Sri Guru-vandana / Vyasa-puja

The Worship of Sri Guru

by Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja

Chapter Three: The Meaning of Vyasa-Puja

Caitanya-Caritamarta Adi 17.16

                                       tabe nityananda-gosanira vyasa-pujan

                                       nityanandavese kaila musala dharana

  Nityananda Prabhu then arranged to offer Vyasa-puja, or worship of the spiritual master, to Lord Sri Gaurasundara. But Lord Caitanya carried the plow like weapon called musala in the ecstasy of being Nityananda Prabhu.


  By the order of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu arranged for Vyasa-puja of the Lord on the night of the full moon. He arranged for the Vyasa-puja, or guru-puja, through the agency of Vyasadeva. Since Vyasadeva is the original guru (spiritual master) of all who follow the Vedic principles, worship of the spiritual master is called Vyasa-puja. Nityananda Prabhu arranged for the Vyasa-puja, and sankirtana was going on, but when He tried to put a garland on the shoulder of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, He saw Himself in Lord Caitanya. there is no difference between the spiritual positions of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu, or Krsna and Balarama. All of Them are but different manifestations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. During this special ceremony, all the devotees of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu could understand that there is no difference between Lord Caitanya and Nityananda Prabhu.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is svayam-bhagavan, the Original Personality of Godhead.

vrajendra-nandana yei, saci-suta haila sei, 
balarama ha-ila nitai

Srila Narottam Das Thakur, Ista-deva Vijnapti(from Prarthana)

The son of Maharaj Nanda, Krsna, is Caitanya; and Nitai is Balarama. Krsna is avatari, the source of all avataras. Balarama is avatara, an incarnation. Brahma-samhita gives the example of the lamp. From one original lamp many lamps can be lit and all the lamps have the same potency of living light. Mahaprabhu showed that there is no difference between avatara and avatari. Nityanandavese kaila musala dharana --- in the ecstasy of being Nityananda Prabhu, Lord Caitanya showed the form of Nityananda, carrying the plow-like weapon called musala."… when [Nityananda Prabhu] tried to put a garland on the shoulder of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, He saw Himself in Lord Caitanya." Thus there is no difference between avatara and avatari, no difference between Caitanya and Nityananada, no difference between Krsna and Balarama. This is siddanta. The gaura-avatara is a purna-avatara, complete incarnation, not an amsa-avatara, partial incarnation. Prabhodanada Saraswatipad has described this in Caitanya-candramrta:141

yadi nigadita-minady-amsavad gauracandro 
na tad api sa hi kascic chakti-lila-vikasah 
anadhigata-mahattvah purna evavatirnah

If someone says that Lord Caitanya is an amsa-avatara like Lord Matsya, or if not that then a lila-avatara or a saktyavesa-avatara, then he does not understand the actual glory of Lord Caitanya, the Original Personality of Godhead who is full of allperfect and incomparable potencies and wonderful pastimes.

(Sri Caitanya-candramrta 141)

It is not an easy thing to understand Gauranga Mahaprabhu. He is a purna-avatara, not an amsa-avatara. He is saktiman, the energetic, and atula-sakti, having incomparible potencies. Through his potencies He has manifestad a wonderful lila. One cannot understand this lila-tattva through material knowledge or scholarship.

Mercy of Mahaprabhu

na yogo dhyanam na ca japa-tapas-tyaga-niyama 
na veda nacara kva un bata nisiddhady-uparatih 
akasmac caitanye vatarati daya-sara-hrdaye 
pumarthanam maulim param iha muda lunthati Jana

Now that Lord Caitanya, His Heart filled with the ocean of mercy, has descended to this world, those living entities who had formerly never practiced yoga, meditated, chanted mantras, performed austerities, followed various Vedic restrictions, studied the Vedas, performed spiritual activities, or refrained from sins, have become able to easily plunder the crest jewel of all goals of life, which is prema-dhana
(Sri Caitanya-candramrta 111)

There are those who are very, very sinful persons; those who have not practiced yoga, meditation or austerity; those who have not studied the Vedas and are bereft of Vedic knowledge; those who have performed no vows and have no good behavior. They have only asadacara, bad behavior. Still, Mahaprabhu is so wonderfully merciful. He is an ocean of unlimited mercy, daya-sagara. He does not consider their lack of qualification. Mahaprabhu offers this prema to them all indiscriminately. When Mahaprabhu appeared, everyone drowned in this ocean of prema.

