Book excerpts Acarya Kesari Sri Vyasa-puja Celebration in Chunchura Matha

Sri Vyasa-puja Celebration in Chunchura Matha

On 3–6 February 1961, sri vyasa-puja celebrations were held in all the mathas of Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti for four days. The celebration at Sri Uddharana Gaudiya Matha was especially successful because of Srila Acaryadeva’s personal presence there.

The appearance day of Srila Acaryadeva was on Maghi-krsna-trtiya (3 February), and prayers and kirtana glorifying Sri Hari, Guru and Vaisnavas were performed from brahma-muhurta, very early morning. After that, puja of guru-pancaka, acarya-pancaka, vyasa-pancaka, krsna-pancaka, upasya-pancaka, panca-tattva-pancaka, etc., and vaisnava-homa (fire sacrifice) were performed according to Sri Vyasa-puja-paddhati. Srila Acaryadeva very kindly arrived at the place of worship and all his sannyasi, brahmacari and grhastha followers offered their sraddha-puspanjali at his lotus feet. After the noon offering of bhoga and arati, wonderful maha-prasada was distributed to all the guests, both invited and uninvited. At the religious assembly that evening, Srimad Bhaktivedanta Muni Maharaja, Srimad Bhaktivedanta Paramarthi Maharaja, Srimad Bhaktivedanta Vamana Maharaja and others lectured on sri guru-tattva.

The next day, 4 February, the homages sent by the devotees from different places were read in the evening assembly. Finally, Srila Acaryadeva gave special instructions on the need of taking shelter at the lotus feet of a bona fide guru (sad-guru-padasraya) and the duties of the bona fide disciple (sat-sisya).

6 February was Govinda-pancami (Maghi-krsna-pancami) and the appearance day of jagad-guru Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada. Prayers and kirtana were performed continuously from the early morning, and then tridandi-svami Bhaktivedanta Vamana Maharaja read Srila Prabhupada’s conceptions of sri vyasa-puja, from Prabhupada’s lectures. After the deities were given arcana-pujana and Srila Prabhupada was offered puspanjali, bhoga was offered and at noon arati was performed. Afterwards all the assembled guests were served maha-prasada.

That evening at five a large assembly was organized, at which the homages sent by devotees for Srila Acaryadeva and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada were read first. Sri Cidghanananda Brahmacari spoke on Srila Prabhupada’s personality and instructions, after which paramaradhya Srila Gurudeva gave a very instructive and substantial lecture regarding the speciality of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. He said that sri guru-puja is also known as vyasa-puja. Gurus are of two kinds: diksa-guru, who first gives the mantras, and siksa-guru, who gives further instructions. Srila Vyasadeva is giving instructions (siksa) and is therefore siksa-guru. In the arcana process, the rule is to worship the diksa-guru first. According to tattva, the siksa-guru is non-different from the diksa-guru. Furthermore, all scriptures declare that since they are the same, both are to be served. Both are manifestations of Sri Krsna. Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi-lila 1.45, 47) also states:

guru krsna-rupa hana sastera pramane
guru-rupe krsna krpa karena bhakta-gane
siksa-guruke ta’ jani krsnera svarupa
antaryami, bhakta-srestha,—ei dui rupa

According to sastra, the guru (diksa-guru) is the form of Sri Krsna (krsna-rupa), because it is in the form of guru, that Krsna bestows mercy on the devotees. One should know the siksa-guru to be Krsna Himself (krsna-svarupa). In the form of the guru in the heart (caitya-guru) Krsna gives encouragement, and as the topmost devotee He gives association and instruction.

In other scriptures, the following are accepted as siksa-gurus : the six Gosvamis, Gaurahari endowed with Sri Radha’s sentiments and bodily complexion, and Krsna wearing a peacock-feather crown. Even then, it is the disciple’s duty to worship the diksa-guru first. The guru who gives the mantras, the diksa-guru, has a prominent special feature. The transcendental sound vibration (sabda-brahma) which protects us from the mental platform is called mantra, and he who saves the disciple from the mental platform is called the mantra-giving guru. The guru who gives mantras is therefore the topmost, and should be worshipped first. Sri Vedavyasa imparts all kinds of instructions, and since he is siksa-guru, his importance or speciality is an unavoidable fact.

