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Name the nearest or most frequently Visited ISKCON temple/ centre and name few of the devotees whom you know.
What is Sri Sampradaya
सीतानाथ समारम्भां रामानन्दार्य मध्यमाम्।
अस्मदाचार्य पर्यन्तां वन्दे श्रीगुरू परम्पराम् ।।
Śrī Sampradaya is one of the four religious communities of the Vaishnavas that form the crux of the Hindu religion. It is a Vedic evidences that it was born with the consent of Śrī Rām and Śrimati Sītā Maharani.
In this community, the word Śrī has been used; which is normally prefixed for Sri Devi i.e. Śrī Sita Devi.
Shukla-Yajurveda 31/22 says:
"O' Paratpar Purusa (Rama), You have two wives: Śrī-Devi (Bhagavati Sita), and Lakshmi-Devi.
There are some differences between Śrī-Devi and Lakshmi-devi. Śrī-Devi (Bhagavati Sita) is the original ParaShakti and eternal consort of Paratpar Purusa Śrī Rāma in Saket Loka, while Lakshmi-devi is expansion of that Śrī-Devi (Maa Sita). Lakshmi-Devi, Bhu-devi, Neela-devi are manifestations of Śrī-devi, so they are not separate entity from Śrī-devi. Hence, these all expansions are also wives of Paratpar Purusa Śrī Rāma in original form of ParaShakti Bhagvati Sita.
“Bhagavati Sita is the earth of the earth ( it means Goddess of Bhu-Devi), and the Śrī of Bhagavati Śrī (i.e. original Śrī-devi; śriyaḥ śrīṃ : meaning Sītā is none, but the original divinity herself, the origin of all the goddesses who can be called as Śrī such as Bhagavati Lakshmi, Bhagavati Radha etc and her innumerable manifestations).”
(vālmīki rāmāyaṇa 6.111.24)
Sri devi is the mediator between Lord Rām and human beings. Rama's beloved Sita binds together the devotee, Almighty Lord and the Guru in complete unison of Devotion. She is instrumental in bringing the devotee under The Almighty's refuge thus liberating him from all the three kinds of miseries.
(Rig vēda 4.57.6)
O' auspicious Bhagvati Sita! Please come near us. We bow down to You and greet You! O supreme deity endowed with the supreme fortune and auspiciousness! Please be kindly disposed towards us in such a manner that You be compassionate-hearted towards us and as a result You be a bestower of beautiful charming fruits for us!!
In this tradition, Lord Rām is considered supreme. He reincarnates in various forms in order to destroy evil, for the protection of people and establishment of dharma; and in this way he sustains and preserves the universe.
“जब जब होइ धरम कै हानी। बाढहिं असुर अधम अभिमानी।।
तब तब प्रभु धरि बिबिध सरीरा। हरहि कृपानिधि सज्जन पीरा।।”
Śrī Rāma is the Supreme Lord and Omnipotent God. The commentator of Sri Sampradāya is known by the name of Lord Rāmānandā. Other people call this as the sect of Rāmānandā. All the controversies regarding monism, dualism, dual-monism and pure-monism etc. find a peaceful end when they converge in Vishisht-advait belief or Rāmānandā's belief.
Jagadguru Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānandāchārya declared it emphatically:
“Oh, Śrī Rāma, the king of all the worlds! Irrespective of one's age, gender, caste, (social) status, physique, purity etc, in my opinion Everyone is rightfully eligible for the Prapatti [Sharanagati - to take refuge] in your lotus feet! Whether a Jiva is competent or incompetent, strong or weak, rich or poor, of higher or lower class, pure or impure, in all states, he is rightfully eligible to take Sharanagati [refuge] in your lotus feet. Nothing is expected from Jivas in Prapatti [surrendering into lotus feet of Lord Rama].” (- Sri Vaishnava Matabuj Bhaskar, Jagadguru Aadya Ramanandacharya).
Infact Śrī Saṁpradāya Gurü Parampara has been mentioned in Vedās;
(Atharvavedā Shākhāyam Maithili Maha-Upanishad)
Here Śrimati Sītā Maharani is telling that she got Mantra from SaketPati Sri Rama after than she passed it to his beloved bhakt Śrī Hanuman after that Sri Hanuman ji passed it to Brahmā ji from Brahmā ji to Parāshara to Vyäsa to Shukacharya.
