QUALIFICATIONS TO BE A GURU AND A DISCIPLE
A girl devotee (Name hiden) asked like this:
Hare Krishna Prabhuji. Prabhuji can u please advice me how should I further increase my love for Krishna? I dont know whom to make Guru am sinnest of sinnest human being but I have eagerness to love Krishna. I dont even know whether this is my wish or not. But I know Krishna will make me the way he wants. But from whom I should take deeksha? I am totally confused. Its said that one shouldnt take deeksha from one who make Shrimad Bhagwatam as a profession but the one from whom I wanted to take deeksha for him Shrimad Bhagwatam is his profession. Can u be my Guru and help me in my spiritual life??
To get a good guru too, you have to pray to Krishna. If you sincerely pray to Krishna to show you a right spiritual master, He will show you one. However, we must decide for what purpose we see a guru and we must ascertain the Qualifications to be a guru and a disciple.
(How to take Diksha (Initiation) and become a disciple of a guru (spiritual master) in ISKCON? READ HERE!)
HOW KRISHNA SHOWS A GURU TO US?
Krishna follows subtle ways to show a guru to us. We can see many examples for the Lord showing a guru to the devotees.
In general, Krishna creates an impression in our mind about a guru.
Without the association of good devotees and gaining knowledge through them, getting a right guru is not possible.
In a few cases, Krishna even shows the way to select a person as guru in mystic ways that helps us to ascertain the Qualifications to be a guru and a disciple!
EXAMPLES FOR THE LORD SHOWING GURUS IN A SUBTLE MANNER
Some times, there may be no need to verify the Qualifications to be a guru and a disciple as it is indicated to us by Krishna in different ways as given below:
(i) Eknath heard an a voice from the sky (Akasvani) like this: “See Janardan Pant at Deva Giri. He will put you in the proper path and guide you.” Eknath acted accordingly and found his Guru.
(Should we accept a living guru instead of a deceased guru? READ HERE!)
(ii) Tukaram received his Mantra, Rama Krishna Hari, in his dream. He repeated this Mantra and had Darshan (vision) of Lord Krishna.
(iii) Lord Krishna directed Namdev to get his higher initiation from a Sannyasin (renunciate) at Mallikarjuna.
(iv) Queen Chudalai assumed the form, of Kumbha Muni, appeared before her husband Sikhidhwaja in the forest, and initiated him in the mysteries of Kaivalya (state of absolute independence).
(v) Madhura Kavi saw a light in the firmament for three days consecutively. It guided him and took him to his Guru Nammalvar who was sitting in Samadhi underneath a tamarind tree near Tinnevelly (a city in Tamilnadu).
(vi) Vilvamangal was very much attracted to Chintamani, the dancing woman who became his Guru.
(vii) Tulasidas received instructions from an invisible being to see Hanuman and, through Hanuman, to get Darshan of Sri Rama.
(viii) Sri Dattatreya had twenty-four Gurus including the five elements- earth, water, etc. Every object in this world was his Guru.
So, if a person is seeking a realized guru, Krishna shows a right person to him.
If you like to have a guru that performs some magics and gives pleasures for your eyes, Krishna will direct you towards such a guru who can not enlighten you with the self and god realization.
If you like to become a rich person and enjoy all comforts of material life, Krishna will direct you towards a guru worshiping demigods because he will encourage you to pray for benefits from the demigods or even from Krishna, the Supreme Lord.
(RITVIK INITIATION (DIKSHA) AND LIVING GURU INITIATION – DIFFERENCES! READ HERE!)
If you like to purify yourself and go back to Krishna Himself and you need a guru who can help you in those efforts, Krishna will direct you to a genuine guru who will transfer his spiritual power acquired with his sadhanas to you.
Ok, you have been shown a guru by Krishna according to your preferences. What to do next?
WHAT TO DO AFTER FINDING A GURU?
Before accepting one as your guru, you should know about him and his spiritual / devotional status. When you choose a guru, you have to observe that guru for a certain period and after confirming the Qualifications to be a guru and a disciple, accept him. If a guru is living a posh life in rich bungalows with unwanted material comforts, think before accepting him. A guru is meant to live a simple life style.
Some of the present day devotees select a guru even without knowing about him and without getting a natural inclination to him. A guru is not just a ‘sitting swami’ blessing others. His position is for transforming the minds of others by transferring his spiritual power to the disciples and guiding them to work for the satisfaction of Krishna. A vibrant guru will make his disciples serve more for Krishna.
A guru must be well versed in scriptures and follow the instructions of his guru. A guru should be selected only after observing him for some period and getting a natural inclination towards him.
If a guru teaches others but he is not following it, he is not a right guru. Of course, there are some shortcoming and there are some genuine gurus also.
(How to develop faith in gurus if you find it difficult? READ HERE!)
SRILA PRABHUPADA ABOUT THE NEED FOR A GURU
“A pure devotee under the guidance of another experienced devotee can obtain all the results, even at present.” – SB 1.10.27 Purport
“If one thinks that he is above consulting anyone else, including a spiritual master, he is at once an offender” – Caitanya Caritamruta Adi lila 1.35.
“The second-class devotee, even though he cannot support his position with sastric reference, can gradually become a first-class devotee by studying the sastras and associating with a first-class devotee.” – Caitanya Caritamruta Madhya Lila 22.71
So, a spiritual master of good quality can be got even now as said by Srila Prabhupada above. You have to search well and pray to krishna to show a good guru for coming up in the service of Krishna.
QUALIFICATIONS TO BE A BONAFIDE GURU
(1) NECTAR OF INSTRUCTION (UPADESAMRUTA):
Srila Rupa Goswami’s first Sloka in Nectar of Instruction (Upadesamrutha) gives us authoritative & very clear parameters to identify a genuine Guru. We will discuss them in detail. Let us now see the sloka:
“A sober person who can tolerate the (i) urge to speak, (ii) the mind’s demands, (iii) the actions of anger and (iv) the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals is qualified to make disciples all over the world.”
