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Title: Guru Tattva

User: Bhushan         Date: 2007-01-27 21:27:33


Guru Tattva


  by His Divine Grace


 Shrila Bhakti Promod Puri Goswami Maharaja


 Shrila Krishnadas Kaviraja Gosvami in Chaitanya Charitamrita has written about the principle of Shri Guru. The Supreme Personality of Godhead Shri Krishna externally takes the form of the spiritual master to give mercy to all the devotees. The Supreme Lord, who is the receiver of all worship and adoration (visaya vigraha), instead now plays the role of Spiritual master as a servitor to the Supreme Lord (asraya vigraha). Never does the spiritual master equate himself as the Supreme Lord to be served by one and all but reveals his identity as the servant of the servant of Lord Chaitanya (Krishna). Shriman Mahaprabhu has coined the verse: 'gopih bhartuh pada kamalayor das das anu dasah', I am the servant of the servant of Lord Krishna. Though the spiritual master humbly thinks himself as the servant of Lord Chaitanya his sober disciples should understand him to be the transcendental expansion of Shri Chaitanya (Krishna), or His most confidential servitor. As Lord Krishna informs His beloved disciple Uddhava:     

acaryam mam vijaniyan navamanyeta karhicit

          na martya-buddhyasuyeta sarva-deva-mayo guru' Oh Uddhava! The spiritual master is known to be My very form. At no time should one neglect or disrespect the Guru as an ordinary mortal by envy, nor should he be viewed as having any faults. For this reason the Guru is the sum total of the demigods.  Two important verses in regard of service to Guru are illustrated:


sayam pratarupaniya bhaiksyam tasmai nivedayet

          yacchanyad-apy anujnatamupaunjita samyatah The disciple, by collection of alms (begging) in the morning and evening, should first offer this to the spiritual master. Then, only after obtaining his permission can he partake of these cooked grains in a disciplined manner.          

susrusamana acaryam sadopasita nicavet

          yajna-sayyasamasthanair natidure krtanjalih One who is fixed in service to his spiritual master should humbly follow him while he is walking, to be vigilant while he is sleeping, at the time of his rest to massage his legs voluntarily and at the time of his sitting should wait nearby for his order with folded hands.      The Guru is the most beloved of Lord Mukunda.  The evidence for this is illustrated in the following verses:

  'gurum-varam mukunda prestatve smara' in 'Manah Siksa' by Shrila Raghuantha Das, by Shrila Jiva Gosvami in his 'Bhakti Sandarbha' (216/5)


suddha bhaktah shriguruh shri sivasya ca bhagavata

       saha abheda drsthim tat priyatam matve naiva manyante'  and by Shrila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura in his 'Gurv astakam' 

saksad dharitvena samasta sastrai uktas tatha bhavyate eva sadbhih

kintu prabho yah priya eva tasya vande guroh shri caranaravindam      "I offer my respectful obeisances to the spiritual master who is the non-different expansion of the Supreme, as meditated upon by the saintly people and also acts the dearest servitor of the Supreme Lord. Furthermore the Guru can be termed as the non-different expansion of Shri Radharani.  Our most and compassionate spiritual master has referred to himself as Shri Varsabhanavi Dayita Das, meaning the one who is dearmost to Shrimati Radhika engaged unalloyed in the service of Shri Krishna.  he has revealed himself in his original identity as Nayana manjari, following in the footsteps of Shrimati Radhika's beloved servant Shri Rupa Manjari (Shri Rupa Gosvami). In this way he is glorified. 

tevam gopika vrsayavestan ayantikehasi

sevadhikarini guro nija pada padma

dasyam pradaya kuru mam vraja kanane shri

radhanghri-sevanarase sukhinim sukhabdhe         O Gurudeva! You are immersed in an ocean of bliss and you can award transcendental service.  You are the gopika beloved of Shrimati Radhika. Please bestow on me the shelter of your lotus feet, so that I can be ecstatically engaged in the transcendental service of the Queen of Vraja, Shrimati Radharani.  His pranam mantras are:


namah om visnu padaya krishna presthaya bhutale

shrimate bhaktisiddhanta sarasvati iti namine

shri varsavhanavi devi dayitaya krpabdhaye

krishna sambandha vijnana dayine prabhave namah

madhuryajvala premadya shri rupanuga bhaktida

shri goura karuna sakti vigrahaya namas tu te

namas te gauracani shri murtaye dinatarine

rupanuga viruddhapa siddhanta dvanta harine   Meaning : - "I offer my respectful obeisances unto his Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati who is very dear to Lord Krishna, having taken shelter at His lotus feet."  "I offer my respectful obeisances to Shri Varsabhanavi Devi Dayita who is favored by Shrimati Radharani and who is an ocean of mercy, delivering the science of Krishna."

   "I offer my respectful obeisances unto you, the personified form of Lord Chaitanya's mercy, who delivers the devotional service enriched with the conjugal love of Shri Radha and Krishna in the line of Shrila Rupa Gosvami."

   "I offer my obeisances unto you who are the personified teachings of Lord Chaitanya the deliverer of the fallen souls. You never compromise with any teachings deviating from that as enunciated by Shrila Rupa Gosvami."

 As Narottama das Thakura has expressed his obedience to the messages of Shrila Rupa Gosvami, Shrila Prabhupada has similarly shown the same mod of obedience to Shrila Rupa Gosvami, praying for his service birth after birth. I too, in this vein, pray wholeheartedly to be the servant of my beloved spiritual master, birth after birth.

         In Shrimad Bhagavatam, Shri Kavi, one of the nine great rsis, explains to King Nimi:

         "The Supreme Lord has given instructions in the most simple fashion by which even the most ignorant people can take such advantage of this knowledge. These sets of instructions are termed as 'bhagavat dharma'. In the sincere following of these religious principles, the human being cannot be hindered by any impediments, so much so, as a man running with his eyes shut cannot slip and fall down. The living entity, by the influence of the external energy of the Lord, becomes forgetful of his original identity. This results in the pure soul being bewildered by the attachment to the body ,mind and intelligence and being absorbed in these false coverings become subject to fear. Therefore the discriminating and sober person should, by shelter of the spiritual master knowing him to be the Lord's confidential associate, engage in unalloyed devotional service of the Supreme Lord as the way to counteract this fear."

 The main process of devotion is chanting of the Holy Names which can reveal the transcendental nature of the Lord's birth and activities. Shrila Prabhupada, informs us, that one of the nine Yogendra says:' The mature disciple should inquisitively approach a bona-fide spiritual master of pacified urges and well versed in scriptures. He should by submission and inquiry, study the ancient doctrines from him. In Shrimad Bhagavatam (11/3/22)


tatra  bhagavatan dharman siksed gurvatmadaivatah

amayaya anuvrtya yai tusyed atma  'tmado harih "One should always view the spiritual master as the expansion of Lord Hari and one's best friend and well wisher. Only be obedient service of Shrila Gurudeva without any hypocrisy can he be able to please Lord Hari in which case all the principles of 'bhagavta-dharma' will become automatically understood."  Shrila Prabhupada has written: -The disciple, after having accepted the shelter of the spiritual master, should not view the spiritual master in a material perspective but should engage wholeheartedly in his service. By the force of illusion, if the disciple demeans the position of the spiritual master or tries to act superior in relation to him, then very little fruit or gain is obtained, rather the reverse occurs after such acceptance of a guru.

