QUESTIONS § ANSWERS 51 to 100.
by: BV Suddhadvaiti Swami
51. But those leading devotees seem to do so much service.
Yes, but still you may consider the following: "Typically the kanistha-adhikari is eager to engage his materialistic qualifications in the service of the Lord, mistaking such material expertise to be the sign of advanced devotion." (SBhag 11.2) Don't just see externally. Some of those who left had so much sakti to spread this movement, but they were not bona fide gurus. It was material expertise. Also, preaching success based on misconceptions is shallow. Srila Prabhupada called his godbrothers kanisthas, although they had been practicing for 40 or 50 years. Another thing is that even if one has supposedly progressed to the madhyam platform, he may later on regress due to aparadhas, especially guru-aparadha and Vaisnava-aparadha.
52. Do the sastras mention about the possibility of a guru falling down?
Again, there's no question of a bad guru. "Gurus" of a lower standard may fall down but they are only gurus by name. In our tradition no one was so irresponsible to take the position of guru without being qualified. It may have happened, but it is so rare that the acaryas themselves don't deal with it very extensively. It is not a topic that comes up again and again.Also, falldown may not he gross sensual falldown. It may mean remaining stuck on the platform of misra-bhakti and being denied access to pure bhakti. Ramacandra Puri was considered fallen even though he didn't grossly fall down. Krishnadas Kaviraja Goswami also mentioned that his brother "fell down" by disrespecting Lord Nityananda Prabhu.
53. What about reinitiation?
First, it is not a question of reinitiation but of initiation. The first one never took place. Take it as a dream. Diksa, initiation, is not a ceremony. As we said it earlier, it actually means the transmission of divya-jnana and the deliverance from material bondage. That is diksa. If one is unable to do these two things, he doesn't deserve the title of diksa-guru. One should see people as they are, rather than as they imagine themselves or their disciples imagine them to be. When a "guru" falls, he proves thereby that he was not a guru to begin with. He was not on the platform of self-realization. He was simply propagating the false idea that he was capable of delivering his disciples from birth and death, that he was senior and advanced, that he had high realizations, that his siksa had the potency of that of uttama-adhikaris, and that his disciples should depend exclusively on him for deliverance. So all his utterings or mantras are unfruitful and invalidated. Srila Jiva Goswami mentions that if the guru is fallen or an avaisnava he should be rejected and one should receive the mantra from a qualified Vaisvava guru. One may object that one can only have one diksa guru but Srila Jiva Goswami explains that when the previous guru is rejected and a new guru is accepted, that rejection indicates that the new guru becomes the singular diksa guru for that person. (Bhakti-sandarbha 207) The main idea of "reinitiation" is that one develops a relationship with a genuine sadhu and takes guidance from him. Whether this is formalized by some ceremony is up to the concerned parties. The entire, stress in the process of diksa is not on the externals but on the substance. One should make sure that the person he approaches is not another quack. Srila Prabhupada has advised, "Unless one is personally a realized soul in the science of Krishna consciousness, a neophyte should not approach him to hear about the Lord. Such a person is supposed to be released from lust or material activities." (SBhag 10.1.4) A qualified guru is also described in the Bhagavatam: "Only saintly persons can cut off the excessive attachment of the mind by their words." (SBhag 11)
54. Is there any benefit in serving under a guru who is not fully qualified?
Of course there is benefit. But also there's a gradation. It may be sukriti, or it may be more, it's a matter of the heart. According to the demand of one's heart one will approach different types of gurus, and accordingly one will get different benefits.
55. But isn't the service of the devotees accepted by Krishna?
There are different considerations here. First, Krishna is not bound to accept anything from anyone. Krishna is bhava-grahi, one who appreciates the inner sentiment, as well as bhaktivinoda, one who relishes the devotional feeling. He is not in any need of our service. Bhaktivinode Thakura even says that Krishna in His capacity as Nandakumara doesn't accept the prayers of one who is not decorated with the six angas of saranagati. In that case, what we think is bhakti may only be sukriti, which will help one to develop Bhakti. It is all according to our surrender or lack of surrender. Sripad Madhvacarya says that without saranagati all the nine activities of bhakti are like an empty shell. Second, if we want a guarantee that Krishna will be pleased with our service, we have to make sure we contact a good agent to transmit It, otherwise, as the example of the authorized and unauthorized mailbox, there's a risk that the whole thing remains unfruitful.
It is said : "Unless one is favored by a pure devotee, one cannot attain the platform of devotional service. To say nothing of Krishna-bhakti, one cannot even be relieved from the bondage of material existence." (CC Madhya 22.51)
56. What about someone whose guru fell down?
Guru doesn't fall down. Self-appointed master may. The service performed belongs to bhakti- unmukhi sukriti. It will promote one to bhakti. There is benefit. But one must still have a genuine guru to get the full benefit.
57. You said that one should be minimum a full nistha-bhakta to initiate, and that it was not cheap since it means no more anarthas.
To be freed from the four sinful propensities is a feature of anartha-nivritti. But nistha means complete freedom from all other material contamination. If one is a nistha-bhakta, rajas and tamas gunas are absent and it shows by the absence of the characteristics associated with these gunas. At full nistha one is more or less liberated, at least from the lower modes. Initiation is a very serious matter. One must have the power to transmit Krishna. He must have Krishna otherwise of what value is his diksa? -You cannot give what you don't have.
