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Title: Searching for bonafide representative of Gauranga
User: Swami Gaurangapada Date: 2007-03-14 06:47:25
Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krsna!
I have one question, and answer to this question is very important to me.
In our conditioned form of life we have so many doubts and we do not have proper knowledge. But ?guru mukhya padma vakya ?citette koriya aykya ?by hearing from guru and by engaging in spiritual activities our mind and senses will become pure. So finding bonafide spiritual master and serve him is of greatest importance for us, conditioned souls. Taking initiation from bonafide spiritual representative is natural step forward spiritual advancement. So, how can neophyte devotee recognize who is bonafide spiritual master?
We can see that in modern vaisnava society, unfortunately, that there are many, many different opinions among different institutions and sincere neophyte student may be bewildered and may become very careful about surrendering one's life. From other side such student is considering all such persons vaisnavas, respect them and trying to learn whenever he can about Krsna, but how he can recognize his eternal spiritual master, diksa guru and surrender his whole life to him?
Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krsna!
My obeisances to you Igor and of course to Swami Gaurangapda and all the vaisnavas. This question really caught me as it was something that I'd always wondered before I was initiated. What follows is simply what I feel and have experienced- its got really nothing to do with sastra and the correct answer as in the absolue truth- I will leave that in the capable hands of Swami Gaurangapada or some other erudite vaisnava who has more wisdom than I- but I hope it will be useful to you.
Firstly, in my humble opinion, forget about societies and institutions in the quest to find one's eternal spiritual master. Societies often revovle around politics and there are often many "sound bites" used without real depth of understanding. But this is not anyone's fault as one cannot expect a society to understand one's own personal and unique spiritual needs.
Instead of looking outside you have to look inwards- because God is there. Look inwards and really pray "Please God, Please Lord Nityananda (beause He is Adi Guru and the most merciful) I'm really trying, help me. Please guide me". Of course the only thing with this is that you have to really mean it- I mean really. Suppose you're underwater and are being dragged down by a heavy weight- how sincerely will you want to break free and reach for the top for the air because your lungs are bursting? Very sincerely and very much I think. So same with this prayer, because when it is answered the course of your life will change forever.
If you pray like this I am sure you will one day get a chance to meet with your spiritual master, but how to recognise Him? There are many rules but one's intelligence can often become bewildered, especially since bona fide vaisnavas often go to lengths to hide their true nature (read 'maya conceals true vaisnava' somewhere on this site). Go with what your heart says, ask the prospective Guru questions- do his answers agree with your heart? because remember all knowledge is in us anyway, the Guru simply enlightens that. You may think 'how can I test him if I don't know the answers myself?', but have you ever been in a situation where you asked someone a question- a spititual question- and the answer that they gave left something to be desired? the answers of the Guru must satisfy the soul. Guru and disciple was perfectly shown in srimad Bhagavatam in Sukadeva goswami and king Pariksit; Sukadeva was the perfect guru and Pariksit was perfect listener/inquirer. why? because Pariksit was going to die in 7 days! remember, you're drowning and in desperate need of help- that is the consciousness you need in order to attain the mercy of the Guru. You can't test the Guru with audacity or even 'fair' intellectual reasoning- He just won't be impressed. Without the humble attitude the mercy just won't descend because the Guru won't be appeased.
All vaisnavas senior to us are our gurus, but the relationship with the diksha guru is something special. He is caretaker and spiritual father for the soul and there is actually a spiritual bond in the heart when the guru accepts us. Yes, he accepts us and not we him- if we're lucky. This bond is not an imaginary sentimental thing- it actually exists and it is deeper than any other bond you could expereince (i.e with family or spouse). Why? because its on the level of the soul. It is eternal and it reminds you of God, and once it is formed to consider breaking it is quite unbearable for the soul.
Well, I have written a lot. I hope some of this has been useful for you. I am by no means presenting this as absolute truth so please forgive me if my words were incorrect in any way, they are just my personal toughts and experiences.
I look forward to reading Swami Gaurangapada's answer to this question and ask him to please forgive me for any transgressions from scripture I may have made on this post.
Answer by Swami Gaurangapada:
The Supersoul in the heart i.e. the Chaitya Guru within will help the soul to recognize the the Spiritual Master without. Actually the soul cannot go to the Guru, the Guru comes to the soul by the causless mercy of the Supersoul or Lord Nityananda Himself. So by chanting the Holy Name of Lord Nityananda and constantly praying to Him, He will identify our Guru to us.
