Published on March 15th, 2023 | by HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada


Lord Vamanadeva, Bali Maharaja and His Non-Bona Fide Guru

Bali Maharaja is Mahajana because he wanted to serve Visnu by disobeying his non-bonafide spiritual master… one should be anxious to accept a spiritual master who is bona fide in spiritual knowledge. And if need be one should relinquish the connection of hereditary spiritual master and accept a real bona fide spiritual master.

Montreal 3 July, 1968

My Dear Satsvarupa,

Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated June 28, 1968, and I thank you very much for it. Regarding Bali Maharaja: He is born in the same atheistic family of Maharaja Prahlada. He happened to be the grandson of Maharaja Prahlada, and as his great grand-father, Hiranyakasipu was very powerful, and as there was animosity between the demigods and the demons, Bali Maharaja also defeated the demigods several times, and was occupying all the planets. At that time Vamanadeva appeared as the son of Kasyamuni. Bali Maharaja was very charitably disposed. Sometimes the atheists are also very charitable. Persons who believe that we are doing pious activities, making charities and welfare work to the human society, why should we bother about God?–such persons even though very moral and pious in the estimation of the material world, are also demons, on account of their apathy for Krishna Consciousness. So, Bali Maharaja was a man of that type. Under the circumstances he was not averse to accept charity and other pious activities. He was being guided by his spiritual master, Sukaracharya. Sukara means the semina. In other words, one claims to become acharya on the principle of being born of a Brahmin father. They may be called sukaracharya, or acharya or preacher not by disciplic succession, but on the right of heredity. In India there are still superstitions that one should be initiated by such sukaracharya family. They are called generally as the jatigosain. Jatigosain means the caste spiritual master. All over India, especially in Bengal, this jatigosain spiritual mastership is very prevalent. But really goswami means one who is master of the influence of different senses, namely the influence of tongue, the influence of mind, the influence of anger, the influence of belly, the influence of genital, and the influence of talking. So one who is master of these influential webs of sense gratification, he is called goswami. Goswami is not by hereditary chart. So Sukaracharya posed himself as such goswami spiritual master. He had many mystic powers, therefore he was considered to be very influential spiritual master of the demons.

So when Vamanadeva appeared, Bali Maharaja was attracted by His beauty as a Dwarf Brahmin, and as he was charitably disposed, he wanted to give Him some charity. But Sukaracharya, being elevated in mystic yogic powers, he could understand that Vamanadeva was Visnu. And in order to favor the demigods, He had come there to cheat Bali Maharaja in the shape of begging some charities. Bali Maharaja was puffed up with his material vanities, and Vamanadeva as He is Visnu, all-peaceful, without interrupting his attitude, just approached him in the form of a Brahmin, Who has a right to beg something from the princely order. And the principle orders also are always disposed, to make charities to the Brahmins.

Question, para. 2, answer: Sukracarya as spiritual master of Bali taught him that everything should be offered to Visnu. But when Visnu actually appeared before Bali, he was afraid of Bali Maharaja’s charitable disposition. He warned Bali Maharaja that this Vamanadeva had come there to take everything from him in the shape of charity, therefore he should not promise Him to give anything. This advice revolted Bali Maharaja because he was formerly instructed that everything should be offered to Visnu, now, why Sukaracharya was asking him not to act by his previous instructions? Sukaracharya was afraid of his own position. He was living at the cost of Bali Maharaja, so if Vamanadeva would take away everything from Bali Maharaja, he was thinking how he would live. That is a materialistic temperament. The materialist does not want to serve or to give to Visnu, because he thinks that by giving away to Visnu he will be put into poverty-stricken condition. This is materialistic estimation. But actually that is not the fact, as it will be evidenced by the dealing of Bali Maharaja and Vamanadeva.

Question 1, answer: That is the materialistic way of worshiping. Materialists are always careful for maintaining his material status quo first, and then please Visnu. Although they profess to be devotees of Visnu. Therefore the Krishna Consciousness persons are greater than such materialistic worshippers. Materialist person perform all pious activities or devotional activities for some material gain, and as soon as there is any hindrance in the path of material gain, they at once become demon. Therefore bhakti means without any material desires. That is the sign of pure devotee. He has no motive to satisfy his material desires by devotional service.

Question 2, answer: That is just his military spirit, that Bali Maharaja says “If He be the illustrious Lord Visnu not desirous of foregoing His own fame, He shall wrest from me this earth after slaying me in battle, or He shall be slain by me.” The last portion of this question is not very clear.

Question 3, answer: Why Bali Maharaja is considered a Mahajana: Bali Maharaja is Mahajana because he wanted to serve Visnu by disobeying his non-bonafide spiritual master. As explained above, Sukracarya was hereditary spiritual master by seminic succession. But Bali Maharaja first revolted against this stereotyped seminic succession spiritual master, and therefore he is Mahajana. Srila Jiva Goswami has described in his Karamasandharvha that one should be anxious to accept a spiritual master who is bona fide in spiritual knowledge. And if need be one should relinquish the connection of hereditary spiritual master and accept a real bona fide spiritual master. So when Sukaracharya advised him contrary to his previous instructions, specifically, he checked Bali Maharaja in the matter of worshipping Visnu, and thus Sukaracharya became at once fallen down from the position of becoming a spiritual master. Nobody can become a spiritual master who is not a devotee of Visnu. A brahmana may be very expert in the matter of performing Vedic rituals, accepting charities, and distributing wealth–all these are exalted qualifications of the brahmanas, but the Vedic injunction is, in spite of possessing all these qualities, if somebody is against Lord Visnu, he cannot be a spiritual master. So when Sukaracharya advised Bali Maharaja against Visnu, he at once became unqualified for becoming a spiritual master. Bali Maharaja disobeyed such unqualified spiritual master, and therefore, he is accepted as Mahajana. Mahajana means a personality whose footprints should be followed. So, his exemplary behavior in rejecting a non-Vaisnava spiritual master being ideal to the bona fide students, he is considered a Mahajana.

