Dandavata Pranams. All glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gouranga.
Here for your attention, is part four of Srila Promode Puri Gosvami Maharaja's booklet, "Essence of Pure Devotion." The tile of this chapter is 'DISCIPLIC SUCCESSION."
This wonderful article explains our guru parampara and its' essence. In it you will find information about, the importance of hearing mantra from a bona fide source,the connection between Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the four sampradaya acaryas and many important scriptural references to these and related important topics.
Puru das, das anudas
bhavati vicintya vidusa niravakara guru parampara nityamThat the learned scholars and devotees should always meditate on the bona fide disciple succession. Only by doing likewise can one maintain himself as an unalloyed devotee of the Lord and will become the recipient of the mercy of the Supreme Lord. The constant discussion of the exemplary pure devotional conduct of the predecessor "Acaryas" will result in the purification of the heart of the disciple. Consequently, only in the unalloyed role of the servant of the servant can the purified disciple be freed from false ego and earn the grace of the Supreme Lord. The unalloyed devotees are the beloved of Sri Hari and specifically those in direct obedience to them, without the least form of artifice can hope to attain the mercy of the Lord. This is the prime reason why the initiated disciple should always meditate with faith on the disciplic succession. Srila Baladeva Prabhu too has enlightened us of his own spiritual roots in his book "Prameya Ratnavali". In that book he has mentioned two important verses for discussion, from Padma Purana.
ekantitvam sidhyati yayodayati yena haritosah
sampradaya vihina ye mantraste viphala matahMeaning : The holy formula (mantra) that is received without the proper disciplic succession will never bear any fruit. This is why in this age Kali, four great souls will emerge and establish the different Vaishnava successions in the form of Sri Brahma, Rudra and the four Kumaras. The four great leaders will begin to manifest their four authorized disciplic successions from the holy Dham of Puri. Originally, Sri Laksmi Devi had given this sacred knowledge to Ramanujacarya, Lord Brahma to Sri Madhva, Rudra to Visnu Swami and the Four Kumaras to Nimbarkacarya. They, after being endowed with spiritual knowledge, promulgated their own individual disciplic successions.
ata kalau bhavisyanti catvarah sampradayinah
sri brahma-rudar-sanaka vaisnavah ksiti pavanah
catvarste kalau bhavya utkale purusottamat
There is no chance of perfection of the mantra received if no implicit obedience to the previous spiritual masters exists. Thus the four great spiritual masters have preached the different tenets of Vaishnava philosophy accordingly namely, non-duality with particular attributes (Visisitadvaita) by Ramanjua, pure duality (suddhadvaita) of Sri Madhva, pure non-duality (suddhadvaita) of Vishnu Swami and instantaneous oneness and difference (dvaitadvaita) of Nimbarka Swami.
Sri Ramanuja, who propagated the principles of visitadvaita was born in Sri Perembudure about 13 crores from Madras. He lived to a ripe old age of 120 years old propagating the worship of Sri Laksmi Narayana. Sriman Madhva was born in Udupi and he, preaching the doctrine of pure duality also stressed the aspect of devotion to Sri Krishna as the ultimate. The one who inaugurated pure Non-duality was reputed to have been born in the Andra Province of South India. He outlined service to Sri Radha Krishna as his main theme. Acarya Nimbarka was born in Mungera Pattan village, of the devout couple Aruni Rsi and Jayanti Devi and he propagated the philosophy of devotional service to Krishna with his base as the philosophy of Simultaneous Oneness and Difference. Many scholars have pointed out Sri Visnu Swami to have his roots other than that above mentioned Andra Province. Actually, a few of such persons have been specifically attributed to that name. Whatever the conflicting opinions are on this issue, the four great leaders, taking shelter of Lord Jagannatha in Puri dhama have begun to preach their various doctrines according to their disciplic succession. Srimad Krsnadeva Vedantavagisa, in his commentary on Sri Vidyabhusana's "Prameya Ratnavali" has written: "Without have recourse to the holy syllables (mantra) received through the bona fide spiritual master as well as the proper disciplic succession have been stressed. Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana, a prominent Gaudiya Vedanta scholar, has shed light on this disciplic succession.
