Srila Prabhupada Transcript with Audio

Srila Prabhupada on Who is Guru (and Who is Not!)

Answers to a Questionnaire From Bhavan’s Journal 2, New Vrindavana, June 30, 1976

Excerpt below begins at 33:05

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: Can I ask another question, Śrīla Prabhupāda? Question number nine: “Is a guru essential to one to enter the spiritual path and attain the goal? And how does one recognize one’s guru?”

Prabhupāda: Yes. That is explained, that guru is necessary. In the Bhagavad-gītā, when Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna were talking as friend, there was no conclusion. The talking was going on, but no conclusion was made. Therefore Arjuna decided to accept Kṛṣṇa as his guru. Find out this verse: kārpaṇya-doṣopahata-svabhāvaḥ.

Hari-śauri:

kārpaṇya-doṣopahata-svabhāvaḥ
pṛcchāmi tvāṁ dharma-sammūḍha-cetāḥ
yac chreyaḥ syān niścitaṁ brūhi tan me
śiṣyas te ‘haṁ śādhi māṁ tvāṁ prapannam
(BG 2.7)

“Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me clearly what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me.”

Prabhupāda: Yes. So therefore guru is necessary. Everyone is perplexed. Nobody can decide himself. Even a physician, a medical man, when he is sick, he does not make his own treatment. He calls for another physician because he is sick; his brain is not in order. How he can prescribe the real medicine for himself? That is natural. So similarly, when we are perplexed, bewildered, we cannot make any solution, at that time the right person, guru, is required. It is essential. You cannot avoid it. So in our present existence we are all perplexed. Arjuna is representating the perplexed position of the materialistic person. And we are actually all perplexed. So under the circumstances, to give us real direction a guru is required. Now, here is the example that Arjuna decided Kṛṣṇa as guru. He did not go to anyone else to accept as guru. The explanation is there.

Hari-śauri: Purport? You want the purport?

Prabhupāda: Find out: na hi prapaśyāmi, “Without you I don’t find anybody . . .”

Hari-śauri:

na hi prapaśyāmi mamāpanudyād
yac chokam ucchoṣaṇam indriyāṇām
avāpya bhūmāv asapatnam ṛddhaṁ
rājyaṁ surāṇām api cādhipatyam
(BG 2.8)

“I can find no means to drive away this grief which is drying up my senses. I will not be able to destroy it even if I win an unrivalled kingdom on the earth . . .”

Prabhupāda: No. There is another verse that “Without You I do not find anyone else who can give me real . . .”

Hari-śauri: (aside:) You know that one?

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: No.

Devotee: The doubt when . . . The fallen yogī. “Who else can . . .?” I think so.

Hari-śauri: I’ll look it up in the . . .

Prabhupāda: In the, is the . . . There is . . . What are you finding?

Hari-śauri: I’ll look it up in the Sanskrit index.

Prabhupāda: What is the śloka? The śloka I do not remember exactly, but there is continuation. You read the whole thing. What is that chapter?

Hari-śauri: This is Chapter Two.

Prabhupāda: Begin it.

Hari-śauri: Start at the beginning of the chapter?

Prabhupāda: Um, hmm.

Hari-śauri: “Seeing Arjuna full of compassion and very sorrowful, his eyes brimming with tears, Madhusūdana, Kṛṣṇa, spoke the following words.”

Prabhupāda: One translation of every verse, go on, read it.

Hari-śauri: “The Supreme Person Bhagavān said: My dear Arjuna, how have these impurities come upon you? They are not at all befitting a man who knows the progressive values of life. They do not lead to higher planets, but to infamy. O son of Pṛthā, do not yield to this degrading impotence. It does not become you. Give up such petty weakness of heart and arise, O chastiser of the enemy. Arjuna said: O killer of Madhu, Kṛṣṇa, how can I counteract with arrows in battle men like Bhīṣma and Droṇa, who are worthy of my worship? It is better to live in this world by begging than to live at the cost of the lives of great souls who are my teachers. Even though they are avaricious, they are nonetheless superiors. If they are killed, our spoils will be tainted with blood. Nor do we know which is better: conquering them or being conquered by them. The sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra, whom if we killed we should not care to live, are now standing before us on this battlefield. Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me clearly what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me. I can find no means to drive away this grief which is drying up my senses. I will not be able to destroy it even if I win an unrivalled kingdom on the earth with sovereignty like the demigods in heaven. Sañjaya said: Having thus spoken, Arjuna the chastiser of the enemies told Kṛṣṇa, Govinda, I shall not fight, and fell silent. O descendant of Bhārata, at that time, Kṛṣṇa, smiling in the midst of both the armies, spoke the following words to the griefstricken Arjuna.”

