Tripurari Swami, also known as Swami Bhaktivedanta Tripurari, Swami B.V. Tripurari, and Tripurari Maharaja, is a Gaudiya Vaishnava guru and author.
During the 1970s, Swami Tripurari was a leading member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). He lived an austere life as a brahmacharya and led the successful "BBT Party" in sankirtan. Tripurari worked with Tamala Krishna Goswami to form the "Radha-Damodara Party."
B.V. Tripurari Swami was born in 1949 in the Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, New Jersey. He devoted his youth to the pursuit of spiritual knowledge and experience. His lifetime of spiritual practice and teaching has brought him notice in spiritual circles around the world and earned the appreciation of scholars and practitioners alike. Swami Tripurari has been described as helping "scholars... apprehend more clearly the dynamic nature of the Krsna consciousness movement."(Dasa, Babhru. 1999)
Swami Tipurari met his initiating guru, Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, in the spring of 1972.(Prabhupada Disciple Database) Swami Tripurari relates that he felt as though he had met a long-lost friend. Over the years of service that followed, Srila Prabhupada showed Swami Tripurari much affection and repeatedly expressed his appreciation for his selfless service and ability to inspire others. In 1974, Srila Prabhupada instructed Swami Tripurari in a widely circulated letter, "So you organize freely. You are the incarnation of book distribution. Take the leadership and do the needful." Accordingly, Swami Tripurari has sought to be independently thoughtful and make an insightful literary contribution to the world.
In 1975 Swami Tripurari was initiated by Srila Prabhupada into the renounced order of sannyasa.
Shortly before Srila Prabhupada's departure from the world, he suggested that, should the need arise, his students could receive further instruction from his Godbrother Srila B. R. Sridhara Deva Goswami. Swami Tripurari was present when Srila Prabhupada gave this instruction and it eventually played a major role in his life. It was several years later, in the midst of the confusion that followed Srila Prabhupada's death, that Swami Tripurari pursued this instruction and made formal contact with Srila Sridhara Maharaja.
Swami Tripurari expresses his experience of hearing from and serving Srila Sridhara Maharaja thus: "With the setting of the sun of the manifest pastimes of our beloved preceptor, Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the world became dark. Then suddenly in the shadows of the night the reflected light of the moonlike discourse of Srila B. R. Sridhara Deva Goswami flooded the path with new light and dynamic insight that illumined the inner landscape, leading me to the soul of Srila Prabhupada and Gaudiya Vaisnavism." The association and instructions of Srila B. R. Sridhara Deva Goswami profoundly affected Swami Tripurari, and under his guidance, Swami Tripurari began initiating his own students in 1985.
Today, Swami Tripurari describes his work as an expression of the combined influence of these two teachers, Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja. Swami Tripurari divides his time between his monasteries, Audarya and Madhuvan, in northern California and Costa Rica, and travels throughout the world speaking on devotional Vedanta. Swami Tripurari is the author of a dozen books and a columnist for Ananda magazine, published in Finland. Swami Tripurari also publishes answers to the numerous questions he receives over the Internet in his Sanga email newsletter. Swami's recorded discourses exceed four hundred in number. His influence is experienced across a number of Gaudiya Vaishnava missions.
Among the books Swami Tripurari has published are a study of Jiva Gosvami's Tattva Sandharba and of Sri Caitanya's Siksastakam. Swami Tripurari has also published a translation and commentary of the Bhagavad-Gita and Gopala-tapani Upanishad. Tripurari's Aesthetic Vedanta was nominated for the Louisville Grawemeyer Award. Klaus K. Klostermaier of the University of Manitoba made the nomination. He wrote that "Aesthetic Vedanta's beautiful and sensitive language will make the classic rasa-lila accessible to students of spirituality who have no specific background in Indian religions and philosophies. Its reverential approach makes it a religious classic in its own right." Yoga Journal opined that the book illuminates "the profundity and praticality of the path of devotion." Huston Smith wrote about Swami Tripurari's Rasa: "This is perhaps the most helpful exposition of the bhakti tradition that has come my way. Thank you for writing it."
Swami Tripurari's edition of Bhagavad-gita was also reviewed in Yoga Journal in 2002, where Phil Catalfo called it "a kind of postgraduate course in the cultural, metaphysical, and spiritual teachings inherent" in Bhagavad-gita. McGill University's Arvind Sharma, a noted expert on Hinduism and the Gita, lauded this edition's "hints of originality, rather than mere novelty" in the Journal of Vaishnava Studies. He further wrote, "This book introduces many a fresh scent in the garden of the Gita. Though practitioners will find particular delight in Swami Tripurari's explanations, academics would do well to seriously consider his insights and interestingly nuanced elaborations."
Swami Tripurari regularly contributes articles and participates in discussion on the Harmonist and responds to questions through his Sanga. In 2011, Swami and his students launched Swamitripurari.com, a site offering free access to all of his articles, lectures, videos, and books in PDF format.
Swami Tripurari was a leading member of ISKCON until the 1980s. After the death of Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON's founder, the management style exercised by the institution became questionable and Tripurari, along with several senior members of ISKCON, began to consult with Srila Prabhupada's godbrother, Srila Sridhara Maharaja for guidance.
Today, many members of ISKCON misunderstand this history and claim that Swami rejected his relationship with Srila Prabhupada by receiving guidance from Sridhara Maharaja.
Swami justifies his actions with the following reasons:
* Srila Prabhupada had a very intimate relationship with Sridhara Maharaja and he encouraged his disciples to seek instruction from him.
* By reading Sridhara Maharaja's books, Swami Tripurari states that he was being asked to surrender more, on a deeper level. Having never been influenced so profoundly, except by Prabhupada himself, Swami realized that guru is one who appears in a variety of ways in the spiritualist's life.
In addition, some members of ISKCON take issue with the fact that Swami Tripurari has written a translation and commentary on the Bhagavad-gita even though Srila Prabhupada had done so as well. Swami Tripurari explains:
* Prabhupada wanted books written within the cultural context in which we live.
* "... Prabhupada drew upon the entire corpus of Gaudiya literature in writing his books, and acquaintance with it enables one to appreciate what Prabhupada has written. Without this and the association of advanced Vaisnavas, one runs the risk of subjugating the teaching to one's intelligence..."What is Parampara?
Swami Tripurari's Authored Works:
*Rasa - Love Relationships in Transcendence, (ISBN 1-866069-10-7). Mandala, 1995.
*Jiva Goswami's Tattva-Sandarbha: Sacred India's Philosophy of Ecstasy, (ISBN 1-886069-12-3). Clarion Call, 1995.
*Aesthetic Vedanta: The Sacred Path of Passionate Love. (ISBN 1-886069-14-X) Mandala, 1998.
*Ancient Wisdom for Modern Ignorance, (ISBN 18-86069-11-5). Mandala, 1995.
*Bhagavad-gita: Its Feeling and Philosophy, (ISBN 1-886069-53-0). Mandala, 2001.
*Form of Beauty, with B. G. Sharma. (ISBN 1-932771-36-0). Mandala, 2005 (2nd edition).
*Gopala-tapani Upanisad, (ISBN) 1-88606069-53-0). Audarya, 2004.
*Siksastakam of Sri Caitanya. (ISBN 1-932771-84-0). Mandala, 2006.
*Joy of Self