Of what type of guru should we take shelter?

Amrta Vani

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.”

Why are we unable to serve Krsna?

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur PrabhupadaIt is impossible to serve Krsna without receiving the mercy of great souls. This is why it is so important to take shelter at the lotus feet of a bona fide spiritual master. The Caitanya-caritamrta states, mahat-krpa vina kona karme ‘bhakti’ naya, krsna-bhakti dure rahu, samsara nahe ksaya: “Unless one is favored by a pure devotee, one cannot attain the platform of devotional service. To say nothing of krsna-bhakti, one cannot even be relieved from the bondage of material existence.” (Madhya 22.51)

If one associates with those devotees who continually serve Krsna, then his propensity to serve Krsna will also be awakened. Without the association of Krsna’s devotees, one cannot develop his own desire to engage in the Lord’s service. Service to Hari is not a joke. It is dependent on the association and mercy of devotees. Simply by following in the devotees’ footsteps, one receives the good fortune to engage in the Lord’s service.


Amrta Vani of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Thakura Prabhupada

How can we achieve mental strength?

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur PrabhupadaWe are weak and need to become mentally strong. Our mental condition will become stronger if we faithfully hear krsna-katha from living devotees. It is not possible to strengthen our mental state without associating with devotees.

Amrta Vani of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Thakura Prabhupada

The all-auspicious Supreme Lord

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur PrabhupadaThe all-auspicious Supreme Lord.

(Ultadanga Junction Road, Calcutta, June 19, 1925)

Let them harass you as much as possible; you simply must quietly tolerate these disturbances. We firmly believe that the people of the world will not allow injustices to predominate. The Supreme Lord arranges everything for our benefit—this is our firm faith. The atheists cannot flourish in this world for long, for eventually they are pulled down by the punishment of providence. Everything takes place by the will of the Supreme Lord.

(Patramrita – Nectar from letters by His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Thakura Prabhupada)

Bhagavata-dharma taught by Sri Caitanya

If we were to prepare a list of worldly religions born of human knowledge, and if according to that list we analyzed how they formed their conceptions and conclusions, we would understand that other than the sanatana-dharma taught in Srimad-Bhagavatam – the religion Sri Caitanyadeva preached – all other man-made religious systems are full of imagination, concoction, and cheating. Only bhagavata-dharma, or Sri Caitanyadeva’s pure atma-dharma, is free of cheating. Bhagavata- dharma is the eternal Vedic religious system, approved and followed by the supremely nonenvious, swanlike saints. The religious systems of today are imagined by men; they are created by the human mind. None of them is atma-dharma. Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 25.45) states:

caitanya-gosani yei kahe, sei mata sara
ara yata mata, sei saba charakhara

“Whatever meaning Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu gives is perfect. Any other interpretation is only a distortion.”

Vaktitavali by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Thakura Prabhupada

Sri Gundicha Marjan Lila Rahasya

Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Goswami Ṭhākur explains the secret behind the cleansing of the Guṇḍichā Temple.

The Secret Behind the Pastime of Cleansing of the Guṇḍichā Temple

An English translation of Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākur’s commentary on Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: Madhya-līlā, 12.135.

Through this Pastime, Jagad-guru Śrīman Mahāprabhu is teaching that if a fortunate soul desires to sit Kṛṣṇa on the altar of their heart, then they should first of all clean their heart of all contamination; making the heart spotlessly clean, peaceful, and resplendent with devotion is mandatory. If any thorny bushes, weeds, dust, or sand—anarthas—remain within the field of the heart, then the Lord, the ultimate recipient of all service, cannot be seated therein. Contamination and litter within the heart means anya-abhilāṣ (extraneous desires), karma (worldly action), jñān (speculative knowledge), yoga, and so on. Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī Prabhu said,

anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam
ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānuśīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā
(Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu: 1.1.11)

Wherever the soul’s eternal, natural propensity for devotion has been covered over by desires unrelated to devotion, speculative knowledge, worldly action, yoga, asceticism, or any mentality that is unfavorable to devotion, pure devotion is not present. And without pure devotion, which is by nature purely spiritual, Kṛṣṇa does not appear.

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Maya means – that which is not

Maya means “that which is not.”

That which is, the positive, is God. The negation of the positive, God, is the negative, or maya. As soon as we connect the negative maya to the positive, personal God, considering ourselves God, we give birth to self-worship.

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Always chant the glories of Hari

Speaking hari-katha is real rest – it removes all fatigue. Any endeavor other than kirtana, performed even for a moment, is averse to God. Exalted personalities and their followers always engage in glorifying topics about Hari in all respects. They have no other duty.

Sri Caitanyadeva also instructed us, kirtaniyah sada harih: always chant the glories of Hari. The symptom of liberated persons is that they only chant the glories of Hari at all times with body, mind, and speech.

Sri Sarasvati Samlapa, Conversation 5
Srila Saraswati Prabhupada