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The third offense at the lotus feet of the maha-mantra is to consider the spiritual master (who gives the pure maha-mantra) to be material and therefore envy his exalted position.
One should have unwavering devotion to the spiritual master who gives one the maha-mantra, for the maha-mantra is the highest of all spiritual activities. A person who disrespects the spiritual master who gives the holy name, a person who thinks that although his spiritual master may be learned in the scriptures describing the holy name, he is not learned in Vedanta and other philosophies, a person who then thinks he knows more about philosophy than his spiritual master, commits an offense to the holy name. No teacher is superior to the spiritual master who knows the truth of the holy name. Therefore to think lightly of him is an offense to the holy name.
Hari Nama Chintamani by Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura
Chapter 6 - Disregarding the Guru
panca-tattva jaya jaya shri radha-madhava
Haridasa said, "O Lord, now I will tell you how the third offense occurs. According to Your order, I will describe in detail all the offenses that occur from disobeying the guru.
"Having wandered from one body to another in 8,400,000 species of life, through unintentional pious activity the jiva obtains a human body. The human body is a rare opportunity because only in this form can the living entity perform devotional service properly. As a demigod, one has the tendency to enjoy, and as a lower animal, one has no capacity for knowledge. But in the human form the living entity can progress back to his constitutional position with Krishna. Therefore if one does not take care to attain Krishna in this temporary body, one will die and obtain some other body, losing the opportunity to escape from the material prison. The intelligent person, having attained a human birth in this world, will take shelter of a spiritual master who will act as a captain to guide the jiva over the ocean of material nature with the instructions of bhakti-yoga. This is the importance of the guru.
"One should approach the qualified guru, that person who is a devotee of Krishna and has conquered over the senses, and inquire submisively from him. Being satisfied with his answers, the jiva takes initiation from him and thus crosses over the material ocean. Having attraction for Krishna, he will give up useless material logic, take shelter of higher knowledge and receive mantra initiation from the spiritual master.
"One who is a grihastha should accept a guru but remain in his duties of varnashrama. If a brahmana is a Krishna devotee, he can serve as a guru for the varnas; but if there is no suitable person of brahmana birth, one can receive initiation from a guru of another varna. If there is a choice, the grihastha should choose the bona fide guru of higher caste. But in any case the main qualification by which to judge who is suitable bona fide guru is how much the guru knows about Krishna. He may be brahmana or shudra, householder or sannyasi, but this makes no difference in the guru's ability to deliver the jiva. This should be the main consideration in choosing a guru, if one desires to progress to pure attraction for Krishna. In other words, if there is a qualified guru of high caste, there is no necessity of seeking a guru of a lower caste; but if the high caste guru is not qualified as a Krishna bhakta, one should not take diksha from him on the basis of his high caste alone. Rather, one should take a qualified guru of a lower caste. The qualification of knowing Krishna and being a devotee of Krishna is the important consideration.
"In the case of a householder who cannot find proper spiritual life in the grihastha ashrama, he should take a bona fide guru who is not a householder. In other words, if one renounces household life and is seeking spiritual guidance, one should take shelter of an acarya who has successfully renounced household life and receive diksha and shiksha from him in order to reach the desired goal of prema. But if the householder had a qualified guru previously, that previous guru should not be disrespected or rejected. He should be honored always.
"The householder may take a guru who is either a householder or renounced. Either is suitable. Accepting guru and performing sadhana-bhakti, the householder will eventually achieve the stage of bhava, at which time his attraction for family life and sense gratification will cease. At that stage he will naturally give up household life and enter the renounced order. This person should seek out an acarya in the renounced order and take his instruction.
"Guru may be of two types: one who gives diksha with mantra and one who gives spiritual instruction. They should be considered equal in importance by one who wants to advance quickly. A person can accept only one diksha guru, but may have many shiksha gurus, who give sambandha-jnana.
