(Click to enlarge photo of Srila Prabhupada)
"So this Vyasa-puja means one day in a year, on the birthday of the spiritual master, because he is representative of Vyasa—he is delivering the same knowledge which has come down by disciplic succession without any change—he is offered the respect. This is called Vyasa-puja. And the spiritual master receives all honor, all contribution, on behalf of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, not for his person. Just like in our country when there was British rule, there was a viceroy, a king's representative. So naturally, when viceroy used to go to some meeting, many people used to present valuable jewels, valuable, because just to honor him. But the law was that not a single of the jewels or contribution the viceroy could touch. It was going to the royal treasury. The viceroy could accept on behalf of the king all contribution, but it goes to the king.
Similarly, this day, Vyasa-puja day, whatever honor, contribution and feelings is being offered to the spiritual master, it is... Again, as we have received the knowledge from upwards, similarly, this respect also goes from downward to the upward. This is the process. So as the spiritual master is teacher of the student, he has to teach the disciple how to send back his respect and contribution to God. This is called Vyasa-puja.
So spiritual master is respected as good as God. Why? Saksad-dharitvena samasta-sastraih (Sri Sri Gurv Astakam 7). They have already chanted this song. Samasta-sastraih, in all Vedic literature. Samasta, all. Samasta means all. Sastra means Vedic literature. The all the sastras in Vedic literature, they have declared that spiritual master is as good as God. Not God, but as good as God. The Mayavadi, they think that the spiritual master is also God. No. We Vaisnava, we don't accept that theory. But actually how a man can become God? No. But because he is God's representative, he is honored as God, not that he has become God. Kintu prabhor yaḥ priya eva tasya. Just like you have got a dear son. If somebody pats your son, even pats your dog, you become pleased.
So the spiritual master is very confidential servant, dog of God. Therefore if you can please him, yasya pasadad bhagavat-prasadah. If you can please the spiritual master, then God is pleased. Just like your small child. If somebody pleases that child, you become automatically pleased. You can please that child with a two-cent-worth lozenges, but to please you, it may require thousands of dollars. So you can finish the business by offering a lozenges.
So this is the position of spiritual master. Don't misunderstand that 'This person is sitting very comfortably and taking all honors and contribution.' It is needed just to teach them how to respect the representative of God. This is the sum and substance of Vyasa-puja."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, September 2, 1972)
"Actually there is no difference between hearing directly from Krishna and hearing directly from Krishna via a bona fide spiritual master like Vyasa. The spiritual master is the representative of Vyasadeva also. Therefore, according to the Vedic system, on the birthday of the spiritual master the disciples conduct the ceremony called Vyasa-puja."
(BG 18.75, Purport)
"We have got debts to so many people. First debt is to the demigods. Just like the sun-god, moon-god, they are supplying heat, light. The Varuṇa. In this material world we have got so many debts. But people do not care for it. Just like we are receiving light from sun, but what we are paying to the sun? Therefore we remain debtor. This is Vedic idea. You are getting this electricity. If you don't pay the bill, how long you will be able to use it? After some days the connection will be cut off. But although we do not pay any bill to the sunlight, because it is the order of Krishna, it is giving us light. But how long it will go on? This is sinful. If you take something from a person and if you do not repay, that is sinful. Rna. It is called rna.
So there are so many debts. First to the demigod, then to the rsis, saintly persons. Because we get knowledge, Vedic knowledge, from the rsi, we must be debtor. Guru-rna: debtor to the spiritual master, to the sages, to the saintly persons, because we are getting knowledge from them. Therefore the Vyasa-puja is there. Once in a year the disciples are worshiping the spiritual master and trying to repay that he has received from the spiritual master."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, July 11, 1974)
"Krishna instructed Brahma. Brahma instructed Narada. Narada instructed Vyasadeva. Vyasadeva instructed Sukadeva. In this way our guru-parampara system. Therefore we worship the guru as Vyasa-puja because representative of Vyasa. And who is Vyasa? Representative of Narada. What is Narada? Representative of Brahma. What is Brahma? Representative of Krishna. This is called parampara system."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, March 13, 1976)
"So this Vyasa-puja ceremony means to offer our thanks to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, because He is the original guru. As we receive this message through parampara system from Krishna to Brahma, Brahma to Narada, Narada to Vyasadeva, Vyasadeva to Madhvacarya, in this way, Madhavendra Puri, then Isvara Puri, then Caitanya Mahaprabhu, then six Gosvamis, then others, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhakura, Jagannatha dasa Babaji, Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji Maharaja, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. Then we have taken.