 The knowledge of being servant of the Supreme Lord by an aspirant, leads to service of the Lord. When the Lord, seeing such earnest striving, becomes pleased, one becomes qualified to be the servant of the spiritual master and by this relentless, faithful service to the Guru, the Supreme Lord's mercy is attained. The verse below is relevant:


yasya deva para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau

tasyaite kathita hy arthah prakasante mahatmanah  Meaning :- "One who has unflinching faith in the Supreme Lord and the spiritual master, all the purports of the scriptures become revealed."    This means, all one's misgivings and doubts are instantly vanquished at that time.. These stages are listed in the instructions of Shrila Rupa Gosvami: Firstly, acceptance of spiritual master and then inquiring submissively from him, following which, one engages in devotional service in the footsteps of the pure devotees. Consequently, one becomes entitled to hear the pure scripture called Shrimad Bhagavatam and begins to do so. Gradually, the devotees become entrenched in the service of Lord Krishna, by deliberation of the purports of the verses of this scripture. At that stage they give up all types of fruitive work and become established as the servant of the Supreme Lord Krishna: This is the message of the Ancient religion (Bhagavat-Dharma). Such a person is not confined by the dictates of fruitive work, dry knowledge, or other deviant behavior. In this world, to obtain a spiritual master who not only practices but propagates this Ancient religion is very rare.

 On the disappearance of Lord Gaura-sundara His sublime teachings gradually have become distorted, together with the stress on pure devotion becoming diminished. By His sweet will, His merciful potency has appeared in the form of two effulgent stalwart leaders to carry out the rectification of the fallen people of Kali -yuga. They were Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and his ideal representative Shrila Sarasvati Thakura. The Six Gosvamis had condensed the messages of the Vedas, Itihasa, Purana, etc. in their writings, and these two 'Acaryas' fathered the relevant material from these works and published them in various languages like Bengali,, Hindi and English in the form of periodicals and journals. By their inspiration, many temples have been constructed with the emphasis on service to the Deity form of the Lord and the chanting of the Holy Names as the ideal process for this age of Kali. Discourses on the Holy Books like Chaitanya Charitamrita are also being carried out daily in these temples. In addition Shrila Prabhupada, by means of dioramas and exhibitions, has used scientific techniques to implement the preaching of Shriman Mahaprabhu's message untiringly. In spite of their great efforts to effect the propagation of the divine message of Shriman Mahaprabhu, the ordinary people in their fallen condition seem to relish the paths opposed to the mood of pure devotion, which has made the pure devotees become compassionate at the sight of such people wallowing in ignorance. The present times advertise many false gurus who by giving indulgence to the whimsical desires of their disciples attempt to obtain a large number of followers. These so called magnanimous personalities, being respected as the self effulgent leaders for the present Age, have only succeeded in stifling the devotional mood of the general masses. In this way, these impostors have denied their followers of any success or hope of happiness.

 The Supreme Lord is present internally as the Supersoul in the heart (Caitya Guru) and externally as the spiritual master to bless the fallen conditioned soul. (Shrimad Bhagavatam 11/29/6) Uddhava speaks:


naivapanyanty apachitim kavaya tavesa

barhmayasapi krtamrddam udah smarantah

yo' antarbahis tanubhritam asubham vidhunvan

na acarya caitaya vapusa svagatim vyanakti  Meaning:- "You are present in Your form externally as the initiating and instructing spiritual master giving guidance to Your disciples, with the help of model personal behavior and internally existing as the Supersoul in the heart (Caitya guru), warding off the attraction of your devotees towards sense-gratification together with enlightening them of their original position. The learned devotees, remembering Your grace, become overwrought with joy and are not able to repay their debt to you even in one life-span of Lord Brahma."  Shrila  Visvanatha Cakravarti has explained this verse:

 "If anyone says that the Supreme Lord is awarding the four-fold aims of life to his devout votaries is not free from limiting adjuncts but is conditional, the answer is no, not exactly that. Once cannot say this because even the very practice of devotion is only possible by His mercy alone, for the myriad ways the Lord helps the individual and promotes his welfare cannot be repaid. The learned sages who are living long lives, like Lord Brahma, cannot repay their debt to Him even In the least and on remembering His grace become overcome by bliss. That is this beneficial help of the Supreme Lord? The Lord externally in the form of initiating and instructing spiritual master or Acarya, guides the aspiring soul by giving him initiation into the Holy Mantra and practical instructions on the practice of devotion, and internally as the Supersoul in the heart (Caitya Guru), He gives them the intelligence 'aham dadami buddhi yogam tam', (see Bhagavat-gita 10.10) b which they can attain Him. In this way by giving the aspirant proper discriminative intelligence, He inspires the devotee to strive in his devotions to the point whereby he eventually achieves the transcendental association of the Lord in his original body. If the Lord in the heart does not help remove the obstacles present in the heart and inspire the spiritual aspirant to pure devotion internally, that candidate will never be successful even in millions of years of striving to achieve that stage. As the internal 'Caitya' Guru, the Lord gives them fixed intelligence to proceed on. Further, He, as the external spiritual master, by the shelter of his lotus feet instructs the candidate on pure devotional practice by virtue of his personal model example. Therefore the spiritual aspirant, in following the footsteps of Shri Guru very rigidly and by persevering in such devotions, will result in pleasing the Guru. The spiritual master in being pleased, will automatically warrant the grace of the Supreme Lord.

         This type of fortune is denied to one who does not take to the exclusive shelter of the bona fide spiritual master. In this context, the persons under the category of fruitive workers, dry scholars and ascetics are not ideal as spiritual masters. In taking to the shelter of such people, material enjoyment, liberation or perfection may be obtained. But because in all these paths the gross and subtle desires to satisfy one's own senses exist and not quite the pure desires for serving the senses of Lord Krishna, consequently pure devotion will never result. Fruitive work not done in relation to the service of the Lord instead increases the bondage of the living entity to the material world. In the path of dry knowledge, the desire for devotion is absent, but that of liberation exists, which is even more dangerous than the material enjoyment sought by the fruitive workers. This class of people tries to eradicate all differences between the devotee, the practice of devotion and the Supreme Lord (knower, knowledge and known) in their deviant analysis. When one accepts the monastic axioms like 'aham brahamasmi' or 'tattva asi', etc., and by impersonal knowledge tries to merge in the unqualified Brahman as one's highest objective, then these practices are not conducive but rather destroy devotion to the very roots The devotee shuns away form such people because the aspirations of such people to merge altogether in the void, attaining impersonal liberation, is worse than death. The devotees of Lord Vishnu usually are desirous of obtaining the four fold liberations which are:



