This year, the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust released a free, downloadable PDF version of the annual international “Sri Vyasa-Puja” book, featuring a collection of homages to ISKCON Founder-Acharya Srila Prabhupada from devotees and temples all over the world.
Meanwhile ISKCON of Delhi, India notably compiled its own three-volume Vyasa-Puja book with offerings to Srila Prabhupada from an incredible 3,400 local devotees from all the temples and preaching centers in the Delhi National Capital Region (NCR).
Physical editions of the books were printed by ISKCON-affiliated publishing house Golden Age Media, and offered simultaneously to the Srila Prabhupada murtis in each of ISKCON Delhi’s fourteen different centers on Vyasa-Puja day, August 13th.
The idea originated four years ago, when ISKCON Delhi became the third temple internationally to offer its own separate book of Vyasa-Puja offerings to Srila Prabhupada.
Typically, Prabhupada’s Vyasa-Puja tends to be celebrated on a smaller scale than Janmastami, as it falls on the day immediately after. Starting in 2016, however, GBC Gopal Krishna Goswami inspired the Delhi devotees to hold it in a grander way. By last year, in 2019, five thousand devotees were attending the event at ISKCON Delhi’s flagship Sri Sri Radha Parthasarathi Mandir, and offering 3,500 food preparations made at home to Srila Prabhupada.
This year, however, with the pandemic halting such gatherings, Gopal Krishna Goswami and other leaders encouraged as many devotees as possible to contribute their homages to their local Vyasa-Puja book.
“Devotees had lots of options for submitting their offerings,” says Golden Age Media publisher Nandagopal Jivan Das. “They could send them by email, mail handwritten offerings, or record their voices and send them to us via WhatsApp. Five hundred offerings came to us in audio recordings.”
Many devotee children also submitted homages in the form of recordings or paintings of Srila Prabhupada and Lord Krishna, including one recording of Prabhupada’s pranam mantra by a two-year-old girl.
A team of four devotees serving from home transcribed and proofread the offerings, working around the clock for twelve to fourteen hours a day, for two-and-a-half months.
The result was three volumes filled with expressions of love and dedication to Srila Prabhupada, including two volumes of offerings in English, and one in Hindi, Bengali and Urdu.
The books were offered on Vyasa-Puja Day by temple presidents in each of Delhi’s fourteen ISKCON centers: Sri Sri Radha Parthasarathi Mandir in Sant Nagar; Punjabi Bagh; Noida; Rohini; Bahadurgarh; Faridabad; Dwaraka; Chippiwada; Chhatarpur; Gurugram Sector 45; Gurugram (Badshahpur); Ghaziabad; Panchsheel Enclave; and Sahibabad.
The three-volume Vyasa-Puja book was a limited edition run, with only twenty-five sets published. These went to ISKCON Delhi’s different temples and centers, as well as to Gopal Krishna Goswami and Kratu Das, an initiating spiritual master who has a large congregation in Delhi.
Next year will be Srila Prabhupada’s 125th Vyasa-Puja celebration. Golden Age Media aims to increase its effort even more on that occasion, and to publish a 12-volume Vyasa-Puja book containing at least 12,500 homages.
“The idea behind these books is that devotees understand Srila Prabhupada’s position as the Founder-Acarya and pre-eminent siksa guru for all of ISKCON, and express that by writing their heartfelt offerings to him,” Nandagopal Jivan says. “Every devotee should feel a connection with Srila Prabhupada – that Srila Prabhupada is ours, and we are his – and understand that if we offer him something, he will accept it.”
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