Failing to offer all articles first to Srila Prabhupada on the temple Vyasasana

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ABOUT THE RUDENESS AND PRESUMPTION OF FAILING TO OFFER ALL ARTICLES FIRST TO SRILA PRABHUPADA ON THE TEMPLE VYASASANA

By Yadavendra das (ACBSP)

The author of this article has noticed that there sometimes arises a doubt about the propriety of offering all articles such as ghee lamp, water, flowers and perfume first and directly to Srila Prabhupada seated on the temple room Vyasasana. This article aims to help eradicate such doubts in the mind of the reader. It was originally written as a proposal to the 2006 Mayapur AGM.

DICTIONARY DEFINITIONS

Among other explanations, Collins English dictionary 4th Australian Edition page 1344 gives for “rude” the following. 1) insulting or uncivil; discourteous; impolite 2) lacking refinement, coarse or uncouth 3) vulgar or obscene etc etc…

and for “presumption”: …2) bold or insolent behavior or manners

“Presume” is given as 1) to take (something) for granted. 2) to take upon oneself (to do something) without warrant or permission; dare

PANCARATRA PRADIPA DIRECTIONS

The Pancaratra Pradipa compiled by the GBC Deity Worship Research Group and published by Iskcon GBC Press in 1994 states on page 192, triple asterisk:

“In Iskcon temples the lamp is brought first to Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acarya of Iskcon, as he is the Vaishnava-srestha, the leader of the assembled Vaishnavas. After being help briefly for Srila Prabhupada to touch the fire (it should not be waved in circles, as in the arati), the lamp should be taken among the assembled Vaishnavas, in order of seniority. (Women who are having their monthly cycle should not touch the lamp). The person offering the prasada lamp for touching should be sensitive to the seniority of the assembled devotees; the assembled devotees, however, should not be overly sensitive if missed when the lamp is offered. The lamp is not meant to show respect or honor to us, but rather we are meant to offer respect to the lamp as the Lord’s prasada by touching the fire to our foreheads with both hands.”

DISCUSSION

Because Pancaratra Pradipa is compiled by the GBC Deity Worship Research Group and because it is published by ISKCON GBC PRESS, we shall assume in our discussion that the content of the book is fully endorsed by the Governing Body Commission of Iskcon.
It is regrettable however, that considering its importance and relevance, this particular matter is given as a footnote only and is not given more exposure in the book. However the basic and bona fide direction is given here. We note also that in the Veda base 2003.1, the matter is even more hidden as one will have to click on the asterisk and then the text will appear as a temporary “pop up”.

At least in some Iskcon temples the offensive procedure is institutionalized: That is to say that after leaving the altar all articles are offered directly to the second most senior Vaishnava in the temple room, thus effectively ignoring the presence of the senior most Vaishnava, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acarya of Iskcon, seated on the temple room Vyasasana. By accepting the article, the second most senior Vaishnava, wittingly or unwittingly, thus usurps the position of the most senior Vaishnava, creating thus an intolerable situation due to the pre-eminent position of the Founder-Acarya. We should note in this respect that it is not because offensiveness to the Founder-Acarya of Iskcon is institutionalized that it looses its devotionally counterproductive nature. On the contrary, the negative reactions incurred thereby are increased exponentially because of the pre-eminent role Iskcon is expected to play in the spiritual welfare of this planet and consequently the increasing number of people who are thus being misled and thereby suffer the contrary reactions. This reasoning will apply, indeed to any other type of Iskcon misleading now or in the future. I therefore propose herewith to institutionalize the offenceless way, as enjoined in the Pancaratra Pradipa, for all Iskcon temples throughout the world. For the more progressive temples this resolution will entail no changes at all. The others will simply be asked to make appropriate changes and thus catch up.