So this..., as we come to this Krishna consciousness understanding through this long parampara, similarly, in the Vyasa-puja ceremony, whatever respect, honor and presentation you give, that goes to Krishna through that parampara system, from down. As it is received through the parampara system, so similarly, your offerings also goes through this parampara system to the Supreme. The connection.
Our system is gopi-bhartur pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasa (CC Madhya 13.80). It is sometimes called bureaucracy. If you apply something, at least in India, to the President, you'll have to submit to the local collector. The collector will submit to somebody else, somebody else, then secretary, you go; then to the President. So our system is that. So it is not that I am training my disciples to worship me, man-worship, I'm getting some honor from them for nothing. No. It is not that. Whatever honor, whatever respect, whatever presentation you are giving to your spiritual master, it will go to Krishna by parampara system. This is Vyasa-puja. Therefore, it is called Vyasa-puja."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, August 22, 1973)
"Yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau (SU 6.23). This is the process, Vedic process. One should have unflinching faith in God and spiritual master. Don't jump over God, crossing the spiritual master. Then it will be failure. You must go through. We are observing Vyasa-puja ceremony, the birth anniversary of our Guru Maharaja. Why? We cannot understand Krishna without spiritual master. That is bogus. If anyone wants to understand Krishna, jumping over the spiritual master, then immediately he becomes a bogus. Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu says, guru-krsna-krpaya paya bhakti-lata-bija (CC Madhya 19.151). That is Vedic injunction. Tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya (BG 4.34). Nobody can understand Krishna without going through His most confidential servant. This is the meaning of this Vyasa-puja. You cannot surpass. If you think that you have become very learned and very advanced, now you can avoid the spiritual master and you understand Krishna, that is the bogus. That is the meaning of this Vyasa-puja ceremony. We should always pray, yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadah (Gurv-astaka 8). Yasya prasadad: only by the grace of spiritual master we can achieve the grace or mercy of Krishna. This is the meaning of this Vyasa-puja, offering obeisances by parampara system."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, March 2, 1975)
"Who needs a guru? A third-class, fourth-class man, ordinary man, doesn't require a guru. Guru, to keep a guru or to have a guru, is not a fashion. One who is very serious to understand spiritual life, he requires a guru. Otherwise, there is no need of guru. Just like you keep a dog as a fashion, don't keep a guru. Guru means..., is a question of necessity. One must be very serious to understand what is spiritual life, what is God, what is my relation with God, how to act. When we are very much serious on this subject matter, then we require a guru. Don't go to a guru as a matter of fashion. That is useless. That is useless. Therefore sastra says, tasmad gurum prapadyeta. Because we have to go to guru and surrender there. Without surrendering, you cannot learn anything. If you want to challenge guru, it is not possible. Then you'll learn nothing."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, August 22, 1973)
"So guru is the representative of God. Therefore the sastra says, the authority says, saksad-dharitvena samasta-sastrair (Sri Sri Gurv-astaka 7). Guru is as good as God. Here, in this Vyasa-puja day, we are teaching, or they are doing, offering respect to guru. That means they are learning how to offer respect to God. It is not personal affair; it is required. Because they are trying to be God conscious, they must learn how to offer respect to God or God's representative. That is required. Saksad-dharitvena samasta-sastrair. In all the sastra, Vedic literature, guru is described as good as God. But guru will never say that 'I am God.' The disciple's duty is to offer respect to guru as he offers respect to God. But guru will never say that 'I am... Because my disciples are offering me respect as God, therefore I have become God.' As soon as he thinks so, he becomes dog.
This is the process, Vedic process, to receive the transcendental knowledge through the parampara system, and the reception or honor given to the spiritual master, it goes to Krishna. Spiritual master is the official collector. Just like in government there is collector. He receives the money, taxes, from the citizens, not for his personal use but for the government. Similarly, this is the Vedic system, to receive knowledge through the transparent medium, guru, and to receive... Guru means the honor goes to Krishna. So this is necessary. This is not an artificial thing, but spiritually it is necessary. Therefore we hold Vyasa-puja day."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, July 8, 1974)
"Vyasa means guru, because he is our original guru. When spiritual master's birthday is observed, it is called Vyasa-puja. This Vyasa-puja means a spiritual master is representative of Vyasa. Just like we are teaching this bhagavat-dharma, the Srimad-Bhagavatam, we are following the footsteps of Vyasadeva. So actually the preacher's seat is Vyasadeva's asana.
