Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, Srila Bhaktivedanta

BY: SUN STAFF - 29.2 2024

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati appeared in Purusottam Ksetra, Jagannatha Puri, Orissa, on February 6, 1874. He was born in the family home next to the Narayan-chhata of Sri Jagannatha Temple, which always reverberated with the chanting of the Holy Name. Named Bimala Prasad, He was the fourth son of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srimati Bhagavati Devi.

During a recent sadhu-sanga, the devotees were discussing a point in time when A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada was also known by the name 'Bhaktisiddhanta'. This is a very interesting aspect of our Sampradaya history, and it is very pleasurable to consider the ways in which Srila Prabhupada embodied the name, fame and pastimes of his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati.

Various stories have been heard about how Srila Prabhupada received the name "Bhaktivedanta". Some say he was given the name by his guru, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, while others say that he received the name "Bhaktivedanta" from Srila Sridhara Maharaja. Other stories suggest that he received the name "Bhaktivedanta" from Srila Kesava Maharaja, his sanyassa guru.

In 1933, Srila Prabhupada received both hari-nama and mantra-diksa simultaneously, and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Thakur named Srila Prabhupada Abhaya Caranaravinda dasa, which means one who is fearless, having taken shelter at the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord. This is the only name that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswait conferred upon our Srila Prabhupada during his lifetime.

After Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's disappearance, Srila Prabhupada began writing articles for a Bengali journal published by Srila Bhakti Saranga Goswami. Srila Prabhupada's writing was so transcendental and his preaching potency so exceptional that Srila Bhakti Saranga gave Srila Prabhupada the name "Bhaktisiddhanta.

Later on, in the early 1950's, Srila Prabhupada registered his preaching mission, the League of Devotees, in Lucknow. The original document of registration, which is held in the BBT Archives, shows that Srila Prabhupada identified himself in that document as the "alias Abhaya Caranaravinda Bhaktisiddhanta Das Adhikary". This document also bears Srila Prabhupada's signature.

Because Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati had never given the name of his gurus (Srila Gaur Kisora dasa Babaji or Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura) to any of his disciples, the Vaisnavas of the day thought it unfitting that our Srila Prabhupada should have the name "Bhaktisiddhanta". After much discussion, and out of great respect for the devotees, it was decided that Srila Prabhupada would have the name/title of "Bhaktivedanta".

At his Gosai.com website, Swami B.G. Narasingha writes: "In 1959 when our Guru Maharaja accepted sannyasa, Srila Kesava Maharaja retained our Guru Maharaja's title "Bhaktivedanta" given by Srila Sridhara Maharaja and then gave our Guru Maharaja the sannyasa name "Swami," which was chosen from the list of 108 names of sannyasis authorized by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta in "Gaudiya Kanthahara." Thus, our Guru Maharaja then became know as A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja or simply "Swami Maharaja" amongst his Godbrothers. Our Guru Maharaja retained the initials "A.C." for "Abhaya Caranaravinda" from his first initiation, but officially his sannyasa title and name was "Bhaktivedanta Swami.""

In a letter to his disciple Rayarama Dasa, Srila Prabhupada further explained the specifics of his name:

"So far the title "Swami" is concerned, although this word is used generally for sannyasins, this "Swami" is my particular name as a sannyasi. Therefore, it must be suffixed at the end of my real name, A.C. Bhaktivedanta. So far the prefix "Swami" is concerned, every sannyasi has got to do that, but two ways "Swami" (Swami A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami) is not good looking. The end "Swami" is necessary because it is my sannyasa name. The first "Swami" may be transformed into "Goswami", which is on the same order of "Swami." Therefore, I use the prefix "Tridandi Goswami" and suffix "Swami, as I have printed on my card enclosed herewith.* That will be nice. In small lettering, it can be written above my name "Tridandi Goswami." Vaisnava sannyasins are known as "Tridandi Goswamis," and Mayavadi sannyasins are know as only "Swami."

The following pieces of ephemera are examples of how Srila Prabhupada presented himself to the western world. Srila Prabhupada's letterhead was from 1960, and his calling card was from 1969.

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Our thanks to Krishnanath dasa, who referred us to background information gathered by Swami B.G. Narasingha on this subject.