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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Soul Science God Philosophy > Your Best Friend > Qualifications of Guru > Qualifications of the Guru

Qualifications of the Guru


Since the guru must transmit the truths of Vedic knowledge perfectly, he plays a crucial role. It is therefore necessary to first understand the symptoms of a bona fide guru, that is, a spiri­tual  master who has received and can impart pure knowledge. We should know who is not a guru and who is a guru.Regrettably, in the modern times, we have countless profes­sional gurus (fake  holy men) who deceive their followers in one or more of the following ways:


• Charge fees for revealing secret mantras and give false promises that one can become God by chanting those mantras (If one can actually become God by chanting those mantras, then why  don't these gurus simply become Gods themselves? If they are already God, then why do they need the money of their disciples?) ,


Teach so-called meditation while allowing their students to dis­regard all the Vedic regulative austerities (Regulative austeri­ties like avoiding gambling, meat eating, intoxication and il­licit sex  constitute the basic beginning of spiritual life Medita­tion without practicing these austerities is simply a farce.)


Teach a set of gymnastic exercises in the name of yoga and maintain that yoga is meant for material well being and enjoy­ment (The word 'yoga' comes from the Sanskrit word 'yuj' which  means 'to connect with God'. Thus actual yoga is meant to re­establish one's lost relationship with God.)


Defy the Vedas by declaring: T am God; You are God; Every­one is God' (The Vedas very clearly declare that there is only one God and that we are all His eternal servants) Have their disciples worship them as God (The Vedas declare that only the Supreme Lord should be worshipped as God and that the guru should direct his followers to worship that Su­preme  Lord)


Although we have to accept spiritual authority, we should do so only after due testing; otherwise we may be cheated. For ex­ample, a person who accepts medicine from a quack is unintelli­gent  and is inviting trouble and suffering. One should consult only a qualified doctor, who has graduated from a recognized medical college, has good clinical experience, and can help in curing the  ailment. One cannot test the genuineness of a spiritual authority by the anguage he speaks, by his physical appearance or by his nation-al|ty. Just like the genuineness of gold can be determined  by certain specific tests, there are also tests to determine the genuineness of spiritual authority as stated below: The Shrimad Bhagavatam (1 1.3.21) explains the basic quali­fications of a guru:


tasmad gurum prapadyeta jijnasuh shreya uttamam

shabde pare ca nishnatam brahmany upasamashrayam


"Therefore 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 he has'  realized the conclusions of the scriptures by deliberation and is able to convince others of  these conclusions. Such great person­alities, who have taken shelter of the Supreme Godhead, leaving  aside all material considerations, should be understood to be bona fide spiritual masters."


The important qualifications of the guru are as follows:

•The guru must be a devotee of the Lord. He must have realized the conclusions of the scriptures and must be fixed in devotional service to the Supreme. A guru must have realized the  nclusions of the scriptures by deliberation. Because he has heard, understood, practiced, and realized the Absolute Truth,he should be fixed in devotional service to the Supreme. He should be  able to confirm the authenticity of the message he is presenting by the support of the scriptures and the teachings of the great seers of truth of the present and the past.


In this connection, the Padma Purana states:


shat karma nipuno vipro mantra-tantra visharadah

avaishnavo gurur na syad vaishnavah sva-paco guruh


"A scholarly brahmana expert in all subjects of Vedic knowl­edge is unfit to become a spiritual master without being a Vaishanva, or expert in the science of Krishna consciousness. But a person  born in a lower caste can become a spiritual master if he is a Vaishnava, or Krishna conscious."