58. You also spoke of uttama-adhikari coming down to madhyam.
He is the tattva-darshi of the Bhagavad Gita. He has seen the Truth, Krishna. A madhyam-adhikari has heard about the Truth, but has not seen Him yet. And he may have misheard. He is not exactly as good as the uttama-bhakta, although he certainly gives very valuable help and guidance.
59. Some say it is up to the disciple to evaluate.
It certainly is. It is his life he has to surrender. But it is the duty of his well-wishing seniors to educate him. Do you have the right to let younger devotees take absolute shelter and surrender themselves to devotees whose spiritual whereabouts are doubtful? If you see someone in a dangerous position, shouldn't you help?
60. It is said that one shouldn't judge.
It means one shouldn't condemn. But the sastras advise to evaluate according to the symptoms described. Because there are symptoms, and the symptoms are given in sastras, Bhagavad Gita, Caitanya Caritamrta. Nectar of Instruction, Bhagavatam 3rd canto (bhakti in gunas), 11th canto (symptoms of uttama) But if you say that no one can judge and say anything, then you are inviting fraud. We may not know absolutely for sure what exactly is someone's level, but we have to make some discrimination based on inference. External activities may not be the only criteria. Also, when you have a sample of the real thing, you can measure by comparison, like a yardstick.
61. But Many of Srila Prabhupada's godbrothers could not recognize him.
That is not because they were his godbrothers, but because some were neophytes (kanisthas) and didn't have the proper vision. Envy covered the eyes of some.
62. How many qualified gurus were there during Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's or Srila Prabhupada's times?
I'll answer ironically: Oh, very few, they didn't have the mercy. But now we're so advanced that we have more than our sampradaya has produced for centuries. We can even afford to lose a few, we have so many.
63. If one criticizes someone or something going wrong, is that Vaisnava-aparadha?
It is difficult to make Vaisnava-aparadha. First you have to find a genuine vaisnava. When you are pointing out an anartha in someone, the fact that the devotee is enraged doesn't qualify you as an aparadhi. Vaisnava-aparadha means that you disrespect, enviously blaspneme or slander a sadhu, not when you call a spade a spade. Sadhu-ninda, the first namaparadha, specifically means this. One should be careful not to offend, but not be obsessed about Vaisnava-aparadha and create a mental prison. Vaisnava etiquette was never meant to be a tool for the suppression of the truth.
64. Some speak of useless disciples?
Yes, Prabhupada said that when some disciples don't stick to the guru's order and manufacture something else by infiltrating materially concocted ideas, that is considered deviation. "Persons who deviate from the strict order of the guru are useless." and "Anyone who disobeys the order of the guru immediately becomes useless." and "Both factions were asara, useless, because they had no authority, having disobeyed the order of the spiritual master." (C. C. Adi 12.8 & 10)
Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Prabhupada also speak of kali-celas, disciples of Kali, pseudo-disciples. Mahaprabhu has bolted the doors of Kali, he has crushed the dog of Kali, so Kali had to become a vaisnava in order to survive. He entered the sankirtana movement. Therefore we see so many apa-sampradayas, all dressed as Vaisnavas, but full of kali-celas. And even in Gaudiya Matha as well as within ISKCON, Prabhupada has said that there were many kali-celas. All the politics, power trips. quarreling for position, posing as what one is not, these are all signs that we have allowed Kali to enter. Prabhupada spoke about it in no uncertain terms.
65. Can a guru reject a disciple?
The guru is an ocean of mercy. Hari Bhakti Vilasa says: Kripa-sindhu sa sampurnah. We sing Sri guru karuna sindhu. Prabhupada said once that he was 80% lenient. But in certain circumstance the guru may reject a disciple. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta says: "A good preceptor doesn't accept anyone who is not prepared to submit himself freely. He is duty bound to renounce a disciple who is not sincerely willing to follow his instructions fully. If he accepts as a disciple one who refuses to be wholly guided by him, he is doomed to fall from his spiritual status." He was so much more strict, so much that Prabhupada once said that he would have never accepted any of us as his disciples. One may also imagine himself to be the disciple of a particular guru, but one may have never been accepted by such guru, or may have been rejected due to one's offenses.
There may also be a temporary rejection like in the case of Jiva Goswami having been rejected by Rupa Goswami for having slightly disrespected Vallabhacarya. It is said that it was his duty as a guru. However, after a short while he accepted him again. And Jiva Goswami is never criticized for having done his duty as a disciple and having stood up to defend his guru?s dignity. Another point is that Sanatana Goswami played a part in Rupa Goswami's reacceptance of Jiva Goswami. A similar case is Chota Haridasa. When Mahaprabhu rejected him, all the Vaisnavas gave him support and pleaded the Lord on his behalf. Same thing with Kala Krishna dasa, Mahaprabhu's servant who had fallen down in South India with a Bhattahari woman. Mahaprabhu said he didn?t want to deal with him anymore, but the devotees gave him shelter and service. Only envious non-Vaisnavas rejoice when someone is rejected.
66. If the guru is on a lower platform of devotional service can he still plant the seed of bhakti, or since he's immature he cannot?
