Book excerpts Acarya Kesari Part 3: Sraddha, Preaching in Bihara, Sri Vyasa-puja Celebration

Part 3: Sraddha, Preaching in Bihara, Sri Vyasa-puja Celebration

Sraddha ceremony according to Vaisnava rites in Kalyanapura

Sri Rasa-bihari dasa Adhikari Bhakti-sastri Bhisag-ratna Mahasaya, an inhabitant of Kalyanapur (in Medinipura district), zealously endeavoured to invite Srila Gurudeva to participate in the observance of the sraddha ceremony of his mother. Srila Gurudeva attended the program with many of his associates. The priestly duties at this ceremony were performed by pujyapada Sri Bhakti Bhudeva Srauti Maharaja, who was a favourite of Srila Prabhupada and who had a close relationship with Srila Guru Maharaja. He was a special preacher expert in Sanskrit, Bengali, Hindi, English and other languages, and had preached pure bhakti in Kasi, Prayaga, Patna, Medinipura and other regions under the guidance of Srila Prabhupada. He had also managed the monthly Hindi magazine Bhagavata-patrika during Srila Prabhupada’s time.

Here it must be particularly noted that Srila Gurudeva was very firm in the philosophical conclusions of bhakti and fearlessly spoke the impartial truth. He was never reluctant to speak bhakti-siddhanta, regardless of whether his words pleased others or not. Although pujyapada Srauti Maharaja was his godbrother and close friend, Srila Gurudeva still strongly objected to the errors he made in conducting this Vaisnava sraddha ceremony. He has made a signed statement to this effect in his notebook. The following points are taken from his notes.

  1. Srila Srauti Maharaja chose Brahma as the object of worship in this Vaisnava sraddha. (Sri Sri Radha-Krsna, Sriman Mahaprabhu and sri gurudeva were not chosen as the worshipful objects.) Srila Srauti Maharaja said that it is proper to worship Brahma in Vaisnava sraddha, because Sri Vaikhanas Maharaja has written this in his paddhati. Yet the arrangement of choosing the object of worship is given in Sat-kriya-sara-dipika, Hari-bhakti-vilasa and other Smrtis.
  2. In this ceremony, unboiled paddy rice (arva rice) with ghee was sanctified by mantras and given to a smarta brahmana (Sri Rasa-bihari’s family guru) first, and tridandi-sannyasis were given donations after this. This practice is also contrary to vaisnava-smrtis which state that substances offered to Bhagavan should be given to sri gurudeva and Vaisnavas.
  3. In regard to establishing the presiding deity (brahma-sthapana) of the sraddha, Sripada Srauti Maharaja stated that this is not a duty, because Sat-kriya-sara-dipika mentions that in the absence of a presiding deity, a deity made of kusa can be established. He also said that Sat-kriya-sara-dipika was composed by Vaikuntha Vacaspati and not by Sri Gopala Bhatta, which is not true. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura collected an old copy of the text by Sri Gopala Bhatta from the famous royal library in Jaipura and published it, and the gosvamis of Sri Radha-Ramana still have an old copy of the manuscript by Sri Gopala Bhatta.
  4. Adhivasa (preliminary rites) was performed with some smarta mantras rather than in accordance with Sat-kriya-sara-dipika.
  5. At this ceremony, giving of charity was performed first, instead of after Vaisnava homa, as stipulated in Sat-kriya-sara-dipika.
    Sripada Srauti Maharaja called the smarta guru-brahmana inside the sacrificial altar and gave a begging bowl, eating plate, wooden shoes, umbrella, bedding and other things in charity to him. This custom is completely opposed to Hari-bhakti-vilasa (9.103), where it is clearly written:

    svabhavasthaih karmajadan
vancayan dravinadibhih

    vaisnavebhyah samarpayet

    One should deceive those who are grossly involved in karma, i.e. the non-Vaisnavas, by giving them unoffered items or wealth, but one should give the Vaisnavas the items which have been offered to Bhagavan.