(Excerpted from Mārtand Bhāshya invocation by Śrīmad Raghavananadacharya in CE 1240)
In fact, all these controversies resolve peacefully in Vishishta-advait-mat. Philosophy of Sri Rāmānandācārya is being indicated here. In visistädvaita philosophy there are three tattvas- prakṛti, jiva and Brahman, jiva being conscious is called cita, jivātmā, pratyagatma and that is nitya (eternal), niranjana (untainted by illusion) and many. He is the devotee of Bhagavana Rāma, prakti (nature) is called acita. Both of these, jiva and jagat (cit-acit) being body of the isvara (i.e. Bhagavan Rama), are always attributes of the iśvara. "jagat sarvaṁ śarīraṁ te -vā. rã. 6-117-27" (The entire cosmos is Your body); "yasya ātmā sarīraṁ ya ātmānamantaro yamayati (sa. pa. bra. 22.214.171.124.30)" etc. are proofs to this fact. pratyakṣa, anumana and sabda, these three, are sources of valid knowledge. Brahman is provableness and jiva is proving authority. Prapatti only is our yoga, višistâdvaita is our proposition, şaḍakṣara Ramamantra, dvādaśākṣara SitäRama-mantra and carama (ultimate) mantra (a sacred formula, spell) is essentially to be known. SriSitäRamaji only is fit for meditation. jiva is subtle and many. We accept satkaryavada and avikṛta pariņāmavāda, jagat (cosmos) is the transformation of the Brahman itself but without any change and not as vivarta since the author of brahmasutra says 'pariņāmät (brahmasutra- 1.4.27). The transformation is observed in the prakṛti, the body of lord Rama. jivātmā, paramātmā and the relation between them is knowable for us. All these are eternal. arthapañcaka (svasvarûpa, parasvarapa, upayasvarupa, phalasvarupa and virodhisvarupa these five knowable terminologies) are understood with reference to these three itself.
As stated above, only SriSitaRamaji is fit for our meditation. Here śriSitaji and SriRamaji is inseparable. Factually speaking that paramātmā only is our Brother, our Father and Begetter- "sa no bandhurjanita sa vidhätä (yaju. -32.10)". Atharvaveda also proclaims the same - "sa naḥ pita janita sa uta bandhuḥ (2.1.3) which is established also by rgveda - " tvam hi naḥ pita vaso tvaṁ mātā śatakrato babhuvavitha.... .8.98.11." (i.e. O Lord! You are our Father and Mother, You are the only refuge of all, as You are the bestower of everything for our survival, we bow our heads to seek Your blessings.) indicating that in the form of Rama You are our Father and in the form of Sita You are our mother. Atharva śruti clearly accepts the inseparableness of both-" Ramaḥ Sitä Jänaki Ramacandro nityakhando ye ca pasyanti dhirah. (atharva. Sruti)" i.e, ŚrīRāma only is śrīsītā and śriSita only is ŚrīRama, there is no separableness between them. They cannot be thought off separated. Bhagavan SriRamaji is saccidānanda and śriSitāji is samvidānanda. Both of them are mutually inseparable. In SriRamastavarājastotram- "Suryamandala madhyastham Rāmaṁ Rāmaṁ Sitāsamanvitam-50." SriRamaji is said to have been continually completely possessed of janakanaṁdini mām śriSità. In support of this the sloka of sadasiva Samhita may also be pondered-"RāmasSītā Janaki Ramacandraḥ nanurbhedo hyetayoriti kascit. Samto matva tattvametaddhi buddhava päram jätäḥ samsṛtermṛtykälät."
One is Suklatejo'vacchinna Brahman and the Other is syamatejo'vacchinna Brahman. For this reason śrīsītāji also is accepted as višiṣṭa tattva,
parabrahman tattva. Vṛhad Viṣṇupurana also sanctifies this-
dvau canityamdvidhärupam tattvato nityamekatā. Ramamantre sthita Sītā Sītāmantre raghuttamaḥ.
or, as per brahma Rāmāyaṇa- SriSita Ramanämnastu sadaikyam nästi samsayaḥ Iti jäävä japedyastu sa dhanyo bhāvinām narah..
Difference by svarupa and non-difference (similarity) by sambandha is accepted in our philosophy of Jagadguru śrimadadya Rāmānandācārya which is clearly spelt out in Mundakopanisad, trtiya mundaka1.1- dva suparna sayujā sakhäyä samanam vṛkşam parişasvajate. tayoranyaḥ pippalam svadvattyanaśnannanyo abhicākasiti..
