Memorial for "Mr. Rathayatra" - by Devamrita Swami
A memorial for the great ISKCON devotee Jayananda Prabhu, "Mr. Rathayatra," who departed in 1976 at the age of 38, has been a discussion topic at the GBC meetings in Mayapur. As Haridas Thakur wanted to leave this world before Mahaprabhu, so Jayananda, a master of selfless service and sacrifice, wanted to leave this world before Srila Prabhupada.
Kesava Bharati Maharaja tells how during the intense weeks preceding a San Francisco Rathayatra, he observed that Jayananda, amidst his typical round-the-clock herculean marathon, in private moments seemed nearing collapse. When Kesava Bharati Maharaja, then a brahmacari, lovingly yet firmly asked what was going on, Jayananda replied that first the Maharaja had to vow not to tell anyone until after the Rathayatra. Upon exacting Kesava Bharati Maharaja's agreement, Jayananda then revealed to him the onslaught of a terminal disease. Noting his Godbrother's shock, Jayananda warned him, "Remember, you promised not a word until after Rathayatra."
In a Bhagavatam class, Hari Vilasa Prabhu related that Jayananda received aninheritance of $70,000, during his final months, and immediately dispatched the check to Srila Prabhupada as a donation. Prabhupada promptly returned the check, instructing that Jayananda use the money for medical treatment. Again submitting the check to Prabhupada, Jayananda wrote that his body was finished; hence the money best be spent by Prabhupada for printing his books.