  6. There was no performance of achidra-vacana, the chanting of mantras to allay faults, as described in Sat-kriya-sara-dipika, for the defects in the prayascitta homa. (Uddicya, concluding activities, were also left out.)
  7. In the Vaisnava sacrifice, no sacrifice was performed to the guru-parampara.
  8. Some portion of the ghee of the Vaisnava homa was offered in the fire for each personality’s name, and a portion was kept in a separate pot, which was mixed with maha-prasada and was given as pinda at the time of offering pinda. (This process has not been mentioned in any vaisnava-smrti.)
  9. Unoffered uncooked rice, dal, salt, potatoes, green bananas and ghee were kept in two separate pots, and both were offered in the name of the expired mother of Rasa-bihari. One of these was given directly to the smarta-brahmana, the family guru, who accepted it sitting on a separate asana in the sacrificial altar. This is improper in every respect.
  10. In this ceremony there was no worship even of Sri Vasudeva as given in Sat-kriya-sara-dipika.
  11. Santi-homa, circumambulation and other Vaisnava customs were omitted in this ceremony.
  12. Offering of pinda and bhoga was also not performed in accordance with the rules.
  13. It seems that the mantras used in this ceremony were also different [from those in vaisnava-smrti ].
  14. Acamana, etc., also, was not performed.
  15. Prasada was served facing south. This is not proper.

(Please see page 133 in the first Hindi edition of Sat-kriya-sara-dipika.)

(Signed) B. P. Keshab 10.11.47

Preaching in Bihara

In 1945, Srila Gurudeva sent pujyapada Bhakti Kusala Narasimha Maharaja, Sri Narottamananda Bhakti-kamala, Sri Radhanatha dasa Adhikari, Prema-prayojana Brahmacari and others to preach pure bhakti in Dumka, Sahibaganja, Rajmahal and Bhagalpur in the state of Bihara. While Sri Narottamananda Bhakti-kamala was preaching in Sahibaganja, I [then Sriman Narayana Tivari, the author] became acquainted with him. At that time, I was working in the office of the police station. Upon hearing brahmacariji’s extremely sweet hari-katha, I became eager to renounce this material world. Nonetheless, I remained in my service for some time. In December 1946, however, I retired from the police service and left home to join Sri Gaudiya Matha in Navadvipa-dhama. The following year, 1947, on the day of Gaura-janmotsava after the Navadvipa-dhama parikrama, paramaradhyatama Srila Gurudeva gave me sri harinama and diksa. I then became known as Sri Gaura-narayana Bhakta-bandhava.

Sri vyasa-puja celebration

On 27 February 1948, sri vyasa-puja was celebrated at Sri Uddharana Gaudiya Matha to commemorate fifty years from the day Sri Gurupada-padma appeared. On the first day of this occasion there was an elaborate observation of sri vyasa-puja, including the worship of krsna-pancaka, vyasa-pancaka, acarya-pancaka, sanakadi-pancaka, guru-pancaka, upasya-pancaka and panca-tattva-pancaka. Then puspanjali and a fire sacrifice concluded the morning ceremony. In the evening program, Srila Gurudeva lectured from Srimad-Bhagavatam and explained the episode in which Krsna Dvaipayana Vedavyasa obtains realization of the Absolute Truth while in samadhi. On the third day of the festival, on jagad-guru Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada’s auspicious appearance day (avirbhava-tithi), Srila Gurudeva worshipped the nicely decorated deity of Srila Prabhupada. Arati took place during the singing of ‘Srila Prabhupada arati’, a song composed by Srila Gurudeva, and then puspanjali was offered to Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet. Every year after that, Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti observed sri vyasa-puja in this elaborate way.

