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Having been asked by the devotees to write something about the meaning of the festival of Vyäsa-püjä, I find myself in a dilemma. Our spiritual master is famous for his non-compromising delivery of the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. How can a materialistic neophyte like me write something that might bring him pleasure? Surely this would be the height of hypocrisy. However, after some contemplation on his instructions, I am re-assured by the fact that he always told us to simply repeat the truth as it is without compromising. Based on that we will try to repeat some things we have heard and read about the essence of Vyäsa-püjä. We hope that this may bring some pleasure to our revered spiritual master and his loyal followers. Krishna is very pleased if one glorifies the Vaiñëavas and one’s spiritual master.
vaiñëavera guëa gäna, korile jévera träëa suniäche sädhu-guru mukhe I have heard from the lips of sädhu-guru that if you glorify a devotee, you will be delivered very easily. Krishna will be very pleased and you will get his mercy very easily.
It is said that better even than worship of the Lord is worship of the spiritual master. Devahuti describes in the Padma Puräëa:
bhaktir yathä harau me’sti tadvan niñöhä gurau yadi mamästi tena satyena svaà darçayatu hariù For me devotion to my guru is more important than devotion to Lord Hari. If I am devoted to my guru, then Lord Hari will personally reveal himself to me.
The Varäha Puräëa repeats a startling statement from Sri Krishna to his devotee Bali Maharaja:
siddhir bhavati vä neti saàçayo 'cyuta sevinäm niùsaàçayas tu tad bhakta paricaryäratätmanäm There may be some doubt whether or not the personal servants of the Supreme Personality of Godhead will attain perfection, but there is absolutely no doubt that those who are attached to serving his devotees will attain perfection.
That one should appropriately worship the Vaiñëavas is described in the following words of the Itihäsa-samuccaya:
tasmäd viñëu-prasädäya vaiñëavän paritoñaye prasäda-sumukho viñëus tenaiva syän na saàçayaù To gain Lord Vishnu’s mercy, one should first please the Vaiñëavas. When the Vaiñëavas are pleased, then Lord Vishnu is merciful. Of this there is no doubt.
Yet how do we please the Vaiñëavas? How do we please our revered spiritual master? Is it enough to offer a few words along with fruits and flowers once a year? In his Bengali prayers to his spiritual master known as Vaiçiñöya-añöaka (3.5) Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has described the festival known as vyäsa-püjä:
phula-phala mahotsava püjä nähi haya väëéra sevaka yei sei ta püjaya Merely having a festival of flowers and fruits does not constitute worship. Those who
serve the instructions of the spiritual master actually worship him.
Real worship means to act according to the instructions of the guru and to work according to his pleasure. Srila Prabhupada writes:
“guru-bhogé,” “guru-tyägé” dui ta’ asära “guru-sevé” halie para bujhibe vicära The one who renounces his guru’s order (guru-tyägé) and the one who tries to enjoy the assets of his spiritual master (guru-bhogé) are two kinds of useless persons. First become a servant of your spiritual master (guru-sevé), and then you will understand all these things clearly. (Vaiçiñöya-añöaka 4.40)
Praying to our gurudeva whom we consider to be a manifestation of ädi-guru, Balaram, we beg for clear understanding of the proper mood of a disciple. Yet if we contemplate on the pastimes of Krishna’s beloved elder brother, a relevant question arises: Why did Balaram give so much favor to the demoniac Duryodhan? Duryodhan was not a devotee of Krishna. From his childhood he hated Krishna’s pure devotees the Pandavas and tried in various ways to kill them. When Yudhisthir asked Krishna to go to Hastinapur to deliver a peace message on behalf of the Pandavas, Duryodhan grossly disrespected Krishna, and even tried to capture him. In spite of all these offenses to both Krishna and his pure devotees, Duryodhan is famous as a great disciple of Balaram. Consider:
