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Song Lyrics: ISKCON Pranamas (Vande Ham Sri Guroh [Mangalacarana])

Purport Author: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

January 8, 1969 Los Angeles, CA, USA


Vande 'ham means "I am offering my respectful obeisances." Vande. V-a-n-d-e. Vande means "offering my respectful obeisances." Aham. Aham means "I." Vande 'ham śrī-gurūn, all the gurus, or spiritual masters. The offering of respect direct to the spiritual master means offering respect to all the previous ācāryas. Gurūn means plural number. All the ācāryas, they are not different from one another. Because they are coming in the disciplic succession from the original spiritual master and they have no different views, therefore, although they are many, they are one. Vande 'ham śrī-gurūn śrī-yuta-pada-kamalam. Śrī-yuta means "with all glories, with all opulence." Pada-kamalam, "lotus feet." Offering of respect to the superior begins from the feet, and blessing begins from the head. That is the system. The disciple offers his respect by touching the lotus feet of the spiritual master, and the spiritual master blesses the disciple by touching his head. Therefore it is said, "I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of all the ācāryas.'' Śrī-yuga-pada-kamalaṁ śrī-gurūn vaiṣṇavāṁś ca. Gurūn means spiritual master, and vaiṣṇavāṁś ca means all their followers, devotees of Lord.


Spiritual master means they must have many followers. They are all Vaiṣṇavas. They are called prabhus, and the spiritual master is called prabhupāda because on his lotus feet there are many prabhus. Pada means lotus foot. So all these Vaiṣṇavas, they are all prabhus. So they are also offered respectful Not that the spiritual master alone, but along with his associates. And these associates are all Vaiṣṇavas, his disciples. They are also devotees of the Lord; therefore they should also be offered respectful obeisances. This is the process. Then śrī-rūpam. The spiritual master is descending from the Six Gosvāmīs. Out of the Six Gosvāmīs, Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī and his elder brother Sanātana Gosvāmī are heading the list. Śrī-rūpaṁ sāgrajātam. Agrajātam means his elder brother, eldest brother. Śrī-rupaṁ sāgrajātaṁ saha-gaṇa-raghunāthānvitam. They are also associated with other Gosvāmīs, two Raghunāthas, raghunāthān, plural number. There were Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī and Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī. Then Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī. So all they are offered respected obeisances one after another.


And after finishing respectful obeisances to the spiritual master and the Gosvāmīs, then we approach Lord Caitanya. Lord Caitanya is also approached with His associates. Sāvadhūtam, sādvaitam. Sa means "with.'' Advaita, Advaita Gosai. And avadhūta means Nityānanda. So with Advaita and with Nityānanda, the offering goes to the Lord, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. So after finishing all these obeisances one after another, according to the system, then śrī-rādhā-kṛṣṇa-pādān, then we approach Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa is also associate. Kṛṣṇa is associated with Rādhārāṇī, and He (she?) is associated with Her immediate companions like Lalitā, Viśākhā, and others. So this is the process of offering respectful obeisances to the Deity. We cannot approach Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa directly. We have to approach through the spiritual master, through the Gosvāmīs, through the associates of Lord Caitanya. Then we approach Rādhā, then Kṛṣṇa. If one approaches Kṛṣṇa through this channel of disciplic succession, his efforts becomes successful. Otherwise, if he wants to approach Kṛṣṇa directly, it will be futile endeavor.


UPDATED: April 1, 2009