quarta-feira, 21 de abril de 2010



In the Introduction to the first chapter of the Caitanya Caritamrita, Srila Prabhupada writes: "The spiritual master appears in two plenary parts, called the diksa-guru and the siksa-quru. They are identical because both of them are phenomenal manifestations of the Absolute Truth.... Anyone who gives instructions based on the sastras is accepted as a guru. Although others give help in showing the way to beginners, the guru who first initiates one with the maha-mantra is to be known as the diksa-guru, and the saints who give instructions for progressive advancement in Krishna consciousness are called siksa-gurus." (CC Adi 1.34) And in the opening verses of his Kalyana Kalpataru, Srila Thakura Bhaktivinoda writes: The diksa guru shows his causeless mercy by giving his disciples instructions in chanting Harinama. By spiritual instructions he points the disciples in the direction of the truths pertaining to Krishna. But I consider the numerous siksa gurus to be more important, for they bestow mercy unlimitedly by training the neophytes in all the essential aspects of practical sadhana bhakti." Sadhana-bhakti runs from sraddha through asakti. Srila Jiva Goswami defines the siksa-guru in Bhakti-sandharba: "After hearing about the Lord one may desire to serve Him. He who teaches how to render that service, bhajan, is the siksa-guru." Prabhupada mentions that the siksa guru often becomes the diksa guru. He also explains that there is no limit to the number of siksa gurus one can accept. Since all devotees,including gurus are disciples, siksa-guru-tattva is most relevant for all. Our great Acaryas all approached siksa gurus. "Even when one's dormant love for Krishna awakens, association with advanced devotees is still most essential." (CC Madhya 22.83) Association with advanced devotees mean to take siksa from them.
Srila Prabhupada on the siksa guru.

During his embodied presence, Srila Prabhupada made it clear to his disciples that he was both their diksa guru and their siksa guru. Although "siksa-guru" is a term we usually use to designate anyone giving some spiritual instruction, just like we use the term "vartma-pradarshaka guru" to designate anyone who first convinces someone about Krishna consciousness, that is not the traditional meaning. This can be seen from the following quotes: "The diksa and siksa gurus are equal and identical manifestations of Krishna although they have different dealings. Their function is to guide the conditioned souls back to Godhead. Therefore, Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami accepted Lord Nityananda and the six Goswamis in the category of guru." (CC Adi 1.34) and, "My siksa-gurus are the six Goswamis." (CC Adi 1.37) and," One should know the siksa-guru as the Personality of Krishna.... Lord Krishna manifests Himself as the Supersoul and as the greatest devotee...The siksa-guru is a bona fide representative of Krishna. Sri Krishna Himself teaches us as the siksa-guru from within and without. There's no difference between the shelter-giving Supreme Lord and the diksa and siksa gurus. If one foolishly discriminates between them, he commits an offense in the discharge of devotional service.... Govindaji acts exactly like the siksa-guru by teaching Arjuna the Bhagavad Gita. He is the original preceptor because He gives us instructions and the opportunity to serve Him.... The siksa-guru is a personal representative of Govindadeva vigraha." (CC Adi 1.47). Not cheap, indeed.
Srila Prabhupada didn't speak very elaborately on the topic of the siksa guru. From this we shouldn't jump to the conclusion that therefore he didn't consider acceptance of a siksa guru very important. The few quotes that are there in his books are unequivocal and clear on this point. Perhaps he didn't speak about it more often because he didn't want to encourage his neophyte disciples to seek a siksa guru from amongst the Gaudiya Math while he was physically present among us, or from Babajis. Since he had written that there is no difference between diksa and siksa gurus, he perhaps also didn't want to give an opportunity to his senior disciples to make offenses by starting to equate their position with his just because they were teaching younger godbrothers. They could have started to consider themselves siksa-gurus and not necessarily understand the subtleties of what he had written in the Caitanya Caritamrita. Later in this section I'll present my understanding that the statement that there's no difference between diksa and siksa gurus specifically means there's no difference on the absolute platform of both the diksa and the siksa gurus being liberated souls, as there is no sastric reference of a non-liberated diksa-guru, and not iust that anyone who teaches spiritual knowledge is respected as guru. I will also develop the point that, as Prabhupada said, "There are two kinds of siksa-gurus. One is the liberated person fully absorbed in meditation in devotional service, and the other is he who invokes the disciple's spiritual consciousness by means of relevant instructions." (CC Adi 1.47)
Everyone needs a siksa guru.
Prabhupada speaks about "saints" and also mentions the six Goswamis. This means that there are siksa-gurus who are physically embodied and therefore visible (they may or may not be eternally liberated souls), and there are siksa-gurus who are eternally liberated souls no longer physically embodied and visible, such as the six Goswamis and the other great acaryas whose teachings guide our devotional life. A grand-disciple of Prabhupada whose master fell down can take shelter of Prabhupada as this second kind of siksa-guru and pray to him as well as to Krishna to kindly help him by sending him a fully genuinely qualified guru. He'll first accept this great soul as a siksa guru of the first kind (as any new bhakta usually does whether the guru is qualified or not), then take diksa when his faith is properly established. And a disciple of a not very advanced guru can do the same. Even if someone has accepted a madhyam guru, he still needs a connection with a living uttama-adhikari. The topic of siksa guru is mentioned in the very first chapter of the Caitanya Caritamrta. "In one sense, a siksa guru is any devotee who gives us good instructions. In some cases, however, the relationship with an advanced devotee who gives one instruction may be so profound that it practically equals in depth one's relationship with one's diksa guru."(ISKCON Journal)
The idea that one is maybe not getting from his "officially approved" guru everything one should get should be considered, as well as the obvious fact that there are gurus on very different levels. The devotees will start to scrutinizingly study the qualifications of a sad-guru and understand that ISKCON diksa gurus are really nothing more than good preachers, not qualified diksa gurus, and that one needs to look elsewhere.
Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acarya of ISKCON:
The fact that ISKCON diksa gurus are not up to the standard of self-realization and its unfortunate consequences in the form of a rate of 50% of falldowns in their ranks has not only produced as an extreme reaction to an extreme situation the rittvik-vada of the VVR then of the IRM, but also "covert-rittvik-vada".
Covert rittvik-vada includes the idea that since Srila Prabhupada is the Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, every member should focus on developing his relationship with Prabhupada, and that whatever a diksa-guru cannot give to his disciples will come magically from Prabhupada. But consider the following: Srila Bhaktisiddhanta is the Founder-Acarya of the Gaudiya-Math. Did Prabhupada ever say that his godbrothers failed to connect their own disciples to the Founder-Acarya? Isn't the Society called ISKCON and not Gaudiya Math simply because of the narrow vision (at least at one time) of some of Prabhupada's godbrothers? Does the fact that Prabhupada registered ISKCON as a separate society and not as a branch of the Gaudiya Math make it a new sampradaya? Srila Prabhupada has never said anywhere that the guru's duty is to connect his disciples to his own guru. The main objective of a disciple of a genuinely qualified guru is to develop devotion to his guru and through him to Krishna. That everything goes through the parampara is a technicality. It's not the disciple's meditation. One, should learn to identify rittvik-vada wherever it appears, even in well-meaning devotional sentiment towards Prabhupada.
Srila Prabhupada is automatically the siksa guru of his grand-disciples and of everyone who accepts and follows his teachings. He is the Maha Siksa guru, but it has to be clearly understood that it is only when one has reached a very, very elevated stage of spiritual development that one who is not his disciple by initiation can, if that is his particular case, have a direct guru-sisya relationship with Srila Prabhupada. Of course, in the natural course of spiritual development every ISKCON member will come to the stage of developing great attachment on the transcendental platform towards this most magnanimous personality who flooded the world with Krishna consciousness, just as it is said that at one stage one develops a loving relationship with the six Goswamis. It is not that one didn't have any relationship at all with them before that stage. We are Rupanugas and the other Goswamis are all our revered masters. But Srila Prabhupada said that "the six Goswamis are represented by one's spiritual master." This means that until one reaches a sufficiently elevated stage one doesn't have direct access to these great souls The same thing applies to Srila Prabhupada. It doesn't preclude, of course, that one can pray to him and take shelter of his instructions.
But doesn't Narottama das Thakura sing about Rupa Goswami? It can be understood that Narottama das doesn't approach Rupa Goswami as an ordinary siksa guru. He addresses him as Sri Rupa Manjari. That means he approaches him as the Rasa-Acarya allowing one to enter the manjari-bhava of madhurya-rasa. One should also consider the most exalted level of Narottama das Thakura.
What about Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura? Doesn't he appear in our guru-parampara as a disciple of Narottama dasa Thakura, although he lived almost a century after him? He actually never claimed to be the disciple of Narottama, but sometimes only the names of the prominent acaryas have been mentioned in the parampara. Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura was a disciple of Sri Radharaman Cakravarti. Srila Bhaktisidhanta Sarasvati writes that Narottama das Thakura's lotus feet were desired by Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura.
Prabhupada's disciples need a living siksa guru?
Srila Prabhupada,although he is already de facto the "Maha Siksa Guru" of everyone in ISKCON through his teachings, and he is already one kind of siksa guru for his disciples, is not the only siksa guru needed by all the members of ISKCON, including his disciples, who have not yet achieved perfection. Even when one has reached perfection he still receives guidance or siksa from a superior. The Guru Ashraya paper presented by the GBC, although mainly dealing with the topic of reinitiation, contains very valuable points on the necessity of a siksa guru. For instance: "The devotee no longer has the opportunity to inquire from the spiritual master or to receive from him guidance, correction and confirmation in his spiritual life." It speaks there of one whose "guru" fell down, but if you think about it, this point could also be applied to Prabhupada's disciples who can still of course receive guidance, but not as easily correction and confirmation directly from His Divine Grace. Accordingly, we find the following in the Guru-Ashraya Isthagosthi published in ISKCON Journal #2: HH Jayadvaita Maharaja says: "It's very painful to see in many places in our society so many people who are like ghosts, who have no faith in anyone except themselves.'' One devotee comments on this statement by saying: "I don't see that this is a problem only among those initiated by fallen gurus." Jayadvaita Maharaja, agreeing, answers: "Yes, this is the problem every one of us has to deal with, and the way we're trained to overcome this problem is to serve the servant of the servant." Then another prabhu quite accurately remarks: "The instruction of guru-ashraya is needed not only by these devotees [who lost their master] but by disciples of Prabhupada who may say thev have Prabhupada but don't have Prabhupada.... Everyone has to look for this shelter, otherwise people develop the attitude that 'I don't need it." This again is approved by HH Jayadvaita Swami: That's really the essence of the whole thing." Then HH Trivikrama Maharaja says in the same Isthagosthi: "Srila Prabhupada said that just reading the Bhagavatam is not enough, even with his purports, because who will explain what Srila Prabhupada means? I may say what he said in the purport and you may say 'No, no, Srila Prabhupada meant this." And in his paper "Books are the basis but they are not the guru", Maharaja quotes the writer William Blake: "Both you and I read the Bible day and night, but you read black and I read white." This need for further guidance is confirmed by the Caitanya Caritamrta Antya 7.53, that Maharaja also quotes in his paper "If one wants to learn the meaning of Srimad Bhagavatam, one must take lessons from a realized soul. One shouldn't proudly think that one can understand transcendental loving service simply by reading books. One must become the servant of a Vaisnava."
