Guru-parampara: The List of 32, Part 8

BY: ROCANA DASA - 28.8 2018

Sri Guru-parampara in Srila Prabhupada's ISKCON Songbook

There is one more iteration of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's Sri Guru-parampara to be considered – the version found in Srila Prabhupada's ISKCON songbook. Here we find what appears to be a more refined version of the Bengali than the version provided by Atulakrsna Dattaji.

The earliest copy of Sri Guru-parampara we have in our personal archives is from one of the early versions of the ISKCON temple songbooks. These were typically made up of mimeographed sheets, punched and secured in a binder with cardboard covers. Entitled Songs of the Vaisnava Acaryas, the songbooks have an Introduction by Acyutananda Svami, dated August 20, 1972. Two years later, in 1974, the first printed version of the Songbook was published, with a printing of 10,500 copies.

It is interesting to study the endings of Sri Guru-parampara (Bengali) in the 1972 and 1974 editions of the Songbook, and to compare them with the final verses in Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's Bengali version published by his disciples.

In the 1972 Songbook, Sri Guru-parampara begins on page 82, with the English translation on page 83. The final verses are as follows, beginning with verse 8 (although the verses are not numbered in the original Songbook):

baladev jagannatha, 
tara priya sri-bhaktivinoda
mahabhagavata-boro, sri-gaurakisora-boro, 
hari-bhajanete yara moda

sri-varsabhanavi-bora, sada sevya-seva para, 
tahara doyita-dasa-nam
tara pradhan pracarako, sri-bhaktivedanta-namako, 
prthivite gaura-vani bhitore

ei saba hari-jana, gaurangera nija-jana, 
ta der ucchiste mor kama

"Visvanatha Cakravarti was the spiritual master of Baladeva Vidyabhusana and Jagannatha dasa Babaji. Jagannatha dasa's most beloved disciple is Srila Sac-cid-ananda Bhaktivinoda, who empowered Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji, an uttama-adhikari maha-bhagavata (great devotee of the highest order), to initiate Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, who is also spiritually named Sri Varsabhanavi-dayita dasa. I have added one more line to this song: "His foremost disciple-preacher is Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhuada, who has spread the message of Lord Caitanya throughout the entire world."

Another version of Sri Guru-parampara appeared two years later, in the first BBT edition of Songs of the Vaisnava Acaryas (1974). [10] In the 1974 version, we find a number of differences in spelling and syntax of the Bengali verses. In some cases, different words are used. Let us compare the closing verses from the 1974 version, below, to the 1972 version above.

viswanatha-bhakta-satha, baladeva jagannatha, 
tara priya sri-bhaktivinoda
maha-bhagavata-bara, sri-gaurakisora-bara, 
hari-bhajanete ja'ra moda 

ihara paramahamsa, gaurangera nija-bamsa, 
tadera carane mama gati
ami seba-udasina, namete tridandi dina, 
sri-bhaktisiddhanta saraswati

"(8) Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura was the siksa-guru [instructing spiritual master] of Baladeva Vidyabhusana, to whom he taught the precepts of Srimad-Bhagavatam. Jagannatha Dasa Babaji was a very prominent acarya after Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana and was the beloved siksa-guru of Sri Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Bhaktivinoda Thakura's intimate friend and associate was the eminent maha-bhagavata Sri Gaurakisora Dasa Babaji, whose sole joy was found in hari-bhajana.

These great saintly Vaisnavas are all paramahamsas, or devotees of the highest order, and they are all part of Lord Gauranga's own spiritual family. Their holy feet are my refuge. I have no real interest in devotional services and I am a poor and lowly tridandi sannyai named Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati.

*Because this song has been composed by Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, he has placed his name at the end of the song, as is customarily done by Vaisnava poets. In order to glorify Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and his beloved disciple Sri A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada as spiritual teachers in the preceptorial succession from Sri Caitanyadeva, the following verse has been added and may be optionally sung instead of the song's ninth verse.

sri-varsabhanavi-bara, sada sevya-seva-para
tahara dayita-dasa-nama
tara pradhan pracarako, sri-bhaktivedanta namo
patita-janete doya-dhama

The renowned Sri Varsabhanavi-dayita Dasa [the initiated name of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati] is always engaged in the service of his spiritual master, Srila Gaurakisora Dasa Babaji. His foremost disciple-preacher is Sri A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who has spread the message of Lord Caitanya throughout the world and is thus a reservoir of mercy and compassion for all fallen souls."

In the case of both the 1972 and the 1974 editions of the Songbook, the additional comments included at the end of the translated versions of Sri Guru-parampara were apparently written by Acyutananda Svami. In the 1972 edition he says, "I have added one more line to this song", and in the 1974 edition he adds a more extensive section of text (in blue). In the latter, he states that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta placed his name at the end of the song. But as noted above, according to Bhaktisiddhanta's disciple, Atulakrsna Dattaji, it was the disciples of Bhaktisiddhanta who added their Guru's name to the last section after the original Sanskrit verse.