Meaning, two birds of pleasing plumage (jīvātmā and paramātmā) living together, each the friend of the other, perch upon the same tree (this world). Of these two, one (jivātmā) eats the sweet pippal fruit (of the tree), but the other (paramätma) simply looks on without eating,
In this mantra (a sacred formula, spell), the difference by svarapa and non-difference (similarity) by sambandha is very clearly expressed. Both having pleasing plumage, living together on the same tree and their friendship are similarities but the differences are that jîvātmā is many and paramatma one only, jivätma is subtle and paramātmā all pervading, jivātmā is ignorant and paramatma omniscient, jivātmā is having faults and paramätmä infalliable, jivätmä is sinful and paramatma resplendent, jivätma is bounded and paramatma boundless, jivātmā is insignificant and paramātmā sovereign, jīvātmā is mundane and paramātmā heavenly, jīvātmā is having organ of sense and paramatma without that, jivātmā has unrestrained infatuation and paramatma beyond infatuation, jivätma is subservient and paramātmā beyond absolutely free, jivätma is fallen into maya and paramatma lord of maya. Wherever non-difference between jiva and Brahman is felt, the same should be understood as the relation between jiva (the finite self) and the Brahman, but never with svarûpa.
In the visiṣṭadvaita traditional doctrine Brahman is of two types- karyabrahman and karaṇabrahman, kāraṇabrahman is present in paramavyoma (also called saketaloka as ŚrīsītāRāmaji and karyabrahman is pervaded in this world becoming its shelter. Both these Brahman (kāraṇa and karya), by nature, are distinguished from cita and acita. Unification of these two is said as visiṣṭadvaita. Therefore acarya, while pronouncing visistädvaita, says "visiṣṭam ca višiṣṭam ca višişte tayoradvaitar visiṣṭādvaitam tad vadati vyavasthapayati iti visiṣṭādvaitavādaḥ." Only three relations have been established between Brahman and jiva viz. father-son, lord-subservient and friend from various veda-mantra-s(a sacred formula, spell from veda). Some of them, very famous, are 'amptasya te putrah', 'brahmadasa brahma dāsābrahma me kitavaḥ, araṁdāsonamiḍhuṣe karāṣyahaṁ devaya bhūrṇaye'nāgāḥ.. (rg. 7.86.7), dva suparṇā sayujā sakhāyā..." (rg. 1.164.20, atharva. 9.9.20), 'marutyantam sakhyāya havamahe' (rg. 1.101.5), maripyate tvataḥ sakha. (rg. 1.916.8), etc. Since jivātmā is subtle, always under the control of paramātmā, ignorant and with limited knowledge this always treats himself as suvservient and paramātmā as his master and that is proper also. Various texts, as quoted below, support this view-'atmadasyaṁ hareḥsvämyamsvabhavam casadasmara." (harita) 'sevaka sevya bhava binu bhava na tariyauragări (ma.-7.119) ("I am the servant and the Lord Rama my master" without this relationship it is not possible to cross the ocean of birth and death.) baranata barana priti bilagati.
brahma jiva sama sahaja samhghati... (ma.1.20.4) (When they are described, devotion separates them, but they are as naturally bound together as Brahman and the individual soul.)
sunahu nätha kaha mudita bidehu. brahma jiva iva sahaja sanehu.. (ma.1.217.4) ("Listen to me, my Lord" said Janaka pleasantly, "it is like the natural union between Brahman and the individual soul".)
Brahman is further divided as para (saguna) and apara (nirguna). Here a question may arise as to why para is called saguna and apara as nirguna? Because 'anoraṇiyan mahato mahiyan. How can the poor maya, which is full of faults, cover all over the master of maya itself. For this reason, the possessor of all auspicious qualities , the saguna Brahman is para because of its easiness of attainment by aspirant (hermits), nirguņa Brahman hides its auspicious qualities and hence becomes difficult to be propitiated and attained. Because of this, śruti addressed nirguna Brahman as apara. The ultimate proof in this regard can be cited from bha. gi. where Arjuna addresses saguna sākāra Lord kṛṣṇa as parabrahman-
parabrahman paramadhäma pavitram paramam bhavan..(10.12) One more aspect should clearly be undersood in this śrīRāmānanda-sampradaya that in the paramparãofŚrīRāma-mantra śriHanumanji is the third acarya (the First being śrīrāghavendra sarakara Himself, who initiated SriRama-mantra to śriSitaji and the second śriSitaji who initiated Hanumanji.). Näradabhaktisutra proclaims acarya of bhakti to śriHanumanji-
"ityevam vadanti janajalpanirbhaya ekamatāḥkumāravyāsaśukaśāṇḍilya garga Vişnukaundinya seṣoddhavāruṇibalihanumadvibhiṣaṇādayobhak tyācāryaḥ.." (83)
According to MahāśivaSamhitā also—
acaryam hanumantam tyaktvä hyanyamupäsate. kliśyanti caiva te mugdha mulahāḥ pallavāśritāḥ .. Hanumatparamācāryaṁ vinā"caryo na ko'pi ca. Iti paddhatinirņitam purvoktam ca mayoditam..