It doesn't mean just to serve directly Prabhupada, as we all know the mood of our line is dasanudasa, to be the servant of the servant of the servant of Krishna. "If we become arrogant after having adopted the path of devotion, if we worship only God and disregard the worship of His devotees, we could be put in many difficulties for our offense at the feet of His servants.... It is necessary to fully establish oneself in the state of guileless humility. If this is not done, one's prayer doesn't reach Krishna. If we cherish any plan of gaining the goal by means of any ability or merit of our own, then we're no longer in the condition to call upon God." (Srila Sarasvati Thakura).
When one's guru leaves, preferably one will inquire from an advanced Vaisnava siksa guru what Krishna specifically wants from him. Even if one has received precise direct instructions from his guru, he can certainly benefit from further guidance. We have to be careful of pride and realize that we are working on our master's capital, his extended grant, and we have nothing we can call ours (Tomara karuna-sara). And the Eleventh Canto of the Bhagavatam confirms,"na hy ekasmad guror jnanam su-sthiram yat: Certainly not from one single master can one get complete knowledge." It is not that one master cannot give everything, but that one has to receive it from different perspective viewpoints. One should be humble enough to admit that he needs to approach a tattva-vit sadhu who will reveal to him something that his own reading of all sastras wont give him. Such association is glorified through all sastras: mahatpada rajobhisekam. "To learn the transcendental science it is imperative that one always seek the company of saints and sages who are able to impart lessons of transcendental knowledge. The potents words of such realized souls penetrate the heart."(CC Adi 1.59)
Our whole vaisnava tradition rests on this principle: Suddha-bhakta carana renu bhajana anukula. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati said: "It is necessary to have the constant help of a spiritual teacher to show us the way. It is necessary to be constantly advised regarding the method of seeking the protection of the lotus feet of Sri Gurudeva... If the spiritual teacher doesn't constantly teach us all these matters, we're bound to lose in no time even the treasure that we may have received." That clearly refers to a siksa guru.
To understand divya-jnana, one must approach a tattva-darshi: One should hear Krishna-katha from the right source, from a self-realized lover of Krishna. Beg for mercy, admit you are blind and fully dependent on Krishna's and the Vaisnavas' mercy and you'll be able to understand tattva from a real sadhu. Krishna will come down as sabda-brahman through his words in your ear and down to your heart. "If one becomes a sincere devotee and seriously engage in devotional service Krishna sends a siksa-guru to show him favor"(CC Adi 1.58)
Only such a sadhu can make Krishna appear, as Krishna has no other business than to fulfill his devotee's desires. Then tattva-jnana will be revealed. Tattva-jnana doesn't mean general knowledge of our vaisnava philosophy. It is a question of revelation. Who can claim that by mere reading of books one can understand? Reading doesn't preclude the need for a siksa-guru who will help one to nurture one's creeper of devotion up to complete blossoming and production of the coveted fruit of love of God. One can only benefit from that connection. And even if one is in illusion and thinks he is a sadhu himself, which a real sadhu never does, still, "it's the nature of a sadhu to inquire." (CC Madhya 20.105)
Srila Prabhupada's vani, instructions, are available through his books, tapes, etc. This however is in a passive sense. One can pray to Srila Prabhupada and may receive some answer from his books or from the Supersoul. There is indeed a great correlation between the guru and the Supersoul. Consider however that it can be called highly subjective. One may misunderstand, so a confirmation is welcome. Therefore, "Since one cannot visually experience the presence of the Supersoul, He appears before us as a liberated devotee." (CC Adi 1.58) The "passive" siksa guru, the book, may help to remind you of the reality of Prabhupada's teachings, but if you misunderstand, or read only on the surface (apara-vicara), the book will not become alive and come out to speak to you to remove your misconception or reveal its inner meaning {tattva-vicara).Kavairaja Goswami writes in the explanation of the atmarama verse that there are bhinna artha, different meanings,"There are gross meanings and subtle meanings, sthule and suksme"(CC Madhya 24.284). Also, "Srimad Bhagavatam is as good as Krishna. In each and every verse and syllable there are various meanings."(CC Madhya 24.318)
Therefore, in all Prabhupada's books one finds the advice to associate with a living saint. A living siksa guru will point out and explain your misunderstandings. Sadhu and sastra are necessary, but living sadhu, (the embodied scripture), is the principal. Of course, without the embodied scripture, the bhagavata-bhakta, the "passive" scripture,the bhagavata-sastra, is there to give you help. But of the two, more importance has been ascribed to the sadhu. Prabhupada writes, "In this age, hearing is more important than thinking, because one's thinking may be disturbed by mental agitation, but if one concentrates on hearing, he'll be forced to associate with the sound vibration of Krishna." (SBhag 3.35.24)