patrapatra-vicaranam na kurute na svam param viksyate 
deyadeya-vimarsakah na hi na va kala-pratiksah Prabhu 
sadyo yah sravaneksana-pranamana-dhyanadina durlabham 
dhatte bhakti-rasam sa eva vagaban gaurah param me gatih

He does not consider whether a person is qualified or not. He does not see who is His own and who is an outsider. He does not consider who should receive and who should not. He does not consider whether it is the proper time. The Lord at once give that nectar of pure devotional service that is difficult to obtain even by hearing the messages of the Lord, seeing the deity, offering obeisances, meditation, or following a host of spiritual practices. That Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Gaura Hari is my only shelter. 
(Sri Caitanya-candramrta 77)


Gauranga Mahaprabhu is my only shelter. Without the mercy of Gauranga Mahaprabhu no one can understand bhagavata-tattva.

srimad-bhagavatasya yatra paramam tatparyam utenkitam 
sri-vaiyasakina duranvayantaya rasa-prasange pi yat 
yad radha-rati-keli-nagara-rasasvadaika-sadbhajanam 
tad vastu prathanaya gaura-vapusa lokevatirno harih

Because they are very difficult to understand, Sukadeva Goswami had only briefly hinted at the sweet amorous lastimes of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna in his description of the rasa dance in Srimad Bhagavatam. Now Lord Hari has descended to this world in a golden form to reveal the truth of these pastimes. 
(Sri Caitanya-candramrta 122)

Gaura Hari descended to reveal the truth about Lord Krsna's dancing with the gopis, rasa-lila prasanga. The Bhagavata is the sweetest, most ripened, nectarean juicy fruit of the Vedic tree --- nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam (SB.1.1.3)

Its essence is rasa-lila. But the speaker of that Bhagavata, Sukadeva Goswami, very purposefully described that rasa-lila indirectly. Why? Because such bhaktas who can understand, who can relish its mellow, are very, very rare. In order to elaborately reveal this radha-krsna-gudha-rasa-prema-lila, the conjugal living affaire between Radha and Krsna which are very, very confidential -- and to preach it in this world, Mahaprabhu appeared. Without the mercy of Mahaprabhu no one can understand Srimad Bhagavatam, bhagavata-tattva.

Storehouse of Prema

Yaha, bhagavata pada vaisnavera sthane 
Ekanta asarya kara caitanya-carane

Go and approach a vaisnava-gaura-priya, a dear devotee of Gauranga Mahaprabhu. Study and hear Bhagavata from him and completly take shelter at the lotus feet of Caitanya Mahaprabhu --- ekanta asaría kara caitanya-carane.(Cc Antya 5.131)

   Mahaprabhu is prema-purusottama, he gives Krsna-prema. That prema is like an unlimited ocean. Whoever is the custodian of that storehouse of prema and whoever is the doorkeeper of that storehouse, by their mercy you can get it. Nityananda Prabhu is the custodian and Sanatana Goswami is the doorkeeper. Therefore, here you see Mahaprabhu manifested Himself in the form of Nityananda Prabhu. Nityananda Prabhu is more merciful, more munificent more magnanimous than Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Nityananda Prabhu distributes prema with two hands, not with one hand. He is always intoxicated with that prema-madira, intoxicating prema. He is avadhuta-dharana, one who has the nature of a madman. He is more indiscriminate than Gaurasundar. Previously there were very strong doors and bolts on that storehouse, but when Mahaprabhu appeared and gave the custodianship to Nityananda Prabhu and engaged Sanatan Goswami as the doorkeeper, they broke open the doors. Sanatan Goswami wrote a commentary on the tenth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam called Brhad-vaisnava-tosani, and thus he opened the door, unbolted it, and called everyone, "O my brothers, please come! Now the door is open. It is unbolted. Come and take this mellow Drown yourself in this unlimited ocean of prema. If you take this prema then you will consider the position of Lord Brahma to be very, very insignificant." Mahaprabhu knows the nature of these two personalities, therefore He appointed them in these positions. Without the mercy of such vaisnavas no one can understand bhagavata-dharma-tattva. Nirmatsaranam satam vedyam - only the vaisnavas who are nirmatsara, non-envious, can understand bhagavat-dharma-tattva.(S.B.1.1.2) Otherwise no one can understand the Bhagavata. The Bhagavata will never reveal Himself before them. Only those who are nirmatsara, and free from crookedness, kapatya, can understand bhagavat-dharma.

