[July 3, 2023 is Guru Pūrṇimā in Vṛndāvana, India. The following is an excerpt of a bhāva anuvāda of discourses by Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, given on the same tithi on July 22, 2013 and July 19, 2016. Editors’ input: Additional text has been included in square brackets to facilitate the flow of content.]
ŚRĪLA VYĀSADEVA IS EVERYONE’S GURU
Today is Guru Pūrṇimā; It is a special day. Guru Pūrṇimā means the appearance day (tithi) of guru. Who is guru? Mahaṛṣi Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana Veda Vyāsa is ādi-guru (the foremost guru). He is guru for all – karmīs (fruitive workers), jñānīs (impersonalists), yogīs (mystics) and bhaktas (devotees). Any karmī, who wants to spread the glories [about the process of reward seeking activities], cannot do so without the mercy of Śrīla Vyāsadeva. Whatever evidence [pramāṇa] he desires to present, he will have to take shelter of the scriptures composed by Śrīla Vyāsadeva. Similarly for jñānīs who think that the Vedānta is topmost, even that has been composed by Śrīla Vyāsadeva. Yogīs who talk about yoga sādhana, Patañjali and so on, those texts have also been composed by Śrīla Vyāsadeva. The most important scripture for the bhaktas– the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam has also been authored by Śrīla Vyāsadeva.
ŚRĪLA VYĀSADEVA’S QUANDARY
Despite writing so many scriptures [prior to his composition of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam], Śrīla Vyāsadeva himself did not experience peace of mind. When he enquired about this with his guru, Nārada Ṛṣi, he chastised him, “It is because you have yet to address the glories of Bhagavān”. But Śrīla Vyāsadeva remarked, “I did so, in the Mahābhārata as well as the Vedānta.” In Vedānta, he only revealed that by doing a specific process you get a specific result and so on, but mentioned nothing about brahma-jijñāsā [enquiry about the Supreme].
The Vedānta first instructs – athāto brahma jijñāsā, try to cultivate knowledge about Brahman. Then at the end it says, “anāvṛttiḥ śabdāt”, meaning repeat the word again and again. But Vyāsadeva did not directly say which word. Thus, confusion remained for the jīvas. For this reason, he did not experience peace of mind. His guru Nārada Ṛṣi said, “You have not done anything for the benefit of the jīva. What you have given in the Mahābhārata is for mukti – [the impression] that liberation is ultimate. You did not explain anything about the process of hari-bhakti.” Śrīla Vyāsadeva replied, “For Hari, I used the word ‘śabda’.” Nārada Ṛṣi retorted, “But you did not clarify which ‘śabda’; Brahma is also śabda, Paramātmā is also śabda, [that way] everything is śabda” [This discussion between Nārada Ṛṣi and Śrīla Vyāsadeva is elaborately mentioned in chapter five of canto one of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam]. In this way, Vyāsadeva made a point to clearly describe Bhagavān’s qualities and pastimes in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. He began the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam with dhyāna (meditation) – satyaṁ paraṁ dhīmahi. [I meditate upon Him (Kṛṣṇa), for He is the Absolute Truth.] in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.1.1 and he ended with Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 12.13.23 –
nāma-saṅkīrtanaṁ yasya sarva-pāpa praṇāśanam praṇāmo duḥkha-śamanas taṁ namāmi hariṁ param
[I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Lord, Hari, the congregational chanting of whose holy names destroys all sinful reactions, and the offering of obeisances unto whom relieves all material suffering.]
By whose nāma-saṅkīrtana, all sins are completely destroyed from the root — never to return again; I pray to that Lord. This time, he clarified by using the word Hari, yet this is not completely clear; something is still missing. The word ‘Hari’ in Sanskrit can also mean—snake, frog, lotus or water. So which Hari is he referring to in this context?
KṚṢṆA SAṄKĪRTANA BENEFITS EVERYBODY
Śrī Caitanya-deva clarified this in His Śrī Śikṣāṣṭaka – paraṁ vijayate śrī kṛṣṇa saṅkīrtanam, there is a special victory for śrī kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtana. He emphasized śrī kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtanam, opposed to kṛṣṇa-kīrtana. Kīrtana implies the benefit goes only to oneself, whereas, the benefit of saṅkīrtanam is for many. How is this possible? Through saṅkīrtana, even those who are inimical to the saṅkīrtana performance will get benefit – their sins will be destroyed; those who are indifferent will acquire sukṛti [pious merits]; those who are desirous of puṇya [piety], they will get pious credits; and those who desire hari-bhakti will get hari-bhakti. Is anybody deprived here?
