Acceptance of Spiritual Authority

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)

15 Responses to Acceptance of Spiritual Authority

  1. Goloka Vrndavana Dasa May 10, 2012 at 6:33 am #

    Serving Sri Guru at every Moment

    The following is a most powerful quote from His Divine Grace Srila Bhatisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Goswami Prabhupada on how to follow Srila Gurudeva:

    “Service to Srila Gurudeva is the pre-eminent objective. It is imperative to engage in the service of Srila Gurudeva at the beginning of every year, at beginning of every month, at the beginning of every day and indeed at the beginning of every moment. If we do not engage in serving Srīla Gurudeva at every moment, then surely we will end up in more trouble. The moment we forget to serve Sri Guru, is the very moment we will forget our own true self.

    The education imparted by the ordinary teachers and superiors of this world produces trivial results. The divine master, the parmarthika guru, does not bestow anything so insignificant. Sri Guru bestows upon us our true welfare. The moment a jīva becomes deprived of the grace of sri guru, who is the Supreme Personality of Love of Godhead (asraya-jatiya Bhagavan), several wayward desires appear in his heart. If the vartma-pradarsaka guru (one who initially guides us to the spiritual path) does not instruct us how to take shelter at the lotus feet of sri guru and how to behave toward him, then we may even lose sri guru the precious jewel we have just acquired.

    Nama-bhajana is indeed the sole method of bhajana, and sri guru solely instructs us on this method. If sri guru is not pleased with us, how will we gain the strength to perform bhajana? Therefore, I say, those who wish to attain the lotus feet of Bhagavan, who want true peace and who want deliverance from material existence, will make serving sri guru their life and soul, they will ceaselessly engage in that service and they will endeavour to please him even at the cost of their own life. Then no more troubles will remain, all welfare will be ensured and all their misfortune will be reduced to ashes.

    Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead (visaya-jatiya bhagavan) and Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Love of Godhead (asraya-jatiya bhagavan) are the two moieties of the same whole, and Their infinitely variegated, blissful play (vilasa-vaicitrya) is the form of perfect completeness itself. The complete manifestation of Supreme Personality of Godhead is Sri Krsna and the complete manifestation of the Supreme Personality of Love of Godhead is sri guru. Only he who constantly demonstrates by his own behaviour that we should serve Sri Bhagavan throughout our entire life, is sri guru. Such a guru is present in every entity and object. Indeed, we have no other purpose than to serve such a guru at every moment.

  2. Ambarisha Dasa May 9, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    I am that Ambarisha from Tallinn that we met in Bali last year. Thanks for all this wonderful opportunity to discuss these interesting topics. All glories to your Srila Gurudeva! and all glories to your nice website and talks.

    I have a nother good one for our talks. ys Ambarisha Dasa

    891118 BBSR DARSANA
    A Life of Faith and Simplicity—Gurudeva

    Gurudeva: Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s movement you see. ISKCON is Mahaprabhu’s movement, eternal movement. My revered Guru Maharaja Srila Prabhupada has said, “This will go on for ten thousand years.” Isn’t it? This ISKCON movement and it is a fact, definitely, why not? You understand?

    If someone is very serious and very simple at heart, very pure, he must get the mercy of Mahaprabhu, definitely. Don’t you think that in the movement, no such person or persons are present, how the movement is going on, understand?

    They are there but we have some defect with us. We cannot know them, do you understand? And those who are real sadhus, they never beat their own drums. One should know these things. They never beat their own drums. One cannot know them so easily, but they are there, do you understand?

    • Nimai Pandit dasa May 9, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

      Jaya prabhu,

      Good to hear from you.

      Bali was great. The festival for our beloved Gurudeva. Great.
      The Balinese devotees know how to look after guests.

      That is a good quote.
      Therefore sruta-iksita patha—the path of seeing through the ear.
      We must hear and then see, everyone thinks that they are seeing sadhu, big mistake. The sadhu sees us.

      Hari. Hari.

      Your servant,


      • Ambarisha Dasa May 10, 2012 at 12:08 am #

        I found another one about how to see sadhu from Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja also mentions that sadhu is always present, manifested;

        From SB 8.22.34 Lecture, Bbsr. 13.3.93
        Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja: All of them, all vaishnavas, great devotees, in Bhagavatam many places you will find such glorification of sadhu sanga. But in the material world the material existence, all people are very proud of their own senses. They want to see sadhus with their material senses, material eyes with material vision. …. They rely on their own senses. What do they do? They are only finding faults with sadhus. Not seeing the good qualities with sadhus. ….But you should understand that these types of persons are impersonalists. They only pretend, they only pose that they are doing bhakti-sadhana. But they are great impersonalists, great pretenders.