Three Crooked Persons

There are three types of crooked persons, dhana-kapati, bala-kapati, and prema-kapati. Dhana-kapatis are those persons who have much wealth, but they never spend it for the propagation of bhagavata-dharma. They never give donations to bhakta-bhagavata, the vaisnavas who are propagating bhagavat-dharma. They are the number one type of kapati, crooked person. They never spend there wealth for the service of Sri Guru, Krsna, or the vaisnavas, but instead they spend so much money in other ways. They are krpana, misers. They cannot understand bhagavata-dharma. They cannot get the mercy of Mahaprabhu. They cannot get prema, even though Mahaprabhu is offering it.

The second type of kapati, crooked , duplicitous person, is the bala-kapati. He has strength, but even though Mahaprabhu's tumultuous kirtana is going on, he is not dancing in that kirtana. He has strength, but he doesn't dance, tandava-nrtya, in gaura-kirtana.

The third type of kapati is the prema-kapati. He has not gotten prema, but he develops the abhimana, "Oh, I am a vaisnava. I am a great devotee." These three types of kapatis cannot get Mahaprabhu's mercy.They cannot understand bhagavata-dharma-tattva. They cannot get prema unless they give up their kapatya and enviousness and serve sadhu, guru and vaisnava --- niskapata-seva. They should render service without duplicity and get the mercy of Mahaprabhu. Even though Mahaprabhu is living prema indiscriminetly, they cannot get it.

Real Vyasa-puja

In his purport Srila Prabhupada writes, "Nityananda Prabhu arranged for the vyasa-puja of the Lord… Since Vyasadev is the original guru (spiritual master) of all who follow the Vedic principles, worship of the spiritual master through the agency of Vyasadev is called vyasa-puja."

Sri Bhaktisiddanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupada Maharaja introduced the ceremony of vyasa-puja in our line on his 50th birthday. From that day, every year it has been going on. On his 52nd birth anniversary, Srila Bhaktisiddanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupada Maharaja gave a lecture on Srimad Bhagavatam describing the meaning of vyasa-puja. He said, "vyasa-puja jeans the puja of all gaudiya-vaisnava-acaryas." From this statement we can understand the purport of vyasa-puja. It is not only the puja of Vyasadev, or of Krsna, or of Gaurasundar, or of guru. That is not real vyasa-puja. Vyasa-puja means the puja of all pure gaudiya-vaisnava-acaryas. That is real vyasa-puja.

In this bhaktivinode-dhara we find a mantra for vyasa-puja:

sri damodara svarupa,sri rupa, sri sanatana,sri ragunatha,sri jiva,bhatta yuga,sri krsnadasa kavirajadi, srimad bhaktivinoda,srimad gaurakisora dasa, srimad bhaktisiddanta sarasvati, srimad bhaktivedanta svami padanka sarvebhyo gurave namah

I offer my obeisances to the footprints of all the gurus, Srila Svarup Damodara Goswami, Srila Rupa Goswami, Srila Sanatana Goswami, Srila Ragunatha Das Goswami, Srila Jiva Goswami, Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami, Srila Ragunatha Bhatta Goswami, the devotees beginning with Srila Krsna das Kaviraja, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, Srila Gaurakisora Das Babaji, Srila Bhaktisiddanta Sarasvati and Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

Vyasa-puja means the worship of all of these gaudiya-vaisnava-acaryas.