"The sambandha-jnana or teachings are handed down in a sampradaya from the founder-acarya of the sampradaya. These original teachings and the founder-acarya of the sampradaya should be worshiped with all respect. One should be loyal to his conclusions and instructions, not taking teachings from others. One should take as shiksha guru only a person who is following faithfully the teachings of that founder-acarya. To take initiation or teachings from a mayavadi is useless.
"Whoever takes or accepts such unauthorized teachings simply goes to hell. Rejecting Krishna and learning anti-Krishna philosophy can only lead to ruination of one's life. How can a person be guru and deliver others, not having achieved or being able to achieve perfection himself?
"Thus guru, whether shiksha or diksha, must be the servant of Krishna, and an associate of the Lord eternally in Vrindavana, who has been especially empowered by Krishna. One should serve the guru with great devotion, knowing Him to be directly empowered by Krishna, the dearmost servant of Krishna, and one's own eternal spiritual guide. By such sincere service to the guru one can cross over the material ocean.
"What is the procedure for worshiping the guru? First one should worship the guru (offering padya, arghya, etc.), then, taking his permission, worship the Lord. Then one should offer Krishna's prasada to the guru, the Vaishnavas, the demigods and the forefathers. With the guru in mind, one should worship Krishna, and with the guru in mind, one should chant Krishna's name.
"Consequently, if one disobeys or disrespects the guru, that is offensive, and will block one's progress in bhakti. As in the case of showing proper respect and devotion to the sadhu and to Krishna, similarly, by properly serving the guru and chanting the holy name one can get quick success. Having firm faith in the guru, one can, by the strength of the pure name, attain the goal of prema.
"When should a guru be rejected? It may happen that through asat-sanga a guru may lose his qualifications. Starting as a big guru, by committing nama-aparadha he loses his knowledge. By offending other Vaishnavas he loses the taste for the name and gradually falls under the control of wealth and women. Such a guru should be rejected. By the mercy of Krishna, that disciple will obtain a new bona fide guru and take up pure chanting of the name again.
"If a guru takes unsuitable people for disciples, he will have to suffer for that, and if a disciple takes an unqualified guru, he will accordingly suffer. In order to avoid these misfortunes, one should be cautious. On the other hand, as long as both guru and disciple are properly qualified, the relationship will continue. Ideally, this relationship is eternal, but if the disciple becomes bad, the guru must reject him, and if the guru becomes bad, the disciple must reject him. Otherwise both may fall; better one than both.
"In order to prevent the pain of having to reject one's guru, one should first carefully examine him to see if he is a pure devotee of Krishna. Even in receiving a material article, one examines it for quality. Once having accepted a qualified guru, if one disobeys his instruction, one commits a grave offense. By that even the demigods can fall down to hell.
"How should the guru be respected? The guru's bed and seat, his shoes, car, water from washing his feet, and his image should be respected. If one fails to respect them or worships someone else as guru in the guru's presence, that is devious mentality, trying to minimize the bona fide guru. One should regard the guru as one's lord and master, obey his words and instructions, and when seeing him, fall flat on the ground. One should loudly glorify the guru, never disobey his order, take his prasada remnants, and not discuss anything that the guru dislikes. Surrendering oneself humbly at the guru's feet, one should act so that he is pleased. If one acts in this way, and performs Krishna nama-sankirtana, one will gain all perfections. That is the statement of the Vedas.
"The guru will give proper teachings concerning the holy name, and after having established faith in the holy name in a person's heart, he will formally give him the name of Krishna or a mantra containing the name of Krishna to chant as his sadhana. This is diksha. If by bad association or contact with bogus literature one happens to reject or disrespect such a bona fide nama-diksha-guru, one should immediately give up the bad association and literature and in sorrow approach the feet of one's guru. Being all-merciful, the guru will reinstate him, and by again chanting sincerely, he will attain prema."
That person who, thinking himself lower than a blade of grass, aspires for the dust from the feet of Haridasa Namacarya, will be qualified to sing always the touchstone of the holy name. (Translated by Bhanu Swami)