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Guru Parampara

From: Mani Varadarajan (

Date: Fri Jun 30 1995 - 11:48:23 PDT

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I just posted this article on network news (alt.religion.vaisnava)

in response to a question on the Visistadvaita line of acharyas.


In-reply-to: Eswar Josyula's message of 29 Jun 1995 16:27:35 GMT

Newsgroups: alt.religion.vaisnava

Subject: Re: Guru-Parampara of Vishistadvaita


References: <3suk9n$kf2$>


In article <3suk9n$kf2$> Eswar

Josyula <76142.1306@CompuServe.COM> writes:

> The guru-parampara of the Vishishta-Advaita Vaisnava School is given


There is a Sloka composed by Srivatsaanka Misra (Kooratthaazhvaan)

which pays homage to all the teachers of the tradition, beginning

with the Lord down to Sri Srivatsaanka's acharya, Ramanuja.

It is recited these days at the beginning of formal worship

or study.

laksmInaatha samaarambhaam naatha-yaamuna madhyamaam

asmadaachaaryaparyantaam vande guruparamparaam

The guruparampara is as follows. The first three names in

the list, of course, are anhistorical, since they are

considered divine personalities in the tradition. The fourth

and fifth names are separated by at least two centuries.

Nammalvar is said to have handed the Thiruvaaymozhi and other

works of the Alvars to Nathamuni by appearing in a vision to the

latter. Whether or not this was the case, Sri Nathamuni rescued

the Divya Prabandham (as the Alvars' hymns are known) from

virtual oblivion and was imbued with the spirit of devotion to

the memory of Nammalvar.

I have given the common name of each acharya as well as a

popular alternative in parentheses. Usually one is in Tamil,

the other in Sanskrit.

Parabrahman, Sriman Narayana (emberumaan)

Lakshmi (periya piraatti)

Visvaksena (senai mudaliyaar)

Nammalvar (kaari maaran sadagopan) (6th-8th centuries A.D.)

------ strictly historical parampara begins here

Naathamuni (c. 900 A.D.)

UyyakkoNDaar (pundarIkaaksha)

Rama Misra

Yaamunaacaarya (Alavandaar) (c. 900-1000 AD)

Periya Nambi (MahaapUrNa)

Ramanuja (emberumaanaar, udaiyavar, bhaashyaakaara)

(1017 - 1137 A.D.)

The guruparampara splits off here into various traditions.

Ramanuja had 74 principal disciples, each of whom were

major teachers in their own right. However, there are some

acharyas who deserve special mention. They are listed in

two columns, in chronological order.

Thirukurugai Piraan Pillaan (Kurukesa) Embar (Govinda)

Author of the first commentary on the Cousin of Ramanuja

Thiruvaaymozhi, "The 6000". Direct and a great teacher.

disciple of Ramanuja.


Engal Azhvaan (Vishnucitta) (Srivatsanka Misra)

Author of a commentary on A master poet and

the Vishnu Purana, the most authentic Vedantin who

and philosophical of the Puranas. martyred.

Vaatsya Varadacharya (Nadadur Ammaal) Parasara Bhattar

A great master of Vedanta whose The first acharya

lectures in Kanchipuram inspired in this line who lived

Sudarsana Suri's exposition of past Ramanuja's death.

Ramanuja's commentary on the Author of a commentary

Brahma-sutras. \ on the Vishnu Sahasranama

/ \ as well as several

/ Sudarsana Suri philosophical works.

Atreya Ramanuja (Appullaar) Author of the most lucid |

| commentary on the Sri Bhashya, |

Vedanta Desika (1268-1369 A.D.) the Srutaprakaasika. |

Undisputed master of Vedanta, /------

logic, the Prabandham, poetics, /

and aesthetics. The dynamic Nanjeeyar

range of his works display his Author of the "9000",

brilliance as a poet as well as the second major commentary

a scholar. He is one of the on the Thiruvaaymozhi. He

brightest stars in the history was formerly an Advaitin,

of medieval Vedanta. but became a Visistadvaitin

after being defeated in

debate by Parasara Bhattar.


A master expositor of

Ubhaya Vedanta, particularly

---------- of the Thiruvaaymozhi. He

/ is very fondly remembered in

---------------/ the tradition.

| |

Periya Vaaccaan Pillai (c. 12th century) Vadakku Thiruvidi Pillai

Known as Vyaakhyaana Chakravarti, Author of the best-loved

"Emperor of Commentators", since he commentary on the

wrote lucid commentaries on all the 4000 Thiruvaaymozhi, the

hymns of the Alvars, as well as on "36000", also known as

Ramanuja's three prose poems, "EeDu Vyaakyaanam".

the Gadyatrayam. /

Pillai Lokacharya (13th century A.D.)

Gifted with great

foresight, this acharya

was one of the most catholic

and open-minded of men,

especially given the times.

He wrote many works, most

of which set on solid ground

the philosophy of self-surrender,

the highest teaching of the

Sri Vaishnava religion.

