for krishna.com on Sept. 1, 2010
Vyasa-puja is an annual celebration by devotees of Lord Krishna to offer homage to their guru, or spiritual teacher. Krishna Himself admits that what He likes most is when someone likes His devotee. Each year, the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust publishes a limited number of copies of a Vyasa-puja book—a collection of homages to Srila Prabhupada from devotees and temples all over the world. The following is the introduction by the editor, Dravida Das.
In the Caitanya-caritamrta we find several passages describing how Lord Caitanya praised His devotees as if He had five mouths. Typical is this one concerning Srila Haridasa Thakura, at Antya-lila 11.50–51:
“In front of all the great devotees like Ramananda Raya and Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya , Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu began to describe the holy attributes of Haridasa Thakura. As He described the transcendental attributes of Haridasa Thakura, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu seemed to possess five mouths. The more he described, the more his great happiness increased.”
We can only imagine how much happiness Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu must feel as more than a hundred “mouths” glorify his dear devotee Srila Prabhupada in the yearly vyasa-puja book, and as thousands more do so all over the world on Srila Prabhupada’s vyasa-puja day.
In this forty-first annual Vyasa-puja book, we will find the usual array of encomiums, prayers, and reports of preaching projects planned or completed. The homages come from a cross section of the international Society for Krishna Consciousness—seniors and juniors, leaders and neophytes. They all express, in unique ways, their realization that Srila Prabhupada is the beating heart of ISKCON. And just as every part of the body depends on the heart for energy and life itself, so every member of Srila Prabhupada’s Society depends on him—his instructions, his blessings, his love—for their spiritual lives.
Some highlights from each section follow.
GBCs: Tamohara Prabhu, reflecting on the imminent installation of the Deities of Sri Sri Krisna-Balarama in New Ramna Reti, Florida, reflects on Srila Prabhupada as the representative of Lord Balarama:
“It is our good fortune that the spiritual strength bestowed by Lord Balarama is manifested by you in fullness. We can recall your firm determination to preach the message of Krishna consciousness, your absolute conviction of the spiritual truth, and your unflagging determination to push forth this ISKCON movement against all odds. Your strength gave us our strength. In your presence, there was no fear, no question, and no hesitation.
In the years since your physical departure from this world, we have sometimes wondered whether we can go on with this same strength, conviction, and determination. Sometimes the road seems more difficult and the obstacles seem higher and wider. It is at those times that we have no recourse other than to take shelter of you. By remembering your instructions to us, recalling your conviction to preach unceasingly, and opening our hearts to the mercy you still extend to us all, we will receive that same strength. In our times of difficulty or doubt, we need look no further than your lotus feet, your instructions, and service to you. We need only approach you in the mood of sincere prayer, and then there will be no doubt that all spiritual benedictions will come. By our service and prayer to you we will experience the strength and mercy of Lord Balarama manifesting through His most confidential representative—you, Srila Prabhupada.”
Non-GBC Sannyasis: Sacinandana Swami encapsulates the essence of a sincere disicple’s prayer to Srila Prabhupada in this little free-verse poem:
“Dear Srila Prabhupada, Today I offer the flowers of my faith to your lotus feet. Whatever you find of value in me are gifts given by you.
I sincerely fall down before your lotus feet and beg you: kindly help me not withhold anything from you and the divine Couple. Please give me strength and love so I can wholeheartedly offer all my words, acts, and thoughts for your service. Thank you so much.”
ISKCON Centers: Like several other authors, the writer of the homage from Longdenville, Trinidad, focuses on the inspiring example Srila Prabhupada gave us for all time by the many struggles he underwent to found and expand the Krishna consciousness movement:
“We struggle too, Srila Prabhupada. We know you are well aware of that. We struggle to control our senses. We struggle to chant attentively and without offense. We struggle to follow the principles and your instructions. We struggle to find the enthusiasm to give Krishna consciousness to others. We struggle to get along with each other.
We struggle just to keep struggling to become Krishna conscious. Sometimes it seems like a hopeless task. How can we succeed when we are often our own worst enemies?
Our success lies in simply remaining faithful to you and never giving up the fight. You have given us so many blessings to make the struggle easier that it hardly seems proper to beg for more. Yet we shamelessly beseech your mercy so that we can find the strength to continue on this path and not be deviated, not become disheartened or discouraged by our own weaknesses and anarthas. It may take us many lifetimes (although you urged us to finish up our business in this life), yet there is no more worthwhile struggle than the one to attain one’s real self.”
Publishers: Punya-palaka Prabhu of the north European branch of the BBT succinctly summarizes the great value of Srila Prabhupada’s books, as well as the mood of those fortunate devotees who have the chance to help produce them:
“Your books potently inspire and purify utter beginners and laymen in spiritual matters, and they give further guidance to those who are already to some extent purified and aware of life’s ultimate subtle interest. And certainly all advanced devotees enjoy reading them, as you yourself did! Please bless us, your BBT servants, to be able to continue to effectively assist sincere souls everywhere in their search for the fulfillment of self-realization by providing them with your perfect and complete teachings, transparently and attractively, without distortions.”
Ministries: The highlight of this section is the offering from Bhakti-raghava Swami, in which he includes a report on the establishment of the daiva varnasrama ministry project in India. Its mission statement:
“The ISKCON daiva varnasrama ministry Promoting Rural development seeks to promote, establish, and demonstrate the ideals of simple living and high thinking, based on the concepts and principles of daivi-varnasrama-dharma, as desired by Srila Prabhupada. The ministry will work with the ISKCON India leadership to establish self-sufficient rural (village) communities, giving special emphasis to training and education.
Anyone who knows Srila Prabhupada’s life knows how dear varnasrama was to him. Now it looks like something substantial in this regard is really going to happen in India.
Other ISKCON Sources: Yogesvara Prabhu wrote an expressive offering for ISKCON Resolve, the intrepid group of devotees who try to mediate—and resolve—the seemingly intractable disputes that sometimes arise among devotees in a worldwide, dynamic preaching movement. Addressing Srila Prabhupada, he writes:
“You excelled at finding diamonds amid broken glass and gems of wisdom in straw huts. You took threads of light peeping through bleak places and spun luxurious spools of brightness, breathed in wisps of air from suffocated terrain and exhaled lavish, full billows of life. The glass was never
half full for you; it overflowed. Perhaps in these stunning discoveries of the extraordinary in the ordinary you were telling us to be alert because life’s stories are always deeper than they seem; and to not be afraid of reaching out to possibility, because even the most perceptive devotee cannot predict the full extent of Krishna’s creation.
How much more we take from your example today than we could then, now that we see for ourselves how hearts scarred by bitter memories are also fortified by them and that a war cry is better than a whimper. You insisted on courage, railed against impossibility, raised aging to an art, and challenged us to rethink entrenched positions. Who dares complain of having reached their limits, you demanded. Who dares capitulate to the forces of a dark world? You were, i believe, alerting us that aging would mean entering the most productive period of our lives: too old to continue the naivety of youth but not so old that one should avoid pushing the boulder up the hill one more time. Don’t stop. That was your message. No one, you declared, least of all a devotee, is ennobled by complacency.”
Just a few of the voices raised in praise of Srila Prabhupada and recorded for posterity in this forty-first edition of his Vyasa-puja book.
The complete Vyasa Puja book is available at http://www.krishna.com/homages-srila-prabhupada