How to Choose Guru?

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

This article will give the basic guidelines for choosing your Guru; some are external practical points and others are internal—the feelings of your heart and the full acceptance within the inner reaches of your mind.

Before choosing your Guru, please deeply reflect upon all these points.Then sincerely cry while praying to the most merciful saviour, Bhagavan Sri Krishna, to give you clear, firm and perfect directions regarding choosing just the right diksa Guru to bring you to Goloka Vrndavana, and the eternal, sweet seva of Syama’s lotus feet.

Determining Identity of Guru:

It is completely impossible for any conditioned soul to judge or determine the degree of bhakti within a Guru’s heart. No one can honestly say, “O, my Guru is a bhava bhakta!” “My Guru is a premi bhakta!” Or my Guru is a rasika Vaisnava!” To say so is merely speculation, sentiment and wish projection; a completely subjective statement.

When defining the qualifies of a Guru no sastra says the Guru must be on the level of prema, bhava, asakti etc. But they do say the Guru must have ANUBHAVA or experience of Krishna. This can mean a variety of anubhavas of which the topmost one would be saksad darsana, direct eye-to eye seeing of Bhagavan Sri Krishna. Indeed, this is a very, very rare occurrence attained by some special siddha purusha; possibly even one in a million!

But again how can anyone know or judge, because the true Guru is sober and self-controlled. He or she does not go around everywhere crying and rolling on the floor while proclaiming, “I have seen Krishna! “I have seen Krishna!”

In our present 45 years of practicing Krishna bhakti bhajan, we have had the good fortune of associating with many greatly exalted and perfected GaudiyaVaisnava Babajis, sannyasis, Gosvamis and Vamsa acaryas. But, other than an occasional and involuntary display of crying while chanting the glories of Radha and Krishna, we never once saw any of these wonderful saints publically exhibit any sattvika bhavas or external signs or symptoms of Krishna bhava and prema.

The following scriptural references (sastra praman) clearly define the qualities and characteristics of the genuine spiritual master—the Guru. By following these guidelines one can faithfully select the proper spiritual mentor, and surrender their lives at his/her compassionate lotus feet. Jai Sri Radhe!

The following verse is the main and primary one used by all acaryas to define the qualities of the real, true Guru.

*** tasmad gurum prapadyeta, jijnasuh sreya uttamam
sabde pare ca nisnatam, brahman yupasam asrayam

“If you want to know and attain the highest state of bliss eternal, then you must take shelter at the feet of a sad-guru. The sad-guru is thoroughly competent in the Bhagavad-Gita, Bhagavata and other sastras propounding the essence of Veda i.e. Radha-Krishna prema seva. Guru has direct experience of Bhagavan Sri Krishna, and is devoid of base material attachments i.e.lust, greed etc.”(Srimad Bhagavatam 11.3.21)

Comments Sri Swamicarana:

A disciple’s doubts cannot be removed if the Guru is not learned in scriptures. And if Guru is not deeply devoted to Krishna, the Guru will not be able to infuse the disciple with a genuine taste and experience of Krishna bhakti bhajan.”

Comments Sri Sanatana Goswami:

“The phrase UPASAMA ASRAYAM in the verse above means one who is asrayam, or has exclusively taken shelter of Bhakti-yoga, and is entirely absorbed in sravana, Krishna kirtana and other forms of bhakti bhajan. Such a Vaisnava is a sad-guru to whom one can take shelter.”

Comments Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada:

“If Guru has no direct experience of the Absolute Truth Bhagavan Sri Krishna, his krpa or mercy will not bear real fruits.”

One must also consider these points when selecting a transcendental wisdom teacher:

  1. Guru exhibits warmth, care and feelings of parental affection toward disciples.
  2. Guru is very peaceful, content within himself, and radiates an inner joy that indicates the happiness of Krishna within the heart. (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.10.5)
  3. The Guru must be (sammatam satsu) which means approved by his/her own diksa Guru, and respected by other saintly persons. (Hari Bhakti Vilasa 1.34)
  4. If one lacks the above-mentioned characteristics, one cannot be accepted as Guru even if they come from a pious family and possess many virtuous attributes.

Thus the fortunate and faithful person, who desires unlimited bliss in the eternal the service of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna, should take Gopala/Krishna mantra diksa from a great devotee endowed with these qualities, and learn the art of Krishna bhakti bhajan.

In his usual sweet and elegant style, the great rasika Gaudiya Vaisnava Pandit Sri Ananta Das Babaji Maharaja presents the essence of this subject in the following quotation:

“When the spiritual potency that distinguishes one as a competent teacher appears within a virtuous person, one should be regarded as a sad-guru. This occurs by the mercy of one’s Guru, and one’s sadhana bhajan which cleanses impurities from the mind and heart, and infuses one with devotion adorned with kindness and generosity.

“Seeing the jivas suffering in maya, the Guru’s heart melts with compassion. Thus the Guru teaches the art of Krishna bhakti bhajan to remove the disciple’s misery, and bless them with the sweet taste of bhakti-rasa.”

“The ability to serve as Guru comes from Bhagavan Sri Krishna within the hearts of those great souls blessed with the grace of bhakti. If a seeker of love divine is fortunate, one will attain the shelter of such a competent Guru.” (Guru Tattva Vijnana)

To conclude, we recommend that one searching for a spiritual master should find a guru who has transcendental wisdom, purity of behavior, magnetic devotion and experience of Krishna. Such a guru should inspire one’s intellect and fill one’s heart with unbreakable conviction that speaks loud and clear:

“Yes! I really love this teacher! I have full faith, and I have a strong, completely positive feeling in the core of my heart. I have no doubts whatsoever about this Guru. And I am fully convinced that I can completely surrender, give my full heart, and serve this Guru life after life!” Jai Gurudeva!

However, if any of these qualities are lacking, then one needs to keep searching, crying and praying to Krishna to bestow just the right guru. Guru diksa ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

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