Merciful Gift

Bhaktivinode Thakúra has said, "Gaudiya-vaisnava-siddhanta is the opinion of all gaudiya-vaisnava-acarya-mahajanas. Whatever gaudiya-vaisnava-siddhanta we have received, that is guru-varga-dhana --- the merciful gift of all the gaudiya-vaisnava-acaryas. That is their lila-vaisistya, the wonderful characteristics of the lila of that guru-vaisnava-acarya. "Gaudiya-vaisnava-siddhanta is the krpa-vaisistya, the special characteristics of their merciful lila. If we do not observe this festival, if we do not remember and glorify the gaudiya-vaisnava-acrayas, it Hill be a great disservice towards them. If we do not discuss their vaisistya, their wonderful characteristics, if we remain inactive, not observing the appearance day and disappearance day of such acaryas, mahajanas, then it will be an anyaya, a great injustice. Without their mercy we cannot understand this gaudiya-vaisnava-siddhanta. Through Sriman Mahaprabhu is wonderfully merciful, indiscriminately living Krsna-prema, still, we cannot have it without their mercy.

No Compromise

Bhaktivinode Thakur, a great acarya in our line, has said that if you want to develop pure bhakti then you should not even slightly compromise with abhakti, non-devotion. Our revered spiritual master Srila Prabhupada also said there should be no compromise. Where is the question of compromise? Bhaktivinode Thakur emphatically said, "It is better to have an empty cowshed than to have a dusta-goru, a wicked cow." That means that in this bhaktivinoda-dhara, in this flow coming from Bhaktivinode Thakúr, there is no question of impurity, no question of checking the flow. Crookedness and enviousness are not allowed.

Best Type of Worship

In the Eleventh Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, Krishna said to Uddhava:

Sarva-bhutestu man-matih

The worship offered to My bhakta, My dear devotee, is better than worship offered directly to Me.

(Bhag. 11.19.21)


 Also, in Caitanya-bhagavata, Mahaprabhu said,

Amara bhaktera puja-ama haite bada 
Sei prabhu veda-bhagavate kaila dadha

In the Vedas and Puranas the Lord has firmly declared, "Worship of My devotees is better than worship of Me.

(Cb. adi1.8)

Therefore, in this vyasa-puja Nityananda Prhabhu was offering worship and Mahaprabhu appeared in the form of Nityananda Prabhu, because Nityananda Prabhu is a bhakta. He is Balaram.

Anera ki katha, baladeva Masaya 
Yanra bhava-suddha-sakhya-vatsalyadi-maya 
Tenho-apanake karena dasa-bhavana 
Krsna-dasa-bhavavinu ache kona jana

(Cc.adi 6.76-77)

Because He is Krishna's elder brother, Balaram's mood is suddha-sakya-vatsalya --- a mixture of pure sakhya, brotherhood, and vatsalya, parental love. What to speak of others, even He says, "I am Krsna-dasa." Krsna-dasa-bhava vinu ache kona jana --- Are any who are not Krsna-dasa?

Nitai is Guru

That same Balaram is Nitai. Guru Krsna-rupa hana sastrera pramane-sarstra-pramana describes that Krishna appears as guru.(Cc.adi1.45) Nityananda offered vyasa-puja to Gaura because Gaura is svayam-bhagavan, the Original Personality of Godhead. But when Nitai was going to put the garland on Gauranga Mahaprabhu, He saw himself there. That means that vyasa-puja is his puja, Nityananda's puja, because Nityananda is guru. He is bhakta, bhakta-rupa, bhaktavatara.

Panca-tattvatmakam krsnam 
Bhaktavataram bhaktakhyam 
Namami bhakta-saktikam

I offer my obeisances unto the supreme Lord, Krishna, who is nondifferent from His features as a devotee, devotional incarnation, devotional manifestation, pure devotee, and devotional energy.

(Cc.adi 1.14)

Bhakta-rupa is Chaitanya, and bhakta-svarupa is Nityananda. Mahaprabhu manifestad the form of Nityananda, because guru is the manifestation of Nityananda. These evidences are found in the Vedas and in the Bhagavata. If you want to get prema-bhakti, the only means is that you should offer worship without duplicity. Serve pure vaisnavas without duplicity and get their mercy. Then you will get the mercy of Mahaprabhu; then you will get prema. Otherwise you cannot get prema. Worshiping the vaisnavas and glorifying the vaisnavas' names, forms, and pastimes is the only means.

