Srila Jayananda Prabhu joined Srila Prabhupada and the fledgling Hare Krsna movement in San Francisco in 1967. Jayananda Prabhu had been driving a cab, and, encouraged by Srila Prabhupada, he kept that job to help support the storefront Hare Krsna temple. He also gave Srila Prabhupada $5,000 to help print the first edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
For many years Jayananda Prabhu was the backbone of the San Francisco Rathayatra (Festival of the Chariots). He would do everything from asking for donations of food, flowers, and money to advertising, building the chariots, arranging for permits, and organizing the cooking and distribution of prasadam, food offered to Krsna.
The last festival Jayananda was able to work on directly was the New York City Rathayatra in 1976. Attended by Srila Prabhupada, it was the first Rathayatra in New York, and it went down Fifth Avenue. Jayananda called it the most successful of all the festivals he had worked on.
Soon after that festival, Jayananda Prabhu was diagnosed as having cancer. He spent his last few months advising devotees in Los Angeles who were preparing to put on their first Rathayatra. He passed away in 1977 while devotees chanted Hare Krsna in his room.
In a letter to Jayananda shortly after his passing, Srila Prabhupada wrote, "As you were hearing Krsna-kirtana, I am sure that you were directly promoted to Krsna-loka. Krsna has done a great favor to you, not to continue your diseased body, and has given you a suitable place for your service."
Srila Prabhupada requested devotees all over the world to commemorate Jayananda Prabhu's passing every year as they would that of any great devotee of Krsna.