Guru-parampara: The List of 32, Part 9

BY: ROCANA DASA - 29.8 2018

Kavi Karnapura

Terms of Glorification

When comparing one list to the next, one of the most interesting points of comparison are the terms of glorification used to describe various individuals. The interspersing of glorifications amidst the listed names is found in the earliest example of the list, in Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika by Sri Kavi Karnapura, and to a lesser degree in Baladeva Vidyabhusana's Prameya-ratnavali and A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami's purport to Caitanya-caritamrta Adi 6.40.

By carefully studying these words of glorification, we are given yet another means of understanding who these exalted personalities are, and what are the characteristics of a Sampradaya Acarya – a member of the exclusive list of pure transmitters of Truth -- Spiritual Masters in perfection in the disciplic succession. This in turn allows us to better understand Srila Prabhupada as the most recent member of this rarified transcendental group.

In his Sri Guru-parampara poem, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta mentions that Jayatirtha is "Aksobhya's disciple", but says that Jnanasindhu was Jayatirtha's "foremost disciple". Some individuals are noted as being a disciple, some as "principle disciple", and some as "foremost disciple". Today, unfortunately, many devotees are reticent about acknowledging Srila Prabhupada's exalted status and his place on the list of 32 Sampradaya Acaryas. They are unwilling to differentiate, either out of fear of committing Vaisnava-aparadha against Prabhupada's godbrothers or the ISKCON gurus, or because they simply cannot make the philosophical differentiation. But the guru-parampara should be understood in full, including the words of glorification and differentiation.

"Laksmipati Tirtha initiated Sri Madhavendra Puri, the best of sannyasis, whose favorite disciple was Isvara Puri. Two of his foremost disciples were the two great incarnations of Godhead, Lord Nityananda and Advaita Prabhu. Lord Caitanya made Isvara Puri greatly fortunate by accepting him as guru…

"The most dear follower of Sri Caitanya, who was also known as Visvambhara, was Svarupa Damodara, whose principle followers were Rupa and Sanatana Gosvami. The beloved followers of Rupa and Sanatana were Sri Jiva and Raghunatha dasa, whose dearmost servant was Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami." 
(Sri Guru-parampara, English translation of Bengali poem)

In the Bhagavad-gita List of 32, item #23 is "Rupa, (Svarupa, Sanatana)", and item #24 is "Raghunatha, Jiva". Interestingly enough, in his poem, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta first mentions Svarupa Damodara, Lord Caitanya's "dearmost follower", and his "principle followers", Rupa and Sanatana. Yet on the List of 32, we see that Rupa is listed first, followed by Svarupa and Sanatana. Clearly, there is meaning behind this nomenclature; it is not whimsical, arbitrary or meaningless. Likewise, there is meaning to the fact that Raghunatha and Jiva are paired together, rather than some other ordering of names.

While we must accept the most recent, most explicit version of the guru-parampara list given to us in Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita, without speculation, these grouped names do give us an opportunity to study and meditate upon the glorious pastimes of the Sampradaya Acaryas.

"The beloved followers of Rupa and Sanatana were Sri Jiva and Raghunatha dasa, whose dearmost servant was Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami. The dearmost follower of Krsnadasa was Narottama dasa Thakura. Narottama's follower, Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, had no desire other than the service of Narottama's lotus feet."

Again, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta uses various terms of glorification to preface names and descriptions of the Vaisnavas and their service. They appear in the Gita list as: #25 Krsnadasa; #26 Narottama; and #27 Visvanatha.

"The foremost devotee of Visvanatha was Baladeva Vidyabhusana, and then Jagannatha dasa Babaji. The dear servant of Jagannatha dasa Babaji was Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Bhaktivinoda Thakura was followed by Sri Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji, a great devotee, whose only pleasure was the service of Sri Hari."

It's interesting to compare Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's terms of glorification (from the translated poem) to those given in Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika by Sri Kavi Karnapura, who wrote:

Madhvacarya's disciple was the exalted Padmanabhacarya.

Among Jayadharma Muni's disciples was Sriman Visnupuri, the famous author of the Bhakti-ratnavali.

Purusottama's disciple was Vyasatirtha, who wrote the famous book Sri Visnu-samhita.

Vyasatirtha's disciple was Sriman Laksmipati, who was like a great reservoir of the nectar of devotional service.

Laksmipati's disciple was Madhavendra Puri, a great preacher of devotional service. Madhavendra Puri was the incarnation of a kalpa-vrksa tree in the abode of Vraja.

Isvara Puri carefully understood the mellows of conjugal love for Lord Krsna, and was able to distribute that fruit to others.

Sri Advaita Acarya displayed the sentiments of servitorship and friendship for the Lord, and Sriman Ranga Puri manifested the sentiment of parental love for Lord Krsna.

In his purport to Adi lila 6.40, Srila Prabhupada wrote that Isvara Puri and Sri Advaita Prabhu were two principal disciples of Madhavendra Puri, and Aksobhya is the direct disciple of Madhava. And in Prameya-ratnavali, Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana stated:

"Then we worship with devotion Laksmipati, Madhavendra, his disciples -- Isvara (Puri), Advaita, and Nityananda, world teachers all"

There are so many important points to be made in recognizing and putting proper emphasis on the terms of glorification found in various iterations of the guru-parampara list. For example, recognizing the pastimes each Acarya was famous for, and understanding which disciples were considered principle, foremost, and topmost gives us at least some understanding of the inconceivable qualifications of those included on this exalted list. It also helps us to recognize qualities and pastimes demonstrated by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada that are the manifest symptoms of such a highly exalted, rarified Sampradaya Acarya -- a Spiritual Master in perfection in the disciplic succession.