The most worshipable Srila Prabhupada writes: Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana, a great Vedantic scholar has admitted himself to belonging to the Lord Brahma disciplic lineage. Lord Sri Krishna was the original spiritual master, His disciple was Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma's disciple was Narada Rsi. Then on to Sri Vyasadeva whose disciple was Sri Madhva. From Sri Madhva the succession continued through Sri Akshobya, Sri Jayatirtha, Sri Jnana Sindu, Sri Daya Niddhi, Sri Vidya Nidhi, Sri Rajendra, Sri Jaya Dharma, Sri Purusottama then to Sri Brahmanya to Sri Vyasatirtha, Sri Lasmipati and finally to Sri Madhavendra Puri. Srila Madhavendra Puri's distinguished disciples were Isvara Puri, Sri Nityananda and Sri Advaita. The illustrious disciple of Sri Isvara Puri, Lord Caitanyadeva spread the message of love of Godhead as the highest goal throughout the world. Most of the renunciates of Sri Madhva were with one staff (ekadandi). And were titled "Tirtha Swami" in addition to their names. However, Sri Madhavendra was not of this category being titled Puri Goswami. The inference here is that he would have taken his renounced order from the Impersonalist groups, having that title (Puri Goswami), while his initiation and learning were definitely derived from the Madhavaites. In Bhakti Ratnakara, there is mentioned that Sri Nityananda Prabhu took shelter of Laksmipati for spiritual guidance. The main renounced devotees of the Madhva lineage were all denoted by this title "Tirtha Swami". Some of the imposters disciplic groups seem to have cast some doubts on the lineage of Sri Madhva but their suspicions are baseless and due to sheer ignorance. The evidence illustrated in books like Gaura Ganodesa Dipika, Bhakti Ratnakara, Prameya Ratnavali and also works of Sri Gopal Guru Goswami, all are in close agreement and testify to the disciplic lineage of Sri Madhva. The Sri Gopal Purvatapani Sruti proves that Lord Brahma was the disciple of Lord Krishna. That Sri Madhva was the disciple of Sri Vyasadeva is a noted historical fact (see life history of Madhva).
Once, it has been said that some discussions were going on with Madhva and other Sankarite scholars at Markanikaya ghat, all of them who were observing vows of fasting. Suddenly from the sky, like a blue cloud, Sri Vyasadeva appeared in the presence of all as witness and rejected all Sankara's ideology while accepting the philosophy of Sri Madhva. Srimad Baladeva Prabhu has formulated nine proverbial statements, which have been verified by Sriman Mahaprabhu in His instructions to His close followers and which are accepted as the supreme principles of Vedanta philosophy, Sri Madhva states:
The ancient verse beginning with "Sri Madhva Mate Hari paratamah satyam jagat" means, by the philosophy of Sri Madhva, Lord Hari is the Supreme Truth, the material universe though apparently real is different and a transformation of His energy. There are innumerable living entities and all are ultimately servants of Lord Hari. They, by their different endeavors and by results of their actions attain to either high or low positions. The living entities, forgetting their eternal service to Lord Krishna by aversion to Him, have become entangled by material nature. This aversion has led them to ignorantly identify themselves as human beings or demigods e.c.t. By giving up such aversion, and becoming established in one's constitutional position in service to Lord Hari marks the dawn of liberation. When one is situated at the lotus feet of Lord Vishnu because of being naturally engaged in his original identity as eternal servitor of the Lord he becomes liberated. Pure devotion means to be free from all selfish desires related to fruitive activity, independent search for knowledge, etc. This itself entails liberation. The three types of proof are (i) Revealed scriptural knowledge(ii) Inference (iii) Direct evidence . That Sriman Mahaprabhu accepted the philosophy of Sri Madhva to be consistent with the axioms of the Vedanta, is clear from the writings of Sri Baladeva Prabhu.
