Visnujana and Radha Damodar

Vishnujana Swami (1948–1976), was a disciple of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and a sannyasi within the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (commonly known as the 'Hare Krishnas' or ISKCON). Even though he mysteriously disappeared in 1976, he has continued to be a well-known and legendary figure within ISKCON through recordings of his singing of the Hare Krishna mantra and his historical position as a preacher in the early days of the movement. Vishnujana Swami was born on June 2, 1948, in San Jose, California. At the age of seventeen he moved to San Francisco along with his girlfriend, who he then married. It was in 1966-1967 that Vishnujana first came into contact with the Hare Krishnas, and by 1968 he had received initiation from Srila Prabhupada and became a full-time member of the movement. On July 20, 1970, Srila Prabhupada awarded Vishnujana the order of sannyasa. Vishnujana was especially well known within ISKCON for his singing voice, and skill at playing instruments, such as the harmonium and mridangam. Musical recordings of Vishunjana would later be released in 1995 and are popularly sold within ISKCON. By 1973, Vishnujana Swami headed up a team of devotees traveling on a bus across the USA which became famous within ISKCON as one of its most successful preaching parties. The team was named after the deities which travelled with them in the bus, called Radha-Damodara. This bus, filled with ISKCON devotees, would travel from city to city, performing sankirtan, and distributing Srila Prabhupada's books. Vishujana Swami continued travelling with the Sankirtan Party in this way until 1976. In 1976, during the Gaura Purnima festival in India, Vishnujana Swami disappeared. It is commonly believed that he chose to leave his body at the confluence of several sacred rivers at the Ganges. During a walk some days earlier it is believed he had heard a general statement by Prabhupada concerning the duty of a sannyasi which could have led to him taking his own life, but as Vishnujana is not recorded to have disclosed his thoughts to anyone before disappearing it is not known for certain if this was the case. In 1999, a biography of Vishnujana Swami entitled "Radha-Damodara Vilasa" was published by Vaiyasaki das Adhikari.