If Jadurani wants to paint the picture of Bali Maharaja, it should be like this: 1) The hall must be very nicely decorated, & princely hall, 2) in one side of the hall, the royal throne should be presented as vacant, and 3) Bali Maharaja should pose himself bowing down before Lord Vamanadeva, and Vamanadeva should be painted with one leg on the earth; and one leg high in the sky; and one leg coming out of his navel, and put on the head of Bali Maharaja. This means the charity of one’s possessions is not full for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but when one’s personal body and head is given to the service of the Lord, then one becomes perfect in offering everything to the Lord. This is called complete surrender of everything that a devotee may possess.

Bali Maharaja may be shown as not more than 40 years old, very nice looking king, well dressed like the royal order, and with mustache and no beard. Sukaracharya should be wearing a Saivite tilaka, and also Maharaja Bali can have a Saivite tilaka, until after he meets with Vamanadeva, and then you can change Bali Maharaja’s tilaka into a Vaisnava one.

Yes, Pradyumna is typing that 3rd canto and will send you soon. Hoping you are all well.

Your ever well-wisher,

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

P.S. While posting this letter, I have received your letter by 2nd July, 1968. I am glad to learn that Kirtana process in the Park is going on well as you received $50.00 last Sunday. This is very encouraging as in N.Y. also they are following the same process with success. I have received one letter from Rayarama as he is not going to Boston but he is in L.A. He will write you. Regarding immigration, I am sending here with the copy of the letter addressed to Mr. Hamilton. I think you should see Mr. Hamilton & take from him written letter advising me the right direction. I don’t want to see the U.S. Counsel.


Tags: , , , ,

About the Author

Founded the Hare Krishna Movement in 1966 in New York. In only 11 years he spread the movement all over the world. He wrote more than 80 books including Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Sri Isopanisad. Prabhupada's books constitute a complete library of Vedic philosophy, religion, literature and culture.

4 Responses to Lord Vamanadeva, Bali Maharaja and His Non-Bona Fide Guru

  1. ananya misra says:

    PRANAM GURUJI all glories to our gurudev srila prabhupada
    pls tell me if i am reading the bookks of srila prabhupada and trying to follow his instruction then is he my diksh aguru??is there anything rwritten in the scriptures that a dikshka guru should be a living guru??pls kindly xplain??also is it true that a shiksha guru becomes the diksha guru later
    your unworthy servant

    • Hare Krishna Ananya

      Guru has nothing to do with physical presence. If you can hear and surrender to and serve a bona fide spiritual master then that is the relationship between the bona fide spiritual master and the disciple. So we can hear from and surrender to and serve Srila Prabhupada, so if we actually really do this then we have accepted Srila Prabhupada as our spiritual master. And diksha will happen if we actually really surrender. If we really surrender to Srila Prabhupada and really make his mission our mission in life, then he will accept us as his disciples. But without this surrender then we will never be his disciples. It is this actual surrender of the disciple to the bona fide spiritual master that makes diksha possible. Many devotees sat in initiation ceremonies when Prabhupada was physically present on the planet but did not actually surrender to him. For them there is no diksha. But if even now one does actually submissively hear from and surrender to and serve Srila Prabhupada then he will get diksha from Srila Prabhupada.

      The guru is always living. There is no question of Srila Prabhupada being not living. He said, “I am living in my books and you will take advantage.” So we have to realize that Srila Prabhupada is a living guru, he is living in his books, and we have to take advantage of associating with him in this way.

      And yes it is true, written in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta and other places, that generally the principle siksha guru becomes the diksa guru later on. Also the principle siksha guru is the guru of the disciple. So one may even accept diksha from one guru but if later it turns out that his primary siksha guru is a different guru then his actual guru, principle guru, will be the one who is is primary siksha guru, not the diksha guru.

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

  2. prinkz says:

    you know the person is a bona fide spritual master if he fullfill the qualities of an acharya
    the main thing is…if all he does is an offering to Krishna…he thinks about Krishna non stop and all he does is to please Krishna only…and that he is willing to do anything for Krishna and his own spiritual master…like Srila Prahbupada…of course now there is alot of argument about the bogus fake gurus…taking Krishnas’ name and Srila Prabhupadas’ name and preaching bogus philosophy…but what you need to know is to have Firm faith in Krishna and pray to him to show you the truth and to guide you towards him…and cry to Krishna for a bona fide spritual master…by his mercy you will meet your spiritual master…for now just cultivate ur devotion to Krishna…so when you meet your spiritual master you will be qualified to be intiated by Him….Hare Krishna

  3. Tiffany says:

    Happy day & NOW Hare Krsna!

    As I AM communicating with the Bhagavad-gita As It Is by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhuapda, It often speaks to me I must accept and follow the instruction of a bona fide spiritual master.

    How does one know they are attentive to the bona fide spiritual master?

    Thank you, most graciously, sending Love,Peace,Joy,Abundance & Smiles 2 Share 😉 Hare Krsna! Hare Krsna! Hare Krsna, Krsna, Krsna, Hare Hare! Hare Rama! Hare Rama! Hare Rama, Rama, Rama! Hare! Hare!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Back to Top ↑