Srila Prabhupada taught and groomed his disciples as much as he could and left it to their sincerity to approach another embodied form of Sri Guru, in addition to his loving care and blessings and availability through prayer, to be able to dive deeper into his teachings and thereby keep on progressing on the path towards the ultimate goal. He asked his friend and siksa-sisciple Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja to help them, us. His books are there, and one can always pray to him, but, as the example of the fire given before, "Don't make it cheap. It has got a science. 'Because I'm getting a little heat, it's sufficient'. That is sahajiya." Sahajiya doesn't mean automatically a pretender faking ecstasy. Sahaja means "easy". It refers to the tendency to complacently think one has it made, has no need to cultivate laulyam, hankering for more. One should not develop the mentality that he is saved because he is Prabhupada's disciple or he is in ISKCON, or he's doing so much service, so much preaching. Prabhupada said that one should always teach but also always learn, in a parallel process. So, more will be supplied to one who is crying for it, realizing he needs all the help he can grab for, and one way help comes is by the agency of a siksa guru. And if one can approach a liberated siksa-guru, that's all the best of course. "A third-class devotee, therefore, has to receive the instructions of devotional service from the authoritative sources of Bhagavata. The number one Bhagavata is the established personality of devotee, and the other Bhagavatam is the message of Godhead. The third-class devotee has therefore, to go to the personality of devotee in order to learn the instructions of devotional service." (SBhag 1.2.12) A little above, I have quoted Srila Prabhupada saying in a purport to the CC, Adi-lila, that "one should know the siksa guru as the personality of Krishna". This obviously refers to a liberated pure devotee.
Illusions cultivated and reinforced by the passing of time are hard to give up. Habit is a second nature. So this idea of Srila Prabhupada's disciples needing to take shelter of a siksa guru may make one feel uneasy and may be very difficult for many to accept, especially if they had a lot of direct association with His Divine Grace. The reasons for this are manifold: First, often when we think of siksa guru we think of it in the casual meaning of the term. We may thoughtlessly assume it is needed for Srila Prabhupada's grand-disciples who lost their "guru" before they find another one, or perhaps for disciples of less-advanced gurus,or exceptionally for Prabhupada's disciples who had little or no contact with His-Divine Grace. Second, we usually think that it means accepting Srila Prabhupada himself as siksa guru. Third, let's face it, siksa-guru tattva is not a well known nor well-researched topic. Here I am sharing the research I have made as well as my understanding and realizations based on the fact that I happen to have had the good fortune to have accepted saints as siksa-gurus for the last 24 years, and thus have had some direct experience.
I can't get it all from Prabhupada? Prabhupada didn't give everything?
Yes. Srila Prabhupada gave everything, but did we receive it all? It takes time to assimilate: "We can't understand the mysteries of the Lord by our mundane endeavors. They are only revealed by His grace to the proper devotees. These mysteries are gradually disclosed to the various grades of devotees in proportion to the gradual development of their service attitude." (CC Adi 1.52)
Humility is essential:
"Nistha, steady progression in devotional service, can be attained only in the association of pure devotees." (Nectar of Devotion p141 )
"Asakti can be invoked by association of pure devotees." (Nectar of Devotion p 141 ) and: "Bhava is achieved by association of pure devotees." (Nectar of Devotion p 132)
One should always consider and understand that he is in need of help. If someone thinks he doesn't need help from a superior living Vaisnava, he is going against the very spirit of Vaisnavism. It shows that he may know the general philosophy of atma-jnana, but he has not really entered the realm of Vaisnavism per se. No matter how much an intellectual genius one may be, no matter how much an expert manager or leader of men, the essential truths or tattvas of Vaisnavism can only be learned and realized by humbly approaching a Vaisnava sadhu for guidance and deeper training. If one has missed this point his activities lack in depth and potency, just like when one fires blank cartridges.
So, one should think about it and ask himself: "Who do you accept as a spiritual authority in your life that you can turn to for spiritual instruction or at least confirmation of your understanding? That's what siksa-guru is all about. One may say that he is going to his godbrothers, but one has to consider the level of whom he approaches. One may also say that he is getting or will get instruction directly from Prabhupada or the Supersoul within his heart, but the acaryas have said that only after one reaches the platform of full nistha can one take direction from the Caitya-guru, and even on that platform one still needs to get confirmation from a realized soul. There are so many examples of most exalted Vaisnava acaryas who repeatedly sought confirmation from other such great personalities. They were never so proud that they relied only on their own spiritual abilities. Even Bhakti-sakti-avesa Avatar Srila Prabhupada referred to his siksa-gurus. This is acknowledged by all the Acaryas. In Caitanya Caritamrta, Antya 5.135, one reads the injunction, "Yaha bhagavata-pada vaisnavera sthane: Approach a pure Vaisnava and learn the Bhagavata-tattva from him." Srila Prabhupada repeatedly stresses the constant need for association with a pure living sadhu. One therefore must at all costs find a valid and holy Vaisnava, confirm with him one's understanding, and learn from him.