That seed will not have the same potency.A kanistha adhikari can only give weak faith, komala sraddha. Srila BR Sridhar Maharaja,"An ordinary guru may give the same mantra to his disciple, but what is the potency within the sound? What quality of conception or divine will is contained in that sound? That is all-important...Within the mantra the important thing is the type of thought or sentiment which is imparted through that sound...We have to follow the spirit; otherwise after Jahnava devi, the wife of Lord Nityananda, up to Vipina Goswami, from whom Bhaktivinoda Thakura took initiation, there are so many unknown lady gurus.Through them, the mantra came to Vipina Goswami, and from him Bhaktivinoda Thakura received the mantra. We accept Bhaktivinoda Thakura, but should we count all those ladies in our disciplic succession? What was their realization?
67. But Prabhupada can do it through him, can't he?
That's called covert rittvik-vada. Furthermore, if one has disobeyed his guru, how can he be a bona fide guru? He should connect his disciples with someone more advanced, so they may have a chance to get the transcendental necessities.
68. How does one understand that he is liberated?
In Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna asks that question twice: In 2.54, which was answered in verses 2.55-59, 61, 65, 68, 70 and in 14.21 which was answered in verses 14.22-26.
69. When does one know that he can accept disciples?
One invites downfall by desiring to be guru. One should always consider that Mahaprabhu's order has not come to him but to his guru. That's the proper attitude. The moment one thinks he is guru, he wants to enjoy. Only when you consider that your spiritual master is the one who is heavy, guru, can you be freed from the unhealthy desire to enjoy, whether grossly or subtly. He must receive the order from higher authorities, guru and Krishna. Here again we see the importance of having a siksa guru to confirm.
70 Is the absolute necessity of the spiritual master conforming to the highest transcendental standard confirmed by all sastras?
Yes, they sing the glories of the guru (ebe yasa ghusuk tri-bhuvana), but we are now facing a proposal that Prabhupada has authorized a sort of guru who doesn't have to have more than basic spiritual qualifications, and not only that, but that he should nonetheless be offered the same faith as the topmost saint. Where is the evidence? It may seem to exist at first glance, but should our whole siddhanta be changed by putting forward a few quotes which are highly subjective for interpretation?
71. How does the guru accept prayers or offerings to his picture?
The guru and the Supersoul are intimately connected. Indeed, a bona fide guru is the external manifestation of the Supersoul. When he accepts disciples, the guru expands, as Krishna expands as the caitya-guru. That is how he is aware and accepts prayers. He is a transparent via medium, so prayers properly offered through him go to Krishna. He has to be an authorized agent, a bona fide spiritual master to be empowered to do that. Guru is not cheap.
72. How much worship should be given to the guru?
According to his level. If he is truly qualified, saksad har¡, then the sky is the limit. If he is not and he is worshipped as such, it is an offense, and Prabhupada wrote: ?No one will be happy to see it, and he will eventually become degraded."
73. Can there be women gurus?
Why not? We are not the body. If they transcend their body designation, they can be guru. There are examples in our line. But if they have as little transcended their background as most men, maybe they'd better not.
74. If someone is a guru and speaks very highly of the exalted qualities of guru, how can one not think he speaks about himself?
You could level the same charge against Prabhupada, or any of our great acaryas. A real guru never speaks about himself. He never considers himself a guru. He doesn't see his disciples as his. He sees them as an expansion of his own guru. He feels himself as their servant. His service is to train them. He sees them as so many masters. Of course, many will speak like that, but that's a very high vision, the vision of the mahabhagavata. But mabhagavata is the standard. And one thing: One shouldn't display his envy by trying to find fault in the language or presentation of a pure vaisnava, for he is inspired by the Lord. The acts and expressions of the great vaisnavas cannot be easily understood. Of course, on the other hand, someone may not be qualified and speak about himself. In Kali-vuga hypocrites are rampant. And so many kapatha-panthas are there, wrong paths based on false logic. That's why you have to be very knowledgeable, and pray to Krishna to guide you, to send you His bona fide representative. But shouldn't one, whether he is guru or not, present guru-tattva according to the Vaisnava philosophy?
75. But why insist? Why stress so much the highest standard?
Because the guru is supposed to be most qualified. That's the standard. Something less should be clearly exposed as what it is, that is, second-best. No taboos, there has been too much confusion and pain, too much excess on the other side. A disciple has a great responsibility to follow his guru's instructions as it is, but to accept disciples is also very serious. A guru has a very heavy responsibility towards the disciples. Guru na sa syat. If someone cannot deliver his dependents, why has he taken that position? The guru must be able to transmit bhakti-shakti to his disciples, which will enliven the soul and engage him in Krishna-seva.
76. I am a little confused. What kind of guru should one approach?
Then just stick to the sastric recommendation given to one searching for the truth: "Just try to learn the truth by approaching a bona fide spiritual master, inquire from him submissively, and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth." (BG 4.34) And also the Mundaka Upanisad 1.2.12 Tad-vijnanartam sa gurum... brahma nistham: One should approach a spiritual master who is firmly established in the realization of the Absolute Truth and enquire from him about the highest good.