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Those who were tatastha, neutral to Radha and Krsna, meaning favourable to both, were happy serving Krsna, but they had became very astonished on seeing Radharani had gone with Krsna and that He had given Her special favour. They meditated on these feet and brought them into their hearts and then developed great eagerness. They began to think; "Who is so dear to the Lord? Who has done such great worship, that the Lord has been controlled by Her? What power does this Gopi have? What worship has She performed? How has She acquired the Lord? What is the process of Her worship? By Her worship She has pleased Him, so how can we do the same? Krsna is Sri Hari, one who steals all sadness. Bhagavan Hari gives all bliss. She has pleased Sri Hari or Sri Narayana.”  It is said, anayārādhito nūnaṁ bhagavān harir īśvaraḥ, they are praying to Bhagavan Sri Hari who is Isvara - the Supreme Controller. They say, “This Gopi has controlled Him with Her love. Not only Narayana, but He is Govinda dayat anyar govinda anyadhraha This Gopi has pleased the Lord so much that She has received the loving relation of Govinda, the Avatari, the root of all incarnations. By Her Aradhana - worship, She has controlled Sri Krsna.” Who was that worshipper? That was Sri Radha. Even though Sukadeva Goswami was hiding Radharani's name and not saying it directly, in this verse he speaks Her name indirectly. When the Gopis find Her footprints and later see Her two footprints disappear, they say anayārādhito nūnaṁ. In this way Srimati Radharani's name is hidden within this verse. Govinda is always present and in all pores of the Gopis bodies, still He is not present before them directly, so they desired to meet with Him. Even though the Lord was present within their hearts and minds and throughout their bodies they thought, "Oh Sri Hari has left with a very dearly beloved of His. She is so powerful and we should take Her shelter." SVAPAKSA GOPIS COULD RECOGNIZE RADHARANI’S FOOTPRINTS Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura describes that when the Gopis saw the lotus footprints of Vrsabhanu-nandini some, the svapaksa Gopis, understood that they were the footprints of Srimati Radharani. There were many Gopis there, millions of them. Of those, the svapaksa Gopis did not say anything but they were extremely happy knowing that their Srimati Radhika was with Krsna. However they did not disclose it openly. They thought, "Oh how fortunate we are that Sri Radha is with Krsna." Then in their minds the svapaksa Gopis began to worship Srimati Radharani and Krsna.  The meaning of Isvara is He who fulfils the desires of the devotees, and Hari means He who destroys all the sufferings of the devotees. They thought, “Bhagavan Sri Narayana was worshipped by such a personality and by that beloved's worship He was completely controlled. Tan no bhihaya, we are so happy that our Isvari, our Srimati Radhika, is now being worshiped by Krsna.” radha iti radha What is Radha? Radha means love. She has so much love or radha that there is no limit. Sukadeva Goswami explains by Her love the Lord Himself was controlled.  Sukadeva Goswami says, “Look, who is the greatest worshiper?” It is that person who has the most love, and that is Srimati Radhika. Her name itself means love. So Sukadeva Goswami manifested Her name in a hidden way. The gopis gave up all their pride and deferred to Srimati Radhika. They saw that Syamasundara was now under Her dominion. The Lord has sri, meaning six kinds of opulence or bhaga. He has all beauty, strength, wealth, knowledge, fame and renunciation. When the Gopis saw the symbols on Radharani’s feet, they became absorbed in them. They also meditated on Sri Krsna's symbols. They meditated on the umbrella, the barley corn, the goad, the disc, the conch, the lotus, the flag, the flower and so forth.  SYMBOLS ON RADHA AND KRSNA’S FEET Radharani has nineteen symbols on Her feet. Seeing these lotus feet the gopis meditated on Her footprints and the symbols on Her feet and worshiped them. On Her left foot there is the sankha conch, the club, the bedi raised platform, the kunda, the devi-murti, the parvat hill, the chariot and matsya the fish. There are eleven symbols on the right foot and eight symbols on the left foot. The form of Bahiranga-sakti Mahamaya - the external potency of the Lord - is a symbol on Srimati Radhika's left foot. Her asana - seat - is also there.  