I have to go and find another sadhu?
Yes, but please, why are you seeing a duality? Krishna says, "Acarya mam vijaniyam: I am the Gurudeva." Sri Guru appears in different forms.He is not limited to Prabhupada's body or to any guru's body. Wherever you find real siksa, which is truly the essence, there you find the guru.Parampara doesn't mean bodies but teachings, siksa, so sadhu-sanga is needed. We should always aspire for such connection. We should always hanker for more. It is said that greed should be rechanneled toward sadhu-sanga. That sort of greed should be cultivated, not renounced. Srila Prabhupada can teach you through a sadhu.The siksa-guru doesn't replace Prabhupada. He helps to go deeper into his teachings, and into one's relationship with him. lt is said that Guru is one. What does that mean? By taking a siksa-guru one realizes the unity of the guru principle,Sri Guru.
Who? Which sadhu?
First one has to realize the need, then become knowledgeable, and then apply the formula oneself. But the most important is to pray. Pray to Prabhupada, and cry for the Lord to mercifully appear as one who is capable of dissipating all doubts, fears and sins and teach the path of real Saranagati,by which pure love can be developed. "Despite a very rigid life of devotional service, Bharata Maharaja didn't consult a spiritual master. He became overly attached to the deer: Consequently he fell down."'(SBhag 5.12.14)
Without Nitai's mercy one cannot give up material enjoyment, gross or subtle. So we need his mercy, a strong kick of Nitai through the pure sadhu, his authorized representative. Without that merciful kick one is not really receiving mercy. He'll only get the kicks of Maha-Mava. Only the association of a pure sadhu can give prema. We require this at every moment. We should search in our heart for that desire and nourish it. Find a person bhagavata, cry to find one. A kanistha or madhyam guru shouldn't be satisfied with his position but should aspire for the association of higher saints to progress and to be protected. Such sadhus are rare indeed, but always available to one who so desires. It is not a question of my saying "this sadhu" or "that sadhu".That is a matter of personal realization. One must speak of the philosophy of guru-tattva. The meeting between guru and disciple takes place according to subtle laws. You can bring a horse to water but you can't make him drink. One can enthusiastically glorify a particular spiritual master in whom one sees all the exalted qualities described in the sastras, but that doesn't mean that one automatically thinks or should think that everyone should surrender to that sadhu. Fortunately, Krishna takes care that it doesn't happen that way: "The Supreme Personality of Godhead can be seen or unseen according to his own transcendental desire. Similarly, a devotee, being jivan-mukta, can be seen or not, as he chooses." (SBhag 9.13.11) and Srila Gaura Kishora das Babaji said, "Vaisnavas sometimes appear to exhibit mundane characteristics. When an exalted Vaisnava attracts people by his love and devotion and teaches them devotion to Krishna, the Lord considers: 'It will be difficult for me to repay the debt to those who have surrendered to such Vaisnavas who are as dear to me as my life. I will become the servant of those who are too much affectionate to my pure devotees, and thus easily come under their control.' With this fear, Krishna occasionally conceals the spiritual qualities of great souls from the public eye. The characteristics of genuine Vaisnavas are concealed from those who have interests contrary to pure devotional service. Thus they appear to the materialistic to have materialistic characters. In this mood, Krishna examines the living entity to see how much he is actually attracted to the Absolute Truth, and if he is He reveals the spiritual characteristics of the great souls. Hence, without the exercise of the independent will of a Vaisnava no one can know him, even after having seen in him all of the characteristics described by the scriptures."
This is a very deep topic. It was just touched earlier when it was mentioned that a new devotee shouldn't think that he can recognize Sri Guru. In the temple we come to present ourselves before the Deities. We are praying to be bathed in their merciful glance. We are begging them to reveal Themselves. Nayana patha gami bhava tume. Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja explained that just as Krishna is Adhoksaja, beyond the range of sense-perception, similarly Sri Guru. One cannot see the guru. If one tries to see him with his defective senses then he'll be cheated. When one thinks that he is the seer, then he commits a mistake. One is not the seer, he is the seen, just the opposite thing. The sadhu-guru is the seer. Everyone is boasting of his eyes, but what has he seen? When one thinks that he is the seer and that he will see, it means he wants to measure the guru through his defective senses. So how can he be his guru? With lips only one says he is seeing him as guru, but he hasn't seen him really, and not accepted him really as guru.
In a train, for instance, we see the trees running very fast backwards, and we are attached to our vision. "Seeing is believing." Trees are standing still, but we see them running backwards, aren't we? But we're not prepared to admit that we have defective vision, that we are blind. When one tries to see guru with these eyes, one will be cheated. Sri Guru is the seer, not us. We are to be seen, but we do the opposite. This is the conditioned nature. That defect lies with us, therefore by lips only we accept him as guru, but we haven't really accepted him, and we have never seen him, and we cannot see the guru with this type of vision. How can we see the guru? If the guru will cast his merciful glance on me, then I will be seen, I will get his mercy. That is his merciful casting of glance on me, mercifully seeing me, then I'll get some mercy, I'll develop that vision, then I'll be able one day to see his real form, otherwise not.