77. What about the verse that says that one who knows the science of Krishna can be a guru: Kiba vipra kiba nyasi...?
You can give this verse two readings. It can be taken to indicate one who knows the theoretical science or one who has realized the object of the science. The word tattva is used, yei krishna tattva vetta as in the Gita verse janma-karma ca me divyam evam yo vetti tattvatah. Commenting on this verse, Prabhupada says that one who knows Krishna in tattva is a perfect devotee: "As far as the perfect devotee is concerned, the siddha, the Gita says that 'After leaving this body he comes to Me.' (CC Madhya 20.397) He doesn't say that about one who knows the theory. And what level is that? Again minimum the full nistha stage; actually, the level where one attains Bhagavata-tattva-vijnana is much higher.(SBhag 1.2.20) Also, "This is the science of Krishna, this Gita. If anyone knows perfectly, then he becomes the guru." (Lecture 17.8.66) He must know the science of Krishna perfectly. One may still argue that scholarship constitutes perfect understanding, but the Bhagavatam says: "Mere acquisition and excellency of the superficial meaning of the sacred Vedic words without being conscious of the inner essence of the teachings is as good as keeping a cow without milking capacity." (SBhag 11.11.18)
So the second reading of the verse is to be accepted. The first reading is based on apara-vicara, apparent consideration, and the second on absolute consideration. Moreover, Mahaprabhu has specifically spoken this verse because of the smarta brahmanas' predominant influence on society during His advent, to establish the fact that a Vaisnava can be the guru of a brahmana, whatever his caste may be, which was opposed by the smartas, and the fact that he doesn?t have to be a grhasta, whereas they insisted he had to. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati's purport on this verse that, "One can thus become a guru, whether vartma-pradarshaka, siksa or diksa." is to be understood in this sense. He ascribes to the word vartma-pradarshaka another meaning than the one commonly ascribed to in our society. For him, there is no question of a guru being anything less than a pure, full-fledged self-realized soul. For him "Sri Gurudeva is the eternal associated counterpart of Nanda-kumara Krishna."
78. Why has ISKCON changed so much since Prabhupada left?
The devotees didn't have an example of a bona fide guru except Prabhupada. He said to do as he did, but that was misunderstood. Instead of following in his footsteps, they imitated him. Neophyte means big false ego, and although the leaders were the most senior, they were still very immature. False ego prevents one from accepting authority. And therefore one doesn't know how to give compassion towards one's subordinates. Coupled with a sense of insecurity as to how to discharge one's self-imposed duty, that gives rise to absolutism. It becomes imposing respect instead of commanding it. We are in favor of absolute authority, as Krishna is an autocrat. But if the person in charge is not qualified it creates havoc. And we can see the results. Mahaprabhu and Prabhupada, although certainly taking care of their movement are somewhat withholding Their mercy and blessings. That may sound odd to say since books are going out and temples are being built or opened, but these aren?t the only things to look for in order to determine progress. Prabhupada said that when his Guru Maharaja saw that the number of his neophyte disciples augmented and they were fighting over facilities, he left this world disgusted.
During the Acarya's physical presence, the shortcomings are somewhat compensated by his extraordinary potency, but when he withdraws, that influence by which he did also withdraws. As we wrote earlier, when the acarya departs, there's a cloudy period. During Prabhupada's presence, devotees seemed to be more advanced that they actually were. Devotees couldn't really understand their own position. Prabhupada carried everyone, held everyone up. That could be clearly seen whenever he would be in a particular temple. The whole place would change due to his potency. When Prabhupada left, many lost a lot of their devotional temperament. Many were self-seeking and that was aggravated after he left. He was not there any longer to compensate it and correct them.
79. What about if someone falls down after initiation?
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta says that "Initiation doesn't preclude the possibility of reversion to the non-spiritual state. If the disciple sins after initiation, he may fall into greater depths of degradation than the uninitiated. But initiation changes the outlook of the disciple on life. Although even after initiation temporary setbacks may occur, they don?t ordinarily prevent the final deliverance. The faintest glimmering of the real knowledge of the Absolute has sufficient power to change radically and good the whole of our mental and physical constitution, and this glimmering is incapable of being totally extinguished except in extraordinarily unfortunate cases."
80. Can we blame someone who hesitates to submit unconditionally to a guru, whether he is good or bad?
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta also answers that: "It is of course necessary to be quite sure of the bong fides of a person before we accept him even tentatively as our spiritual guide. A preceptor should be a person who appears likely to possess those qualities that will enable him to improve our spiritual condition. The bad preceptor is a familiar character...
"But the good preceptor claims our sincere and complete allegiance. He asks the struggling soul to submit not to the laws of this world that will only rivet his chains but to the higher laws of the spiritual realm. The good disciple makes a complete surrender of himself at the feet-of the preceptor. It is by unreserved submission to a good preceptor that one can be helped to enter into the realm that is our real home.
''But the submission of the disciple is neither Irrational nor blind. It is complete on the condition that the preceptor himself continues to be altogether good. The disciple retains his right to renounce his allegiance the moment he realizes that the preceptor is a fallible creature like himself.
"Nor does a good preceptor accept anyone as his disciple unless the latter is prepared to submit himself freely.... Submission to the Absolute is not real unless it is also itself absolute. When we reserve the right of choice to follow or not to follow the guru, we actually follow ourselves, because even if we seem to agree to follow the guru, it is because he appears to be in agreement with ourselves."
81. I have heard that the guru should be a nitya-siddha.
That is the topmost category,the ideal guru.Srila Bhaktisiddhanta writes:"The good preceptor belongs to the spiritual realm. Although he appears to belong to this world, he's not really of this world. No one who belongs to this world can deliver us from wordliness. The good preceptor is a denizen of the spiritual world who has been enabled by the will of God to appear in this world in order to enable us to realize the spiritual existence." Prabhupada also mentions in a few places that the ideal guru descends from the spiritual world, that he has nothing to do with this world and comes down only out of compassion to reclaim the fallen conditioned souls. But although he stressed that there's no question of a non-liberated guru, he said that he could be a kripa-siddha or sadhana-siddha, not only a nitya-siddha.
