Lecture on Srimad-bhagavatam 1.2.22—Los Angeles, August 25, 1972:
“So uttama-adhikari, uttama-adhikari means first class. He’s firmly convinced, Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Nobody can deviate. He can convert others to understand Krishna, that He’s the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Moreover, nobody can convince him that Krishna is not God; that is not possible. That is first class.”
Prabhupada repeatedly asserts that to be guru one need not claim to be an uttama-adhikari in the sense of having mystical qualifications, but one must follow the parampara without deviating. One must have no “ulterior motive.” In some places he stresses following the parampara strictly. In other places he stresses that one who knows the science of Krishna consciousness can be guru.
Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 24.124 Purport:
“Narada Muni is our original guru because he is the spiritual master of Vyasadeva. Vyasadeva is the spiritual master of our disciplic succession; therefore, we should follow in the footsteps of Narada Muni and become pure Vaisnavas. A pure Vaisnava is one who has no ulterior motive. He has totally dedicated himself to the service of the Lord. He does not have material desires, and he is not interested in so-called learning and philanthropic work.”
Bhagavad-gita 2.8 Purport, Srila Prabhupada wrote:
Therefore, the conclusion is that a spiritual master who is one hundred percent Krishna conscious is the bona fide spiritual master, for he can solve the problems of life. Lord Caitanya said that one who is master in the science of Krishna consciousness, regardless of his social position, is the real spiritual master.
“It does not matter whether a person is a vipra [learned scholar in Vedic wisdom] or is born in a lower family, or is in the renounced order of life—if he is master in the science of Krishna, he is the perfect and bona fide spiritual master.”
Srimad-bhagavatam 3.24.25 Purport, Srila Prabhupada wrote:
“Lord Caitanya advises that one receives transcendental knowledge from anyone—whether a brahmana or a sudra, a householder or a sannyasi—provided that person is factually conversant with the science of Krishna. A person who knows the science of Krishna is factually a bona fide spiritual master.”
Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 8.128:
“A person may be a brahmana or a sudra or a sannyasi, but if he happens to be well versed in the science of Krishna, then he is fit to become a spiritual master”
Srimad-bhagavatam 3.6.30 Purport, Srila Prabhupada wrote:
“The qualification, then, of a spiritual master is not to be a qualified brahmana, but to be well versed in the science of Krishna.”
Letter to: Hamsaduta—Los Angeles3 January, 1969:
Another examination will be held sometimes in 1971 on the four books, Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-bhagavatam, Teachings of Lord Caitanya, and Nectar of Devotion. One who will pass this examination will be awarded with the title of Bhaktivedanta. I want that all of my spiritual sons and daughters will inherit this title of Bhaktivedanta, so that the family transcendental diploma will continue through the generations. Those possessing the title of Bhaktivedanta will be allowed to initiate disciples. Maybe by 1975, all of my disciples will be allowed to initiate and increase the numbers of the generations. That is my program. So, we should not simply publish these books for reading by outsiders, but our students must be well versed in all of our books so that we can be prepared to defeat all opposing parties in the matter of self-realization.”
Letter to: Svarupa Damodara—Bombay10 January, 1976:
“I have also suggested for the GBC’s consideration, that we introduce a system of examinations for the devotees to take. Sometimes there is criticism that our men are not sufficiently learned, especially the brahmanas. Of course, second initiation does not depend upon passing an examination. How one has molded his life—chanting, attending arati, etc., these are essential. Still, brahmana means pandita. Therefore, I am suggesting examinations. Bhakti-sastri— (for all brahmanas) based on Bhagavad-gita, Sri Isopanisad, Nectar of Devotion, Nectar of Instruction, and all the small paper backs. Bhakti-vaibhava—the above plus first six cantos of S.B. Bhaktivedanta—the above plus cantos 7-12 S.B. Bhakti-sarvabhauma—the above plus Caitanya-caritamrta”
Letter to: Svarupa Damodara—Bombay 10 January, 1976:
“Regarding the examinations, the idea is that anyone, after studying the books, who wants to gain the title of Bhakti-sastri, can take the exam. This is academic. Just like a brahmana with sastric knowledge and a brahmana without. It is optional—one who wants may take. The real purpose is that our men should not be neglectful of the philosophy. The examinations will begin on Gaura Purnima, 1977, not this year, so there is no reason why any of the devotees should give up their normal engagement.”
Prabhupada’s letters, conversations, lectures, and books have sufficient references to go on for pages where he makes it clear that knowing the sastra is a priority. His program for making us “well versed in the science of Krishna” was to have the four aforementioned exams. But alas. . ..