Who is the True Guru?



śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!

Rays of The Harmonist On-Line Edition

Year-1, Number 8
Posted: 20 September 2008


Dedicated to
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja


Inspired by and under the guidance of

Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja


Who is the True Guru?

by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada

Who is the true Guru? It is he who is constantly engaged in the service of Sri Hari. And who is the truly learned man? It is he who, in the words of Sri Krsna, is well conversant with actual knowledge of the jiva’s bondage and his deliverance from it (cf. Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.19.41).

We should only accept as our guru he who employs all of his time, cent per cent, in God’s service. Otherwise we will fail miserably by following him. Sri Caitanya-caritamrta has instructed us: “A true guru teaches his disciple through his own behaviour and practice. He cannot teach dharma who does not abide by it himself.”

The srutis instruct us, “one who seeks true knowledge of tat – that Supreme Being – should gather the necessary articles for initiation and approach a guru who is conversant in the Vedas and steeped in realization of Brahman – the Supreme Spirit” (Mundaka Upanisad 1.2.12). This instruction has also been given in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.3.21): “One who seeks his highest well-being should surrender himself to a guru who is well-versed in the imports of the Vedas, who has full realization of Parabrahma and who has thereby become the shelter of true peace.” Neither platform-speakers, who are but skilled in giving speeches, yet who conduct themselves improperly, nor professional priests can be gurus.

One who does not stay constantly engaged in hari-bhajana (devotional service to Sri Hari) will be anxious to take up other engagements on the strength of sri-nama and will thus risk committing the severe aparadha, or offence, of utilizing sri-nama in sinful affairs. Moreover, one who acts in the capacity of guru for a salary or according to a contract cannot be a guru, nor can one who reads the Srimad-Bhagavatam blindly. First of all, refrain from approaching such professional priests and platform-speakers. Observe whether or not they fully devote their time to Srimad-Bhagavatam. For one who is steeped or accomplished in realization of Parabrahma, one’s full time is occupied with service to God.

From whom should we hear the Srimad-Bhagavatam? We should hear and learn the Bhagavatam from a true Vaisnava, for it cannot emanate from the mouth of one who is not a bhagavata, or true devotee. Pretending to ably recite it just leads others astray. He who does so is himself deceived and as such, deceives others. How can the Bhagavatam, which is not different from Sri Bhagavan, really play on the tongues of the professional readers who pose as conversant scholars when reading it before others, but who have no true devotion to Sri Bhagavan due to being engaged in worldly enjoyment? On the plea of discussing the Bhagavatam, they simply gratify their own senses instead of the senses of Sri Krsna.

He who is anxious for his true well-being should never come in contact with such professional readers and thereby court his own downfall, while falsely believing that he will truly be benefited by accepting them as his gurus and hearing from them as though he were their disciple. How can someone who is busy with the maintenance of his wife and children; who is fully devoted to his desire for worldly enjoyments, which arise out of illusion; and who tries to employ God, the highest Entity worthy of adoration and service, in supplying him fuel for the fire of those enjoyments; act as jagad-guru, or the true instructor of all people?

What do we observe in the Srimad-Bhagavatam and in the conduct and preaching of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His devotees? Those who foster within their hearts fear, affliction, illusion, sensual desires, greed, and feelings of frustration in relation to their bodies, wealth, friends and so on due to their attachment to some object other than God, have not surrendered themselves to God. Such undedicated individuals cannot advise others to surrender to God. Even if they give verbal instructions, their preaching, which is bereft of any practical examples from their own conduct, is ineffective.

Only a mahabhagavata (exalted devotee of God) who has no worldly possession or attachment, and who has sincerely surrendered himself to Krsna and exclusively serves Him twenty-four hours a day can legitimately occupy the acarya’s seat.

adapted from The Gaudiya Volume 24, No.11
by the Rays of The Harmonist team


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Rays of The Harmonist On-line, Year 1, Number 8 by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License to ensure that it is always freely available. You may redistribute this article if you include this license and attribute it to Rays of The Harmonist. Please ask for permission before using the Rays of The Harmonist banner-logo.

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