What is Vyasa Puja?
Excerpt from a lecture by Srila Gurudeva on 16th July, 2008, Mathura.
Srila Vyasadeva, who is the incarnation of Lord Narayana, was born on the full moon day of the month of Asadha. In India, everyone worships their spiritual master on this day, which is celebrated with great honour and reverence as Sri Vyasa-puja, or Sri Guru-puja. It is essential, however, that we understand the true significance of Sri Vyasa-puja. Merely placing a garland on the neck of Sri Guru or offering at his feet a few flowers and fruits, some money, sweets, or cloth does not mean that real worship of the guru has been performed. The real Vyasa-puja is to surrender oneself completely at the lotus feet of Srila Gurudeva and to fulfil his desires.
This means that one should completely offer oneís independence at the lotus feet of Sri Guru in a mood of surrender: “O Srila Gurudeva, I am offering everything that belongs to me at your lotus feet.”
All of the sadhakas, or practitioners of bhakti, coming in the line of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu should first become acquainted with the teachings of Srila Rupa Gosvami and the principles of guru-parampara, and then they should preach to others. It is necessary to both practise and preach. And for this end, the effort of all brahmacaris and sannyasis will need to be at least a thousand times greater than the effort a householder makes to maintain his home. Throughout the day, not even a single moment can be spent making any other endeavour. One will have to engage his mind full time in the service of Sri Krsna.
It is necessary that one understand Srila Rupa Gosvamiís special contribution to our sampradaya and why Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in this world. In essence, it was to specify our lifeís highest and most prominent goal: to become a particle of dust at the lotus feet of Srila Rupa Gosvami, to become a maidservant of Srimati Radhika under the guidance of Srila Rupa Manjari. This is the sole cherished aspiration for all our previous guruvarga.
May you all be blessed with this conception in your heart and may your life thus become successful. All those who have left their homes to perform devotional service or those who are performing it at home should perform Vyasa-puja after having become acquainted with these teachings and principles. In this way, one should try to please Srila Rupa Gosvami and Srila Gurudeva, and under their guidance try to please Sri Krsna, or Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is the original Vyasa. This alone is the true meaning of Vyasa-puja.
The Deep Meaning of Vyasa Puja
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
The Deep Meaning Of Vyasa-puja
Murwillumbah, Australia: February 7, 2008 am
I have seen how my Gurudeva and his god-brothers used to observe their Vyasa-puja. They used to worship their guru and entire guru-parampara, because the knowledge of Krsna and bhakti, or pure devotion, to Krsna does not come only from guru. Where did guru receive this from? He received it from his gurudeva, His gurudeva received from his gurudeva, and so on. In the end, we see that Krsna is jagat-guru: "Krsnam vande jagat-gurum."
Krsna gave His own tattva (the established truths of His reality), His own bhakti:
yavan aham yatha-bhavo
astu te mad-anugrahat
["By My causeless mercy, be enlightened in truth about My personality, manifestations, qualities and pastimes. (Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 1.52)]
He gave this truth to Brahma, Brahma gave it to Narada, Narada kindly gave it to Vyasadeva, and Madhvacarya directly took it from Vyasadeva. From Madhavacarya it came in line to Madhavendra Puripada, who gave it to his disciple Isvara Puripada who gave it to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Madhavendra Puripada and Nityananda Prabhu were god-brothers, having taken initiation from the same guru, but Nityananda Prabhu treated Madhavendra Puripada as His siksa guru.
After Caitanya Mahaprabhu, it went to Savurpa Damodhara and Raya Ramananda, then to Rupa, Sanatana, Jiva, Raghunatha, Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, and then to Narottama dasa Thakura, Visvanatha Cakravati Thakura, Baladeva Vidyabhusana, Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja, Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, from him to my gurudeva (Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja) and Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja, and now it has come to us.
Our guru paramapara will continue as long as the creation exists. Then, when the creation will be finished, Brahma will again come, and again the guru-parampara will begin. Without the guru-parampara we cannot attain any real knowledge.
It has been written in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.1.3):
nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam
pibata bhagavatam rasam alayam
muhur aho rasika bhuvi bhavukaḥ
["O expert and thoughtful men, relish Srimad-Bhagavatam, the mature fruit of the desire tree of Vedic literatures. It emanated from the lips of Sri Sukadeva Gosvami. Therefore, this fruit has become even more tasteful, although its nectarean juice was already relishable for all, including liberated souls."]
