Who is the bona fide guru??

August 28, 2019 in Articles by Damaghosa dasa

Hare Krsna–

We as individuals can only become liberated souls if an actually  liberated soul blesses us with his mercy. When one is tied up within matter (the very powerful three modes of nature) it is impossible to free oneself from this massive entanglement.(our gross body comprised of 5 material elements, our subtle body made of three subtle elements, our 5 working and knowledge acquiring senses and the 5 sense objects plus our false ego).

Below is a quick overview of our  material situation and that of a jivan mukta, liberated soul. If one understands these points carefully, then there is hope for our personal liberation from matter by becoming a pure devotee of the Lord. If one does not take the time and effort to understand these step by step points of gradual development, then he or she will simply hover on the mental or bodily platform life after lifetime. Better to take the good advice from the Lords pure devotee-Srila Prabhupada. 

SB 5.4.5 purport…
This is the way of Vedic life. One must stop the process of repeated birth and death and return home, back to Godhead. The words tan-mahimānam avāpa are significant in this regard. Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī says that mahimā means liberation in this life. We should act in such a way in this life that after giving up this body, we will become liberated from the bondage of repeated birth and death. This is called jīvan-mukti.Śrīla Vīrarāghava Ācārya states that in the Chāndogya Upaniṣad there are eight symptoms of a jīvan-mukta, a person who is already liberated even when living in this body. The first symptom of one so liberated is that he is freed from all sinful activity (apahata-pāpa). As long as one is under the clutches of māyā in the material energy, one has to engage in sinful activity. Bhagavad-gītā describes such people as duṣkṛtinaḥ, which indicates that they are always engaged in sinful activity. One who is liberated in this life does not commit any sinful activities. Sinful activity involves illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication and gambling. Another symptom of a liberated person is vijara, which indicates that he is not subjected to the miseries of old age. Another symptom is vimṛtyu. A liberated person prepares himself in such a way that he does not take on any more material bodies, which are destined to die. In other words, he does not fall down again to repeat birth and death. Another symptom is viśoka, which indicates that he is callous to material distress and happiness. Another is vijighatsa, which indicates that he no longer desires material enjoyment. Another symptom is apipātā, which means that he has no desire other than to engage in the devotional service of Kṛṣṇa, his dearmost pursuable Lord. A further symptom is satya-kāma, which indicates that all his desires are directed to the Supreme Truth, Kṛṣṇa. He does not want anything else. He is satya-saṅkalpa. Whatever he desires is fulfilled by the grace of Kṛṣṇa. First of all, he does not desire anything for his material benefit, and secondly if he desires anything at all, he simply desires to serve the Supreme Lord. That desire is fulfilled by the Lord’s grace. That is called satya-saṅkalpa. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī points out that the word mahimā means returning to the spiritual world, back home, back to Vaikuṇṭha. Śrī Śukadeva says that the word mahimā means that the devotee attains the qualities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is called sadharma, or “the same quality.” Just as Kṛṣṇa is never born and never dies, His devotees who return to Godhead never die and never take birth within the material world.
BG 7.14 purport...Another meaning of guṇa is rope; it is to be understood that the conditioned soul is tightly tied by the ropes of illusion. A man bound by the hands and feet cannot free himself – he must be helped by a person who is unbound. Because the bound cannot help the bound, the rescuer must be liberated. Therefore, only Lord Kṛṣṇa, or His bona fide representative the spiritual master, can release the conditioned soul. Without such superior help, one cannot be freed from the bondage of material nature. Devotional service, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, can help one gain such release.
Note-this purport is very nicely given to us by Srila Prabhupada so that we wont be cheated by future “gurus” who claim to be bona fide spiritual masters, yet have none of the above mentioned qualities of a liberated soul. If one is bound my material desires, or manifest material qualities, then how can this person who is bound to matter like ourselves, in any way help us who are also similarly bound by the ropes of material nature? Only that person who is not bound with the ropes of maya can untie our ropes, and nobody else)
Madhya 24.330 purport...The mahā-bhāgavata is one who decorates his body with tilaka and whose name indicates him to be a servant of Kṛṣṇa by the word dāsa. He is also initiated by a bona fide spiritual master and is expert in worshiping the Deity, chanting mantras correctly, performing sacrifices, offering prayers to the Lord and performing saṅkīrtana. He knows how to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead and how to respect a Vaiṣṇava. When one has attained the topmost position of mahā-bhāgavata, he is to be accepted as a guru and worshiped exactly like Hari, the Personality of Godhead. Only such a person is eligible to occupy the post of a guru.
