Q. When one is not in the proximate physical presence of one’s guru, how does one take necessary help for eliminating the obstacles on the path of sadhana?
Ans 1. As Srila Prabhupada always emphasized, association of the guru or a saintly person through ‘vani’ (i.e. their instructions) is more important than association through ‘vapu’ (personal, physical association). Even in the proximate physical presence of the spiritual master, it is the vani, or his instruction that is the most important. Therefore, especially when one does not get much opportunity for physical association, one should make all endeavor to regularly associate with the instructions of the spiritual master, through hearing or reading, meditating, discussing and by continuing to apply those instructions in our day-to-day activities. Continue reading Receiving blessings
Q. I thought that Sampradaya applies only to those initiated in disciplic succession (according to BG AS IT IS). For eg. I am not initiated in the ISKCON sampradaya at present. But I don’t think that it would be right if I claim to be part of the sampradaya. My question arises due to the fact that even though Srila Bhaktivinod Thakura is not the initiating guru of Gaura Kishora dasa babaji maharaja but still he appears in our sampradaya. Actually Gaurakishora dasa babaji maharaja is disciple of Srila Bhagavata Dasa Babaji who is a disciple of Srila Jagganatha Dasa Babaji (the spiritual master of Srila Bhaktivinod Thakura).
A. One can be considered to be part of a sampradaya if one receives instructions and faithfully adheres to those instructions according to the sampradaya. Initiation into the sampradaya is a formalization of the acceptance of the teachings and instructions of that sampradaya. In our particular disciplic succession, the lineage is traced by the source of primary instruction that one receives. Another way of saying the same thing is that our disciplic line is a siksa line, not a diksa line. You most certainly can be considered part of the sampradaya if you receive instructions from Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. He is your primary siksa guru and others may also be guiding you very nicely in your spiritual progress. This is what constitutes being part of a sampradaya. At some point in time diksa will formally connect you with the disciplic succession, but you may very well be presently part of this sampradaya by taking primary instruction from Srila Prabhupada’s books and teachings.
Q. How one can take the guidance from Krishna in day to day work and how one can be sure that, he has got the guidance to act in a prescribed way, which shall not bind one to the result of work done?
A. By His representative…. the bonafide spiritual master coming in line of bonafide spiritual masters in a bonafide sampradaya.
Q. A man who most of his time is engaged in maintaining his family, running business, who acts in the atmosphere of material life and cooperates with people for whom spiritual life makes almost no sense – can such a man consider approaching a guru?
A. Spiritual life is one of internal intentions. If you “really” want to serve Krsna then Krsna will give you such intelligence that you will be able to make spiritual progress from whatever position you happen to find yourself in. So we should try to cultivate this kind of sincere determination, that so long I have been serving Maya… this one life time I want to serve Krsna. If we have this mentality then Krsna will help us in every way including sending us to a bona-fide guru.
Q. When one accepts a spiritual master, it is said that the relationship is eternal. However, if one is not able to go back to Godhead in one lifetime, then how can he accept another guru in the next life? Or does the same guru have to come back to fulfill his duty?
A. The concept of ‘guru-tattva’ is inconceivable and most difficult to understand. In principle, as Srila Prabhupada explains in his famous Vyasa-puja address, the Guru is one; guru cannot be two. (Cf. Science of Self Realization pp. 70-71) The Original spiritual master is Lord Balarama or Lord Nityananda and He appears in infinite forms to instruct us. This of course does not de-personalize or minimize the value of the empowered devotee of the Lord who plays the part of a spiritual master. This fundamental spiritual principle is difficult to understand with mundane logic, but with this understanding we can simply accept that one’s relationship with his spiritual master is eternal.
Q. I had taken shelter from a spiritual master and he from his pure lips mentioned, “I can initiate you anytime,” and later confirmed that he will be initiating me in the coming initiation function. However, later by Krishna’s mercy the spiritual master left his body. As I have already accepted him as my spiritual master, is it still necessary for me to get initiated from a different spiritual master. Isn’t the promise from the spiritual master indicative that I am already his initiated disciple?
A. The confirmation of the spiritual master most certainly affirms his acceptance of you as his disciple, and so also have you accepted him as your spiritual master in your heart. However, although what happened is unfortunate, according to the teachings of our scriptures and previous acaryas, we learn that the formal diksa ceremony is an essential and vital event or milestone in spiritual life for a devotee. Initiation or acceptance and taking shelter of a spiritual master is essentially a matter of the heart; however, the formal ceremony of initiation and formal acceptance of a spiritual master is not unimportant either.
It is through the diksa ceremony that a devotee is formally connected to the guru-parampara and ultimately to Krishna. Therefore the scriptural recommendation is that one must accept the formal diksa initiation from a bona fide spiritual master through whom one is connected to the parampara. Taking initiation from another spiritual master will not hamper your feelings of devotion and gratitude to the other spiritual master, nor will it nullify that acceptance of the heart; rather the shelter and guidance of your diksa-guru should only support and strengthen your connection with the former relationship.
Q. When one thinks he has found a bona fide spiritual master and later it proves to be wrong, would it be appropriate to say that initially, or in the first place, the judgment of the disciple was wrong and thus he never got a bonafide spiritual master?
A. That may be a possibility. There are some instances when one does accept a bona fide spiritual master but later on that spiritual master may fall away from the strict standards. Narahari Sarkar, one very saintly follower of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, has written one text which describes the latter of these two situations. In either case, the aspiring devotee should just go forward on his spiritual journey, with greater wisdom and accept the shelter of one who is a bona fide spiritual master. When one is fully sincere to attain spiritual perfection, then Krishna will bring the devotee to His bona fide representative.
Q. I want to know about inner voice.
A. Generally the temptations that are put forward by the mind are misunderstood as inner voice. However immoral or unethical they may be, people tend to justify their acts by saying they were guided by “the inner voice.”
Inner voice is the voice of the Paramatma, Supersoul, Who is seated within everyone’s heart and is directing all living entities. At the present moment we are not in a position to identify His voice correctly, so we need a spiritual master who is a bona fide representative of the Supreme Lord.
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport to Bhagavad-Gita (18.58):
“No conditioned soul actually knows what is to be done and what is not to be done, but a person who acts in Krishna consciousness is free to act because everything is prompted by Krishna (Supersoul) from within and confirmed by the spiritual master.”
So to understand the inner voice, we just need to surrender our lives to a bona fide spiritual master and listen to his instructions.
Q. Why one is unable to approach a genuine Sadhu or a spiritual master even after he has spent time most of his life in false attempt of enjoying this material world?
A. It is said that the living entities are wandering in the universe in different species of life, and out of those only a fortunate soul can receive the seed of bhakti by the grace of Krishna and Guru. Especially so in this age of Kali, where people in general are unfortunate and easily misguided, and where pure representatives of the Lord are so few, it is very rare to come in contact with a genuine spiritual master. It requires a sincere desire and genuine endeavor on our part to find a bona fide guru, and along with our endeavor it also requires the mercy of the Lord.
Q. What sort of heart and qualification required to completely surrender to a Spiritual master?
A. Krishna describes in Bhagavad Gita how one should approach a realized spiritual master (Bg 4.34). He indicates three components: submission, inquiry and service. We should approach the spiritual master with all humility, hear from him submissively and inquire from him to get a clear understanding about the spiritual science. Inquiring alone is not sufficient, but one must also render service to the spiritual master according to what one has heard and please him. One should be prepared to render menial service to the spiritual master and follow his instructions.
If one is very sincere to know Krishna, He will send His mercy in the form of a representative, to provide exactly the kind of spiritual upliftment the soul requires.