Sri Radhastami has a special significance in the society of Sri Gaudiya Vaisnavas, and they honour this day very deeply. Srimati Radhika is Krsna’s most complete sakti. She is Herself Isvari and all other saktis manifest from Her. For this reason, some people want to regard Radhastami as a jayanti and observe fasting without water, as they do on Krsna-janmastami. In reality, though, even though Hari-bhakti-vilasa refers to the Sri Radhastami tithi as a vrata, it does not prescribe any fasting for this day. Thus the sahajiya sampradaya, which observes fasting on this day, is actually exhibiting excessive devotion (ati-bhakti ) towards Sri Radharani. Hari-bhakti-vilasa is the only Smrti for the Gaudiya Vaisnavas, and it records in a splendid way, with scriptural references, the system by which Vaisnavas should observe vratas and fasting. Sat-kriya-sara-dipika is another prominent text concerning activities prescribed by sastra. It is improper for a pure Vaisnava to create new vratas and transgress vratas and other rules recorded in these books. Nowadays the Gaudiya Mission, which is supported by Congress Company, has changed the pure Vaisnava line and has begun to observe Sri Radhastami vrata according to the doctrine of the sahajiyas.
Observance of vrata and fasting is prescribed in the sastras only for the appearance days of saktiman para-tattva (the Supreme Truth who possesses all potencies) or His incarnations. If fasting were observed for the appearance of sakti-tattva, then one would have to observe fasting on all 365 days of the year. This is because, in addition to bhagavat-saktis, all the acaryas and gurus in the guru-parampara are included in sakti-tattva, and it is impossible to observe a vrata and fasting on all of the appearance and disappearance days.
All the mathas under the jurisdiction of Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti observed Sri Radhastami vrata on Sunday, 1 September 1957, as prescribed by Sri Sanatana Gosvami. On this day there was abhiseka of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna, with special offerings of bhoga, lectures on sri radha-tattva, sankirtana and so on.
On Radhastami day, Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja visited Sri Caitanya Sarasvata Matha, which parama-pujyapada Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja had established in Koleraganja, Navadvipa. There, the acarya of Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti gave a deeply philosophical lecture on radha-tattva. Other speakers also offered puspanjali at the lotus feet of Srimati Radhika by revealing their own understanding.
Vyasa-puja at Sri Gauravani-Vinoda Asrama in Khadagpura
On 8 February 1958, sri vyasa-puja was celebrated in a grand way on jagad-guru Srila Prabhupada’s appearance day at Sri Gauravani-Vinoda Asrama in Khadagpura. This was made possible by the irrepressible enthusiasm of tridandi-svami Srimad Bhakti Jivana Janardana Maharaja, the president of the asrama. In the previous year, vyasa-puja had been celebrated with great festivity in Sri Goloka-ganja Gaudiya Matha in Assam, according to the method initiated by Srila Sarasvati Prabhupada. In 1956, the celebrations had been held in Begunabadi, Purvacaka, near Medinipura.
Om visnupada Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaja attended this vyasa-puja with his disciples and officiated at the ceremony. On the second day of the festival, maha-prasada was distributed to about five thousand faithful people. A dharma-sabha was arranged, and Srila Acaryadeva addressed the assembly as follows: “Not only we Indians but the whole world is eternally indebted to Sri Krsna Dvaipayana Vyasa. He divided the Vedas into four parts to help general people who are trying to study them. He compiled Vedanta-sutra, or Brahma-sutra, in order to reconcile apparent contradictions between Vedanta and Upanisads, the essence of the Vedas. He composed the different Puranas and the Mahabharata and finally, in order to make Vedanta-sutra easily understandable, he manifested the spotless maha-purana, Srimad-Bhagavatam, as the commentary on Vedanta-sutra.
“All the religious societies in India believe somehow or other that they are followers of Vyasa. However, when we carefully study the literature composed by Sri Vyasadeva, we can clearly see that bhagavad-bhakti is the main subject matter in his literature. He has not mentioned the words jnana or mukti anywhere in the five hundred and fifty aphorisms of his famous Brahma-sutra. On the contrary, he has established bhakti everywhere in the genuine commentary on his Brahma-sutra, namely, paramahamsi samhita Srimad-Bhagavatam.
“Although the Sri Sankara sampradaya gives prominence to vyasa-puja, their so-called vyasa-puja is a mockery. In Acarya Sankara’s commentary on Brahma-sutra, he has accused Krsna Dvaipayana Sri Vedavyasa of being mistaken. Sri Sankara has written that brahma is the embodiment of bliss (ananda-svarupa), and can never be blissful (ananda-maya). But Sri Vyasaji has called brahma ananda-maya in Vedanta-sutra. In this way, Acarya Sankara has attempted to refute Srila Vyasadeva’s opinion. Therefore, Acarya Sankara’s vyasa-puja is only for show.
“Sri Vyasadeva is worshipped properly in the Vaisnava sampradaya. All tridandi-sannyasis should accept the example of the vyasa-puja celebrated by Sripada Janardana Maharaja. Nowadays, we see that, in the name of vyasa-puja, so-called gurus everywhere accept puspanjali and arcanjali offered to their own feet and they hear and accept praise given to them by their own disciples. However, those who only accept puspanjali and arcanjali offered to their own feet and do not follow Sri Vyasa-puja-paddhati (which was collected by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada and edited and developed by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura) are not actually performing vyasa-puja. On vyasa-puja day, an acarya will worship guru, guru-parampara and upasya (the object of worship). According to this puja-paddhati, on that day one should worship guru-pancaka, acarya-pancaka, vyasa-pancaka, sanakadi-pancaka, krsna-pancaka, upasya-pancaka and panca-tattva-pancaka. It is the supreme duty of Sri Gaudiya Sarasvata Vaisnavas to follow the Vyasa-puja-paddhati used by Srila Prabhupada.”
On this occasion, when the disciples of Sripada Janardana Maharaja went to him to offer puspanjali at his feet, he instructed them to offer puspanjali first at the feet of their siksa-guru, Srila Kesava Maharaja. When, on their guru’s order, all the disciples came to Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja to offer puspanjali, he in turn explained that a disciple should first worship his own guru’s feet and then other gurus. For this he gave examples and proofs from sastra. Sripada Janardana Maharaja could not reject the instruction from his senior godbrother and siksa-guru. Accordingly, his disciples worshipped their own gurudeva and then offered puspanjali to Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja. Pujyapada Janardana Maharaja did not forget this event for his whole life. He used to say that he had watched all his godbrothers very closely, but had never seen anyone who was so generous, so learned in siddhanta, and such a fearless speaker of truth as Srila Kesava Maharaja. When he spoke like this, tears would come to his eyes.