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.
Among other explanations, Collins English dictionary 4th Australian Edition page 1344 gives for ârudeâ the following. 1) insulting or uncivil; discourteous; impolite 2) lacking refinement, coarse or uncouth 3) vulgar or obscene etc etcâŚ
and for âpresumptionâ: âŚ2) bold or insolent behavior or manners
âPresumeâ 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:
âIn 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 Lordâs prasada by touching the fire to our foreheads with both hands.â
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 âpop upâ.
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 etcâŚ, 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: âWould you agree to first offer the articles to Srila Prabhupada if He were physically and personally sitting on the Vyasasana?â We can imagine that the response would be something like: âO yes, of course, if Srila Prabhupada were actually seated on the Vyasasana, if He were actually present among us how could we neglect Him?â
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:
Ă¤cĂ¤ryam mĂ¤m vijĂ¤niyĂ¤n
One should know the AcĂ¤rya 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