The Bona Fide Spiritual Master
(Click photo to see a larger image of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.)

"What is the difficulty? I can see... Just like all my disciples, they are following me. Why? Because they understand that 'Our spiritual master explains about God better than us.' Therefore they are surrendering. I am not bribing them. They are not fools. They have got very nice brain to act. So they accept me as the spiritual master brain because they understand it that 'He can explain about God better than me.' Where is the difficulty? These, all my disciples, surrender unto me because they have found in me a better brain in explaining what is God. Direct perception. There is no question of indirect understanding. It is direct understanding. And the Vedas also advise that 'Go to a better man,' srotriyam brahma-nistham (MU 1.2.12), 'one who heard better and wise from the Vedic knowledge, and brahma, as a result of it he has become fully devoted to Krishna,' brahma-nistham. These are the qualifications of spiritual master. His knowledge is perfect according to the Vedic injunction, and by having that knowledge he has become a perfect devotee of the Lord. These two things are to be seen. Then he is a spiritual master."

(Srila Prabhupada Conversation, Mexico, June 4, 1972)

"Just like my disciples, because they have accepted me as guru, whatever I say, they accept it. Otherwise I have not bribed them. These European, Americans... I have no money. I went to New York with seven dollars. What money I have got? But they have accepted. So this is the process. You must find out somebody whom you can accept as guru. That guru must be bona fide. Otherwise what is the use of accepting a bogus guru? So what is that bona fide guru? That bona fide guru means one who has accepted Krishna as guru. He is bona fide guru. That is bona fide guru."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Hyderabad, April 19, 1974)

"You cannot learn to become a perfect human being without accepting guru. Then you remain a rascal. Tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet (MU 1.2.12). That is the Vedic injunction. If you want to learn that transcendental science, you must approach a guru."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Bombay, April 13, 1976)

"The guru should be treated as good as God. This is stated in all the sastras. The difference is that God is master-God and guru is servant-God."

(Srila Prabhupada Letter, January 29, 1976)

"When guru speaks, you cannot argue. That is not the process. You should accept a guru who is infallible. Otherwise it is useless."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Vrndavan, October 3, 1976)

"Not that you have to submit yourself blindly. Although your spiritual master may be self-realized and experienced in the Absolute Truth, still, you have to question. You have to understand from him all critical points by your intelligent questions. That is allowed."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, New York, August 17, 1966)

"Do not ever try to approach Krishna directly. Anyone who talks of Krishna without service to Guru will not be successful. So your faith in Guru and Krishna simultaneously will help you to become crowned with success in the progressive march in Krishna consciousness. Do not be worried, be situated in the present aptitude and everything will be clear."

(Srila Prabhupada Letter, September 27, 1967)

"One thing, on the invitation card you have written All Glories to Our Guru Maharaj. This is impersonalism. As soon as we offer obeisances to guru, the name should be there. We are strictly personalists. The sahajiya's, they write Glories to Guru. Why you are learning this impersonalism, who has taught you? Daily I am offering obeisances to my Guru by vibrating his real name, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, otherwise it is impersonal."

(Srila Prabhupada Letter, July 14, 1972)

"One thing you may note also as a matter of etiquette. The Spiritual Master is addressed as His Divine Grace, a Godbrother is addressed as His Grace, and any Sannyasin is addressed as His Holiness."

(Srila Prabhupada Letter,  January 30, 1967)

"This Krishna consciousness movement is expanding by their help. I am alone, but they are helping me. They are my gurus. I am not their guru because they are helping me in executing my Guru Maharaja's order."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Bombay, March 29, 1971)

"So God is great, and we are dependent on God. Therefore natural conclusion is that we have to serve God. Serving means with love. Unless... Now just like these boys, my disciples, they are serving me. Whatever I say, they are immediately executing. Why? I am an Indian, I am a foreigner. Two or three years ago I was not known to them, nor they were known to me. Why they are doing that? Because it is love. Serving means developing love. So unless you develop your love for God you cannot serve Him. Anywhere. Whenever you give some service, it is based on love. Just like mother giving service to the helpless child. Why? Love. So similarly, our life will be perfect when our love is perfect with the perfect Supreme Personality of Godhead. Then it is all right. You have to learn this. This is Krishna consciousness: in a relationship with Krishna. Just like I am loving my disciples, my disciples are loving me. Why? What is the medium? Krishna."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Seattle, September 30, 1968)

"Unless there is loving feeling, how is it possible for you to always make offerings to me? The spiritual master is always instructing his disciples and they in turn are always trying to serve their spiritual master. It is a reciprocal relationship of love."

(Srila Prabhupada Letter, January 31, 1976)

"Thank you very much for your kind sentiments. This attitude of serving first the spiritual master is the correct one, for only by the mercy of the spiritual master can one obtain the mercy of Krishna."

(Srila Prabhupada Letter, Januray 29, 1973)

"A Vaisnava always feels himself incapable to repay his debt to his spiritual master therefore he works very hard in order to try and repay that debt."

