Spiritual Master / Guru

Published on September 14th, 2023 | by HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada


Unless One is a Pure Devotee He Should Not Become A Preacher

Unless one is situated as pure Vaisnava in his dealing, in his behavior, inside and outside, he should not become a preacher because it will not be effective, neither one should hear from such person. Those who are preaching, they must be very sincere. They should read the literatures, just like The Nectar of Instruction. We should follow, strictly follow. Then you’ll be able to preach and make disciples all over the world.

Pusta Krishna: “My dear Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, on account of my association with material desires one after another, gradually I have now fallen in the blind well full of snakes. But Your servant Narada Muni kindly accepted me as his disciple and instructed me how to achieve this transcendental position. Therefore my first duty is to serve him. And how can I leave it?”


evam janam nipatitam prabhavahi-kupe
kamabhikamam anu yah prapatan prasangat
krtvatmasat surarsina bhagavan grhitah
so ‘ham katham nu visrje tava bhrtya-sevam

So this is Vaisnava paddhati. Tava bhrtya-sevam. Vaisnava does not approach Krsna directly. That is not Vaisnava. This is impudency. You cannot approach Krsna. Caitanya Mahaprabhu has taught us, gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasa-dasanudasah. This is the process. You have to… As you have to receive the perfect knowledge by the parampara system–imam vivasvate yogam proktavan aham avyayam–similarly, you have to approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead through the parampara system.

sthapitam yena bhu-tale
svayam rupah kada mahyam
dadati sva-padantikam

We have to approach in that way. Sri-caitanya-mano ‘bhistam. The Gosvamis, they established the mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Therefore we have to receive the mercy of the six Gosvamis, and we have to receive the mercy of the six Gosvamis through my spiritual master. Bhrtyasya bhrtyah. Narottama dasa Thakura says, rupa-raghunatha pade, haibe akuti, kabe hama bujhabo, sri yugala-piriti. Narottama dasa Thakura, he is also acarya. He is speaking, “When I shall be eager to serve the lotus feet of Rupa Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami,” rupa-raghunatha-pade, “six Gosvamis, beginning from Rupa Gosvami to Raghunatha dasa Gosvami?” Sri-rupa sanatana bhatta-raghunatha, sri-jiva gopala-bhatta dasa-raghunatha.

So we have to go through the Gosvamis and the parampara system. Then we can understand. Rupa-raghunatha pade, haibe akuti, kabe hama bujhabo, sri yugala-piriti. Generally some professional men, they chant Radha-krsna-pranaya-vikrtir. That is not the way. You cannot understand the loving affairs of Radha and Krsna without understanding the path given by the Gosvamis. If you surpass in this way, avoid the way of approaching Radha-Krsna by reading Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, The Nectar of Devotion, the Teachings of Lord Caitanya–all of a sudden if you become an upstart to understand Radha-Krsna love–then you’ll misunderstand. That is the way. And people, they try to understand Radha-Krsna love affairs, jumping all of a sudden. This is not the way. One should be very much eager to understand. Radha-krsna-pranaya-vikrtir ahladini saktir asmad ekatmanav api deha-bhedam gatau tau, sri caitanya-prakatam adhuna tad-dvayam caikyam aptam radha-krsna-bhava-dyuti. There is a… This is the verse by Jiva Gosvami that “Radha-Krsna is one. Radharani is the pleasure potency of Krsna.

Parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate sva-bhaviki jnana-bala-kriya ca. Krsna is the Supreme Being. When He wants to enjoy pleasure, no material things can supply that. That is not possible. He expands His own energy, and by His own energy He gets the pleasure. So Radharani is not ordinary, as the sahajiyas, those who take Radha-Krsna love affair very easily… No. Then you’ll misunderstand. Radha-krsna-pranaya-vikrtir ahladini saktih. It is the expansion of pleasure potency of Krsna.

