The Unbroken Links, but unsung heroes of the Guru parampara:

The Four 'Sampradayas'.

    sampradaya vihina ye
      mantras te nisphala matah
    atah kalan bhavisyanti
      catvarah sampradayinah

      vaisnavah ksiti-pavanah
    catvaras te kalan bhavya
      hy utkale purusottamat

"Unless one is initiated by a bona-fide spiritual master in the disciplic succession, the mantra one may have received is without effect. For this reason the four Vaisnava disciplic successions, inaugurated by Laxmi Devi (Sri Sampradaya - Ramanuja), Lord Brahma (the Brahma Sampradaya - Madhwa), Lord Siva (the Rudra Sampradaya - Visnu-Swamin), and the four Kumaras (from Sanaka Kumara - Nimbarka) who will come to Jagannatha Puri - Purusottam Ksetra, Utkal, and purify the entire earth during the age of Kali."(Padma Purana)

 This is also stated by Srila Prabhupada at the time of Krsna instructing Arjuna with Gita Upanishad (Bhagavad Gita) on the battlefield of Kuruksetra. It is recorded that present on the scene at that time were the representative heads of the four 'sampradayas', in an unseen way.
 One must take shelter of one of these 'sampradayas' in order to understand the most confidential religious system. This Brahma 'sampradaya' however is the oldest of all the four 'sampradayas', coming from the creator of this material world, and is sometimes the most misunderstood due to it's vast mixture of devotees from all kinds of natures.
 "Lord Brahma created the material world, He also is the creater of his sons the four Kumaras. Even Rudra enters into this world through the agency of a combination of the angry potency of Brahmaji, and the resolve of the Kumaras to disobey their father and not be progenitors but to remain celebate. Laksmi Devi the daughter of the ocean God Varuna, although an eternal consort of Visnu came to this material world via the agency of Brahma's approaching Lord Maha Visnu, and in a perplexed state requesting that a form of Laksmi come to this world, who then came from the churning of the milk ocean thus appearing after the manifestation of Brahma's Universal creation, to give instructions on how to serve Her Lord Narayana."(Devi Bhagavat 9th Skanda)

For example we see in the 'guru parampara' listed by the Madhwas there are the four Kumaras who previously were impersonalists, who were, as we know, transformed into personalists by the fragrance of the Tulasi that had been offered to the lotus feet of the Lord.

    sanakadira man harilasaurabhadi gune
      tasyaravinde nayanasya padaravinda-
    kinjalka-misra tulasi makaranda vayuh
      antargatah svavivarena cakara tesam
    sanksobham aksara jusam adi citta tanvoh

"When the breeze carrying the aroma of the Tulasi leaves and saffron from the lotus feet of the lotus eyed Personality of Godhead entered through the nostrils into the hearts of those sages (the Kumaras), they experienced a change both in body and minds even though they were previously attached to the impersonal Brahman understanding. "(Srimad Bhagavatam 3:15:43.).
 After Durvasa Muni, only the names of the next few links were available to me. The onslaught of impersonalism and voidism, the forgetful influence of the Kali Yuga for some time it seemed removed the importance of the devotees of the Lord, and somehow or other sadly managed to erase their life histories and works from general knowledge.

The next in line then brings us up to the time of Para Tirtha, which was about the time when Buddhism really became popular. This unbroken Vaisnava line was fully accepted by many great sages, rsis and humble devotees alike, but due to the Kali yuga and its' effect on the general populace, the followers of Buddha's anti-Vedic movement started to from an external vison effect the line also. Many laws had been passed by "Buddhist" land rulers to undermine the Vaisnavas and things were becoming more and more difficult to maintain the Vaisnava practices of daily worship etc., in safety.
 Then, by the time Satyaprajna Tirtha and Prajna Tirtha had appeared and began their respective preaching activities, trying to maintain the line according to the teachings of Lord Brahma, the Kumaras, Durvasa Muni, etc., Sankaracarya had taken his birth and had gained much influence.

