Who is a Guru (spiritual master) ? | Gaudiya Vaishnavism

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#1 Why do we need a Guru ?

Tad vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet
Samit panih srotriyam brahma nistham
(Mukunda Upanishad 1.2.12)

One who desires to know the absolute truth must approach a bonafide spiritual master and offer him everything required for sacrifice. Such a spiritual master must be fixed in the absolute truth, having heard it in disciplic succession.

bhaktivinoda thakura's house bhakti kuti guru

Yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau
Tasyaite kathita hy arthah prakasante mahatmanah
(Svetasvatara Upanishad 6.23)

Only unto those great souls who possess implicit faith upon Guru and Krishna are all the imports of the Vedas fully revealed.

Janana-maranadi-samsaranala santapto dipto sira
Jala rasim iva upahara panih srotriyam
Brahma nistham gurum upasrtya tam anusarati
(Vedanta Sara 11)

Just as a person whose head is afire runs towards water, similarly one burning from the fire of material existence birth, death, old age, and disease must run to a Guru for relief. Such a guru must be well versed in the conclusions of Vedic literature. One should strictly follow the Guru’s instructions and become subservient to him.

Brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva
guru-Krsne prasade paya bhakti lata bija
(CC, Madhya, 19-151)

Wandering throughout the universe, by the mercy of Guru and Krishna, a fortunate living entity receives the seed of the plant of devotion.

#2 A Genuine Guru is hard to find

Sravanayapi bahubhir yo na labhyah
Srnvanto pi bahavo yam na vidyuh
Ascharyo sya vakta kuslo sya labhda
Ascharyo jnata kusalanusistah
(Katha Upanishad 1.2.7)

Many do not hear about the soul, and even after hearing about it many do not understand it, because it is hard to find a Guru (spiritual master) who is a genuine seer of the truth. Such a qualified Guru is an exalted soul and is very rare. Only those who follow his teachings can realize the absolute truth and become experts in the science of God. Such disciples are also very rare.

#3 Who is a genuine Guru ?

Vaco vegam manasah krodha vegam
Jihva vegam udaropastha vegam
Etan vegan yo visaheta dhirah
Sarvam apimam prithivim sa sisyat
(Upadesamrta 1)

A sober person who can control the urge to speak, urges of the mind, anger, tongue, belly and genitals is qualified to make disciples all over the world.

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Vyasdeva madhvacharya chataka parvata guru

Kripa sindhuh su-sampurnah
Sarva sattvopakarakah
Nisprhah sarvatah siddhah
Sarva vidya visaradah
Sarva samsaya samchetta
Nalaso gurur ahrtah
(Hari Bhakti vilasa 1.45-46, quoted from Vishnu smriti Vachana)

One who is an ocean of mercy and a sea of pity, who is fulfilled in all respects, who has all good qualities, who is a benefactor of all beings, who is free from lust, well-versed in scriptures, is a genuine Guru. A genuine Guru is well-versed in the science of Krishna, can remove all doubts, and is always alert in the service of Krishna.

Apane achare keha, na kare prachara
Prachara karena keha, na karena achara
‘Achara’ ‘prachara’ namera karaha dui karya
Tumi sarva guru, tumi jagatera arya
(CC, Antya 4.102-103)

Some practice devotional service but do not preach, others preach but do not practice. But one who is perfect in both preaching and practicing the science of the holy name is the Guru (spiritual master) of the entire universe. You are a real jagad-guru, for you practice what you preach.

#4 A Guru can belong to any varna or ashrama

Kiba vipra kiba nyasi sudra kene naya
Yei Krsna tattva vetta sei guru haya
(CC, Madhya, 8.128)

Whether one is a brahmana, a sannyasi, or a shudra – anyone who knows the science of Krishna consciousness is to be accepted as a Guru.

siddha bakul

Kiba varni, kiba srami, kiba varnasrama hina
Krsna tattva yei, sei acharya pravina
Asala katha chadi bhai varne ye kare adara
Asad guru kari ta’ra vinasta purvapara
(Prema Vivarta)

One who is an expert in Krishna consciousness, whatever social order he may belong to irrespective of whether he is a shudra or outcast is to be accepted as an acharya. Whoever ignores this principle and accepts a Guru solely on the basis of his social position shall become ruined.

