising of 200 GBC members, sannyasis, godbrothers and godsisters – and towering above them, the temple’s ceremonial elephant, carrying deities of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai.
As Jayapataka Swami’s car entered the complex, students from the local Bhaktivedanta National School welcomed him with message boards, flowers, flags, lamps and heralding blows of their conchshells.
Senior devotees walked alongside the car, trying to catch a few words through the window as it rolled towards the temple’s courtyard. It wasn’t an easy drive – thousands of eager devotees thronged the driveway, craning their necks and trying to steal a glimpse. Many devotees, led by Mayapur head priest Pankanjanghri Dasa, danced and chanted the Hare Krishna mantra, while others showered the car with flower petals.
Seated in a wheelchair, and assisted by several carers including Dr. Acyutananda Dasa of Bhaktivedanta Hospital, Jayapataka Swami entered the temple, where he paid his respects to the deities of Srila Prabhupada, Panca Tattva, Radha Madhava, and Nrsimhadeva.
Devotees packed the temple room from wall to wall as the Swami was helped onto the platform from where he was to address them. Many where shaken as they took in his gaunt frame and obvious damage the hemorrhage had done to his body. He spoke with difficulty, his speech slurred enough that it had to be repeated in English by Shiromani Dasi, then translated into Bengali by Bhakti Purushottam Swami – but his message was strong.
Referring to his brain hemorrhage on October 23rd, Jayapataka Swami said: “With such a stroke normally one doesn’t survive. But the GBCs gave me their blessings, devotees prayed all around the world, and somehow I survived. I have normal memory, but my right side is very weak. My face is frozen. I have a vision which doesn’t go left and right. But they said that by Krishna’s mercy everything can be cured.”
At this, a rousing cry of affirmation stirred through the temple hall: “Haribol!” Devotees were visibly moved.
“I am doing therapy now so that I can be active again in preaching,” Jayapataka Swami explained, before thanking Radhanatha Swami and Gopal Krsna Goswami for taking special care of him, and all the devotees for praying for his recovery. He also thanked the three doctors who watched over him around the clock at Hindhuja hospital, and the devotee doctors at Bhaktivedanta Hospital.
“I told the doctors that I hadn’t missed Mayapur’s Gaura Purnima festival since 1972, and have also attended all the GBC Meetings,” he said. “So they gave me permission to go for one week.”
The following day, Jayapataka Swami attended the annual meetings of ISKCON’s Governing Body Comission from 10:30am to 12pm. His contemporaries were delighted to seem him and all crowded around him to say a few words or lay a hand on his shoulder. Finally, in a touching moment, current GBC chairman Ramai Swami invited Jayapataka Swami to sit in the seat he has occupied for more then 35 years.