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With a Case for the Reconstitution of Srila Prabhupada’s “Mission”.

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Segment 12
Needing a teacher. How do I Discriminate Between a Desirable Guru, And an Undesirable One? 

Without having a teacher, it is very difficult, to gain knowledge of something.  The only other method is that one tries to learn from one’s own personal experience and endeavor.  Having a teacher has the advantage of some one’s else’s knowledge and experience to add to one’s own personal knowledge and experience.  The effort and endeavor are still the same.  There are many types of teachers,

  • A trusted counselor and advisor.
  • A personal spiritual teacher.
  • A teacher and guide in spiritual and philosophical matters.
  • A recognized leader in a field.
  • An acknowledged and influential advocate, as of a movement or idea.

definition of ‘teacher’, which is applicable to our current time, place and circumstance, is:

“One who is regarded as having great knowledge, wisdom and authority in a certain area, and who uses it to guide others.  Other forms of manifestation of the principle of a teachers and/or instructor also include,

  • School Non-human objects, like books.
  • Other sentient living entity.
  • One’s own intellectual discipline.
  • One’s own personal experience.”

Finding a teacher or instructor in regards to mundane subject matters is not very hard; however, it still does require one to discriminate and to evaluate a potential teacher or instructor.  When it comes to spiritual subject matter, we can draw a logical conclusion, and that is,

“Surrendering to a guru is not the same as surrendering to teachers and instructors who teach mundane knowledge.”

How can one recognize who is genuine and who is a phony?  Naturally, we are encouraged to recognize topmost teachers and/or instructors when we seek mundane education; and that is no different in spiritual subject matter.  This then is one’s own responsibility, yours and only yours. 

A guru should teach and instruct with logic and reason, which is based on Sastra.  This guru is therefore not on the platform of blind faith, they are, sane and rational human beings.  An advanced guru can also address and answer the questions on apparent differences of opinions.  Guru can also answer all questions, and remove any doubts one may have.  These are the most important criteria, all which can be verified. 

What is important to understand is that personal association with a prospective guru can only accomplish this verification.  You cannot allow anyone to tell you that any particular person has these attributes.  You have to do the verification.  If you allow someone else to verify for you, then you would be gambling with your spiritual life. 

ISKCON GBC in 1978 made their biggest mistake when they “rubber-stamped” the original 11 gurus.  9 of these men fell from grace due to various heinous activity.  The remaining 2 are questionable, to say the least.  Also, some of the subsequent appointed Gurus have had the same fate. So why would future disciples in ISKCON allow the GBC to tell them who is qualified; when in fact, the GBC has made so many mistakes.

Having someone else think for you is not being a Vaisnava who acts in the mode of goodness; you would be acting in the mode of passion and ignorance.

An advanced guru does not say,

“I am not a big philosopher but I am a Plato man true and through”. 

How can one be a Plato man without being a philosopher?  The world is already stressed with these kinds of sentimental feelings, full of passionate intensity, but irrational, when subjected to analytical scrutiny.  We have nothing against passionate intensity, as long as it is rational.  The world is full of gurus who claim, or are marketed by their disciples, as,

  • An Uttama Vaisnava,
  • A Maha-bhagavata Vaisnava,
  • A paramahamsa Vaisnava,
  • An internal associate of Krishna or Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

When you encounter such a guru, or the disciples of the guru who are selling him as such; then you know for sure that this guru is bogus.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has stated that ‘rasa’[1] or ‘taste’ is secret. In Jaiva-dharma Chapter 30:

“The conditioned jiva has taken shelter of mundane rasa, but when his intelligence becomes dedicated to Isvara, (Krishna), he naturally attains the path of detachment. Even then, he cannot be inclined for madhura-rasa until he becomes eligible for cid-rasa. Such people have no qualification for this rasa. The very nature of madhura-rasa makes it difficult to understand, and candidates for madhura-rasa are rarely found. This is the reason why this is extremely secret.”

In other words, one’s personal relationship with Krishna is a top-secret, no one knows, except Krishna and the jiva. Anyone who professes such status, it is either their foolishness, or wickedness. Do you want a foolish guru?  Would you want a wicked guru?  Besides this, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura also has stated that to pretend to be of such an exalted status and initiate people as disciples, that guru is an offender to the Holy Name. 

Another sure sign of a bogus guru is that they do not follow the orders or instructions of their guru.  So how can such a spiritual master be genuine, when one of the main symptoms of a true guru is that they follow the orders and instructions given by their spiritual master?  If Srila Prabhupada said gurus are not rubber-stamped; and a guru has been rubber-stamped; that is what is called a no-brainer, a rubber-stamped Guru is Bogus.  You cannot understand if a Guru is not following the instructions and orders, of his own Spritual master, unless you know what those instructions and orders are.  Once you know what those orders and instructions are, it will not be hard to make such a determination.

In actuality, there is no such thing as a “bogus-guru”.  There is only “guru”; period.  The concept of “bogus-guru” does not exist in Gaudiya Vaisnavas Sastra or Siddhanta.

In addition to displaying a steadfast capacity for logic and reason, we also see that an advanced guru is fully absorbed in their individual quest for knowledge.  Naturally, sense control and proper conduct are considerations as well.  Thus, we can look for those symptoms.  Therefore, this kind of discrimination, is not possible, unless there is constant personal association, over a year at least.  Such a “Guru & Disciple” relationship is absolutely required.

Early in 2004, the Executive Committee (EC) of the Governing Body Commission (GBC) of the International Society for Krishna -consciousness wrote to the Sastric Advisory Council:

 “Srila Prabhupada states that it is the responsibility of the prospective disciples to examine and test their prospective guru prior to initiation. Given that the GBC gives tacit approval to gurus via their no-objection procedure, it could be that the prospective disciple’s desire to examine their prospective guru prior to initiation is compromised. Although there are many glorious descriptions of the qualities of guru in sastra, it is the duty of prospective disciples to not automatically assume those qualities are possessed by all ISKCON gurus. Rather, they should objectively examine their prospective guru. There is prima facia[2] evidence that suggests that prospective disciples do not take this responsibility seriously. Therefore, we request the Sastric Advisory Council (SAC) to research the balance between the responsibility of ISKCON to protect its members from unqualified gurus and the duty of the prospective disciples to give proper attention to the study of their prospective gurus prior to initiation.”

Unfortunately, this letter fell on deaf-ears and blind-eyes; if you will, and nothing was resolved.

 In BTG (1944-1960), PV20 Volume 3, Part 16-March 20, 1960, Srila Prabhupada wrote:

“It is imperative also that a seriously inclined person must accept a bona fide spiritual master in terms of the Shastric injunction and give up the company of a pseudo spiritual master in terms of social usages and hereditary or customary and ecclesiastic conventions.”

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[1] Rasa—relationship between the Lord and the living entities; mellow, or the sweet taste of a relationship, especially between the Lord and the living entities. They are of five principal varieties-neutral relationship (santa-rasa), relationship as servant (dasya-rasa), as friend (sakhya-rasa), parent (vatsalya-rasa) and conjugal lover (madhurya-rasa). Eternal spiritual relationship with Krishna. There are five rasas: santa (passive awe and reverence); dasya (servitude); sakhya (friendship); vatsalya (parenthood); and madhurya (conjugal love). According to his specific kind of rasa, the soul displays a spiritual form as Krishna’s eternal servant, friend, parent or conjugal lover. Just as our present material body permits us to engage in karma (physical activities), so the spiritual rasa-body permits us to engage in lila (Krishna’s endlessly expanding spiritual activities)

[2] prima facia– sufficient to establish a fact or raise a presumption unless disproved or rebutted

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