Archive for the 'Vyasa-puja' Category

Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Greatest Glory – Dhanurdhara Swami’s Vyāsa-pūjā Offering to Śrīla Prabhupāda

August 24th, 2019

Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Greatest Glory

I gently bow my head to each tomb and meditate on the qualities of the various devotees that are honored there. I pray for those qualities to come to me. It is one of my favorite places in Vrindavan. I often visit the samādhi park at the ISKCON gośāla.

Moving clockwise, I first offer respect to the spot where Guṇagrahī Swami lies. I think of his humility and his attachment to preaching and kīrtan. The samādhi of Ananta Śānti, the first Russian devotee, is next. Vrindavan is flooded with Russian Vaiṣṇavas. I laud his sacrifice. Then where Vibhu Caitanya Prabhu rests, a self-effulgent Vaiṣṇava, universally recognized in the Vaiṣṇava community as an uttama bhakta for his deep devotion in even the simplest of services. The samādhi of Narmadā Goswami follows. He was an elderly and respected Indian gentleman who dedicated himself to the heart of Śrīla Prabhupāda, the BBT, for over 25 years. I next bow to Pūrṇacandra Goswami, a learned and Rasika Vaiṣṇava who beautifully sang songs of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa and was very strict in the line of Śrīla Prabhupāda. The noble samādhi of Yamunā devī follows. Her name alone is synonymous in ISKCON with bhāva bhakti, the deepest devotion. Need I say more? The final one is the biggest of all the samādhi structures. Brahmānanda Prabhu rests there. Perhaps the size of his tomb represents his heart for Śrīla Prabhupāda.

In Nectar of Devotion it describes that one of the main inspirations to develop a particular relationship with Krishna is to meditate on the devotees who love Krishna in the same relationship one aspires to attain. Thus, is not remembering the departed souls who have dedicated their lives to Śrīla Prabhupāda one of the main impetuses for developing our relationship with Śrīla Prabhupāda? And do not these same devotees represent his greatest glory, what he was able to give others of himself?

Today, in remembrance of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s accomplishments, I am inspired to highlight the many Vaiṣṇavas who have unfortunately passed from this world that Śrīla Prabhupāda inspired. My only regret is not being able to mention them all, especially the ones that I have known closely – great souls who have enhanced the appreciation of Śrīla Prabhupāda in the hearts of many. If Śrīla Prabhupāda’s mercy is all that we are made of, do not these souls embody his glories? I therefore pray to all of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s followers, those past, present, and even the millions yet to born who will carry his legacy and increase his glories. I stand in awe of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s greatest glory, the many he has inspired by the depth of his devotion, and the gift of his devotion that he keeps on giving.

 

 

Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Vyāsa-pūjā 2018 – Dhanurdhara Swami’s Offering to Śrīla Prabhupāda

September 4th, 2018

Rādhā Bhāva and Prabhupāda

This is not about Śrīla Prabhupāda’s eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa. I will leave that for other discussions. What I want to share with you is a realization I had recently in my reading of the last chapter of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta by Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja called “The Śikṣāṣṭakam Prayers,” a realization that highlights how Śrīla Prabhupāda gave us the most practical path in understanding our own relationship with Kṛṣṇa.[1]

In that regard, I found particularly relevant the discussion of the last verse of the Śikṣāṣṭakam that describes the mood of Śrī Rādhā at that height of Her devotion:

“I know no one but Kṛṣṇa as my Lord, and He shall remain so even if He handles me roughly by His embrace or makes me brokenhearted by not being present before me. He is completely free to do anything and everything, for He is always my worshipful Lord unconditionally.” (v. 8)

Before I continue with my thesis, it is important to understand the context in which this verse is recited. According to Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja this verse is a paraphrase by Śrī Caitanya of what Śrī Rādhā told Her friends after they advised Her to disregard Kṛṣṇa. He had apparently spurned her. In other words, She loved Kṛṣṇa so much that just the suggestion to ignore Kṛṣṇa, even when seemingly justified, ignited the depths of Her unconditional love.[2] In Śrī Caitanya’s ensuing explanation of this verse to His most confidential associates Svarūpa Dāmodar and Rāmamanda Rāya, He further elaborates on how this concluding verse expresses the nature of Śrī Rādhā’s love at its height.

“I do not mind my personal distress. I only wish for the happiness of Kṛṣṇa, for His happiness is the goal of my life. However, if He feels great happiness in giving me distress, that distress is the best of my happiness.”[3] (Caitanya-caritāmṛta Antya-līlā 20.52)

Now back to my original inspiration. After reading the eighth verse of the Śikṣāṣṭakam and its explanation by Śrī Caitanya Himself, it struck me how this final verse not only expresses the mood of Śrī Rādhā at the height of her devotion but accentuates the basic foundation of bhakti in a manner very reminiscent of the way Śrīla Prabhupāda and his own spiritual master, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta, preached. This is clearer when understanding the history of their mission.

Without retreading a long and complex history, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta appeared at a time when the teachings of Śrī Caitanya had become very much degraded. The people coming to Śrī Caitanya’s lineage were mostly guided to higher and esoteric meditations in Kṛṣṇa consciousness without the prerequisite foundational sacrifice and proper behavior. Śrīla Prabhupāda describes Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta’s concern about this and how he called out those called prākṛta-sahajiyās who cheaply concentrated their meditation on Kṛṣṇa’s intimate pastimes without the recommended step-by-step process to first purify their hearts.

“Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura says that a devotee does not care about his own happiness and distress; he is simply interested in seeing that Kṛṣṇa is happy, and for that purpose he engages in various activities […] Those who are materialistic, [….] like the prākṛta-sahajiyās, regard their own happiness as the aim of life. Some of them aspire to enjoy themselves by sharing the happiness of Kṛṣṇa. This is the mentality of fruitive workers who want to enjoy sense gratification by making a show of service to Kṛṣṇa.” (Caitanya-caritāmṛta. Antya-līlā 20.52 purport)

Seeing this tendency, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta, and Śrīla Prabhupāda after him, stressed unconditional surrender to the spiritual master and stringently warned of entering realms of esoteric bhakti prematurely. As a result they were often criticized for not giving what Śrī Caitanya came to give, rāgānuga bhakti, a practice based very much on meditating on Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes and visualizing one’s own spiritual identity within them.

The last verse of the Śikṣāṣṭakam, however, implies clearly that what Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta and Śrīla Prabhupāda stressed was not just for beginners, but also the essence of the highest attainment in Krishna consciousness, a practice that only needs to be ripened by the pure chanting of the name to achieve its fruition.

So that’s my realization today while reading the Caitanya-caritāmṛta – that if you want to awaken your eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa then faithfully follow the teachings of Śrīla Prabhupāda by unconditionally surrendering to Śrī Śrī Guru and Kṛṣṇa in service of Śrī Caitanya’s saṅkīrtana mission. Certainly one who sincerely does this is embracing the essence of Rādhā bhāva as expressed in that ultimate verse:

“I know no one but Kṛṣṇa as my Lord, and He shall remain so even if He handles me roughly by His embrace or makes me brokenhearted by not being present before me. He is completely free to do anything and everything, for He is always my worshipful Lord unconditionally.”

 

 


[1] It is worthy to note here that the Śikṣāṣṭakam prayers are particularly significant because they are the only verses, eight in number, that Śrī Caitanya composed.

[2] Also significant is that this verse is the last verse of the Śikṣāṣṭakam and represents the fulfillment of the internal reason for Śrī Caitanya’s appearance, to experience the love of His topmost devotee at the height of Her love.

[3] Śrī Caitanya’s explanation of the Śikṣāṣṭakam comprises thirteen verses. I have only chosen one for the sake of the clarity and force of my post to highlight the mood of them all.

 

 

Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasa-puja – Dhanurdhara Swami’s Offering to Srila Prabhupada

August 16th, 2017

Dear Śrīla Prabhupāda,
 
My most humble obeisances. All glories to you!
 
I stopped by Gītā-nagarī recently to take darśana of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara. Suddenly a thought came into my mind regarding how you were empowered in so many ways: Śrīla Prabhupāda was a visionary. And then an interesting phrase came to my mind that exemplified what I was thinking–cutting edge. I liked very much the sound of that: Śrīla Prabhupāda was cutting edge. I included that phrase in a description of you in another article that I wrote. I would like to offer that to your lotus feet in glorification.
 
“Śrīla Prabhupāda was on the cutting edge of so many things. Cutting edge means the latest or most advanced stage in the development of something. So, fifty years ago Śrīla Prabhupāda was on the cutting edge of vegetarianism, the cutting edge of kīrtana, the cutting edge of Indian philosophy and culture, and the cutting edge of sustainable living. We have succeeded in carrying your legacy in so many ways, but sometimes we have fallen short, and in too many cases have allowed others to take his mantle, especially with sustainable living. We all need to take that legacy back.”
 
I pray that I can be instrument in helping to carry your legacy. I pray that I may also be cutting edge in carrying the traditions and truths you revealed to us into the future.
 
Your humble servant,
 
Dhanurdhara Swami
 
 

Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasa Puja – Dhanurdhara Swami’s Offering to Srila Prabhupada

August 18th, 2014

Dear Śrīla Prabhupāda,

My obeisances at your lotus feet!

While meditating on writing this year’s homage to you a question came to my mind, “What was the single quality that made Śrīla Prabhupāda more Prabhupāda than any other quality?”

Certainly there are many things you did well and many qualities you possessed. I thought to myself, “Śrīla Prabhupāda was kind, fearless, and expert. He was an abode of compassion and attached to the holy name. All of those qualities are what made him Prabhupāda.”

But when I thought deeply about this question one quality came to my mind:

Faith!

Not faith in just the sense of believing something to be true, but faith as you have defined it:

“Unflinching trust in something sublime.”

You had fully tasted the sublimity of serving Kṛṣṇa and thus possessed unwavering conviction that there is nothing better than it. You were also therefore exemplarily faithful to the order of your spiritual master who directed you in that service.

What a wonderful thing your faith was! You had tasted the sublime and felt true compassion for those bereft of devotion. You were so convinced that you not only gave your life to end their suffering, but by your conviction laden words thousands developed the same faith and surrendered their lives to Kṛṣṇa. And the force of your faith continues to keep your mission vibrant years after your departure.

While writing this another question came to my mind, “What is the single quality that I would need more than any other quality to make me a worthy servant of your divine grace?”

I thought deeply and one quality came to mind:

Faith!

On this auspicious day of your appearance I thus offer my faith at your lotus feet and a pray that by your mercy I can realize the sublimity of devotion and thus feel true compassion for those bereft of devotion.

Humbly in your service,

Dhanurdhara Swami