It is, therefore, not only necessity but also unavoidable to worship Hanumanji. That too, in accordance with sampradaya, śriHanumanji only accepts the prasada of SriRamaji (the food presented to SriRamaji). For this reason, only the items offered to SriRamaji is used in worshipping śriHanumanji
SriRamasya prasado hi bhunkte śrīmārutātmajaḥ. Ataḥ kapisapājāyāri harerarpitamarpayeta.
As per Śrī sampradaya śriHanumanji is not born but he is an attendant emancipated for ever of Bhagavan SriRamaji - Nityakädäcitkabhedänmuktadvaividhyamucyate Nityaḥ kadäcittatrapi siddhaḥ supuruşa varah..
Garbhajanmadiduḥkham ye'nanubhūya sthitaḥ sadā.
SitäRamapriyaḥ sasvatte hanumanmukhā matāḥ..
(śrī Vaiṣṇavamatābjabhaskaraḥ 140-141) i.e., mukta (liberated) (jiva) (individual souls) are of two types due to the difference of eternal and occasional. Out of them, those who never lie in the womb, and without experiencing any pain of birth etc., who are always dear to SriSitäRāmaji, divine, most auspicious, splendid persons like Hanumanji etc. are called eternally liberated. After attaining Brahman, jīvātmā as well attains several (but not all) qualities of Brahman because competitors definitely differ. No similarity can be seen in indifference. The statement, face like the moon' definitely signifies face and the moon differently. Only the face has imbibed delightness of the moon. In the same way, the liberated jivätmä is manifested with only eight auspicious qualities- apahatapāpmatva (becomes free from sin), vijaratva(free from growing old), vimṛtitva (free from death), visokatva (free from sorrow), avijighasatva (free from hunger), apipäsatva (free from thirst), satyakamatva (the power of realising all desire), and satyasankalpatva (the power of realising will). But jīvātmā can never attain the śrīvatsalanchana of paramatma as because this is His exceptional attribute. Jivātmā do not have the power of creation, protection and destruction of the worlds and its beings.
On being asked by Shri Agardas ji, Shri Krishnadas Payahari ji said about the Guru Parampara of Sri Sampradaya:~
परधारिन स्थितो रामः पुंडरीकायतेक्षणः ।
सेवया परया जुष्टो जानक्यै तारकं ददौ ॥
श्रियः श्रीरपि लोकानां दुःखोद्धरणहेतवे।
हनूमते ददौ मंत्रं सदा रामाङ्किसेविने ॥
ततस्तु ब्रह्मणा प्राप्तो मुह्यमानेन मायया ।
कल्पान्तरे तु रामो वै ब्रह्मणे दत्तवानिमम् ॥
मंत्रराजजपं कृत्वा धाता निर्मातृतां गतः ।
त्रयीसारमिमं धातुर्वशिष्ठो लब्धवान्परम् ॥
पराशरो वशिष्ठाच्च मुद्रासंस्कारसंयुतम् ।
मंत्रराजं पदं लब्ध्वा कृतकृत्यो बभूव ह ॥
पराशरस्य सत्पुत्रो व्यासः सत्यवतीसुतः ।
पितुः पडक्षरं लब्ध्वा चक्रे वेदोपबृंहणम् ॥
व्यासोपि बहुशिष्येषु मन्वानः शुभयोग्यताम् ।
परमहंसवर्याय शुकदेवाय दत्तवान् ॥
शुकदेवकृपापात्रो ब्रह्मचर्यव्रते स्थितः ।
नरोत्तमस्तु तच्छिष्यो निर्वाणपदवीं गतः ॥
स चापि परमाचार्यो गंगाधराय सूरये ।
मन्त्राणां परमं तत्त्वं राममन्त्रं प्रदत्तवान् ॥
गंगाधरात्सदाचार्य स्ततो रामेश्वरो यतिः ।
द्वारानन्दस्ततो लब्ध्वा परब्रह्मरतोऽभवत् ॥
देवानन्दस्तु तच्छिष्यः श्यामानन्दस्ततोऽग्रहीत् ।
तत्सेवया श्रुतानन्दश्चिदानन्दस्ततोऽभवत् ॥
पूर्णानन्दस्ततो लब्ध्वा श्रियानन्दाय दत्तवान् ।
हर्यानन्दो महायोगी श्रियानन्दाङ्गिसेवकः ।।
हर्यानन्दस्य शिष्यो हि राघवानन्द इत्यसौ ।
तस्य वै शिष्यतां प्राप्तो रामानन्दः स्वयं हरिः।।
To know each and every single phylosophy Please Chant SitaRam SitaRam SitaRam
Glory to Śrīmad Goswami Tulsidas Ji
Glory to Ānand Bhāshyakār Śrīmad Jagādgurü Ramānandacharya Ji