We beg to remind those who argue that their temple circumstances are not really suited for this ritual that our kind and staunch Srila Prabhupada underwent extreme difficulties, such as the fury of the ocean, the several heart attacks, the lack of support etc etc…, all at the grand age of seventy years, in crossing the oceans on the Jaladuta steamer just for the purpose to come and save us from the ocean of material existence. We shall therefore humbly request them, to please, in this instance also, show gratitude - the main theme of the 2005 international Vyasa Puja book, according to His Grace Dravida Prabhu - and to not hesitate to ply or cause to ply through an ocean of devotees in order to first and directly present the articles to our Founder-Acarya, Srila Prabhupada, seated on the temple Vyasasana. In the process, it will also be appropriate for the article carrier to offer obeisances at least once in front of His Divine Grace.

If we were to ask members of the offensive party the following question: “Would you agree to first offer the articles to Srila Prabhupada if He were physically and personally sitting on the Vyasasana?” We can imagine that the response would be something like: ”O yes, of course, if Srila Prabhupada were actually seated on the Vyasasana, if He were actually present among us how could we neglect Him?”

WELL, THE ACTUAL FACT IS THAT SRILA PRABHUPADA IS PERSONALLY PRESENT AMONG US RIGHT NOW. SRILA PRABHUPADA IS ACTUALLY SITTING ON THE TEMPLE VYASASANA AND AS WE DEAL WITH HIM, HE RECIPROCATES WITH US ACCORDINGLY.
AFTER ALL, VAISHNAVISM IS AN EMINENTLY PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY NOT AN IMPERSONAL OR VOID PHILOSOPHY.

Therefore we have no alternative but to charge that those who advocate, as well as those who tolerate the offensive way, do not fully realize or accept the oneness of the person Srila Prabhupada and His murti representation. In other words, their vision is materially tinged, which after all is not such an amazing thing. But we must also see that we progress at a steady pace on the path of devotional service. In the material world a picture or statue of a person is different from the person represented. In the spiritual realm the opposite is true. The picture, the statue and the person are all one and are invested with the same spiritual potencies.

It may also be said that this type of offensive behaviour is still a surviving relic of the same immature and thought-wanting mentality of the early Iskcon Guru days, when it was considered by some that by simple imitation of the superficial aspects of the behaviour of the Founder-Acarya an equal Guru status would automatically be achieved.

In conclusion, please let me quote SB 11.17.27:

äcäryam mäm vijäniyän
navamanyeta karhicit
na martya-buddhyäsüyeta
sarva-deva-mayo guruh

TRANSLATION

One should know the Acärya 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.

Jaya om Vishnupada Paramahamsa Parivrajakacaraya astottara-sata Sri Srimad A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!!!

Begging to remain yours in divine service,

Yadavendra das (ACBSP)
August 6th 2006
Brisbane, Australia.

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1 Unregistered

My Dear Yadavendra Prabhu,
Please accept my obeisances. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Thank you for your concern that His Divine Grace, Srila Prabhupada is always remaining in the most prominent position possible. As I recall this matter was discussed at the annual GBC meeting and I hope that the feedback was given to you. Those who have chosen not to offer to Srila Prabhupada´s Murti on the Vyasasana argue that the articles in question are first offered to Srila Prabhupada on the altar and then the Pujari offers to Srila Prabhupada´s Murti, thus honoring him as the foremost Vaishnava. Although here in Paraguay we also offer all articles to Srila Prabhupada´s Murti, in order to develope a more personal consciousness that he is present there, I can also comprehend the reasons why those Temples have chosen not to, in deference to his being offered first by the Pujari. That is basically why your proposal was not accepted. If you were not informed about the reasons for this, then that is another oversight which certainly should be corrected.
Hoping this meets you well,
Hari Bol!
Your servant,
Jagajivana dasa

Comment posted by Jagajivan on August 9th, 2006
2 Unregistered

When Srila Prabhupada was phyically present with us, the pujaris would offer to his picture on the altar, then offer to the deities, then turn and offer to him on the vyasasana then the assembled devotees, then after the pujari offered the lamp to the assembled devotees it would again be taken to Srila Prabhupada to touch and then for the assembled devotees to touch.