At this point I should point out that this is where the Brahma-Madhwa and Barahma-Madhwa-Gaudiya Sampradaya should be looked at, for they traversed time long before the appearance of Buddha or Sankara, or even the coming of Srila Vyasadeva. Proving the age preceedence it is Srila Vyasadeva's teachings that both of these later personalities (Buddha and Sankara) sketched out their philosophies from, extracting and emphasising certain sections of Vyasadeva's works to encourage some, and yet bewilder the people in general.
 It is in the main sense of the word unfortunate, for us, at least, that this bewilderment had to be, but still it has to be noted however, that actually all of this was only going on by the will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna, and as we will be hearing later, in the Section entitled "Setting The Scene," He had a fantastic plan.

The point I was making is, that the followers of Buddha and Sankara made it practically impossible for the devotees to remain in a normal condition. In essence, what happened was that due to the onslaught of political threats, and even in some cases physical violence the 'parampara' went underground, it continued, but only just to maintain the line. However, unseen to most, residing high in his Uttara Badri 'ashrama', the eternal link to the Lord, eternally existing in his high in the Himalayan sanctuary was the literary incarnation of Godhead, Srila Vyasadeva. Being the disciple of Sri Narada Muni, another son of Lord Brahma, he is also a member of the disciplic succession.
 Now as the line came down, as we mentioned, through Satyaprajna Tirtha and Prajna Tirtha to Acyutapreksa Tirtha, frustrations and dissatisfactions were being aired unlike before, thus the calling out of the Vaisnavas invoked the appearance of Acarya Madhwa. For more details on these great devotees just how they were tortured, even some killed, their monestaries burned, etc., you're going to have to purchase the book.

Unknown Warriors.
There is a list of Vaisnavas who lived at this time recorded in the Manimanjari (VIII:33.) of Sriman Narayana Panditacarya which points out that due to harassment by Buddhists and especially 'mayavadi' followers of Sankara, the devotees, driven by desperation, had, at least outwardly, accepted monism.

Some even say because of this, that the great Sridhar Swami was a 'mayavadi sannyasi', but this is not a fact, actually what had happened was that he also went underground. Even to the point that the 'shastra' that he composed and wrote was all put into codes that only great and empowered devotees could decipher. Consequently no Vaisnava works at this time are recorded as the 'parampara' was incognito.

"During the early centuries of the Christian era, The Vishnu cult suffered to some extent owing to the rise of the 'Saka' and 'Kushana' kings of Northern India who were either Buddhists or Saivas. Dr. H. C. Raya Chaudhury goes so far as to say that their anti-Vaishnava attitude was probably one of the causes which brought the foreign kings (Saka and Kushana) into conflict with the Vaishnava monarchs such as Chandra of the Meherauli inscription, and the Chandra Gupta of the Gupta Dynasty(Dr. H. C. Raya Chaudhury. Vaishnavism, page 100.) Sri R.P. Canda has discovered the Mathura inscription 'Mahakshatrapa sodasa' which records the erection of the 'Toran Vedika', 'chatuhsala', at the 'Mahasthana' of Vasudeva(R.P.Canda. Memoir of Arch. survey of India, No 5.). The Naskia Buddhist Cane inscription of the time of Rajan Vashisthaputa, Sri Pulamayi refers to Rama (Balarama) and Keshava (Krsna)(Luders. No 1123.).
 The China inscription of the time of 'yajna' Siri Satakarni (Second cetury A.D.) found in the Krishna District in the South (of India), contains an invocatioin to God Bhagavat Vasudeva. The worship of Krsna-Balaram in the temples in the South was prevalent in the early Christian era(Luder's No 1340.). The ancient Tamil poems such as 'Chlappatikam and the like, refer to the temples dedicated to Krsna and Balaram at Madura, Kavirpaddinam and other cities. The poet Kari-kannan of Kaviripaddinam refers to Baladeva and Krsna(Kanaksbhai's the Tamils 1800 years ago page 13-26.) Setting aside  the orthodox view that the Alwars (of the Sri Sampradaya) lived in very remote time, the earliest saints of the line of Alwars seem to have flourished in the early centuries of the Christian era."(Sambidananda dasa, 1991. "The History & Literature of the Gaudiya Vaishnava and their relation to other medival Vaishnava Schools", page 40-41.).
 "The Pala kings (of Bengal 765 A.D.) were zealous Buddhists who not only made Buddhism a state religion, but popularised it  by erecting Vikramasila and other centres of Buddhist culture. But although many Hindus became Buddhists in this period, Hindus in general still adhered to their own religion. They devoted themselves to studying Hindu scriptures and gave their wealth to erect temples for Hindu God's images. The Vishnuite Image of Sankarshan is found in the very heart of the Buddhist university of Nalada. The Beghaura Narayana image discovered near the subdivisional town of Brahmanbaria in Tipperah district is the work of on Paravaishnava Loka Datta of Bilakindaka in Samantata. The Gaya Nrsimha Krishna Vartika stone inscriptions praise Vishnu and record the dedication of the temples to Him(H.C.Raya's Dynastic History) This evidence shows that even Vaishnavism under the Buddhist, was still current in one form or another."(Sambidananda dasa, 1991. "The History & Literature of the Gaudiya Vaishnava and their relation to other medival Vaishnava Schools", page 45.).