Isopanishad 10-The wise have explained that one result is derived from the culture of knowledge and that a different result is obtained from the culture of nescience.
Purport-As advised in Chapter Thirteen of the Bhagavad-gītā (13.8–12), one should culture knowledge in the following way:
(1) One should become a perfect gentleman and learn to give proper respect to others.
(2) One should not pose himself as a religionist simply for name and fame.
(3) One should not become a source of anxiety to others by the actions of his body, by the thoughts of his mind, or by his words.
(4) One should learn forbearance even in the face of provocation from others.
(5) One should learn to avoid duplicity in his dealings with others.
(6) One should search out a bona fide spiritual master who can lead him gradually to the stage of spiritual realization, and one must submit himself to such a spiritual master, render him service and ask relevant questions.
(7) In order to approach the platform of self-realization, one must follow the regulative principles enjoined in the revealed scriptures.
(8) One must be fixed in the tenets of the revealed scriptures.
(9) One should completely refrain from practices which are detrimental to the interest of self-realization.
(10) One should not accept more than he requires for the maintenance of the body.
(11) One should not falsely identify himself with the gross material body, nor should one consider those who are related to his body to be his own.
(12) One should always remember that as long as he has a material body he must face the miseries of repeated birth, old age, disease and death.There is no use in making plans to get rid of these miseries of the material body. The best course is to find out the means by which one may regain his spiritual identity.
(13) One should not be attached to more than the necessities of life required for spiritual advancement.
(14) One should not be more attached to wife, children and home than the revealed scriptures ordain.
(15) One should not be happy or distressed over desirables and undesirables, knowing that such feelings are just created by the mind.
(16) One should become an unalloyed devotee of the Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and serve Him with rapt attention.
(17) One should develop a liking for residence in a secluded place with a calm and quiet atmosphere favorable for spiritual culture, and one should avoid congested places where nondevotees congregate.
(18) One should become a scientist or philosopher and conduct research into spiritual knowledge, recognizing that spiritual knowledge is permanent whereas material knowledge ends with the death of the body.
These eighteen items combine to form a gradual process by which real knowledge can be developed. Except for these, all other methods are considered to be in the category of nescience. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, a great ācārya, maintained that all forms of material knowledge are merely external features of the illusory energy and that by culturing them one becomes no better than an ass. This same principle is found here in Śrī Īśopaniṣad. By advancement of material knowledge, modern man is simply being converted into an ass. Some materialistic politicians in spiritual guise decry the present system of civilization as satanic, but unfortunately they do not care about the culture of real knowledge as it is described in the Bhagavad-gītā. Thus they cannot change the satanic situation.
Note-these 18 items are a good place to begin with an analysis of somebody who claims to be a spiritual master. If he does not have all these 18 preliminary qualifications, then how can he be guru? If you read these qualifications over carefully you will see that most if not all of them apply to a fully qualified brahmana,(kanistha adhikara, or a third class devotee) who is far below the status of a pure devotee- who is far above the material mode of goodness. Personally I feel that most devotees sentimentally think that if someone possesses these above qualities then he must be qualified to become guru. But these qualities are the basic items that have to be shown by qualified brahmanas. And these things have nothing to do with pure devotional service-they are preliminary to that position. As Srila Prabhupada says-“and below the brahmana there is no question of Vaisnava” . So one must have all these 18 qualities BEFORE he is even considered, strictly speaking, a Vaisnava)
 Feb 14 1977.
Prabhupāda: Kaniṣṭha-adhikārī means he must be a brāhmaṇa. That is kaniṣṭha-adhikārī. The spiritual life, kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, means he must be a qualified brāhmaṇa. That is kaniṣṭha. What is esteemed as very high position in the material world, brāhmaṇa, that is kaniṣṭha-adhikārī.
arcāyām eva haraye pūjāṁ yaḥ śraddhayehate  na tad-bhakteṣu cānyeṣu sa bhaktaḥ prākṛtaḥ smṛtaḥ
The brāhmaṇa means from the material stage gradually he is elevated to the spiritual stage. And below the brāhmaṇa there is no question of Vaiṣṇava.
Oct 28 1975 Nairobi
Indian man (1): When did you began to become the spiritual leader of Kṛṣṇa consciousness?
Prabhupāda: What is that?
Brahmānanda: He’s asking when did you become the spiritual leader of Kṛṣṇa consciousness?
Prabhupāda: When my Guru Mahārāja ordered me. This is the guru-paramparā.
Indian man (1): Did he just…
Prabhupāda: Try to understand. Don’t go very speedily. A guru can become guru when he’s ordered by his guru. That’s all. Otherwise nobody can become guru.