Nevertheless, Srila Krsnadas Kaviraja, in the 9th chapter of Madhya lila of Sri Chaitanya Charitamrta has given an interesting account of the discussion between the Madhavites and Sriman Mahaprabhu. We can gather from this that the Madhavites strictly believed in the adherence to the formal varna-asrama system and the surrendering of the fruits of one's honest work to Lord Krsna as part of their devotional practice. Therefore this process would enable them in the end to attain the five-fold liberation and attain to the desired spiritual Vaikuntha planets. Sriman Mahaprabhu, by using the verse from the Srimad Bhagavatam 'sravanam kirtanam vishnu smaranam" as evidence, had demonstrated to them that hearing and chanting are the most important practices in respect to attainment of the pure objective, love of Godhead.
He gave this verdict to Srimad Raghuvaryatirtha Swami, the scholar of the Madhavites: "Hearing and chanting, which are part of the nine limbs of devotion service, leads to devotion to Sri Krishna, which is the fifth and most supreme goal of human life while the other four are simply cheating tendencies. Prema or love of Godhead is free from all such faults. Fruitive work, or the surrender of the fruits of such work can never lead directly to love of God. Nonetheless, by that path, the mind becomes gradually purified and can induce one to honor and adore the saintly people, giving rise to faith in the process of pure devotion. This means that faith in the hearing and chanting of the Holy Names etc. is primary and will lead one to the goal directly. To the extent that the gross and subtle impurities are nullified in a person, In that measure can love be instilled in one's heart. In conclusion, love of God is never generated by surrender of one's fruits of work. Love is dependent on the mood of self-surrender and submission of the individual which is only evolved by association of the saintly devotees. Hence the pure devotee rejects all ideas of liberation stemming from fruitive work and knowledge, shunning these as unfavorable to pure devotion. If these two are your aspired means and the goals as you have pointed out then it is my belief that you are saying this only to tease me"
After hearing the humble tones of Sriman Mahaprabhu's speech, the leader of the Madhavites, lowered his head in shame. Sriman Mahaprabhu was the "Acarya" in pure devotional conclusions and He went on to say, "the fruitive worker and Salvationists are devoid of devotion and it seems to me that your disciplic succession seem to stress their very two processes which is works and knowledge. Nonetheless, I see one exceptional positive quality in your succession, in that you believe in the blissful form of the Deity as the Supreme Lord." Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has written on this aspect:
"Sriman Mahaprabhu tells the leader of the Madhavites, "Your philosophy is generally in contradiction to pure devotional conclusions but I see one outstanding supporting truth, the eternality of the Supreme Lord and the acceptance of the deity form as non-different from Him." The Purport of this statement implied that my grand spiritual master, Sri Madhavendra Puri in recognizing this outstanding feature of the acceptance of the blissful Deity form, has for this reason accepted the disciplic line of Madhavites. Srila Jiva Gosvami has eulogized Sri Madhva in "Tattva Sandarbha' by writing: 'Madhva caranaih' which is plural tense (bahu cachan). Srila Baladeva's commentary on that same book runs: "The Srimad Bhagavat was highly worshipped by Sri Madhva. Sri Sankara had no chance to misconstrue the meanings of this book. Still, his disciple named Punyaranya who wrote a commentary based on Impersonalism or monistic ideals did cause many devotees (Vaishnavas) to deviate after reading the said commentary, by becoming attracted to it. Sri Madhva, to dismiss their deviant monistic ideals and to lead the devotees back on the proper path, had written a very concisive commentary on the Bhagavatam counteracting the said deviant propositions. Hence the word "Madhva caranaih" as quoted in this sense, not only signifies great respect for Sri Madhva but also refers him as the proper predecessor Acarya in the disciplic line. Sri Madhva was the incarnation of the Wind God, Vayu himself in person. He is all knowing and not able to be surpassed. It is said, at one time, he defeated a very eminent scholar who was the head of the fourteen Maths in less than an hour. The scholar bowed down to his feet as a disciple and became renowned by the name of "Sri Padmanabha." In Srila Jiva Gosvami's commentary "Tattva Sandarbha" (26th chapter) for the word :"tattva vada gurunam" Srila Baladeva has written:
