Article By: Upendranath Dasa
The Guru & Disciple Should Study Each Other Carefully Before Establishing a Relationship
The Spiritual Master Tests the Determination of the Candidate for Discipleship
“Now you have decided to undertake the mystic process of meditation under the instruction of your mother, just to achieve the mercy of the Lord. But in my opinion such austerities are not possible for any ordinary man. It is very difficult to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
The process of bhakti-yoga is simultaneously very difficult and very easy to perform. Sri Narada Muni, the supreme spiritual master, is testing Dhruva Maharaja to see how determined he is to prosecute devotional service. This is the process for accepting a disciple. The great sage Narada has come to Dhruva under the direction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead just to initiate him, yet he is testing Dhruva’s determination to execute the process. It is a fact, however, that for a sincere person devotional service is very easy. But for one who is not determined and sincere, this process is very difficult.”
“For this reason, my dear boy, you should not endeavor for this; it will not be successful. It is better that you go home. When you are grown up, by the mercy of the Lord you will get a chance for these mystic performances. At that time, you may execute this function.”
“The great sage Narada is instructing Dhruva Maharaja just to test him. Actually, the direct order is that from any point of life one should begin rendering devotional service. But it is the duty of the spiritual master to test the disciple to see how seriously he desires to execute devotional service. Then he may be initiated.”
If the guru makes himself unavailable for association, how can one make an informed determination about his qualifications? One has to go by popular opinion, which is the most hopeless basis for such a decision. It is better not to accept such a person as guru.
A personal relationship between the guru and disciple must be established prior to accepting each other. There may surely be exceptions to this. Srila Prabhupada, for instance, had a relationship with many of his disciples through his books, full of his instructions illuminating the path of pure devotional service. Today he still has a siksa relationship with all his faithful followers. But we must distinguish between exceptions and the general rule. Imitating Srila Prabhupada is dangerous. Following his instructions is safe.
In finding one’s guru, we could not say this is a science if we used all mystical criteria that the neophyte has no ability to verify. “Science” means verifiable, visible, reasonable, and consistent, not invisible, arbitrary, and left to my whim or guesswork, which is a tendency in the near-rabid insistence of some, who are concerned about the guru issue. They define guru in the most superlative terms, and then conclude that no one is qualified to be guru. Probably judging more from their own intimate knowledge of their own disqualifications than from an objective assessment of others.