If a so-called spiritual master accepts a disciple for his personal benefit or for material gain, the relationship between the spiritual master and the disciple turns into a material affair, and the spiritual master becomes like a smarta-guru
As far as the mutual testing of the spiritual master and disciple is concerned, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura explains that a bona fide disciple must be very inquisitive to understand the transcendental subject matter. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.3.21):
- tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta
- jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam
"One who is inquisitive to understand the highest goal and benefit of life must approach a bona fide spiritual master and surrender unto him." A serious disciple must be alert when selecting a bona fide spiritual master. He must be sure that the spiritual master can deliver all the transcendental necessities. The spiritual master must observe how inquisitive the disciple is and how eager he is to understand the transcendental subject matter. The spiritual master should study the disciple's inquisitiveness for no less than six months or a year. A spiritual master should not be very anxious to accept a disciple because of his material opulences. Sometimes a big businessman or landlord may approach a spiritual master for initiation. Those who are materially interested are called viṣayīs (karmīs), which indicates that they are very fond of sense gratification. Such viṣayīs sometimes approach a famous guru and ask to become a disciple just as a matter of fashion. Sometimes viṣayīs pose as disciples of a reputed spiritual master just to cover their activities and advertise themselves as advanced in spiritual knowledge. In other words, they want to attain material success. A spiritual master must be very careful in this regard. Such business is going on all over the world. The spiritual master does not accept a materially opulent disciple just to advertise the fact that he has such a big disciple. He knows that by associating with such viṣayī disciples, he may fall down. One who accepts a viṣayī disciple is not a bona fide spiritual master. Even if he is, his position may be damaged due to association with an unscrupulous viṣayī. If a so-called spiritual master accepts a disciple for his personal benefit or for material gain, the relationship between the spiritual master and the disciple turns into a material affair, and the spiritual master becomes like a smārta-guru. There are many caste gosvāmīs who professionally create some disciples who do not care for them or their instructions. Such spiritual masters are satisfied simply to get some material benefits from their disciples. Such a relationship is condemned by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, who calls such spiritual masters and disciples a society of cheaters and cheated. They are also called bāulas or prākṛta-sahajiyās. Their aim is to make the connection between the spiritual master and the disciple into a very cheap thing. They are not serious in wanting to understand spiritual life.
The words sevya bhagavān in this verse of the Caitanya-caritāmṛta are important. Bhagavān indicates the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Viṣṇu. Lord Viṣṇu alone is worshipable. There is no need to worship demigods. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā (7.20):
- kāmais tais tair hṛta-jñānāḥ prapadyante ‘nya-devatāḥ
- taṁ taṁ niyamam āsthāya prakṛtyā niyatāḥ svayā
"Those whose intelligence has been stolen by material desires surrender unto demigods and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own natures."
It is also stated in the Skanda Purāṇa:
- vāsudevaṁ parityajya yo ‘nya-devam upāsate
- sva-mātaraṁ parityajya śva-pacīṁ vandate hi saḥ
"A person who worships the demigods and gives up Lord Vāsudeva is like a man who gives up the protection of his mother for the shelter of a witch."
It is also stated by Lord Kṛṣṇa in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.23):
- ye ‘py anya-devatā-bhaktā yajante śraddhayānvitāḥ
- te ‘pi mām eva kaunteya yajanty avidhi-pūrvakam
"Those who are devotees of other gods and who worship them with faith actually worship only Me, O son of Kuntī, but they do so in a wrong way."
Demigods are also living entities and parts and parcels of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore in one sense one worships Kṛṣṇa when one worships the demigods, but not in the proper way. There is a proper method to water a tree: one should water the root. But if one waters the leaves and branches instead, he is simply wasting his time. If one worships the demigods to the exclusion of Lord Viṣṇu, his rewards will only be material. As confirmed by Lord Kṛṣṇa in the Bhagavad-gītā (7.23):
- anta-vat tu phalaṁ teṣāṁ tad bhavaty alpa-medhasām
- devān deva-yajo yānti mad-bhaktā yānti mām api
"Men of small intelligence worship the demigods, and their fruits are limited and temporary. Those who worship the demigods go to the planets of the demigods, but My devotees ultimately reach My supreme planet."
Demigod worship is meant for unintelligent men because the benefits derived from demigod worship are all material, temporary and retractable. It is also stated in the Padma Purāṇa:
- yas tu nārāyaṇaṁ devaṁ brahma-rudrādi-daivataiḥ
- samatvenaiva vīkṣeta sa pāṣaṇḍī bhaved dhruvam
- (CC Madhya 18.116)
"Whoever thinks Lord Viṣṇu and the demigods are on the same level is to be immediately considered a rogue as far as spiritual understanding is concerned."
There are three modes of nature in the material world, but when one is situated spiritually, he is above the material modes, even though he lives in this material world. As Lord Kṛṣṇa states in the Bhagavad-gītā (14.26):
- māṁ ca yo ‘vyabhicāreṇa bhakti-yogena sevate
- sa guṇān samatītyaitān brahma-bhūyāya kalpate
"One who engages in full devotional service, unfailing in all circumstances, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman." In material consciousness, however, even one who is situated in the mode of goodness is susceptible to pollution by the modes of passion and ignorance. When the mode of goodness is mixed with the mode of passion, one worships the sun-god, Vivasvān. When the mode of goodness is mixed with the mode of ignorance, one worships Gaṇapati, or Gaṇeśa. When the mode of passion is mixed with the mode of ignorance, one worships Durgā, or Kālī, the external potency. When one is simply in the mode of ignorance, one becomes a devotee of Lord Śiva because Lord Śiva is the predominating deity of the mode of ignorance within this material world. However, when one is completely free from the influence of all the modes of material nature, one becomes a pure Vaiṣṇava on the devotional platform. As Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī states in the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu:
- anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam
- ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānuśīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā
- (CC Madhya 19.167)
"One should render transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa favorably and without desire for material profit or gain through fruitive activities or philosophical speculation. That is called pure devotional service."
The position of viśuddha-sattva is the position of uncontaminated goodness. On that platform one can then understand, ārādhyo bhagavān vrajeśa-tanayas tad-dhāma vṛndāvanam: "The Supreme Personality of Godhead, the son of Nanda Mahārāja, is to be worshiped along with His transcendental abode, Vṛndāvana."
The word sarva-mantra-vicāraṇa in the present verse of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta means "considering all different types of mantras." There are different kinds of mantras for different kinds of devotees. There is the mantra known as the dvādaśākṣara mantra, composed of twelve syllables, and there is the mantra composed of eighteen syllables. Similarly, there are the Nārasiṁha mantra, the Rāma mantra, the Gopāla mantra and so on. Each and every mantra has its own spiritual significance. The spiritual master has to select a mantra for his disciple according to the disciple's ability to chant different mantras.