Sri Sri Sarveshvara Bhagavan (centre) being worshipped by Shri Nimbarkacharya (right), his successor Shri Shrinivasa (left top) and his other disciple Shri Audumbaracharya (left bottom) on the banks of the Yamuna in Shri Vrindavana Dham. (Taken from the Radha Nimbarkavihari Mandira at Nimba Grama)
The Nimbarka Sampradaya has been on the planet since the time of Sri Nimbarkacharya. According to the Bhavishya Purana, Nimbarka Bhagavan was born 5104 years ago in Vaidurya Pattanam in Maharashtra, India. Modern scholastic investigation shows that Sri Nimbarka was en vogue 50 years before Shankaracharyas time.
Before the Sampradaya was known as the Nimbarka Sampradaya, it was known as the Hamsa Sampradaya, the Sanakadi Sampradaya (or Kumara Sampradaya) and the Devarshi Sampradaya. This is because the first Acharya was Sri Hamsa Bhagavan, the Swan incarnation of Shri Radha Krsna as explained in the 11th Skandha of the Shrimad Bhagavatam.
(Sri Hamsa Bhagavan – click thumbnail to enlarge)
His disciples were the four sons of Brahma – Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Sanat Kumara. They wrote a treatise on Ashtayama Lila, and Gopi Bhava Upasana based on what Shri Hamsa Bhagavan taught. This is widely known as the Shri Sanatkumara Samhita.
(Sri Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Sri Sanat Kumara Bhagavan – click thumbnail to enlarge)
They initiated their younger brother Narada Muni. Narada Muni is famous throughout all Puranic literature as the mind of the Lord. He is the foremost expert on Devotion, and his Narada Bhakti Sutras are the manual on devotion. He based this on the teachings he recieved from his Gurus.
(Sri Devarsi Narada Muni – click on thumbnail to enlarge)
Narada Muni then initiated Sri Nimbarka into the teachings that Sri Hamsa had propounded. Nimbarka, also known as Aruni because of being the son of Aruna Rishi, is mentioned in the Narada Bhakti Sutra as an excellent authority on Devotion, on a par to Hanuman and Vibheeshana.
Sri Nimbarkacharya had four main disciples – Sri Gauramukhacharya, Sri Audumbaracharya, Sri Laksmana Bhatta and Sri Srinivasacharya. Shri Shrinivasacharya is the incarnation of the Panchajanya Shankha of Shri Radha Krsna, and as such, he was anointed the next leader of the Sampradaya.
(Sri Srinivasa – the incarnation of the Shankha of Sri Radhakrsna. Click on thumbnail to enlarge)
This tradition was carried on by successive disciples until Sri Harivyasa Devacharya in the 14th Century CE decided to make 12 branches (or Dvaras) in order to spread the teachings of the Sampradaya. The two main branches were the Parashurama Dvara and the Svabhurama Dvara.
Shri Parashurama Devacharya was anointed as the next main Jagadguru Nimbarkacharya and told to preach in Mathura and Rajasthan. Shri Svabhurama Devacharya was given the areas of Haryana and Panjab. Both are members of their Guru’s Sampradayas and their is no difference between the two.
There are many followers of Svabhurama Dvara still in Vrindavan. Notably, the Kathiya Baba Ashrama is well established – its saints donning a chastity belt made of wood as an austerity. Also, the home of our Sadgurudeva Ji Maharaja belongs to the Svabhurama Dvara.
Shri Radha Gopala Mandir at Shri Bihari Ji Ki Bageechi was founded by Swami Shri Haripriya Sharan Devacharya Ji Maharaja in the 19th Century. He was an excellent scholar, who memorised all 18,000 verses of the Srimad Bhagavatam, the 742 verses of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita etc. He reformed the initiation practises of our Sampradaya – because at that time, some members of the sampradaya were initiating devotees into various unauthorised Mantras. In the Diksha Tattva Prakasha which he authored, he re-instated the Atharvaveda’s Gopalatapini Upanishad’s Gopala Mantra as the Original Mantra to be initiated into using evidence from the Visnu Yamala in which it states that the mantra given by Hamsa Bhagavan to the Sanakadi Rishis was the 18-syllabled Gopala Mantra of the Atharvaveda.
