In the Kaṭhopaniṣad the Vedas says that "If you want to learn transcendental science, so you have to approach a bona fide spiritual master." And who is bona fide spiritual master? That is also described, śrotriyaṁ brahma-niṣṭham: "One who has heard from his spiritual master." This is . . . Spiritual master becomes by disciplic succession, ascending process. Just like we learn "Man is mortal" from some higher authority—from my father, from mother or any other authority.
Or just a child. A child is attracted generally to his mother—in human being, in animals, everywhere. So if a child wants to know his father, then the authority is the mother, and there is no other authority. The child cannot know the name of his father by his own imagination or speculation. If he thinks, "Oh, he may be my father," "He may be my father," "He may be my father . . ." go on imagining, speculating, but you will never be able to understand who is your father. But the mother indicates, "My dear child, he is your father"—immediately business finished. You see?
So if you want to speculate how is God, who is the supreme father, you go on speculating for lives together. But if somebody knows, "Here is your God," you accept it—the business finished. Very simple truth. You cannot imagine, you cannot speculate, even on your ordinary father, what to speak of the supreme father. Is it possible? No.
Therefore just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. One who is fortunate to have a bona fide spiritual master, he is supposed to . . . Ācāryavān puruṣo veda (Chāndogya Upaniṣad 6.14.2):
"One who has taken shelter of a real ācārya, spiritual master, from the disciplic succession, he knows." Ācāryavān puruṣo veda. Veda means "He is in the knowledge." One who has accepted a bona fide spiritual master, he is in the knowledge. Others are fools. This is the Vedic version everywhere. Here also, Bhagavad-gītā, it is said that "You try to learn the truth by approaching spiritual master."
And how to learn from the spiritual master? "Inquire from him submissively." You don't approach a spiritual master whom you can challenge. Then your selection of spiritual master is wrong. If you keep one spiritual master as show bottle, then your selection is not right; it is wrong. The spiritual master . . . you must select a spiritual master where you can bow down your head, "Yes," submissive. Therefore you have to see.
Suppose you are going here. You are coming here to learn something. When you are convinced that "Swāmījī knows the thing," when you are convinced, then you accept. Then you ask for initiation. Otherwise don't do it hesitatingly or knowing half. Therefore in the system it is enjoined that the spiritual master also observe the disciple at least for one year, and the disciple also study the spiritual master at least for one year.
So when both of them are convinced that "He can be my spiritual master" or "He can be my disciple," then the relationship is established. We initiate our students. The preliminary initiation is offering chanting. Then we observe, at least for one year, how he is chanting, how he is doing. Then the second initiation confirms. That is the system.
So inquire from him submissively. Where you cannot submit, if you think that "Oh, what is this spiritual master? I can challenge him," then there is no question of accepting as your spiritual master. You have to submit yourself, fully surrender yourself. You have to bow your head: "Yes. Here is my spiritual . . ." Just like Kṛṣṇa, er, Arjuna said, śiṣyas te 'haṁ śādhi māṁ prapannam (BG 2.7).
Arjuna in the beginning was speaking with Kṛṣṇa on friendly level, but at last he submitted that "I am Your disciple. Please teach me." This is the process: submissively. "Inquire from him submissively."
And what is that submission? "Render service unto him." Try to please him by satisfying him by service. Yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādaḥ, you singing. If he is pleased, then you know Kṛṣṇa is pleased. And if he is displeased, then there is no other way. This is the process, submissive. "The self-realized soul can impart knowledge." And because you have to select spiritual master, a self-realized soul. Just like if you want to study particular subject matter, you have to approach a realized person, a perfect person. Then you get. "The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth." One who has not seen the truth, he cannot.
Now, one may question, "Whether you have seen Kṛṣṇa?" So how Kṛṣṇa can be seen? Yes. A spiritual master must have seen Kṛṣṇa. Without seeing, he cannot be spiritual master. But how Kṛṣṇa can be seen? Kṛṣṇa can be seen by love. Premāñjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena (Bs. 5.38).
Premāñjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena santaḥ sadaiva hṛdayeṣu vilokayanti. Just like if you are in love with somebody, you can see him constantly—he is always on your eyes, anyone you love—so similarly, Kṛṣṇa also can be seen by development of love. Otherwise, how we can see Kṛṣṇa? He is so great, unlimited. Your eyes, your senses, are all limited. You cannot see the unlimited by your limited sense perception. But you can see . . . not you can see, but svayam eva sphuraty adaḥ (CC Madhya 17.136).
When you are developed in the sense of love of Godhead, then He reveals unto you. Therefore you can see.