Acceptance of Spiritual Authority
(From an Evening darśana, Bhubaneswar, 1990)
Sent in by Goloka Vrindavana Dasa
Devotee: Should we accept someone as an authority if they have material attachments and are not situated on the spiritual platform?
Srila Gour Govinda Swami: We accept because we are in a society. Someone may be GBC of some region of the world, so according to the management system he is authority. But by the spiritual system, unless I am convinced, I cannot accept him as authority. That is up to me. I have independence. It is my choice. As far as the management system goes, I accept him because he is GBC. But as far as spiritual things go, unless I am convinced I cannot accept. “Please excuse me.” Acceptance of someone as a spiritual authority should not be forced or compulsory. That is a principle.
For me to accept someone as a spiritual authority my heart must be convinced, because it is based on the desire of the heart. It is not an external thing. It is internal. Acting in that way is not offensive. I am not disregarding him. He is a Vaiṣṇava, so I offer him obeisances. We pay obeisances to all Vaiṣṇavas, regardless if they are kaniṣṭha, madhyama, or whatever. That is etiquette. But accepting someone as spiritual master, that is something else.
(Evening darśana, Bhubaneswar, 1990)