The Scriptural Decision on Who Can Become Guru and Who Cannot
In Vedic civilization the Guru is worshiped as good as God. This is a very appealing opportunity for anyone who may want to take advantage of the innocent general public. Dr. Deepak Seth, the chairman of our society, Bhagavat Dharma Samaj, requested me to write a book on how to recognize a real Guru. For this reason we decided to write this book for the innocent people to use as an eye opener to distinguish who should be worshiped as good as God. We decided to name the book Guru Nirnaya Dipika, or The Scriptural Decision on Who Can Become Guru and Who Cannot.
Our gift of this human body is very difficult to obtain again, and whatever time we waste from it cannot be retrieved. Therefore, it is the duty of all mankind to spend whatever remaining life he or she has to achieve the highest destination, self-realization of God. As Lord Krsna says to Garuda in Garuda Purana:
yavat svastham idam sariram yavat jara durato
yavac cendriya saktir apratihata yavat ksayo nayusah
atma sreyasi tavadeva vidusa karyah prayatno mahan
sandipte bhavane ca kupa khananam pratyudyamah kidrsah
“An intelligent person should take to spiritual life when he is physically fit, when he is young, and old age is at a distance. With young energetic senses one should endeavor with mind and intelligence to achieve perfection. At a later age there may not be enough time to achieve perfection, just as it is too late to dig a well for water to extinguish an already burning house. What is the use of digging such a well?”
People are confused about this material nature, things are always changing. Everyone has to die in due course, so what should one do to break the cycle of birth and death? They must take to a lifestyle, which will bring them to a permanent platform, or beyond death. Although people search for this in every sphere, they remain unsuccessful because they search in the wrong places. The answer starts from within. There is no logic or material scientific proof that we truly remain after this physical body is finished, yet a person honest with himself knows he does. But who can be trusted to answer such questions? Only an external manifestation of the Supreme power within each of us can answer such questions. This perfect spiritual teacher is an incarnation of Caitya-guru, or the Supersoul seated within the heart of every living entity. But unseen to the material eyes, how can Chaitya-guru be contacted by a person who is in a physical body? The Lord (Caitya-guru) reveals from within to the sincerely searching living entity how to act in certain situations, but without an external guide representing the Caitya-guru, he is unable to follow His statements. That same Lord then manifests to the sincere seeker of the truth as the Spiritual Master to guide him. If one follows such a Spiritual Master word for word, liberation from this temporary material world is sure.
There are many Spiritual Masters, and each states that he is genuine and perfect, a direct link with God and everyone should follow him. In this scenario how can one determine who is genuine and who is not? This is a world of duality where there will always be two standards, the right and the wrong, the good and the bad, and the perfect and the imperfect. This is confirmed by Lord Krsna speaking to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita: “dvau bhuta sargo loke’smin, there are two categories of living entities in this creation.” There is a good and bad side to everyone and everything in this material world, as there are qualified and unqualified Gurus, teachers and cheaters. The symptoms and qualifications of both are clearly described in the ancient scriptures of India.
According to civilized human standards, respect is given to all entities, even an ant, what to speak of fellow human beings. The duty of the human being is to be respectful towards everyone. As it is stated in the Srimad Bhagavatam:
visrujya smayamanan svan drusam bridam sva-dehikim
pranamed dandavad bhumav sva candala go kharam
(Srimad Bhagavatam 11.29.16)
“Without regard for the criticism of peers, and rejecting the idea of ‘I am great’, without shame one should pay homage even to a dog, a dog-eater, a cow, and unto an ass by falling to the ground.”
Sripada Madhvacharya comments on this verse:
brahmanadin prati bhumau dandavan namanam
anyams candala adinam prati manasa smaranam iti bhedah.
atra antaryaminah smaranam prana iti visesah
“When one sees a Brahmana, one must pay obeisances by falling to the ground. But to others, like the dog-eater, one should pay respects in one’s mind by meditating on their Supersoul. This difference of giving respect is to be understood and obeyed carefully.”
With this understanding, upon seeing an unqualified spiritual teacher, we should extend respect within our mind from a distance. But if we have the good fortune of meeting a qualified Spiritual Master, we extend him our full respect and stay under his teachings.
By good fortune and pious deeds from one’s past life, the nectarine association of a real saint is given to a person by the Lord.
As Bhartr Hari says:
jadyam dhiyo harati sincati vaci satyam
manonnatim disati papam apa-karoti
cetah prasadayati diksu tanoti kirti
sat-sangatih kathaya kim na karoti pumsam
“The association of a real devotee removes the stupidity (dullness) from the intellect, increases the rhetoric of truth, removes the conditioning of the mind, frees one from sins, pleases the heart and encourages one to act spiritually for liberation. What more is left to reward a person?”
All success is gotten by the blessings of a saintly person, and all losses are certain by offending a saint. Service to a real saint, and performing sacrifice are two guaranteed rewarding things in this dark age of Kali Yuga. As it is said in the Niti Sastra, “sarvesam artha jnananam bodhah sat-sango bhavet, understanding the meaning of all knowledge is gotten through the correct association of a saintly person.”
The unchallengeable statements presented in this book about the Guru are only a fraction of the scriptural information available on the subject in the ancient Vedas. While trying to overcome my own faults as well as my engagement on working on Srimad Bhagavatam, I have managed to find time to present these ancient Vedic statements about who can become Guru and who cannot. It hurts me to see innocent people following unqualified and unauthorized people who accept service from others. The scriptures condemn this. The Hitopadesa states, “buddhir yasya balam tasya nir-buddhisya kuto balam, those who are intelligent have the power of discrimination, but how can one without sufficient intelligence choose the right thing?” Considering these points I have tried to present a summary to help guide the serious candidates to a proper teacher. If mistakes are seen in this writing, I shoulder the burden while begging pardon from the reader. Jai Sri Radhe.
Mahant Krsna Balaram Swami
Completed in Baltimore, USA
On the day of Lord Jagannatha’s
Chariot festival held in India 1993.