The word Jagadguru (Spiritual Master of the whole world) has been around for a very long time. In fact, in the Mahabharata, Arjun called Shri Krishna Jagadguru. Even in various scriptures, Shri Krishna has been addressed as Jagadguru – “Shri Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum”.
In Kaliyuga (the present Dark Age), when an increasing number of imposters started misguiding the general public with falsely interpreted scriptural teachings and philosophies, scholars recognised the need to confer the title of Jagadguru to those divine personalities who display unparalleled mastery over all Vedic scriptures and bring about a spiritual revolution in the minds of people.
The importance of this title can only be put into perspective by acknowledging the fact that in the last 5000 years, only four descended divine personalities have been given the title of the original Jagadguru – Adi Jagadguru Shankaracharya, Jagadguru Nimbarkacharya, Jagadguru Ramanujacharya and Jagadguru Madhvacharya.
1. Jagadguru Shankaracharya was the very first or “Adi” Jagadguru who appeared on this earth about 2,500 years ago (eight century A.D.). He re-established the greatness of Vedic Sanatan Dharm in India with the aim of propagating the Vedic religion, and diminishing the effects of the prevalent, spurious doctrines and false religions. His philosophy is known as advaitvad or absolute monism (non-dualism), and it forms the basis for the teaching in the path of gyan.
Shankaracharya identified God as formless, without attributes, a non-performer of actions and without any kind of internal or external distinctions. He described the nature of God as pure and eternal existence, unlimited knowledge and Divine bliss. He further claimed the world to be an indescribable illusion and that the soul is the combined effect of God and Maya (Illusion). He stated the soul’s original nature to be the same as God Himself.
With His own unique interpretations of the Vedas, Shankaracharya positioned Himself between a theist and an atheist, and at times He appeared to be a supporter of both. He adopted this stand to lay the foundation for future theistic evolution.
2. Jagadguru Nimbarkacharya appeared shortly after Adi Shankaracharya (around 6th century B.C.). He put forward the philosophy of dwaitadvaitvad or dualistic non-dualism (mono-dualism), which makes the distinction that although there is perfect duality between God and the soul, the soul is also simultaneously one with God. He described the soul as a fraction of God, and that the purpose of creation is for the souls to receive God’s grace and realise Him. He further stated that although God has two aspects – formless and with form, the soul’s ultimate spiritual welfare is only accomplished through devotion to the personal form of God. Considering Himself to be a servant and God to be His Master, He introduced selfless, wholehearted devotion to Radha-Krishna.
3. Jagadguru Ramanujacharya appeared about 1000 years ago. His philosophy is known as vishisht advaitvad, or qualified monism (qualified non-dualism), opposite to Jagadguru Shankaracharya’s philosophy.
He described God not only as the Creator, the Lord of the universe, but also as omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent, and a divine ocean of knowledge, bliss, compassion and other unlimited attributes. He further stated that the individual soul is both an infinitesimal fraction and an eternal servant of God, and at the same time, He claimed that God resides in the heart of every soul. Jagadguru Ramanujacharya travelled throughout India and propounded the path of Bhakti (devotion to God) as the only means of God realisation. He placed great emphasis for a Bhakta (devotee) to renounce all material attachments, remove prideful ego and to remember God’s name and serve Him with the body, mind and wealth, while sincerely and humbly begging for forgiveness for all his sins. Upon which, with the grace of God, the soul will be forgiven and will attain the Supreme divine bliss.
4. Jagadguru Madhvacharya appeared about 700 years ago and was a vigorous propagator of dvaitvad or philosophy of dualism. He stressed that the attainment of the personal form of God is the goal of all souls, and that God, Maya and soul are three separate entities. According to His philosophy, an individual soul can attain God realisation and liberation only through bhakti. He also said that according to the actions of your past lives, you receive happiness or sorrow. While experiencing happiness, we should not forget God, and while experiencing sorrow, we should feel God’s grace. He further said that we should constantly absorb our thoughts in the love of God, at all times, so that at the time of death we will remember Him, which in turn will help surpass the pain experienced at the time of death. At that time, a person remains bound by various kinds of worldly attachments and he feels extremely anguished and he forgets God.
5. Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj was honoured with the title of Jagadguru on 14th January 1957 by the Kashi Vidvat Parishat. With profound admiration, they declared him as Jagadguruttam (Supreme amongst all Jagadgurus). Furthermore, they honoured him with the following accolades:
Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj not only validates His teachings and discourses to be the only true eternal philosophy of God by citing the Vedas and the Vedic Scriptures, but He also reveals and explains the facts and intricate secrets buried in these Divine Scriptures in the simplest manner through everyday examples experienced by individual souls, that would otherwise be incomprehensible for an ordinary person.
The Vedas are the topmost treasure amongst all scriptures in the Hindu religion and are eternal, boundless and are in fact the Divine words of God Himself. Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj has manifested the quintessence of all Vedic Scriptures by revealing and establishing the easiest path to God Realisation – the true goal of every individual soul.
Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj validates all existing philosophies of Spiritual Masters from the past, and at the same time, He presents His own philosophy in the simplest form, which reconciles all contradictory viewpoints and discrepancies found in these existing philosophies and scriptural teachings.
Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj neither makes any disciples nor does He form any ethnic groups. With due respect to all existing philosophies and religions in the world today, He establishes selfless devotion for Radha-Krishna as the only true eternal path for the individual souls to attain the ultimate goal of life – God Realisation.
Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj not only has complete authority over the Vedas and the Vedic Scriptures, but is also the embodiment of Divine Love Bliss, and hence has been honoured with the title of “Bhaktiyogarasavatar”. In the current dark age (Kaliyuga), He makes the Divine Love of Radha-Krishna flow into even the most sinful hearts, proving Him to be Bhaktiyogarasavatar (an embodiment of Divine Love Bliss).