After Swami Haripriya Sharan came Swami Dampatti Sharana, and after him came the most respected Swami Shri Lalita Sharana Devacharya Ji Maharaja who attained abode in Nikunja only last year at the age of 103 years old. He is lovingly remembered as Parama Gurudeva, or ‘Dada Guru ji’. He accepted our Guru Maharaja as a disciple when Guru Maharaja was only a little boy of 4 years old, and taught him lovingly how to read, write, to serve the deities and to serve the Ashrama. He is the inspiration on which Sadgurudeva Ji Maharaja draws on whenever he gives his lectures. It is through his blessings, Guru Maharaja reveals, that Shri Golok Dham Ashram could be accomplished.
(Nityalilapravishta Swami Sri Lalita Sharan Devacharya Ji Maharaja – click thumbnail to enlarge)
Currently, the Parashurama Dvara is established in Nimbarka Teertha (Salemabad), Rajasthan. Here, the 48th Jagadguru Nimbarkacharya Swami Shri Radhasarveshvara Sharana Devacharya is the present presiding Acharya over the whole Sampradaya. The worship and care of the most Holy Sri Sarveshvara Bhagavan (the Shalagram handed down originally from Hansa Bhagavan to Sanakadi Rishis, and then to Narada, Nimbarka etc etc) is performed by him daily. He is known as ‘Sriji Maharaja’ to the faithful followers.
(the main doors to the altar of Sri Sri Radha Madhava, the deities worshipped by Jayadeva the author of the Gita Govinda; and also of Sri Sarveshvara Mahaprabhu – see below)
(Sri Sri Sarveshvara Bhagavan – the Shalagrama originally handed from Sri Hamsa Bhagavan to the Sanakadi Rsis, subsequently passed to each successive leader Jagadguru of our Sampradaya. He is faithfully served exclusively by the Jagadguru, and still gives Darsana wherever Shri Shriji Maharaja is staying – click to enlarge)
Shri Nimbarka Sampradaya, under the leadership of the most Holy Sri ‘Sriji Maharaja’ has progressed astoundingly. The regeneration of Sri Nimba Grama – the site of the Ashrama of Shri Nimbarkacharya near Govardhana and Barsana – was completed due to the efforts of Shri Shriji Maharaj. Also, the Mandir constructed on the birth site of Sri Nimbarkacharya in Mungi Village near Paithan, Maharashtra is also due to his grace. All who seek the shelter of Shri Shriji Maharaja are accepted, none are turned away. For a manifestation of the qualities of the ancient Vedic Rishis, one needs look no further than the lotus feet of Shri Shriji Maharaja.
His Divine Grace, the 48th Jagadguru Shri Nimbarkacharya Pithadhishvara, Swami Shri 1008 Radha Sarveshvara Sharana Devacharya Ji (Shri Shriji) Maharaja. (click thumbnail for larger image)
Both Shri Sadgurudeva Ji Maharaja and Jagadguru Nimbarkacharya Shri Shriji Maharaja are tirelessly working for the propagation of this oldest Vaisnava Sampradaya. Sri Sriji Maharaja also visited Sri Golok Dham Ashram, New Delhi on the 24th February 2004 at the opening ceremony of the Mandir. He blessed the efforts of Sri Sadgurudev Ji Maharaj and showered his grace on all who were present.
Shri Shriji Maharaja seen with Sri Sadgurudeva Ji Maharaja taking first Darshana of Thakur Shri Shri Radha Golokavihari Bhagavan at Shri Golok Dham Ashram, New Delhi on the 24th February 2004 on the occasion of Prana Pratistha Mahotsava.
राधे कृष्ण राधे कृष्ण , कृष्ण कृष्ण राधे राधे।
राधे श्याम राधे श्याम, श्याम श्याम राधे राधे ।।
–Radhe Krsna Radhe Krsna, Krsna Krsna Radhe Radhe–