82. What is guru-daksina?
It is a token of thanks to the spiritual master for his mercy. What the guru wants, you should give, unhesitatingly. And what does he want? That we give up our enjoying mood, that from guru-bhogi we become guru-sevi. Actually, preaching is real guru-daksina. The only thing the guu asks from his disciple is that he practices himself and also teaches others. And one shouldn't lose enthusiasm and become discouraged because the majority of people are not accepting the message of Godhead.
In fact, even when it is apparently the disciple who gives something to the guru, it is still the guru's mercy which manifests itself in his instruction that one should preach. The six enemies headed by lust don't desert the heart even if one is externally away from bad association. The type of opportunity to give up the bad association of these six enemies that comes by preaching and practising in allegiance to a Vaisnava is not to be had by any other method. And by preaching linked with practice, not only one's benefit is achieved, but others are benefitted also, and that pleases the Lord.
83. Does the guru always know what the disciple think?
Srila Prabhupada: "Krishna knows your inner thoughts. Nothing is secret for him. Do you think your guru cannot tell which disciple is cheating and which is not? How do you think you can avoid Paramatma witnessing all your activities and thoughts?" Don?t worry if your guru knows or doesn't know everything about you, your thoughts, your deeds; you are supposed to express them, reveal them. If you cannot see him regularly, send him a regular report. Some devotees complain that they don't have much association with their guru, but writing provides the opportunity to deeply meditate on the Gurudeva and one's commitment to him, in addition to receiving direct instructions in answer.
84. What type of question should one ask a guru?
When you approach a sadhu, you should be in a disciple's mood, that's the proper way to approach, not a challenging mood, or a mood to just check out the person. The proper attitude is to think that unless proven to the contrary he is a bona fide devotee. And if he is very elevated, if he is actually a sadhu, then one should behave practically like a disciple. That is the way recommended in sastra. Then one can benefit from sadhu-sanga. Real sadhu-sanga means to imbibe the mood of a sadhu, to surrender to his teaching in the sense of throwing oneself toward Krishna according to the method of surrender described by the sadhu-guru. You have to ask questions mainly pertaining to the level you're on. That is called relevant inquiry, pertinent questions. You may ask questions to satisfy your desire to understand things properly, clarify your understanding and confirm it, clear misconceptions and doubts. In fact there is only one question: How can we surrender and give up our mundane attraction? How can we attain the Absolute Good, who alone will make us fully happy?
But only a surrendered disciple has the right to ask questions. Without surrendering to the guru, Krishna-katha doesn't really enter the ears. One cannot understand nor get Krishna. No one gets direct mercy from Krishna. Only by full surrender, in full faith to a worthy spiritual preceptor, can one receive mercy. It is undoubtedly Krishna's mercy: the mercy comes from Him. But that mercy is received through the sad-guru. In the form of guru, Krishna bestows His mercy. Guru, sad-guru, not imitation, self-made guru, is Krishna kripa Murti, the very embodiment of Krishna's mercy. His mercy is very powerful. But one has to be very eager. One has to cry in his heart, begging Krishna to appear as such a sadhu. One has to approach in the proper way. Then he gets protection from Maya and receives the real benefit of sadhu-sanga, which is Krishna sanga.
85. What is the proper attitude should his "guru" fall down?
To see one's guide going down is undoubtedly a big trial. As mentioned earlier, in the section or the duty of the disciple, one must understand that there is no spiritual injustice. A bad workman quarrels with his tools. One has to accept that one's karma has come to face him, and it cannot be avoided, or one's lack of sukriti. It has come from within oneself. One must do the proper thing, scrutinize oneself and find out one's status, how much one is hankering for the real thing. Then one must cry to Krishna, beg Him to be accepted as His servant, petition Him for mercy, and admit that one is blind and utterly dependent upon Him as one's well-wishing, eternal friend to make all arrangements for one's deliverance. Then Krishna will understand from one's heart that one is crying for Him, that one wants to go back to Him, so He will arrange for one to meet a genuine guru. Paramatma assumes a body and appears as the guru who is therefore said to be His external manifestation. Different temperaments, natures, moods, levels of sukriti are there, so the all-knowing Krishna will send a guru accordingly. A simple, non-duplicitous person who just wants to serve, who accepts what Krishna says without twisting it, without speculation ? Krishna appears to him as guru. A duplicitous person, who is not really serious, Krishna sends him a cheater. But someone will say that it is not his fault, that he was sincere and had only noble thoughts and desires, that he has no fault, but Krishna is at fault, ISKCON is at fault. He is not prepared to admit his fault. Krishna doesn't send a guru to the crooked. Maya does. Krishna directs her to send him a cheater. So one must approach in utter simplicity.
