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Article By: Upendranath Dasa

The Guru & Disciple Should Study Each Other Carefully Before Establishing a Relationship

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Segment 12

Not Accepting Unqualified Persons as Guru or Disciple, & The Story of Anonymous Prabhu, (AP)

Part 8

Many people accept mixed devotional service, and do not go beyond that. They do not distinguish between mixed and pure devotional service. Moreover, mixed devotional service, will not save one from repeated birth and death. Only pure devotional service will do that. It is imperative, therefore, that we distinguish between the two, and commit ourselves exclusively to pure devotional service. This fact cannot be stressed too much. A lot of what presently passes as pure devotional service, in most Vaisnava camps, is in fact mixed. Why the confusion? It is largely because we habitually refer to all kinds of service as “devotional service” and leave it at that. However, Srila Prabhupada says,

“One has to transcend all such mixed devotional service in order to reach the standard of pure devotional service.” 

Therefore, we have to discriminate between the two, or else, we risk mistaking mixed for pure devotional service. This keen ability to discriminate, is the trait of the Madyama-adhikari. If you are not doing this kind of discrimination, one could conclude that you are still a Kanistha-adhikari.

The 14th Chapter of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, instructs that “action” can be made in the mode of ignorance, or in the mode of passion, or in the mode of goodness. 

With this consideration in mind, it is not rocket-science, to know that making the decision, of who to accept as one’s guru, will mold one’s destiny in Krishna conscious spiritual advancement. 

If this decision is made in the mode of ignorance, or passion, or a combination of ignorance and passion, it is not rocket-science to understand. that one is subject to being cheated, and one’s performance of sadhana-bhakti will, more or less, be a disaster.  

In order to mold one’s destiny, in sadhana-bhakti, so that one is able to achieve the best results, it is essential that the decision of choosing a spiritual master must be made in the mode of goodness.

I surmise that you did not make your choice, of spiritual master, in the mode of goodness. You made your choice of guru, in the modes of passion and ignorance, and that is why you are in the predicament you find yourself in.  It is the fault of Jayapataka for cheating you, and it is also your fault, for allowing Jayapataka to cheat you.  For both of you, it is your poor fund of knowledge, and understanding, of the 3 modes of material nature, and Guru & Disciple Tattva.

End of Letter to Ponal.

I sent the above letter to Ponal, with the agreement, that he could decide if he will give a copy of this letter to AP.  I was firm, direct, bold, and truthful for the benefit of AP.  Ponal appreciated the letter, but later communicated to me that he thought that AP would not be able to appreciate this letter, and that he would reject it, and would possibly cause AP to ban Ponal from attending his community of Vaisnava’s functions.

However, that was not the end of the episode.  A few days later, Ponal sent me the following via an E-mail:

Dear Prabhu Ji.

Guess what AP asked all of the devotees, while he was giving a class on Srimad-bhagavatam. It just came to his mind again, his 3 questions, and he wanted to take them up with all of us attending the class. APs Paramatma[1] must want him to understand that he is being cheated. Otherwise, no one cared to answer this question in front of the assembled devotees.  So, AP asked,

Hari-nama, the chanting of the holy names of the Supreme Lord, is supposed to remove all the anarthas, (unwanted desires), and make us happy.  So why is it that after many years of chanting, we still feel many material miseries, and anarthas are still there?”

It almost brought me to tears when he asked this question.  I thought,

“Now is the time when everyone in the room would give it a thought”.

So, AP gave everyone a chance to give a brief reason. He started with me, and I told them,

“It is due to mixed devotional service.”

 As I have understood from your 3 modes of material nature seminar.

Then the rest of the devotees gave an answer, and they were all similar to,

  • “Because we are not purified”.
  • “Because we are not surrendered to the lord”.
  • “Because we are not surrendered to Guru.”

AP then said,

“Yes, we are not surrendered to the Guru.  This is the reason why we still have the attachments and desires that bring miseries.”

However, no one wanted to ask me what “mixed devotional” service is.   Then the topic was changed.

After the class someone asked AP,

“Why is the association of devotees considered so important for spiritual progress?”

I almost laughed at the answer.

AP answered,

“When you are with devotees, they will take care of everything, no need to worry about anything.”

 He then gave an example of an elevator and stairs.   He said,

“Devotees put you on an elevator so that you do not need to walk up the staircase.”

Later today, A P was driving us all home from the temple, we were at around 80 kmph.  I wanted to discuss with AP what you have taught me, so I asked AP,

“Do you know that it is given in scripture that the Modes of material nature award liberation also”.

He then asked me,

“Where is it given?”

To quote the reference in Bhagavad-gita As It Is, I was searching through your mail on my phone.  Just then a truck came in front of us and braked.  AP handled the situation well, and with Krishna’s grace, I am happy to be safe. At that moment I changed the topic of discussion.

What can we take from this story?  Here is a small ISKCON temple with a leader who has at least 5 years doing sadhana-bhakti.  AP is spiritually blind because of a poor fund of knowledge of the 3 modes of material nature; and likewise, for his constituents.  The blind leading the blind, and they all fall off the “cliff”, if you will.

AP has no recollection of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is 13.24,

“One who understands this philosophy concerning material nature, the living entity and the interaction of the modes of nature is sure to attain liberation. He will not take birth here again, regardless of his present position.”

Srila Prabhupada said that he had only one regret, and that was that he did not have intimate association with all of his disciples.  Nevertheless, he did write volumes of books and gave many lectures.  That is why he could take many disciples.  Have the ISKCON gurus written many books?  The answer is NO!  So, how can they accept hundreds or even thousands of disciples.

[1] Paramatma—the Supersoul, the localized aspect Visnu expansion of the Supreme Lord residing in the heart of each embodied living entity and pervading all of material nature.

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