Guru-parampara: The List of 32, Part 13

BY: ROCANA DASA - 4.9 2018

B.V. Narayana Maharaja's Guru-parampara List

On November 15, 2004, the VNN news site published an article entitled, Guru Tattva and the Real Disciple [14] by Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja. An introductory comment noted that this presentation had actually been spoken by Narayana Maharaja several years earlier, on Srila Prabhupada's Disappearance day in 1996.

In response to the article, Rocana dasa wrote a commentary and submitted it to VNN, who refused to publish it. The article was then submitted to Chakra, who did publish it, with the title, Response to VNN Guru-tattva Article. [15] It was VNN's rejection of this article by Rocana prabhu that caused he and his wife Jahnava to launch the Sampradaya Sun – a venue in which Rocana's editorial commentaries could be presented without restriction.

In his opening remarks in the paper, Narayana Maharaja mentions the concept of bhagavat-parampara, which he says Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati followed, as opposed to guru-parampara. Before getting into a detailed analysis of B.V. Narayana Swami's comments, let us first consider the poem he appended to this article – Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's Sri Guru-parampara – which Narayana Maharaja characterized as describing the bhagavat-parampara. This Sri Guru-parampara is the Bengali poem Srila Bhaktisiddhanta fashioned from his original verses in Sanskrit.

First, we should note that the Bengali verses in Narayana Maharaja's version of Sri Guru-parampara appear to be identical to those included in Srila Prabhupada's ISKCON songbook [10], except for the differences in the closing verses, noted below. In the presentation of Sri Guru-parampara by Narayana Maharaja, we find a long addition to the guru-parampara, which includes various glorifications, including B.V. Narayana's own, for which there is also an alternative version. Paraphrased, the additions include:

"Sri Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami (an internal and intimate disciple of Prabhupada following in the line of Svarupa Damodara and Rupa Gosvami)

Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami's foremost disciple-preacher, Sri Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who has spread the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu throughout the world

The saintly personalities Sri Vamana Gosvami and Sri Narayana Gosvami, who are most dear to Sri Kesava Gosvami"

And in the alternate version of this verse:

"Out of Prabhupada's countless disciples, Sri Bhakti Prajana KeSava Gosvami was his dearmost. And out of the countless disciples of Sri Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami, one of the most prominent is Sri Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja."

What we're looking at here is essentially a snapshot of the phenomenon that Srila Prabhupada dealt with prior to coming to America and starting his ISKCON lila period. All the prominent godbrothers who were accepting disciples, both they and their disciples had adopted the philosophy and mood that they were all equal successors to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. As such, they were qualified and entitled to include their names at the end of the guru-parampara list, and were at least equal to Srila Prabhupada in terms of spiritual potency or advancement.

Regardless of what Srila Prabhupada accomplished when Krsna revealed him to be a rarified Sampradaya Acarya, his godbrothers could never, would never accept or adopt that perspective. In the case of two Gaudiya Math personalities who have become prominent, namely B.R. Sridhar Maharaja and B.V. Narayana Maharaja, both their camps became surcharged on account of Srila Prabhupada's disciples joining them, therefore both Sridhar and Narayana Swamis, had to glorify Srila Prabhupada to a greater degree than they had in prior years. But they didn't make it clear to their followers that Srila Prabhupada was on a higher spiritual platform than themselves.

As noted in the section above, 'Terms of Glorification', the language used to describe persons listed in the guru-parampara is very significant. In the case of B.V. Narayana Swami's addition to the end of the list, we see that he has characterized his Spiritual Master as being an "internal and intimate disciple" of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's, as well as being his "dearmost" disciple. B.V. Narayana Maharaja is subtly but obviously trying to assert that his Spiritual Master is on a more elevated spiritual platform than his Spiritual Master's godbrothers. Typically, the 'internal and intimate' statement is left unclarified. You can take it whatever way you like.


[10] Sri Guru Parampara - ISKCON Songbook (1974)

[14] From Guru Tattva and the Real Disciple by B.V. Narayana

[15] Response to VNN Guru-tattva article by Rocana dasa, Chakra, December 3, 2004