sarvam vastu satyam iti vadastattvaMeaning: By the inconceivable potency of the Lord, the particular transcendental Supreme object is non-different from its attributes. The potency of the Supreme Lord is the living entity and the material nature is a reflection of the spiritual energy. There are indeed both similarities and differences between the Supreme Lord and the living entity, also between the spiritual potency and material nature, all of which are inconceivable. The foundation and philosophy of the Gaudiya devotees is this principle of Inconceivable Oneness and Differences ("acintya bheda-abheda"). The point that Sri Madhva had accepted this in the start reinforces his unbroken connection with the Gaudiya devotees. From the texts of Sri Madhva, Sri Jiva Gosvami has collected much back up evidence for Gaudiya Vaisnavism, far more in comparison to that of any of other Vaishnava leaders. Though Sri Madhva did receive the renounced order (sannyasa) from the Sankarites at the age of twelve years, he never did support the monistic ideals of Sankara. He received initiation as "Purna Prajna", from Acyuta Preksa, his spiritual master, who later was converted by becoming is own very disciple!
vadastad upadestrnam ity arthah
In Badarikasrama, he met Vyasadeva face to face, and after receiving his sublime instructions, began to engage in the service and worship of 18 Salagramas at his behest. One day, while Sri Madhva was bathing in the ocean, he managed to discover in huge block sandalwood (candana), from which a beautiful Deity of the younger boy Sri Krsna emerged. Later, He began to worship this Deity along with the 18 Salagramas, side by side in Udipi. Sri Madhva was the disciple of Sri Vyasadeva, similarly Sri Vyasadeva was the disciple of Narada Rsi (evidence from Bhagavatam 1/4) and Narada Rsi was the disciple of Lord Brahma (Bhag. 2 / 7 / 51). Further, in Brahma Samhita, Gopal Tapani Smrti and Srimad Bhagavatam, Lord Brahma is illustrated to be the disciple of Sri Krishna: As Sri Krishna tells Uddhava in S.B (11 / 11 / 3):
kalena nasta pralaye vaniyam vedasmjnitaMeaning: In the Vedas, My nature and qualities are described. When this by the influence of time, becomes lost as in the periodic annihilation of the world, I again at the beginning of creation, give this knowledge t Lord Brahma. The Manduka Smrti (1 / 1 / 1) has described:
mayadau brahmane proktah dharma yasyam madatmakah
brahma devanam prathamah sarva bhuvaMeaning: Lord Brahma is the maintainer and creator of the material universe of living and non-living things and chief of all the demigods. He was born from the lotus navel of Sri Narayana, and is the foremost in all scriptural knowledge which he delivered in essence to his eldest son: Atharva: Rig Veda Samhita gives this verse:
visvasya karta bhuvanasya gopta
sa brahma vidyam sarva vidya pratistam
arthvaya jyesta putraya praha
om tad visnoh paramam padam sadaMeaning: The abode of Lord Visnu is effulgent like the sun and this transcendental abode of the Lord is perceived by the devotees eternally (Vaishnavas). The devotees of the Supreme Lord re perfect recipients of this knowledge of brahma vidya.
pasyanti surayoh diviva caksuratatam
In the Srutis many verses are there which states that the Supreme Lord was originally present as the cause of all causes and the One Non-dual Absolute Truth. From Manduka Sruti ) 1 / 1 / 13).
tasmai sa vidan anupasanaya samyakMeaning: The one who understands Sri Krishna is Guru. With obedience to the proper rules from scriptures, the inquisitive disciple who approaches him with a serene mind, completely controlled and freed from attachment to material objects is awarded the knowledge called brahma vidya, by which the Supreme Lord can b known in truth.
