One who accepts a visayi disciple is not a bona fide spiritual master. Even if he is, his position may be damaged due to association with an unscrupulous visayi
"One who accepts a visayi disciple is not a bona fide spiritual master. Even if he is, his position may be damaged due to association with an unscrupulous visayi"
- śamo damas tapaḥ śaucaṁ kṣāntir ārjavam eva ca
- jñānaṁ vijñānam āstikyaṁ brahma-karma svabhāva-jam
"Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom and religiousness—these are the natural qualities by which the brāhmaṇas work."
Unless one is qualified with all these attributes, he cannot be accepted as a brāhmaṇa. It is not a question of simply taking birth in a brāhmaṇa family. In this regard, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura remarks that Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura and Śyāmānanda Gosvāmī, although not born in brāhmaṇa families, are accepted as bona fide spiritual masters because they were brāhmaṇas by qualification. Personalities like Śrī Gaṅgā-nārāyaṇa, Rāmakṛṣṇa and many others, who were actually born in brāhmaṇa families, accepted Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura and Śyāmānanda Gosvāmī as their spiritual masters.
The mahā-bhāgavata is one who decorates his body with tilaka and whose name indicates him to be a servant of Kṛṣṇa by the word dāsa. He is also initiated by a bona fide spiritual master and is expert in worshiping the Deity, chanting mantras correctly, performing sacrifices, offering prayers to the Lord and performing saṅkīrtana. He knows how to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead and how to respect a Vaiṣṇava. When one has attained the topmost position of mahā-bhāgavata, he is to be accepted as a guru and worshiped exactly like Hari, the Personality of Godhead. Only such a person is eligible to occupy the post of a guru. However, if one is highly qualified but is not a Vaiṣṇava, he cannot be accepted as a guru. One cannot be a brāhmaṇa unless one is a Vaiṣṇava. If one is a Vaiṣṇava, he is already a brāhmaṇa. If a guru is completely qualified as a Vaiṣṇava, he must be accepted as a brāhmaṇa even if he is not born in a brāhmaṇa family. The caste system method of distinguishing a brāhmaṇa by birth is not acceptable when applied to a bona fide spiritual master. A spiritual master is a qualified brāhmaṇa and ācārya. If one is not a qualified brāhmaṇa, he is not expert in studying the Vedic literatures. Nānā-śāstra-vicāraṇaika-nipuṇau. Every Vaiṣṇava is a spiritual master, and a spiritual master is automatically expert in brahminical behavior. He also understands the Vedic śāstras.
Similarly, a disciple's qualifications must be observed by the spiritual master before he is accepted as a disciple. In our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, the requirement is that one must be prepared to give up the four pillars of sinful life—illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication and gambling. In Western countries especially, we first observe whether a potential disciple is prepared to follow the regulative principles. Then he is given the name of a Vaiṣṇava servant and initiated to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, at least sixteen rounds daily. In this way the disciple renders devotional service under the guidance of the spiritual master or his representative for at least six months to a year. He is then recommended for a second initiation, during which a sacred thread is offered and the disciple is accepted as a bona fide brāhmaṇa. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura introduced the system of giving the sacred thread to a bona fide Vaiṣṇava, and we are following in his footsteps. The qualifications of a bona fide disciple are described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.10.6) as follows:
- amānya-matsaro dakṣo nirmamo dṛḍha-sauhṛdaḥ
- asatvaro ‘rtha-jijñāsur anasūyur amogha-vāk
The disciple must have the following qualifications. He must give up interest in the material bodily conception. He must give up material lust, anger, greed, illusion, madness and envy. He should be interested only in understanding the science of God, and he should be ready to consider all points in this matter. He should no longer think, "I am this body," or, "This thing belongs to me." One must love the spiritual master with unflinching faith, and one must be very steady and fixed. The bona fide disciple should be inquisitive to understand transcendental subject matter. He must not search out faults among good qualities, and he should no longer be interested in material topics. His only interest should be Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
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."
- One Who
- A Spiritual Master Accepts Disciples
- Is Not
- Not Bona Fide
- Bona Fide Spiritual Master
- Even If
- May Be
- Due To
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