        …Bhaktavinod Thakura therefore says pure sadhus are always there in the world. If there would not have been this sun and the moon in the world, how could the world go on? Similarly, if there would not have been sadhus here, how this Krishna’s samsara will be there? Sadhus are always there, always present, but those who are asadhus they cannot recognize a sadhu. They have no vision to recognize a sadhu, therefore they say, “Oh, I am searching but I cannot find one.” They say so.

        Again Srila Bhaktavinod Öhäkura has said : “In life we meet many sadhus. But due to our duplicitous dealings, we cannot get any benefit by association of sadhus.” This is a most important thing. ……..But those who are simple hearted persons, no duplicity in their heart, they are always crying how to get real sadhu sanga. They have developed such greed for it. Krishna, who is there in the heart, He knows this thing. He then makes all arrangements for one to meet a real sadhu. And he puts complete faith in his words. He immediately surrenders to such a sädhu and thereby he gets the mercy of sadhu. Then he develops such vision whereby he recognize a sadhu.

        …..How does one gets such vision? By the mercy of sadhu. One can have such vision only by the mercy of sadhu. So you can see a sadhu, recognize a sadhu through that vision. Otherwise, how can you see a sadhu? Do you have such vision? You have material vision, defective vision. Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that thing, “In life we meet so many sadhus, but because of our duplicitous dealings we cannot get any real benefit out of that association.

        So one can only recognize a sadhu by the mercy of a sadhu, then one can develop such vision to see sadhu. Only by the mercy of the sadhu can one see. Otherwise, nobody can recognize a real sadhu.”….How can you see a sadhu? You cannot see through your materialistic eyes. See a sadhu through the ears. You cannot see a sadhu through your eyes. You see through your ears.

        In this path of devotion, bhakti path, there is no question of measurement. You cannot measure a sadhu. Have you a measuring rod in your hand that you can measure a sadhu? No question of measurement here. Those who are impersonalists, materialistic, those who rely on their material senses they are after this measuring, they say, “We can measure. We have a measuring rod in our hands”, but the consequence is that they are cheated. Unless one has developed proper vision, he cannot recognize a sadhu…. If someone has gotten the real mercy of Krishna, then he can recognize a sadhu, otherwise he will be put into a fix. A very dangerous situation. A great dilemma. “Is he really sadhu or not? Really sadhu or not?” Yes, he is in a fix, a great dilemma and this is a very dangerous situation.

        If someone has really gotten the mercy of Krishna, the he can recognize a sadhu, otherwise nobody can. He will then be able to come out of this dangerous situation. Otherwise, two things will happen, he will develop doubt in such a sadhu, and then blasphemes him and thinks ill of him. Gadadhara Pandit thought like this in his mind, just by mere thinking he commits aparadha. Such a dangerous situation. If some one has gotten real mercy from Krishna, he can immediately recognize, “He is a real sadhu.” Otherwise, he will commit aparadha and he will have to suffer. He will go to hell and suffer. One may be delivered or one may die. They cannot see, rather they commit aparadha. They are most unfortunate persons. They have not gotten the mercy of the Supreme Lord Krishna and therefore they cannot see and sadhu cannot reveal himself before them. But those who are really fortunate and have gotten the mercy of Krishna and developed such vision, sadhu cannot hide himself before them.

        Who cries in his heart, how to develop devotion, how to get association of sadhus. Krishna gives him pure intelligence, thereby he gets the association of sadhus and he recognizes a sadhu. Otherwise, you will commit aparadha, and welcome all sorts of inauspiciousness. There will be no auspisciousnes, at all. Krishna puts him in a test. There is a test. Yes, very severe test, and you have to face that test, and you have to pass the test. This is a dangerous situation, a dilemma. In such a dangerous situation, one is delivered or one is destroyed. Cry, Cry, Cry before Krsna only he can save us.

        Thank you very much!

        Jai Srila Gurudeva!

    • Ambarisha Dasa May 9, 2012 at 11:29 pm #

      As it was mentioned previously by Goloka Prabhu in his nice other post.

      Devotee 3: What if one is a disciple of a bonafide guru, then later on that guru stops his lila. What should one do?

      Gour Govinda Swami: Lila is always there:

      adyapiha sei lila kare gaura-raya,
      kona kona bhagyavan dekhibare paya

      (Cb. quoted in Bhaktivinode Thakur’s Navadvipa Mahatmya Pramana-khanda)

      Gauranga’s pastimes are still going on. People say, “Oh Gauranga Mahaprabhu has disappeared.” One who is very fortunate and has vision he can see how gaura-lila is going on.

      Devotee 3: That means that guru is always there?

      Gour Govinda Swami: Yes. He is always there. His lila is going on.

      Devotee 3: I may think, “I have already taken the dust of the lotus feet of my guru. Now he is not here. So I don’t need that dust anymore.”