This transcendental Srimad-Bhagavatam – bhagavat-prema – was in Goloka-Vrndavana. The parrot Suka (who appeared in this world as Sukadeva Gosvami) took that fruit of Bhagavatam in his mouth and tasted its sweetness; and simply by his tasting it, that fruit became most sweet. Sukadeva Gosvami then brought that fruit from Goloka-Vrndavana to this Earth and gave it to Pariskit Maharaja. And gradually, up to the present time, this knowledge and prema is coming by guru-parampara. We are very indebted to our guru-parampara.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura collected findings on the process for performing Vyasa-puja, Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura used it as well, and Guru Maharaja published it. From that time onward, we have been worshiping guru-panchaka, krsna-panchaka, acarya-panchaka, vyasa-panchaka, upasaya-panchaka, and panca-tattva-panchaka. There are seven panchakas. [*Please See Endnote 1]
The person sitting on the seat of acarya, the seat of Vyasadeva, must follow all these principles, giving proper respect to all the acaryas in disciplic succession. This is called Vyasa-puja.
naram caivan narottamam
devim sarasvatim vyasam
tato jayam udirayet
["Before reciting this Srimad-Bhagavatam, which is the very means of conquest, one should offer respectful obeisances unto the Personality of Godhead Narayana, unto Nara-narayana Rsi, the supermost human being, unto mother Sarasvati, the goddess of learning, and unto Srila Vyasadeva, the author." (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 1.2.4)]
Narayanam – First offer pranama (obeisance) to Narayana. Naram caiva narottamam – Next, offer pranama to Nara-Narayana Rsi, from whom the knowledge of Srimad-Bhagavatam came down. Here [this succession is known as the Nimbaditya sampradaya] there is also a guru-parampara. First, Sankarsana gave it to Nara-Narayana Rsi [to Sri Narayana], and Sanaka, Sanatana, Sanandana, and Sanat Kumar are also present in that parampara. Thus, it came down in disciplic succession. [From Nara-Narayana Rsi it came to Hamsa, and then to the four Kumaras.] In this way, Srimad-Bhagavatam comes from Goloka-Vrndavana through guru-parampara [through the four Vaisnava sampradayas, or disciplic lines.]. [*See endnote 2] [The bracketed words in this paragraph were written by the editor, based on the information in Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja's book, Cara Acarya and Gaudiya Darsana.]
We are very fortunate that we are hearing about that bhagavat-prema, that bhagavat-tattva. You are hearing from me, but from where did I hear it? I heard it from my gurudeva, and he heard it from his gurudeva. In this way, the knowledge is coming to you all.
Always remember what I have told in these classes. Try to achieve pure devotion and be situated in your transcendental form. In this way, very soon you will see that you are serving Yugala-Kisora (the youthful divine couple)
Gaura Premanandi, Hari Haribol!
1) Guru-pancaka (Sri Guru, Paramaguru, Paramesthiguru, Paratparaguru, Paramparatparaguru); 2) Acarya-pancaka (Sri Sukadeva, Ramanuja, Madhva, Visnusvami, Nimbaditya); 3) Vyasa-pancaka (Sri Vedavyasa, Paila, Vaisampayana, Jaimini, Sumanta); 4) Sanakadi-pancaka (Sri Sanak, Sanatkumara, 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 KrsnaCaitanya, Nityananda, AdvaitaAcarya, Gadadhara, Srivasa).]
(From Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.1.60, with purport by Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja) That Nara-Nārāyaṇa Ṛṣi, who is a partial expansion of Kṛṣṇa, has now appeared in the dynasties of Yadu and Kuru, in the forms of Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna respectively, to mitigate the burden of the world.
Nārāyaṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and Nara is a part of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa. Thus the energy and the energetic together are the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Maitreya informed Vidura that Nara, the portion of Nārāyaṇa, had appeared in the family of the Kurus and that Nārāyaṇa, the plenary expansion of Kṛṣṇa, had come as Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, with the purpose of delivering suffering humanity from the pangs of material burdens. In other words, Nārāyaṇa Ṛṣi was now present in the world in the forms of Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna.