Q&A by Gaudiya Gosthipati Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Thakura Prabhupada
Q: Of what type of guru should we take shelter?
A: If I am fortunate enough, I will take shelter of a spiritual master who always worships Hari. I should surrender to a spiritual master who is cent percent engaged in the Lord’s service. Otherwise, unable to follow his ideal example, I will not be able to engage myself cent percent in the Lord’s service. A person devoid of proper etiquette, a platform speaker, or a professional priest cannot become guru. If we receive such a spiritual master, unfortunately, we cannot learn to worship Hari. A spiritual master must be free from material desire, self-controlled, well conversant with scripture, and self-realized. Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.3.21) states:
tasmad gurum prapadyeta, jijndsuh sreya uttamam
sabde pare ca nisnatam, brahmany upasamasrayam
“Therefore, any person who seriously desires real happiness must seek a bona fide spiritual master and take shelter of him by initiation. The qualification of the bona fide guru is that he has realized the conclusions of the scriptures by deliberation and is able to convince others of these conclusions. Such great personalities, who have taken shelter of the Supreme Godhead, leaving aside all material considerations, should be understood to be bona fide spiritual masters.”