One can see the guru by the vision mercifully given by the guru, otherwise one only sees his external form and considers him a mortal being. Thereby he commits guru-aparadha, the third namaparadha, and Nama is not coming out from his mouth, only alphabet letters, because he wants to measure the guru, to see him through his defective senses. He thinks that he is serving his guru, he is offering worship to his guru, and he is chanting, but this is only his stage-acting.
It is said that guru has these two things, vancana and kripa, cheating and mercy. One who has kapatya, duplicity, outwardly poses as a great servitor of his guru, but he is pretending, he's serving himself, forwarding his own interest in the name of guru-seva, not serving the guru. Duplicity is gradually removed by hearing, by striving to hear with a simple heart. Our heart is like a stone. It needs the incessant rain of the mercy of a Vaisnava sadhu. One must consciously try to uproot that duplicity from the heart, otherwise one cannot hear, it doesn't go down to the heart, only stays on the intellectual or mental platform.So,one's service is not bhakti, it is bhakti-unmukhi-sukriti. So it may take many lives. Maharaja Bharata took three lives, and Prabhupada mentions that part of the reason why is that he didn't accept a siksa-guru.
Lack of chastity?
The argument often given is that one is unchaste to one's diksa guru if one accepts another siksa guru. But where is this stated in sastra? It is said that one can only have one diksa guru, but unlimited siksa gurus. We are warned not to see the guru in mortal relativity (na mrityu buddha, gurusu nara matir). Again, one should deeply ponder on guru-tattva. What is guru? The flesh and bone? So, if one deepens his understanding and appreciation of what Sri Guru is, of what his Gurudeva gave him, won't the Gurudeva be satisfied? Where is the harm? Are you betraying your guru by approaching Sri Guru in another form?
How to approach a siksa guru?
According to the level of advancement of the siksa-guru, one will give faith, and surrender. Great respect no matter what his level is, but greater respect of course if he is a very exalted vaisnava. If one's diksa guru is not very advanced, among different devotees from whom one may take siksa, one of them may become very prominent and be seen on a par level with the diksa guru. He may even take a much more important place and be treated as the main guru, or mahanta guru. In that case, the niti, the proper behavior in dealing with the siksa-guru, is the same as with the diksa-guru. If such mahanta siksa-guru is a liberated soul, one doesn't discriminate. Forms of address such as Gurudeva or Guru Maharaja are standard. This may be surprising for one who doesn't have such experience, but as one realizes as mentioned earlier the unity of Sri Guru, that becomes understood and appreciated.
When one's guru departs from this world, if one is not yet a paramahamsa ready to initiate disciples or to give siksa to less advanced godbrothers, he should pray to his guru and to Krishna to send him help in the form of a siksa guru. One should lament that he has not been able to assimilate all his guru's teachings, that he has not been able to serve him properly and thus pray. One should never proudly think that he has understood everything. Sri Guru will appear in the form of a sadhu who will dissipate all doubts and teach one how to go deeper into the teachings. Krishna and SriIa Prabhupada will send a sadhu to one who humbly cries for help. And one will be able to perceive that beyond the apparent duality it is one's guru who speaks in this way, having sent a bona fide sadhu to represent him.
One should not just approach a sadhu for jnana, specific knowledge, but approach him in the prescribed way: pranipat, pariprasna, and seva, and accept his discipline if one wants at all to progress further. The search for knowledge means that one, albeit unconsciously, thinks that Krishna is not unlimited and can be captured through finding out everything about Him. One should approach the siksa guru in search of Krishna, not for knowledge of Krishna.
When Arjuna became despondent he was eager to receive enlightenment. He begged at Krishna's feet to stop the friendly talking and to accept him as sisya. Then Krishna started his upadesh. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati wrote: "The real sadhu makes us speak out what we keep concealed in our hearts. He then applies the knife. The sensuous desires of men are like goats. The sadhu stands with the sacrificial knife in the form of unpleasant language.... The only duty of the sadhus is to cut away all the accumulated wicked propensities of every individual. This alone is the causeless natural desire of all the sadhus."
The problem is that many may have installed themselves in some kind of Krishna consciousness with greater or lesser degrees of accommodation with maya, grossly or subtly, a fact one may not easily admit,and find very unpalatable the idea of undergoing further training. That is why Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura has insisted, sada-sisya-taki, takiya sarvada, and guru anugati bhajan: One should always consider himself a student, and service should always be under a guru's guidance (whether diksa or siksa guru). Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati called himself a monitor, the leader of the students. One should always consider himself a disciple in discipleship under a senior Vaisnaya. Srila Gaura Kishora das Babaji has explained the need for discipleship as follows: "Those sadhus who speak sharp words to drive away the witch of illusory energy are actually the only real devotees of Krishna and friends of the 'living entities.... If you want to perform devotional service properly, then you must accept the harsh language of the sadhu as the medicine by which Maya can be given up. By this one can obtain the necessary spiritual advancement to successfully chant the Holy Name."
