60. Who can act as our spiritual master?
Only that great personality who has been sent by the Lord from the spiritual world into this world to deliver fallen souls like us, who delivers people who are afflicted with the threefold miseries and sends them back to Godhead, who is most dear to the Supreme Lord and who represents Him, and who is the messenger of transcendental subject matter, is capable of acting as our spiritual master. He is an actual devotee and an actual spiritual master whose ax-like words remain always sharpened to sacrifice our propensities for material enjoyment and dry renunciation.
A spiritual master is that person who has no concept, duty, or business other than Krsna’s service, and who understand that Krsna is the only object of service. He is not eager to hear anyone’s flattery and he is a brave preacher of the Absolute Truth.
One who does not speak anything other than hari-katha, who does not instruct others to do anything but serve Hari, and who does not himself engage even for a moment in any activity other than such service, is qualified to be a spiritual master. An insincere hypocrite cannot be guru. One who aspires for mundane activities cannot become a spiritual master. Pseudo spiritual masters should be exposed. If a spiritual master utilizes the ingredients collected by his disciples — the wealth, alms, etc.—for his own enjoyment or simply to accumulate gold, women, and fame, his disciples should totally reject such a spiritual master, knowing him to be a cheater. We should not hear anything from such dishonest persons. A person who usurps the ingredients meant for Krsna’s service can never be called a spiritual master. The Naradiya Purana states, iha yasya harer dasye, karmana manasa gird/ nikhilasv apy avasthasu, jivan-muktah sa ucyate: “A person acting in Krsna consciousness with his body, mind, intelligence, and words, is a liberated person even within the material world, although he may be engaged in many so-called material activities.” (quoted in Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu 1.2.187)
We need not associate with the atheists who have come to engage in social service rather than Krsna’s service. Such people can benefit neither themselves nor others. While performing social service, they fall into Maya’s pit and make others fall into that pit also. We do not associate with those who make a show of chanting the holy names on beads just to cheat the Lord, or who raise a great hue and cry yet do not see Krsna in every sound vibration and Gaurasundara in every utterance. The goal of all knowledge is to develop our relationship with Krsna. If we develop a propensity to serve the Lord under the spiritual master’s order, in the association of devotees, we will learn to see the entire world as made for the Lord’s service. We will then utilize everything we see for that service and thus attain auspiciousness.
If we associate and serve that great personality who sees the Lord everywhere, who sees everything in relation to the Lord, who sees his spiritual master everywhere, who thinks himself humbler than a blade of grass, who is more tolerant than a tree, who does not desire respect for himself, who is always ready to respect others, and who in this way constantly chants the Lord’s holy name, then the path to perfection will open. Simply out of good fortune, we obtain such a bona fide spiritual master. We cannot reach Gaurasundara’s shelter by accepting a servant of Maya as our spiritual master and thus maintaining our enjoying spirit. Although Sri Gaurasundara may not currently be present in this world, if we sincerely associate with guru and the Vaisnavas, dovetailing our mentality with the mentality of such Vaisnavas—if we mix our desire with their desire—then we will, by the mercy of Sri Gaurasundara, certainly attain auspiciousness. If we can take complete shelter at the lotus feet of a spiritual master who is conversant with the science of Krsna, then by his proper association, service, and subordination we will attain ultimate benefit.
61. How do we find a genuine spiritual master?
The first step in attaining perfection is to take shelter of a bona fide spiritual master. By the Lord’s will, everyone receives a spiritual master according to his own qualification, just as the Christians received Jesus Christ and the Muslims Prophet Mohammad. Moreover, according to their luck, materialists remain attached to material life by accepting family priests as their spiritual masters. But if we are fortunate and search sincerely for a bona fide spiritual master, and if we humbly pray to the Lord to attain the mercy of such a guru, then by the Lord’s mercy we will certainly receive a bona fide guru in this lifetime. Then by taking shelter at his lotus feet our life will become successful. The Caitanya Caritamrta states:
brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva, guru-krsna-prasade paya bhaktilata-bija
Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Krsna. By the mercy of both Krsna and the spiritual master, such a person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service. (Madhya 19.151)
krsna yadi krpa kare kona bhagyavane, guru-antaryami-rupe sikhaya apane
Krsna is situated in everyone’s heart as the caitya-guru, the spiritual master within. When He is kind to some fortunate conditioned soul, He personally gives him lessons so he can progress in devotional service, instructing the person as the Supersoul within and the spiritual master without. (Madhya 22.47)
guru krsna-rupa hana sastrera pramane, guru-rupe krsna krpa karena bhaktagane
According to the deliberate opinion of all revealed scriptures, the spiritual master is nondifferent from Krsna. Lord Krsna in the form of the spiritual master delivers His devotees. (Adi 1.45)
yadyapi amara guru—caitanyera dasa, tathapi janiye ami tanhara prakasa
Although I know that my spiritual master is a servitor of Sri Caitanya, I know him also as a plenary manifestation of the Lord. (Adi 1.44)
siksa-guruke ta’ jani krsnera svarupa, antaryami, bhakta-srestha,—ei dui rupa
One should know the instructing spiritual master to be the Personality of Krsna. Lord Krsna manifests Himself as the Supersoul and as the greatest devotee of the Lord. (Adi 1.47)
jive saksat nahi tate guru caitya-rupe, siksa-guru haya krsna-mahanta-svarupe
One should know the instructing spiritual master to be the Personality of Krsna. Lord Krsna manifests Himself as the Supersoul and as the greatest devotee of the Lord. Since one cannot visually experience the presence of the Supersoul, He appears before us as a liberated devotee. Such a spiritual master is none other than Krsna Himself. (Adi 1.58)
“O Krsnacandra! Please accept me as your servant. I will not continue to serve this temporary material world while thinking of myself as an enjoyer.” When a living entity sincerely and humbly prays to the Lord in this way, then the most merciful Krsna appears before him in the form of a liberated devotee. Unless we are fortunate enough to receive transcendental knowledge from a bona fide spiritual master, we cannot become qualified to engage in the Lord’s service. Since no human being or demigod is capable of awarding such transcendental knowledge, we must find shelter under a bona fide spiritual master.