86 And when the guru leaves this world?
Srila Prabhupada says that the guru's order should become the life and soul of the disciple. One should pray that, "From now on, I am living on your orders. Let this be a true statement at all times." And one should take that opportunity to examine oneself, like one whose "guru" has fallen down: My guide and support in life has withdrawn. This is a test of my sincerity, my determination, my commitment. What I have received from my guru, how well did I receive it and understand it? Am I a real disciple or by name only? How much mundane contamination is there, mixed with the real thing? How much selfishness is there in me? How much do anarthas still plague me? What is to be eliminated, and what will be the best way to go about it? When asked by a devotee how should the disciples continue the mission after the disappearance of the spiritual master,Srila Sridhara Maharaja answered,"You must not neglect your conscience...There may be disturbances. Rather we say there should be, there may even be fighting amongst devotees, but we should not leave the preaching of Mahaprabhu, despite all differences. Disturbance must come, because our most beloved guru has withdrawn from amongst us. Such a great curse has been thrown on our heads; should we like to live peacefully? In its wake, disturbances must come, and we must undergo them. Still, we must remain sincere; we must face the difficulty in a proper way. It has come to train us to go in the right direction.What we received from our spiritual master we understood only in a rough estimation... The time has come to purify us, to test whether we are real students, real disciples, or his disciples only in face and confession. What is the position of a real disciple? If we live in the society, what is the depth of our creed? In what attitude have we accepted his teachings? How deep-rooted is it within us? The fire has come to test whether we can stand. Is our acceptance real? Or is it a sham, an imitation? This fire will prove that." And then one must not think that he can do it alone. Prabhupada said that when the guru leaves, the disciple cries. He must cry for help. And Krishna will supply help, in one form or another. Help will come as a person
87. What prevents one from full surrender to the guru's feet?
Past sukriti enables one to surrender more fully; otherwise it takes longer, it's more gradual. But the sadhu creates sukriti. Prabhupada said he had created his disciples'good fortune or piety, By hearing from a sadhu, you earn sukriti, even if you didn't have much previously. Hearing, sravanam, is service. Then you can surrender more, then you develop more faith, then more surrender, doubts are eradicated. One doesn't surrender because one clings to material attachments, which are deeply rooted in the heart. Material desires are what keeps one from fully surrendering. That's duplicity, the deep-rooted desire to enjoy separately from Krishna. That means one's faith is still tender, komala sraddha, not very strong. So keep on hearing the most potent medicine of Hari-katha from the right source.
You have to understand and accept that Sri Guru is very dear to Krishna. Everything belongs to Krishna and Krishna's property is entrusted to His dear servants as they alone know how to fully engage it in their master's service without tampering with it. Without realizing that, it is not possible to surrender. You cannot become Krishna-das without becoming guru-das, and you cannot become real guru-das if you don't see and accept that everything should be offered to him for utilization in Krishna-seva.
88. Some say that it is not important whether the guru has seen or is seeing Krishna.
The Gita doesn't say that: Tattva darshinah, he has seen the Truth, Krishna. The sastra explains that the pure devotee sees Krishna everywhere, wherever he casts his glance. The Brahma-samhita's Premanjana curita verse says the same. And Prabhupada answered very directly to that question: "Have you seen Krishna?"?Yes, daily, every moment." (Perfect questions, perfect answers).
89. What about the Gaudiya Matha?
Let us be careful of offenses, both towards Prabhupada and towards the Gaudiya Matha devotees. Srila Prabhupada wrote: "After Srila Bhaktisiddhanta disappeared, one party strictly followed his instructions but another group created their own concoction. His leading secretaries made plans to occupy the post of Acarya and split in two factions. Both factions became useless." Srila Prabhupada clearly says here that one party strictly followed, and that another group, which split in two, became useless. He doesn't say they were all useless. So one can research who was in which group...
90. Srila Prabhupada mentioned that Srila BR Sridhara Maharaja and two others were responsible, as leading secretaries, for the downfall of the Gaudiya Matha.
Srila Prabhupada said different things at different times. He spoke both words of caution and words of praise. So it would be advisable not to needlessly strain our brains trying to understand and interpret what Srila Prabhupada or, for that matter, Srila BR Sridhara Maharaja, might or might not have said or meant, but rather concentrate on the practice of the devotional path they both glorified. But one should not neglect his guru's warnings and therefore one may not take from Maharaja certain ideas. The ISKCON leaders who were in charge at that time have specifically a big responsibility because they went to Sridhara Maharaja to ask his advice on the guru issue, whereas Prabhupada had specifically warned not to take these ideas from him. We can't blame devotees who took took shelter at his feet when their own brothers denied them one in their father's house. He himself never canvassed from ISKCON members. He spoke of "relief work", meaning by this that he didn't want to interfere in our inner affairs but would only offer some help to those who were leaving ISKCON hopelessly and were in danger of falling back into the material world.
91. Some say it was all right to take some philosophical knowledge, but it was a lack of chastity to leave ISKCON and go to his camp.
It was all right to go to Srila BR Sridhara Maharaja for philosophical advice, as Prabhupada had indicated that one could approach him with such queries. In any case, the situation was created by the leaders. And when the leaders rejected Maharaja for political considerations, some devotees who had got attached to him chose to stay with him, having lost faith in the leaders.
92. Sridhara Maharaja's followers want to dismiss anything negative Srila Prabhupada may have said about him.
And his detractors want to dismiss anything positive. As his godbrother, Srila Prabhupada could speak, but given our position as nephews or grand-nephews, we shouldn't take sides and thereby venture on the path of offense. We should keep always the perspective that one must give proper respect to advanced devotees. Part of Vaisnava etiquette is to offer the same respect to the godbrother of one's guru as one offers to one's own guru.
