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The Bona Fide Guide
The bona fide spiritual master, or guru, tells us, "Give me your ears. I do not want all of your senses - only your ears." Among all the senses, only the ears can hear sound vibration, and thus transcendental words. The guru coming in disciplic succession helps us surrender to God by engaging our function of hearing. Through this vibration of sound, his transcendental words enter the heart of the disciple and reveal Krsna, God Himself, who is hidden in everyone's heart. No sense but the ears can perceive this transcendental sound. There are two kinds of sound vibration. One is transcendental and is beyond this material world. It comes from the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself via the disciplic succession. The other is ordinary material sound vibration, which comes from the vibration of the material tongue. One who has not extensively practiced bhakti-yoga and who is not perfect may give Krsna's holy name and various spiritual mantras to others, but the sound vibrations spoken by him will have no spiritual effect Although such sounds are by nature powerful and transcendental, they must be imbued with realization. Otherwise, they will manifest as worldly, mundane words. If a guru is not sufficiently expert in chanting ttanscendental sound and has no realization of its nature, that sound vibration will not produce any real fruit in the heart of the person who receives it from him. Self-realized souls perfectly utter that transcendental sound, and one should receive it from them.
The definition of bhakti, pure devotion, is given in the Vedic scriptures as follows: "Pure devotional service is the cultivation of activities that are meant exclusively for the pleasure of Lord Krsna, or in other words, the uninterrupted flow of service to Krsna, performed through all endeavors of the body, mind and speech, and through the expression of various spiritual sentiments. It is not covered by knowledge aimed at impersonal liberation or by reward-seeking activity, and it is devoid of all desires other than the aspiration to bring happiness to Krsna." hakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.1.11)
The same Vedic scriptures contain many verses that explain the quality of a petson who, because of his own pure devotional service, can actually help us. One such vetse is as follows: "Any person who seriously desires real happiness must seek a bona fide spiritual master and take shelter of him by initiation. The qualification of the bona fide guru is that, having left aside all material desires, he has realized the conclusions of the scriptures by deliberation and is able to convince others of the Supreme Godhead." (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.2.97)
The following history illustrates how the heinous criminal Valmiki became a great devotee by associating with a self-realized spiritual master who had the above-mentioned qualities. Valmiki, though born into the priestly caste, associated with bad men. As a result he became a ferocious criminal, even murdering many sages. He once approached the exalted sage Narada Muni to kill him, but as he moved toward him Narada raised his hand and said, "Stop!" The astonished Valmiki was forced to freeze his movements and thus a mood of submission to Narada entered his heart. Narada then revealed to him the teactions that would come to him as a result of his abominable sins. Valmiki took shelter of Narada and inquired from him how to become free from those reactions.
Narada said, "Sit down here and chant 'Rama Rama Rama Rama Rama.' (Rama is the name of one of Krsna's incarnations.) Do this and nothing else." Valmiki tried, but the reactions to his sinful activities had fructified to the point that he was unable to chant that divine name. Narada cleverly told him, "If you cannot chant Rama, you can chant mara." Mara (which in the Sanskrit language means "death") has the same syllables as Rama said backwards. When mara mara is chanted repeatedly, it automatically becomes "Rama Rama." Having given Valmiki these instructions, Narada left that place.
Valmiki was easily able to chant mara mara, and continued chanting for thousands of years while waiting for his guru's return. During that time he did not eat or even pass stool and urine. Ants ate his flesh, blood and other bodily substances, gradually enclosing him in an anthill. In this way his own body vanished, and it now appeared that he had a body made of earth. In due course of time, Brahma, the chief demigod and original guru of the disciplic succession of gurus, came to that place. Upon seeing the condition of Valmiki's body, Lord Brahma sprinkled water upon him from his sacred water pot while uttering mantras, and Valmiki's body then became that of a beautiful youth. Brahma told him, "Now you have perfected the chanting of your mantra; you have realized the Supreme Lord."
[Later on, in the course of his meditation, the great sage Valmiki composed the famous Rdmayana, the authorized history of Lord Rama, whose name he was chanting. Written hundreds of thousands of years ago, the Rdmayana is counted as one of the original Vedas and is considered the most famous spiritual epic in India. Valmiki compiled it just before Lord Rama descended to this world, -ed]
In this day and age it is not possible for us to perform such austerity. We find it difficult to refrain from eating, drinking or sleeping for just one day, what to speak of several years, and we cannot be fully absorbed in meditation for twelve hours, six hours or even one hour. But there is a process that we can easily follow, and this process is the essence of all Vedic scriptures. Take the seed of the perfect transcendental name of Krsna by accepting initiation from a bona fide guru. Chant the Hare Krsna mantra and you will very easily find happiness.
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.
As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones. Some look upon the soul as amazing, some describe him as amazing, and some hear of him as amazing; while others, even after hearing about him, cannot understand him at all.
Spoken by Lord Krsna in the Bhagavad-glta
"The Soul's Journey from the Material to the Spiritual World."