PIONEERING THE WAY
Srila Prabhupada Impacts Mexico (Part 6)
QUESTIONS TO SRILA PRABHUPADA
"Who requires guru?"
The second time that His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada came to Mexico City temple I took the opportunity to ask him some questions. Usually the mood was not to approach His Divine Grace by talking or asking him questions. Somehow I had a chance to talk with him on some occasions, and also to ask some questions.
The temple president at that time was feeling uneasy because he could not speak any English. Therefore he told us not to talk or ask anything to His Divine Grace, so as not to waste his time. However, I thought differently because I read what His Divine Grace wrote in the Nectar of Devotion, First Part, Chapter Six, "How to Discharge Devotional Service":
(5) Inquiring from the spiritual master how to advance in Krishna consciousness.
So the opportunity to practice the above came when His Divine Grace was giving a Bhagavad-Gita class. The time for questions came. So I nervously put up my hand, afraid to ask a foolish question:
Rama Govinda dasa: How can we understand the guru?
Srila Prabhupada: How do you understand? When you go for treatment to a physician, how do you understand that here is a physician? How do you understand? Tell me.
Rama Govinda dasa: By the title and reputation.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Some way or other, you know that he is physician. So similarly, you have to find out guru. Guru. First of all, who requires guru? That is the question. Because guru is not a fashion.
It is said in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, 11.3.21:
tasmad gurum prapadyeta
jijnasuh sreya uttamam
"One who is very much inquisitive to know about spiritual affair, he requires a guru." Spiritual affair means that we are in this material world. We are suffering. When the question will come in one's mind, "Why I am suffering?" That is spiritual. Just like an animal is being taken to the slaughterhouse. He cannot inquire, "Why I am being taken to the slaughterhouse?" But if a man is being taken forcibly, he will protest, he will cry for help. Therefore human beings can inquire about spiritual affair. So when there is spiritual inquiry, then one requires a guru, as it is stated in the Bhagavad-gita 4.34:
tad viddhi pranipatena
One has to learn by surrendering, pranipata. So first of all there must be a strong impulse to inquire about the transcendental subject matter. Then one requires a guru. Not that, to follow a fashion, that one has guru. Acaryavan puruso veda. Unless one becomes under the control of acaryas, he has no perfect knowledge. Therefore the Vedas says:
tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet
"For understanding that transcendental science, one must approach a guru."
And what is the symptom of guru?
Samit-panih srotriyam brahma-nistham
A guru means one who has completed these is the qualification: The guru strictly follows the Vedic injunction and teaches the same thing to his disciple. That is guru. So first thing is, one must be inquisitive to understand about the spiritual subject matter. Just like you have come here in this temple. You know that here nothing like political meeting is going on. Here something spiritual matter is being discussed. Therefore you have come. This inclination is the beginning of spiritual life. This is called sraddha. Sraddha means faith. So this person who are keeping with this faith. Therefore it is said:
adau sraddha tatha sadhu-sangah
First of all faith, then to associate with persons who are devotees and faithful. In this way, when further development is done, then bhajana kriya, means learning the process of devotional service. No gambling. No meat-eating. These are not wanted. In the beginning of life nobody smokes or nobody becomes intoxicated. It is learned by bad association. Similarly, it can given up by good association. They are called anarthas, means unwanted bad habits. So when we are children, innocent, we have no bad habits, but as we grow and associate with bad company, we also acquire all these bad habits. So give up all these bad habits means we have to associate with sadhus or devotees, saintly persons. Then we can give it up. This is called anartha-nivrtti, means giving up all unwanted bad habits. These things are not wanted. Nobody dies if he does not smoke or drink. Nobody dies. So artificially we learn it, so by good association we can give it up. So we are purified out of all the bad habits, then we become fixed up in spiritual knowledge. So in this way we make advance in spiritual life, and the last stage we become lover of God. This is the process, and one who teaches this process, he is guru. This is the definition of guru.
Rama Govinda dasa: How we can increase our desire for sankirtana?
Srila Prabhupada: By performing sankirtana. Just like if a man drinks and if he drinks, drinks, then you become a drunkard. (Laughter) Drink more and you become drunkard. Similarly, chant more and you become perfect chanter.
Rama Govinda dasa: Is the greatest offence to disobey the guru?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes is the first offence. Gurur avajna sruti-sastra nindanam. If you accept guru and again disobey him, then what is your position? You are no a gentleman. You promise before guru, before Krishna, before fire, that I shall obey your order, I shall execute this, and again you do not do this. Then you are no even a gentleman, what to speak about
devotee. This is common sense.
February 11, 1975
"Question means in connection with the class."
Srila Prabhupada spoke every night from the Bhagavad-Gita in the main hall of the temple. Devotees from all over Latin America took the opportunity to hear from His Divine Grace directly. Most of them did not speak English, but they were very attentive to listen in any way as the translator spoke in Spanish the words of Srila Prabhupada. His Divine Grace spoke one sentence and the translator translated into Spanish; in this way the whole class went
Then the time for questions and answers came, but because of the warnings about asking foolish questions, guest and devotees were afraid to take the time of His Divine Grace, or scared to be chastised later on.
H.H. Hrdayananda dasa Goswami: He wants to know why Lord Chaitanya is not mentioned in the Bhagavatam with the other incarnations.
Srila Prabhupada: He has not mentioned, but Bhagavata has mentioned. No you don't bring any other question. You talk about this what we have lectured. In this way if you bring other question, that is not... we are discussing one verse. You can put questions on this, not irrelevant question. Of course, that is not irrelevant but not in connection with these verses. So question means in connection with this verse.
The devotee felt embarrassed that he had asked the question out of place and sat back.
February 11, 1975
Rama Govinda das
(R.G. Bhakti Prapanna Parvata Maharaja)