Very Powerful

Serving the vaisnavas; taking the dust or the foot washing water of the vaisnavas; and adharamantra, tasting the remnants of the vaisnavas foodstuffs --- these three are very powerful. No one can estimate or evaluate the potency in these three things. Therefore they are amulya-vastu, invaluable. Narottam Das Thakur has therefore sung:

Vaisnavera pada-dhuli    tahe mora snana Heli 
Tarpana mora vaisnava nama 
Vaisnavera ucchista    tahe mora mano-nistha 
Vaisnavera namete ullasa

The dust of the vaisnavas' lotus feet is my bathing water. My mantra for offering oblations, tarpana, is the names of the vaisnavas. My mind is firmly convenced of the spiritual benefit obtained by eating the remnants of foodstuffs left by the vaisnavas. The names of the vaisnavas are my happiness.

(Srila Narottam Das Thakur,Prathana 35)

Who is a Vaisnava?

Another question comes, vaisnava-ke? Who is a vaisnava? You should understand who is a vaisnava, otherwise you will be confused. '

kanaka-kamini,' 'pratistha-baghini.' 
Chadiyache jare,sei to vaisnava 
Sei anasakta.' Sei suddha-bhakta.' 
Samsar tatha pay parabhava 
Yatha-yoga bhoga, nahi tatha roga, 
Anasakta' sei ki ar kahabo 
'asakti-rohita,' sambandha-sahita,' 
visaya-samuha sakali 'madhava' 
se 'yukta-vairagya.' Taha to' saubhagya, 
taha-i jadete harir avivaba 
kitane jahar, 'pratistha-sambhar.' 
Tahar sampatti kevala 'kaitava

Money, women, and fame are like tigers. A vaisnava gives them up and keeps them at a distance. Such a devotee, who is without material attachments, is a suddha-vaisnava. Such a devotee had conquered over the material world and its illusions of enjoyment. Accepting only what is needed in the service of the Lord, he remains free from the diseased mentality of material enjoyment and dedicates himself to the Lord's service. Free from all false attachments, he sees everything is meant for the pleasure of Sri Krishna. He knows that to engage everything in the service of Krishna is real renunciation. Because he understands that the true position of renunciation is in dedicating everything to Krishna, he is truly fortunate. Although he lives within the material world he dwells within the revelation of Krishna's pastimes and experiences the extension of the spiritual world within the material world. On the other hand, one who chants the holy name of the Lord for name and fame is simple a hypocrite and a cheater.

(Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati,Vaisnava-ke 11-13(from Mahajana-racita Gita)

Completely Detached

A vaisnava is one who has given up the desire for possessing kanaka and kamini, gold and women. And pratistha-baghini ---he is not running after name, fame, adoration or prestige. Such a person is a vaisnava, a pure devotee. A vaisnava is not attached too or attracted to kanaka, kamini, or pratistha --- wealth, women or prestige. He is completely detached from them. His only attachment is to the lotus feet of Krishna. A vaisnava has completely defeated the material world of maya. He is yukta-vairagya --- although he has everything he is not attached. He is anasakta, completely indifferent. He utilizes everything for the enjoyment and living service of Krishna, guru and Gauranga.

'asakti-rohita,'    sambandha-sahita,' 
visaya-samuha sakali 'madhava'

He is fixed and established in his pure, eternal, loving relationship with Krishna. He understands that everything found here in the material world is all paraphernalia for Krishna's enjoyment and there is nothing here for the jiva's enjoyment. Krishna is the only visayi, meaning one who has material wealth, land, property, and money. All of these things belong to Krishna. One who knows this is a yukta-vairagi, a renunciate who uses everything for Krishna's pleasure, not a phalgu-vairagi, a false renunciate. Such false renunciation is described:

Kirtane jahar,    'pratishta-sambhar.' 
Tahar sampatti kevala 'kaitava'.

One may be doing kirtana, dancing, chanting, and playing mrdanga, "din-din-din-din-dah!" Playing the cymbals, "dah! dah! dah!" But he is only doing it for the name, fame, and prestige. Whatever sampati, reward, he gets is kaitava, only cheating. His bhajana is only duplicitious, crookedness and enviousness. He is not a vaisnava. One should understand who is a vaisnava.

Best Worship

Jiva Goswami Prabhu in Bhakti-sandarbha quotes Padma Purana:

Testam pujadikam gandha- 
Dhupadhyaih kriyate naraih 
Tena pritim param yami 
Na tatha mama pujanat

The Supreme Lord Krishna says,"One may offer puja, worship, to Me with gandha, scents, pulpa, flowers, incense, lamp, etc., but if they never offer worship to my dear devotees with all these paraphernalia, I am not pleased with it.

