Guru Dev parampara (lineage)

Guru Dev standing
- Guru Dev -
Shankaracharya Swami Brahmananda Saraswati

Guru Dev met his guruShri 108 Shri Dandi Swami Ji Krishnananda Saraswati, in about 1874.

According to the Hindi biography of Guru Dev, published by his own ashram : 

उत्तरकाशि के शृंगेरीपीठ ले शिष्य परम तपस्वी बाल ब्रह्मचारी योगिराज दण्डी संन्यासी श्री स्वामी कृष्णानन्द सरस्वती जी महाराज की शरण में गये और अखण्ड ब्रह्मचर्य की दीक्षा लेकर उन्हीं के समीप रहने लगे। गुरुदेव ने आप का नाम " ब्रह्म चैतन्य ब्रह्मचारी " रखा

<At Uttarkashi he sought refuge from Dandi Swami Shri Swami Krishnananda Saraswati Ji Maharaj, a lifelong celibate yogi and great disciple of Shringeri Peeth. There he took initiation wholly as a monk. And Gurudeva gave you the name ‘Brahma Chaitanya Brahmachari’.>

If this is correct, that Swami Krishnananda Saraswati was associated with Sringeri Peeth, then it is likely he had close contact with Sri Vruddha Nrisimha Bharati (Sri Nrisimha Bharati VIII), said to be one of the greatest saints India has ever produced.

  Sri Vruddha Nrisimha Bharati  Sri Vruddha Nrisimha Bharati
Sri Sri Vruddha Narisimha Bharati Mahaswami (Sri Nrisimha Bharati VIII) 1798-1879

Shr i108 Shri Dandi Swami Ji Krishnanand Saraswati
Shri 108 Shri Dandi Swami Ji Krishnananda Saraswati

His guru [Swami Krishnananda] later inducted him [Brahma Chaitanya Brahmachari] into sannyas at the Kumbha Mela festival of 1906
in Prayag (Allahabad), giving him the monastic name Shankaracharya Swami Brahmananda Saraswati.

Swami Brahmanand Saraswati
Shankaracharya Swami Brahmanand Saraswati

After Swami Krishnanand died, in 1936 Swami Brahmanand Saraswati set up the Swami Krishnanand Trust to administer an ashram, temple and school in Varanasi.

"It is to be remembered that back in 1936, before being offered the post of Shankaracharya, Maharaj Shri had had built the Shri Brahmavidya Niketan and the Shri Brahmanandeshwar Mahadev Ji Mandir (a temple) in Choti Gaibi, Varanasi, in rememberance of his own venerable Shri Gurudeva. The beautiful appearance of the ashram and mandir (temple) etc, was made on account of the management and another major ashram in Siddhi Giri Baag, Varanasi, was built by the name of Shri Brahma Niwas. This, the two other buildings and one at Bahadur Ganj, Prayag (Allahabad) were all connected, and these properties were placed under the protection of the Shri 1008 Swami Krishnanand Saraswati Trust, whereof mention is made in Maharaj Shri’s final will." (excerpt from translation by Paul Mason of Hindi biography of Guru Dev).

Swami Krishnanand had many disciples, amongst them Yoganand Saraswati, some years senior to Guru Dev.

Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath

Apparently, it was first suggested to Guru Dev in 1927 that he take the position of Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath, but it was not until April 1941 that Guru Dev finally accepted the post which had been vacant for over a century. Prior to 1833 Jyotirmath appears to have had an unbroken succession of Shankaracharyas going back to at least 1500. In more recent years the names of the Shankaracharyas before Guru Dev are recorded to have been:-

Acharya Shivanand Swami                 1696-1703
Acharya Balkrishna Swami                 1703-1717
Acharya Narain Updendra Swami     1717-1750
Acharya Harishchandar Swami         1750-1763
Acharya Sadanand Swami                  1763-1773     
Acharya Keshav Swami                       1773-1781
Acharya Narain Tirtha Swami             1781-1823
Acharya Ram Krishna Swami             1823-1833
    - vacant -                                               1833-1941
–  quoted from ‘Jyotirmathasya Guruparampara’,
Shree Jyotishpeetha Shankaracharya Sevak Sangh, Allahabad, c1995

Succession to the title of Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math has been heavily disputed since Swami Brahmanand's death in 1953. There was an article printed on
Swami Brahmanand Saraswati's, published in his ashram newsletter, detailing his will and the resultant controversies. The article has been translated into English and posted online, with additional comments, link to article on Guru Dev's 'Last Instruction(s)'


additional notes
It is noted that at a website connected to the late Leon McLaren an image of Guru Dev's guru is displayed labelled "Paramahansa Krishnanand Swami". An article there states he was a disciple of "The thirty second Acharya of Sringeri, Jagadguru Sri Narasimha Bharati VIII, was Pontiff from 1817 until 1879." But,  as Sri Narasimha was of the Bharati Dashnami Sampradaya and Swami Krishnanand was of the Saraswati Dandi Dashnami Sampradaya, it is doubtful they were linked as guru and disciple, though it is reasonable to assume Krishnanand did have connections with Sringeri Peeth

It has also been
suggested that Swami Brahmanand Saraswati's guru was also the guru of Shri Dada of Aligarh (1854-1910) who in turn was the master of Hari Prasad Shastri (1882-1956), founder of Shanti Sadan in London. As evidence attention is drawn to the Prologue of  'The Heart of the Eastern Mystical Teaching' (Hari Prasad Shastri, Shanti Sadan, 1948), wherein is described a meeting in the Himalayas
at Dharuli in1855  [Dharuli is identified as Dharali, a village some way north-west of Uttarkashi, near Gangotri, lying on what is now NH-108] attended by the Rishi Vyasa and Shri Swami Krishnanandji. Shri Vyasa adresses the gathering of sixteen young men and women; 'Holy Guardians of Dharma! Illustrious Rishis! A new sub-cycle in this Yuga is ending. A new light of the torch of Eternal Truth is to be ushered into the world. The West has to live according to the Law which the Lord gave her nearly 2,000 years ago. Optimism and activity, ambition and love of power have stifled the growth of the spirit of the West. Now let a new era open. A tributary of the holy Ganga of the Gita is winding its way to Angala Desha [England]. Thus it has been decreed. This holy and venerable Sage, this representative of the great Shankara, this saint is undertaking the great task. Give your blessings, holy Sages.”

In an issue of a
quarterly published by Shanti Sadan, 'Self-Knowledge' (Issue Vol.43 No.3), there is a description of Krishnanandji by Hari Prasad Shastri. In it he tells that Krishnanandaji was a wandering monk of the Saraswati order, thus he was known as Swami Krishnanandaji Saraswati. It is stated that Krishnanandji never answered questions about his life, though he is thought to have come from southern India. A few sayings of Krishnanandji's are offered:-

"The glory of the Upanishads lies in the teachings on non-duality found in their pages."

"Every man in the street can talk on duality;
it is only a God-favoured man who studies the doctrine of non-duality."

"Those who serve their Guru when his body is ill or his mind is anxious, are the true and holy pilgrims."

"Purification of the self must precede service of man."

There is a problem in reconciling the identities of Guru Dev's guru and that of Shri Dada, in that it is believed that Guru Dev's guru died circa 1936, whereas a representative of Shanti Sadan is of the opinion that Shri Dada's guru had likely died by 1890 (which figures if he was already advanced in years when he attended the meeting in 1855). 

If anyone has further information regarding Swami Krishnanand or indeed about any aspects of this parampara, please email

(Acknowledgement: thanks for your very helpful assistance Declan!)

Biography of Guru Dev

To Guru Dev webpage listing