“Those who are on this path are resolute in purpose, and their aim is one. O beloved child of the Kurus, the intelligence of those who are irresolute is many-branched.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.41)
Okay, so you have your principles. You’ve developed them either through experience or personal instruction offered from an authority figure. Now you’re in a position of importance, so you want to imbibe the same principles in the people you can influence. But in a complex world, where your survival is dependent upon living entities who have their own dependencies, not every situation is ideal. Sometimes you have to compromise in order to get what you want, which thus pecks away at your cherished principles. With the spiritual master, however, his primary dependency is on the word of his spiritual master, who follows the same behavior, which means that the original dependency is on the Supreme Lord. This makes the Vaishnava spiritual master and his message beyond reproach, and so the guru is honored every day and especially on the occasion of Vyasa Puja.
The modern day politician is the classic example of the person who must compromise their principles. In the system of democracy, the citizens are believed to be insulated from despotism. A group of a few cannot impose their will upon everyone else. At least that is the hope with democracy, though in the present state such an imposition can take place through the will of the majority of the highest court in the land. A founding document can prohibit the government from doing something, but nothing can stop the legislature from adopting such a course. The highest court in the land is expected to uphold the principles of the founding document, but as free will is provided to every living entity, nothing is to stop members of the court from disregarding the document they are sworn to uphold and defend. For whatever reason, be it political or personal, members of the court can choose in favor of a law that strips away the very freedoms of the citizen that are supposedly guaranteed in amendments to the founding document.
The politician plays in a game where success is measured by popularity. What easier way is there to earn favor than to hand out goodies? The flaw with this method is that every person is equally a citizen. This means that granting favors to only a few is inherently unfair. That unfairness is also incongruent with trying to abide by principles in one’s own life, especially as they relate to dependents. Say, for instance, that you’re a politician who is also a parent. You don’t want your children doing drugs, skipping school, or drinking alcohol. You may have done these things when you were young, so you know that your kids shouldn’t follow the same dangerous behavior.
Your views can be compromised in this area through the accusation of hypocrisy. “Hey, you did these things when you were young, so why are you getting on my case right now?” Also, what if your child mingles with children of other politicians? What if somebody else’s child introduces drugs and alcohol to the scene? What if the child’s parent is a high ranking government official, someone whose favor you require in order to stay in office? Are you going to reprimand the government official, telling them to keep their delinquent child away from yours?
The Vaishnava spiritual master is in a unique position because they are dependent only upon Krishna, or God, for their livelihood. The spiritual master doesn’t always live in the renounced order, but those who are in such a status are insulated that much more. Vyasa Puja celebrates the spiritual master, and its name is in honor of Vyasadeva, the literary incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. No one in history has written more than Vyasa. He wrote so much transcendental literature that some fools mistakenly think that he didn’t exist. They will speculate that Vyasa was perhaps a title assigned to various speakers or that maybe he was a mythological character.
He existed in the flesh, and proof of his existence is found in the unmatched brilliance of the teachers who follow in his line. Though Vyasadeva wasn’t in the renounced order, he wasn’t encumbered in his teaching. The brahmana, or priestly person in the mode of goodness, accepts the responsibility to instruct others. That instruction is tailored to the recipient’s qualities. Just as in a school system there are different classes for different subjects and grade levels, the word of God is shaped differently based on the mode of nature one lives in. A person in the modes of passion and ignorance may be better suited for trade and business, whereas a person mostly in passion is an ideal candidate for defending the innocent.
The brahmana is in the mode of goodness, so they live in knowledge. This knowledge is of the difference between matter and spirit. The spirit soul is the essence of identity, and the sum collection of spiritual particles is known as Brahman. Both the spiritual and material energies come from God, and the birth of the living entities takes place through the injection of the marginal potency into the external potency. This implantation is enacted by God, and the result is a seemingly infinite number of creatures who are a combination of matter and spirit.
The brahmana has the highest occupation, and the corresponding highest status of life is sannyasa, or the renounced order. This is typically the last part of one’s time within a specific body, and it occurs after completion of student life. Householder life and retired married life are optional stages after the fact, but sannyasa is where one prepares to die. It is said in the Bhagavad-gita that whatever state of being one remembers at the time of death, that state they will attain without fail. Therefore one who can think of God when dying attains the highest state in the next life. Sannyasa prepares one for this remembrance.
The sannyasa order brings gravitas to the brahmana, as the message carries more weight when the person offering it is not compromised in their beliefs. The principal teaching of the brahmana sannyasi who follows in Vyasadeva’s line is to always think of God. Especially in the present age of quarrel and hypocrisy, where just openly espousing a belief in God makes you a noteworthy fellow, the best way to stay true to the highest principle is to always chant the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.
Gambling, intoxication, meat eating and illicit sex are the strongest inhibitors to the formation of the divine consciousness. Therefore the Vaishnava spiritual master strongly recommends against these activities, and since they avoid sinful behavior themselves, their message is not tainted. The ideal example in this regard is His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Who could speak anything against him? At an old age he abandoned a comfortable life in Vrindavana to preach to the world the glories of bhakti-yoga, the divine love so nicely presented by Vyasadeva in the sacred Shrimad Bhagavatam.
Bhaktivedanta Swami, also known as Shrila Prabhupada, lived bhakti-yoga day and night, and so when he taught others how to practice Krishna consciousness, his message was not compromised. Whether one person heard him or one million, there was no difference in his attitude. In full surrender to the divine, or sharanagati, the burden for success is shifted to the Supreme Lord. This means that no person can check the practice of devotion. There was no fear of compromising principles in Shrila Prabhupada because what could anyone do to him? Could they threaten to get his temples shut down? Could they try to stop his preaching? Certainly nefarious characters may have attempted such things, but the Vaishnava can practice their devotion in any situation, living under a tree if they have to.
Due to his tireless efforts, thousands of humble disciples subsequently took up the cause of devotion, and the chanting of the holy names continues on to this day, as Krishna is now a household name around the world. On the occasion of Vyasa Puja we honor that spiritual master of the world, the jagad-guru Shrila Prabhupada, who continues to spread his uncompromising message through his published works.
To stay true the principled person tries,
But due to dependency they must compromise.
This is the way of life, what can they do?
You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours too.
But Vaishnava only on Krishna relies,
Can live in place small or large in size.
Whether a thousand people or just one hears,
In preaching message of bhakti there is no fear.
I honor Bhaktivedanta Swami, His divine grace,
Of compromise of principles in him not a trace.