WE NEED EXPERTS TO UNLOCK THE WEALTH
During the Ratha-yātrā, Lord Jagannātha gives darśana to everyone. But does everyone receive the same benefit? Does everybody see Lord Jagannātha in the same way? No. Why? The Lord has everything [but it depends upon the goal of the individual]. Just like within the Earth, there is everything, but we cannot see it [ordinarily]. Only those who are expert in knowledge of the Earth can understand. Take for instance, Mohenjo Daro [the ruins of the 26th century BCE city belonging to the Indus valley civilization discovered in 1919, situated in the Sindh province of Pakistan] - who discovered it? Was it not there before? In Orissa also there are iron ores. Why had people not seen them earlier? The same individual [R.D. Banerji, officer of the Archeological Survey of India] who discovered Mohenjo Daro also discovered the iron ores. So the earth possesses everything; that is why she is called Vasundhara – one who holds precious jewels. However, it takes a person to discover it. Similarly, everything is mentioned in the scriptures, but not everybody can understand. If everybody could understand, why would anyone become atheist? That is why knowledgeable persons (tattva-vit) come to us and explain these things for our benefit.
ONLY NIRMATSARA CAN UNDERSTAND
Why do different individuals get different interpretations despite reading the same Vedānta? Just as different seeds sown in the same soil on the banks of Gaṅgā, exposed to the same parameters such as wind, water, sunlight, they still produce different fruits. It is because they retain their earlier nature. Unless this is also given up, they cannot become superior. Just as the neem seed will give bitter fruits even after taking Gaṅgā water and wind, tamarind will give sour fruits and mango will give sweet fruits.
Unless you are surrendered, you will not understand the deep truths. Only those who are nirmatsarāṇāṁ satām vedyam can completely understand. But no sampradāya will consider themselves asat (not bona fide); everyone will claim they are satām. That is why the adjective nirmatsarāṇāṁ was added. Only a nirmatsara sādhu can understand. Who is a nirmatsara sādhu? Only that person who does not have any envy in him. What is meant by this? When a person is incapable of tolerating the happiness of others, he is envious; and one who is capable of tolerating is non-envious. We will become free from envy when our attention turns towards the Lord. Because, when everybody just tries to attain the Lord, then there will be no insufficiency for anybody. Only the attempt to attain everything else in this universe (made up of the fourteen planetary system) is limited.
THE ASPIRATION FOR THE ETERNAL WEALTH COMES ONLY BY GURU-SEVĀ
Śrīla Vyāsadeva has described how to obtain both – temporary as well as eternal things [wealth]. But only someone who is surrendered and listens to hari-kathā from the mouth of a sādhu, does not have the desire for anything which is temporary. That is why, at the end Śrīla Vyāsadeva said nāma-saṅkīrtanaṁ yasya; He showed the ideal. Cognition about this tattva will manifest to one who is guru-śuśrūṣayā bhaktyā – [One who renders service unto the bona fide spiritual master with great devotion and faith. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 7.7.30] only by guru-sevā. To the extent that one will serve śrī guru, to that extent this bhāva [to aspire for the eternal] will manifest in his citta [heart].
ŚRĪLA VYĀSADEVA IS NOT BIASED
Śrīla Vyāsadeva has given everything. In the same way as when you celebrate a festival, you will only give those items each individual specifically likes, not that you will give the same thing to everyone. Can you offer sweet, sour, salty to everybody alike? An individual only becomes satisfied by accepting those things he has a preference for. So although Vyāsadeva could give everything, he gave according to one’s capacity to absorb. Hence he is not guilty of being biased; just as the one who serves is not at fault as he is serving more or less of any item only according to the taste of the individual. That is why all the sampradāyas accept him and celebrate Guru Pūrṇimā.
I pray at the lotus feet of Śrīla Vyāsadeva for his mercy, to whom the Lord showed His mercy and revealed all the truths. Today is his appearance day. These personalities bestow mercy [especially] on their āvirbhāva tithis, hence we will beg for their mercy.