Some qualifications of a bona fide spiritual master


Because it is Kali yuga, the age of quarrel and hypocrisy, it is very very easy for one who desires spiritual life to become cheated. He or she will be cheated by practically everyone who poses as a spiritualist. This is not my opinion, but the words of Srila Prabhupada, the Acharya or Guru for the worldwide Hare Krishna Movement.
He often would tell us that if you don’t know what gold looks like and someone offers you pyrite (imitation gold) and wants to sell it to you, then because you don’t actually know what real gold is, you will be cheated. Therefore it is incumbent upon every aspiring spiritualist, to make him or herself familiar with the terms of “real gold”. That very valuable information is to follow.

A First class person wants to make his life spiritually perfect.
A Second class person wants great riches by political or business means.
A Third class person wants riches by industry or mercantile work.
A Fourth class person wants only to fill the belly.

Some qualifications of bona fide guru:

“UNLESS ONE IS UNDER THE SHELTER OF A REALIZED SPIRITUAL MASTER, HIS UNDERSTANDING OF THE SUPREME IS SIMPLY FOOLISHNESS.”

(Teachings of Lord Chaitanya)

SOME OF THE QUALIFICATIONS OF A BONA FIDE SPIRITUAL MASTER.

1) Without the 4 defects – mistakes, illusion, imperfect senses, cheating.
2) When a devotee is perfectly qualified in chanting the transcendental vibration of the Holy Names, he is quite fit to become spiritual master and deliver all the people of the world.
(Teachings of Lord Chaitanya)

3) The guru must be situated on the top most platform of devotional service. There are 3 classes of devotees and the guru must be accepted from the top most class. When one has attained the top most position of maha bhagavata, he is to be accepted as a guru and worshipped exactly like Hari, the Personality of Godhead. ONLY such a person is eligible to occupy the post of guru.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 24.330)
4) Since one cannot visually experience the presence of the super soul, He appears before us as a liberated devotee. Such a spiritual master is none other than Krishna Himself.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya 5.171)

5) When a pure devotee speaks, he speaks perfectly. How is this? His speech is managed by Krishna Himself within the heart.”
6) Help can only be given by a spiritual master like Krishna. Therefore the conclusion is that a spiritual master who is 100% Krishna Conscious is the bona fide spiritual master for he can solve the problems of life.
(Bhagavad-gita purport).

7) The guru is the most confidential servitor of Radha Krishna. The sum total of all the demigods, and the object of worship for Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva.

8) Astottara sata (108 gopis) is added to the name of the spiritual master to indicate one situated in the suddha sattva or the transcendental state of Vasudeva. Only in the suddha sattva state can one always see Krishna eye to eye by dint of pure affection for the Lord.
(Srimad Bhagavatam 4.3.23)

“UNLESS ONE IS UNDER THE SHELTER OF A REALIZED SPIRITUAL MASTER, HIS UNDERSTANDING OF THE SUPREME IS SIMPLY FOOLISHNESS.”
(Teachings of Lord Chaitanya)

Letter: Mukunda, June 10, 1979

Unless one is a resident of Krishna Loka, one cannot be a Spiritual Master. That is the first proposition. A layman cannot be … then he will simply create disturbance. And who is a liberated person? One who knows Krishna. It is stated in Bhagavad-gita, fourth chapter, anyone who knows Krishna in truth is immediately liberated, and after quitting the present body, he immediately goes to Krishna. That means he becomes a resident of Krishna Loka. As soon as one is liberated he is immediately a resident of Krishna Loka, and anyone who knows the truth of Krishna can become Spiritual Master. That is the version of Lord Chaitanya. So to summarize the whole thing, it is to be understood that a bonafide Spiritual Master is a resident of Krishna Loka.

Srimad Bhagavatam 4.22.26

Unless one takes shelter of a bona fide spiritual master and advances one’s attraction for Krishna by the spiritual master’s instructions, the five coverings of the living entity cannot be uncovered from the material heart. The living entity is centered within the heart, and to take him away from the heart is to liberate him. This is the process. One must take shelter of a bona fide spiritual master and by his instruction increase one’s knowledge in devotional service, become detached from the material world and thus become liberated. An advanced devotee, therefore, does not live within the material body but within his spiritual body, just as a dry coconut lives detached from the coconut husk, even though within the husk. The pure devotee’s body is therefore called cin-maya-sarira (“spiritualized body”). In other words, a devotee’s body is not connected with material activities…

Lectures, October 9, 1975, Durban

uvaca: “The Supreme Personality…” Bhagavan means He does not cheat you. Others, they will give you instruction and cheat you, because anyone who is not liberated, he has got four defects of his life: he commits mistake, he is illusioned, he cheats and his senses are imperfect. This is called conditioned soul, everyone. Even big, big men, big, big leaders, they commit so many mistakes.

…. When one has attained the topmost position of maha-bhagavata, 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.

– Chaitanya-charitamrita (Madhya-lila, Chapter Six, verse 279):
lohake yavat sparsi’ hema nahi kare/ tavat sparsa-mani keha cinite na pare

“One cannot understand the value of touchstone until it turns iron into gold.” One should judge by action, not by promises. A MAHA-BHAGAVATA CAN TURN A LIVING ENTITY FROM ABOMINABLE MATERIAL LIFE TO THE LORD’S SERVICE. THIS IS THE TEST OF A MAHA-BHAGAVATA.

“If one is expert in Vedic literature and has full faith in the Supreme Lord, then he is AN UTTAMA-ADHIKARI, A FIRST-CLASS VAISHNAVA, A TOPMOST VAISHNAVA WHO CAN DELIVER THE WHOLE WORLD AND TURN EVERYONE TO KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS.”

– Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 22.65

Devotee on the Bhava stage is not disturbed by Maya.

“…ALTHOUGH MAYA MAY BE PRESENT, IT CANNOT DISTURB A DEVOTEE ONCE HE ATTAINS THE BHAVA STAGE. This is because the devotee can see the real position of maya. Maya means forgetfulness of Krishna, and forgetfulness of Krishna and Krishna consciousness stand side by side like light and shadow. If one remains in shadow, he cannot enjoy the facilities offered by light, and if one remains in light, he cannot be disturbed by the darkness of shadow…”

– Nectar of Instruction 7

The form of Krishna is visible to that eye in proportion to its purification by the practice of devotion. WHEN THE DEVOTION OF THE NEOPHYTE REACHES THE STAGE OF BHAVA-BHAKTI THE PURE EYE OF THAT DEVOTEE IS TINGED WITH THE SALVE OF LOVE BY THE GRACE OF KRISHNA, WHICH ENABLES HIM TO SEE KRISHNA FACE TO FACE. The phrase “in their hearts” means Krishna is visible in proportion as their hearts are purified by the practice of devotion. The sum and substance of this sloka is that the form of Krishna, who is Shyamasundara, Natavara (best dancer), Muralidhara (holder of the flute) and Tribhanga (triple-bending), is not a mental concoction but is transcendental, and is visible with the eye of the soul of the devotee under trance…”

– Brahma-Samhita 5.38

“You are correct when you say that when the Spiritual Master speaks it should be taken that Krishna is speaking. That is a fact. A Spiritual Master must be liberated.”

– Srila Prabhupada

“… There are three classes of devotees according to the degree of conviction. The first-class devotee is conversant with all kinds of Vedic literature and at the same time has the firm conviction mentioned above. He can deliver all others from the pangs of material miseries. The second-class devotee is firmly convinced and has strong faith, but he has no power to cite evidence from revealed scriptures. The third-class devotee is one whose faith is not very strong, but, by the gradual cultivation of devotional service, he will eventually be eligible for promotion to the second or first-class position. It is said in Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.2.45-47) that the first class devotee always sees the Supreme Lord as the soul of all living entities. Thus in seeing all living entities, he sees Krishna and nothing but Krishna.

The second-class devotee places his full faith in the Supreme Personality of Godhead, makes friends with the pure devotees, favors innocent persons and avoids those who are atheistic or opposed to devotional service. The third-class devotee engages in devotional service according to the directions of the spiritual master, or engages out of family tradition, and worships the Deity of the Lord, but he is not cultivated in knowledge of devotional service, and he does not know a devotee from a non devotee. SUCH A THIRD-CLASS DEVOTEE CANNOT ACTUALLY BE CONSIDERED A PURE DEVOTEE; HE IS ALMOST IN THE DEVOTIONAL LINE, BUT HIS POSITION IS NOT VERY SECURE…”

– Teachings of Lord Chaitanya

“…So in order to know that science, one has to APPROACH A PERFECT TEACHER. Tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet. Here also it is said, gurau hamsa. Hamse gurau mayi. The mayi is also significant. That means, PARAMAHAMSA GURU MEANS, HE’S AS GOOD AS THE SUPREME PERSONALITY OF GODHEAD. BECAUSE HE DOES NOT DEVIATE from the instructions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is the symptom of guru. GURU DOES NOT DEVIATE FROM THE INSTRUCTION OF THE SUPREME PERSONALITY OF GODHEAD…”

– Lectures, Srimad Bhagavatam, November 2, 1976

Bona fide spiritual master does not deviate

“…A BONA FIDE SPIRITUAL MASTER IS IN THE DISCIPLIC SUCCESSION FROM TIME ETERNAL, AND HE DOES NOT DEVIATE AT ALL from the instructions of the Supreme Lord as they were imparted millions of years ago to the sun-god, from whom the instructions of Bhagavad-gita have come down to the earthly kingdom. One should, therefore, follow the path of Bhagavad-gita as it is expressed in the Gita itself and BEWARE OF SELF-INTERESTED PEOPLE AFTER PERSONAL AGGRANDIZEMENT WHO DEVIATE OTHERS FROM THE ACTUAL PATH…”

– Bhagavad- Gita 4.42 purport

Spiritual master is always situated in spiritual status.

“….A person acting in the service of Krishna with his body, mind and words IS A LIBERATED PERSON, EVEN WITHIN THE MATERIAL WORLD.” (Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 1.2.187) Therefore, one is forbidden to regard the guru as an ordinary human being (gurusu nara-matir. .. naraki sah). THE SPIRITUAL MASTER, OR ACHARYA, IS ALWAYS SITUATED IN THE SPIRITUAL STATUS OF LIFE…”

– Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.4.20

Spiritual master is never a conditioned soul.

“… Your next question, whether the Spiritual Master was formerly a conditioned soul, ACTUALLY A BONAFIDE SPIRITUAL MASTER IS NEVER A CONDITIONED SOUL.

– Letter to Mukunda, June 10, 1969

Spiritual master must be liberated.

“… You are correct when you say that when the Spiritual Master speaks it should be taken that Krishna is speaking. That is a fact. A SPIRITUAL MASTER MUST BE LIBERATED…”

– Letter to Mukunda, June 10, 1969

“UNLESS ONE IS UNDER THE SHELTER OF A REALIZED SPIRITUAL MASTER, HIS UNDERSTANDING OF THE SUPREME IS SIMPLY FOOLISHNESS.”

– Teachings of Lord Chaitanya

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