Thiruvaaymozhi Pillai (Sri Sailesa)

Manavaala Maamunigal (15th century)

(Ramyajaamaatr Muni)

Perhaps the acharya who had the

largest following in the post-

Ramanuja period. He spread

the philosophy of the movement

far and wide, reestablished

temple worship in places which

were languishing, and wrote

lucid commentaries on the works

of Pillai Lokacharya.
The above verses salute the advaita guru parampara starting from lord
nArAyaNa (vishNu) and lord sadASiva (Siva) through Sri Sankara
BhagavatpAda, upto the present AcAryas. The unbroken guru parampara of
Sri Sharada Peetham, Sringeri is listed below

Divine Group

Lord SadASiva

Lord nArAyaNa

Lord Brahma

Semi-Divine Group

Vasista Maharishi

Sakti Maharishi

Parasara Maharishi

Sri Veda Vyasa

Sri Suka Acharya

Sri Gaudapada Acharya

Sri Govinda Acharya

Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada

Jagadgurus Period of Reign

1. Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada A.D. 820 (Videha-mukti)

2. Sri Suresvaracharya 820-834

3. Sri Nityabodaghana 834-848

4. Sri Jnanaghana 848-910

5. Sri Jnanottama 910-954

6. Sri Jnanagiri 954-1038

7. Sri Simhagiri 1038-1098

8. Sri Iswara Tirtha 1098-1146

9. Sri Narasimha Tirtha 1146-1229

10. Sri Vidya Sankara Tirtha 1229-1333

11. Sri Bharatikrishna Tirtha 1333-1380

12. Sri Vidyaranya 1380-1386

13. Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati I 1386-1389

14. Sri Narasimha Bharati I 1389-1408

15. Sri Purushottama Bharati I 1408-1448

16. Sri Sankara Bharati 1448-1455

17. Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati II 1455-1464

18. Sri Narasimha Bharati II 1464-1479

19. Sri Purushottama Bharati II 1479-1517

20. Sri Ramachandra Bharati 1517-1560

21. Sri Narasimha Bharati III 1560-1573

22. Sri Narasimha Bharati IV 1573-1576

23. Sri Narasimha Bharati V 1576-1600

24. Sri Abhinava Narasimha Bharati 1600-1623

25. Sri Sacchidananda Bharati I 1623-1663

26. Sri Narasimha Bharati VI 1663-1706

27. Sri Sacchidananda Bharati II 1706-1741

28. Sri Abhinava Sacchidananda Bharati I 1741-1767

29. Sri Narasimha Bharati VII 1767-1770

30. Sri Sacchidananda Bharati III 1770-1814

31. Sri Abhinava Sacchidananda Bharati II 1814-1817

32. Sri Narasimha Bharati VIII 1817-1879

33. Sri Sacchidananda Sivabhinava Narasimha Bharati 1879-1912

34. Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati III 1912-1954

35. Sri Abhinava Vidya Tirtha 1954-1989

36. Sri Bharati Tirtha 1989-


These are the advaita guru paramparA verses, which salute the prominent
gurus of advaita, starting from nArAyaNa through Sankara and his disciples,
upto the AcAryas of today. It is typical of advaita that the first guru is called
nArAyaNa (vishNu) in the first verse and sadASiva (Siva) in the second. The
paramparA thus lists:


padmabhuva (brahmA)






govinda bhagavatpAda


padmapAda, hastAmalaka, toTaka, sureSvara (vArttikakAra),

and others (anyA:).

In the Indian religious and philosophical traditions, all knowledge is traced

back to the Gods and to the Rshis who saw the vedas. Thus, the advaita
guru-paramparA begins with the daiva-paramparA , followed by the Rshi-
paramparA, which includes the vedic seers vasishTha, Sakti, parASara, his
son vyAsa, (the famous redactor of the vedas, he is also traditionally
identified with bAdarAyaNa, the composer of the brahmasUtras), and vyAsa's
son Suka. After Suka, we turn to the mAnava-paramparA, which brings us to
historical times and personalities. The traditions regarding these human
gurus are recorded in the Sankaravijaya literature, and typically, they are
regarded as incarnations of various deities. gauDapAda is the famous author
of the mANDUkya kArikas that are attached to the mANDUkya upanishad. His
disciple, govinda, is regarded as an incarnation of AdiSesha, the cosmic
serpent. He was the preceptor of Sankara, who is regarded as an incarnation
of Siva. Sankara's four well-known disciples were named padmapAda,
hastAmalaka, toTaka and sureSvara (vArttikakAra). Tradition has it that
Sankara appointed these four disciples as heads of the four maThas that he
founded. The others are the gurus who come later in the tradition.

Sankara and his disciples, padmapAda and sureSvara, are arguably the most
important philosophers in the advaita vedAnta tradition. After the mANDUkya
kArikAs, Sankara's commentaries to the upanishads, brahmasUtras and
bhagavadgItA are the oldest extant vedAnta treatises. The importance of
Sankara can be seen from the fact that every vedAntin after him makes his
mark either by expanding on his thought or by refuting him.

Sankara can be dated more or less reliably to the 8th century CE. Upto Suka,
the first few gurus cannot be dated to historical times. The date of
gauDapAda, the author of the mANDUkya kArikAs, is usually inferred from
the tradition that he was Sankara's teacher's teacher, and from references to
the mANDUkya kArikAs in other works. However, not much historical
information is known about govinda bhagavatpAda, Sankara's teacher,
except that Sankara salutes him in the invocatory verses in some of his