Remembering Jayaradhe dasi
by Sakshi Gopal dasa
Posted February 23, 2002

Jayaradhe dasi lived in the UK for almost twenty years. To those of us who knew her, it came as a shock to learn of her departure on 3rd January 2003. She had been on strong medication while awaiting a liver transplant in a Berkeley hospital and passed away in the company of her daughter, Caranamrita, and five of her family members.

Before coming to the UK, Jayaradhe served in the West Coast temples of the US where she joined Srila Prabhupada's mission in the early seventies. Having a very artistic nature, she was enthusiastic to learn the techniques of diorama making, as pioneered by Bharadvaja dasa, and she eagerly joined the team that helped build the First American Transcendental Exhibit at the F.A.T.E. studios in Los Angeles.

She moved to England in 1978 and was soon involved in another model making project, an exhibit for the devotee stand at the Festival of Body Mind Spirit which featured a samsara wheel diorama. Shortly after, she and I were married. For the few years we were together, she remained a devoted partner and always impressed me with her unbounded creativity and dedication - both in the studio and in the kitchen.

When we lived in Bury Place, while assisting me with typewriting and proofreading, one of her first solo projects was a breathtakingly beautiful embroidered/applique altar backdrop for Sri Sri Radha-Londoniswara's new temple at Soho Street. It took her several months to complete and featured a richly coloured scene of silk, velvet, pearls and gold thread, almost a three-dimensional window of desire trees, gopis and lotus flowers under a full moon by the banks of the Yamuna River.

She was very resourceful at fund raising with bakesales and art. Once, within days of my return from a trip to India with a stonecarving from Jagannath Puri - Lord Narasimhadeva - she had made a rubber mould and was selling the painted castings to devotees and guests. She went on to create more figurines of Gaura-Nitai and Radha-Krishna, but her most impressive piece was an exquisite bas relief of Krishna, some fifteen inches tall, that she modelled from Bharadvaja's painting on the Spiritual Sky incense pack. I personally consider that to be her best piece. Later, she again put her modelling skills to good effect while living at Chaitanya College. One Gaura Purnima she made a dozen or more painted dioramas of tiny clothed figures showing Lord Chaitanya's pastimes. They were placed in the alcoves of the Long Gallery, to the delight of the devotees, and were made of - believe it or not - bread dough. As any budding sculptors among you will know, a significant amount of salt had to be added to preserve such pieces, which were then be painted and varnished. She soon took up what was hoped would be a more permanent project and singlehandedly designed and sculpted the original figures for the Dasa Avatar set. These impressive cast bas reliefs continue to remain an altar feature at Bhaktivedanta Manor on the various appearance days of the Lord and they can also be seen in the temple room at ISKCON Leicester. For those of you who may remember Chaitanya College, this set of Dasa Avatar figures were originally featured around each of the enormous windows of the beautiful Orissan style temple room of Panca Tattva and Lord Jagannath, a temple room which sadly is no more.

While living at Chaitanya College Jayaradhe also helped launch a community newsletter called Pancajanya, named after Lord Krishna's celebrated conchshell. It ran for a number of issues during which time she played the part of enthusiastic reporter, copywriter and proofreader. After the demise of the magazine (curtailed as it was by the enthusiatic new GBC representative) she took over as respondent to the letters and enquiries that were flooding in as a result of the devotees' book distribution and preaching work. All the while she continued her interest in permaculture - the then little known gardening technique of mulching and companion planting - in the extensive walled garden behind the cottages at Chaitanya College. Yet during this time she suffered, as always, from weak health and a bad back, a condition only aggravated by her constant sculpting work and gardening. We parted ways at Chaitanya College. She went on to re-marry and settled in Leicester for several years where she brought up Caranamrita, her young daughter who she always affectionately addressed as Pinky.

Jayaradhe prabhu was only fifty two when she died. Devotees will remember her from Bhaktivedanta Manor, Bury Place, Chaitanya College, Leicester, and later, Watford. She was missed by many friends when she returned to the States in the mid 90s. Many, many devotees and friends who knew of her pain and struggle prayed for her in her time of crisis. She was known to all she met as a caring, highly creative, and resourceful individual. She was an artist, writer, poet, pujari, gardener, cook - an enthusiastic child of the 1960's counter-culture - a follower and firm believer in Srila Prabhupada's vision and the Hare Krishna alternative. May Krishna bless her with a swift journey back to Godhead.