#5 Inconceivable oneness and difference of spiritual master and Krishna (Supreme Lord)

Acharya mam vijaniyan navamanyeta karhicit
Na martya-buddhyasuyeta sarva devamayo guruh
(Srimad Bhagavatam 11.17.27)

Know the acharya to be as good as Myself (Krishna) and never disrespect him. Never envy him or consider him an ordinary man for he is the representative of all the demigods.

Krsna, guru, bhakta, sakti, avatara, prakash
Krsna ei chaya rupe karena vilasa
(CC, Adi, 1.32)

The Supreme Lord Krishna appears in six features – Krishna, Guru, devotee, divine energy, incarnations, innumerable manifestations of His own self. In this way the lord enjoys His transcendental pastimes.

See also  Brahman, Paramatma, Bhagavan - 3 ways to conceive the Supreme

Guru krsna rupa hana sastrera pramane
Guru rupe krsna krpa karena bhakta gane
(CC, Adi, 1.45)

According to evidence of the scriptures, Guru is non-different from Krishna, because it is through the Guru that krishna bestows His compassion upon His devotees.

childhood pastimes of chaitanya mahaprabhu guru

Krsna yadi krpa kare kono bhagyavane
Guru antaryami rupe sikhaya apane
(CC, Madhya, 22.47)

By the mercy of Krishna, a fortunate soul is guided by the Supersoul from within and by the Guru outside.

Gurusu nara matir yasya va naraki sah
(Padma Purana)

One who considers the spiritual master to be an ordinary man is said to live in hell.

#6 Bogus Gurus

Paricarya yaso lipsuh sisyad gurur na hi
(Vishnu smriti)

One who accepts disciples for personal service and fame is inappropriate to be a guru.

Guravo bahavah santi sisya vittapaharakah
Durlabhah sad gurur devi sisya santapaharakah
(Purana vakya)

Many bogus gurus take advantage of their disciples and loot them. They exploit their disciples for sex and use them to accumulate wealth, but a guru who can remove the miseries of his disciples is very rare.

sanatan varna caste

Guror apy avaliptasya karyakaryam ajanatah
Utpatha pratipannasya parityago vidhiyate
(Udyoga Parva, Mahabharata)

A guru addicted to sensual pleasure and polluted by vice, who is ignorant and has no power to differentiate between right and wrong, or who is not on the path of pure devotional service must be abandoned.

#7 One needs a Guru

Tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya
Upadeksyanti te jnanam jnaninas tattva darsinah
(Bhagavad Gita 4.34)

Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Surrender unto him, inquire from him and render service at his lotus feet. The self realized soul can impart knowledge unto you, for he has seen the truth.

nitai gaura nityananda trayodashi guru

Nr deham adyam su labham su durlabham
Plavam su kalpam guru karnadharam
Mayanukulena nabhasvateritam
Puman bhavabdhim na taret sa atma ha
(Srimad Bhagavatam 11.20.17)

This human form of life is very rare and it can grant all the benefits of life. It is superior to all other forms of life for having attained it, one may easily cross over the ocean of material existence. The human form of life is like a ship traversing the material ocean. The guru is the captain and the mercy of Krishna is the favorable wind that carries the ship safely across. One who does not take benefit of the human form of life for crossing the ocean of birth and death is the killer of the self.

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#8 Guru and Lord Nityananda are non-different

Samsarera para hai bhaktira sagare
Ye dubibe se bhajuk nitai chandere
(Chaitanya Bhagavata, Adi, 1.77)

One who wishes to transcend this material world and become engrossed in the ocean of devotional bliss, should worship the lotus feet of Lord Nityananda.

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