Why is everyone so concerned with offering to Srila Prabhupada first after the lamp comes off the altar and yet not concerned with the lamp being offered to his disciples in front of him on that altar? Or that the pujari offers it to to him and then the assembled devotees and then it is offered again to him?

Also how is a grand-disciple to do Srila Prabhupada’s gurupuja? Does he offer to his guru first like he does on the altar? Where is the little picture placed in this case?

What about offering to gurus in Tulasi arati, this was never done during Prabhupada’s time, how should it be done today?

It would seem that there is a lot of confusion about the system of offering.

Comment posted by Gaura Keshava das on August 10th, 2006
3 Deenabandhu

Although it may be an actual fact that Prabhupada is actually sitting on the Vyasana, the article was just offered to him on the altar. How can he take his own prasada. This has always struck me as curious.

The question I ask you, is that if Prabhupada was personally present, if after offering him artika, would you offer the article to him to take prasada/

Comment posted by Deenabandhu on August 10th, 2006
4 Unregistered

Hare Krishna! As young pujari in our temple I am confused by the logic things are offered to different personalities. I beg the assembled Vaishnavas to please shower their mercy and wisdom on me.
In our temple we have small murti of Srila Prabhupada on the altar.
When we follow the procedure of offering all the maha-items to Srila Prabhupada on the vyasasan, we are perhaps (as far as my knowledge on Pancaratrika rules goes) commiting following “mistakes”

1. Offering item already offered (to Srila Prabhupada on the altar and then on the vyasasan). According to Pancaratrika rules, there is no need for that.
2. Offering to Srila Prabhupada item offered to our respective Guru through picture before that. No Guru will accept the offering which is then going to be offered to Srila Prabhupada!
3. Offering item to the assembled Vaisnavas by pujari in circles and THEN bringing it to Param Guru on the vyasasan! No Vaisnava would accept something which is going to be offered after that to his Param Guru or Guru! So what is the point of offering it to the Vaisnavas?

Under 1: I could personaly live with that but I would under 2:

- offer the item to small murti, offer the item to big murti of Prabhupada and THEN back to the picture of Guru on the altar and to the Vaisnavas. But the item doesn’t go PHYSICALY to murti of Srila Prabhupada!

Under 3: with that I realy have a problem, because we don’t do it in Guru puja for example (circle a flower around assembled Vaisnavas and then stuck it into the hands of Srila Prabhupada is concidered as far as I know improper). Either we offer it to Prabhupada and then stuck it in his hands without offering it to the Vaisnavas or we offer it to the Vaisnavas but then we do not stuck it in Prabhupada’s hands. The same goes for Tulasi puja.

My question: are we doing things based on very nice sentiment (but still a sentiment) or are we having sastric background?

Because when Prabhupada was on the planet, there was no other Gurus and he was sitting on the Vyasasan, so everything was very easy and clear.

But now pujaris are offering items first to Prabhupada and Gurus on the altar, then to Prabhupada on the Vyasasan (which is already not correct as far as I understand it if already offered and accepted by Gurus), then to assembled Vaisnavas and lastly it is brought physicaly again to Prabhupada on the vyasasan (which is, if first not correct, even more incorrect).

So in my humble opinion we should:

1. Offer items to small murti on the altar, offer to big murti of Prabhupada on the vyasasan and THEN to Guru’s picture on the altar.
2. Not offer it by pujaris to the assembled Vaisnavas in circles but bring it first physicaly to Prabhupada on vyasasan and then take it to senior devotees.
3. Or offer all items to Prabhupada’s murti on the altar and only Guru puja to big murti of Srila Prabhupada.

Please shad some light on this!
Srila Prabhupada ki jay!

Your humble servant
Dhira Nitai das

Comment posted by Dhira Nitai das on August 10th, 2006
5 Pandu das

Hare Krishna. Based on the above comments, I wonder if I have the wrong conception of how the offering process works. I am thinking specifically of the process of worship at home.

