Published On: Tue, Jan 16th, 2018

The Meaning of Vyasa Puja

Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
Murwillumbah, Australia: Feb 8, 1997

[Respected Readers,
Please accept our humble obeisances.
This year, 2018, the divine appearance day of Srila Gurudeva Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja is on January 16. Please accept this newly transcribed lecture that he gave on his Vyasa Puja (appearance day) in 1997:]

Yesterday in evening class, we were all glorifying guru-padapadma (the lotus feet of the spiritual master). To serve Gurudeva, to have very strong faith in the lotus feet of Gurudeva, is the backbone of Krsna consciousness. If anyone’s nistha (faith) in Guru is unsteady – not so strong, always moving here and there, flickering – he cannot develop his Krsna consciousness and one day he will fall down.

Our Gurudeva should be so bona fide, with strong faith in bhakti, some realization of Krsna, and imbued with all the qualities we have told:

trnad api sunicenaa
taror api sahisnuna
amanina manadena
kirtaniyah sada harih

[“Thinking oneself to be even lower and more worthless than insignificant grass which has been trampled beneath everyone’s feet, being more tolerant than a tree, being prideless, and offering respect to all others according to their respective positions, one should continuously chant the holy name of Sri Hari.” (Sri Siksastaka verse 3)]

He should have these four qualities. He should know all the scriptures, all teachings. He should have no fear, no worldly desires, no suffering and sorrow. He should always be happy by serving Krsna, keeping a separation mood for Krsna and Guru, very generous to all, and never quarreling. Then he will be Guru, and our faith will remain so strong in him. Otherwise, it will be shaken. If our guru-nistha is somehow harmed, then our whole Krsna consciousness becomes shaky, and at last it dries up and goes away.

Along with having strong faith in the bona fide guru, we honor all Vaisnavas in the line of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Rupa Gosvami. In fact, anyone who is chanting harinama – even if he is not a first class Vaisnava or second class Vaisnava – we consider that he is in our Gaura family.

We all heard the glories of guru-tattva. I became happy to hear very good siddhanta about guru-tattva. In the end, Govinda-bhakata (now Sripad Asrama Maharaja) said such good things, good siddhanta. I want to give you something, but my English is so poor that I cannot express my ideas fully. I can speak only with my very little weak words.

I agree with all the points except for one, which was that “any good acarya will come and combine all the Gaudiya Mathas, and that that acarya may be Narayana Maharaja.” I am not accepting this, though I agree with their other points. I have never thought that I am acarya. Never. I want to help and carry out the order of my Gurudeva [Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja], Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja, and Caitanya Mahaprabhu. I know that really I am not acarya. I am not Guru, but I want to fulfill the orders of my disciplic acaryas – especially my Gurudeva, nitya-lila pravistha om visnupada Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, and especially Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja, as he told me on his last day.

I am trying somehow to carry out their orders. I am so much fortunate to have beheld the Vyasa-puja of my Gurudeva, and of pujyapada Bhakti Dayita Madhava Maharaja, Srila Srauti Maharaja, Srila Vana Maharaja, Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja, and other prominent disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada. Nowadays I attend Vyasa-puja, but I see that there is so much difference; so much difference.

I have heard that at the time of Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, he used to celebrate Vyasa-puja on his birthday. Once, while Vyasa-puja was going on, he told in his speech, “I am not thinking that any of you are my disciples. I think of you as siksa-gurus. By seeing you all here, I am so much inspired to speak krsna-katha, hari-katha.

yanhara darsane mukhe aise krsna-nama

tanhare janiha tumi ‘vaisnava-pradhana

The meaning is, “A first-class Vaisnava is he whose very presence makes others chant the holy name of Krsna.” (Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lila, 16.74) If by a person’s seeing a devotee, Krsna’s name comes automatically and that person begins to chant, we should understand that such a devotee is uttama-adhikari.

So, I am seeing you all, and I am inspired in my heart to chant “Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna.” Therefore, I think that you are all my siksa-gurus. You are my gurus. This is the real symptom of the bona fide guru. I have seen how our Guru Maharaja used to worship his Gurudeva, parama-gurudeva, paratpara-gurudeva, up to Brahma. He used to worship all of them. He used to also worship Ramanuja, Madhvacarya, Visnusvami and Nimbaditya – the four great acaryas. He never separated them from our Vaisnava cult. Then, he used to worship the Vrajavasis and all the brahmanas of Vraja.

