H H JAYAPATAKA SWAMI, ADDRESSING IN THE ISKCON GBC STRATEGIC PLANNING TEAM FACILITATING, ON ZOOM, FROM HOME BASE, SRI MAYAPUR DHAM, INDIA
HG Parijata mataji, the moderator in Mumbai, introduced Maharaj first to the Zoom audience.
Posted by ISKCON GBC Strategic Planning Team on Friday, May 15, 2020
In these times especially when we are dealing with this crisis and lock down, devotees hardly get to meet anybody, they don’t go outside, they have no visitors and we are isolated from the outside world. What can be more joyful than to have your spiritual master, your spiritual mentor, your spiritual teacher come and connect with you and it is this joyful experience that we are going to talk about today. In relation to this very special and unique home visits that maharaj is conducting in relation to temples and devotees’ homes. So before we speak to maharaj and we have some questions for him, we would first like to hear from him and get some guidelines, some inspiration which will help devotees to feel uplifted spiritually. Hare Krsna maharaj!
HH Jayapataka Swami: You see, the authorities say that fear and anxiety are a bigger danger than the disease. So I thought I should speak first to my zone and also to different continents where I have many disciples. So I give a brief introduction about COVID-19. Then explain how there is no allopathic treatment, no vaccine yet. We have some alternative treatments which we are trying and so far looks promising! And then I tell them to use this opportunity to read books, chant Hare Krsna and preach, using the internet they can preach. Some places they have Bhagavad-gita courses and 300, 500 or even thousands of people participate. So to use this opportunity, have japathons, have various programs, and then I would start visiting the different devotees. You know, many times devotees ask, I could visit their house. But actually it is very difficult. But by Zoom I could visit hundreds and hundreds of houses! And you know, people become really excited! I enter their houses, I see their altar. Sometimes they offer me arati, sometimes they offer me prasadam. I say that Zoom prasadam is low calorie, high love! Ha! So some people offer me garlands. Later on I ask them for their realizations. They say that is a very high point in life. They always wanted me to visit their house. And I came by Zoom! So I go everywhere. In Zoom sometimes we are waiting, waiting, waiting. We go by the names we see on the screen, we say the name, they realize I am watching, and they say now maharaj is in your house! And they raise their hands! And they are all excited! To make the devotees happy, what else is a better purpose of life? So like this we try and use this lockdown period. In the mornings I talk with countries in the east – Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, Singapore. In the evening, with countries in the West.
Parijata mataji: Maharaj, you have always been so pro-active in the media and it is so happy to see the devotees and they themselves are so happy to see you. So what is the most compelling factor that inspired you to start the home visit program?
HH Jayapataka Swami: I want to inspire the devotees to do some preaching. So meeting them and talking to them and also hearing from them of the different programs that they were doing. It was very enlightening. So it became a natural thing. It evolved. All the sannyasis, GBCs, gurus should also do this and see how their altars, how the devotees are, they feel very inspired!
Parijata mataji: Maharaj, do you feel a difference in your relationship before you started this program when there was before COVID when you were connecting to devotes by email or Facebook or even face to face, versus now when you have the home visit programs? Do you feel this has enhanced your connect to your disciples and devotees?
HH Jayapataka Swami: Certainly. I gave a program in Bengaluru. There were 3000 devotees there. So I gave a class. But devotees couldn’t speak to me much. It was a massive program. Here when you go on Zoom, each devotee family, we are talking to, face to face. Maybe 30 seconds or so. But that time they value very much! It is a personal time for them in their house! So I think for the disciples when they see me in big crowds, it is a little personal thing they appreciate a lot. And also it reminds me of them, I see how they are Krsna conscious and how their house is. How the deities are.
Parijata mataji: With the program being such a huge success, how do you feel? Would you like to continue this even after the lockdown? How do you see this program going forward?
HH Jayapataka Swami: During the lockdown devotees are all day long in their house. I would like to do this program even after lockdown but I could do it weekends or nighttime. But now I can do programs in the morning and evening. Plus meetings, classes. Today I had morning, TOVP Exhibits meeting, Eastern India Additional Council Meeting, then COVID-19 prasadam distribution meeting, then Caitanya Leela class, now we are doing this program. All day long process. So sometimes I do some exercises.
Parijata mataji: So besides this program being a big part of you connecting, I think it is one of the biggest medium through which you connect to your disciples and well-wishers, but you have so many of them across the globe. Would you also like to share what are the other ways you also connect? So many numbers, you probably have hundreds of devotees writing to you, wanting to get inspiration from you. So besides this program is there any other form of communication, any modes of communication you follow during this lockdown period?
HH Jayapataka Swami: Email, also with the help of UK disciples, Satyamedha Gauranga das, I have E-care program. Keep track of my devotees, aspirants and it is just rolling out now. And we are trying to integrate that as part of caring for the devotees.
Paritjata mataji: Besides connecting with disciples or well-wishers do you use the social media now connecting with leaders, mangers and for other managerial purposes?
HH Jayapataka Swami:: Like today I had a Eastern Indian Additional Council meeting with all the temple presidents of eastern India. And earlier this year I had a meeting with All India leaders using social media and Zoom. So now since we cannot travel, we use internet to have our meeting with our leaders. So in Delhi they are distributing 500,000 plates of prasadam every day. We are not able to distribute that much. We don’t have that much finance. We are in the village. But we are giving 5 or 6 thousand a day. Also giving grains to the Visnu temples in the area, to different Gaudiya matts and temples which are poverty stricken. Srila Prabhupada said that we should try to unite the Saraswat family. And he said, no one in a ten-mile radius around our temple should not go hungry because is the Father of everyone, Hindus, Muslims everyone! So in the presence of the father, the son should not go hungry!
Parijata mataji: Thank you so much maharaj for giving us an insight into this unique program and I think our viewers will now be curious to know how the program works. And we are very fortunate because maharaj has actually agreed to do a live with us! So we are actually going to do home visits and you can be part of that. Today maharaj is going to be visiting the homes of devotees. We are now on this journey with you and many devotees waiting to meet you today!