(Why should we worship Guru who has material body instead of Krishna only? READ HERE!)
(2) Sri Caitanya Caritmruta, Madhya-lila 24.330, Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada):
“In the Padma Purāṇa, the characteristics of the guru, the bona fide spiritual master, have been described:
“………………………… The guru must be situated on the topmost platform of devotional service. There are three classes of devotees, and the guru must be accepted from the topmost class. The first-class devotee is the spiritual master for all kinds of people. It is said: gurur nṛṇām. The word nṛṇām means “of all human beings.” The guru is not limited to a particular group. It is stated in the Upadeśāmṛta of Rūpa Gosvāmī that a guru is a gosvāmī, a controller of the senses and the mind. Such a guru can accept disciples from all over the world. Pṛthivīṁ sa śiṣyāt. This is the test of the guru.
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.”
(3) SRI ADHI SHANKARA:
“If a person, despite possessing: a handsome, disease-free body, fame, a mountain of wealth, and even if he has studied the Vedas and all other scriptures, and has himself composed many scriptures , but has not surrendered himself at the feet of a Guru, then he has achieved nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing.”
(How Can a disciple reduce his guru’s Karma? Wonderful Tips! READ HERE!)
(4) SRIMAD BHAGAVATHAM 11-3-21:
Prabuddha tells Maharaja Nimi, “My dear King, please know for certain that in the material world there is no happiness. It is simply a mistake to think that there is happiness here, because this place is full of nothing but miserable conditions. Any person who is seriously desirous of achieving real happiness must seek out a bonafide spiritual master and take shelter of him by initiation. The qualification of a spiritual master is that he must have realized the conclusion of the scriptures by deliberation and arguments and thus be able to convince others of these conclusions. Such great personalities who have taken shelter of the Supreme Godhead, leaving aside all material considerations, are to be understood as bona fide spiritual masters. Everyone should try to find such a bonafide spiritual master in order to fulfill his mission of life, which is to transfer himself to the plane of spiritual bliss.”
SIX AGENTS OF SENSE GRATIFICATION
SRILA PRABHUPADA WRITES:
“The purport is that one should not accept as a spiritual master someone who is fool number one, who has no direction according to the scriptural injunctions, whose character is doubtful, who does not follow the principles of devotional service, or who has not conquered the influence of the six sense gratifying agents. The six agents of sense gratification are the tongue, the genitals, the belly, anger, the mind and words. Anyone who has practiced controlling these six is permitted to make disciples all over the world. To accept such a spiritual master is the crucial point for advancement in spiritual life.”
(I have more attachment with Guru than Krishna. What to do? READ HERE!)
QUALIFICATIONS TO BE A DISCIPLE
(1) FROM SRIMAD BHAGAVATHAM 11.3.24:
To serve the spiritual master the disciple should learn cleanliness, austerity, tolerance, silence, study of Vedic knowledge, simplicity, celibacy, nonviolence, and equanimity in the face of material dualities such as heat and cold, happiness and distress.
(4) SRIMAD BHAGAVATHAM 11-3-21:
Sage Prabuddha continued to speak to the King as follows: “My dear King, a disciple has to accept the spiritual master not only as spiritual master, but also as the representative of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the Supersoul. In other words, the disciple should accept the spiritual master as God, because he is the external manifestation of Krsna. This is confirmed in every scripture, and a disciple should accept the spiritual master as such. One should learn Srimad-Bhagavatam seriously and with all respect and veneration for the spiritual master. Hearing and speaking Srimad-Bhagavatam is the religious process which elevates one to the platform of serving and loving the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
The attitude of the disciple should be to satisfy the bona fide spiritual master. Then it will be very easy for him to understand spiritual knowledge.”
(How to repent for not following the Vows given to Guru? READ HERE!)
(3) From Sri Caitanya Caritmruta, Madhya-lila 24.330, Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada:
“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, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Ṭhakura explains that a bonafide disciple must be very inquisitive to understand the transcendental subject matter. As stated in Śrimad-Bhagavatam (11.3.21):
tasmad guruṁ prapadyeta
jijnasuḥ sreya 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.”
(WHAT IF A DISCIPLE IS UNABLE TO SURRENDER TO GURU? READ HERE!)
The Purport explains the Qualifications to be a guru and a disciple! A serious disciple must be alert when selecting a bonafide 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 viṣayi disciples, he may fall down. One who accepts a viṣayi disciple is not a bonafide spiritual master. Even if he is, his position may be damaged due to association with an unscrupulous viṣayi. 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. There are many caste gosvamis 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 Śrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Ṭhakura, who calls such spiritual masters and disciples a society of cheaters and cheated. They are also called baulas or prakrta-sahajiyas. 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.”
(Why should the devotees and gurus be affected by Pandemic like Covid-19? READ HERE!)
Now a days, the opportunities to find a guru has increased.
In earlier days, a student will be admitted in an ashram near his area or in a forest. Whereas, now a days, with the advent of technology, we have more awareness and we are able to accept a guru from even distant places. So, the opportunity to ascertain the Qualifications to be a guru and a disciple is slim.
There are spiritual organizations like ISKCON that have the facilities for an aspirant to first attend the temple programs, associate with the devotees and gain knowledge about a guru among many gurus there.
Just attend the sathsangha regularly and pray to Krishna to show you a right guru. It will be blessed by Krishna.
Hope this helps to understand the Qualifications to be a guru and a disciple.
(Will accepting a Guru alone elevate a devotee to attain perfection? READ HERE!)