(Padma-purana, karttika-mahatmya(quoted in Bhakti-sandarbha 269.12)


Krishna says to Uddhava

Adarah paricaryayam 
Sarvangair abhivandanam 
Sarva-bhutesu man-matih 
Mad-arthesv anga-cesta ca 
Vacasa mas-guneranam 
Mayy arpanam ca manasah 

My dear devotees render service to Me with great care and respect. They offer obeisances to Me with all their bodily limbs. They worship My devotees, which is greater than worship of Me. They see all living entities related to Me. They engage the entire energy of their bodies for Me.They engage their power of speech in glorification of My qualities and form. They dedicate their minds unto Me and try to give up all kinds of material desires. Thus My dear devotees are characterized.(Bhag.11.19.21-22)

These are vaisnavas. Krishna says, "Mad-bhakta-pujabhyadhika --- the worship offered to them is better than worship offered to Me directly." That worship is vyas-puja of all pure gaudiya vaisnava acaryas. Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupada expressed this at his vyasa-puja.

Acarya-avatara Kirtana

Krishna is visaya-vigraha, the object of love, and guru-vaisnava is asraya-vigraha, the abode of love. The only activity of such guru-vaisnavas is hari-kirtana. They have no other activity. Unless the asraya-vigraha-avatara acarya-sri-gurudeva does kirtana, how can you understand the tattva of the visaya-vigraha? How can you understand the tattva of the nama, rupa, guna, parikara, and lila of visaya-vigraha --- the truth about the name, form, qualities, associates, and pastimes of the Supreme Lord? We cannot understand unless acarya-gurudeva does kirtana. No one can understand the sastra-avatara, the incarnation of all sastras, Srimad Bhagavatam. It is the vani, the message incarnation of Lord Krishna. No one can understand the bhagavata-tattva, the purport of this sastra-avatara, unless acarya-gurudeva, who is asraya-vigraha, does kirtana. Sri-nama and sri-mantra have appeared in this material world as sabda-avatara. But unless acarya-avatara does kirtana in the ears of the sisya, disciple, it will not be effective. You will find that the mantra and the holy name are written there in satra, grantha. One may say, "yes, the mantra is written here, so I'll chant it." But unless the mahanta-guru, asraya-vigraha-acarya does kirtana in the ears of the sisya it will never be effective. It is absolutely necessary. Sri-nama, sri mantra, and grantha-bhagavata are all visaya-vigraha. Without the kirtana of the asraya-vigraha they will never manifest. Try to understand. Mahaprabhu will help you. Nityananda prabhu will help you.

One may think, "If I do arcana, worship of the deities in the temple, then I can understand everything," no. You cannot understand adhoksaja, that which is beyond sensory perception. The visaya-vigraha will never manifest without the kirtana of the asraya-vigraha, acarya-avatara, guru, vaisnava. This is absolutely necessary. Therefore puja offered to them is a superior type of puja mad-bhakta-pujabhyadhika.

Therefore when Nityananda prabhu offered vyasa-puja, Mahaprabhu manifestad the form of Nityananda, "I am Nityananda." That is guru-puja, vyasa-puja. This is the purport here.

Kirtana is Required

Mahaprabhu has written, kirtaniyah sada harih, one should always do kirtana of the names of hari. Our tattva-acarya Jiva Goswami in his Sandarbha has written:

Yadyapyanya bhaktih kalau kartavya tada kirtanakhya bhakti- Samypgenaiva

Even though in the age of kali one may perform the above eight branches of bhakti, nevertheless, one must perform kirtana as the principle way of advancing in sadhana-bhakti.

(Krama-sandarbha commentary to Bhag.7.5.23-24)

In Kali-yuga, although one may cultivate other types of bhakti such as smaranam, arcanam, vandanam, dasyam and sakhyam, still one, should cultivate these other types of bhakti only with kirtana --- that is kirtanakhya bhakti.