93. But didn't Prabhupada warned against the Gaudiya Math's influence?
Whatever Srila Prabhupada spoke about the Gaudiya Math was said more than thirty years ago, and it had a lot to do with events happening more than half of a century ago. His last statements were of a conciliatory nature, "The war is over." He even named some of his Godbrothers, that he had strongly addressed in no uncertain terms, as members of the Bhaktivedanta Charity Trust. He apologized in his last days for having used strong words against some of his Godbrothers to keep his own disciples in the fire of preaching and not let complacency and easy-going enter his mission. We shouldn't think that our uncles, cousins or nephews have stagnated for decades. Prabhupada's concern was mainly for his very young disciples when he said "If they say one thing different from me it will cause great confusion." It is true that he also said, "Don't go to my Godbrothers, they cannot help us, rather they are quite competent to harm us." but that should also be qualified and not taken as a blanket statement against associating with ALL of the Gaudiya Math. It was his reaction to isolated acts of disrespect from some Godbrothers who opposed him, or had reinitiated some of his disciples, or couldn't understand why he had accepted the title "Prabhupada" that all the sannyasis had agreed in a meeting (to which Prabhupada wasn't invited as he was then a householder), never to use themselves and keep reserved for Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. He repeatedly tried to reunite his godbrothers to strengthen the preaching.
94. What about the Iskcon gurus who went to Srila BV Narayana Maharaja in the late eighties and until ninety five?
By going to him while Srila Gour Govinda Swami was still on the planet, the ISKCON gurus who went sent two messages: One is that they didn't really know Krishna-tattva. The second is that they believed no one in ISKCON did. Other ISKCON members could then reason, "Why should I take from someone who doesn't really know? Let me go to someone who knows. And since they go to this sadhu, he obviously knows more than them. Yei krsna-tattva vetta sei guru haya, one who knows the science of Krishna can be a guru. And if he doesn't know, how can he be a guru? Why should I take from him?"
When asked about this point, Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja answered by saying that there were two considerations: He said that from the institutional point of view it was not so good, because you need discipline to run a society; but that from the transcendental point of view there was no problem as Maharaja is a mahabhagata.
95 Some of these ISKCON devotees apparently approached Srila Narayana Maharaja as a raganuga-guru or rasa-guru?
It is not at all what these devotees said. They said they were studying sastra under him. Anyway, Srila BV Narayana Maharaja is highly qualified to be a bona fide teacher of raganuga-bhakti and if those devotees had been at a sufficient level of advancement to take instruction on that domain from him, (and since they were gurus they were supposed to be), one can ask where was the problem? The fact that they were flagged down by the GBC is in itself an admission by the GBC that they were not qualified.
By the way, if they went to Srila Maharaja and he was not bona fide, it means that they could not discriminate who is who and are therefore not qualified as spiritual guides. And since he is bona fide and they rejected him, it says the same. Catch 22!
96. Others say they just take siksa from Narayana Maharaja. The principle of taking siksa is completely bona fide, but to apply it outside of ISKCON requires adjustments, given the fact that Prabhupada instructed his followers not to mix intimately with the members of the Gaudiya Matha.
Prabhupada specifically asked Srila Narayana Maharaja just prior to leaving this world to help him by continue training his disciples. The GBC later on concocted the idea that Prabhupada did say that at that time, but if it was now he wouldn't say it!!?? Lately they have tried to minimize their transcendental relationship in a very unpalatable and offensive way...
Srila Maharaja doesn't disagree with Prabhupada on anything. He just has a different style and mood. Srila Prabhupada said many things to protect his mission from some godbrothers or nephews who were envious, and also from disciples who were immature, unchaste, unsurrendered, and lacking a sense of discrimination. Given the fact that he had precisely warned not to take certain ideas from the Gaudiya Math and that these were precisely the ideas that were taken, one can understand why he had repeatedly issued warnings about his godbrothers. General statements always make room for exceptions, though, and again, we should be extremely careful not to commit Vaisnava-aparadha.
97 In the quest for spiritual truth, one may join a religious mission to advance towards the ultimate goal of life. After some time,however, sectarian policies may appear to bar the path of progress. He may see that within the society, pragmatic concerns take precedence
over spiritual ideals. If one feels the necessity to look elsewhere, his authorities may tell him that there are no higher truths to be found. One may also be warned that if he leaves the society, he will sufferserious repercussions. He may become an outcast, branded as a heretic for pursuing what he sincerely feels to be the ideal upon which the society was founded. Should he risk leaving the society, ignoring the advice of his immediate authorities, or should he try to remain within the society?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Progress means elimination and new acceptance. So, when there is a clash between the relative and the absolute standpoint, the relative must be left aside, and the absolute should be accepted...We must be sincere to our own creed...The form is necessary to help me in a general way to maintain my present position. At the same time, my conception of the higher ideal will always goad me to advance, to go forward...Spiritual life is progressive, not stagnant...The search for Sri Krsna is dynamic and living, so adjustment and readjustment is always going on...Our most precious gem is our deal...Krsna's final instruction is sarva dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: 'If it is necessary, to maintain the highest ideal you must give up your friends. Surrender to me. I am the real
purport of the scriptures.' The highest kind of idealists give up their country, their family, their friends, and everything else, but they can't give up their ideal...God consciousness is absolute. If society consciousness hinders the development of God consciousness, it should be left behind... 'Even a spiritual master, relative, parent, husband, or demigod who cannot save us from repeated birth and death should be abandoned at
once.' What to speak of ordinary things, even the guru, may have to be abandoned...We need society only to help us. If our affinity to the society keeps us down, then that should be given up, and we must march on. There is the absolute consideration and the relative consideration. When they come into clash, the relative must be given up, and the absolute should be accepted. If my inner voice, my spiritual conscience decides that this sort of company cannot really help me, then I will be under painful necessity to give them up, and to run towards my destination,wherever my spiritual conscience guides me. Any other course will be hypocrisy, and it will check my real progress...We must be true to our own selves, and true to the Supreme Lord. We must be sincere.(Sri Guru and his grace)
98 Should one venture to initiate before self-realization?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja deals also with this point:"we should think,'I am fallible, but I am confident that what my guru has given to me is an uncommon, vital, and nectarine thing. And he has asked me to give it to others. It does not matter. I shall take the risk. He has ordered me. I am his servant. He will look after me.' With this spirit of risk, the disciple will approach the responsibility thinking, 'I may go to hell, but I must carry out the order of my gurudeva. I may die, but I must carry out the order of my commander." With this spirit he is to approach the task, and there will be no danger if this consciousness is maintained; but if he deviates from that connection and goes self-seeking for a mundane purpose, he'll be doomed.