(sarsti) equal opulence with the Lord

(sarupa) have the same form of the Lord

(samipya) residing near the Lord

(salokya) staying in the same planet of the Lord However, the unalloyed devotees of Lord Krishna reject all these types of liberation in favor of pure devotional service to the Lord. They will not even accept such liberation if given to them unasked. Evidence of this is found in the verses of Shrimad Bhagavatam (1/20/31-34).  In the Shrimad Bhagavatam, the spotless Purana, love of Godhead has been defined as the highest goal of life above the four-fold aims. Usually, the fruitive workers aspire for piety, wealth and satisfaction of their senses accordingly. The impersonalists try to merge in the unqualified Brahman for salvation, while the ascetic (yogis) also try to merge with the qualified form of the Supersoul in the heart. One of the invocatory prayers of Shrimad Bhagavatam runs beginning with 'Dharma projjita kaitava'.  This has been explained by Shrila Kavirja Gosvami saying:


ajnanatamer nama kahiye kaitvava (CC.)  Shrila Shridhar Gosvami, in his commentary, has enlightened us about the word 'pro' as that by which even the very desire for liberation is rejected.  Shrila Krishnadas Kaviraja has named all that which misleads the pure soul of its constitutional function as servant of the Lord, to be cheating tendencies (kaitava).  Other than the original desire to satisfy the senses of Lord Krishna, all else comes under the realm of cheating tendencies and as 'bad association' which should be rejected. The only goal for the sincere aspirant is Lord Krishna and His devotional service, while other desires are listed as bad association. Consequently, piety, wealth, satisfaction of desires and liberation are all cheating tendencies-gross ignorance (ajnana tamah) of which liberation is the greatest cheating tendency. The spiritual master by delivering transcendental knowledge awakens the disciple form his ignorant state. The aspirant, on receiving initiation (diksa), becomes aware of his own real nature, the truth of the Supreme Lord, the means of accomplishment and the goal. In this way, freeing himself from the clutches of the illusory energy by proper striving in devotional practice, he finally remains entrenched in steady devotion to Lord Krishna.   Uddhava, the jewel of the devotees, addresses Lord Krishna in this manner:

 "O Lord! Your lotus feet are the resort of all saintly people and are the cause of unlimited bliss, while the other categories of aspirants, who are seeking dry knowledge, accumulations of pious work or mystic powers, do not take to the shelter of Your lotus feet and thereby become vanquished by Your external energy."

 "Oh ! Acyuta, You are the Absolute friend of all living entities. In Your incarnation as Lord Rama, Your lotus feet were given the greatest reverence by the demigods. They placed their jewel crown in adoration on Your lotus feet yet You only formed friendly relationships with the monkeys, what to speak of men or demigods? You showed subservience to unalloyed devotees like Nanda Baba, the gopis, Vali, who all exhibited loving servitorship to You. This is not an amazing sight, for pure devotees who practice intense devotion to You are the object of Your grace and You are completely subjugated by them. The categories of devotees who are completely devoid of desires for pious work, knowledge and mysticism only can conquer You.  In Your expansion as Lord Rama, You established loving relations eagerly with the monkeys. In Vrindavana too, You dallying with these lower animals like the cows, exhibited Your affection for them.

An example being how you stole butter from Your house to feed the monkeys. What type of knowledge or mysticism have they practiced that You have become won over by them? On the contrary, amongst the Impersonalists, there is not even a trace of the existence of such delightful pastimes. Hence, we, being Your loyal servants, do not accept all these false processes of knowledge and mysticism. Especially, those who have understood that unlimited mercy You have given to devotees like Prahlad Maharaja and Bali, can never be deviated from devotion to Your lotus feet in pursuance of any lesser goal like liberation.

         Chandogya Upanisad states: acaryavan puruso veda (6/14/2). The living entity who has taken to the lotus feet of a self-realized soul  can understand  the Supreme Lord.

Who is Acarya? As Manu Samhita states:- The twice-born who performs the upanayan ritual on his disciple and teaches him the purports of the Vedas is called an 'Acarya' (realized spiritual master)


Achinoti yah 'sastrartham acare sthapayatyapi

Svayam acarate yasmad acarya stena kirtitah   One who has realized the conclusions of the scriptures and teaches these to others by dint of his own model behavior is the self-realized Guru (Acarya).  In this context if some arrogant pundit, whilst browsing through the Vedas and not finding proper mention of Shri Krishna dismisses the Vedas, then he is not exhibiting the proper conduct of an Acarya for blaspheming the scriptures. The Lord Himself declares in Gita, "I am the knower, the compiler and the end of all the Vedas". The Gita, as written by Shri Vyasadeva, is the cream of the Upanisads and this purport of the Vedas contain two important verses, mahavakya, namely: man mana bhava mad-bhakto mad -yaji mam namaskuru and sarva dharman parityaja mam ekam saranam vraja, which is that ultimately :- One should surrender to Lord Shri Krishna with devotion for attaining the prime goal of life.  The genuine 'Acarya' explains the purports of the scriptures in terms of pure devotion, 'acaryam bhaktisamsanat' and this is the meaning of 'Acarya". Next, the meaning of the word 'Guru' is explained. 'Gu' means darkness of ignorance and 'Ru' means that which dissipates such darkness, or in other words, one who takes away the dense darkness of ignorance by giving transcendental knowledge to the disciple is called Guru. The Guru has the Supreme Lord stationed in his heart and does not differentiate other living entities with himself. In this sense, he is most magnanimous, thereby achieving his qualification as 'Guru'.   The spiritual master, having the form of the Absolute Truth firmly entrenched in his pure heart, is able to transmit pure knowledge to the disciple by initiation (diksa), without himself being reduced or minimized in any way. This is the inconceivable potency of the Supreme Lord. By this potency too, He can manifest in his absolute form both in the heart of the Guru and disciple at the same time.

         In Shrimad-Bhagavatam the sage Prabuddha says:


tasmad gurum prapadyeta jijnasuh sreyah uttamam

          sabde pare ca nisantam barhmanyo pasam asrayam To obtain his highest welfare, one should approach and take shelter of a self-realized spiritual master who is well-versed with knowledge of the scriptures and free from all vices like attachment and anger. The amassing of pious merit to enjoy in this life and hereafter is after all a temporary affair and opposed to the true goal.  It is imperative that the spiritual master be conversant with the purports of the revealed scriptures otherwise, if he is not able to clear the doubts of the disciples, inevitably the disciple will tend to become unsatisfied and may then become indifferent, or lack faith in the spiritual master. "Para  brahma nisnatah" here refers to the necessity of the spiritual master being thoroughly convinced of the Absolute Transcendence by personal realization and experience; if not, his mercy will not be of much value nor will it bear any fruit. Another symptom of the bona fide spiritual master is that he is free form lust, anger, greed which is consonant with his spiritual awakening.

                  In Hari Bhakti Vilas, Shrila Sanatana Gosvami quotes:

         "A Guru who understands the actual conclusions of the revealed scripture has the ability to dissipate the doubts of the disciple. Furthermore, the Guru himself should be in a position to be able to experience the deep spiritual truths and be stoic in his understanding, otherwise he will never be able to impart true understanding to the disciple. The identity of such a spiritual master is peaceful and serene, whereby all base urges like lust etc. have been pacified. In addition he is resolute in the uninterrupted devotional service of the Lord such as the limbs of devotion like hearing and chanting. One should take shelter of such a genuine spiritual master.

