By: Mahanidhi Swami
Srila Vrndavana dasa Thakura describes how CaitanyaMahaprabhu instituted the first Vyasa-puja ceremony in 1509 a.d. through Sri Nityananda Prabhu in Shrivasa Angana, Mayapura:
“Srivasa Pandita, the head priest for the function, gave Lord Nityananda a flower garland to offer to a painting of Vyasadeva. Holding the garland in His beautiful lotus hand, Nityananda Prabhu hesitated and began glancing here and there as if He was looking for someone. Then to everyone’s surprise, Nityananda offered the garland to Sri Caitanyadeva instead. At that moment, Lord Caitanya immediately manifested His six-armed form, sad-bhuja).” (Caitanya Bhagavata (Madhya khanda chp. 5)
Thus, Sri Nityananda Prabhu completed the Vyasa-puja ceremony by offering a garland to that personality from whom everything emanates and whose empowered incarnation is Sri Vyasa-deva. By this Nityananda Prabhu established the real meaning of Vyasa-puja by worshiping the Supreme Lord Himself in the form of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Lord Gauranga is the guru of Sri Nityananda Prabhu. This is the basis of the worship performed by Lord Nityananda. Therefore, the worship of Vyasa-deva, therefore, is actually the worship of Lord Gauranga in the form of the present acarya.
Although Sri Krishna and Sri Baladeva Prabhu are identical with Sri Caitanyadeva and Sri Nityananda Prabhu, Their activities are different. Nitai and Gaura are the supreme masters, the Supreme Lords, yet they play the role of devotees. The dual Lords act as devotees in order to teach Their servants the art of devotional service. Thus, in this pastime from Caitanya Bhagavata, one Lord, Nityananda, is teaching us that the ultimate recipient of the worship of Vyasa-deva or the spiritual master is the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna Caitanyadeva. Sri Nityananda Prabhu, Lord Balarama, is the ultimate source of the spiritual function of the acarya.
In the scriptures, Sri Krishna tells Uddhava that the acarya is the manifestation of Himself:
acaryam mam vijaniyan, navanmanyeta karhicit
na martya-buddhyasuyeta, sarva-deva-mayo guruh
“One should know the acarya as Myself and never disrespect
him in any way. One should not envy him, thinking him an
ordinary man, for he is the representative of all the demigods.”
If Sri Guru is not regarded as identical with the Supreme Lord, the worship of the acarya is not properly performed, and the said worshiper will not realize the true purport of the Vedas.
yasya deve para bhaktir, yatha deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy arthah, prakashshante mahatmana
For one who has unflinching faith in the lotus feet of the Lord,
as well as in the spiritual master, the real import of Vedic
knowledge can be revealed. (Shvetashvatara Upanishad 6.23)
Lord Balarama is non-different from Sri Nityananda Prabhu. However, Lord Nityananda plays a unique role in that He is the connecting link between all conditioned souls and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is non-different from Radha-Govinda. The conditioned souls have no access to Lord Balarama in the spiritual world, but here in the material world everyone can access the mercy of Lord Nityananda. Sri Guru is empowered by Sri Nityananda Prabhu to save the fallen souls from the clutches of Maya. As Nityananda Prabhu’s delegatedauthority, the spiritual master liberates the conditioned souls from material world by engaging them in the direct service of Lord Nityananda.
The story of Srila Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami’s approaching Sri Caitanya shows the necessity of first receivingthe mercy of Sri Guru and Lord Nityananda before one can attain the service of Bhagavan Sri Krishna Caitanyadeva.
Sri Guru ki jai!
Jai Jai Sri Radhe!