August 25 2008 – Mayapur – Sri Vyasapuja of Srila Prabhupada

Sri Vyasapuja

[Pls note: most of the photos in this blog entry have been nicked from the site; pls. go there to see more]  

My offering to His Divine Grace this year is the launch of this website. I hope that he is pleased with this humble attempt to glorify him, and I hope the readers are pleased with it also. Every year I think about the irony of how hard it is to execute Srila Prabhupada’s most essential instruction to us on his appearance day.I am talking of course of 16 rounds of japa.At least here in Mayapur it’s hard. After a full day of fasting for Janmastami and a break fast at 12.30 AM, its straight into a full day of celebrations for Srila Prabhupada’s birth anniversary. I had to struggle this year and I didn’t really get time until about 8.00 PM to sit down for an hour of proper japa

I confess I didn’t make it for mangala-arati. I was exhausted because I had been up since 12.45 AM the night before. So when I crashed at 01.00 AM, that was it. I need at least 5 hrs.

The program ran all day and I was asked to be the MC, a service I generally do each year. It’s a pleasure to introduce the devotees and hear their offerings, and at the same time it means I don’t have to read out my own offering, which I never get through without getting overly-emotional and choking.

Special feature this year was a performance by a mixture of youth and senior devotees of Srila Tamal Krishna Goswami’s brilliant and penetrating work ‘Paramahamsa Thakura’. If you haven’t read it, please do so, it will move you to tears, as did the performance we witnessed in the Panca-tattva temple to kick off our festival.

Briefly TKG wrote about the appearance of Srila Prabhupada from the perspective of the entire entourage of Lord Caitanya, having each individual acarya and parisada give their assessment and blessings to Srila Prabhupada for the successful execution of his mission.

One scene was particularly memorable. The play was being performed on the raised mandapa in front of Panca-tattva’s altar. The Deity curtains were closed at the beginning. After a few minutes, the Panca-tattva have to make their appearance in the play. The curtains opened to reveal the actors standing at the front of the Deities in the same pose as the Lords Themselves.

the curtains opened to reveal the Panca-tattva

The play was a glorification par none.

Other notable features: Padma Locan prabhu and his wife Vrndavan-lila take responsibility each year to produce a Mayapur residents Vyasapuja book. Its is always an elaborate hand-made affair, hand bound, every page decorated with photos and jari work. This year it was humongous. Over 300 offerings swelled it to about 18 inches (about 40 cms) thick.

 Padma Locan offering the Vyasapuja book

As Padma presented it to Srila Prabhupada, I took the liberty of describing to the devotees how Srila Prabhupada received his Vyasapuja book in 1976:

[TD 4] August 13, 1976 – Bombay

(Srila Prabhupada had just returned from his last world tour)

His Divine Grace relaxed, picking up a new book lying on his desk. Gopala Krsna explained that Rsabhadeva dasa, the president of our Los Angeles-based Spiritual Sky incense company, had brought it. The publication, 215 pages thick and measuring 7″ x 8.5″, had a deep blue cover and a full color picture of Srila Prabhupada on the front and back covers. The front one was a full face view of His Divine Grace sitting on the Los Angeles vyasasana, playing the gong. The back photo was a beautiful shot of him sitting on the elaborate silver vyasasana in Modinagar last March. The title of the book read:

The Most Blessed Event


The Appearance Day of Our Beloved Spiritual Master


Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

AUGUST 19, 1976

Srila Prabhupada leafed through it with interest as the devotees looked on. Then, placing it back on his desk, he tipped his head, signalling the end of his reception. The devotees dispersed and Harikesa Maharaja and I went about unpacking and setting up his desk paraphernalia.

After everyone left Prabhupada took a little prasadam from Palika. Inspecting his plate he asked her about one of the preparations. Palika told him it was a sweet made by one of the girls here.

“Not everyone should make,” Prabhupada told her. “She is initiated?”

Palika confirmed that the girl was, but assured him that she would be making all his prasadam herself. She had had no time today because she had only just arrived.

By this time it was 10:00 p.m. I had to leave the sitting room to put something in Prabhupada’s bedroom. When I returned a few minutes later, Prabhupada was stretched out on his back across his asana, his head against one bolster and his feet over the other, carefully reading his new Vyasa-puja book. Leafing through it page-by-page, he glanced over at me and gave a little exclamation of humble delight and surprise. “Oh, they have put such intimate offerings.”

With a bright smile of satisfaction he continued to look through the entire book, announcing aloud the name of each center as he came to it, and reading to himself some of the individual and temple homages. [end]

So, if you made an offering this year (or if you didn’t!) please be assured that His Divine Grace does read each and everyone of them and he appreciates them very much.

The rest of the morning was spent in individual offerings, followed by abhisheka, arati and puspanjali in front of the gorgeously decorated Vyasasana. I skipped that so that I could do my own puja to Srila Prabhupada at home.

At the very beginning when I started my own worship of Srila Prabhupada I decided that I would not give that prominence over the main worship which goes on in our temples. I know from experience that Srila Prabhupada wanted us to give priority to the temple Deities and that our own worship at home should not detract from that. So I don’t do anything special at home, except that I offered him a new set of clothes and some extra flowers.

 Srila Prabhupada at my home

home altar with Radha Madhava and Srila Prabhupada

Of course, at 2.00 PM we had one of those excellent feasts that Mayapur is noted for.

We gathered again in the afternoon at 4.30 PM for more offerings. We were supposed to show some of Yadubara prabhu’s latest volume DVD # 7 of his wonderful series “Following Srila Prabhupada” but (another thing Mayapur is famous for) technical hitches prevented it (noone gave the DVD to the projectionist and noone knew who had a copy).

The finale was a 50 mins. drama presentation by the Sri Mayapur International School (SMIS) asrama boys of a play depicting the life of Srila Prabhupada, using a script developed by the devotees in England.

All in all, the management here made a big effort to provide many days of Prabhupada-katha and it was much appreciated by all the devotees. In this our world-headquarters, we should have the highest standards and it is only befitting that we have a big festival in honor of our Founder Acarya.

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