 The dynasty from the first-born Svayambhuva Manu and Satarupa begins with their children, two sons, Priyavarta and Uttanapada and three daughters, Akunti, Devahuti and Prasuti respectively. These daughters were handed to the progenitors Ruci, Kadamba and Daksa from whom the whole human race descended. From the direct succession of King Priyavrata was King Rshaba, son of King Nabhi. He was an expansion of the Supreme Lord Vasudeva and an empowered incarnation. He has 100 sons, the eldest of which was King Bharatha. The region in which we are staying is named after this King Bharata. Of the seven islands of this lotus-like Bhu-Mandala planetary system is Jambudvipa, which can be divided into nine regions. The Ajnaba region of this island of Jambudvipa is Bharata-varsa. At the end of Dvarpara-yuga the Supreme Lord graciously advents in this region of Bharata-varsa and executes human-like pastimes. It is by the great mercy of the Supreme Lord that we are born in a most pious region compared to the doorway of the spiritual world. Hence the sober intelligent person should not waste a moment, but endeavor hard for self-realization, for this human body is but temporary and only for some brief period of time. There is no certainty when death will catch up with us, therefore as long as we are endowed with living consciousness, for that period we should endeavor for the highest. This rare human form of life should not be wasted in vain but positively used in devotional service to the Supreme Lord.

         In Shrimad Bhagavatam (11 / 9 / 29), labdha sudurlabham idam, Lord Dattatreya has warned us to be vigilant in making use of this valuable human body. Once, the song of King Yayati, Yadu, happened to meet a serene sage wandering fearlessly and unattached. The curious Kind Yadu then inquired form this sage Dattatreya the cause of his blissful nature. Lord Dattatreya then informed Yadu that in the acceptance of twenty-four instructing spiritual masters like the Earth, sea, bee, mountain, etc,. he had become self-realized and succeeded in becoming detached by this process. (Diksa Guru is one but there can be many siksa Gurus). Lord Krishna, before enacting His disappearance pastimes from this mortal world, retold this story of Dattatreya to His confidential associate Uddhava. He also told Uddhava that devotion is superior to all other processes like works and knowledge for the unalloyed devotees of Lord Krishna disdain to accept even liberation in exchange for the bliss of pure devotional service. In this context too, the verse "nrdehamadyam" has been explained. ( 11 / 20 / 19). After obtaining this rare human body which is compared to a boat, the spiritual master, who is navigator of that boat, and the favorable wind in the form of the causeless mercy of the Lord, if one dies not strive to cross over this ocean of material existence then he is a killer of his own soul.

  Shri Shrila Prabhupada comments on this verse: -

 This precious human body can secure us our highest welfare and there is no other way. It is obtained only after evolution through countless lifetimes in this universe. The spiritual master, being proficient in the science of Krishna consciousness, can serve as the navigator of this boat. The favorable wind which propels this human boat into eternity is the causeless mercy of the Lord. One who cannot understand the value of this human body or the spiritual master as the ideal navigator and does not aspire to seek the mercy of the Lord, is killer of his own soul because of gross ignorance of his own welfare. Conclusively, taking shelter of the spiritual master to engage in devotional service is of primary importance. In Shrimad Bhagavatam (11 / 10 / 5) Shri Krishna tells Uddhava:-


madabhijnam gurum santam upasita madatmakam One should engage in the service of a self-realized spiritual master who knows Me in truth and is absorbed in Me : Shrila Sanatana Gosvami defines the term 'madabhijnam':-       He who, experiencing My natural affection for My devotees thereby knows Me in truth is called 'madabhijnam". One who has absorbed his mind in Me is termed madatmakam.

  Manduka Sruti states:


tad vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet

          smaitpanih 'strotiryam brahma nistham The disciple with sacrificial implements in his hand should, approach the self-realized master to attain the highest knowledge. In the Bhagavad-gita (4.3) "tad viddhi paripatena praiprasnena sevaya" has defined these sacrificial implements as submission, service and inquiry. 'Tad' refers to the Supreme Lord. In other words for knowledge of the Supreme Lord one should approach the bona fide spiritual master and offer prostrated obeisances to him in a mood of submission. He should then proceed to serve the Guru like a menial servant to his satisfaction. Then he should humbly inquire about the qualities and form of the Supreme Truth with His multifarious energies. The other relevant questions will be:            From where and why have I come to this material world, and how can I be freed from this material attraction?

         The Katha Sruti  (2 / 3/ 14) states:


uttisthata jagrata prapya varam nibodhata Meaning :- Wake up! Arise ! Take shelter of the self realized soul and understand your original identity: thus enforcing the need of a spiritual master.    The Svetasvatara Sruti (1 /23) beginning with "yasya deva para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau" states:- To one who has unflinching faith in the spiritual master and devotion to the Supreme Lord, all the scriptures become revealed to him. To understand and be enlightened by the revealed scriptures necessitates the mercy of Shrila Gurudeva which is available only by devotion to his lotus feet and not otherwise. Shriman Mahaprabhu, in His teachings to Shrila Rupa Gosvami remarks:


brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan ji va

guru-krishna-prasade paya bhakti lata bi ja As a result of diverse fruitive activities, the different living entities are wandering in myriad wombs within the universe. By dint of previous pious works, one becomes greatly fortunate to undertake devotional service to the Lord. By the mercy of both the spiritual master and the Supreme Lord, he receives the creeper of devotion which is initial faith in devotional practices. The spiritual practitioner installs this creeper of devotion in budding stage in the core of his heart and waters it by the process of hearing and chanting, doing the work of a transcendental gardener. The mercy of Shri Guru coming into play, the creeper sprouts and slowly growing traverses the boundary of the material universe into the spiritual Vaikuntha planets and on reaching there, with renewed efforts, the creeper rises over to reach the Lotus feet of Shri Krishna in Goloka Vrndavana. At this point too, the process of hearing and chanting becomes ever more intense. The ripened fruit of that huge creeper of devotion matures as love of Godhead.

During the cultivation of devotional practice, the aspirant should be especially careful to ward off the mad elephant offense or blaspheming against the pure devotees of the Supreme Lord. Such an offense will damage the tender creeper and curtail devotion. Besides, there is the tendency for side branches to sprout form the main branch during cultivation of devotion, which impels one to stray away from the goal. These are sense-gratification, liberation, desire for profit, fame and distinction, rivalry and enviousness, etc. These activities do not contribute to the growth of the main creeper of pure devotion In that precarious condition, only implicit obedience to the spiritual master can enable us to necessarily weed out these impediments (anarthas). Love of Godhead is achieved by single-minded pure devotion which is above the common four-gold aims up to liberation. It is to be stressed that the main ingredient for advancement is the mercy of the spiritual master, which is in turn automatically obtained by unconditional surrender to his lotus feet. The living entity, in his pure identity, is the servant of Lord Krishna. By forgetfulness of this identity, he has become entangled by the illusory material modes of nature. The only way to escape from this material entanglement is devotional service to the Lord, through the media of the spiritual master.  (In Shrimad-Bhagavatam 10 /27 /32) Prayers of the Vedas:  

vijita hrsikavayubhira danta manas turagam

ya iha yatanti yantum atilolam upayakhidhidah

vyasanasatanvitah samavahaya guruscaranam vanija

ivaja santyakrtakarnadhara jaladhou   Oh Lord who is not born! Without the direct shelter of a spiritual master, all efforts to control one's turbulent mind, whether one has apparently done so by his own effort or not been able to do so, is of no avail! He will simply experience misery and difficulties at every step like the trader who tries to cross the ocean in a vessel devoid of an experienced navigator.   The qualities of a spiritual master are mentioned elaborately in the Mantra Muktabali Sutras.

