Guru-parampara: The List of 32, Part 3


Srila Prabhupada's Letter to Upendra, February 13, 1968:

Another iteration of the list of Sampradaya Acaryas was given by Srila Prabhupada in his letter to Upendra, February 13, 1968 [Table1/Chart 4]:

"My Guru Maharaja was in the 10th generation from Lord Caitanya. We are 11th from Lord Caitanya. The disciplic sucession is as follows: 1. Sri Krishna, 2. Brahma, 3. Narada, 4. Vyasa, 5. Madhva, 6. Padmanabha, 7. Nrihari, 8. Madhava, 9. Akshobhya, 10. Jayatirtha, 11. Jnanasindhu, 12. Purusottama, 13. Vidyanidhi, 14. Rajendra, 15. Jayadharma, 16. Purusottama, 17. Vyasatirtha, 18. Laksmipati, 19. Madhavendra Puri, 20. Isvara Puri (Advaita, Nityananda) 21. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, 22. (Svarupa, Sanatana) Rupa, 23.(Jiva) Raghunath, 24. Krishna dasa, 25. Narottama, 26. Visvanatha, 27. (Baladeva.) Jagannatha, 28. (Bhaktivinode) Gaura-kisora, 29. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, Sri Barshabhanavidayitadas, 30. Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta."

There are many interesting aspects to this list. First, the numbering system in the narration above includes only 30 entries, whereas in Bhagavad-gita As It Is, we have a 'list of 32'. Two individuals are differently named in the Upendra letter list, and they happen to be the same two persons who represent anomalies in other lists: Dayanidhi (Gita list #12) and Brahmanya Tirtha (Gita list #17).

In the Upendra letter, corresponding to Dayanidhi (Gita #12) is Purusottama. Corresponding to Brahmanya Tirtha (Gita #17) is again Purusottama (presumably a different one). As mentioned above, in Cc Adi 6.40 the name Mahanidhi appears in the #12 spot rather than Dayanidhi, and Brahmanya Tirtha is not mentioned at all -- only Purusottama. In the Upendra letter list we see that in place of Dayanidhi's name, Srila Prabhupada has listed Purusottama.

While we can only speculate as to the details surrounding these variations in name, it's important to note that the same two pairs of names are consistently anomalous across all the lists.

We also note that in his prefacing comments, Srila Prabhupada mentions to Upendra that "My Guru Maharaja was in the 10th generation from Lord Caitanya. We are 11th from Lord Caitanya." Using either the numbered list given to Upendra or the one presented in the Gita, both give this count of 10th and 11th generations, respectively, from Lord Caitanya.

Srila Prabhupada's use of the term "generation" is interesting in this context. It is not a term he applied often when referring to the disciplic succession. There are two other references to the 10th and 11th generations, below (emphasis added), and devotees sometimes point to these quotes in support of Rtvik-vada (i.e., "we are all gurus/rtviks"), or in support of the notion that every one of Srila Prabhupada's godbrothers and followers can rightly be added to the List of 32. We reject both notions.

July 18, 1971 Room Conversation in Detroit:

Prabhupada: "Then, from Krsna, Narada. From Narada, Vyasadeva. From Vyasadeva to Madhvacarya, from Madhvacarya to Isvara Puri, Madhavendra Puri, then Caitanya Mahaprabhu, then His disciples, the six Goswamis, then Krsna dasa Kaviraja, then Baladeva Vidyabhusana. So we are taking account very rigidly from Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and I am the tenth generation from Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

Mohsin Hassan: Yeah, the tenth. After you, is it any decision has been made who will take over?

Prabhupada: Yes. All of them will take over. These students, who are initiated from me, all of them will act as I am doing. Just like I have got many Godbrothers, they are all acting."

Although Srila Prabhupada offers a truncated version of the list in his conversation with Mohsin Hassan, he makes the point that this accounting of members of the guru-parampara is kept very rigidly. This more than underscores the reality that when he refers to all his disciples taking over, he is not suggesting that every one of them will have their name added to the List of 32.

Arrival Lecture - Los Angeles, May 18, 1972:

"So we have got this message from Krsna, from Caitanya Mahaprabhu, from the six Gosvamis, later on, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Bhaktisiddhanta Thakura. And we are trying our bit also to distribute this knowledge. Now, tenth, eleventh, twelfth... My Guru Maharaja is tenth from Caitanya Mahaprabhu, I am eleventh, you are the twelfth."

Again, it's very clear that Srila Prabhupada is speaking generally in his Arrival lecture. He is obviously referring generationally to the preaching -- not saying that every one of his initiated disciples will run the Society, or that every one of them will be a maha-bhagavata, perfect transmitter of the Absolute Truth, thereby getting their name appended beneath his on the List of 32. The term parivar might be used appropriately here, to say that Srila Prabhupada was describing as the twelfth generation the Bhaktivedanta Thakur parivar – Srila Prabhupada's extended spiritual family. But that is not the same thing as the list of 32 members of the guru-parampara.

Returning to the list in the Upendra Letter, in the portion of the list from Lord Caitanya to present there are a number of other interesting variations compared to the List of 32 in Bhagavad-gita. Several have to do with the parenthetical ordering of names. For example:

Gita #23 is "Rupa, (Svarupa, Sanatana)", while the corresponding item in the Upendra list reads "(Svarupa, Sanatana) Rupa".

Gita #24 reads "Raghunatha, Jiva", while the Upendra list reads "(Jiva) Raghunath"

And most interestingly: Gita #29 is "Bhaktivinoda" and Gita #30 is "Gaurakisora", while the Upendra list conjuncts "(Bhaktivinode) Gaura-kisora". In the Upendra list, Srila Prabhupada writes: "29. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, Sri Barshabhanavidayitadas" -- Sri Barshabhanvidayitadasa being the initiated name of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta prior to his taking sannyasa in 1918.