The Guru should have taste for the Holy Names, mercy for the suffering souls by preaching and should be humble considering oneself as a servant of all devotees. vina na gaura priya pada sevam... There are many bonafide Gurus in the whole of creation but according to Shrila Prabodhananda Sarasvati, the Guru who has staunch faith in the Holy Names, Pastimes and Abodes of Lords Nityananda Gauranga can do the greatest benefit to the disciples and the whole world. There may be quite a few of such Gaura-anurakta Gurus in this world and I recommend that one take shelter of one of them in our exalted Vinoda Sarasvata line. Because in Gauranga bhajana, there is no question of offenses or failure or obstacles. Success is assured without a doubt. A real Guru will never speak about intimate rasa katha or raga marga to an unqualified audience. Instead the real Guru will teach all souls to come to Lord Gauranga's lotus feet which are the source of all mellows.
Nowdays people get enamoured by the so-called elevated subject matters which the "Gurus" talk about. But that is not difficult. Anyone can take out the Govinda Lilamrita or Krishna Bhavamrita and start speaking on advanced and intimate pastimes of Shri Shri Radha Krishna. To mechanically speak of elevated matters is not at all difficult. A real Guru is not like that. A real Guru who knows rasa will never discuss rasa here and there. He knows rasa is to be relished not to be practiced. He knows and realizes that to talk about rasa to an immature and unqualified audience is actually jada (mundane) or sahajiya (cheap) rasa.
A Guru can only be given up if he or she is proved to possess seriously mistaken philosophical and scriptural understanding or is proved to be extremely envious of other devotees on a personal level or voluntarily rejects chanting and bhakti yoga. If a Guru does not fall under these categories then a Guru can never be given up.
In Shri Krishna Bhajanamrita, Shrila Narahari Sarakara Thakura states that even if one Diksha Guru is of a lesser potency, one can never reject him. Just like the son never gives up his father who is poor. Say for example the Diksha Guru is 60% perfected. Under his guidance, the disciple raises onself to 60% first and then with the express permission of the Diksha Guru, the disciple can go to a Shiksha Guru who is 80% or 100% perfected and get more knowledge and guidance from the Shiksha Guru. It is also described by Shrila Narahari Sarakara that whatever the disciple learns from the advanced Shiksha Guru, he or she has to come and share it with the Diksha Guru and then implement it in the naam bhajana. Just like the son who acquires wealth, will first come and share it with his father before using it himself. Also by that time it is the possible that the Diksha Guru himself has advanced to 70 or 80 or 100%. Shrila Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura states that the the Holy Name or the Diksha Guru or the Shiksha Guru will reveal rasa to the disciple when the devotee becomes qualified. So one has nothing to worry in this regard.
Nowdays we see "disciples" shopping for and changing Gurus like we change clothes in the morning and "Gurus" re-initiating disciples without even thoroughly checking about the previous Gurus or simply by conveniently quoting scripture. This is terribly offensive to Guru Tattva and neither such Gurus nor such disciples can attain pure love of God. They do not care about the instructions of Shrila Narahari Sarakara Thakura about Guru Tattva and thus they cannot become successful in their bhajana even though they may have the external satisfaction of finding the most "advanced" Guru or the most number of disciples.
The secret of success is to have full Guru-Nistha in one's Naam Diksha Guru, Naam Prabhu and Naam Shiksha Guru. Whatever thought or deliberation required should be done before accepting Diksha but after accepting Diksha there should be full surrender as per the capacity of the disciple.
Gauranga! Nityananda! Hare Krsna!
Thank you very much for answers! Nityananda! Gauranga! Such answers are more valuable then kalpa-vrksa trees because such answers are only eternal treasure that soul can get. Sri guru karuna sindho adhama janara bandho ?Guru tattva is surely ocean of unlimited mercy, and by causeless mercy of Sri Nityananda Prabhu I am hoping that some day, in some lifetime, that transcendental wave will touch my dry, stone heart. Therefore I am singing of happy news - boro sukher kharbor gai ?that some day by causeless mercy of Nitay my Gurudeva will come and engage me in chanting of Holy Names! Thank you! Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krsna!