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Who is an Acarya
Some foolish students have accepted the statements of Lord Chaitanya conditionally. According to them, the spiritual master fully conversant with the science of Krishna, yet not born in a brahmana family, can be an instructing spiritual master, but not an initiating spiritual master. They do not know that there is hardly any difference between the two classes of spiritual masters. According to them, a caste initiator or caste goswami, by dint of his hereditary blood lineage, becomes the real spiritual master, while a person knowing all about Shri Krishna can only become an instructor. They foolishly think that the position of the initiating spiritual master is greater than that of the instructing spiritual master. However, the matter is very clearly and conclusively discussed in the Chaitanya-caritamrita (Adi-lila 1.47):
shiksha-guruke ta' jani krishnera svarupa
antaryami, bhakta-shreshtha¾ei dui rupa
“One should know the instructing spiritual master to be the Personality of Krishna. Shri Krishna manifests Himself as the Supersoul and as the greatest devotee of the Lord.”
In the Manu-samhita, the qualification of an acarya is described as follows: “A spiritual master is a twice-born brahmana able to train his disciple to instruct others on the Vedas.” In the Vayu Purana, the acarya is described as follows: “One who knows the essence of the scriptures, establishes the truth of them, and conducts his activities according to the regulative principles of the scriptures is thus known as an acarya.”
The acarya or spiritual master is an empowered incarnation of the Personality of Godhead. He is not to be considered a plenary portion of Godhead, but at the same time the spiritual master is certainly very near and dear to Godhead. The acarya appears before the disciple as the bona fide representative of Godhead. Such an acarya has no duty other than to serve the Personality of Godhead and give shelter to the willing disciple on Godhead’s behalf.
If a person becomes a so-called spiritual master without being engaged wholly in the service of the Personality of Godhead, nobody should accept him as guru and his activity should not be recognized. A guru’s character must be fully representative of the Personality of Godhead, and this will be demonstrated by his full-time engagement in the service of Godhead. A real acarya is sometimes envied by the sense-gratifying masses. However, the acarya is a nondifferent extension of the transcendental body of the Personality of Godhead. Anyone envying such a spiritual master will certainly suffer the consequence of being bereft of the Personality of Godhead’s blessings.
The spiritual master, although the eternal servitor of Lord Chaitanya, is always to be respected as much as Lord Chaitanya. The spiritual master is the personality who exhibits the nature of Lord Chaitanya. It should never be concluded that the spiritual master is exactly one and the same with Godhead as the mayavadi philosophers think. The Vaishnavas accept the spiritual master in terms of acintya-bhedabheda-tattva, simultaneously one with and different from the Personality of Godhead.