Otherwise, no destruction can touch him. This internal spirit should be maintained, and that is the real qualification of a disciple: 'Yes, I am ready to die to carry out the order of my gurudeva. I feel that this is nectar, and I must distribute it to others to save them...'
If you can take this sort of risk, your guru will bless you, and you cannot be doomed. This sort of risk should be taken by the disciple and only on the force, on the basis of that spiritual inspiration. If he does so, he can never be doomed. The eye of the Lord is there. God is there. Guru is there. He cannot but be saved.They cannot leave him in danger and relish thinking, 'The person who is carrying out our orders is going to hell.' Can they tolerate such a thing? Are our guardians living or are they dead? We must be so much selfless that we can think, 'I may go to hell, but I must carry out my guru's order. So, through me, the work may go on.'This sort of conviction in the process, in the mantra, gives us the strength to carry out the work of acarya. If I think, 'This medicine is helping me; I am in the curing process, and this medicine is helping me,' then, if I see a similar case, I may hand the medicine over to him...In good faith, with whatever knowledge we have, we must sincerely help others...
But we must be careful that whenever a guru of superior quality is there, we must help others to accept him.We must not be a trespasser. It is also mentioned in the Hari Bhakti
Vilasa that when a greater person is available, those of a lower type should not venture to make disciples. Suppose a farmer has fertile land and two kinds of seed. The good seed should be planted first. If the better seed is not available, then ordinary seeds may be sown. For the sake of the harvest, the better seed should be given the first chance. If
we are detached, if we are pure in heart, and if we are selfless, the better seed should always be sown first. The lower kind of seed should be withdrawn. So, when a higher type of guru is available to any circle, the lower type of guru should not interfere."
99 What are the dangers in becoming a guru before being self-realized?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja says that one faces two dangers:"The first is partiality. Partiality means full freedom with his disciples. This relationship is also more attractive to him. The second danger is deviation. So, deviation and partiality - these two things can take one down. These are the two enemies. And one who takes that position must be particularly careful about these things...This position is dangerous. It is full of temptations. Therefore, a strong, sincere indomitable desire for the upper aspirations of Krsna consciousness is the indispensable necessity. Otherwise, he can't maintain his position. He will go down. He has become master and will think, "I am the master of all I survey." In a particular circle, he is monarch. And monarchy can bring madness. That is a great temptation. If one is not sufficiently conscious of this fact, he will not be able to maintain his position. For one who has monarchy over men and money, it is very difficult to maintain a position as a servitor. The ego of mastership which is generally found within all of us comes to attack him...Generally the symptoms of deviation fall into three different classes: kanaka, kamini, and pratistha: money, women, and reputation. First, a guru loses his attraction for his own guru and sastra-upadesa, the advice of the sastra. Then, what he previously expressed, quoting the scriptures and the words of his own guru, gradually becomes absent in him. His attraction for the higher thing fades. That is pratistha, prestige. Kanaka, kamini, pratistha: money, women, and name and fame - these are the three tests to be put everywhere to see whether one is a sadhu or not, or what degree of sadhu he is. The first thing is deviation from his higher gurus. That should be detected. That is pratistha, pride. Then, he will show more tendency to amass money and not to spend it. Money may be collected, but that must be distributed for the service of the sampradaya, for the service of the Vaisnavas. But amassing money - this is the second sign of deviation. The third is attraction towards the ladies."
100. If one has received harinama from one guru and diksa from another one, how should he deal with these two gurus?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: "The first importance should be given to the nama guru, or the guru who initiates one into the chanting of the holy name of Krsna, and second to the guru who gives initiation into the gayatri mantra...Jiva Goswami has written that the name of Krsna is the principle thing in the gayatri mantra...We accept the mantra only to help the nama-bhajana, the worship of the holy name...The mantra helps us to do away with the
aparadhas, offenses, and the abhasa, or hazy conceptions in our bhajana...An example is given of larger and smaller circles. The holy name of Krsna is the larger circle. It extends from the highest to the lowest. The mantra circle is a smaller circle within the larger circle. The mantra cannot reach to the lowest point. The holy name can extend itself down to the lowest position. The mantra gives us entrance into liberation, and then the name carries us further. This is the nature of our connection with the mantra and the name. The name extends to the lowest position, to the candalas and yavanas... In the CC (Adi.7.73):
krsna-mantra haite habe samsara mocana krsna-nama haite pabe krsnera carana 'The Krsna gayatri mantra liberates one from repeated birth and death in this world; the holy name of Krsna gives one shelter at the lotus feet of Krsna.'