•The bona fide guru should have heard the Absolute Truth in a disciplic succession. The disciplic succession comprises of spiritual masters and disciples, coming from God Himself. That is why  the words of the guru are perfect, being free from the defects of a common man (imperfect senses, tendency to be illusioned, tendency to commit mistakes and propensity to cheat)


•The guru imparts spiritual knowledge, not mundane knowledge. There are different types of knowledge. We are interested in ordinary knowledge for economic benefit, but that is not actual  knowledge. That is the knowledge used for earning a livelihood. One may study to be an electrician and earn his livelihood by repairing electric lines. Real knowledge however, is Vedic  knowledge, which involves knowing oneself, knowing God and understanding one's relationship with God, and one's duty towards Him. Knowledge begins with the inquiry athato brahma jijnasa.  "What is Brahman?" Knowledge also begins by understanding the threefold miseries of the material world.It is this knowledge that the guru is meant to teach.


•The guru gives God conscious knowledge, which is not a passing phase. To learn karate, kung-fu, athletics, exercises, or any other similar skill properly, we need a guide. We may learn these things for entertainment or time pass or for demonstrating our abilities to the world. But such things usually come as a passing phase in our life; our attraction to them is short-lived.Even if  we take them seriously throughout our life, they do not carry much meaning as everything material is finished at death.But the spiritual master enlightens us with true spiritual knowledge or God  consciousness. God consciousness is not a passlng phase in our life performed for entertainment or as a hobby; it is actually an absolute necessity for all living beings because it is the eternal  activity of every soul. Thus what the guru offers it is is a matter of eternal blissful life or repeated suffering and death. So the spiritual master who puts us back in our eternal constitutional position  is our eternal friend and wellwisher. Therefore his position is much higher and different from other guides who teach us some material skills, which we may or may not take  seriously.


• A guru should he known by his understanding of the sci­ence of God. We should not judge a guru based on his caste, creed, color, nationality etc. We should never think, "He is after all an  African guru or an American guru—not Indian." or "He was after all born in a shudra family." This is offensive. When you employ a civil engineer to construct a house, do you ask him, "Are you a  brahmana engineer or a shudra engineer?" Or when you go to a doctor, do you ask him, "Are you a brahmana doctor?" You only see whether he is a qualified B.E. or M.B.B.S. Similarly, yei  krishna-tattva-vetta sei 'guru' haya "One who knows the science of Krishna should be accepted as a guru" {Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya 8.128). Instruction has to be taken from one who is in  knowledge. It does not matter what his position is, whether he is a son, a boy, a shudra, a brahmana, a sannyasi, or a grihastha. Although Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself was a brahmana  (considered to be the highest varna or social order) and a sannyasi (considered to be the highest ashrama or spiritual order), He took instructions from Ramananda Raya, who was a shudra and  grihastha but none­theless very exalted spiritually. Whoever is qualified in Krishna consciousness can become a guru; his family or material iden­tity does not matter. His only qualification is that  he must know the science of Krishna. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the yuga-avatara for Kali-yuga, wanted everyone in India to know the science of Krishna, become a guru, and preach Krishna  con­sciousness.


• A guru cannot be purchased with any amount of money? he is not after wealth, women, or followers. One should not treat the guru like a dog. Sometimes wealthy people invite their guru to their  home once a year to just show (or 'show off to) their relatives that "1 am also very pious. " One should not just keep a photo of the guru on the wall of the house, and never take instructions from  him. This is exactly how some fake godmen allow their disciples to deal with them. But a real guru is meant to give instructions and deliver us from the ocean of material existence.


A graphic example of this comes in the life of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, the spiritual master of Srila Prabhupada. Once a wealthy man. who would give regular dona­tions to  Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati. was attending his discourse. But instead of hearing attentively, he started talking with the per­son sitting next to him. At once Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati re­buked him,  "Do you think you have purchased me with your do­nation, that you can do whatever you like during the discourse?"


*The guru bestows not material benefits, but spiritual knowl­edge to his disciple. A guru is one who helps the disciple to come out of the darkness of ignorance with the torchlight of  transcendental knowledge. He is meant to help the disciple cross over the ocean of nescience. He is neither meant for giving bless­ings to get gold, money etc., nor giving some relief from some  bodily disease.


