Guru-parampara: The List of 32, Part 20

BY: ROCANA DASA

Biographies of the Sampradaya Acaryas

Nrhari (Narahari Tirtha):

Nrhari is 7th on the List of 32. According to his biographical sketch, he was divinely chosen by the royal elephant as a replacement for the departed King. He quickly surrendered his role as King, passing it to his 12 y.o. son. As a parting gift, he asked for the now famous Deity of Mula Rama, which was placed in the Uttaradi Mutt. Madhva also gave Narahari a Deity of Kaliyamardana Krsna.

In Orissa there are inscriptions glorifying Narahari's kingly feats of statesmanship and swordsmanship, and even while serving as king, he preached Vaisnavism and made many devotees among the princes and aristocrats in Orissa and Andhra.

While there is no direct correlation between Nrhari's pastimes as a royal leader and Srila Prabhupada's pre-ISKCON lila pastimes, there is nothing inherent in Nrhari's kingly pastimes that appear to directly relate to his place in the disciplic succession as a perfect transmitter of Absolute Truth, except his preaching activities during that time. Srila Prabhupada's pre-ISKCON lila pastimes as a grihasta and businessman may appear less 'royal' on the surface, but that is a mundane characterization. In fact, Srila Prabhupada was born into a family of Vaisnavas, adventing as a nitya-siddha personality, and he was continuously engaged in devotional service to Krsna from a very young age. His preaching and Krsna Conscious pastimes continued on from his youth, throughout his grihasta years prior to his departure for America and founding of ISKCON.

That Nrhari preached to and made devotees of various princes and aristocratic nobility can be compared to the many famous personalities Srila Prabhupada preached to, and convinced to take up Krsna Consciousness practices: doctors, scientists, lawyers, professors, philosophers, clergymen, politicians, entertainers, etc., what to speak of the thousands of notorieties his direct disciples went on to preach to. Many of these famous personalities also became devotees.

Nrhari once dreamed that a Visnu Deity was at the bottom of tank. He arranged to have the tank dredged, the Deity was recovered, and a temple was built for its installation. In another pastime, Nrhari was said to have dreamed that a deity of Anjaneya (Hanuman) was buried under an anthill. The deity was excavated, and a temple constructed in that place.

While Nrhari Tirtha learned in dreams of the location of two hidden Deities who were reclaimed and temples erected in their honor, Srila Prabhupada's pastimes with the Deities of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna, Sri Sri Krsna-Balarama, Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai, Sri Pancatattva, and Lord Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra are unparalled. During his ISKCON lila period, Srila Prabhupada opened 108 temples and installed many Deities for the Vaisnavas to worship, including large temples with opulent Deity worship in Sridham Mayapur and Vrindavan Dhama. Since his departure, Srila Prabhupada's disciples have opened many more temples, institutes and rural preaching projects around the world.

Sri Nrhari Tirtha wrote fifteen books, offering personal commentary on the Bhagavad-gita (Gita Bhashya) and Mahabharata (Yamaka Bharatha) , as well as a Bhavaprakasika, and various songs in Kannada. His Gita Bhasya and Bhavaprakasika are the only two partially extant manuscripts.