Spiritual Master / Guru

Published on March 22nd, 2023 | by Madhudvisa dasa


The Living Guru is Here–Are we Ready to Follow Him?

As far as the living guru is concerned, the living guru is there, but it us up to us to recognize him and take advantage of his teachings.

Dear Tom

Hare Krishna! All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

In India the Hindus often attend “Bhagavata-saptahas.” This is a seven day festival where people engage in hearing the Srimad-Bhagavatam and practicing spiritual activities. But this is not the method recommended in the Bhagavatam itself. There it is recommended: “Nityam Bhagavata sevaya.” We should hear the Bhagavatam nityam, constantly, at least daily. It is not that we should practice Krishna consciousness for seven days or fifteen days to get some sort of relief from the material world, some “purification,” with the ultimate aim of entering the material world again with increased vigor and enthusiasm. No. The Bhagavatam recommends giving up material attachments and transferring those attachments to Krishna.

The real point of Krishna consciousness is to give up doing things for ourselves and to instead perform all our activities for the pleasure of Krishna. We have to test our activities at every moment of the day, “Who am I doing this for?” and if the answer is not Krishna then we are still engaged in material activities.

That we still desire to perform so many activities for your own sense gratification [meat eating, sex, intoxication, etc] shows us that we are not Krishna conscious at all. We are still completely on the material platform. As we awaken our dormant Krishna consciousness these material desires for sex, intoxication, meat eating, etc will disappear and will be replaced with the desire to serve Krishna, to do something for Krishna.

The point will come, if we follow the process of Krishna consciousness under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master, when service to Krishna will be the most pleasurable activity in our lives and we will be getting so much pleasure from serving Krishna that the material so-called pleasures like sex, intoxication and meat eating will seem distasteful to us.

But this purification takes time and it requires austerity on our part. We have to refrain from the sinful activities even though we still have a taste for them, a desire for them. That is the voluntary austerity a devotee undergoes. He agrees to follow the four regulative principles [no illicit sex (which includes self-induced acts like masturbation, sex is only to be used for having children in marriage), no intoxication (that includes smoking, alcohol, even drinking tee and coffee), no gambling (that includes all types of speculative business dealings and time-wasting sports), and no meat eating (actually a devotee only eats “prasadam” (food that has been offered to Krishna) and Krishna does not accept meat fish or eggs.)

So you can see that taking to Krishna consciousness requires a great deal of determination. Of course we can chant Hare Krishna and even if we can not follow all the principles that chanting will be very beneficial to us and ultimately we will come to the point where we can follow the principles . But it is an offense to chant Hare Krishna with the view to counteract the sinful activities we are performing. Chanting Hare Krishna can free us from all sinful activities but if we commit sinful activities thinking that if I chant Hare Krishna I will become free from the reactions to my sinful activities that is the greatest offense and will not be effective.

Chanting Hare Krishna has been likened to lighting a fire and not following the regulative principles is like pouring water on that fire. To purify our heart we have to have the blazing fire of devotional service burning within our hearts, but we can not get that blazing fire if we keep pouring water on it. So we can not make any substantial advancement in Krishna consciousness until we come to the point of following the four regulative principles and chanting at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily at least.

It is true that Krishna consciousness develops in the association of devotees. In the beginning one has some faith and from that faith one begins to associate with devotees and by that association one’s faith becomes stronger and all the anarthas [unwanted things] within the heart start to be cleared away and then one becomes firmly fixed in the practice of devotional service under the regulative principles. So it is very important to associate with devotees, however these days it is difficult to find devotees sincerely engaged in the practice of Krishna consciousness. That is why I have recommended you to read Srila Prabhupada’s books.

As far as the living guru is concerned, the living guru is there, but it us up to us to recognize him and take advantage of his teachings. Even in Srila Prabhupada’s physical presence many were not able to recognize the bona fide spiritual master and we have seen so many of the disciples he initiated fall away due to not following the instructions of Srila Prabhupada.

So one has to find the correct living guru. The guru must be a self-realized soul. That is a very basic principle. The whole point of Krishna consciousness is we want to become free from the entanglement of this material world and we want to reestablish our relationship with Krishna. We can only do this under the guidance of a pure, unalloyed devotee of Krishna.

I will close by reassuring you that everything you need to know about becoming Krishna consciousness is in Srila Prabhupada’s books and I again recommend you to read them very seriously and as a regular part of your daily schedule. From your letter I can detect you have not yet read Srila Prabhupada’s books in much detail. Otherwise you would not be asking such questions.

But all this requires a great deal of determination and you have to develop this determination. Otherwise, without the strong desire and determination to follow the principles it is very difficult to make fast advancement. Of course whatever we can do for Krishna is very good. But without the determination and following the principles it will take us many, many, many lifetimes…

Hope you are well. Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!