So this science one has to learn from the authorities, Rupa Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami and others. Then it is possible to understand what is loving affairs of Radha-Krsna.

rupa-raghunatha pade rahu mora asa
prarthana koroye sada narottamo dasa

We should not jump over. There are so many literatures. They place Radharani as ordinary baladar(?) woman because they do not understand. So therefore Sanatana Gosvami has forbidden strictly that avaisnava-mukhodgirnam puta-hari-kathamrtam, sravanam na kartavyam: “Don’t hear from the professional men who are not situated in the Vaisnava behavior.” One must be…, behavior in Vaisnava. Sadacara-sampannah. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has warned that “Don’t mix it with Vaisnava who is not well trained up, well behaved.” You can offer him respect. A Vaisnava offers respect even to the ant. That is another thing. But he has warned, “Don’t mix with them, these professional, so-called Vaisnava, sahajiyas.” This is warned. Avaisnava-mukhodgirnam puta-hari-kathamrtam, sravanam na kartavyam: “You should not hear.” “Eh? Huh? What is the wrong there? The Krsna-katha is there.” No, Krsna-katha is there just like milk is there, but if it is touched by the lips of a serpent, it is no more to be taken. It has become poison. Unless one is situated as pure Vaisnava in his dealing, in his behavior, inside and outside, he should not become a preacher because it will not be effective, neither one should hear from such person. But people in general, they can not understand, but those who are preaching, they must be very sincere, the same way. Rupa-raghunatha pade, haibe akuti. They should read the literatures, the instruction, just like Upadesamrta, The Nectar of Instruction. We should follow, strictly follow. Then prthivim sa sisyat. Then you’ll be able to preach and make disciples all over the world. This is the injunction. That is called gosvami. Don’t be cheap preacher, cheap guru. No, no. That is not good. It is not possible.

So Prahlada Maharaja is one of the mahajana, authorities. How he has gotten this authority? Here it is said, so ‘ham katham nu visrje tava bhrtya-sevam. So everyone must have his position by giving service to the spiritual master. And who is spiritual master? Tava bhrtya, who is a servant of Krsna.

yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado
yasyaprasadad na gatih kuto ‘pi
kintu prabhor yah priya eva tasya

Guru is described, yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadah: “By the mercy of guru one can achieve the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” Yasya prasada. Yasya aprasadat: “If guru is not pleased, then he has no place.” Na gatih kuto ‘pi.

saksad dharitvena samasta-sastrair
uktas tatha bhavyata eva sadbhih
kintu prabhor yah priya eva tasya

Why the spiritual master position is so great? Because he is very, very confidential servant of Krsna; therefore his position is so great.

So this is the process. Tava bhrtya-seva. We have to… Adau gurvasrayam. First beginning of Vaisnava life is to accept guru, spiritual master, adau gurvasrayam, then other things. Because who will teach you? So we have to approach a pure Vaisnava as spiritual master, follow his instruction.

And what is his instruction? His instruction is as he was instructed by his spiritual master. He does not invent instruction. This is instruction. The pure Vaisnava, he does not invent anything new. Yare dekha tare kaha krsna upadesa. Caitanya Mahaprabhu says that “You all, every one of you become guru, everyone.” Amara ajnaya guru hana tara ei desa. Wherever you are living, it doesn’t require that you have to travel all over the world. If you have no such capacity, it doesn’t matter. You remain wherever you are, but you become a guru. “How I become a guru?” Yare dekha tare kaha krsna upadesa: “Very simple thing. You instruct only what is instructed by Krsna. That’s all.” Don’t invent. Don’t become overintelligent. Remain a poor fool. Guru more murkha dekhi sasana, korila sasana. Caitanya Mahaprabhu also presenting Himself as a great fool because He says, “My Guru Maharaja found Me a great fool.” He was a fool? He was Krsna Himself. But one should remain always a fool before Guru Maharaja. That is progress. If he thinks, “I know more than my Guru Maharaja,” then he’s fallen. Yasyaprasadad na gatih kuto ‘pi. Then he is finished. So we should always remain a fool before the spiritual master, even though one is incarnation, not that “I am incarnation; therefore I have become God.” No. Even if you are incarnation, you should remain a humble servant. That is that, tava bhrtya-sevam. Prahlada Maharaja is… Daityanam prahlado ‘smi. The Supreme Personality of Godhead incarnates in different societies, different platforms, and He says, “Amongst the Daityas…” Amongst the Daityas, there are also devotess. So prahlado ‘smi. Prahlada Maharaja is saktyavesavatara, but still, he says that katham nu visrje tava bhrtya-sevam: “How can I give up this service?” Prahlada Maharaja does not say, “My Lord, Nrsimhadeva, I am now so competent. Give me Your service directly.” No. Tava bhrtya-sevam: “First of all give me the opportunity to serve Your servant.” This is Vaisnavism.

