From Tapan Misra Dasa (ACBSP)
The San Francisco temple in the late ’60s early ’70s was situated at 455 Valencia Street in the “Mission district.” The area then was a seedy district of flophouse hotels and commercial businesses, now it is an upscale renovated neighborhood. But then it was home to all sorts of miscreants, many of whom frequented the temple. Next door was a giant garage where vehicles were kept and Rathayatra gear was stored between festivals—giant fiberglass Gour Nitai, disassembled Rath carts, and related tools and accessories.
Jayananda worked the garage like a master painter works in oil paint—he was a master. An industrial engineering major at Ohio State, he was very organized and methodical. In the erly 1970s I was his assistant because of my similar mechanical penchant. There were always projects to be doen, one project of his was to build a large wooden tool locker—Jayandanda commented he “really liked just organizing the tools and locker,” that was his samadhi. We built it and placed the locker all the way at the back of the garage so it was out of the way.
One day, some work needed to be done and a man showed up at the locked garage door and we let him because he appeared inclined to help with some of the innumerable projects that were always going on. We escorted him to the back of the garage to get some tools. As we got to the back of the garage he began talking some nonsense and threatening us as he became more agitated. So Jayananda and I began to escort him back to the front of the garage and out the door.
Remember, Jayananda was about 6′ 2″ and I was all of 5′ 9″ and 120 pounds dripping wet. Things quickly went downhill and Jayananda grabbed the guy’s arm to “help him” to the door as he became increasingly uncooperative. In an instant, the guy became violent and in the melee he and Jaynanda tumbled to the motor oil-stained wooden floor into a pile of assorted junk. After a few seconds the guy had turned the tables on Jayananda and was on top of him pummeling him with fists as Jayananda was overcome.
What do you do when the strongest member of your team is overcome? Well, for that instant I was not “Tapan” as Jayananda referred me as, I was someone else as I became enraged that someone was doing this to my”brother” and my friend, what to speak of fellow Vaisnava? I did what I saw—-I jumped on top of the guy who had jumped on top of Jayananda and got him in a headlock with my forearm firmly around his throat and began squeezing and pulling as I “held on for dear life.”
For what seemed line an eternity nothing changed—Jayandanda was pinned and helpless, I was latched on like a barnacle. But then, the guy weaked just a miniscule amount and Jayananda wriggled free. In a hearbeat Jayananda had subdued the “demon” and had him firmly under his control. We escorted him out of the garage and gave him the boot. We never saw him again.
As we both were recounting the experience and I was telling Jayananda how scared I was and could not do anything but try to free him to take care of the problem, Jayananda said in a jolly tone “Tapan, you saved my life.” I didn’t think it was that serious until he said that, but if it’s true, then it’s only fair for how many times Jayananda saved others.