I have seen practically in my Gurudeva’s Vyasa-puja, and others. On that day, they first worship their Gurudeva and whole guru-parampara, then Gauracandra, Nitai Prabhu. Then Gaura-Gadadhara, Radha and Krsna and Guru.

[The Seven Pancakas: guru-pancaka (Sri Guru, Parama-guru, Paramesthi-guru, Paratpara-guru, Paramesthi-guru); 2) acarya-pancaka (Sri Sukadeva, Ramanuja, Madhva, Visnusvami, Nimbaditya); 3) vyasa-pancaka (Sri Vedavyasa, Paila, Vaisampayana, Jaimini, Sumanta); 4) sanakadi-pancaka (Sri Sanat, Sanat-kumara, Sanatana, Sanandana, Visvaksena); 5) krsna-pancaka (Sri Krsna, Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna, Aniruddha); 6) upasya-pancaka (Sri Radhika, Krsna, Gaura, Gadadhara, Sri Gurudeva); and 7) panca-tattva (Sri Krsna Caitanya, Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Acarya, Gadadhara Pandit, Srivasa Thakura).]

After that, they honor their god-brothers according to seniority of bhakti, not of age. They used to honor all the Vaisnavas – god-brothers and others. When I was once present at the Vyasa-puja observance of Pujyapada Bhakti Dayita Madhava Maharaja, who is my siksa-guru, my Gurudeva’s god-brother, I saw that he was honoring and offering mala (garland), candana (sandalwood paste), and opulent cloth to all the senior Vaisnavas, his god-brothers. I was there. Suddenly he came to me and gave me a mala and candana, garlanded me, and gave so many cloths to me. I was astonished. Why did he do this? I am not qualified to be his disciple. His disciples are more elevated than me, and he is honoring me? My heart became full of honor for him. This is Vyasa-puja.

Nowadays I am seeing that gurus sit on a golden throne and think, “I am Krsna myself.” They collect all the honor for themselves, and they think that there must be any good Vyasa-puja book for themselves, otherwise Vyasa-puja is not there. They want that all glorify them, whether they are good or bad, whether they are bona fide guru or not. This is not Vyasa-puja.

Vyasa-puja is a day when that guru, or that devotee, is offering arcana, puja, and honor and everything to his Gurudeva and his whole parampara. It is not a day to collect honor and all things from his disciples. This is against Vyasa-puja rules and regulations. But nowadays, this is going on.

We should act in this way. This is a day that the guru or the Vaisnava who has taken birth should honor all his guru parampara from Guru to Brahma, and Radha Krsna, and Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu and all Their associates. Not only this. All the gurus who are present at that time should be honored; all the good devotees should be honored, as I have seen.

I am a very shameless person. You are honoring me so much. I am not qualified for this, but still you are giving it. I am taking the honor, and presentations, not for myself. I am taking all the puspanjalis (flowers or flower-like words that represent the offering of one’s heart) in my hands, and offering all your moods, honor, and nistha (strong faith) unto to the hands of my Gurudeva, and praying to him to offer this at the lotus feet of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu and to Radha and Krsna. This is my duty.

We should try to follow all these principles. If one is not following, but instead taking honor from disciples, he will fall down. It is not due to his credit. Our Gurudeva also used to tell us, “You are honoring me – not due to me, but due to my holy master that I have served him and I have received something from him. So all honor should be given to him, to his worshipful Deity, Radha Krsna, Gaura-Nityananda Prabhu, and Gaura-Gadadhara Prabhu.

There are so many things to be told, which I have heard from the mouths of my guru-varga. But today, time is over. Now it is 8:00 pm, and after arati it will be perhaps 9:00. So, I am requesting all of you that this meeting should be stopped here. From tomorrow, I want to discuss Caitanya-caritamrta, which I began, and it will be so sweet. All siddhanta will come – guru-tattva, krsna-tattva, prema-tattva, and all of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s pastimes.

Gaura premanande!