Paramparā Dāsa – Śrī Vṛndāvan Dham: Vedic Knowledge descends from the Supreme Personality of Godhead through the four Vaiṣṇava Sampradāyas, each sampradāya headed by their respective Sampradāya Ācārya:
As Śrīla Prabhupāda writes, purport, Sb 4.17.5:
“There are four Vaiṣṇava sampradāyas (systems) of disciplic succession. One sampradāya comes from Lord Brahmā, one from the Goddess of Fortune, one from the Kumāras, headed by Sanat-kumāra, and one from Lord Śiva. These four systems of disciplic succession are still going on. As King Pṛthu has illustrated, one who is serious about receiving transcendental Vedic knowledge must accept a guru, or spiritual master, in one of these four disciplic successions. It is said that unless one accepts a mantra from one of these sampradāyas, the so-called mantra will not act in Kali-yuga.”
In the purport of Sb 2.22.24, Śrīla Prabhupāda emphasizes the importance of this understanding:
“Therefore, according to our Vaiṣṇava philosophy, we have to follow the great ācāryas of the four sampradāyas, or disciplic successions.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda in the purport of Cc Antya 2.295 reveals the names of these four sampradāya ācāryas:
“A Vaiṣṇava should study the commentaries on the Vedānta-sūtra written by the four sampradāya-ācāryas, namely Śrī Rāmānujācārya, Madhvācārya, Viṣṇu Svāmī and Nimbārka.”
And again in a lecture in Bombay, 9.30.1973:
“There are four sampradāyas, paramparā: the Rāmānuja Sampradāya, Madhvācārya Sampradāya, Viṣṇu Svāmī Sampradāya, Nimbārka Sampradāya. So we belong to the Madhvācārya Sampradāya.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda, lecture June 6, 1974:
“Our Indian spiritual life is guided by the ācāryas, sampradāya ācārya, the Rāmānujācārya, Madhvācārya, Viṣṇu Svāmī and Nimbārka.”
Four Sampradāya Ācāryas
In this way Śrīla Prabhupāda teaches us that there are four Vaiṣṇava Sampradāyas, each with a respective Sampradāya Ācārya, who has commented on the Vedānta Sūtra:
(1) The Śrī Brahmā Sampradāya whose Sampradāya Ācārya is Śrī Madhvācārya.
(2) The Śrī Lakṣmī Sampradāya whose Sampradāya Ācārya is Śrī Rāmānujācārya.
(3) The Śrī Kumāra Sampradāya whose Sampradāya Ācārya is Śrī Nimbārkācārya.
(4) The Śrī Rudra (Śiva) Sampradāya whose Sampradāya Ācārya is Śrī Viṣṇu Swami.
Therefore there are four “Sampradāya Ācāryas”, one for each Vaiṣṇava Sampradya.
As Śrīla Prabhupāda writes:
“…commentaries on the Vedānta-sūtra written by the four sampradāya-ācāryas, namely Śrī Rāmānujācārya, Madhvācārya, Viṣṇu Svāmī and Nimbārka.”
However, one personality has recently concocted the errant idea of applying the term “Sampradāya Ācārya” to each of the ācāryas in the list of thirty two Vaiṣṇava ācāryas mentioned by Śrīla Prabhupāda in the introduction to the Bhagavad-gītā As It Is.
This is incorrect and against the teachings of Śrīla Prabhupāda and the Vaiṣṇava Sampradāyas.
He has written essays based on his false premise, which he simply declares without any supportive quotations from the Vedas, ācāryas, orŚrīla Prabhupāda in particular.
For example in a recent essay he declares (his emphasis):
“…the List of 32 is a list of spiritual masters in perfection in the disciplic succession. The descriptive term we use to describe these personalities is, the Sampradāya Ācāryas.”
If he were learned and loyal to Śrīla Prabhupāda’s actual teachings, as quoted above, he would accept what Śrīla Prabhupāda clearly states: there are four Sampradāya Ācāryas individually related to their four respective sampradāyas.
Why unnecessarily concoct a redefinition of the term? Why be disloyal to the plain words of Śrīla Prabhupāda and Vaiṣṇavism?
Furthermore, his philosophical and verbal ineptitude is further evidenced in the above statement: Does he propose that there has been only “32 spiritual masters in perfection in the disciplic succession”. That is the clear implication of his declaration. Are we to believe that all the way back to Śrī Brahmā there have been only “32 spiritual masters in perfection”. Really? Only 32? How crass.
In his convoluted essay, that writer provides no supportive evidence from guru, sādhu or śāstra for such bizarre implications and his whimsical redefinition of the term “Sampradāya Ācārya”. Certainly a search in the Vedabase does not yield any words by Śrīla Prabhupāda stating that these prominent members of the siksa-sampradaya should be designated as “sampradāya ācāryas”. In fact we find quite the opposite; the august term is applicable to the four sampradāya ācāryas of the four Vaiṣṇava sampradāyas.
Perhaps a cover to his lack of supportive evidence, the writer only offers his emboldened and underlined text. Is emboldened and underlined text (the literary equivalent of shouting at one’s reader) a new form of Vaiṣṇava pramāṇa, evidence, obviating the need for support from guru, sādhu and śāstra?
Lacking evidence, the writer simply propagandizes: “the descriptive term we use is [sampradāya-ācārya]”. Who is this “we” in “we use”. We are never informed who this “we” actually is. It certainly does not include Śrīla Prabhupāda, who actually taught that there are four sampradāya ācāryas, as quoted above.
Why doesn’t this personality just be honest and say something like “I think”, or “in my speculative concoction I have redefined the term Sampradāya Ācārya”…….
If one attempts to decipher that writer’s ideas based on his false foundation, one finds him redefining the term “Sampradāya Ācārya” and then rather oddly propounding that if his errant redefinition of the term is accepted, then all problems of disciplic succession will be subdued. One fails to see any coherent logic in such dreamy imaginings.
Actually by not being chaste to the words of Śrīla Prabhupāda who teaches there are “four Sampradāyas Ācāryas”, and instead concocting a misuse of the term, this personality perfectly illustrates why problems arise in disciplic succession: Errant followers prefer their concocted imaginings to the actual teachings of the Vaiṣṇava Ācāryas, in this case Śrīla Prabhupāda in particular.