 The spiritual master usually comes from a pure dynasty or lineage of high ancestry. He himself by nature is pure of heart. He can be in any stage of life, in his status as officiating Guru. He is free from anger. He is well versed in the Vedas and understands the purports of all scriptures. He is free from malice to any living creature. He looks kindly on all living entities; his speech is sweet and beneficial; he is faithful to his dress and engages in the welfare of all living entities. He is sober, self-satisfied, without hankering for any unwanted desire. He is brimming with all nice qualities like affection and generosity. He worships the Deity steadfastly. He is affectionate to his disciples, he is grateful, he performs homage understanding its significance. He is merciful to all, possesses a purified mind and can defeat all opposing deviant conclusions to pure devotion. In Agastya Samhita too, the spiritual master is described as one who is peaceful, free from desires of sense gratification, who controls his mind and body, engages in scriptural study, expert in revelation of the scriptures, the best of all brahmanas (twice-born), understands the meaning and use of Mantras, can dispel all the doubts of his disciples, understand deep truths, always engaged in purifying himself, has achieved perfection in conducting sacrifices, is truthful, austere and usually is in the class of a householder.

  The Vishnu Smrti describes that the spiritual master who always extract service and wealth of a disciple and hankers for prestige and fame is not worthy of being a spiritual master.


guruvo bhavah santi 'sisyavittaparakah

durlabhah sadgurudeva 'sisyasantaparakah (Puranas)  Lord Mahadeva speaks" "Oh Devi! There are many so-called spiritual masters who are just bent on seizing the wealth of their disciples, but the spiritual mater who takes away the miseries and afflictions of the devotee is very rare." Further, in Vishnu smrti, the symptoms of a genuine spiritual master are mentioned as being very compassionate to all beings, self-satisfied and not dependent on others, resplendent with all obvious good qualities, engaged in the welfare of other living entities free from all desires, having achieved all perfection, replete with all knowledge especially regarding pure devotional conclusions of scriptures, who can cut off the doubts of the disciples, not lazy but always absorbed in Shri Krishna's service.

   When Ramananda Raya humbly submitted himself as being of sudra birth to Shriman Mahaprabhu, the Lord replied:


kiba vipra kiva jyasi, sudra kene nay

yei krishna tattva vetta, sei guru haya  Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura writes in his commentary:=  "The Lord Shriman Mahaprabhu says:

 I never think that just because I have been born from a brahmin family and have taken the renounced order of life, it is not proper for Me to take instruction on religious principles from one of inferior birth, i.e. sudra. It is a fact that by the 'varnasrama' system of society, the 'brahmin Guru' is recommended for instruction on religious principles and for giving initiation. The highest spiritual knowledge relates to the truth about Shri Krishna. Thus to be a Guru able to impart such knowledge is based solely on the contention, whether or not he has realized in truth the science of Krishna consciousness and is independent of whether he is in the designation of a sudra, householder or the renounced order. In the Hari Bhakti Vilas, it is stated that if a high-born capable spiritual master is present, it is not befitting to take Krishna mantra from a low class person. This rule is however reserved only for the common lay men who are compelled to follow the formal dictates of religious principles. Especially, for them to make progress necessitates a 'brahmin Guru' by which some spiritual merit can be secured by these people. The devotees (Vaishnavas) are above this rule.

  Those who sincerely take to devotion in either of the path of formal regulated principles or spontaneous devotion, should take the shelter of such a self-realized soul, irregardless of his birth or station (stage of life).  Many concrete proofs have been quoted from Padma Purana, for example:- "A pure devotee of the Supreme Lord, who is born form a low caste is a great soul and not considered of low-class, while one devoid of devotion to Lord Janardana, though of high birth, is considered sudra. The six brahminical practices are performing sacrifice oneself, conducting such sacrifices, study of scriptures, teaching of such spiritual knowledge, welfare activities like distribution of knowledge and lastly, acceptance of wealth. A brahmin expert in all such activities including even the science of Mantra, cannot be a guru if he is a non-devotee, while a low-class candela who is devoted to Lord Vishnu can qualify to be a 'Guru". Again, a twice born, proficient in scriptural lore and able to elucidate their purports in various ways, that brahmin, if he is not a devotee, does not qualify to take the 'Guru' position. One who is born in the first three classes of Brahmin (priests), ksatriya (noble class), vaisya (farmer), can be naturally eligible to be the guru of the other fourth class namely sudra (servant) class and other lower classes. On the other hand, the dearmost devotee of the Supreme Lord, even though born from a sudra class, can be easily accepted as spiritual master of all the other higher classes. This is verified by the verse below:


nica-jati jhane krishna-bhajane ayogya

sat-kula-vipra nahe bhajane yogya

yei bhaje sei bda, abhakta-hina, chara

krishna-bhajane nahi jai-kuladi vicara  I surrender in submission to Shrila Sanatana Prabhu who gives transcendental knowledge. He who is always feeling the distresses of others have induced me to mercifully drink the highest nectar of devotion endowed with renunciation, whilst in my depraved state of blind ignorance and doubt.  Shri Rsabhadeva gives the following instruction to his sons (5/5/18)


gurur na sa syat

sva-jano na sa syat

pita na sa syaj janani na sa syat

daivam na tat syan na patis ca sa syan

na mocayed yah samupeta-mrtyum         "One who cannot save his dependents from the impending face of death in the form of this miserable material world, cannot be considered as Guru. A father who cannot liberate his children is not a father and should not beget children. Similarly a mother, if she cannot rescue her children from illusion, should not bother to give birth to a child. A demigod should not accept worship and offerings from the votaries if he cannot deliver them. A husband should not be accepted in marriage in he cannot save the wife."  In short, one should reject all such 'gurus' who cannot liberate us from the material illusory energy culminating in death. Just as previous times, the corresponding examples are given as in the case of Maharaja Bali who rejected his Guru "Sukracarya'. The devotee Prahlada Maharaja rejected his own father King Hiranyakasipu. Bharata rejected his own mother Kaikeyi. King Katvanga rejected the demigods. Also, the wives of the ritualistic brahmanas gave up the association of their husbands on seeing their indifference to Lord Krishna.