Madhudvisa dasa

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About the Author

My first contact with a Hare Krishna was a most merciful Mataji in Oxford Street, London who sold me a "Higher Taste" cook book in 1984 while I was on holidays there. I started seriously reading Srila Prabhupada's books in Australia 1985 and by 1986 Srila Prabhupada had convinced me "Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead" and "we should surrender to Krishna." I joined the Hare Krishnas in Perth, Western Australia in 1986. Since then I have been chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, reading and distributing Srila Prabhupada's books and preaching as much as I can. That's my life and full-time occupation now really. I like it more than anything I've ever experienced before. Srila Prabhupada's books are so amazing... Even after reading them all many times they're still fresh and new. They are truly transcendental! That's it really. Now I'm just hankering to once again see the world chant Hare Krishna, dance and feast and float away in the ecstasy of Lord Caitanya's Sankirtana movement as it did in Srila Prabhupada's physical presence. Let the whole world drown in the ecstatic flood of love of Krishna!

5 Responses to The Living Guru is Here–Are we Ready to Follow Him?

  1. Majji JS Murthy says:

    Hinduism is a way of life. All our childhood we were taught by our grand parents,parents & elders to do good, think good and see good. There are thousands of gods & goddesses in our country that are worshipped by different names in differents villages / parts of the country. One common thing is that they follow their age old practice of worshipping in the villages to the deities. What is true or what is not true I do not know. But the bliss and satisfaction the villagers and locals get by following the local tradition is worth following.Since no science in the world has ever proved or disproved the super natural powers, there is nothing wrong in following the tradition instead of disbelieving the tradition which is not harming the society. If our following the tradition is giving us mental satisfaction, then let us follow the same as far as it not hurt the society. Mentally satisfied human being is the one that can do good to the society. so let us be good to our traditional respecting of saints & gurus. Respecting the elders is one that has been paased on by our ancestors & elders to the society. Let the tradition of respecting others be followed. Respect our religion as well as other religions. Every religion has its own unique principles and let them be respected.

  2. Vipin K Chaturvedi says:

    Hare Krishna Prabhu Ji. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    All is well stated in your article except one biased general statement below:

    “In India the Hindus often attend “Bhagavata-saptahas.” This is a seven day festival where people engage in hearing the Srimad-Bhagavatam and practicing spiritual activities. But this is not the method recommended in the Bhagavatam itself.”

    Bhagavata-saptahas is regarded a festival that attempts to broadcast or advertise the glories of the Bhagavat-Dharma for common people. It does not always mean that these spiritual activities are only to be practiced for seven days and then no reading/contemplation/follow up. Our shastras have amply indicated this using a key word, “satat” in so many places–you know this well. Your suggestion that every one is ignorant in India is definitely an overstatement and does not help serve the purpose of spreading pure message of our Supreme Chaitanya Maha Prabhu or Srila Prabhupada.

    I personally have known several individuals that have taken up the process of Krishna Consciousness seriously following their participation in a Bhagavata-saptah.

    I also would like to say that if we all seriously read, meditate, contemplate and follow instructions from Srila Prabhupada’s books daily, our all ills will disappear, including the ones associated in our parampara at the moment.

    Hari Bol,

    • Hare Krishna Vipin

      If you study Srila Prabhupada’s books Prabhu you will find that he is very much against this ‘Bhagavata-Saptaha’ principle. There are many reasons. One is it is generally done by some bogus mayavadi who is making a business out of reciting the Bhagavatam. And this is useless for everyone, hearing the Bhagavatam from mayavadi businessman. But the real objection that Srila Prabhupada has to this ‘Bhagavata-Saptaha’ process is that the instruction in the Bhagavatam is ‘Nityam-Bhagavata-Sevaya’. Nityam means constantly, or at least daily. So rather than encouraging people to occassionaly attend a ‘Bhagavata-Saptaha’ Prabhupada stresses that we must mold our lives in such a way that we are hearing and discussing the Bhagavatam on a daily basis. That is what is recommended in the Bhagavatam itself.

      So we do not at all support this ‘Bhagavata-saptaha’ process.

      We have to follow Srila Prabhupada Prabhu, you may not like some of the instructions that Srila Prabhupada gives but if you want to present yourself as a follower of Srila Prabhupada you have to follow his instructions and he is very clear on this Bhagavata-saptaha point. If you want to present something different then please do not try to connect yourself with Srila Prabhupada or his movement.

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

  3. Hiiravatii says:

    However, reading books is not enough. After reading, we must take the firm resolution to think, to say and to act accordingly as if it is our lifestyle. It is not dead knowledge, it is living knowdelge. It is something not only to be believed but to be lived.

  4. Hiiravatii says:

    Hare Krishna!

    I agree with you that we should read Srila Prabhupada’ books everyday as a healthy habit. This is called outer-suggestion. Through the knowledge gained by reading, ponderring, understanding and realizing the profound wisdom, we will benefit enormously in our spiritual life which is Sat-Chit-Nanda.

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