prasanta cittaya saman vitaya
yena ksaram purusam veda satyam
pravaca tam tattvato brahmavidyam
From the above statements of Sruti we can understand that this Brahma disciplic chain is from ancient times. Lord Brahma himself has obtained his transcendental instructions from Lord Krishna and right down to this present period, the knowledge had descended through the disciplic line intact.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, in reply to the question of why this disciplic succession had come about, in Jaiva Dharma comments: "In this world many have become deviant by the force of monistic ideals, [Impersonalism]. Without a proper disciplic chain, no possibility of association or guidance from the right sources can be obtained. It is for this reason Padma Purana has emphatically declared that the mantra obtained without a disciplic chain bears no fruit. Of the four accepted disciplic chains, the Brahma Sampradaya is most ancient. This disciplic lineage is still being in continuance from long ago. Srimad Kavikarnapura has compiled from the Gaura Ganodesa Dipika the formula of the exact succession of the Brahma disciplic lineage of spiritual masters: Lord Brahma was the disciple of Lord Narayana and his disciple was Narada; from Sri Narada Rsi to Sri Vyasadeva."
It has been mentioned that the son of Vyasadeva was Sukadeva Gosvami, who, though being a self-realized souls from birth, began to be attracted to learning the Srimad Bhagavatam after hearing a few selected verses from the lips of his father. In due course, he studied the Srimad Bhagavatam from his father and therefore is considered as a disciple of Srila Vyasadeva. The most famous Madhvacarya also took his initiation from Sri Vyasadeva and his disciplic lineage has descended in the following order:
Sri Padmanabha, Sri Nara Hari, Sri Madhava Vipra, Sri Akshobhya, Jaya Tirtha, Sri Jnana Sindhu, Sri Dayaniddhi, Sri Rajendra, Sri Jaya Dharma, Sri Purusottama, Sri Brahmanya, Sri Vyasatirtha, Sri Laksmipati, Sri Madhavendra Puri
Srila Madhavendra Puri established pure devotional ideals and hid disciple was Sri Isvara Puri. Lord Gaura-sundara, taking Srila Isvara Puri as his spiritual master, has inundated all the worlds with the wealth of love of Godhead. The disciple of Srimad Vrakresvara Pandita, Srimad Gopal Guru Gosvami, has accepted this succession of spiritual master in this manner. Also the disciple of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, Srila Narahari Thakura, has in his book Bhakti Ratnakara, verified this disciplic succession. Our prominent Acaryas, the worshipable Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura have shown themselves to be cent-per cent for the disciplic line described by Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana. In this regard, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura comments:
"The Brahma disciplic line is the path recognized by all the followers of Lord Caitanya. This information has been obtained in accordance with the evidence of the book 'Gaura Ganodesa Dipika' of Srila Kavikarnapura, written in proper sequence and has been verified by Srila Vidyabhusana. One who does not accept this succession is definitely the foremost enemy of the Gaudiya Vaishnavites."
Further in the book "Sriman Mahaprabhu Siksa", Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has written:
"The philosophy of Sri Nimbarka which is Oneness and Difference, was not complete in itself as being most ideal. But by the teachings of Sriman Mahaprabhu, however, this knowledge has become complete. Lord Gaurasundara accepted the lineage of Sri Madhva because of their firm acceptance of the Deity form of the Lord which is deemed completely existent, cognizant and blissful and non different form the Supreme Lord. From this fact, the instantaneous Oneness and Difference principle is validated for it is the root of this contention. Though the principle of pure devotion is always the same, the non-conformity in detail manifested itself in the arise of these four different disciple successions. Sriman Mahaprabhu has synthesized all these different philosophies in the most proper context by taking form Sri Madhva his concept of the eternal Deity form, the concept of difference energies of the Lord from Sri Ramanuja, from Vishnu Swami, his concept of the non-duality and worship of the paraphernalia of the lord and also Sri Nimbarka's philosophy of Oneness and Difference was inculcated, all in turn becoming most relevant, with the original underlying principles of instantaneous, Inconceivable Oneness and Difference. Very soon, only one authorized disciplic chain will remain by the name "Sri Brahma-Sampradaya". All the others will merge under this banner. The 'Sri Brahma-Madhva- Gaudiya lineage of pure spiritual masters or guru parampara is defined in this fashion. As before Lord Krishna-Brahma-Narada-Vyasa-Madhva down the line to Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu."