As I understand it (I’m not brahmana initiated, and not advanced in this category of education), when I offer an item of bhoga to Srila Prabhupada, I am not asking him to personally accept it for his tasting, but to take it and offer it up the chain of disciplic succession to Sri Krishna. Therefore after Krishna has accepted it, it is proper to offer the prasad to him to taste before accepting it myself.

Is that incorrect?

Hare Krishna.

Comment posted by Pandu das on August 11th, 2006
6 Unregistered

1
Dear Jagajivan Prabhu,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acarya of Iskcon and Institutor of the BBT! Thank you very much for taking the trouble to respond to my article “About the Rudness and Presumption of failing to Offer all Articles first to Srila Prabhupada on the Temple Vyasasana.” Please accept my humble congratulations for following proper procedure of worship! If in your temple / zone, everything else is also up to the same high standard, then you should definitely feel a thicker, more concentrated quality of Srila Prabhupada mercy flowing your way.

The only feedback that was given to me by one of our two GBC co-representatives is that the GBC deputies blocked my proposal from further advancement beyond their preliminary selection. What that exactly means I do not know because I have never had the privilege to attend a GBC meeting, being an ordinary servant of the Krishna cause only. My subjective conception is that perhaps the GBC deputies select beforehand the proposals that are going to make it to the GBC arena for discussion and vote. This is my conception. Please correct me if I am wrong. Neither do I know exactly what your personal service is. I cannot find your name on the list of GBC members zonal assignments for 2006.

All things considered, if Srila Prabhupada is not offered the articles on the temple Vyasasana first, He is definitely not treated fairly. Article 18 of the 64 regulative principles of devotional service says:” One should not tolerate disrespect of the Supreme Lord or His devotees” I substitute the noun disrespect to blasphemy because it will fit our situation more adequately and because disrespect is nothing but a milder form of blasphemy. The 64 regulative principles of devotional service are very nicely enumerated by Srila Prabhupada Himself in Narada Bhakti Sutra, purport to Sutra 12

In the case of the ghee lamp for example, offering by effecting circles is very much different from accepting the lamp prasadam. I do not know whether everyone considers this point. It seems to me that these two operations are often equated or mixed up, whilst they are totally different operations. For the article to become prasadam it has to be offered first. So one operation is the offering of the article, which is signified by effecting circles and the other is the acceptance of the prasadam, which is the gesture of the right hand touching the flame first and then touching one’s (fore) head. And if the altar pujari is offering the lamp to Srila Prabhupada on the temple Vyasasana by effecting circles then how can it be accepted as offering the lamp prasadam? This statement is simply a source of confusion. I believe the pujari offers the lamp to the assembled devotees in an exactly similar fashion. Still the lamp prasadam is offered to each devotee individually. Why then can’t it be offered to Srila Prabhupada on the temple Vyasasana first to signify His position as the Vaishnava shrestha and Founder-Acarya of Iskcon? It must be!
And even if Srila Prabhupada is offered the lamp prasadam on the altar, which is simply an expedient procedure, he should still be offered the prasadam again first on the temple Vyasasana, just to signify His pre-eminent position very PUBLICLY. Whatever else the functions of the Srila Prabhupada presence on the Vyasasana may be, this is certainly one of them! Please note the second definition of the adjective “expedient” in my Collins dictionary: “inclined toward methods or means that are advantageous rather than fair and just”

By Krishna’s kind arrangement, I was recently made to check the word “homage” in the Collins dictionary. It gives: 1 a PUBLIC show of respect or honour toward someone or something. The key word here is PUBLIC. What’s public about offering the lamp and other articles’ prasadam on the altar? Not public at all! Who in the temple room perceives the significance of the pujari’s varieties of gestures on the altar very explicitly?
But to walk up to Srila Prabhupada on the Vyasasana is PUBLIC showing to everyone present in the temple room Who is the most senior Vaishnava in the assembly! It is PUBLIC showing to everyone present in the temple room Who is the person Whom we respect and adore the most! It is PUBLIC AND EXPLICIT showing to everyone present who is the Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness! We got to show it PUBLICLY to every one present!!! We got to!!! Sri Krishna in that very same mood says in BG 9.31 “O son of Kunti, declare it BOLDLY that My devotee never perishes.” Let us not minimize Srila Prabhupada’s greatness as the Law Giver of martya loka for the next ten thousand years! Let us not foolishly hush things up! And when we walk up to Srila Prabhupada on the temple Vyasasana with any of the articles we should also pay our obeisances to Him at least once because it is proper etiquette to pay obeisances whenever we deal with Guru directly. This is what we were taught in the old days.
What is it that has changed?
All glories to Srila Prabhupada on the 110th anniversary of His Divine Appearance in just three days!!!

