Celebrating Śrī Guru’s appearance day is accepted as worship of Śrī Vyāsadeva, Vyāsa-pūjā. The meaning of puja is to please the object of worship. To fulfill Vyāsa’s inner-heart desire is Vyāsa-pūjā. Whatever person, place, object, conception, or offering for Vyāsadeva’s pleasure, which is favorable to Vyāsadeva, is worship of Vyāsa. Śrīla Gurudeva came to please Vyāsadeva by fulfilling his heart’s desire. Śrīla Gurudeva takes whatever we offer him, and presents it to Vyāsadeva.
Vyāsadeva’s dear associates come to this world to fulfill his mission. Kṛṣṇa is in the hearts of all the living entities in the universe, but the conditioned souls are against Kṛṣṇa, absorbed in sense gratification. Śrī Guru and the Guru-varga come to turn the conditioned souls toward Kṛṣṇa and to engage them in His service.
So who has greater power, Śrīla Gurudeva or God? God is present with everyone, but He cannot change the inimical nature of the living entities. Śrī Guru takes all living entities and binds them to God with love, and that tie can never be broken. Even though God is present everywhere and in everyone, still, no one desires Him. People want God to serve them, rather than to serve God. Śrī Guru changes this mentality of the jīvas, and makes them realize their true position as eternal loving servants.
If we go to Śrī Guru and offer anything to him, he’ll take that and offer it in the service of Kṛṣṇa. He will offer us in the service of Kṛṣṇa. Then will Vyāsadeva be pleased or not? Is this Vyāsa’s worship or not? Vyāsadeva manifested scripture. Śrī Guru gives the living entities realization and relation with scripture by his own example. Those who perform such activities are dear to Vyāsa. Those who perform the work that pleases Vyāsa, they are doing Vyāsa-pūjā. Śrīla Gurudeva is transcendental; he is the object of Kṛṣṇa’s mercy, and the embodiment of compassion. Śrī Guru comes as the form of compassion to help the suffering souls who are burning in this world, and who have turned away from Kṛṣṇa. They are opposed to scripture, and gripped by bad tendencies and misfortune.
Śrī Guru is the embodiment of compassion. He mercifully cleans the filth from the hearts of the souls opposed to Kṛṣṇa. Śrī Guru purifies, cools, and nourishes the conditioned soul’s hearts with the wonderful nectar of pure love of Kṛṣṇa. He gives them knowledge of the Absolute Truth. That is the desire of Vyāsa. To fulfill Vyāsa’s desire is Vyāsa-pūjā.
Therefore, going near Śrī Guru, offering him any gift, singing prayers in his presence, and taking the spiritual remnants of his food, greatly pleases Vyāsadeva. How great is Śrī Guru? He has qualities even greater than God. He has the ability and qualification to do that work which God Himself cannot perform even in many incarnations.
The Guru-varga goes to all corners of the world, connecting all hearts and giving them such rasa—divine nectar—that people then have taste for nothing else and they offer themselves in the service of Kṛṣṇa and His holy dhāma. Then they can never even slightly consider that they are anyone else’s. Who can perform such work? This is the worship of Vyāsa!
Respecting such bona fide spiritual masters is respect to Kṛṣṇa and Vyāsa. Respecting Śrī Guru’s appearance day is respect to Vyāsadeva and God. Those days when our Guru-varga come to this world are most glorious. They are the greatest of days! Worshipping Śrī Guru on those days is the best philanthropy work for the rest of the world.
Śrīla Viśvanatha Cakravarti Ṭhākura states the conclusion of the Vedic scriptures in his Guruvāṣṭakam:
yuktasya tathā bhāvyata eva sadbhiḥ
kintu prabhor yaḥ priya eva tasya
Śrī Guru is not distant from Kṛṣṇa, he is very dear to Kṛṣṇa. What is the meaning of sākṣād-dharitvena? Śrīla Gurudeva explained a secret meaning. “Is Śrī Guru the follower of Brahma or Paramātmā, the impersonal effulgence of God or the localized Supersoul? Where is Kṛṣṇa completely present? Hari is present in Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s heart. Śrīmatī Rādhikā is hara, She stole Kṛṣṇa’s heart and Kṛṣṇa resides in Her heart. If anyone makes his heart a playing center reserved for Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa without giving share of himself to anyone else, and remains absorbed in Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa 24 hours a day, then he is sākṣād-dharitvena! Śrī Guru’s consciousness is one-pointedly absorbed in remembrance of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. If one’s body is reserved only for Hari and Hari is present throughout their mind, heart, and soul, then such a person is called sākṣād-hari. Śrī Guru is not Hari, but he knows no other than Hari. Even though Paramātmā resides in the hearts of all conditioned souls, their consciousness is contaminated and given in shares to many others. Śrī Guru, however, is not contaminated, and doesn’t give his mind and heart in shares.
