Srila Prabhupada - The Sampradaya Acharya
Srila Prabhupada: The Unique Acarya
By Sri Yasodanandana Dasa
The unique position of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada in the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya is supported as follows:
As the Acarya of his movement-
"I wish that each and every center shall keep the Acarya in the center and keep their separate identity" (1967 letter).
His unique position as the foremost spiritual authority for the golden age-
"My books will be the law books for the next ten thousand years"
(Srila Prabhupada statement in Los Angeles, 1976).
Statement by Locana das Thakura (middle of the 16th century)-
In the Caitanya Mangala the future appearance of a great senapati bhakta who would preach Krishna consciousness all over the world is predicted.
Statement by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu-
In the Caitanya-caritamrta the Lord Himself predicts "Prthivite ache yadi nagaradi grama, sarvatra pracara hoibe more nama" (translation: "My holy name will be chanted in every town and village"). Srila Prabhupada fulfilled that prediction by his factual accomplishments.
Predicted by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura (middle of the 19th century)-
The statement in the Sajjana-tosani of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura, regarding the future appearance of a great personality who would come to the west and preach the message of Lord Gauranga and fulfill the prediction of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The following is a translation from the journal Vaisnava Tosani:
"Sriman Mahaprabhu did not descend with His associates to deliver a certain number of human beings in the land of India, but rather His purpose was to deliver and uplift all living beings in all countries of the world by preaching the eternal religion of all souls. He has personally said: ‘Prthivi-parjanta jata ache desa gram, sarvatra pracara hoibe more nama’ (translation: ‘My name will be preached in all the countries and towns that exist throughout the world’ (Caitanya Bhagavata, Antya 4.126). There are many kinds of religion in the world, and among all of them the highest development of religion is the congregational chanting of the Supreme Lord’s Divine Names. Of this there is no doubt.
Alas! When will that day come (emphasis added) when all greatly fortunate souls in countries such as England, France, Russia, Prussia and America will take up banners, kettle drums, mrdangas and karatalas and thus cause the ecstatic waves of Hari Nama Kirtan and the singing of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s holy name to rise in the streets of their towns and cities? O when will that day come, when pure and transcendental Krishna prema (love of God) will be the only religion of all souls and all tiny sectarian religions will meet in the unlimited and universal religion of devotional service to Krishna, as rivers merge into the great ocean? O when will that day come?"
(From the Sajjana-tosani of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura, late 1800s).
And who fulfilled that wish and prediction of Bhaktivinode Thakura? - SRILA PRABHUPADA.
Statement by Srila Prabhupada in New York in 1968:-
"After me there will be no more Acarya" (recounted by Rohini Kumar Swami in July 1989, November 1991 and February 1993).
He was to be the prominent acarya for the next 10,000 years (see quote re law books for ten thousand years). From the definition of shakti-avesha avatar - divinely empowered personality - we see that Srila Prabhupada was such a person. Only a super-empowered personality could do what Prabhupada has done.
Examples of the lives of the great Acaryas-
Shankaracarya took sannyasa at eight years old and travelled by foot throughout the whole of India and re-established Vedic principles while chasing Buddhism out of India. Sri Madhvacarya wrote 38 books and commentaries and established eight major monasteries in Udupi, and also made thousands of disciples.
He also travelled throughout India and preached strongly against the Mayavadi impersonalist philosophy. He established Vaisnava philosophy in many places throughout India. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu personally preached throughout South India. He started a spiritual revolution that is still felt today.
However, all these acaryas stayed in India. Their literature and temples were confined to the Indian subcontinent. Prabhupada is the first acarya of the Vedic lineage who has ever travelled out of India and made so many Vaisnavas. He has presented in his numerous purports the true essence of the teachings of all the Vaisnava sampradayas. Thus in one sense he is the greatest acarya, because he has accomplished what no one else has done, in a most difficult environment and very tenuous circumstances.
What Ramanuja is to the Sri sampradaya; what Madhvacarya is to the Brahma sampradaya; what Nimbarkacarya is to the Kumara sampradaya; what Visnusvami is to the Rudra sampradaya; what Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is to the Gaudiya sampradaya and to all sampradayas; what Srila Rupa Goswami, Sanatana Goswami and Jiva Goswami were in their times after the departure of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, by their literary and devotional accomplishments; what Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura and Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana were in the 1700s; Srila Prabhupada is today their bona fide representative preaching the glories of Vaisnava philosophy all over the world through his books and teachings, and through his bona fide disciples and followers.
However, it should be noted that most of these acaryas took decades, if not their entire lifetimes, to accomplish their mission. But Srila Prabhupada in a short span of 11 years accomplished what no one else in the entire history of India had accomplished.
HE HAS FULFILLED THE PREDICTION OF SRI CAITANYA MAHAPRABHU.
The position of the Adi-Guru of the sampradaya (from Harinama-Cintamani by Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura, chapter 6, text 22) "sadhu sampradaye acarya sakala siksa guru pratistha, adyacarya yini guru siromani puji’tanra yathocita": "Within the community of saintly persons, all are teachers and established as siksa gurus or instructing gurus (sakala guru pratistha). He who is the original guru (adi-acarya) of the sampradaya is the crest jewel amongst all gurus (guru siromani). Thus it is proper to give him worship."
Footnote by Bhaktivinode Thakura: "A community of Vaisnavas is a community of saintly persons. They are able to give instructions about the disciplic succession mantra, the absolute truth, and the practice of sadhus. One should choose a worthy guru from the Vaisnava sampradaya if he wants to escape from such unbonafide sampradayas such as mayavada, etc. The explanation of the first guru of the sampradaya should be respected for his particular instructions. Srila Ramanujacarya, Srila Nimbarka and Sri Visnusvami - these are the first acaryas of their own sampradayas. Sri Madhvacarya is our original acarya."
Just as the above-mentioned acaryas are the Adi-acaryas of their respective sampradayas, Srila Prabhupada is the Adi-acarya of the Bhaktivedanta sampradaya for the worldwide community of Vaisnavas. He is not merely another acarya. HE IS THE CURRENT ACARYA OF THE GAUDIYA SAMPRADAYA. He has proven it and established it especially in three ways:
1. His numerous and voluminous bhasyas and tikas and profuse practical arrangements to distribute these literatures all over the world in all kinds of languages.
2. By his powerful preaching and immaculate purity he has made thousands of Vaisnavas all over the world.
3. He has practically created the framework for a universal house of worship and a sanctuary in the age of Kali-yuga by establishing 108 temples, ashrams, farms, gurukulas, etc. and given specific, practical directions on how to manage these institutions for preaching the message of Lord Caitanya.
Srila Prabhupada - the actual sampradaya acarya
One South Indian Ramanuja guru remarked in 1976 after viewing one of Srila Prabhupada’s books and witnessing the preaching of some of his young disciples: "This person is the summum bonum of all acaryas." Thus it is the foremost duty of any sincere disciple and follower of Srila Prabhupada to emphasize the unique and distinct position and accomplishment of Srila Prabhupada as the visva acarya, or the world acarya, the Jagat Guru, by his accomplishments, and not merely by a self-given title. He is the actual sampradaya acarya to be surrendered to and fully served by all Vaisnavas and all preachers and preceptors in the future.
HE LIVES FOREVER BY HIS DIVINE INSTRUCTIONS AND THE FOLLOWER LIVES WITH HIM.