(Click to enlarge photo of Srila Prabhupada, Los Angeles garden)
"Acceptance of spiritual master means that one should surrender unto the spiritual master. Tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā (BG 4.34). If you want to learn that transcendental science, tad viddhi, you try to understand. How? Praṇipātena. Prakṛṣṭa-rūpeṇa nipāta. Fully surrendering, falling flat. 'Sir, I surrender unto you.' Praṇipātena paripraśnena. And then inquire question.
According to our Vedic principle, nobody has got the right to question anyone unless that person is accepted as spiritual master. Otherwise, it is waste of time. If you want to question somebody, you must accept his answer. You cannot argue. That is acceptance of authority. Just like in Vedas, whatever injunctions are there, we accept it without any argument. That is Vedic instruction. People sometimes say: 'Is it Vedic instruction, that I have to accept it without argument?' Actually, that is Vedic instruction. Just like, for example, the Vedas says cow dung is pure. Now actually we are accepting, those who are following the Vedic principles, they accept cow dung as pure. Actually, it is pure. But if we argue: 'How is that, that animal stool is impure, even human stool is impure. How cow dung, which is stool of another animal, is pure?' It is contrary. But actually, we accept. Actually we accept. Similarly, conchshell, conchshell is nothing but bone of an animal. According to our Vedic version, if you touch the bone of an animal, you become immediately impure. You have to take bath. But this bone of animal, conchshell, is taken to the Deity room. It is so pure. So from our human consciousness we find contradiction in the Vedic instruction, that in the Vedas, in one place, it says that the bone of an animal is impure; in another place says the bone of a particular animal is pure. The Vedas says the stool of an animal is impure, but in another place it says that the stool of the cow animal is pure. So apparently we find contradiction. But still, because we accept the authority of the Vedas, therefore we accept the statement also. We accept the bone of the conchshell, and we accept the stool of cow as pure. That is acceptance of authority. You cannot argue. Even though it appears it is contradictory, you cannot argue.
Similarly, acceptance of spiritual master means representative of God. Of course, he, he must be representative of God. If unfortunately I accept a bogus man as representative of..., that is my misfortune. But actually, acceptance of spiritual master means he's a bona fide representative of God. Evaṁ paramparā-prāptam imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ (BG 4.2). That is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, you'll find. That paramparā system, disciplic succession, ācārya. Ācāryavān puruṣo veda. Just like we accept our philosophy, Vaiṣṇava philosophy, or any Indian philosophy, they accept this paramparā, guru-paramparā. They accept it. Sampradāya. Just like we have got sampradā..., Rāmānuja-sampradāya, Madhva-sampradāya. So we have to accept the sampradāya, disciplic succession, to receive real knowledge. So that sampradāya begins from Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is the original spiritual master of Lord Brahmā, of Lord Śiva, Nārada, so many other authorities. There are twelve authorities, svayambhur nāradaḥ śambhuḥ (SB 6.3.20). Svayambhu means Lord Brahmā; Nārada; and Śambhu, Lord Śiva; Kumāra; Kapila; Manu. They are all authorities. So that is the indication of the śāstra, that if you want to understand the transcendental science, the science of God, then tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum eva abhigacchet (MU 1.2.12). That is the injunction of the Vedas, that if you really interested to learn the transcendental science, you must approach. Abhigacchet. This is vidhilin. Vidhilin. This form of verb is used in Sanskrit grammar when it meant 'You must.' You cannot say 'I may accept or may not accept.' That will not do. You must accept. Tad, tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum eva abhigacchet, samit-pāṇiḥ śrotriyaṁ brahma-niṣṭham (MU 1.2.12). These are the injunctions of the Vedas.
So Arjuna accepted Kṛṣṇa as spiritual master. In the beginning, he was talking like friend. Friend to friend, talking, sometimes it comes to nil, no conclusion, simply waste of time. It is called vitaṇḍā. That sort of argument has no value. Because it will never come into conclusion. But when we talk with authority, the spiritual master, representative of Kṛṣṇa, then we cannot argue. We have to accept. Guru-vākya. Guru-vākya, you cannot deny it. It may not be agreeable to you in the beginning, but you cannot deny it. That is it: system of Vedic system. Here Arjuna has accepted Kṛṣṇa as the spiritual master. Śiṣyas te aham. 'I become Your disciple. Because we were talking till now as friends, but this will not decide the case. My case is very serious. My duty is to fight, but I do not like to fight. Some affection, some family relationship, is deterring me to fight, making me coward. So therefore it is a very complex position. And I find that You can make a solution of this complex position. I therefore accept You as my spiritual master. And I fall down under Your lotus feet as Your disciple.' Śādhi māṁ prapannam. 'I am surrendered. Now You kindly protect the surrendered soul.' "
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Hyderabad, November 19, 1972)