One must accept a sadhu-guru-acarya-vaisnava and hear kirtana from him. Kirtana is required. Who does kirtana? Asraya-avatara, asraya-vigraha-acarya, vaisnava-guru does kirtana. Without his kirtana you cannot understand this bhakti-tattva. Therefore Jiva Gosvami says, kirtanakhya bhakti-samyogenaiva, and this is our siddhanta. One must approach such a guru-acarya-vaisnava who is asraya-vigraha. His only activity is hari-kirtana. Unless the asraya-vigraha-acarya-guru-vaisnava does kirtana, bhakti-tattva cannot be revealed to you. Although other processes of bhakti are there in Kali-yuga, without the kirtana of the acarya-avatara, bhakti-tattva cannot be understood.

The puja of the asraya-vigraha-acarya-guru-vaisnava is the topmost puja. Therefore vyasa-puja is known as the puja of all suddha-gaudiya-vaisnavas. At the conclusion of the vyasa-puja festival on his 52nd birth anniversary, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupada Maharajá gave a lecture and said, "Real vyasa-puja is the puja of all suddha-gaudiya-vaisnava-acaryas. It is not only the puja of vyasa, not only the puja of Krishna or of Gaurasundar. It is not just guru-puja. It is the puja of all suddha-gaudiya-vaisnava-acaryas. Therefore in our Bhaktivinoda-dhara we find this mantra in the Vyasa-puja Paddhati:

Sri damodara svarupa, sri rupa, sri ragunatha, sri jiva, bata yuga, sri krsnadas-kavirajadi, srimad bhaktivinoda, srimad gaurakisora dasa, srimad bhaktisidhanta sarasvati, srimad bhaktivedanta svami pandanka sarvebhyo gurave namah

This is vyasa-puja.  

Questions and Answers

Devotee #1: Sabda-brahma is Krishna in sound vibration?

Gour Govinda Swami: Yes. One has to hear. It is not that, "All right, tapes are there, I'll hear the recorded tapes." Sabda-brahma will never descend.

Devotee #2: It doesn't descend through transmission of tape?

Gour Govinda Swami: No, no.

Devotee #2: Only when you are personally sitting there with a pure vaisnava?

Gour Govinda Swami: Yes. Now in this material scientific age so many techniques are there. People, say, "No more teacher are required. We'll teach through television." Nonsense. Sabda-brahma will never descend.

Devotee #3: What if one is a disciple of a bonafide guru, then later on that guru stops his lila. What should one do?

Gour Govinda Swami: Lila is always there:

adyapiha sei lila kare gaura-raya, 
kona kona bhagyavan dekhibare paya
(Cb. quoted in Bhaktivinode Thakur's Navadvipa Mahatmya Pramana-khanda)

Gauranga's pastimes are still going on. People say, "Oh Gauranga Mahaprabhu has disappeared." One who is very fortunate and has vision he can see how gaura-lila is going on.

Devotee #3: That means that guru is always there?

Gour Govinda Swami:Yes. He is always there. His lila is going on.

Devotee #3: I may think, "I have already taken the dust of the lotus feet of my guru. Now he is not here. So I don't need that dust anymore."

Gour Govinda Swami: Darsana is there. The guru is always there if you have the eye to see. If you are a sat-sisya you can always see how the guru is present.

Devotee #4: How can we see guru?

Gour Govinda Swami: Blind man! If you are endowed with that vision you can see.I never lost sight of my guru. I see my guru is always there. Therefore I cannot say,"nitya-lila-pravistha". It is so painful to me. No! He is here.

Devotee #4: Do you have to be a pure dovotee to see a pure devotee?

Gour Govinda Swami: Yes! That vision is required. If you have no vision then you are a blind man.How can a blind man see? The object is there. What is required to see the object? The first thing is the eye. Next is light. You may be endowed with vision, but if there is no light, how can you see? Can you see in the darkness? Therefore two things are required, first vision and then light. Even if you are endowed with eyes, if there is no light then you can't see. What is that light? The enlightenment by the mercy potency. If you are devoid of that, how can you see?

Devotee #5: Anarthas are like clouds in front of the eye?

Gour Govinda Swami: Yes, Yes. Anarthas are like clouds covering the sun. The eye is covered.

Devotee #2: Can one see guru appearing in different forms, or is he coming in dreams?

Gour Govinda Swami: He may come in a dream. He has different forms also, just as Krishna has different forms. Krishna has so many manifestations. Therefor we have described in our book Sri Guru-vandana about samasti-guru and vyasti-guru.

