“Ajamila repented his negligence in performing his duty to his wife, father, and mother. It is the duty of grown-up children to render service to their aged parents. This practice should be reintroduced into present society. Otherwise, what is the use of family life? Proper family life means that the husband should be protective, the wife chaste, and the children grateful to their father and mother. Children should think, ‘My father and mother gave me so much service. When I was unable to walk, they carried me. When I was unable to eat, they fed me. They gave me an education. They gave me life.’ A bona fide son thinks of ways to render service to his father and mother.” (Shrila Prabhupada, A Second Chance, Ch 17)
A wise person remembers the deeds done in their favor, on their behalf from others. The tendency is to do the opposite. Quickly forget the beneficial and instead focus on the negative. Hold a grudge. Maintain a vendetta. Keep the memories of the bad alive for a long period of time. On the occasion of Vyasa Puja the individual who has been rescued from the futile path of pursuing material sense gratification at all costs remembers and honors the person who made the change possible.
Family life can be complicated. Along the same lines of remembering and forgetting, a child may not forgive the mistakes made by the parents. After all, human beings have defects. They cheat, they commit mistakes, they have imperfect senses, and they can be illusioned without much effort. In raising a child, despite the best efforts of an honest nature, the children grow up to be spiteful of the shortcomings, of what they missed.
On the other side is gratefulness. A child remembers that they were once helpless. As an adult they feel the pain and suffering of their own dependents, doing the best they can to take away distresses. “Let that pain come to me, God, instead of them. I will be able to tolerate.” This is a common prayer, and so the wise person considers that their own parents must have behaved similarly.
This is an impetus for appreciation, and the kind that never vanishes. That is to say once I begin to appreciate what my parents did for me during youth, I will always have cause to maintain that appreciation. Despite whatever negative may have occurred afterwards, the initial service was there. Even if one or both parents happened to be absent during the critical years, at least they provided the spark of life. I didn’t enter this world through random collisions or the lack of intelligence.
If a child is grateful to the parents, imagine what the disciple feels towards the spiritual master. In Vedic culture there is the identification of two births. The first is obvious; from the parents, coming through the womb, entering this world. Every living person undergoes this birth.
The second is with approaching a spiritual master for taking an education in the science that explains both the noumenal and phenomenal worlds. That instruction has a purpose. It must alter behavior to some degree; otherwise the guru’s words are like those coming from a college professor distributed to an audience not ready to understand.
Like the good parents, the guru teaches out of love. There is nothing in it for them. They are not after fame, though they may become recognized throughout the world for having truly saved lives. They are not after money, though appreciative disciples may ensure after the fact that the guru is never without food, clothing and shelter. They are not after a high post, though the Supreme Lord is so grateful that He gives to the representative a position higher than his own, like with Shri Hanuman.
On the occasion of Vyasa Puja the disciple honors the guru in a more formal way than they do otherwise on a daily basis. They pledge again their dedication to follow the instructions, which culminate in the total immersion in devotional bliss, attained through service of some kind directed towards God the person, whose attributes, features, names and appearances are described in detail and with great clarity by the guru, who is a representative of Vyasadeva, the literary incarnation of Shri Krishna.
Different from every other day,
Appreciation in more formal way.
For the guru and what they’ve done,
Through whose favor Vaikuntha won.
Something to the parents resembling,
Grateful child that love remembering.
Stressing bhakti without relenting,
Authority of Vyasa representing.