It is the seat of Vyasa. Just like in the high court the seat, the seat of judgment, or... what is called? That seat, nobody else can sit there, in that seat. Only the high-court judge, representative of king or giving law to the citizens, he can sit down. Similarly, the vyasasana is occupied by the representative of Vyasadeva, who can speak on behalf of Vyasadeva. This is the system."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, August 23, 1971)
"Even though we may not have the fortune to contact the Supreme Lord personally, the Lord's representative is as good as the Lord Himself because such a representative does not say anything unless it is spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore gives a definition of guru. Yare dekha, tare kaha 'krsna'-upadesa: (CC Madhya 7.128) the bona fide guru is he who advises his disciples exactly in accordance with the principles spoken by Krishna. The bona fide guru is he who has accepted Kṛṣṇa as guru. This is the guru-parampara system. The original guru is Vyasadeva Krishna he is the speaker of Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, wherein everything spoken relates to Krishna. Therefore guru-puja is known as Vyasa-puja. In the final analysis, the original guru is Krishna, His disciple is Narada, whose disciple is Vyasa, and in this way we gradually come in touch with the guru-parampara. One cannot become a guru if he does not know what the Personality of Godhead Krishna or His incarnation wants. The mission of the guru is the mission of the Supreme Personality of Godhead: to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world."
(SB 8.24.48, Purport)
"Guru is respected as good as God. Why? Only for this qualification, that he does not speak anything nonsense. He speaks only what he has heard from the acarya. Acaryavan puruso veda (Chandogya Upanisad 6.14.2). Acaryopasanam. In the Bhagavad-gita it is said Acaryopasanam. So Vyasadeva is our acarya; therefore we offer vyasa-puja. On the birthday of guru we offer vyasa-puja. Actually, it is not directly Vyasa, but because the bona fide guru represents Vyasadeva, his puja is also vyasa-puja. Mad-bhakta-puja abhyadhika. To worship Vyasadeva, worship the bona fide spiritual master and worship the Lord, they are the same. Rather, Krishna says that if you worship His bona fide representative, that worship is better than directly worshiping. Directly it is not possible to worship the Supreme Lord. One has to go through the acarya. Therefore Vyasadeva is the original acarya. Lokasyajanato vidvams cakre satvata... (SB 1.7.6). He's vidvan (supremely learned). So we have explained many times how to become vidvan. Vidvan does not mean one has to become a big grammarian, logician. No. Vidvan means one who follows the previous acarya who is representative of Krishna. He is vidvan."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, September 4, 1976)
"So there are three kinds of sufferings in the material world, and everyone is suffering either by one, two or three or..., but nobody can say that 'I am completely free from suffering.' That is not possible. And why this suffering? Due to ignorance. I do not know. I am committing sinful life, I am committing mistakes; therefore I am suffering. Therefore guru's business is first to rescue his disciple from ignorance. Ignorance. Ajnana-timirandhasya. Everyone is suffering out of ignorance; therefore guru's business is to... Just like we go to school. We go to school, we send our children to school. Why? To save him from suffering; to get education: 'If my son does not get education, he'll suffer in the future.' The same process: to get him out of ignorance, to get him relieved from the suffering. Therefore, guru's business is ajnana-timirandhasya jnananjana-salakaya. So sufferings is due to ignorance. Ignorance is compared with darkness. So in the darkness, how you can save one? By some light. So guru's business is to take the torchlight of knowledge and present before the ignorant or the disciple in darkness, and that gives him..., relieves him from the sufferings of darkness or ignorance. This is guru's business."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, August 22, 1973)
"Evam parampara praptam imam rajarsayo viduh (BG 4.2). So keep this parampara system. This Vyasa-puja is parampara system. Vyasa-puja means to accept this parampara system. Vyasa. Guru is the representative of Vyasadeva because he does not change anything. What Vyasa, Vyasa-puja... What Vyasadeva said, your guru also will say the same thing. Not that 'So many hundreds of thousands of years have passed away; therefore I'll give you a new formula.' No. There is no new formula. The same Vyasa-puja, the same philosophy. Simply we have to accept it, then our life will be successful."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, December 10, 1976)