Prabhupāda: That’s all. So he has said already that “I do not find any other means to pacify me, and You are the only . . .” The purport is that Arjuna is accepting Kṛṣṇa as guru to instruct him how to get relief from the perplexed position. So in this sense the real guru is Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is guru—not only for Arjuna, for everyone. So if we take instruction from Kṛṣṇa and abide by that order, instruction, then our life is successful. That is our mission. Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement means accept Kṛṣṇa as guru. We don’t say . . . (to devotees still looking up verse:) Don’t divert your attention. We don’t say that “I am Kṛṣṇa.” We never say that. We simply ask people that “You abide by the order of Kṛṣṇa.” Kṛṣṇa says, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja (BG 18.66), and we say that “You surrender to Kṛṣṇa. Give up all other ideas of so-called dharma or religiosity.” The same thing. But we don’t say that you or me, “I am the authority.” No, we don’t say that. We say, “Kṛṣṇa is the authority, and you try to understand Kṛṣṇa.” This is Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. Therefore the question is guru.

So here, from the behavior of Arjuna, we see that guru is necessary. Arjuna was talking with Kṛṣṇa as friend, but Arjuna saw that “This is . . . there is no good talking like this. We can continue talking . . . Because we are equal status. Kṛṣṇa is my friend. I am also His friend. So He’s answering; I am giving something. If this talking will go on, there will be no fruit.” Therefore he said, “Now, Kṛṣṇa, I am become Your disciple.” Disciple means there is no argument. Whatever the guru will say, you have to accept. That is disciple. That is final. There is no argument. So Arjuna put him into that position, that “I cease to talk with You on equal level of friends. Now I accept You as guru.” Therefore the guru is necessary, undoubtedly, because every one of us in perplexed position. But who is guru? Guru means Kṛṣṇa or Kṛṣṇa’s representative. And all others are bogus. If one does not say on the standard of Kṛṣṇa, then he’s not guru; he’s a bogus. In that way everyone can become guru. I have got some opinion, I can say. But unless . . . Just like a lawyer is he who follows the standard law. If a lawyer says that “I have manufactured own my laws,” so who will hear him? And what will be the use of becoming lawyer? No. You have to follow the standard law. Then you are a lawyer. And a big lawyer means who knows the standard law very well. Similarly, guru is Kṛṣṇa, and guru is necessary. But one must surrender to Kṛṣṇa or Kṛṣṇa’s representative. Then he will be successful.

So, so far . . . Now, one can say that Kṛṣṇa is not present. But Kṛṣṇa is not present, how you can say? Kṛṣṇa’s instruction is there, Bhagavad-gītā. How you can say that Kṛṣṇa . . . Absolute means the Supreme Lord is not different from His words also. The words of Kṛṣṇa and the Kṛṣṇa, they are the same. That is Absolute Truth. In the relative world the words “water” and the substance water are different. If I am thirsty, if I simply chant “water, water, water,” my thirst will not be satisfied. I require the real water. That is relative world. But in the spiritual world . . . Just like we are chanting Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa. If Kṛṣṇa is different from Hare Kṛṣṇa, then how we are satisfied chanting whole day and night? This is the proof. The ordinary thing, if you chant “Mr. John, Mr. John,” after chanting three times you’ll cease. But this Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, if you go on chanting twenty-four hours, you’ll never be tired. This is the spiritual, Absolute Truth. That is practical. Anyone can perceive.

So Kṛṣṇa’s present by His words, by His representative. Why don’t you take? You have to take guru. Why do you go to the pseudo guru who will mislead you? Why don’t you take to the real guru? That is your mistake. Therefore you are now disappointed. Now you are in doubt whether guru is needed. Yes, guru is needed, but you go to the real guru. That is instruction in the Bhagavad-gītā. Just find out this verse:

tad viddhi praṇipātena
paripraśnena sevayā
upadekṣyanti tad-jñānaṁ
jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ
(BG 4.34)

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: “Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.”

Prabhupāda: So this is guru. What is that? One who has seen the truth.

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: Yes. Jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ.

Prabhupāda: So one who has seen . . . Just like Arjuna has seen Kṛṣṇa. That’s a fact. He was talking. Now that if you take instruction of Arjuna, then you understand. So what is the instruction of Arjuna? Find out in the Tenth Chapter.

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa:

arjuna uvāca
paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma
pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān
puruṣaṁ śāśvataṁ divyam
ādi-devam ajaṁ vibhum
(BG 10.12)
āhus tvām ṛṣayaḥ sarve
devarṣir nāradas tathā
asito devalo vyāsaḥ
svayaṁ caiva bravīṣi me
(BG 10.13)

“Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate, the supreme abode and purifier.”

