The word “superlative” means, “of the highest quality or degree”.
The following are a few commonly used such superlative definitions of what is a genuine Guru.
- A genuine guru is one who sees Krishna.
- A genuine guru is an Uttama Vaisnava.
- A genuine guru is a Maha-bhagavata.
- A genuine guru is a Paramahansa.
- A genuine guru is a pure devotee of Lord Krishna.
Number 1 is is impossible for any human being to verify. If by the sweet will of Krishna, if such a genuine guru does see Krishna; it can be understood that they will not advertise it to be so.
Numbers 2 thru 5, can only be verified by criteria that defines the symptoms of this kind of Vaisnava, which are specified inVaisnava siddhanta that is based on the principle of “GSS.” Nevertheless, an kinds of Vaisnavas will never advertise his/hers first-class status. They can only be scrutinized by personally verifiable criteria.
All of the above is actually true, but how can these definitions help us in deciding whom to choose as guru. Would they be verifiable by a neophyte Vaisnava? No way! hat is needed is “personally verifiable criteria”. Criteria that can be verified by even a neophyte devotee. This action of deciding and choosing will require some information other than any of the above definitions. With some additional information, one can then use one’s own power of discrimination.
The best information comes from Sastra. Remember that the term Sastra, when used as proof, also includes the words written or spoken by the past-acharyas in our parampara, (Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya), the disciplic succession through which bona-fide spiritual masters transmit spiritual knowledge; literally, one after the other. It refers to the disciplic succession of spiritual masters and their disciples who became spiritual masters; beginning with Lord Krishna, and Lord Brahma, His disciple at the dawn of creation. Hence, a careful study of what Sastra says, what Srila Prabhupada spoke and wrote, and the what the acharyas of the Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya have written, will aid one in this endeavor.
Some logical questions come to mind:
- Who is guru?
- What does guru mean?
- What is a genuine guru?
The totality of references made by Srila Prabhupada, in regard to these questions, are to be understood as Sabda-Pramana. Proof from revealed scripture or from the words of a genuine Sadhu. This is the Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya system to establish siddhanta, or conclusions.
As you will see yourself, Srila Prabhupada made an extensive effort to go beyond the superlative definitions of ‘guru’,
which are not practical for a neophyte seeker of a bona fide spiritual master. It is currently understood that the vast majority of Gaudiya Vaisnavas, are not aware of the large body of references that are contained within the works of Srila Prabhupada, in regards to the “Guru Issue”.
Srila Prabhupada gave so many explanations in different ways, of symptoms, which anyone can verify, that are practical, and concrete; and leaving no doubt in a seekers mind, as to how to find and evaluate one’s guru, so that one is not cheated. You will also get a sense of what Srila Prabhupada meant when he said,
“Everything is in my books.”
The point being is that Srila Prabhupada did have many definitions, which can be used to determine who is a genuine guru with criteria that is practical, concrete, and verifiable. No confusion, no guesswork, no need to use sentimental criteria, or to allow others to determine for you. You should have no problem in accepting or rejecting anyone blindly in regards to who is a genuine guru. The careful study of this store house of references in the White Paper “Guru & Disciple Tattva According to Srila Prabhupada”, would benefit any person seeking a spiritual master, both Siksa-guru, (instructing guru) and Diksa-guru, (initiating guru). In this Treatise, only a few are going to be referenced, and commented on, because of their uniqueness and the profound words used by Srila Prabhupada to dispel anyone’s doubt of their ability to determine who is a genuine guru.
With great regret, if in 1977, all of Srila Prabhupada disciples could have been aware of what Srila Prabhupada, wrote and spoke on the issue of guru; there would have been no confusion or misdirection in regards to the issue of “Guru”, and the cheating and plundering could have been prevented. It is easy to conclude that this ignorance, was taken advantage of, in order to create this unauthorized guru protocol. I personally tried to explain this to my God brothers and sisters, and was totally confused, as to why they could not understand this. To make a long story short, I was approached by a top GBC God brother in 1979, after such a meeting of God brother and sister from the Los Angeles community at my home one night. At the end of the meeting he called me over to the outside porch of my home, and privately in a soft voice, he said to me,
“Upendranath, what you are doing, you must stop, because if you do not stop this kind of preaching, I am afraid that it will lead to ‘Murder’.”
Having a wife and two very young children, I was then not bold or courageous, and understanding that my family dependent on me, I disappeared from Krishna-conscious life, and devoted the period of 1979 to 1993 in cultivating a profession of a Business Computer System Consultant. In 1993, I retired from working, with permission from my family, and I went to live in Vrindavana India.