*The guru should not flatter his disciple for material facili­ties or material security. He should neither try to gain some Material facilities from him nor should he increase materialis­ts followers for  material security. The word 'sadhu' means 'one who cuts'. So the guru, being a genuine sadhu, should be stl"aightforward 'n cutting the knots of material attachments of ls disciple through chastisement and good instruction, how-eve'" unpalatable it may be.


•The guru should know the essence of the scriptures, but he need not be a Sanskrit scholar. He should be able to establish the true principles of religion based on the scriptures, but he is not  expected to be a great reciter of Vedic mantras or a learned scholar capable of complicated word jugglery. He needs to know the essence of all scriptures us explained in ihe Bhagavad-gita (15.15) vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah 'The essence of the Vedas is to know Me (Krishna)." If he knows this essential principle of the teachings ol all scriptures and lives according to this principle, he knows everything necessary to deliver his disciples. A nice story from the life of Srila Prabhupada illustrates this principle.


Once Srila Prabhupada met two Vedic scholars in Vrindavan. After the formalities Srila Prabhupada asked them, "Can you say who is God?" On hearing this, both of them started blink­ing and  saying that the Absolute Truth is very difficult to com­prehend and it is not possible to explain it so easily. Srila Prabhupada then called a gurukula boy and asked him the same question. The boy  promptly answered, "Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead." Srila Prabhupada gifted him a cake and the boy ran away dancing joyfully to play with the other children. Srila Prabhupada  then remarked, "Just see! Even this small child knows Krishna to be God whereas these Vedic schol­ars, after years of study, have no knowledge of the essence of all the Vedas."


There are many professional reciters, who recite the Shrimm Bhagavatam with great dramatic pathos, intricate word jugglery and profuse Sanskrit verses, but they are neither aware of nor do  they teach others the conclusion of the scriptures - love of God. They teach scriptures only to earn their livelihood, not to enlighten the people in the true principles of religion. Such people though  they may be very popular, respected and learned* are not genuine gurus.


The guru should preach by example. He should not only be teaching perfect knowledge but he should also be an acharya, that is. one who teaches by personal example. One who smokes  cigarette has no right to preach to others to avoid cigarettes. The guru should be a walking scripture and should exemplify all the teachings of the scripture in his life. And he should thus inspire  everyone to follow them by his personal example.


The guru must be sense-controlled. If a gurus senses are not controlled and he does not teach his disciples to control their senses, then he is not a qualified spiritual master. The scrip­tures list  six symptoms of guru: "A sober person who can toler­ate the urge to speak, the mind's demands, the actions of anger, and the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals is qualified to make  disciples all over the world." (Upadeshamrita 1)


The guru should be decorated with all saintly qualities. The Shrimad Bhagavatam (3.25.21) explains:


titikshavah karunikah suhrudah sarva-dehinam.

ajata-shatravah shantah sadhavah sadhu-bhusanah


"The symptoms of a sadhu are that he is tolerant, merciful and friendly to all living entities. He has no enemies, he is peaceful, he abides by the scriptures and all his characteristics are sublime."


•The guru should be engaged 24 hours in the service of Krishna. He should not waste a single moment doing anything which is not connected with Krishna and His service, as stated in the  Bhakti rasamrita sindhu, avyartha kalatvam. The "Bhagavad-gita (9.14) confirms this satatam kirtayanto mam The pure devotee is constantly engaged in glorifying the Su­preme Lord." A nice  incident from the life of Srila Prabhupada illustrates this.


Once when Srila Prabhupada met the famous musical group, ue Beatles, in London, one of them George Harrison asked him."Among the many preachers of the Bhagavad-gita who is bona  fide?" Srila Prabhupada replied, "The Bhagavad-gita is the word of Krishna. So to recognize who is the bona fide preacher of Bhagavad-gita. you should check who is most addicted to Krishna."