So why it is required to serve Vaisnava? If you want to get relief from this conditional life, then you have to serve Vaisnavas. Chadiya vaisnava seva, nistara payeche keba. This is the… “Who has got,” I mean to say, “liberty from this entanglement of material existence”–chadiya vaisnava seva–“if you do not serve a pure Vaisnava?” Mahat-sevam dvaram ahur vimukteh. This is everywhere. If you want liberation from this material entanglement, then you must take to mahat-sevam dvaram ahur vimukteh. You must. There is no alternative. Tasmad gurum prapadyeta jijnasuh sreya uttamam. “If you are actually interested to inquire about the transcendental subject matter, you must accept a guru.” Tasmad gurum prapadyeta.

tad viddhi pranipatena
pariprasnena sevaya
upadeksyanti tad jnanam
jnaninas tattva-darsinam

So these are the ways. You cannot understand by your erudite scholarship what is Krsna. It is not possible. Then Krsna would have instructed Bhagavad-gita to…, finding out a very great Vedantist. No. Krsna found Arjuna. What was Arjuna? Arjuna was a grhastha. Arjuna was a ksatriya, and although a soldier… A soldier is not expected to become a Vedantist. We recruit soldiers not from the Vedantists’ group. One who can fight, one who has got strength–we recruit soldier. So Arjuna was not very qualified in that way to understand Bhagavad-gita or instruction, but Krsna said, “Yes, I will speak, speak to you. This Bhagavad-gita, the parampara is lost, so I shall again speak the old thing to you.” “Why to me?” Bhakto ‘si priyo ‘si me: “Because you are My bhakta. You are My priya.” So by scholarship one cannot understand Bhagavad-gita. That is not possible. One must become a servant of the servant of Krsna. Then one can understand what is Bhagavad-gita. Otherwise it (is) not possible.

So evam janam nipatitam prabhavahi-kupe. Ahi kupa. Ahi means the serpent. So we have got these serpents surrounded by us, surrounded, all round. What are the serpents? The senses. Everyone, we are in the dark well surrounded by serpents, this body. Bhaktivinoda Thakura has sung this song, sarira avidya-jal, jadendriya tahe kala. Kala means serpents, kala-sarpa. Kala-sarpa, it can bite at any moment and finish you. We are being bitten every moment. It is Krsna’s grace that we are living. Otherwise our senses are so dangerous that it can bring me down at any moment, kala-sarpa. There are many places, kala-sarpa-patali protkhata-damstrayate. One devotee says, “Yes, I am surrounded by kala-sarpa, the serpent, that’s nice, but I can break the teeth.” But if kala-sarpa is the… What is called, that? Fangs? If they are broken–they are taken out–they are no more dangerous. Dangerous. They are dangerous so long the fangs are there. So protkhata-damstrayate. Sri Prabhodananda Sarasvati said, kala-sarpa-patali protkhata-damstrayate: “Yes, I have got my kala-sarpas, but by the grace of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, I have broken the fangs, so it is no more fearful.” How it is possible? By the mercy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu it is possible. Just like you can break the fangs of the… There are expert snake charmer. Because this poison is required for some medicinal purpose, so they take it out. Then it is useless. But they again grow. The body is so made of the snake, even if you take once the fangs, again it grows. That is stated here, that how it is possible? Kamabhikamam anu yah prapatan prasangat. Once it may be broken, but if you have bad association, then again it will grow. Kamabhikamam. One kama, one lusty desire, produces another lusty desire. In this way, one after another, this is going on. That is the cause of our repeated birth and death. Bhutva bhutva praliyate. So therefore, if we want to enter into bhakti platform, then we should give up this. Anyabhilasita-zunyam. Anyabhilasita-sunyam.

