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Tuesday, March 18, 2008 Accept a Spiritual Master


By Rita


This Bhagavatam teleconference is one of the most enlightening

experiences of my life. I am grateful to Jaya Jagannatha dasa, his Guru Maharaj Radhanath Swami, and all the previous acharyas.


The goal of Gaudiya Vaishnavas is to establish Sri Krsna, the Supreme

Personality of Godhead, in the heart. Krsna tells us explicitly how to

achieve this goal in SB 1.1.2. "As soon as one attentively and

submissively hears the message of the Bhagavatam, by this culture of knowledge the Supreme Lord is established within his heart."




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From this verse, we can understand that there are at least three

reasons why devotees should not try to approach Sri Krsna directly, but

should instead approach Krsna through a bona fide spiritual master. Those

three reasons are: (1) humility; (2) lack of qualification; and (3)

respect for the parampara system. Each of these three reasons are

discussed below.


1. Humility.


The "culture of knowledge" is described in the Bhaktivedanta purport to

Sri Isopanisad mantra 10, and in BG 13.8-12. The first quality of the

culture of knowledge is "humility." Therefore, one can not approach

Krsna unless he is humble.


Humility means not desiring to receive honor from others, and learning

to give proper respect to others. Those people who speak the message

of the Bhagavatam are most worthy of our respect. It is only through

their mercy that we may be able to achieve the highest perfection of life

-- establishing Krsna in the heart. We honor those speakers by

accepting them as "spiritual masters."


Accepting a "master" means to become submissive, and to accept the

master's word as law. This is in contrast to friends. Friends are equals.

With friends, each person speaks his own thoughts, and there never

needs to be any conclusion or agreement at the end of a conversation.


We can not reach spiritual perfection by having friends. Instead, we

must accept a bona fide spiritual master. In BG 4.3, Krsna tells

Arjuna, "That very ancient science of the relationship with the Supreme is

told by Me to you because you are My devotee as well as My friend and can therefore understand the transcendental mystery of this science."

Arjuna is qualified to cultivate knowledge because of his submissive

attitude -- not because of his friendly disposition. In the purport to SB

1.2.21, Srila Prabhupada writes that "Perfect knowledge is called

parampara, or deductive knowledge coming down from the authority [spiritual master] to the submissive aural receiver who is bona fide by service and surrender."


In order to approach Sr Krsna, we must cultivate knowledge. Knowledge

includes humility. Humility is manifested by submission to the spiritual master. Therefore, devotees should not try to approach Sri Krsna directly, but should instead approach Krsna through a bona fide spiritual master.


2. Lack of qualification.


Spiritual perfection means to "gain positive scientific knowledge of

the Personality of Godhead." SB 1.2.20. In other words, spiritual

perfection means to see or "realize" Krsna directly, with our own

spiritual eyes. Until we realize Krsna, we can see him only indirectly through

the scriptures or through the eyes of others [spiritual master].


We realize Krsna directly by "rendering devotional service." SB

1.2.12. The word "rendering" means that there are two aspects of devotional service -- offer and acceptance. Therefore, it is not merely enough that a devotee offer service to Krsna. The service must also be accepted by Krsna.


In the Nectar of Devotion, Srila Prabhupada explains the process of

rendering service to Krsna. Prabhupada describes the process of deity

worship on page 78 of Chapter 9, "Further Consideration of Devotional

Principles." Prabhupada writes that "Actually, in India the temples are

just like royal palaces. They are not ordinary buildings, because the

worship of Krsna should be performed in just the way that a king is

worshiped in his palace." In other words, deity worship must be carried out

with the opulence of Dwaraka.


Thus, Prabhupada describes the standard for deity worship. A devotee

can worship Krsna's deity form ONLY if he can render opulent service.

Therefore, when we offer food ("bhoga"), flowers, or songs to Krsna, the

offering must be worthy of a king. Otherwise, Krsna will not accept

the offering.


What can a devotee do if he is not qualified to make opulent offerings

worthy of a king? The answer is that the devotee should not offer

anything directly to Krsna, but should instead make the offering through

the spiritual master. Through the potency of the spiritual master

and the parampara (disciplic succession), the offering will be "fixed up"

until it is worthy of a king, and therefore acceptable to Krsna.


For example, assume that we desire to offer a cooked meal to Krsna.

The meal consists only of rice, vegetables, lentils, juice, and dessert.

Furthermore, we might not be an expert chef -- all of these preparations may be simple and the ingredients might be from an average grocery



If we offer these foods to Krsna directly, he will not accept it. If

we offer these foods through the bona fide spiritual master, however,

our offering might be made acceptable.


Here's how it works. The offering is made to the spiritual master. We

plead with the spiritual master, "Please show me your mercy and accept

this miserable offering. I am so fallen that I can not offer anything

better. Please, please accept these foods so that I have the

possibility of doing better in the future. My entire life depends on you."


If the spiritual master determines that the disciple is sincere, he

will reveal his mercy by accepting the offering. Then, he inspects the

offering and fixes up some of the defects, and adds another preparation

or two. Then, he offers the food to his spiritual master. The

spiritual grandfather might accept the food or reject it. If he accepts it,

then the grandfather fixes up a few more defects, and adds some more



This process continues until the offering reaches Srimati Radharani.

Srimati Radharani knows Krsna perfectly, so she fixes the offering so

that it is perfectly suited for Krsna's taste. Then, she makes the

offering directly to Krsna. Krsna will not reject anything offered by

Radharani. Therefore, if the unqualified devotee makes the offering through

the spiritual master and through Radharani, the devotee is guaranteed



If, however, the unqualified devotee makes an offering directly to

Krsna, then the offering will not be accepted. Therefore, the food will

not be enjoyed by Krsna, but will be enjoyed only by the devotee. In

this case, the devotee's spiritual life will be ruined. "The devotees of

the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food

which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for

personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin." BG 3.13. Although this verse

implies that only the offer is required, in fact both offer and

acceptance are required.


Offerings made by an unqualified devotee directly to Krsna will be

rejected. Therefore, devotees should not try to approach Sri Krsna

directly, but should instead approach Krsna through a bona fide spiritual


3. Respect for the parampara system

full article: http://beautifulbhagavatas.blogspot.com/

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