All this did no make Him less the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sriman Mahaprabhu in accepting this lineage of Sri Madhva has illuminated to us the proper disciplic line from Brahma. Though, some points of Sri Madhva's teachings, such as the overly reliance on work and knowledge as the ends and means, and that of Maha Laksmi and the Vraja gopis may not be in proper conformity the the Gaudiyas, Nevertheless, we have to honor the instructions and example of Sriman Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Lord.
The youngest son of an intimate disciple of Sriman Mahaprabhu, named Sri Sivananda Sena was Parmananda Das who used to be affectionately called Puri Das by the Lord. For at an infant state, he once sucked the toe of the Lord. This same Puri Das, at an age of only seven years, quoted this Sanskrit verse in an erudite manner.
sravasoh kuvalayah aksnor anjananmuraso
mahendra manidama etc. .
Meaning: Glory to Sri Hari who possesses lotus earrings and adored with collyrium with the Mahendra diamond on His chest and beloved of the damsels of Vrindavana.
This extraordinary composition of the young boy left Sriman Mahaprabhu and His associates with joy, filled wonder at such exhibition of scholarship. He later became famous as Kavikarnapur and became famous among the associates of the Lord as prolific poet and scholar. Some of his works include "Ananda Vrindavana Campu", "Gaura Ganodesa Dipika" etc., of which from the latter book, the disciplic succession from Sri Gauri Das Pandit down to Sri Hrydaya Caitanya then onto Sri Syamananda, to Sri Rasikananda to Sri Nityananda and then from Sri Radha Damodar finally to Srimad Baladeva Vidyabhusana is mentioned.
Srila Baladeva in his compilation of "Govinda Bhasya", has managed to maintain the dignity of followers of Lord Caitanya by preserving the disciplic succession intact. This is explained with great adoration in the beginning of his commentary on the Vedanta, the Gaudiya Bhasya. Those who neglect the words of great souls as Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana, Sri Kavikarnapur and Sri Gopal Guru in not accepting the Madhva lineage as part of the Lord Caitanya's Brahma disciplic succession, are great offenders to the lotus feet of these great souls. Srila Krsnadas Kaviraja Gosvami has written:
"Madhavendra Puri was the original seed of the tree of love of Godhead and he, in taking the shelter of Sri Laksmipati, has, by necessity , accepted the shelter of Sri Madhva succession. Sri Isvara Puri, the devoted disciple of Sri Madhavendra Puri also was all glorious."
There is no other destination for us than this acceptance of the Madhva lineage. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has informed us in his verse, beginning with 'amnaya prabha tattvam harimiha paramam sarva saktim rasabdhim' regarding the secrets of the ten most important truths, one amongst them being the acceptance of the Madhva disciplic succession. "This disciplic succession is gleaned from evidence through the Vedas. The Vedas and corresponding scriptures like Srimad Bhagavatam and Puranic scriptures are direct evidences. From these proofs we can understand that Lord Hari is the Supreme Truth. He is replete with all energies and the ocean of all nectarean mellows. The two types of living entities are His parts and parcels like the liberated and conditional souls. The conditioned soul is engrossed in matter while the liberated soul is free from matter. The spiritual and material worlds are related on this manner by the inconceivable. Oneness and Difference principle of Lord Hari. Devotion as the only means and love of Godhead is the only accomplishment. In conclusion, thereby, the name of our genuine succession is the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya disciplic succession.
Srila Bhakti Promode Puri
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