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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhaktivinoda Thakura > Bhaktivinoda Vani Vaibhava > Bhaktivinoda Vani Vaibhava Part 1 > Spiritual Master


Spiritual Master or Acarya


1.What is the symptom of a bona fide spiritual master? Can a person who has accepted a family preceptor take shelter of a bona fide spiritual master?


Due to the influence of time, people's conception regarding the spiritual master has been greatly polluted. Nowadays, people take instructions either from a  family preceptor or from anyone else, and as a result they are bereft of the shelter of the most worshipable bona fide spiritual master. It is stated in the  scriptures that a person who is inquisitive about his own self and the Supreme Lord should approach and surrender to a spiritual master who is firmly fixed  both in the service of the Supreme Brahman and in the transcendental sound vibration.(Sajjana-tosani 2/1)


2.Who is a qualified spiritual master?


One who is fully acquainted with and successful in spiritual life is qualified to become a spiritual master. (Hari-nama-cintamani)


3.Should a person accept a spiritual master who is born in a high family? Why is it stated in Hari-bhakti-vilasa that a person should accept a spiritual  master who is born in a brahmana family or who is a grhastha?


Knowledge about Krsna is most essential for all living entities. A person who knows the science of Krsna, whether that person is a brahmana, sudra, grhastha,  or sannyasl, is qualified to become a spiritual master. Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa instructs one not to take initiation from a person of the lower caste when a  qualified person from a higher caste is available. This instruction is meant for Vaisnavas who are dependent on social custom; it is for those who wish to  progress on the path of spiritual life according to worldly rules and regulations. But those who wish to obtain pure devotional service to Krsna, by  carefully understanding the purport oivaidhi and rdgdnuga-bhakti, should accept a spiritual master who fully knows the science of Krsna, regardless of his  varna or dsrama.

(Amrta-pravdha-bhdsya, Caitanya-caritdmrta Madhya 8/127)


4.Are the principal qualifications of a spiritual master that he is a brahmana and a householder?


Caitanya-caritdmrta states that whether one is a brahmana, a sannyasl, or a sudra, if he knows the science of Krsna, he is qualified to become a spiritual  master. One who possesses the internal or primary quality (he knows the science of Krsna) is qualified to become a spiritual master, even though he does not  possess one or two of the external qualities (being a brahmana and a householder). It is good if a spiritual master possesses the primary and the two  external qualities. But those who lack the primary quality, even though they possess the external qualities, cannot become qualified spiritual masters.

(Sajjana-tosanl 11/6)



5.What is the difference between taking shelter of the lotus feet of a bona fide spiritual master and taking shelter of a bogus spiritual master?


There are two types of gurus: antarahga or internal, and bahirahga or external. The living entity who is situated in samadhi is his own internal spiritual  master. One who accepts argument as his spiritual master and who learns the process of worship from such a spiritual master is said to have accepted the  shelter of a bogus spiritual master. Then argument poses as nourishment for the living entities constitutional duties; this may be compared to Putana's  falsely posing as a nurse. Worshipers on the path of attachment must immerse all arguments in spiritual subjects and take shelter of samadhi. The external  spiritual master is he from whom the science of worship is learned. One who knows the proper path of attachment and who instructs his disciples according to  their qualification is a sad-guru, or eternal spiritual master.

(Krsna-samhitd 8/14)


6.According to Vaisnava literature, who is qualified to become jagat-guru?


Vaisnava literature accepts that one who has understood the difference between material and spiritual subject matters, and thus learned about transcendental  devotional service to Krsna is jagat-guru. He is qualified to instruct all living entities, and he is completely aloof from the consideration of varna and  dsrama.(Amrta-pravdha-bhdsya, Caitanya-caritdmrta Antya 5/84-85)


7.What is the basic qualification of a bona fide spiritualmaster?


The qualification of a bona fide spiritual master is that he knows the science of Krsna and lives outside the consideration of varndsrama.

(Jaiva Dharma Chapter 20)


8.What does a bona fide spiritual master instruct his disciple?


Pure spiritual knowledge is glorified everywhere in Vaisnava literature. In the teachings of Mahaprabhu, three topics are prominently discussed; they are  knowledge of one's relationship with the Supreme Lord, the process of achieving the goal of life, and the goal of life. Sambandha is understanding the  Supreme Lord, the living entity, the material world, and the relationships between them. Anyone who properly instructs his disciple about sambandha and  trains him in the process of achieving the goal of life is a bona fide spiritual master. After receiving this knowledge, a living entity needs no other  knowledge. All kinds of scientific and theoretical knowledge of this world are automatically known to him.

(Sajjana-tosani 11/10)


9.What is the difference between the spiritual master who gives initiation mantra and the spiritual master who gives Hari-ndma?


The nama-guru, the spiritual master who gives hari-ndma, teaches his disciples about the supremacy of the holy names and gives mantras, consisting of the  holy names. The diksd-guru is nondifferent from the nama-guru because the mantras are nondifferent from the holy names. If mantras are separated from the  holy names, they are no longer mantras. By simply uttering the holy names, one automatically utters the mantras.



10.How should a disciple treat his spiritual master?


A disciple should accept his spiritual master as the manifestation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and should never consider him an ordinary human  being.(Amrta-pravaha-bhasya, Caitanya-caritdmrta Adi 1/46)


11.Do the spiritual masters, after they disappear, bestow their mercy upon the living entities?