Additionally, we may also ask that if the procedure is recommended in Pancaratra Pradipa and that if the Pancaratra Pradipa is endorsed by the GBC then how is it that some have got the impudence, audacity and discourteousness to disregard the recommendation of the GBC? Or is it that the GBC’s injunctions are not to be taken seriously as a general rule? Or is it that the minds of the authors were not very good at the time of composition and / or that the instruction has now become obsolete. What is it?

Prabhu, I have checked the map. I found that Paraguay is almost in the very middle of South America. Email communication is such wonderful thing, a form of telepathy, certainly another mystic perfectional process achieved by modern scientific procedures!
All glories to Srila Prabhupada’s world wide family of devotees!

Hope this finds you in blissful Krishna Consciousness and beg to remain
Yours in the service of the Supreme,
Yadavendra das (ACBSP)
Monday August 14th 2006
Brisbane, Australia
Email: Yad108@mailpuppy.com

2

Gaura Keshava Prabhu,
We are concerned about Srila Prabhupada first because He is the Founder-Acarya of Iskcon and that means that everything in Iskcon rests on His energy.
3

Deenabandhua prabhu, we are doing this every day,. Everyday, during Guru puja we are offering aratik to Srila Prabhupada personally present on the Vyasasana and we certainly don’t offer the prasadam back to Him, although we find that some newcomer may sometimes attempt to do just that by mistake. However the difference is that the predominating Deity on the Vyasasana is Srila Prabhupada Himself and the predominating Deities on the altar are Lord Krishna and His various Vishnu tattva expansions. Srila Prabhupada will never decline to accept the article prasadam coming from the altar.

Comment posted by yadavendra das on August 19th, 2006
7 Unregistered

My apologies for all other unanswered replies. Please redirect your queries to the Minister for Deity Worship: His Grace Nrisimha Kavaca Prabhu
nrsimha.kavaca.ids@pamho.net

Comment posted by yadavendra das on September 4th, 2006
8 Unregistered

SRIMAD BHAGAVATAM 4.4.13

Everything depends on the strength of the recipient. For example, due to the scorching sunshine many vegetables and flowers dry up, and many grow luxuriantly. Thus it is the recipient that causes growth and dwindling. Similarly, mahiyasäm päda-rajo-’bhisekam: the dust of the lotus feet of great personalities offers all good to the recipient, but the same dust can also do harm. Those who are offenders at the lotus feet of a great personality dry up; their godly qualities diminish. A great soul may forgive offenses, but Krishna does not excuse offenses to the dust of that great soul’s feet, just as one can tolerate the scorching sunshine on one’s head but cannot tolerate the scorching sunshine on one’s feet. An offender glides down more and more; therefore he naturally continues to commit offenses at the feet of the great soul. Offenses are generally committed by persons who falsely identify with the impermanent body. King Daksa was deeply engrossed in a misconception because he identified the body with the soul. He offended the lotus feet of Lord Siva because he thought that his body, being the father of the body of Sati, was superior to Lord Siva’s. Generally, less intelligent men misidentify in that way, and they act in the bodily concept of life. Thus they are subject to commit more and more offenses at the lotus feet of great souls. One who has such a concept of life is considered to be in the class of animals like cows and asses.
SB 4.4.13

Comment posted by yadavendra das on September 6th, 2006

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