Guru-parampara: The List of 32, Part 14

BY: ROCANA DASA

Recognition of Srila Prabhupada as the Current Sampradaya Acarya

Not all gurus in our Sampradaya who read the list of 32 Sampradaya Acaryas in the guru-parampara are moved to perfunctorily add their own name to the list. A survey of ISKCON diksa gurus and temple websites over the years has shown that some have added a thirty-third name to the list after Srila Prabhupada, while others have not.

For example, HH Giriraj Swami has gotten the realization that Srila Prabhupada is, in fact, a Sampradaya Acarya, thirty-second in the line, and the most current member of the List of 32. On his Facebook page dated August 23, 2009 [16], Giriraj Swami presented the List of 32 in our disciplic succession. The list he uses is taken verbatim from Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is, with no changes. He introduced the List of 32 in this way (emphasis added):

"In the Introduction to "Bhagavad-gita As It Is" we find a list of the complete disciplic succession of the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya, beginning with Lord Sri Krsna, up to and including the current Sampradaya Acarya, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada."

And this:

"Following Lord Caitanya, the modern age of the Gaudiya Sampradaya was marked by the appearance of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, who took birth in A.D. 1838 in the Nadia District of West Bengal. Following Srila Bhaktivinode in the disciplic succession is his son, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, who appeared in 1874 in Puri. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta took initiation from Gaurakisora das Babaji. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta became the spiritual master of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the most recent Sampradaya Acarya, who appeared in 1896 in Calcutta."

The practice of ISKCON diksa gurus and swamis adding their own name as 33rd on the guru-parampara list after Srila Prabhupada was once more popular than it is today. Ten or fifteen years ago, it was fairly common. Today, the fact that this practice is seldom found is no doubt the result of growing maturity amongst both gurus and disciples, who are coming to understand that the guru-parampara List of 32 is not such a cheap thing. This change for the better is also a product of vocal critics in the ISKCON community who have pointed out the offensiveness of the practice and the absence of a philosophical basis for it. That said, in recent years, and as of this writing we still find quite a hodgepodge of approaches to adding names to the guru-parampara list. Here are just a few recent examples:

Prior to his recent departure, Kirtanananda not only added himself to the list, but used full honorifics: "His Divine Grace Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada".

Sankarshan das Adhikari, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada and an ISKCON- approved diksa guru, was added as #33 to the list by one of his followers.

Mahabuddhi das, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada who went over to B.V. Narayana, adds Narayana's name to the end of the list.

Caru dasa, an ISKCON-approved diksa guru, has innovated his own list. He boldly changes the numbering scheme Srila Prabhupada presented in his List of 32. Caru has done away with all the combined names and parenthetical groupings, and gave each individual their own number, making Srila Prabhupada #37.

A Bay Area sanga of B.V. Narayana's, whose website, TheGayatriFoundation.org (now defunct), added after Srila Prabhupada the following additional members to the guru-parampara: B.R. Sridhar, Bhakti Prajnana Kesava, Bhaktivedanta Vamana, and B.V. Narayana Swamis.

The website maintained by HH B.V. Puri Maharaja's disciples lists the Swami directly after Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and in fact, prefaces the pictures of the Acaryas with this heading: "The last five Acharyas of the Brahma Madhva-Gaudiya-Guru-Parampara are: (picture)" Also included on the webpage is Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's Sri Guru-parampara poem in Bengali, the last stanza of which has been revised to read:

Bhakti Prasad Vishnu Swami on behalf of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Gaudiya Math does not add A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada to the list after Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, but instead adds Bhakti Dayita Madhava Gosvami in that place, followed by his own name.

ISKCON author, Jaya Tirtha Charan dasa (whose work is discussed later in this paper) offers his own unique additions to the guru-parampara, in a hierarchical presentation for which there is no precedence, but which no doubt pleases ISKCON leaders, including his current guru, Jayapataka Swami. Jaya Tirtha Charan's list looks like this:

ISKCON Chittagong then followed suit, presenting the same additions to the List of 32 that Jaya Tirtha Charan dasa does, above.

"Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, whose initiated name was Sri Varsabhanavi Daita Dasa, was always engaged in divine service of Hari, Guru and Vaishnava. (Following his path, Sri Bhakti Baibhava Puri Goswami is engaged in Sri Hari Kirtan spreading the message of Lord Chaitanya throughout the world. Everybody sings his glories). All these are personal associates of Sri Krishna and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. It is my desire to honour their instructions."

 

FOOTNOTES:

[16] From "Gems from Srila Prabhupada" by Giriraja Swami