This evening in one House Preaching Program Shanta Maharaj spoke about the bona fide Guru. Maharaj went into the depths of the qualifications a guru must possess, and how we can properly observe and then approach the spiritual master. It is not that we are looking for faults within the guru we can see, from our distorted perception of this material plane, but instead we are looking to see where his feet are grounded. The lotus feet of the Guru are coming into this material realm to give us shelter from the storm of maya, and to guide us on our journey back to Godhead. Guru must possess the unalloyed devotion that is spoke of in the sastras, and be engaged in the service of the Lord 24 hours a day. Though he is seemingly here with us, in this mundane environment of illusory energy, Guru is actually fully transcendental, descending to distribute his mercy to the beyond-fallen souls, whose only hopes lie in the particles of dust resting beneath his truth-emanating lotus feet.
Shanta Maharaj related one story Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj once told him. In India accepting Kul-Guru is quite common. A Kul-Guru will accept anyone as a disciple. Not possessing any spiritual discipline himself nor expecting any such discipline from his disciples, the Kul-Guru is only after name and fame. So there was once one Kul-Guru in a village somewhere in India. This Kul-Guru, though having many disciples to serve him in various ways, one day decided that he did not have enough money. He decided that in order to better satisfy his rank, he would approach the king and convince him to become his disciple. The next day this Kul-Guru approached the king and told him that he would like to make a disciple of him. “Why should I accept you as my Guru!” roared the king. The Kul-Guru told that if he did, all peace would come to him. “Well”, the king thought, “that does sound very nice”. So in this way the king accepted this Kul-Guru as his spiritual master, and began providing him many funds. Some time went by, and, after feeling absolutely no peace, the king approached the Kul-Guru. “You have promised me some peace, and I have felt nothing. Why must I keep providing you with all of this laksmi if I am receiving nothing?” The Kul-Guru told him that since he had not performed the fire sacrifice, he was not benefiting from his offerings. So the king was then instructed how to perform the fire sacrifice, and happily left his Kul-Guru. Some more time passed, and again the king approached his Kul-Guru still having felt no peace at all. “Oh,” the Kul-Guru explained, “your mood while giving the laksmi has not been proper, this is why you are still feeling no peace.” So the king again left his Kul-Guru. Some more time passed, and, still, having felt nothing at all, the king furiously returned to his Kul-Guru. “I have given so much laskmi, and nothing I have felt! If you cannot provide me with peace in the next seven days, I will have you killed.” Upon hearing this the Kul-Guru became gravely frightened, as he was well aware he had no such ability to provide peace to the king, or anyone.
As it happened, one or two days later the Kul Guru’s son, who was a disciple in an authentic sampradaya, returned to his home. Upon returning he said “oh mother, I am very hungry, please feed me very nicely.” Hearing this the mother became very angry, “your father has less than seven days to live! and you are wanting me to prepare some feast for you!” The son then asked why his father had less than seven days to live, and, hearing this situation that had befallen his father, told his mother that he would take care of the situation, no problem, and to please nicely prepare him some food.
The next day the son approached the king, and when stopped and questioned by the guards, told them he was the son of the kings Kul-Guru, and comes bearing important information for the king. The son was taken to the king at once. “Oh king,” spoke the son of Kul-Guru, “my father has told you that he can give you peace, and nothing yet has come for you. Now you are wanting him killed because of this, and I am here to ask that you please have mercy on him. By honoring this wish of mine, I will give you this peace.” The king was reluctant, but agreed because he very much wished for peace within himself. The son told him that he would need to gather two ropes, and then follow himself and his father into the forest . The son led both the Kul-Guru and the king deep into the forest, where the trees were very large. At some point he stopped and tied them both to two separate trees, with their hands stretched behind them, and said, “Ok father, I would like you to now please release the king from his bondage.” He similarly told the king, “and you must now release my father from his bondage.” They both were furious, and the guru told “see what you have done, you have let my crazy son lead us deep into this forest and tie us to these trees, where we will surely die, with nothing!” The son calmly replied that, of course neither could release the other, as they themselves are completely locked in bondage. They both thought of this for a moment, feeling maybe there was some deeper meaning behind his words. In this way he showed them both that the true substance they are equally seeking cannot come from one who is shackled in material bondage.
It is in this light that we must seek out the qualified Guru, who is of Vaikuntha quality, and will deliver us from our own states of material bondage. It is a fact that we are bonded and disoriented in this ocean of material chaos, and so without hesitation, if we have any hope at all, we will approach the bona fide spiritual master, and live exclusively from the particles of devotion emanating from his holy lotus feet.