Disciplic Succession

By His Divine Grace

Srila Bhakti Promod Puri Goswami Maharaja

The word ‘sampradaya’ is defined as knowledge descending in the chain of consecutive spiritual masters. We can also use this word when referring to societies, associations and groups of people. Srimad Baladeva Vidyabhusana, in his Prameya Ratnavali, has written:


bhavati vicintya vidusa niravakara guru parampara nityam
ekantitvam sidhyati yayodayati yena haritosah


The learned scholars and devotees should always meditate on the bona fide disciplic succession. Only by doing this can one maintain himself as an unalloyed devotee of the Lord, and he will become the recipient of the mercy of the Supreme Lord. The constant discussion of the exemplary and purely devotional conducts of the predecessor “Acaryas” will result in the purification of the heart of the disciple. Consequently, only in the unalloyed role of being the servant of the servant can the purified disciple be freed from false ego and earn the grace of the Supreme Lord. The unalloyed devotees are the beloved of Sri Hari, and only those in direct obedience to them, who are totally free of artificial surrender, can hope to attain the mercy of the Lord. This is the prime reason why the initiated disciple should always meditate with faith on the disciplic succession. Srila Baladeva Prabhu has also enlightened us of his own spiritual roots in his book Prameya Ratnavali. In this book he mentions two important verses for discussion, from the Padma Purana.


sampradaya vihina ye mantraste viphala matah
ata kalau bhavisyanti catvarah sampradayinah
sri brahma-rudar-sanaka vaisnavah ksiti pavanah
catvarste kalau bhavya utkale purusottamat


The holy formula (mantra) that is received from outside proper disciplic succession will never bear any fruit. This is why in this age of Kali, four great souls will emerge and establish the different Vaishnava successions in the form of Sri Brahma, Rudra and the four Kumaras. The four great leaders will each begin to manifest their authorized disciplic successions from the holy Dham of Puri. Originally, Sri Laksmi Devi had given this sacred knowledge to Ramanujacarya, Lord Brahma to Sri Madhva, Rudra to Visnu Swami and the Four Kumaras to Nimbarkacarya. They, after being endowed with spiritual knowledge, promulgated their own individual disciplic successions.

There is no chance of perfection of the mantra received if no implicit obedience to the previous spiritual masters exists. Thus the four great spiritual masters have preached the different tenets of Vaishnava philosophy accordingly, namely, non-duality with particular attributes (visisitadvaita) by Ramanjua, pure duality (suddhadvaita) by Sri Madhva, pure non-duality (suddhadvaita) by Vishnu Swami and instantaneous oneness and difference (dvaitadvaita) by Nimbarka Swami.

“The Brahma disciplic line is the path recognized by all the followers of Lord Caitanya. This information has been obtained in accordance with the evidence of the book ‘Gaura Ganodesa Dipika’ of Srila Kavikarnapura, written in proper sequence and has been verified by Srila Vidyabhusana. One who does not accept this succession is definitely the foremost enemy of the Gaudiya Vaishnavites.”

Further in the book Sriman Mahaprabhu Siksa, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has written:

“The philosophy of Sri Nimbarka, which is Oneness and Difference, was not complete in itself as being most ideal. But by the teachings of Sriman Mahaprabhu, however, this knowledge has become complete. Lord Gaurasundara accepted the lineage of Sri Madhva because of their firm acceptance of the Deity form of the Lord which is deemed as a completely existent, cognizant, blissful and non different form of the Supreme Lord. From this fact, the instantaneous Oneness and Difference principle is validated, for it is the root of this contention. Though the principle of pure devotion is always the same, the non-conformity in detail manifested itself in the rising of these four different disciplic successions. Sriman Mahaprabhu has synthesized all these different philosophies in the most proper context by taking from Sri Madhva his concept of the eternal Deity form, the concept of difference energies of the Lord from Sri Ramanuja, from Vishnu Swami, his concept of the non-duality and worship of the paraphernalia of the lord and also Sri Nimbarka’s philosophy of Oneness and Difference was inculcated, all in turn becoming most relevant, with the original underlying principles of instantaneous, Inconceivable Oneness and Difference. Very soon, only one authorized disciplic chain will remain by the name ‘Sri Brahma-Sampradaya’. All the others will merge under this banner. The ‘Sri Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya’ lineage of pure spiritual masters, or guru parampara, is defined in this fashion. As before Lord Krishna-Brahma-Narada-Vyasa-Madhva down the line to Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu.”

Bhagavat Guru Parampara

  • Sri Krishna
  • Brahma
  • Narada Muni
  • Sri Vyasa
  • Sri Madhva
  • Sri Padmanabha Tirtha
  • Sri Narahari Tirtha
  • Sri Madhava Tirtha
  • Sri Aksobhya Tirtha
  • Sri Jaya Tirtha
  • Sri Jnanasindhu Tirtha
  • Sri Dayanidhi Tirtha
  • Sri Vidyanidhi Tirtha
  • Sri Rajendra Tirtha
  • Sri Jayadharma Tirtha
  • Sri Purusottama Tirtha
  • Sri Brahmanya Tirtha
  • Sri Vyasa Tirtha
  • Sri Laksmipati Tirtha
  • Sri Madhavendra Puri
  • Sri Isvara Puri
  • Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
  • Sri Svarupa-Damodara Goswami
  • Sri Rupa Goswami
  • Sri Raghunatha Dasa Goswami
  • Sri Jiva Goswami
  • Srila Krsnadas Kaviraja Goswami
  • Srila Narottama Das Thakura
  • SrilaVisvanatha Cakravarti
  • Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana
  • Srila Jagannatha Das Babaji
  • Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura
  • Srila Gaura Kishore Das Babaji
  • Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada
  • Srila Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaj
  • Srila Bhakti Bibudh Bodhayan Maharaj


Srila Baladeva, in his compilation of Govinda Bhasya, has managed to maintain the dignity of the followers of Lord Caitanya by preserving the disciplic succession intact. This is explained with great adoration in the beginning of his commentary on the Vedanta, the Gaudiya Bhasya. Those who neglect the words of great souls such as Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana, Sri Kavikarnapur and Sri Gopal Guru by not accepting the Madhva lineage as part of Lord Caitanya’s Brahma disciplic succession are great offenders to the lotus feet of these great souls. Srila Krsnadas Kaviraja Gosvami has written:

“Madhavendra Puri was the original seed of the tree of love of Godhead and he, in taking the shelter of Sri Laksmipati, has, by necessity, accepted the shelter of Sri Madhva succession. Sri Isvara Puri, the devoted disciple of Sri Madhavendra Puri, also was all glorious.”
There is no other destination for us than this acceptance of the Madhva lineage. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has informed us in his verse, beginning with ‘amnaya prabha tattvam harimiha paramam sarva saktim rasabdhim’ regarding the secrets of the ten most important truths, one among them being the acceptance of the Madhva disciplic succession. “This disciplic succession is gleaned from evidence through the Vedas. The Vedas and corresponding scriptures like Srimad Bhagavatam and Puranic scriptures are direct evidences. From these proofs we can understand that Lord Hari is the Supreme Truth. He is replete with all energies and the ocean of all nectarean mellows. The two types of living entities, the liberated and conditioned souls, are His parts and parcels. The conditioned soul is engrossed in matter while the liberated soul is free from matter. The spiritual and material worlds are related in this manner by the inconceivable Oneness and Difference principle of Lord Hari. Devotion is the only means, and love of Godhead is the only accomplishment. In conclusion, thereby, the name of our genuine succession is the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya disciplic succession.

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