         Simply to be a great scholar is not the criteria to be a spiritual master.  Lord Krishna addresses Uddhava in Shrimad Bhagavatam (11/11/28) L-


sabdha brahmani nisnto na nisnayat pare yadi

                   sramas tasya srama phalo hrdhenum iva raksatah         The meaning of the verse is, one who is erudite in scriptural study and engrosses himself in scriptural expositions but does not delineate it in connection with the Supreme Lord, does not reap any fruit or merit as keeping a cow who does not give milk. 'Nisnata' means to practice devotion to the Supreme Lord and 'na nisnayatah' means one who is not expert in understanding devotion to the Supreme Lord. In this respect, the utility of qualities like austerity, knowledge and high birth will be only useful it they induce one to engage in devotional service to the Supreme Lord and by themselves are merely secondary qualities . In Hari Bhakti Suddhodaya, Shrila Krishnadas Kaviraja has commented that one has burnt all his resultant sinful actions by intense devotional service, and whose character is spotless, is worthy of veneration by learned people, even if he comes form a very low birth (candala). For one who is completely devoid of devotion to the Lord, his high birth, knowledge of scriptures, muttering of Mantras and austerity resemble the ornaments on a dead body.           In Padma Purana it is stated :-


grhta visnu diksako visnu puja paro narah

vaisnavo'bhitah 'bhijnairo' itaro' smad avaishnava A person who is initiated into the Vishnu Mantra and is dedicated to worship of Lord Vishnu and learned in devotional service is a devotee (Vaishnava) while other are non devotees. In Pancharatra it is declared that one who receives a Mantra from a non-devotee will pave his way to hell and the only remedy for this is again to accept the Vishnu mantra again from a devotee.

 In Hari Bhakti Vilas, there are stern warnings against whimsically rejecting a self-realized spiritual master. (4/141-143) For example: Those persons who whimsically reject a bona fide guru for a disciplic succession, or a Guru who has realized the purports of the Vedas is considered so ungrateful that even the flesh-eating birds and animals will not eat his body. One who rejects his true spiritual master unrightfully has already renounced the Supreme Lord at the same time, and the results of this atrocious action is that his actual knowledge and learning will become contaminated and slowly dwindle away.

Another statement from scripture states that, the person is lowest among human beings who after deliberately accepting a guru at first, later reject him altogether. He will have to burn in hell for one million kalpas as atonement for this.

In actual fact, all these fearful statements in regard to rejection of a spiritual master refer only to the case when the Guru was genuine or bona fide. On the contrary worldly gurus who are deviant from the true paths, shows enmity to the true devotees, or are simply famous public personalities can be rejected in the consideration that these gurus will not help us to achieve our spiritual objective.  Shrila Jiva Gosvami in Bhakti Sandarbha explains :-


paramartha guruasrayo vyavarika

gururadi parityagenapi kartavyah  Meaning :- An incompetent spiritual master who is worldly-minded and accepted on convenience for name sake should be rejected and a self-realized soul who can impart spiritual knowledge is to be chosen.  Further, in the Bhakti Sandarbha it is written: 

vaishnavavidvesi cet parityajya eva

guror apya baliptasyeti smaranat  The purport being, if a spiritual master is antagonistic to the devotees, or if he is an ordinary materialistic sense enjoyer, then he should be rejected. Such a guru, not having had any real symptoms of a devotee, will also incur fault for awarding the Mantra in an unauthorized manner and will have to glide towards the hellish region as a consequence. The best course in this situation is to approach a great soul for guidance in humble submission.  The famous verse  in Mahabharata as quoted by Shri Jiva in his Bhakti Sandarbha commentary is stated:- 

guruapya baliptasya karya akaryam ajanatah

utpathapratipannasya parityago vidhiyate  One who is attached to sense gratification, who is indecisive of what is proper and not proper action and whose ways have deviated from the path of pure devotion, in other words a 'guru' by name only should be rejected. Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has mentioned when one has to reject a Guru in his Harinam Cintamani:- 

tabe yadi ei rupa ghatana kabu haya

asat-sange furura yogyata naya ksaya

prathame chilena tini sadguru-pradhana

pare nama-apvaradhe hoia hata jnana

viasnava vidvesa kari chadi nama-rasa

krame krame han artha-kaminira vasa

sei gur chadi sisya shri krishna krpaya

sad guru labhiya punah suddha-nama gaya  In Jaiva Dharma, Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura writes:  The initiating Guru (Diksa) is usually not to be given up but for two specific reasons can be renounced. Firstly when the disciple ignorantly accepts without any examination a Guru without consideration of his spiritual advancement and knowledge together with, whether or not he observes Vaishnava etiquette and conduct. Later when he understands his own dilemma and that no spiritual merit can be accomplished, that spiritual master needs naturally to be rejected.  Narada Pancaratra's verdict:-


yo vyakti nyayarahitam anyayena srnoti yah

tavubhau narakam ghoram vrajatah kalam aksayam  One who speaks in a manner contrary to the revealed conclusions of scripture and the disciple who strictly upholds such distorted conclusions, will both go down to the darkest well of hellish existence.  The second reason by which a disciple can be allowed to reject the initiating Guru is the instance when at the time of initiation the Guru could have been very pure of conduct and learned in Vaishnava conclusions. Gradually by force of bad association, he may become converted to be an Impersonalist or a reviler of the Vaishnavas (blasphemous). Such a spiritual master should be rejected.

If one's spiritual master is neither an offender of the Vaishnavas, an Impersonalist or attached to sinful activities then it is not warranted to reject such spiritual master simply on the grounds of his insufficient knowledge.  Rather the proper etiquette is to keep adoring him as spiritual master but to take permission from him to approach another great self-realized soul for "Siksa" and to learn the higher spiritual truths from such an instructing spiritual master.

 In the Hari Bhakti Vilas, the symptoms of a genuine Guru, one posing as a Guru including the characteristics of a disciple, have been elaborately explained at length. Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura writes, one of model character and strong faith is eligible to become a disciple. Similarly the genuine Guru is of saintly character, understands the devotional conclusions, simple, not greedy in the least, free from any tinge of Impersonalism and naturally expert in all activities. Generally a brahmin possessing all good qualities can accept disciples from other castes. In the absence of such brahmins however, devotees from other castes who are spiritually advanced can be selected as Guru. The basis of this injunction overrules the ordinary 'varnasrama' rules regarding superiority on the basis of seminal birth. One who understands the science of the Supreme Lord is eligible to become a spiritual master. The usual caste brahmins at most may be able to get some extra material facilities by their superior birth, but the pure devotee can truly function as Guru.

The scriptures have specific rules according to as and when the disciple may be accepted in the light of trial.  The fact of the matter is when the Guru sees the disciple as a fit candidate and when the disciple has strong faith in the purity of his Guru, then only will the flow of mercy take place between the Guru and the disciple.

  The 'Hari Bhakti Vilas' mentions that a person who eats too much, procrastinates, is greedy for things not in connection with Shri Krishna, argumentative (in connection with this Jamini, Sugata, Nastika, Vagna, Kapila and Gautama with their followers are persons who practice agrumentation-hetuvada), wicked nature, strongly critical as well as relishing the misdemeanors of others, defamer, serve unworthy people, black teeth, black lips, who has foul odor emanating from his mouth, has bad qualities, is fond of amassing goods even though already having a sufficient amount, without hair or with excess of hair, are not the symptoms befitting an 'Acarya' (teacher).  All of one's wealth and opulence will diminish in the acceptance of such an unqualified Guru.

   In Mantra Muktabali, the appropriate qualities of a disciple are described.  He should be born in a good family, be modest, opulent, possessed of loving disposition, truthful of pure character, very intelligent, free from arrogance, have given up lust and anger, surrendered to his Guru, with his mind, body and words, always devoted to the Supreme Lord, free from disease, freed from all kinds of sinful activities, sincere in honoring his elders and brahmins, of controlled senses, very youthful and compassionate. All these qualities make one eligible to be a disciple.