(Note-there was never this written or spoken order given by Srila Prabhupada for his disciples to become full fledged gurus on their own -within his Iskcon institution.Rather the only order his did give was to become ritvik acaryas who act only on behalf of their spiritual master-and the people they initiate are not their disciples, but Srila Prabhupadas disciples.)
Aug 4 1975 Detroit letter..
the GBC should all be the instructor gurus. I am in the initiator guru, and you should be the instructor guru by teaching what I am teaching and doing what I am doing. This is not a title, but you must actually come to this platform. This I want.

So what happens if we choose somebody who is not authorized to become the representative of God-Krsna?
Dec 23 1970 Surat conversation…
Devotee (3): In regard to worshiping arcā-vigraha form, you have explained that if one receives a mantra from a spiritual master who is not bona fide, that mantra has no effectSo I would like to ask if one is worshiping a Deity and the instruction of his spiritual master is not bona fide, so that Deity cannot be considered the Supreme Lord?
Prabhupāda: Well, first of all, thing is if the spiritual master is not bona fide, how his mantra can be bona fide? Your statement is contradictory.If you say the spiritual master is not bona fide, then how his mantra becomes bona fide? If he is bona fide, then his mantra is bona fide.
Devotee (3): Then why is he giving instruction to worship the Deity? If the spiritual master is not bona fide, then is the Deity also not bona fide?
Prabhupāda: I do not follow. What does he say?
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: His idea is that if one receives a mantra from a spiritual master, if the spiritual master is not bona fide…
Prabhupāda: Then there is no question of mantra, there is no question of worshiping Deity. These are all bogus things. If you are not… Just like here is a young medical man. If he has not received instruction from a bona fide medical college, so what is the value of his medical, being… That is… What is called? What is the technical name?
Devotee (4): Quack.
Prabhupāda: Quack! [laughter]
Devotees: Quack.
Prabhupāda: A quack is not a medical man, however he may show all red bottles, white bottlesThere is a Bengali proverb, naj jal yac curi tini ei daktar.[?] One stethoscope, naj[?], and some bottles, jala, and talking all nonsense, he becomes a doctor. That means the quack doctor, not a… Qualified doctor, he knows what is what. So naj jal yac curi tini ei daktar[?].
Note-What follows is some of the mentality of a jivan mukta pure devotee of the Lord.
Feb 11 1976 mayapur lecture…We are trying to approach the topmost goal of life by bhajana, by sādhana. So anyone has got the potency to come to the stage of mahā-bhāgavata, provided he follows the mahājana. You can become mahā-bhāgavata if you follow mahājana. Mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ [Cc. Madhya 17.186]. If you follow the mahājana’s path then everyone can become. Of course, it is not possible everyone to become mahā-bhāgavata, but there is possibility. Simply we have to become serious to follow the path of mahājana. Dharmasya tattvaṁ nihitaṁ guhāyāṁ mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ [Cc. Madhya 17.186]
Jan 27 1977 Puri
Prabhupāda: Therefore it is forbidden ..arcye viṣṇau śilā-dhīr guruṣu nara-matir vaiṣṇave jāti-buddhiḥ [Padma Purāṇa]. So the atheist class, they see, “Here is a wooden… Oh, what is the Jagannātha made of? Wood or stone?” They’re seeing wood and stone. Similarly, Vaiṣṇavas also they’re seeing “a American,” “European.” They are blind. They have no capacity to… Therefore śāstra says, “Don’t think like that, nārakī. If you think like that, then you become hellish.” Because he has no vision, he’s warned only, that “Don’t do this. It is very dangerous.” Arcye viṣṇau śilā-dhīr guruṣu nara-matir vaiṣṇave jāti-buddhiḥ. “Don’t do it.” Because he cannot see as it is, he has not elevation, but he is warned, “Don’t think like that.” Kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, he has no such vision. Therefore he’s warned, “Do not do this.” Just like a child. He does not know that to touch fire is dangerous. He’s warned, “Do not do it. It will be…” So similarly, this is warning- “Don’t do this.” Therefore śāstra is there. Yaḥ śāstra-vidhim utsṛjya vartate [Bg. 16.23] “Without śāstra, if one does anything,” na sa siddhim avāpno…, “he’ll never be perfect.” So śāstra-vidhi we have to follow. Then we come to perfection. [aside:] Hmm. So that is I think scorching heat.
