Vyasa Puja Celebration of
Nitya-Lila Pravista Om Visnupada Sri Srimad
Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
Jaya Sri Damodara Gaudiya Matha Jagannatha Puri
The day began as usual, with a serene mangala-arati and tulsi parikrama at 4:30am.
Immediately after mangala-arati and tulsi-parikrama, many of the devotees present began decorating the temple room with a variety of flower garlands and ornamental flower pieces. They also decorated Srila Gurudeva’s altar and picture, along with the photos of his guru-parampara.
Bhajanas began around 6am, after which Bengali and English glorifications were given. After morning hari-katha, a grand abhiseka (bathing) ceremony of Srila Gurudeva took place and all the devotees present participated.
Vaisnavas from other Gaudiya mathas were all invited and therefore the midday program was on the roof, which could accomodate three times as many guests as the temple could accomodate. The devotees decorated there as well, and feast preparations were also underway.
While most of the devotees were on the rooftop performing bhajanas, many other devotees welcomed Srila Bhakti Vijnana Bharati Gosvami Maharaja, a close friend of Srila Gurudeva since the 1950s and a disciple of Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhava Gosvami Maharaja (who was a god-brother of Srila Gurudeva’s Guru Maharaja, Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja). Srila Bharati Maharaja arrived at 11:30 am with a few other sannyasis from his Sri Caitanya Gaudiya Matha. Accompanied by many devotees from our Jayasri Damodara Matha, they first entered the temple room to offer pranams at Srila Gurudeva’s Vyasasana, and to the Deities of Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subadra and Sri Sri Radha-Damodara and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
There in the temple room, members of the GVP publication team presented Srila Maharaja with the newly published Walking With A Saint 2007 (the transcriptions of Srila Gurudeva’s morning walk conversations), the 2013-2015 Vaisnava Calendar, and The Pastimes at Govardhana Coloring Book, to offer into the hands of Srila Gurudeva.
Devotees then escorted Srila Maharaja to the second floor, to Srila Gurudeva’s bhajana-kutira (room) for darsana.
Srila Gurudeva’s bhajana kutir, the room in which he had performed his divine pastime of entering into nitya-lila two years earlier. And then to the third floor/roof, where the program was being held.
Srila Bharati Maharaja spoke for about fifteen minutes, after which Madhava priya dasa brahmacari translated his words:
First of all, I am giving thanks to all of those devotees who worked on these publications for the pleasure of their Gurudeva, parama-pujyapada Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja. They are doing much labor to please him by presenting his words for the well-being of the entire world. I thank everybody who has worked on his books, and I offer them in his hands.
“Today is a very auspicious day. It is the appearance day of my real spiritual friend as well as a personality who is always honorable for me. Why do we observe these tithis – the appearance and disappearance days of Vaisnavas? What is the need to observe them? Everybody in this world is looking for happiness, but real happiness is only present at the lotus feet of Bhagavan, the Supreme Lord, who is sukha-svarupa — the embodiment of all kinds of happiness. Yudhisthira Maharaja once asked Narada Rsi, ‘O Prabhu, we are grhasthas, householders. What do we have to do to obtain happiness? What is the intrinsic form (svarupa) of happiness? Can you please tell us?’ Narada Rsi replied, ‘The intrinsic form of happiness is Krsna. He is the very embodiment of all kinds of happiness.’
“There are five kinds of happiness (sukha): santa, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya and madhurya. Generally we hear that these five are the five rasas, but in this connection rasa actually means ‘happiness.’ There are five kinds of happiness, and only one personality, Krsna, who is the complete embodiment of all five. None of Krsna’s unlimited incarnations, including even Rama, Nrsimha, and Narayana, can fully embody all five rasas. This is only possible for Sri Krsna.
Since the supreme Lord Krsna is beyond our senses, how can we please Him? Our eyes cannot see Him, our ears cannot hear anything about Him, and our tongue cannot taste the prasadam that is offered to Him. How can we have connection with such a Personality?
na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
sevonmukhe hi jihvadau
svayam eva sphuraty adah
[“The material senses, such as the tongue, cannot perceive Sri Krsna’s name, which appears automatically only on the transcendental senses of one in whose heart the desire to serve Krsna has arisen.” (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.234)]
“It has been mentioned in the sastras that one who becomes sevonmukha – one who has developed a desire in his heart to serve the lotus feet of the Lord – his senses alone have the qualification that he can hear with his ears about the Supreme Lord and can see Him with his eyes. Moreover, that person can become sevonmukha only when he associates with real devotees of the Lord – not so-called devotees, but real devotees.
“Why has only the tongue been mentioned in this verse? Because it is the main sense. If one is able to engage this sense in the service of the Lord, then all the other senses become automatically qualified to serve Him.
“By our own endeavors we can never become surrendered to the Lord. It is only possible by the mercy of pure Vaisnavas. “Je vaisnava sevile acintya krsna paya – By serving the lotus feet of Vaisnavas, one can attain service of that Krsna who is acintya, inconceivable.” That personality whom we cannot perceive or conceive of with our senses becomes conceivable by serving the Vaisnavas. That is why the Lord says, ‘Service of Vaisnavas is far superior to My own service.’
“Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has written: ‘Bhakata-seva, parama-siddhi, prema-latikara-mula’ (Suddha-Bhakata, verse 1) [‘Dust from the lotus feet of pure devotees is very favorable for bhajana, and service to the Vaisnavas is the highest perfection and the very root of the tender creeper of divine love.’] By serving the lotus feet of devotees one can attain all kinds of siddhis (mystic perfections). The meaning here is that by such service one attains bhakti-siddhi, the desire to serve the lotus feet of the Lord. It is understood that when this siddha (perfection) is attained, all varieties of other siddhis are automatically included within it. ‘Prema latika mula’ – This service tendency towards Vaisnavas is the root cause of love and affection for the Lord.’
“Srila Jagannatha dasa babaji gave an order to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Savaravati Thakura, who had come to visit him along with Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura: ‘Oh, I see that you are very qualified in astrology. It is my instruction that you make a Vaisnava Panjika, in which the appearance and disappearance days of Vaisnavas are given. In this way all of humanity will know that although they are meant to remember the Vaisnavas in every moment of their life, in each and every step of their life, at least on the appearance and disappearance days of those great personalities, they will have the chance to remember them.
“‘Avismrti-krsna-padaravindayoh ksinoty abhadrani – Remembrance of the lotus feet of Lord Krsna is the cause of all auspiciousness, and by this, all kinds of inauspiciousness weaken as one’s consciousness becomes pure and one attains bhakti for the Lord’s lotus feet.’ One attains jnana and then vijnana – knowledge with experience, or realized knowledge – at which time one attains detachment for worldly things and attachment for the lotus feet of the Lord.
“Remembrance of Krsna’s lotus feet becomes possible only by remembrance of pure Vaisnavas, by which all auspiciousness manifests. By hearing about the conduct and teachings of pure Vaisnavas, one develops detachment from the world and attachment for the lotus feet of the Lord. It is for this reason that we should always remember the lotus feet of the Vaisnavas. If one does not do so, it is certain that maya will catch him. There is no other way to escape from maya.
“Several disciples of Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura were discussing among themselves the question of what and who pleases Srila Prabhupada the most. One day they all approached Prabhupada, and their selected spokesman asked him, ‘We see that there are so many devotees who are serving the temple, Thakuraji, and you. How can we say who is pleasing you the most?’ Instead of giving a direct answer, Srila Prabhupada replied, ‘In whatever proportion one develops love and affection for the Vaisnavas, he is serving that much.’
“It is not easy to have real love and affection for pure devotees. This is very rare to obtain. It is easy to develop so-called love – for material things and for those who are entangled – but to develop love and affection for real devotees, who really want our well-being, is not so easy. Srila Narottama dasa Thakura is lamenting in one kirtana: ‘Prabhu lokanatha nahito smarana – What an unfortunate situation I am in. Even though I accept that Lokanatha Gosvami is my Prabhu, in reality nothing at all ever comes in my mind about his teachings and conduct.’ Why is he lamenting? Because only by such remembrance does all-auspiciousness manifest to a person. Other than such remembrance, Vaisnavas accept nothing auspicious in this world.
“Parama-pujyapada Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja appeared in this world to give his mercy to all jivas. From the beginning of his manifest stay in this world to the end, the Vaisnava is fully transcendental. At the same time, Srila Narayana Maharaja’s pastimes were such that in the beginning of his manifest pastimes, during the time of his Gurudeva and after that, he did not do such wide preaching as he did in his advanced years, at which time we saw that he preached throughout the world and delivered innumerable jivas.
“He brought the concepts of Vaisnava siddhanta all over the world – and he has not stopped doing this even after his disappearance. This is the nature of such devotees. Even though they leave the vision of this world, in reality they never leave. With their teachings and conduct, they always remain.
“He is a nitya-siddha associate of the Lord, having acted as a sadhaka. In his pastimes as a sadhaka, he crossed the ocean of this material world by the boat of his devotion to his Gurudeva, and at the same time he left that boat for all jivas to catch and cross. ‘Left the boat’ means that he left his teachings, his books, his conduct, and the devotees who have kept him in their hearts. Such a Vaisnava is always present in this world in these forms.
“I therefore pay my pranamas and remember him, especially on this day. Even though it was very difficult for me to travel here today because of my health, still I have come. To those who are observing his appearance day here, or wherever they are, and are remembering his lotus feet, I ask for their blessings and mercy so that I can also develop love and affection for the Vaisnavas.”
After Srila Bhakti Vijnana Bharati Gosvami Maharaja’s offering, a few other guest sannyasis spoke, and Guru-puja was performed by all. This was followed by a sumptuous feast of about twelve preparations that was served with great respect to the few-hundred devotees and guests present.The program resumed at about 6pm with bhajanas, and then several speakers glorifying Srila Gurudeva on this most auspicious day.
Maha-prasadam was sent for Srila Gurudeva from the famous Jagannatha Temple, and all present relished the Lord’s prasadam.
To culminate the all-munificent celebration of the appearance day of our beloved Srila Gurudeva, many of his Western disciples and followers gathered in his bhajana-kutira to glorify him. This took place for the next three consecutive days.
Report submitted by Vasanti dasi
Photos courtesy Herkov prabhu