  In the Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11/10/6) it is stated:-


amaniyamatsaro dakso nirmamo drdsauhrdhah

asatvarohartha jijnasur anusuyara amoghavak  "The servant of the guru should be free from pride, not lazy or egoistic with the sense of 'me' and 'mine' in relation with wife and children, very devoted to Guru, not negligent, devoted to inquiry about the Supreme Truth, free from enviousness, not wasting time in loose conversations; all these qualities are befitting a disciple".   On the other hand, in Agastya Samhita, the symptoms of an unworthy disciple are described as one who is lazy, dirty, who endeavors uselessly, naughty, miserly, poor, sickly, afflicted with diseases, attached to sense objects, eager for sense-delights, envious, gazes lustfully at other's wives, shows enmity to learned people, foolish, rides himself to be highly scholarly, fallen in his vows, struggles to earn his livelihood, probes at others faults, bent on the downfall of others, glutton, always engaged in vile actions, sinful and not very willing to give up such despicable behavior and who cannot hear the beneficial instructions of Shri Guru; all these people are definitely not eligible to become disciples.

 If being tempted by greed the spiritual master ventures to initiate all such unworthy people, he will incur the wrath of the demigods, consequently, being bereft of all wealth and opulence. Not only that, he will have to go to the hellish planets after which he will take birth in the animal species. Therefore, one has to be careful not to accept disciples of this type.

  The standing injunction is that the guru should examine a disciple for at least one year.


taupr vat sarvasema kmatamupmua svabhavayoh

turuta sisyata ceti nanyathaiveti niscayah  The Guru should carefully examine his disciple while staying together with him and observing his qualities and character to judge whether he can be a fit candidate. Similarly, the disciple should examine the Guru accordingly. Other than this, there is no alternative way of knowing this fact. Without this recommended stipulation, one should not agreeable give initiation to anyone on mere request.

Further, there are spiritual statements to the effect that just as a King is responsible for his subjects having to suffer for their wrong actions, the man for the sins of his wedded wife, in the same manner the sins committed by the disciples will have to be borne by the spiritual master. Hence one has to be careful of awarding initiation to an unqualified person.

Notwithstanding, a powerful spiritually oriented person is not restricted by any scripture and does not have to consider who is worthy or unworthy. A fortunate person on receiving his benign glance can be nullified of many births of sinful activities and will be able to make rapid progress by the impetus of the Holy Names. The mercy of Shrila Haridas Thakura in a lonely forest was such that even a prostitute was converted by his purity. A Muslim tailor became perfect by helping to sow the cloth of Shrivas Pandit. By the incredible mercy of Shrila Sarana Murari, a dead body was infused with life and later became his own disciple. Shrila Rasikananda Thakura's compassion was such that even material objects were invigorated with consciousness and ordinary forest animals became blessed to chant the Holy Names. Thus the potential self-effulgent 'Acarya' can surcharge others with energy, himself remaining unchanged in power and not affected in any way.  Hari Bhakti Vilas too, a description about service to the spiritual master is mentioned.  The Kurma Purana explains, the disciple has constantly to carry the water pot of the Guru, pluck the sacrificial ingredients like khusa grass, kusum, etc. As a menial servant of his Guru. He should always clean the temple of his spiritual master, anoint the body of his guru with sandalwood and wash his cloth. The garlands, resting place, sandals, sitting cloth (asana), eating utensils and the shadow of Shrila Gurudeva should never be stepped over or treated with disrespect. One should not go out anywhere without the guru's permission. One should always engage in activities dear to the spiritual master. One should never point or stretch his legs in the direction of Shrila Gurudeva. In proximity to him, yawning, loud laughter and loud exclamations should be given up, also the practice of cracking one's knuckles. Furthermore, the son of the spiritual master, his wife, relatives or other acquaintances should be treated with equal respect.

In Devi Tantra, Lord Siva says, the resting place of the spiritual master, his seating place, sandals, foot-rest, palanquin, bath -water and shadow should never be slighted or utilized. One should never worship any third person in front of Shrila Gurudeva, nor should one try to equate oneself with him. In front of him, one should renounce erudite expositions of the scriptures nor maintain a superior attitude in relation to him. Also he should never give spiritual initiation to others while the spiritual master is present.

  In Devya Agama, Narada Rsi states, whenever one obtains the vision of Shrila Gurudeva, he should immediately, with folded hands, fall down in prostrated obeisances (like a falling tree) to the Guru. In no event should he be contemptible to the instructions of his Guru. The Manu Smrti states, that one indirectly or out of hearing should not address the Guru by his first name or try to imitate his movement, speech and mannerisms. One should maintain his humble stance as the disciple of his Guru on the occasion of the Guru being in proximity with his Guru. One should not even go to the house of one's parents if it doesn't meet with the Guru's approval.

In Narada Pancharatra, the way in which the name of the spiritual master is to be utilized is explained. One should never simply utter the syllables of the Guru's name disrespectfully or carelessly at any time or place. With a bowed head and folded hands, one should firstly, with the pranam 'om', then with the title '108' complete with the word 'visnu pada' has to be uttered, before mentioning his name respectfully. It is also stated that one should never advise the spiritual master on any matter nor should he breach the instructions laid out by him. One should not eat anything that has not been offered to Shri Guru nor should he eat any food without his prior permission. On the arrival of the spiritual master, instantly one should bow in front of him reverently and should accompany respectfully when he is walking. One should never remain seated on a pedestal or asana in front of him. Whatever is very dear to oneself should be first offered to the spiritual master and only after being granted by the guru, should he utilize it for himself.

In Vishnu Smrti, it is said even when threatened or oppressed by the spiritual master, one should never cause him any pain in return. One should never criticize him in any way or work against his welfare. In the event of the disciple not engaging in the service of the guru even after taking the holy syllables and by the guru no having examined the disciple before, both are liable for punishment, being guilty. Narada Pancharatra states in this regard.


Yo vyakti nya yarahitam anyayena srnoti yah.  Shrila Santana Gosvami writes in the Bhakti Hari Vilas:-       

pariksam bina gutrusevadinam bina ca mantrasya kathane

grahne ca mahanartha iti likhati yo baktiti In not going through the preliminary examination period, both the guru and the disciple face the prospect of going to a terrible hell for a long time. As stated in Agamas, the son of a born-brahmin, without going through the ritual of upanayana (brahmin thread) is not allowed to worship either the Salagrama Sila or study the Vedas. In the same say, the uninitiated person is not allowed to worship the Deity with the uttering of Mantras. For this process, one has to undergo the rite of initiation. The commentary by Shrila Sanatana Gosvami runs:-        

pradhanatvena shri-visundiksagrahanat shri-shrivasyapi

samyak stutivisayam iti bhavah In the way Lord Vishnu is the Supreme Lord, one who undergoes initiation into the Vishnu Mantra, is even praiseworthy by the best of all devotees-Lord Siva. In Vishnu Yamala it is even mentioned that for any uninitiated person, all his works will go to naught. One who does not undergo spiritual initiation is destined for animal births. Diksa (initiation) is termed by the knowers of the truth as that which destroys all sins and gives transcendental knowledge. In Tattva Sagara, just as bell metal is converted by a chemical process into gold similarly by the process of initiation, all human beings attain to brahminhood. 

yatha kanchautam yati kamsyam rasavvidhanathah

thata diksavidhanena dvijatvam jayate nrnam  Shrila Sanatana Gosvami writes nrnam sarvesameva vijatvam viprata.