Kintu prabhor yaḥ priya eva tasya—why is Śrī Guru the nearest and dearest of Kṛṣṇa? He has no relationship with any other; he is not contaminated. He has completely offered himself to Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa! Śrī Guru uses everything for the service of Śrī Hari. He doesn’t cheat those who come to him, he only teaches the glories of Hari. He not only gives a chance for the service of Kṛṣṇa, He gives attachment for God and His loving service. If you come near Guru and Vaisnavas, your previous nature automatically changes. Guru and Vaisnavas are present with Kṛṣṇa and they control Kṛṣṇa with their supremely powerful love. If anyone comes to them, they bestow their pure love and bring all nearby Kṛṣṇa. Then you won’t be able to go distant to Hari, Guru, and Vaisnavas. Śrī Guru will arrest and tightly bind you to Kṛṣṇa with deep love. Independently you won’t be able to use your body, senses, or mind. Priya eva tasya—why is Guru near and dear to Kṛṣṇa? Why is he the priya, beloved of Kṛṣṇa? For example, how could someone become dear to Śrīla Gurudeva? If they encourage, inspire, and explain the specialties and glories of Śrī Guru to whoever comes to the temple, then they will be near and dear to Guru. If one person never asks anyone for anything, has no care for anybody, but simply hides in their room like a piece of stone or a wall, staying completely aloof and callous, will he be dear to Śrī Guru? Yet a person who continuously inspires everyone, sprinkling their hearts with transcendental love for Śrī Guru and Kṛṣṇa, and brings all together, engaging them in service to Śrī Guru and Kṛṣṇa, then that person will be dear to Guru! That person who performs activities that please Kṛṣṇa, on one side serving the associates of Kṛṣṇa, and on the other appropriately respecting all the different incarnations of Kṛṣṇa — such a person has appropriate respect for all. Śrī Guru bestows pure love for Kṛṣṇa, and engages all souls in service to the holy names and places associated with Kṛṣṇa.
Only by the mercy of Śrī Guru can one receive the mercy of Kṛṣṇa; without his grace the living entities cannot make any advancement, nor be delivered. We are all lost souls who have been wandering in this material universe for countless lives. Śrīla Gurudeva appeared in this world and performed his sweet pastimes. Śrīla Gurudeva took the transcendental conceptions of the entire disciplic succession of divine masters, and has manifested the names, forms, qualities, and pastimes of Kṛṣṇa in the hearts of the wayward souls. He has gone throughout the entire world as Kṛṣṇa’s sweeper, cleaning everyone’s heart.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.2.17 tells us:
śṛṇvatāṁ sva-kathāḥ kṛṣṇaḥ
hṛdy antaḥ stho hy abhadrāṇi
vidhunoti suhṛt satām
Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Absolute Godhead, who is the Supreme Soul in all soul’s heart, and the benefactor of the saintly devotee, cleanses the inauspicious desires for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who has developed the urge to hear His narrations, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted.
Śrī Guru goes into the heart and cleans it like a dear friend by speaking narrations of the Lord. In the association of pure devotees, discussion of the pastimes and activities of the Supreme Lord is very pleasing and satisfying to the ear and the heart. By cultivating such knowledge one gradually becomes advanced on the path of liberation, and his attraction becomes fixed. Firm faith, attraction and devotion then come in sequence.
“The thoughts of My pure devotees dwell in Me, their lives are fully devoted to My service. They derive great satisfaction and bliss from always enlightening one another and conversing about Me.”
[Bhagavad Gita, 10.9]
The saintly devotees consider, “How will the souls in material bondage attain spiritual welfare? How and what should be given to them? When the disease of material existence is destroyed, no other sickness remains. Only the nectarean topics of the Lord are medicine that give real welfare to the soul, and bestow knowledge of our relationship with Kṛṣṇa.”