(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 19 February 2013, London, England, Srimad Bhagavatam 8.5.13)
When we speak about the disciplic succession, there is an idea – maybe a little overly simplified idea – that a disciplic succession means that a guru instructs his disciple, trains his disciple and then the disciple gives the very same knowledge as he has heard it, without any alterations to his followers, who then in turn assimilate the same knowledge and exactly as they’ve heard, it in an unaltered way, they pass it on the next generation. In this way, we have an unbroken chain of the guru and disciple that can be traced back to Krsna!
Does that sound like the concept of the disciplic succession? It does but it doesn’t work like that, I’m so sorry to spoil the fun here! It doesn’t exactly work like that; it is slightly more complex. When we look at Madhvacharya, we see that on the essential principles Madhvacharya and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are in complete agreement. Madhvacharya makes a point in his ‘9 Prameya’ that Visnu is the Supreme. Oh yes, we accept that. Of course, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said that Krsna is the Supreme! Visnu and Krsna, it’s all the same Visnu tattva. So in that way, no problem and after all wasn’t it Madhvacharya who is worshipping Krsna. Don’t we have in Uḍupi, Krsna in the headquarters of Madhvacharya, that deity of Karnataka Gopal – the dancing Gopal.
The story goes that Madhvacharya was a very powerful personality even from his very childhood. It said that whenever his mother called him urgently, he would just appear from the sky. He was extremely strong and powerful and even later when he was an adult, he was very strong. There was a gunda – a gangster – who challenged him and Madhvacharya said, ‘Can you lift my toe.’ And the gunda couldn’t, even with all his force and might he couldn’t lift it – Madhvacharya is very powerful.
The biography of Madhvacharya is called, ‘Madhva Vijaya‘. There it is mentioned that Madhvacharya is the incarnation of Vayu and Srila Prabhupada also repeats that. So anyway we are dealing here with not an ordinary personality, but a very interesting person because even if you look at our disciplic succession the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya, so starting with Krsna, Brahma gets the transcendental knowledge from Krsna. Fine, then who’s next? Narada Muni, the mental son of Brahma, who’s after that? Vyasadeva, so all right. So who’s next? Madhvacharya.
But isn’t there something like 4000-5000 years between Vyasadeva and Madhvacharya? There is kind of a gap, right? Well, then how are we counting this as a bonafide connection? Somehow or other, Madhvacharya is supposed to have met Vyasadeva in the Himalayas. It is said in the scriptures that Vyasadeva is still alive and he is still residing in the Himalayas, in the cave, and Madhvacharya actually met him. Many devotees went to the cave of Vyasadeva and nobody was home as they never saw him! But in this case, Madhvacharya actually met him… he did and not only did he meet him, he presented to him his commentary that he wrote on the Bhagavad-Gita. And Vyasadeva made a correction and it’s said that this counts as a connections where he formerly accepted him, instructed him. In that way, he is counted as the next in line from Vysadeva, believe it or not! So we are dealing with a very mystical personality here, not your average spiritual master but an extraordinary one.