      Gour Govinda Swami: Darsana is there. The guru is always there if you have the eye to see. If you are a sat-sisya you can always see how the guru is present.

      Devotee 4: How can we see guru?

      Gour Govinda Swami: Blind man! If you are endowed with that vision you can see.I never lost sight of my guru. I see my guru is always there. Therefore I cannot say,”nitya-lila-pravistha”. It is so painful to me. No! He is here.

      Devotee 4: Do you have to be a pure dovotee to see a pure devotee?

      Gour Govinda Swami: Yes! That vision is required. If you have no vision then you are a blind man.How can a blind man see? … Even if you are endowed with eyes, if there is no light then you can’t see. What is that light? The enlightenment by the mercy potency. If you are devoid of that, how can you see?

      Devotee 5: Anarthas are like clouds in front of the eye?

      Gour Govinda Swami: Yes, Yes. Anarthas are like clouds covering the sun. The eye is covered.

      Devotee 2: Can one see guru appearing in different forms, or is he coming in dreams?

      Gour Govinda Swami: He may come in a dream. He has different forms also, just as Krishna has different forms. Krishna has so many manifestations. Therefor we have described in our book Sri Guru-vandana about samasti-guru and vyasti-guru.

      Devotee 6: What are those kind of gurus?

      Gour Govinda Swami: Guru Krsna-rupa hana sastrera pramane (Cc. adi-lila1.45} — scripture describes that it is Krishna who appears as guru.
      Krishna is one. Guru tattva is also one. Guru is one, but he appears in different, different, forms. That is samasti-guru. The particular forms such as Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami, Srila Bhakitisiddhanta, this person and that, this is vyasti-guru.

      Devotee 3: When Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati left, guru was still there?

      Gour Govinda Swami: Yes.

      Devotee 3: Guru is always present?…..

      Gour Govinda Swami: Yes, always present…..(ending)

      Well my reading of these quotes leaves me to I think I understand correctly. So if ISKCON is Mahaprabhu’s movement for 10000 years and your Gurdeva says Guru is always present or physically manifested, then whats the problem???

  3. Nimai Pandit dasa May 9, 2012 at 10:32 pm #

    That is right Prabhu,

    Prabhupada and my Gurudeva preached in big ISKCON buildings and at mostly ISKCON programs. 100% correct.

    Therefore you had the best of both worlds: the temples (bricks and mortar) and the self effulgent sadhus preaching in those buildings.

    Thanks you for your many replies on the TVP site.

    Thanking you.

    Your lowly servant,
    Nimai Pandit dasa.

    • Raghava Pandit das May 9, 2012 at 11:02 pm #

      Great topics prabhu jis…., love it that this site is proving to be a helpful forum for gaining deeper understanding of our Gurudeva’s teaching, which remain ever fresh and relevant …..


      • Nimai Pandit dasa May 10, 2012 at 6:36 am #

        I could not agree more.

        Srila Gurudeva ki-jaya!

  4. Ambarisha Dasa May 9, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

    My posting was not meant to be as you say totally conclusive. looks that all should be adjusted and reconciled. No? Only take some instructions and not all?

  5. Ambarisha Dasa May 9, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    BBSR – 29.11.89

    “…..And one should accept it. Prabhupadaji Maharaja has said, GBC’s decision is the final decision. That is Prabhupada’s decision.

    If someone disobeys GBC’s decision, he disobeys Prabhupada. Thereby he commits offence. One should know it. Yes. … We go with the present link. That is the process, and that is according to sädhu-sästra-guru.

    One has to follow it. Don’t speculate. It is just speculation, and thereby they are committing offence. They are disobeying the order of Prabhupada. GBC’s order means Prabhupada’s order.

    In GBC there are so many Vaishnavas. They are all taking decision. It is not one single person taking the decision…”


    Interesting isn’t it?…..This instruction is not at all easy to accept sometimes. But, what to do???? ….We have to completely surrender to ALL the instructions of Sri Guru.

    Hari Hari

    • Nimai Pandit dasa May 9, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

      Dear Ambarisha dasa,

      What you have posted here as a response is not totally conclusive as to what our beloved Gurudeva has said on this topic.
      There is more to this than meets the eye (to quote a well used idiom).
      Gurudeva always said that we should be circumspect, go deep, not just brush over the top.

      As Gurudeva quotes in the article above: ‘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.’

      If we accept just for ecclesiastical purposes without being circumspect then we may commit a great blunder, (say no more)!

      Material management is one thing but acceptance of spiritual authority is something else again!

      Institutionalised religion does not work, it works for a period of time but as we can see throughout history ‘the cracks start to appear in the wall’. There must be a pure sadhu…!

      As Srila Bhaktivinoda has written:

      ” Party spirit – that great enemy of the truth – will always baffle the attempt of the inquirer who tries to gather truth from the religious works of his nation and will make him believe that the Absolute Truth is nowhere except in his old religious book.”

      Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada has written:

      “The church that has the best chance of survival in this damned world is that of atheism under the convenient guise of theism. The churches have always proved the staunchest upholders of the grossest forms of worldliness”

      Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur (The Harmonist Vol. XXIX No 7 1932)


      “The idea of an organised church in an intelligible form, indeed, marks the close of a living spiritual movement. The great ecclesiastical establishments are the dykes and the dams to retain the current that cannot be held by any such contrivances. They, indeed, indicate a desire on the part of the masses to exploit a spiritual movement for their own purpose. They also unmistakably indicate the end of the absolute and unconventional guidance of the bona fide spiritual teacher.”

      (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada, The Harmonist, January 1929)

      That is why the great sadhu-mahajanas, such as Vyasadeva, Valmiki have written the sastra. Sastra such as, Ramayana, mahabharata, Sri Caitanya Caritamrta and Sri Caitanya Bhagavata, Srimad Bhagavatam and many, many other scriptural writings and then great sadhus come and purport (annotated commentaries) to these great religious literatures and then other great sadhus come and elaborate on these commentaries.

      Otherwise as conditioned souls we have books but do not know how to understand them. It will be apara-vicara!!!

      The only reality in this world is sadhu-sangha and how does that sadhu-sanga come? Fom a living sad-guru who goes out and preaches and then the conditioned souls hear and those that are fortunate enough their hearts are touched and they begin the process of bhakti under the tutelage of sad-sadhu, sad guru, Sri Guru.

      Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, the lion Guru said in response to the Christians 2,000 period, he said “2,000 years too long to wait, they will commit blunders and make mistakes and how will they know they are not off the track. hence sadhu is needed, living.”

      He also said that, ““Krsna’s darsana can only be attained through the medium of the ear as one hears hari-katha from the pure Vaisnavas, there is no other way.”

      The real business is to approach sad-guru, take his association listen to him speak and then inquire on related topics etc. etc. etc. and this entails meet the living sadhu. As Srila Bhaktisiddhanta has said 2,000 years too long to wait!

      Sad-guru can deliver, no one else. Spiritual authority (not material authority) is of the utmost importance, tantamount to nothing else in this world.

      Krsna phala, sadhu-sangha sadhu-sanghe antaranga sri Krsna bhajana manohara

      Your lowly servant,

      • Nimai Pandit dasa May 9, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

        Absolute adherence to bricks and mortar is not enough.
        Party spirit.
        Organised religion.
        Etc. etc. etc. as quoted above by our illustrious Acaryas.

        We must have the essence.
        As quoted by our illustrious Gurudeva:
        The pure line of sadhus, and the plethora of information that he presented in the 1,000’s and 1,000’s of hours of lectures that he gave.

        I remember I was in Gurudeva’s room once after class and Gurudeva said to me ‘Nimai what time is it?’ and I replied ’12 o’clock Gurudeva.’ It was midday and Gurudeva looked at me with a shocked look on his face and said, ‘I have been speaking for four hours.’ And then he shook his head in disbelief.

        Gurudeva spoke so much for those who had taken the time to come and listen and he gave and gave and gave, to his last breath he still gave. Gurudeva spoke in a large temple, from a hut or he would preach in the middle of nowhere he did not care the most important thing is that he spoke for those who would hear. Preach to the Preachers. Case in point, to listen to sadhu you do not need a big grandiose building we just need to sit and hear the sadhu and it does not matter where that is done, under a tree whatever. Just hear.
        The best is hearing from sad-sdahu.

        Attachment to bricks and mortar is not enough, attachment to sad-sadhu and his divine instructions are the real authority.


        • Ambarisha Dasa May 9, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

          Is your Gurudeva saying in my posting to be attached to “bricks and mortar?”or to Prabhupada’s and your Gurudeva’s instructions? thanking you for your answers.

          • Ambarisha Dasa May 9, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

            Did not Prabhupada and your Gurudeva preach mostly in big ISKCON buildings and at mostly ISKCON programs?

          • Nimai Pandit dasa May 9, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

            Dear Prabhu,

            Please do not take offense, but a lot has happened since 1989, and a lot happened to our Gurudeva from 1989 to 1996 up and until that fateful day when he left this world untimely.

            I am saying bricks and mortar are ok if the sad-sadhu, sad-guru, Sri Guru is there. The example being who is in the churches, temples, mosques and synagogues?

            Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarsasvati Prabhupada has said two thousand years is too far away, too far gone. We need a living sadhu.

            Then the temples are replete with splendour. Temples, deities and the living sadhu glowing and effulgent speaking hari-katha.

            Your lowly servant,

            PS. Are you Ambarisha dasa from Estonia?

Dedicated to the Life and Teachings of Srila Gour Govinda Swami