“Shri Vyasadeva is the original spiritual preceptor for all men. And all other preceptors are considered to be his representatives. A representative is one who can exactly present the viewpoint of Shri Vyasadeva. Shri Vyasadeva impregnated the message of Bhagavatam unto Shrila Shukadeva Gosvami, and Shri Suta Gosvami heard it from him (Shri Shukadeva Gosvami).” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.1.5 Purport)
Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa, the island-born one with a dark complexion, is very important in the Vaishnava tradition. One might say that there would be no tradition were it not for him. The sacred Bhagavad-gita exists in written form because of his memory and the writing ability of Shri Ganesha. The original Veda was difficult to understand, so Vyasa divided it into four. This earned him the name Vedavyasa. After writing so many Puranas, or books on ancient history, he still wasn’t satisfied. So through the inspiration of his spiritual master, Narada Muni, he composed the ripened fruit of Vedic literature, the Shrimad Bhagavatam. Being a spiritual master himself, he started a line of tradition that continues to this day. On the occasion of Vyasa Puja we honor both the disciple of Narada Muni and the present person in that line who opened our eyes from the darkness of ignorance.
To spiritual life our eyes are always closed. Without even bringing up religion, we know that we turn a blind eye to the harshest reality of life: death. This is probably a good thing most of the time. Who wants to be crippled by fear of an event whose time of arrival is unknown? If we were always consciously aware that everything we do in this life doesn’t really matter since we die anyway, we likely wouldn’t do anything.
Birth and death are events of the spiritual nature. An animating spark enters within a tiny body at the time of birth. At death, the same spark departs for somewhere else. In the meantime so many attachments form. Since others go through the same cycle, the attachments are to the temporary. When the temporary becomes more important than the permanent, it is fair to say that the eyes are figuratively closed. They don’t see the spirit inside of others. They don’t see impending death.
The spiritual master begins to open our eyes. He tells us things that we’ve never heard before. Coming in the line from Vyasadeva, he is very familiar with the work dictated by him, the Bhagavad-gita. As an opening salvo to get our attention, the speaker in that work says right at the beginning that to lament for the body is not wise. Whether living or dead, the spirit soul is the same. When living it is in front of us and when dead it has gone somewhere else. But exist the soul must. It can never die.
“For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.20)
Prior to contact with the spiritual master, no one told us this. We were told the opposite in fact: to make the most out of the temporary body, for everything ends at death. That is why there is so much sadness at another’s passing. Since in fact the soul does not die, what is there to lament? The opportunity for enjoyment and despair will come again for sure.
The spiritual master has the cure for birth and death and subsequent birth. If we’re having an issue with a new piece of technology, we can do some research on the internet to figure out what’s going on. Likely others have had the same issue. If they were kind enough to post the solution to an online forum or something similar, we get a tremendous benefit.
The guru has found the cure to the problem of birth and death. More importantly, they know what to do in between those two events. They have figured out that death is inevitable through their own experiences. The solution they get from their own spiritual guide, with the chain linking back to Vyasadeva. This solution they tried out for themselves and saw wonderful results. The solution worked so well that they no longer feared death as a result. They were confident of the truths they learned since they lived them in practice.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says that some way or another we should be Krishna conscious. Krishna is a name for God that means “all-attractive.” Consciousness of Him stops birth and death. More importantly, it makes the journey through life as enjoyable as it can be. It is the lone enjoyment that transcends bodies. It continues into the next lifetime and beyond.
Prabhupada says that the best way to be conscious of Krishna is to chant His name. The best way to chant and hear His name is to recite the maha-mantra on a regular basis: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Knowing the importance of the Shrimad Bhagavatam, Prabhupada translates and comments upon that great work in English, to then be translated into so many other languages.
He has found the cure to birth and death. He has found the best way to live: bhakti-yoga. Rather than wait for others to find him and get the solution, he’s created a way for that life-saving information to spread throughout the world. For this work he can never be thanked enough. Vyasa Puja is one day for honoring the guru who transcends time, Bhaktivedanta Swami. But every day the same honor is paid through following his instructions. To be Krishna conscious pleases him, and it solves the issue of life’s direction.
Supreme wisdom to me gave,
From darkness of ignorance to save.
Originally from Vyasadeva coming,
So name of Vyasa Puja becoming.
The spiritual master to celebrate,
On life’s path no longer to hesitate.
Following bhakti-yoga for him to please,
Transitioning to next life with ease.