Vyasa Puja 2022

[Prabhupada]“The guru takes the torchlight of knowledge and presents it before the living entity enveloped in darkness. That knowledge relieves him from the sufferings of the darkness of ignorance.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Science of Self Realization, Ch 2a)

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Just how important is the spiritual master? To what lengths exactly do the words of the guru reach? Just how lost would a person be without such contact? On the occasion of Vyasa Puja we recognize the ability of the representative of the Supreme Personality of Godhead to protect a person against the greatest danger.

नेहाभिक्रम-नाशो ऽस्ति
प्रत्यवायो न विद्यते
स्व्-अल्पम् अप्य् अस्य धर्मस्य
त्रायते महतो भयात्

nehābhikrama-nāśo ‘sti
pratyavāyo na vidyate
sv-alpam apy asya dharmasya
trāyate mahato bhayāt

“In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.40)

To begin, there is direct confirmation from Bhagavad-gita. Shri Krishna explains that following the science of self-realization, working in transcendence instead of in ignorance, protects against the worst kind of fear.

There is no loss in the process. If a person is not entirely successful, they have not wasted their time. The investment in that startup company might decline to the point of a total loss. The marriage experience might end in a bitter divorce. The waves wash over the sandcastle created on the beach.

Working for the benefit of the Supreme Lord has lasting benefits. The sukriti, or accumulation of pious credits, is durable across births. Rebirth and future inauspicious circumstances are the greatest things to fear, and Krishna consciousness protects against that fear.

[Krishna and Arjuna]The guru is the person who brings those teachings from Bhagavad-gita to me. Through them, I am able to witness what occurred some five thousand years ago on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. I am able to hear that conversation, though originally spoken in the Sanskrit language.

Prior to contact with the guru, I was totally lost. I mistook a snake for a rope. I chased after one illusion, and then another. I swung on the pendulum of bhoga and tyaga. One day I was intent on taking up a new activity. Several months later, I swore off of it. I vowed to never return.

The years were repeating. The same things were occurring, and it seemed like nothing made sense. There was no purpose to life. There was the fear in the background of losing everything, of not having the association of others.

Through fortunate contact with the representative, who was sent to this world by the origin of everything, I came to learn of my true identity as spirit soul. I was made aware that my unhappiness and lack of direction were due to a kind of intelligence, in being able to notice the effects of the illusory energy known as maya.

More important than identifying the negative, the spiritual master provided a positive way forward. Attain real progress. Follow an activity where your enthusiasm increases the more time you are in it. Work in such a way that detachment automatically takes place, without having to focus on it. Reach for a position where you can answer in the affirmative the questions once posed by Shri Rama to the female ascetic named Shabari.

कच्चित्ते निर्जिता विघ्नाः कच्चित्ते वर्धते तपः।
कच्चित्ते नियतः क्रोध आहारश्च तपोधने।।

kaccitte nirjitā vighnāḥ kaccitte vardhate tapaḥ।
kaccitte niyataḥ krodha āhāraśca tapodhane।।

“Have you conquered all the obstacles in the way of your practice of austerities? Has your practice of austerity and penance steadily increased? O lady who possesses asceticism for wealth [tapodhane], have you been able to control your anger and your eating?” (Lord Rama speaking to Shabari, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 74.8)

[Rama meeting Shabari]I was previously upset over anything and everything. I could not control my eating. Austerity was a foreign concept. The guru gave me a formula to where I could tolerate the constant changes within the material world. There is still occasional stinging pain, but it is like being touched by a tiny insect instead of a large needle.

More importantly, I have ever-increasing attachment to the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I understand that He is capable of anything, including rescuing souls who have forgotten Him for countless lifetimes.

It is the guru who opened the door to this other world. It is the guru who created the home of protection, through the rules and regulations of bhakti-yoga, with its most potent activity of chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

[Prabhupada]The guru represents Vyasadeva, who had the same ability of rescuing countless souls. Through his unfathomable volume of Sanskrit literature in glorification of God the person the world still benefits. Just like Vyasadeva, no one can believe the magnitude of the impact of the guru, but through steady connection to the spiritual world such ability and more is possible.

In Closing:

Because steadily connected,
Highest achievement expected.

Though previously morose and sad,
Now rarely troubled or mad.

Though before by failures dejected,
Now with enthusiasm directed.

Because guru showed me the way,
Not possible that debt to repay.

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