It is rare to find a bona fide guru, in this present time. Disputes are often seen among diksa- and siksa-gurus because they are actually unqualified. Therefore the real siksa-guru is one who is non-envious, who gives instructions for bhakti-sadhana, and who instructs the disciple to serve the diksa-guru. Sastras say that one should give proper respect to him. One who does not teach the disciple to serve the diksa-guru is not a real siksa-guru. In fact, a so-called siksa-guru who cannot honour the diksa-guru is not a pure Vaisnava. What kind of behaviour does such a preceptor demonstrate towards his own diksa-guru? Those immersed in monism disrespect the guru or disseminate disrespect to the guru following Sri Sankara Acarya’s belief that the guru does not know theory fully (anavagatasyata). They also consider the guru to be aguru, or insignificant. If the guru is ignorant or has not realized tattva, then how can the disciple respect his status? A qualified disciple does not think, “I shall get all types of benefits by performing guru-seva. It will enable me to spend my life lazily and comfortably in the name of being bhajananandi, one absorbed exclusively in bhajana, and I shall be able to lord it over other devotees.” Gurura sevaka haya manya apanara. Devotees and disciples who have taken shelter of a sad-guru always give respect to all other servants of guru. Only one who teaches guru-seva is siksa-guru.

In Valagada, a large conference was held to promote dharma

23–25 February 1961, Saccidananda Sevasrama of Valagada in the Hoogly district, organized an extensive three-day dharma-sabha. Om visnupada Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, the president-acarya of Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti, received a special invitation, and attended this great dharmika function along with his sannyasis and twenty brahmacaris. The Sevasrama had made very nice arrangements for the participants’ lodging and prasada.

The large conference started at four o’clock in the afternoon. Different speakers and guests arrived first, and then Srila Acarya Kesari was brought to the platform to the resounding of conch shells and sankirtana. He was respectfully seated as the chairman by the son of Sir Asutosa Mukhopadhyaya (the first Indian governor of Bengal) and Sri Vama Prasada Mukherji (the brother of Syamapada Mukherji), the retired chief justice of Kolkata High Court. Svami Samadhiprakasa Aranya and Sri Jiva Nyaya-tirtha were selected as the main guests. The speaker Mahasthavira Dharmakirti, Srimatilala Dasa (retired district judge), Sri Sudhindranatha Mukhopadhyaya, sannyasis of the Samiti, brahmacaris and other distinguished persons took their seats and then the program started.

After the inaugural music of Sri Jitendranatha Caudhari, Sri Tarakagati Mustafi spoke about the aim of the conference on behalf of Svami Bhupananda Puri Maharaja, the president of Saccidananda Sevasrama. After that, at the request of the chairman Srila Acarya Kesari, Dr. Motilala Dasa lectured on dharma, presenting evidence from the Vedas and Upanisads. Later, Mahasthavira from the Mahabodhi Society spoke on moral behaviour (dharma-niti) and the religious preaching of Buddhadeva. Sri Jiva Nyaya-tirtha spoke on ‘The necessity of dharma’ and Svami Samadhiprakasa Aranya Maharaja followed with a wonderful lecture on ‘The condition of the present religious world’.

Finally, Srila Acaryadeva gave a very brilliant lecture, which the audience liked above all others. It was full of sentiments about the national leaders’ lack of concern for dharma, the opposition to dharma in society, and the degrading influence of modern education on Indian culture. After 8 p.m. the secretary of the convention requested the chairman, Srila Acaryadeva, to open and announce the exhibition arranged by the conference. However, the enthusiastic audience repeatedly requested Srila Acaryadeva to continue his lecture. He did so and gave very impressive instructions on the theme ‘Following dharma is the foremost duty of human life’. After the conference, the organizers and the audience lavishly praised Srila Acaryadeva’s views.

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