By the process of spiritual initiation one attains the brahminhood. One who desires the highest goal should take to spiritual initiation under a bona fide spiritual master and practice devotional service to the Lord. All beings have a right for devotion to the Lord, it being the eternal constitutional function of the soul.           In Shrimad Bhagavatam Lord Krishna informs His brahmin friend (Bhag 10.50.34):


naham ijya prajyatibyam tapas upasamena va

          tusyeyam sarvabhutatma guru susrusaya yatha The way I become satisfied with a person who is devoted and cent per cent obedient to his guru is far more than just following their filial duties according to their different stages of life like celibate monk, householder, renounced order, etc. The great soul Prahlada Maharaja instructs his fellow companions and friends. (Bhag 7/7/10).  Guru susrusaya bhaktya sarva lobharpanena ca

  One in forgoing all motives for fame and false prestige in the mood of a servant, in humble submission and surrender to the lotus feet of Shri Guru will gain firm attraction to the lotus feet of the Lord. Nothing is greater than service to Shri Guru which is the highest religious principle. All the evil tendencies like lust and anger including all impurities can be easily dissipated by pure devotion to the Guru. The 11th Vilas, Hari Bhakti Vilas describes the service to please the Guru is the foremost of all vows. Padma Purana informs us that one who worships his spiritual master above his own father will definitely be a guest in the world of Brahma. In other places we have the Guru is himself Lord Brahma. He is Lord Vishnu and He is Sankara also, He is comparable to the Supreme Brahman which entails that all should worship him. In Vamana Kalpe, Lord Brahma describes: yo mantrati, sa guruh, ksat yo guroh sa hari smrtah, The mantra is the form of the spiritual master and the guru is the form of Lord Hari. To whom the guru is pleased, Lord Hari becomes pleased with him.

One should not sit on the same sitting place or even on a higher level than the spiritual mater. The spiritual master is the sum total of all demigods, also he is verily the form of Shri Hari but in all respects considered the most confidential servitor of the Lord. The Supreme Lord, to teach us the method of practice of devotional service, has appeared externally in the form of Shrila Gurudeva, also demonstrating the proper course of conduct. The Supreme Lord illuminates the truth of himself by his mercy potency who is Shrila Gurudeva, His confidential associate. Just as we pray to Shri Shrila Prabhupada with the prayer as:-

  Shri gaura karuna sakti vigrahaya namas tu te

  In the verse tad-vijnanartham sa gurum eva abhigavcet, 'tad vijnana' here means knowledge of the Supreme Lord. To illustrate further in Gita, the verse "tad-viddhi paripatena:" states to get knowledge of the Supreme Lord one should approach and take shelter of the spiritual master. The spiritual master is always exhibiting the most appropriate example, for he is engaged eternally in the service of the Deity as in dressing the Deity etc. and also cleaning the temple etc.

 In this way he engages al his devoted followers in such spiritual services. He is expert in helping the sakhis in the delightful conjugal pastimes of the Divine Couple Shri Shri Radha Krishna and is very dear to Them. Such a spiritual master is my most worshipable object. In doing service to Shri Gurudeva, if it limits the service to Shri Krishna, the guru can never be pleased. Tulasi leaves are to be offered only in his hand in is position as confidential servitor of the Lord. Shri Tulasi Devi is free to serve the pure devote according to her own accord, but it is not within our authority to place a pure devotee of the Lord Krishna on the feet of another confidential servitor .

In showing oneself as being too clever would result in the spiritual master becoming vexed. The scriptures have declared that if the spiritual Lord becomes angry with any disciple, the spiritual master as intermediary can pacify the Lord and save the disciples. Conversely, on the Guru becoming angry, nobody can save that person. Hence, one should always try to please the spiritual master; yasya prasadasd bhagavat prasada yasya prasada na gatih kuto api. If the spiritual master becomes pleased then the Lord becomes pleased and if the Guru becomes displeased then there is no destination for that wretched person.

 The disciple should be vigilant that by some strict of enviousness, he does not offensively deem his Guru to be an ordinary mortal.


yasya saksasd bhagavaty jnan dipaprade gurau

martyasadhih srutam tsya sarvam kunjarah sauchavat  In viewing his spiritual master as an ordinary mortal, all that the disciple has learned or heard from his spiritual master, including the Mantras received will be null and void just as the example of the futile bathing of the elephant, for the spiritual master is the external manifestation of Lord Vishnu and the deliverer of transcendental knowledge.   The disciple should be very attentive and submissive to the lotus feet of Shri Guru at all times, by both inquiry and service in receiving the divine messages of the Ancient Religion (Bhagavad-dharma) from him. Gradually in this way he will make progress in devotions. Even after the disappearance of Shrila Gurudeva, his surrendered disciple will always receive his shower of mercy unobserved by others. Shri Shrila Prabhupada is always fond of the servant of his servant and is always protecting such a person at all times. Though he is in his eternal pastimes engaged in the blissful service of the Divine Couple, he is fondly showering the weak disciples with his mercy at every step. 

This merciful potency is always protecting me and awarding me complete fearlessness. Thus it is with a happy note to mention that I am not without shelter. He does not neglect me in spite of many faults committed unknowingly at his lotus feet. He will never forsake me ever. He is the ocean of mercy without limit. In his presence whilst on this planet, he has even shed tears for me seeing my ignorance and even now he is being most compassionate in this regard.  His deep affection for me is still flowing and is not restricted because he is not physically present. Certainly he will protect me always as he is doing now and has done previously. He is my Lord birth after birth and not only this brief life-span. He is my worshipable deity and I am his eternal servant of the servant.

In my mistakes, would he not disciple me? Definitely! Just as a mother annoyed at seeing the naughty pranks of her child gives him a slap but after, while seeing the boy crying, will she be able to sit unaffected? In the same way, even after chiding me, can my eternal master even neglect me? After my rectification, he will definitely award me the shade of his lotus feet which are cooling as a million moons. I have no other destination except for his lotus feet. To those who are bereft and lowly, his lotus feet are the only fearless shelter. In the three worlds, what else can be more painful than separation from him! Who else can look after me in this loving fashion, Oh merciful Prabhupada! I am the eternal servant of the servitor of your lotus feet. Please accept me as the dust of your lotus feet.


Title: Re: Guru Tattva

User: Unregistered   Date: 2007-01-28 19:33:10


Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna!


Thanks a million for posting this article Bhushan Prabhuji, it's brilliant and very informative. I feel that all aspiring disciples should read it. All glories to His Divine Grace Shrila Bhakti Promod Puri Goswami Maharaja! All Glories to Shrila Gurudeva! All glories to Shri Nityananda Rama, the eternal spiritual master.


Without the mercy of Shrishri Guru and Gauranga, bhakti is certainly impossible to to and attain. Wish everyone a wonderful Nityananda Trayodashi on Teusday!