Of the devotees that are mentioned by Sri Narayana Panditacarya there is one story of how the followers of Sankaracarya, who used to burn down Vaisnava monasteries, were ordered they say by Sankara to kill Satyaprajna Tirtha, and later his followers threatened and forced Prajna Tirtha to adopt the external dress of an 'adwaitan mayavadi' too. In fact, in the Manimanjari (VIII:33.) it is stated just how badly Prajna Tirtha was treated. He was beaten and tortured, and his temple at Nandigram was burned to the ground by the decendant of Sankara named Padmapada, along with all of his books on unqualified dualism, 'dvaita'. The Sankarites broke the Deity forms of the Lord where they could, in the 'ashrams' and temples exhibiting a spirit of iconoclasm in their attempt to destroy any semblance of invividuality, any difference between 'God' and the Jivas, and ultimately between Jivas. However even this display of rampant individualism proves them as being different to 'God', and His qualities. Even within these horrors, there is humour, again proving 'dualism'. Seriously absorbed in the philosophy that propagates that everything is an illusion, 'mayavada', it makes one wonder why they were so disturbed to find the philosophy and culture of personalism. In fact they were so determined to stamp out the personalistic philosophy of Vaisnavism were they went to great lengths to route out any threats to their shaky doctrines. To me this is an obvious display of two prominat things (i) gross infereiority complex (ii) a graphic display of envy towards the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and His devotees.
 But the disciplic succession continued. Sripad Prajna Tirtha and his disciples, though forced to dress as impersonalists, in secret worshipped the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Narayana.
 It is no wonder then, that the disliking for the impersonalistic followers of Sankara is so deep in the hearts of the devotees throughout history. Somehow or another, by the sheer determination of the faithful followers and decendants from Prajna Tirtha, the line still continued coming down until over some generations of devotees, until finally it reached Acyutapreksa.

Sripad Acyutaprajna (Acyutapreksa), who as mentioned was the next in line, was told by his guru whilst his guru was on his "death bed" that for the last ten generations in the 'guru parampara' none have been satisfied, nor had they realised that they were Brahman.
 In his humility, he also said that he had not found out what was actual Brahman (Param Brahman, Iswara, Narayana), but rather instructed Acyutaprajna, in his life, to find out this ultimate resort.

By the Lord's design Acyutapreksa met with the young Vasudeva (Madhwa) and this story is graphically etched out later in this book.

Srila Vyasadeva the pure representative of the 'parampara', was sitting waiting unswayed by all that was superficially going on in this temporary world. Srila Vyasadeva was waiting for the plan of the Lord to come to pass, so that He then could perform His functionary task of giving association, and inspiration to Madhwacarya, that he may fulfill his mission too, by interacting in the world, and dissemination transcendental knowledge of the nature of the Lord, that would re-establish Vaisnavism.