“The great sages offered the speaker of the Bhagavatam an elevated seat of respect called the vyasasana, or the seat of Shri Vyasadeva. 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.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.1.5 Purport)
Friend1: People new to Krishna consciousness come across so many terms with which they are unfamiliar.
Friend2: Isn’t that the meaning of “new”? Of course it will be unfamiliar. You are probably going somewhere with this, but let me just interrupt with a mini-lecture to start.
Friend2: It is perfectly natural to be unfamiliar. Do you know how long I thought the word “Chaitanya” was actually pronounced with a “k” sound in the front?
Friend1: Oh, because of the transliteration? They use a style similar to Italian I think.
Friend2: Yeah, but I did not know that. And the books I was reading had Chaitanya mentioned all over the place.
Friend1: How did you finally figure it out?
Friend2: I mean, it is my fault, for sure. There is a translation guide within the books. I skipped over it since I was eager to get into the content. I think I heard someone pronounce the word. You could say sadhu-sanga in person, association with saintly people, helped to clear up the mistake.
Friend2: I don’t think I was harmed at all. That is my point. You will not know a majority of the terms and concepts. That is okay. You don’t need to hammer that into people. You don’t need to be flipping to the glossary or looking up on the internet every few seconds. You can if you want, but it’s okay to simply proceed.
Friend1: Because everything will come in time.
Friend1: So the term I want to focus on is vyasasana.
Friend1: People ask me about it. I try my best to explain.
Friend2: What do you say?
Friend1: It is the place from which the invited guest or teacher speaks about the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna. It is something like the front area in a lecture hall. Sort of like the stage from where a performance emanates.
Friend2: For sure, that is the practical definition. Especially when we see the vyasasana, it is a physical object.
Friend1: An elevated sitting place, with a lotus flower design in the back, for what would be considered the headboard or support of a chair.
Friend2: Yes, but there is more meaning. The name is significant. It is the seat of Vyasa. Who is Vyasa? He is one of the original spiritual masters, especially in the tradition of Vedanta and bhakti.
Friend1: The son of Parashara Muni. Also a partial incarnation of the Supreme Lord.
Friend2: He is Krishna-Dvaipayana, or the island-born one. His history is found in Vedic texts like the Mahabharata. He is also known as Vedavyasa, since he divided the original Veda into four.
Friend1: To make the timeless teachings easier to understand.
Friend2: Especially since the brainpower of man tends to decline as more time passes in a Yuga, or cycle of creation-destruction or population-annihilation.
Friend1: Is Vyasa sitting at the seat, then? At least symbolically?
Friend2: The idea is that he is present in the discourse, katha, through his representative. This is more than symbolism. If I give you a philosophy and you teach it around the world, it is as if I am with you. You are using your own words. You are applying the principles to the time and circumstance, but the origin is me.
Friend2: So the vyasasana is for the person representing Vyasadeva. They should reach the same conclusion, that bhakti-yoga is the real meaning of Vedanta, that the Supreme Lord should be remembered all the time, but especially at the time of death. Likely Vyasadeva’s most well-known work is the Shrimad Bhagavatam. He composed this after there were so many other important works to his name, but which focused more on material elevation through following rules and regulations.
Friend1: He was unsatisfied, right? Even after having written so much, there was more to give.
Friend2: So Narada Muni, Vyasa’s guru, encouraged him to compose a work focusing entirely on the Supreme Lord, His position in the world, and the power of devotion to Him. The person ascending the seat of Vyasa should have a similar focus. This is why the vyasasana is so important. It is not meant for any ordinary person, who can only speculate as to the high topics of an existence. It is the pulpit from which the wisdom of the ages gets broadcast.
Seat from which to broadcast,
Wisdom through ages to last.
Not for ordinary meant,
Someone from Vaikuntha sent.
Representing Vyasa in conclusion,
Not victim of maya’s delusion.
Through parampara message receiving,
In supremacy of bhakti believing.