So “How it can be zero? I am a living being. How it can be zero? I am always thinking, planning. I have got so many desires,” they say. One who does not know what is the position of a living being, they say that “Give up desires. Desireless.” That is not possible. Desirelessness is not possible. Because I am a living being, I must desire. Therefore desires may be purified. That is wanted. You cannot make the desires zero. That is not possible. Sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam. Now our desires are there according to my designated position. “I am Hindu,” “I am Muslim. Why shall I take Krsna consciousness?” Because I am designated, I have taken this designation, “I am Hindu,” “I am Muslim,” “I am Christian.” Therefore we cannot take Krsna consciousness. “Oh, this is… Krsna is Hindu God. Krsna is Indian. Why shall I take Krsna?” No. “You have to be desireless” means you have to purify your this false understanding that “I am Hindu,” “I am Muslim,” “I am Christian,” “I am Indian,” “I am this.” This has to be purified. One has to understand that “I am gopi-bhartur pada-kamalayor dasa. I am the servant of the servant of the servant of Krsna.” That is purification. Then desire. Then you’ll not desire anything except Krsna’s service. That is perfection. When you come to that platform, that you desire nothing but to serve Krsna, always, twenty-four hours, then you are liberated. Sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam. Then you become nirmalam, without any material tinge. In that position only, hrsikena hrsikesa-sevanam bhaktir ucyate. Then… My senses will be there; not that I become senseless nonsense. No. My senses are there. They will act. They’ll act for simply to serve Krsna. That is wanted. So that can be possible when you are trained up by the servant of Krsna. Otherwise it is not possible.

Thank you very much. (end)

760306SB.MAY Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.28 Mayapur, March 6, 1976

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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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.

3 Responses to Unless One is a Pure Devotee He Should Not Become A Preacher

  1. Anything says:

    Sir, sometimes i am bewildered by why Srila Prabhupada sings Sri Gurvastaka and since i didnt want to speculate, i thought it better to ask. When Srila Prabhupada is already a pure devotee, a nitya siddha, why does he sing “samsara davanala lidha loka” . He was never conditioned in the material world, then why and how is it that he thanks his spiritual master for delivering him. And how does he have hundred times the gratitude towards Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupada than we have for our spiritual master when on one side we were actually nitya baddha whereas he was always nitya siddha.

    Is this the relationship of master-disciple or just the loving ecstatic transaction between pure devotees who feel ecstatic on seeing each other like during Chitanya Mahaprabhu”s time the pure devottes on the same level would feel ecstatic upon seeing each other…

    Or is it just to teach us? But no, I am sure srila Prabhupada had a lot of love for his spiritual master as i understand from his singing…but what is the mystery behind all this…behind this extreme love?

    Hoping I didnt commit any offence at the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada by thinking so( actually I shiver when I get such doubts hoping i dont commit any offence?), could you kindly dissipate my doubt..

    • A pure devotee of Krishna does not think he is a pure devotee of Krishna. He thinks he is the most fallen. So yes, Srila Prabhupada was a pure devote from birth, but it was only when he met Srila Bhaktisddhanta Sarasvati Thakur that he ordered him to preach in the Western countries. So Prabhupada made the orders of his spiritual master his life and soul. So everyone needs a bona fide spritual master. Even Krishna when he appears accepts a spiritual master. Even Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu who is Krishna Himeself accepted a spiritual master. In the case of Krishna and Lord Caitanya of course it is to teach us, but in the case of a pure devotee he is very humble and really does not think he is a pure devotee and he accepts a spiritual master and surrenders to him and serves him and makes the orders of his spiritual master his mission in life.

  2. PGK Frankie G. says:

    Let us be servants of the servants of the servants of God!

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