Hare Krishna prabhus and Vaisnavis! Today I am going to present another talk on guru-tattva.
‘Any person who seriously desires to achieve real happiness, must seek out a bona-fide spiritual master and take shelter of him by initiation. The qualification of his spiritual master is that he must have realised the conclusions of the scriptures.’ (Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.3.21)
“One who cannot deliver his dependents from the path of repeated birth and death should never become a spiritual master, a father, a husband, a mother or a worshipable demigod. ” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.18)
My dear friends, sometimes people ask whether it is necessary to accept a guru to realise God. We have to understand this matter based on the scriptures and not on our own whim or speculation.
The Vedas are clear that it is compulsory to accept a guru. Srimad Bhagavatam 11.3.21 says:
‘Therefore a person who seriously desires ultimate spiritual perfection must seek out a bona fide guru and take shelter of him. The qualifications of the guru is that he has realized the Vedic scriptures (shabda-brahma), the Supreme Absolute Truth (para-brahma) and the material world has no charm for him whatsoever.’
The Mundaka Upanishad states: ‘To acquire transcendental knowledge of Sri Bhagavan one must approach a guru who knows the real import of the Vedic scriptures and who has fully realized the Supreme Absolute Truth, Sri Krishna.’
One must approach a living guru in order to realize God. Independent study of the Vedas and the meditation are not sufficient.
Nowdays it has become a fashion to take initiation from any guru without considering the qualifications as briefly mentioned above.
Please be cautious when selecting a guru for the purpose of self-realization. It is said that the real guru is rare but even more rare is a true disciple.
Only a self-realized guru can impart the truth to others. Sri Krishna summarizes the question of guru in the Bhagavad-gita 4.34:
“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.”
Srila Prabhupada in his purport to this verse states:
‘Satisfaction of the self-realised spiritual master is the secret of advancement in spiritual life. One must be able to pass the test of the spiritual master and the blind following is condemned.’
Srila Rupa Goswami says in Upadeshamrita, the Nectar of instruction: “A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak, the mind’s demands, the actions of anger and the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals is qualified to make disciples all over the world.”
In the Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya lila 8.128 it is said:
“Whether one is a brahmana, a sannyasi, or a shudra, if he is fully conversant with all the truths regarding transcendental knowledge of Sri Krishna, he can become a guru.”
‘Conversant with the truth’ does not mean theoretical knowledge, but realised knowledge or in other words a self-realised guru.
It can be clearly understood: if a guru has not realised the truth, how can he give you the truth? If someone is chained up in prison, he will not be able to free the other prisoners unless he himself is free. Therefore it is common sense to understand that only a liberated person can liberate one and not a conditioned soul.
By ‘liberation’ it is meant knowing what is one’s specific eternal relationship with Sri Krishna. One can have five different relationships with the Lord: neutral (shanta rasa), servant (dasya rasa), friend (sakhya rasa), parent (vatsalya rasa) and conjugal relationship (madhurya rasa) like Krishna’s wives in Dvaraka or the gopis of Sri Vrindavan.
In this way I have clearly explained the conclusion of the ‘self-realised’, ‘liberated’ soul ‘conversant with the truth’. These are all symptoms of the ultimate that is full or highest realisation as per the Vaishnava siddhanta and that is Bhagavan realised and the realisation of one’s specific eternal relationship with Bhagavan.
“To know Kṛṣna is to know one’s self, and to know one’s self is to know one’s relationship with Kṛṣna.” [Caitanya-Caritamrita, Introduction by Srila Prabhupada]
Therefore, a guru is not elected by some democratic process, but he or she is self-effulgent. Srila Prabhupada was not elected as guru. In fact it is well known that he was against election or rubber stamping someone as ‘guru’.
Before Srila Prabhupada departed from this material world he appointed 11 ritviks (representatives) to initiate on his behalf. But immediately after his departure they claimed that they were appointed by Srila Prabhupada to be successor gurus and went to the extent of sending a notice to be displayed in all temples in ISKCON that they had 26 qualities of a pure devotee and attached ‘His Divine Grace’ to their names which later proved to be a disgrace and ‘His Divine Grace’ was removed and now substituted by ‘His Grace’.
In the Sri Hari Bhakti Vilasa Sanatana Goswami gives some guidelines: ‘The prospective guru and disciple should live together for one year and carefully examine each other’s activities and character to determine whether each is qualified.’
A question may be raised: how can a conditioned soul who is in the clutches of illusion identify a sad-guru and pure Vaishnava? The Brahma Vaivarta Purana states: ‘As long as one’s heart is contaminated by sin, one will not have pure intelligence to recognize the truth set out in the scriptures or to recognize a genuine guru.’
Therefore it is not by one’s own ability that one can identify a bona-fide guru. Our acaryas tell us that the guru reveals himself to the seeker. When a person has sincere eagerness and greed to serve Krishna, Krishna sends His own representatives to help that person.
Krishna says in the Bhagavad gita that He gives intelligence and guidance to the sincere person:
dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ taṁ
yena mām upayānti te
[Bhagavad gita 10.10]
Srila Visvanatha Thakravarti Thakur sings in his Guruvastakam: “By the mercy of Sri Guru one receives the mercy of Sri Krishna. Without the grace of the guru one cannot attain the goal of spiritual perfection.”
I strongly recommend aspiring devotees to deeply study this Guruvastakam, eight hymns to the guru. It contains deep and essential truths about the mystery of the guru.
In the Skanda Purana Lord Shiva tells mother Parvati: ‘Many gurus take advantage of their disciples and plunder them. They exploit their disciples and use them to amass wealth, whereas a genuine guru who can remove the material miseries of his disciples is very rare.’
In the Srimad Bhagavatam 11.11.18 it is said: ‘Taking shelter of the guru who has great learning in the Vedic literature but who has not realized Parabrahma Krishna is like keeping a barren cow who cannot give milk. It is useless labor and does not achieve any result.’
Thank you very much, prabhujis and Vaishnavis!
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