By meditating on these lotus feet and taking shelter of them, all transcendental qualities will manifest within our heart. If these qualities do not come within us then how will we perform worship? How will we perform our sadhana? We need some special qualification to do real Aradhana, which is to worship with love. We need some strength or ability. Where will that come from? Therefore it is shown how Radharani worshiped Sri Krsna and achieved the greatest fortune.  Krsna went away alone with Radharani, leaving all the other Gopis aside. The Gopis began to praise Sri Radha and glorify Her. They meditated on Her footprints, in other words they took a vow to take shelter of Her.  Some Gopis said, "Oh sakhi, by His lotus feet Bhagavan Krsna has touched this Vraja dhama and the dhama has become glorious and so fortunate. Brahma, Sankara, Laksmi and so forth all desire the shelter of this dhama and they take this dust on their heads. Brahma, Siva and the other demigods all saw no other means of good fortune. They thought, 'Oh we shall take the dust of the feet of the Lord and apply it on our bodies.'” KRSNA WORSHIPS RADHIKA’S FEET What does the Lord do? Lord Govinda takes the dust of Srimati Radhika and the gopis and worships that dust. They also have this Holi festival. At the time of the Holi festival, before Holi starts, Krsna goes and takes the dust of Srimati Radhika's feet. Before Holi there are nine days. In those nine days Krsna arrives in Varshana and once arriving there He worships Srimati Radhika. On naumi, the ninth day, He meditates on Her and takes different powders like kumkum, itdra, parag, fragrant flower pollens, keshar, saffron powder, sandal powder and prays for the chance to apply them on Her feet and take the dust from Her feet. He says; “If one desires happiness, peace and all good qualities in their life then certainly they must worship this Goddess.” Purnamasi Devi had told Him this. Purnamasi said; “This is Holi. If you want to follow Holi then this is the real Holi.” Over the course of time this real tradition was gradually lost and now when people do Holi you can not find Radharani and Krsna anywhere. These days people go to their elders or parents and offer flower pollen or kumkum to their feet and offer pranams to them and take that dust on their head. Krsna took these things and worhipped Radharani's feet. Even in Dwaraka Krsna had a fever and so prayed to Narada to receive the dust of the Vraja-basis feet. He applied that dust all over His body. Krsna said; "I will always worship this dust." Caitanya Mahaprabhu said; "If we do not take this gopi-candana or gopi-tilak, the dust of the lotus feet of the Vraja-devis, on our body, then this body will be just like a corpse for worms and one will always suffer in hellish conditions."  There are three kinds of fire, or sufferings, in this world. Fire or sufferings from our own self - our minds, desires, anxieties, then fire from others and nature, and fire from our karma. If we want relief from all these fires then what can we do? Just as Krsna said He had a fever and asked for this dust, in the same way we are burning in this world and if we want relief from these fires of suffering, then we must take the dust of the lotus feet of the gopis and apply that dust on our bodies. When Caitanya Mahaprabhu's students were coming to school He saw some of them without tilak. He said; "I will not teach you like this. If you are not wearing tilak it means you have not done your gayatri. You have not applied this tilak on your body so I will not teach you. You must go back and do this first." When the Gopis saw the footprints of Srimati Radhika, then their desire increased for Her shelter, and they knew that through this they could then have the mercy of Krsna. They thought, "Oh not only has this Gopi worshiped Krsna, Krsna Himself has worshiped Her. That Isvara, the Supreme Lord of all Lords, He Himself has worshiped this Gopi (Sri Radha)." That is the real meaning, that Krsna worshiped Srimati Radhika and the gopis saw this. Siva Thakur told Parvati listen: ārādhanānāṁ sarveṣāṁ viṣṇor ārādhanaṁ param,tasmāt parataraṁ devi tadīyānāṁ samarcanam,  (Padma Purāṇa, CC Madhya 11.31, Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛta 2.4) Worship of Visnu is considered the greatest kind of worship of all Gods as He is the greatest of all Gods. But even greater than the worship of Visnu, is the worship of His beloveds who are considered tadiya, or very dear to Him. There is tadiya and madiya, or those who are His, and those who consider Him to be theirs. That is Srimati Radhika and Her worship is the greatest of all. TRUE OBSERVENCE OF HOLI LILA For one day only Krsna worshiped Srimati Radhika's lotus feet and took the dust from Her feet and performed the Holi Lila. The Holi Lila in Vraja goes on for one month at least. Krsna Himself teaches everyone to take the shelter of Srimati Radhika in this way.  