(Srila Prabhupada Letter, August 9, 1976)

Prabhupada: "Those who are neophyte, they will be always in danger. Always in danger because they are neophytes, just like a child is always in danger. So how you can save them? He's always in danger. So as far as possible, let us try. He's going to the fire. He's going to the water. He's going to the animal. He's eating some poison. So always in danger. That childish age is dangerous. Therefore mother takes care. Danger is already there because he's neophyte, kanistha-adhikari. Therefore we have to abide by the injunction of the sastra and guided by guru. That's all. That is our secure position. And otherwise danger always."

Devotee:  "One boy in Paris, he had a visit..."

Prabhupada: "Whatever it may be, this is the position. Those who are neophyte, they are always in danger. Therefore their duty is to be guided by sadhu-sastra-guru. That's all. That is our... Now, I'll say from my practical life... It is not pride. Actually everyone knows that my Guru Maharaja had thousands of disciples. So out of thousands of disciples, practically I am little successful. That everyone knows. Why? Because I firmly believed in the words of my guru. That's all. This is the... There may be many other Godbrother, maybe very learned and very advanced, whatever it may be, favored, and... Everyone claims that 'I am the most favorite.' And practical point of view... So I think sometimes that 'Why this wonderful thing has happened to me?' So I search out. I search out only that I cent percent believe in the words of my spiritual... That's all, nothing else. Guru-mukha-padma-vakya, cittete koriya aikya, ara na koriho mane asa. Don't think of any nonsense. Simply execute what your guru has said. That is success. You are daily singing, guru-mukha-padma-vakya…You know the meaning?"

Devotee: "Yes. Cittete koriya aikya, ara na koriho mane asa."

Prabhupada: "This is the instruction. And the child decides it that 'Whatever my parent says, that's all I shall do. I shall do nothing,' then he's safe."

Devotee: "My only wish is to have my consciousness purified by the words emanating from his lotus mouth."

Prabhupada: "Then he's safe. And as soon as he manufactures -- finished. So don't do this. Yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau, tasyaite kathita... (SU 6.23). This is the secret of spiritual success."

(Srila Prabhupada Conversation, Bhuvanesvara, January 28, 1977)

"So Krishna is the original guru. Therefore Krishna comes to teach these fallen souls. Yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata, tadatmanam srjamy aham (BG 4.7). As guru's business is to protect the subordinate disciples from falldown... Just like I am traveling all over the world twice, thrice in a year. My duty is to see that my disciples who have accepted me guru, they may not fall down. That is my anxiety."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, San Francisco, July 15, 1975)

"I have seen what you have written about your protection by my humble self, but that is inevitable when a Spiritual Master accepts somebody as disciple. Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita that He takes charge of a surrendered soul; so much so that Lord Krishna protects His devotee from all his sinful activities in the past. Similarly, the Spiritual Master, when He accepts a disciple and the disciple surrenders unto Him, He has got the responsibility of absorbing the sinful reaction of His disciples life. This is a great responsibility of the Spiritual Master."

(Srila Prabhupada Letter, September 19, 1969)

Prabhupada: "Comfortable situation is also sense gratification. Any situation, we shall have to serve Krishna. That is Krishna consciousness. Not that 'If it is comfortable to me, I shall do it.' That is sense gratification. That is sense gratification. That is not spiritual; that is material. 'Comfortable or uncomfortable, it doesn't matter. If Krishna wants it, I must do it.' That is wanted. That is wanted. As soon as I discriminate 'This is comfortable, this is uncomfortable,' that is material."

Devotee:  "Prabhupada, how can we know what type of service Krishna..."

Prabhupada: "Therefore you have got spiritual master. Why he is there? Therefore you have to accept spiritual master who will give you direction. You cannot do it. If you manufacture your own..., then go to hell. Yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau, tasyaite kathita hy arthah (SU 6.23). Krishna is there; guru is there. Why should you manufacture your own way? If you are sincere, Krishna will dictate from within. Tesam satata-yuktanam bhajatam priti-purvakam (BG 10.10). Find out this verse. Tesam satata-yuktanam bhajatam priti-purvakam, buddhi-yogam dadami tam."

Devotee: "10.10"

Prabhupada: "Krishna is ready to give you instruction. The spiritual master is ready. Why should you do at your whims, and do something wrong and go to hell?"

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Hawaii, January 23, 1974)

"Unless you are convinced, how you can say that 'You are my spiritual master?' So what is the secret? I am not a scientist. I am not M.A., C.A. How do you agree to accept me as spiritual master? Because I stick to this principle, Krishna and guru, that's all. This is the secret of guru."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Vrndavan, August 3, 1974)

"Our process is very easy. We have to see whether my Guru Maharaja, his Guru Maharaja has followed this. Then there will be no more doubt. Evam parampara-praptam (BG 4.2). We receive things by parampara system. Mahajano yena gatah. Sadhu marganu-gamanam. We have to follow the footsteps of sadhu. Even if I am not well conversant with the Vedas and Puranas, if I see that my spiritual master is doing that, that's sufficient."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Bombay, November 10, 1970)

"Satisfaction of the spiritual master is the secret of advancement in spiritual life. The Lord is the original spiritual master, and a person in the disciplic succession can convey the message of the Lord as it is to his sincere disciple. We cannot manufacture our own process, therefore mental speculation does not at all help us in spiritual life. One simply has to surrender himself to his guru and everything will be revealed to him."

(Srila Prabhupada Letter, November 7, 1974)

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