Reply to Sivarama Maharaja Podcast dated 7/8/2009


This is a reply to the above Podcast by Sivarama Maharaja (SRS), which was titled “How does one select a spiritual master”. As usual, statements from the podcast shall be enclosed in speech marks “ “ thus, with our comments following underneath enclosed in brackets [ ] thus, and in bold.

Devotee:I guess my question is how do I know who to get initiated by […] how do I know who my spiritual master would be?  

SRS: Well that's, first it starts with a principle, which is accepting sastra's authority and then sastra tells you what guru is, and the first guru that, you know, one accepts is Srila Prabhupada because he's explaining the scripture for us and he's teaching us by his instructions and example and then “guru krsna prasade paya bhakti-lata bija”.

SRS is asked how we will know who our Diksa guru is? SRS answers that first one accepts Srila Prabhupada as the guru because he teaches us and explains the scripture to us. But the person who does this is the spiritual master we accept initiation from:

"And then you come to the guru, and guru teaches sästra. […] So how guru says? Not guru is manufacturing. Guru says on the strength of çästra. Therefore sädhu-guru-sästra, three things must be there. [… ] Whatever guru will speak must be evidenced by the çästra. That is guru. So you go to guru."
(Lecture, 21/1/74)

So our process is that: sädhu-guru-çästra. We have to accept everything through saintly person, confirmed by the scripture, and described or explained by guru. Then it is perfect. The scriptures are already there, and we have to see how the scriptures are being followed by saintly persons. And if there is any difficulty, they should be explained by the spiritual master.
(Discussion with Syamasundara on evolution)

It has never been taught by Srila Prabhupada that the Guru who explains the sastra and then teaches us via his instructions and example is not sufficient to be accepted as the spiritual master who will take us back to Godhead, the Diksa Guru. And that instead we must still search for someone else to accept as our Guru, even though this “other” person will not contribute more than what Srila Prabhupada is doing for us.

“Then one, when one accepts the principle, then ultimately by hearing from Vaisnavas, Krishna reveals to one who one Vaisnava amongst others are that one will actually be committed to follow and will take instruction from and guidance and then whom one sees as one's representative of Krishna through whom one offers one's service to Krishna as well.

SRS has just said that Srila Prabupada is the person who instructs us and guides us. So Krishna has already revealed to us that Srila Prabhupada is the person who we should commit to. But if anyone states this they will immediately be thrown out of the society.

Devotee: So if I were to execute devotional service and chant, then it will…
Krishna reveals it in the heart.

SRS claims here that the Guru will be revealed by Krishna in heart – not revealed by the GBC. Why then when Krishna has revealed in the hearts of so many devotees that Srila Prabhupada is their Guru, does SRS forbid them from accepting the Guru which Krishna has revealed to them?

“You know if an astrologer tells you that you're going to marry a handsome man who is 6 foot 2 and who has, I don't know, a mole on his right ear, then when you meet someone who has a mole on his right ear, then you should be able to recognize that that's the person the astrologer's talking about. So similarly if we know what the description of guru is and if Krishna is also telling us in our heart, then we should be able to recognize the person when we see him.

Srila Prabhupada has given us this description:

"The guru must be situated on the topmost platform of devotional service. There are three classes of devotees, and the guru must be accepted from the topmost class."
(C.c. Madhya, 24.330, purport)

"When one has attained the topmost position of maha-bhagavata, he is to be accepted as a guru and worshipped exactly like Hari, the Personality of Godhead. Only such a person is eligible to occupy the post of a guru."
(C.c. Madhya, 24.330, purport)

“Therefore a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikari as a spiritual master."
(Nectar of Instruction, Verse 5, purport)

We already know that Srila Prabhupada fits this description.

Whilst SRS’s Guru and GBC colleague has told us that none of the GBC gurus fit this description:

"Such an uttama-adhikari Vaisnava is in perfect touch with the Supersoul and at every moment knows the Supreme Lord's desires. […]If the GBC Body sees someone as a self-efflugent acarya who is completely aware of the Supersoul and Srila Prabhupada's desires and instructions they can and should follow his/her instructions. No one so far has been seen in that category."
(Prahladananda Swami, “Duties of GBC and Guru in ISKCON”, 2006 & Letter 20/8/2006)

Yet as soon as we recognize such a Guru in the form of Srila Prabhupada, SRS will hound us out of the society.

“Well the issue's accepting a spiritual master, the qualification for initiation is based upon having a proper relationship. When there actually a real live relationship is there between spiritual master and disciple and particularly when one is equipped and mature enough to follow vows of initiation.

SRS states that accepting a spiritual master for initiation requires a proper relationship which will be “real live”. What this means in practice however can be learned from the “real live” relationship which SRS himself had before he accepted initiation:

“For almost five years I had seen and known Prabhupada visually from photos [...] But I had never seen Prabhupada in person […] That was the first personal contact with his Divine Grace, although I had been an initiated devotee for two years.”
(SRS, Meeting Srila Prabhupada)

So we know from SRS’s own personal example, that not being able to meet Srila Prabhupada is no bar to being initiated by him.


In answer to the question “How does one select a spiritual master”, SRS has answered:

  1. That one selects a person whom one will take guidance and instruction from.

  2. That Srila Prabhupada guides and instructs us.

  3. That Srila Prabhupada must be accepted as a spiritual master because he explains the sastra, which according to Srila Prabhupada is what the Diksa Guru does.

  4. That the guru can be anyone revealed by Krishna in the heart.

  5. That we must recognize the Guru by the description given for a Guru, but this description only fits Srila Prabhupada and not any GBC gurus.

  6. That we must have a proper relationship with the Guru before getting initiated by him, but this does not require physical contact.

So in summary SRS, without realizing it, has simply pointed to Srila Prabhupada as being the person one should select as a spiritual master. Yet SRS will fight to the death to prevent anyone who actually wishes to follow this advice, insisting instead that the Guru must be selected only from either himself or the GBC voted-in gurus.

Please chant: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare,
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare.
And be Happy!