If, in spite of lip service to trinad api sunicena and na dhanam na janam, one is too proud and thinks that one doesnt need any help, that one had so much personal association and training with the Gurudeva, and that one is an advanced devotee, one may advance in jnana and expertise, but one's spiritual progress is checked. One stagnates. One can maintain a certain level due to sadhana and preaching activities and gain some recognition, but without the association of an uttama-adhikari Vaisnava, one cannot make much further progress. "The second class devotee can gradually become a first class devotee by studying the sastras and by associating with a first class devotee. However, if the second class devotee doesn't advance himself by association with a first class devotee, he makes no progress." (CC Madhya 22.71) and, "A neophyte and intermediate devotee should always be eager to hear the mahabhagavata and serve him in all respects." (CC Madhya 16.74) This is confirmed in a purport of the Eleventh Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam:"A mahabhagavata, being empowered by the Lord, is endowed with the supernatural power to inspire and give success to the madhyam-adhikari who follows in his footsteps and to elevate kanisthas gradually to the intermediate platform. Such devotional power springs automatically from the ocean of mercy found within the heart of such a mahabhagavata." Srila Prabhupada also said,"those who are eka-guru-vadis will have difficulty making advancement in Krishna consciousness."
The need for further training even of madhyam adhikaris is expressed by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati: "It is the duty of the madhyam adhikari to extend himself as right hand of the uttama-adhikari." (Commentary on Srimad Bhagavatam 11.2) But, typically, the kanisthas are reluctant. "A neophyte devotee has very little taste for hearing from the authorities... but a sincere devotee must be prepared to hear." (SBhag 1.2.12). So, one can diagnose reluctance to approach someone for siksa as a mark of the kanistha-adhikara. Since the functional platform of preaching in our Society is the madhyam-adhikara platform, as Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu wrote many years ago in his paper Ending the Fratricidal War: "We have maybe too conveniently concluded on these grounds that we are madhyam adhikaris and have complacently taken for granted that we have attained without much effort an advanced state of Krishna Consciousness." The faulty reasoning is that a madhyam-adhikari preaches, so a preacher is a madhyam-adhikari.
All sastras enjoin us to associate with sadhus (sadhu-sanga, sadhu-sanga, sarva-sastre kaya). Most devotees, maybe because there are so few genuinely qualified sadhus around, usually assume this to mean association with devotees. But when the sastras speak about "devotee", it always means pure devotee; when they speak about "guru", it always means a self-realized lover of God, not a sadhaka, a baddha-jiva; similarly, "sadhu" means one who is decorated with the six angas of saranagati.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati has defined sadhu-sanga in three ways: First, sadhu-sanga means to associate with a devotee much higher than oneself. Second, how much higher, and in which way should one associate? He should be a pure devotee, a mahabhagavata. One should provide him with facilities for service to the Lord, practice under his guidance, and learn from him the inner meaning of sastra. Third, sadhu-sanga means that one must imbibe the mood of the sadhu; that means to accept his instructions and practice them, without adding one's speculation, consideration, etc. to follow as it is. The priti-laksana, loving dealings, described in Upadesamrita apply specifically to a sadhu: offer him raw new things, and accept his prasad, reveal your mind to him, and inquire from him how to develop yourself as he did, serve him prasadam and honor his remnants.
Siksa and diksa are not opposed but complementary
Some say that to take a siksa guru necessarily means you minimize your guru, and that it is the duty of the siksa guru to bring back the disciple to the diksa guru, otherwise it's offensive to your diksa guru. But there is no sastric basis for this conclusion unless one wants to read something not really there into the Bhajanamrita of Narahari Sarkar where it is said that the disciple should share with his diksa guru what he has learned from his siksa guru, otherwise he is comparable to an ungrateful son who doesn't bring back his earnings to his parents. That's the closest one can get to this idea. Of course, to accept a siksa guru shouldn't become a fad nor a cheap way out of surrender.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura says in Jaiva Dharma that if someone in a neophyte condition has accepted a guru thinking that the guru was a self-realized soul, and subsequently he has the realization that the guru is not going to bring him back to Godhead, then one should not reject him but, very humbly and with his permission, serve another advanced devotee. In ISKCON Journal 2, HH Jayadvaita Maharaja, after warning against making offenses, says: "One may genuinely benefit from serving an advanced devotee and get some nourishment that one is not getting elsewhere.''
Both are needed
Some say that a siksa guru is only needed in rare and exceptional cases. Again, sastra differs from this opinion. In the invocation to Gitar Gan, Srila Prabhupada writes: "I also bow down in honor to all of my siksa gurus." It is explained that the diksa guru sets your feet in Vrindavana and reestablishes your relationship with Krishna and that the siksa guru allows you to move in the land of Vrindavana and teaches you how to serve Krishna. There is also mention of the diksa guru as the representative of Madan Mohan Vigraha, teaching sambandha, and of the siksa guru as the representative of Sri Govindaji, teaching abhideya, as quoted earlier. (CC Adi 1.47) Harinama establishes the relation with Krishna, sambandha, and it is kept and developed under the siksa guru.Our parampara is also characterized by the fact that it is mainly a succession of siksa disciples more than of diksa disciples.