Devotee #6: What are those kind of gurus?

Gour Govinda Swami: Guru Krsna-rupa hana sastrera pramane (Cc. adi-lila1.45} -- scripture describes that it is Krishna who appears as guru.

Krishna is one. Guru tattva is also one. Guru is one, but he appears in different, different, forms. That is samasti-guru. The particular forms such as Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami, Srila Bhakitisiddhanta, this person and that, this is vyasti-guru.

Devotee #3: When Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati left, guru was still there?

Gour Govinda Swami: Yes.

Devotee #3: Guru is always present?

Gour Govinda Swami: Yes, always present.

Devotee #3: Because guru is non-different from Krishna we understand that to be a guru is not an easy thing. So why is it said that someone maybe on the level of kanistha or madhyama and be guru?

Gour Govinda Swami: All are gurus. There is kanistha-guru, madhyama-guru, uttama-gurus. Divisions are there. What you deserve you get. Krishna knows what you deserve so He makes an appropriate arrangement for you.

Devotee #7: Some devotees are not accepting guru now. They are saying, "I'll just accept sastra.

Gour Govinda Swami: How can you understand sastra?

Devotee #7: But we have seen, as in Russia, that some devotees have only gotten books and they are now chanting, worshiping the deity, and preaching.

Gour Govinda Swami: You cannot understand. In sastra, mantra is there. Nama is there. But unless it comes out from the lips of sad-guru, Sri Guru, your chanting will never be effective. The potency will never be there.

Devotee #7: But they say that smrti-sastra is coming from the lips of vaisnavas, so we are heaing smrti.

Gour Govinda Swami: Yes. This is how sastra manifests. When is comes out from the lips of sad-guru, Sri Guru, then it manifests. Though sastra is there, by itself it will never manifest to you. It's a question of manifestation.

Devotee #7: Other persons say that we can hear from the commentaries of the vaisnava-acaryas.

Gour Govinda Swami: For that reason it is said,

bhaktya bhagavatam grahyam 
na buddhya na ca tikaya

Srimad Bhagavatam can only be understood by bhakti, not be dint of one's intelligence or by reading commentaries. (Cc.24.313)

You cannot understand Bhagavata by taking help of the tikas, commentaries. So many commentaries are there. One may think, "Yes, I am a scholar. It is all written in Sanskrit. I know the language so I can read and understand it." No! You can only understand Srimad Bhagavatam by bhakti. You cannot understand Bhagavata by dint of your material scholarship, learning, intelligence, or by taking the help of the commentaries. No, no. Hear from acarya and then you can develop bhakti. Unless you hear, how can you understand just by reading? You cannot understand. Grantha-avatara will never manifest to you. You will only see paper, and black and white. Nothing else.

Devotee #7: Then what is the meaning of the brhad-mrdanga-sankirtana? Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati has said that our kirtana is brhad-mrdanga-sankirtana, the printing press.

Gour Govinda Swami: Yes. That will inspire you. Just one book distributed spreads so far. First you read the book and then one friend says, "Oh, let me read it." Then he lets someone else read it. In this way it spreads so much. The sound of the mrdanga only goes from here to there. But the brhad-mrdanga spreads so far. That will inspire you. You will think, "Who is the source? Let me go and see and hear from him."

Devotee #7: So first you hear and then if you read the same thing in the sastra...

Gour Govinda Swami: Yes. It is only in Kali-yuga that books are required.. In other yugas there are no books. Just by hearing once they would never forget. But in this yuga, if I ask you to repeat what you have heard after the class, how much can you repeat? You will have already forgotton ninety to ninety-five percent. Only five percent you may be able to repeat. Books are required. Therefore Vyasadev came and wrote books. In other yugas there are no books. They will help you remember, "Oh yes. I have heard. Now it is here."

Devotee #7: In your book Sri Guru-vandana, you have described this flow of nectar as padma-madhu.You said that it comes to a devotee who is a sincere hearer. So someone who is very sincere to hear from guru and serves guru, he may get that nectar even though he may not have physical contact?

Gour Govinda Swami: You should be greedy. Physical contact is required. You must hear directly, not just by listening to tapes. Sabda-brahma will never descend through a tape. One must hear from a physically present Sri Guru.

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