The souls of great thinkers of bygone ages, who now live spiritually, often approach an inquiring spirit and assist him in his development.

(The Bhagavat: Its Philosophy, Its Ethics & Its Theology)


12.Who is an dcdryal What are the duties of the Gaudiya Vaisnava acdryas?


One who follows religious principles and teaches others is an dcdrya. One cannot become an dcdrya by simply creating arguments and thereby making worldly  advancement. Those who have been entrusted with the responsibility of being acdryas in the Gaudiya Vaisnava-sampradaya should try to remove all anarthas from  their sampraddya. {Sajjana-tosani 4/1)


13.What is the primary duty of the sons of the acdryas?


Various types of anarthas have surfaced in the Gaudiya-sampradaya in the last four hundred years. The primary duty of all the sons of the acdryas is to  totally uproot those anarthas.(Sajjana-tosani 4/1)


14.How do living entities gain faith in an acarya?


Those who act as acdryas must first follow the religious path. Then, by exhibiting their own behavior, they attract the attention and faith of other living  entities. Only by proper conduct are the acdryas respectfully accepted by one and all.(Sajjana-tosani 8/9)


15.Is it proper to call cheaters or persons opposed to Krsna the sons of Vaisnava acaryas?


Every Vaisnava is our master. Wherever there is devotional service, there is Lordship, but family prestige is not a limb of devotional service.Some time ago,  a person told us that Advaita Acarya, the husband of Slta, rejected all his sons, except Acyutananda, because they were averse to Gaura. Therefore, only  Acyutananda was qualified to be addressed as Gosvaml. Another time a person said that since Sri Viracandra Prabhu, the son of Nityananda, had no sons, nobody  should be addressed as the descendant of Nityananda, and the Gosvamis of Khadadaha cannot be addressed as Prabhus. We are also hearing that the Gosvamis of  Baghnapada should not be called Prabhus either because they are disciples of Sri Jahnava-mata.


We do not wish to hear such false arguments. We worship all Vaisnavas as nondifferent from Krsna, and we show due respect to the descendants of the acaryas.  However, we can never show respect to the descendants of the acaryas who are either opposed to Krsna or have been converted into another religion. Can we  show respect to a brahmana who has changed his religion and become a Christian? Similarly if a descendant of an acarya gives up his occupational duties, then  he can no longer expect any family prestige.(Sajjana-tosanl 2/12)


16. Can a learned person who does not know the conclusion of devotional service be called an acarya?


Before the birth of Srlman Mahaprabhu, Devananda Pandita was famous as an acarya because of his explanations on Srlmad-Bhdgavatam. Being a teacher and  preacher of devotional service Himself, Mahaprabhu became extremely displeased upon hearing the nondevotional explanation of Devananda Pandita. Later,  Devananda Pandita realized the science of pure devotional service by the mercy of Vakresvara Pandita.(Sajjana-tosanl 9/12)


17.What harm is caused if one acts against the conclusion of devotional service?


A Vaisnava who acts against the conclusion of devotional service is the root cause of anarthas within the sampraddya. (Sajjana-tosanl 4/1)


18.If an acarya or a spiritual master criticizes the improper conclusions of devotional service, will he be considered a prajalpi or gossiper?


Sukadeva Gosvaml did not become & prajalpi even though he discussed the materialists to instruct his disciples. Therefore, such activities should be accepted  as beneficial. Moreover, to instruct His disciples, Srlman Mahaprabhu discussed the false renunciates.

(Sajjana-tosanl 10/10)


19.Are there any differences of opinion among the acaryas?


Whatever a self-realized soul in India will speak, a self-realized soul in another part of the world will speak. A devotee in Vaikuntha will also speak the  same thing, because there are no material qualities in the conclusions of pure, liberated souls. Therefore the conclusions cannot be different.

(Tattva-viveka Chapter 1/2)


20.Does an acarya give initiation without any consideration?


The worshipable, qualified acaryas should give initiation to the qualified candidates. Although in Sri Hari-bhakti-vildsa the method for testing each other  is recommended, it is often not practiced. That is why the fall of both the spiritual master and the disciple, as well as pollution of the sampraddya, become  inevitable.(Sajjana-tosani 4/1)


21.Can a householder become an acarya?


Among the householder devotees, only those who are expert in executing the nine types of devotional service are qualified to take the position of an acarya.

(Sajjana-tosanl 4/2)


22.Should a householder acarya set the example of awarding sannyasa?


When the devotee householders act as acarya and award mantras and symbols of sannyasa, great inauspiciousness is created for the recipient of the sannyasa.

(Sajjana-tosanl 4/2)


23.Do the acaryas have any faults?


There are no faults in the activities of the mahdjanas. (Sajjana-tosanl 10/10)


24.Why do people criticize even an extremely qualified acarya?


Even though Sri Nityananda Prabhu, the acarya of all acaryas, was an avadhuta, He never displayed any sinful behavior. Those who say that the Lord was sinful  are abominable. Sinful persons attribute false faults in the character of the acarya and try to prove their own faults as qualifications. Alas! O Kali!  Whatever you have promised you have done! Some artificial Vaisnavas say that Sri Nityananda Prabhu was a meat and fish eater, and accuse Sri Mahaprabhu, the  personification of religious principles, of associating with women, and thus call Him a paramour. They also cheat the people of the world by falsely accusing  pure devotees, such as Sri Rupa Gosvami and Sri Ramananda Raya, of associating with women.

(Sajjana-tosanl 8/9)