There are two kinds of siksa gurus
There is no sastric evidence supporting the idea of a non-liberated diksa guru, except a family priest, or kula-guru. But there are quotes describing two kinds of siksa gurus, liberated and not.There are thus non-liberated gurus who can help by directing others on the path towards Krishna. Let everyone give siksa, teach, but diksa is ideally the prerogative of the self-realized, pure, liberated devotee. One can teach without initiating. One can impart relevant instructions and act as the mouthpiece of the sad-guru. This is effected by the power of the sad-guru, not by the limited power of one who still has anarthas. Thus one can teach a limited number of students with the clear understanding that he can thus assist the true preceptor; that is the proper understanding of a "monitor-guru"."The Vaisnava acaryas have opined that it was not exactly Cintamani who instructed Bilvamangala but rather his self-realized diksa-guru, Somagiri, who spoke to him through her." (Path of perfection p 118)
Preachers should give siksa until self-realized, then only should they give diksa. The purports following the "amara ajnaya guru hanam verse (CC Madhya 7.130) say: "One has to learn humility and meekness.... One shouldn't try to be an artificially advanced devotee.... It is best not to accept any disciples...." One can be a guru in the sense of teaching about Krishna, and should work on qualifying himself to develop the exalted attributes of a sad-guru. Once they are achieved one will know what is what and be capable of truly helping others.
Just as the position of diksa guru has been misunderstood,the understanding of siksa guru is also muddled. It is said in CC Adi 1.47 that the diksa and siksa gurus are of equal status, and that it is offensive to consider them of different importance. But there are two kinds of siksa gurus: liberated and not liberated. When it says that there is no difference between them, it only makes sense if both are of the same caliber, liberated. You cannot equate a non-liberated guru with a liberated one, a kanistha and an uttama, just because they are both called gurus. One may object to this by the argument that Bilvamangala Thakura paid respects to all his gurus equally, but this was because, as we just saw, it was his diksa-guru, Somagiri, who was speaking through the mouth of Cintamani, the first person who turned his consciousness towards Krishna. He was very grateful to her, who, in spite of her low condition had awakened his dormant God consciousness.
It is not that one shouldn't give great respect to a guru even of a lesser degree. We have written about not giving full faith, worship and surrender to an unqualified person, but this is not to imply that there should be any lack of respect. In Vedic culture, and one can still see this in India, the children touch the feet of their parents as one does with a guru. The natural superiors, such as elders, parents, brahmanas, teachers, are called guru-janas. They are always to be respected. Only if they prove unworthy can one reject them (Gita, 1st chapter), and that usually translates by avoiding rather than disrespecting.
We spoke earlier of non-physically embodied siksa gurus,the past acaryas, including Srila Prabhupada, and of physically embodied siksa gurus. Out of the second category, one kind of siksa guru is not liberated. He can give guidance and specific knowledge in his field of expertise and guide his followers towards a more qualified guru for diksa. He should he highly respected by those he teaches. The other kind of siksa guru is a liberated soul. Less qualified gurus send him their disciples for higher guidance that they cannot provide themselves. He also gives guidance on the path to less advanced godbrothers who had not reached the high level of paramahamsa when their common guru departed. He should be treated as guru, without discriminating if he is a godbrother or not. If someone has difficulty taking siksa from his self-realized godbrother, he should meditate on the meaning of dasanudasa. He should also remember that all our acaryas presented themselves as most fallen and in need of mercy. One can renounce konaka, wealth, and kamini, attraction to the opposite sex, but the desire for pratistha is very tenacious. And duplicity is the lover of the desire for pratistha; they are inseparable. Pratistha makes one intolerant and envious. What is envy, matsara? It has been defined as the incapacity to tolerate the superiority of someone else. When someone advances on the path, a real Vaisnava rejoices, but one afflicted by duplicity and desire for pratistha has difficulty to tolerate or appreciate. But without being freed from duplicity and pratistha one cannot understand Bhagavat-tattva. "Only one who has developed pure Krishna Consciousness and served a pure devotee can understand Srimad Bhagavatam. Others cannot' (CC Madhya 24.313) Srila Gaura Kishora das Babaji also said that "Krishna doesn't happily accept the service of those who are not attached to serving the pure Vaisnavas, however pure they may try to be themselves." Hari-Bhakti-Sudhodaya: "By associating with a person, one develops his qualities... therefore one should associate with more advanced devotees from one's own line." And, of course, in the Bhagavatam: "Nityam bhagavata sevaya"
One must remember that Sri Guru is not the body of the guru. When the Bhagavatam compares to an animal one who identifies the body with the self (sa eva gokharah), it doesn't refer only to one who identifies himself with his body but also to a devotee who, because he identifies with the body, fails to recognize the Mahabhagavata Vaisnava, thinking he also moves in a body and is therefore in the same condition of bondage.
Without falling into impersonalism and seeing the guru as just a receptacle of an impersonal principle of descending saving grace, one should look for the embodiment of Sri Guru, for the same current of pure Gaudiya Vaisnavism that flowed through Srila Prabhupada (or one's own guru). Find someone who is going to teach you practically what it means to cry.for Krishna, as Prabhupada said we should. Mahaprabhu taught this, so find a gaura-priya-jana, one dear devotee of Mahaprabhu, someone who will push you, as Prabhupada (or your guru) did, to the point of full surrender.

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