Prabhupāda: And that Vedānta-sūtra says, athāto brahma jijñāsaḥ. Now here Arjuna is experienced, “You are the Supreme Brahman.” So he has seen the Supreme Brahman. So you make Arjuna guru, Kṛṣṇa guru. Arjuna is representative of Kṛṣṇa, friend of Kṛṣṇa. So why do you go to a bogus guru? You must be cheated. Guru is essential. It is necessary. But take the real guru. But if you go to the bogus guru, you must be disappointed. For your treatment you need to go to a physician. That’s all. When you are diseased you cannot say, “No, no, I don’t want to . . .” It is necessary. But go to the real physician. Don’t go to a cheater. He has no knowledge in the medical science, and he places himself as “I am physician, M.D,” then you’ll be cheated. The guru is necessary, that’s a fact. But go to the real guru. Who is real guru? Real guru is Kṛṣṇa or one who has seen Kṛṣṇa, Arjuna. Take them. Then you’ll be benefitted. And if you go to a bogus man who does not know Kṛṣṇa, who does not know what is Kṛṣṇa’s instruction, then you must be cheated. So the answer is guru is absolute necessary. Tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet (MU 1.2.12). This is Vedic injunction, that one must go. But he must go to the real guru. And who is real guru? Who knows Kṛṣṇa. Take, for example, Arjuna, how he studied Kṛṣṇa. And he says, paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma (BG 10.12). Read the translation.

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: “Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate, the supreme abode and purifier, the Absolute Truth and the eternal divine person. You are the primal God, transcendental and original, and You are the unborn and all-pervading beauty. All the great sages such as Nārada, Asita, Devala and Vyāsa proclaim this of You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me.”

Prabhupāda: Arjuna is rectifying this because people may say, “Arjuna was Kṛṣṇa’s friend, he is accepting Him as guru.” No, Arjuna says, “Not only I, but other authorities, they also accept.” So it is . . . everything is clear, that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and He should be accepted as guru or His representative should be accepted guru. Then it will be . . . So our this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is that we are presenting Kṛṣṇa as the supreme guru. You take instruction from Him and be benefited. But one who is carrying this message, he is also authorized. Just like one money order, it is coming through the post office, but an ordinary peon is handing over the money order. But he is representative of post office. Actually, the money order is being delivered by the post office, general post office. But it is coming through an ordinary peon. But because he is authorized to deliver you, he is also post office. He’s as good as the post office. Just you have got a letter box, a small box, but if you put your letter there, your letter will surely go ten thousand miles away. Therefore, although it is a small box, you don’t think it is small box; it is whole post office. Similarly, anyone who is carrying the message of Kṛṣṇa, don’t think that he’s ordinary man. If you imitate one box like that post box and put your letter, for thousand years it will lie down there, because it is not authorized. So if somebody says this small box, red box, is as good as the post office, one may say, “Huh, this is small box. How it can be as good as the post office?” But you see. You post your letter, it will go. Therefore, sākṣād-dharitvena samasta-śāstrair uktas tathā bhāvyata eva sadbhiḥ. Guru is directly the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Why? Because he is presenting the words of Supreme Personality of Godhead without any deterioration. Therefore he is so honored. So therefore the conclusion is guru is necessary, and guru is he who is representative of Kṛṣṇa. Otherwise he’s bogus.

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: What about these so-called gurus that take a little bit here and a little bit there?

Prabhupāda: So-called gurus. They are so-called gurus. They are not gurus. That is already explained. If one does not speak what Kṛṣṇa speaks, he is not guru. If you accept so-called guru, that is your misfortune. What can be done?

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: Some of them will say some things that Kṛṣṇa says, but they’ll take from other places also. What is the position of such persons?

Prabhupāda: He’s most dangerous. He’s most dangerous. He is opportunist. He’s finding out customer, something here . . . According to the customer he is giving something, as the customers will be pleased. So he is not guru; he’s a servant. He wants to serve the so-called disciples so that he may be satisfied and pay him something. He’s servant. He’s not guru. Guru is the master. You cannot disobey guru. But if you become a servant, you want to please the disciple by flattering him to get his money, then you are not guru, you are servant. Just like a servant pleases the master. He’s not guru; he’s servant. So our position should be servant, yes, but servant of the Supreme. So guru means heavy. You cannot utilize him for satisfying your whims. That is not guru.

(pause)

Prabhupāda: Now? What other question?

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: It’s about eight o’clock, Śrīla Prabhupāda. Should we go on?

Prabhupāda: No. Tomorrow.

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: Tomorrow evening. (devotees offer obeisances) (break)

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