Oct 23 1972 Vrndavana
He wants to give respect to everyone, but he doesn’t expect any respect for him, himself. That is mahā-bhāgavata. And if one wants respect for him, that means he’s still in kaniṣṭha adhikārī. A mahā-bhāgavata is ready to give respect to…, even to the ant. And for himself he doesn’t any, want any respect. That is mahā-bhāgavata. As Caitanya Mahāprabhu teaches, tṛṇād api sunīcena taror api sahiṣṇunā, amāninā. For himself, he doesn’t require any respect. Mānadena. But he’s ready to give respect to everyone, even to the ant. That is mahā-bhāgavata.
“…But in devotion, there is no karma-bandha.As Kṛṣṇa is free from all reaction, similarly Kṛṣṇa’s devotee who wants to satisfy Kṛṣṇa only, he is also free from all reaction. Therefore Kṛṣṇa says, ācārya  vijānīyān nāva-manyeta karhicit [SB 11.17.27].
“The ācārya is as good as I am,” Kṛṣṇa says. Nāva-manyeta karhicit, “Never neglect him.”Na martya-buddhyāsūyeta, “Never be envious of the ācārya, thinking him as anything of this material world.” Ācārya vijānīyān [SB 11.17.27].
Therefore, ācārya’s position is as good as Kṛṣṇa. Sākād-dharitvena samasta-śāstrair **. Ācārya is always cautious that he may not be subject to criticism. But who criticizes ācārya, he becomes immediately offender. Because he is playing the part of ācārya, he plays as far as possible. But sometimes for preaching work, he might have to do something which is not consistentBut if he is criticized, then that man who criticizes, he becomes... Of course, he must be ācārya, not a bogus. Ordinary man cannot transgress the laws, but Kṛṣṇa and His representative, ācārya, might be sometimes seen that he has transgressed. Therefore Kṛṣṇa says,ācārya  vijānīyān [SB 11.17.27]
.Vaiṣṇavera kriyā, mudrā vijñeha nā bujhaya. In the Caitanya-caritāmta,Vaiṣṇava ācārya, his activities is not understood even by the wisest manVaiṣṇavera kriyā, mudrā vijñeha nā bujhaya. Brahmay upaśamāśrayam. Ācārya, guru, he is completely surrendered to Kṛṣṇa. He has taken the shelter of Kṛṣṇa, being completely freed from all material affection.Brahmay upaśamāśrayam. Everything… Everyone has got some material desire to fulfill, but a guru or ācārya has no such business. That is the symptom of ācārya. He has no more any material business. Brahmay upaśamāśrayam. He has finished all business of material satisfaction. That is the symptom of ācārya. And śābde pare ca niṣṇātam. And he has taken full bath in the ocean of transcendental (indistinct). Śābde pare ca niṣṇāta brahmay upaśamāśrayam. Tasmād guru prapadyeta [SB11.3.21]
 SB 3.29.8 purport…
To act under the direction of a bona fide spiritual master with a motive to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead is pure devotional service. But if one has a motive for personal sense gratification, his devotional service is manifested differently. Such a man may be violent, proud, envious and angry, and his interests are separate from the Lord’s.  One who approaches the Supreme Lord to render devotional service, but who is proud of his personality, envious of others or vengeful, is in the mode of anger. He thinks that he is the best devotee. Devotional service executed in this way is not pure; it is mixed and is of the lowest grade, tāmasaḥ. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura advises that a Vaiṣṇava who is not of good character should be avoided. A Vaiṣṇava is one who has taken the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the ultimate goal of life, but if one is not pure and still has motives, then he is not a Vaiṣṇava of the first order of good character. One may offer his respects to such a Vaiṣṇava because he has accepted the Supreme Lord as the ultimate goal of life, but one should not keep company with a Vaiṣṇava who is in the mode of ignorance.
Some Conclusions- We have tried to show the differences  between a liberated soul (jiva mukta) and a conditioned soul in the above quotes.The attempt is to help all of us to be able to distinguish who is the real spiritual master and who is the fake, or the one who pretends to be “guru” but is incapable of delivering anybody, what to speak of himself. If we are serious and sincere, then Krsna as Supersoul will not let that happen, and if it does happen, the means we are either not serious or Krsna has not been kind enough to bless us with a Maha Bhagavata. Pure Devotee of the Lord.
But if one finds himself in that situation where he has accepted someone to be the real thing, the bona fide teacher and representative of God,but we understand that he is not such a person, then we should turn our attention to seriously reading Srila Prabhupadas books, so that we can know who is the true representative of God-Krsna. Otherwise, we will continue to be cheated. But this will not happen if we are serious and sincere-Krsna wont let us be cheated in that way and will guide us from within and without.
Hare Krsna
damaghosa das