Some people take cow dung, dirt or bricks and throw these things, but those who are intelligent and want to understand and properly follow Holi, then they will worship Srimati Radhika's lotus feet and take the dust of those lotus feet and apply it on their head, that is true Holi.  Before Holi we offer a dipa - ghee lamp. Why? Because Holi is also the aunt of Prahlada Maharaja. She was a demoness and her brother told her to kill Prahlada because she had a boon, through her austerities, that she could not be burnt by fire. She took Prahlada on her lap and went inside a temple of sandal. She told them to light the temple on fire at evening time and Prahlada would burn and she would be fine due to her boon.  She said to Prahlada, "Oh Prahlada, none of the demons like you, but I love you so much. Sri Hari comes in the night of purnima and we worship Him at that time, so let us go. Narayana is the Absolute Truth, I am not speaking any lies. Come with me. We can go and worship Visnu together. We will make a sandalwood temple and worship Him there." Prahlada said, "Will you show me Sri Hari? Does He come? Do you know Him?" She said, "Yes let us go. Shall I make a temple for Him?" Prahlada replied, "Yes! Please make a temple and we will go there and worship together." Holika made the temple and told her brother, "Oh Hiranyakasipu, arrange all the soldiers and when I go inside the temple with Prahlada, lock the gate and put lots of wood and ghee on all sides. As soon as I knock on the back of the temple then light everything on fire and Prahlada will certainly burn. You have tried so many ways to kill him and it has not been possible, but this will work." All blessings, boons, sukriti, auspiciousness and good qualities, everything is destroyed if there is malice for someone. None of these things will work if that is there. Holika hated Prahlada Maharaja and did not understand that her boon would not work because of this. She thought she would be safe from the fire.  Prahlada was a very beautiful young boy and she took him in her arms and sat down in the temple. Prahlada was happily chanting the Lord's names. Where the Lord's names are being chanted demons will fall asleep. Where there is harikatha going on then demonic people will immediately start to fall asleep and snore. This is the first symptom of a demon or a raksasa. Holika began to fall asleep as Prahlada chanted. Her head began to nod falling forwards and backwards. Then she fell backwards and her head hit the wood. She was a big demon so when her head hit the wood it made a loud knocking sound and the soldiers thought this was her indication to now light the fire.  Hiranyakasipu had told the demons that when the temple burns Hari would try and run out and escape, so when He comes out then they should try and kill Him. The demons set the temple on fire on all sides. It was late at night and they saw all the shadows dancing from the fire. The fire was burning so bright, that when one demon saw another demon, he thought it was Lord Hari running out of the temple. They were so afraid, that they attacked and killed each other. The next morning when Hiranyakasipu came he saw everything was ash. All his soldiers were dead and burnt, along with his sister Holika who was also burnt to ash. But Prahlada was sitting there peacefully chanting. At that time all the demigods arrived there and they took the dust from Prahlada’s feet applying it on their bodies.  This is the origin of one Holi Lila. There are two things here, first His name is Prahlada and second, hladini-sakti means the bliss potency of Srimati Radhika, or the pleasure potency of the Lord. His name contains 'ahlad' which means pleasure. In the prayers of Prahlada Maharaja and Lord Nrsimhadeva we hear the verse: Prahladaāhlāda-dāyine (Nṛsiṁha Purāṇa)  Prahlada is he who gives ahlad - bliss, or hladini to Lord Nrsimhadeva. Nrsimhadeva also gives ananda-sakti to Prahlada. Because of his connection to svarupa-sakti and the fountainhead of svarupa-sakti is Srimati Radhika, then this pastime is also called Holi Lila.  To follow real Holi we also take the dust of the sadhus, and those who are connected to Srimati Radhika, and this is real Holi. Worship the dust of Vraja, and worship the Vraja-devis. By worshiping them and attaining the dust of the feet of the gopis, then all inauspici ousness will be destroyed, all ignorance will be destroyed, all suffering will be destroyed. This happens for that person who takes the dust of Vraja on their head. (CLICK ON THE TITLE TO READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE)

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