* Balaram stayed for several years in Mithila just to give association to Duryodhan and train him in the art of fighting with a club. (Bhäg. 10.57.26) * Balaram wanted to give his sister Subhadra in marriage to Duryodhan. (Bhäg. 10.86.2-3) * Duryodhan considered Balaram the supreme Lord. He addressed him as Bhagavan. (Garga Saàhitä 8.9.1; 8.10.1) * It was Duryodhan who asked the sage Pradvipak Muni to inform him about Balaram’s räsa dance in Vraja, as well as various prayers and procedures for worshiping Baladev, and Balaram’s 1,000 names. (Garga-saàhitä canto 8 chapters 9-13) * One of Balaram’s names is “Duryodhana-guru”, the guru of Duryodhan. (Garga-saàhitä 1.10.42) * Balaram went to Kuruksetra to stop the fighting between Bhimasena and Duryodhan. When he saw that it was Krishna’s will that they fight, he left as he had so much affection for both Bhima and Duryodhan that it was too painful for him to see them fight. (Bhäg. 10.79.23-30)
How do we reconcile the fact that Duryodhan was very dear to Balaram? There may be many answers to this question, but we can conclude that although Duryodhan looked like he was very close, ultimately his attitude was not pleasing to Balaram.
There are many lessons that we can see from this: First, it’s not always easy to see who is really close to the guru. By the aparä-vicära, the apparent consideration, it appeared that both Banasura and Ravan pleased Mahadeva Shiva and got his mercy. But our äcäryas have described that they only got sakapaöa kåpä, mercy with cheating. They got some wealth, fame and position. They didn’t get the niñkapaöa kåpä, mercy without cheating, or kåñëa-prema. In the same way, although it apparently looked like Duryodhan was close to Lord Balaram, internally he was far away from the Lord. Secondly, although Duryodhan had some faith in Balaram, he didn’t have faith in Krishna or the Pandavas. In the same way, sometimes a disciple may be full of enthusiasm for his or her guru, but may neglect or offend other Vaiñëavas. Or, like Duryodhan, some disciples may express devotion for their guru, but they may not be interested in worshiping Krishna or chanting kåñëa-näma. Although it may appear that such devotees are very close to their guru, and they may even get some big position, they do not get the same quality of mercy that a surrendered disciple receives. To explore a third lesson from the relationship between Balaram and Duryodhan, we have to understand Duryodhan’s identity. The Garga-saàhitä (1.5.30) describes him as an aàça or partial expansion of Kali — duryodhanaù kaler aàço. Although externally he looked like a big follower of his guru, in actuality Duryodhan was a servant and follower of Kali, not his guru Lord Balaram. He had his own separate agenda from the Lord, an agenda that ultimately caused pain and death for millions of persons. Regarding such duplicity, many times our revered spiritual master quoted Thakur Bhaktivinode from his Bäul Saìgéta (song 6):
eo to’ eka kalir celä mäthä neòä kapni parä, tilak näke, galäy mälä Here is a disciple of Kali-yuga: He has a shaved head, wears kaupins, marks his forehead with tilak, and keeps tulasé beads around his neck.
In his 1995 vyäsa-püja address here in Bhubaneswar our guru maharaja warned us that to really have the association of guru one must give up ulterior motives and false displays of devotion, and must genuinely surrender:
We are only pretending that we have done ätma-nivedana, that we have surrendered. But we have not really surrendered. We have only been pretending, pretending, pretending for so many years. And also for so many years to come in the future, as long as we continue to act artificially we cannot approach guru, sädhu or Vaiñëava. We cannot get their mercy at all and therefore we cannot see their real form. We will be cheated. We will get all external things.
In conclusion, we may offer so many flowers, fruits and sweet words to our guru on this day, but those offerings should be wrapped in the fine scent of our sincere devotion and surrender to our guru maharaja’s instructions. That is real Vyäsa-püjä. — Çré-guru vaiñëava kåpä prärthé, Madhavananda Das
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