by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Goswami Maharaj
Guravo bahabah santi sisyavittapaharakahMahadeva's instruction to Parvati - 'There may be many so called gurus in this world to squeeze money from disciples, but a Bonafide Guru who can remove the drawbacks and sufferings of disciples is very rare'. If we want quality, we cannot get quantity. If we are keen to increase quantity, we shall have to sacrifice quality. Who is Bonafide Guru? What are the characteristics of a Bonafide Guru? Prabuddha Muni's instructions in regard to this -
Durlabhah sadgururdevi, sisyasantapaharkah
tasmad gurum prapadyeta"Therefore, enquire Gurudeva about the best eternal welfare with complete submission to Him. A Bonafide Guru is endowed with two special qualities: 1) He is well-versed in authentic scriptures and 2) has realisation of Divinity"
jijnasuh sreya uttamam
sabde pare ca nisnatam
brahmanyupasamasrayam (SB 11 / 3 / 21)
sabde brahmani vede veda-tatparyya-jnapake sastrantare ca nisnatam nipunam, anyatha sisyasya samsaya-cchedabhave vaimanasya ca sati kasyacit sraddha-saithilyam api sambhavet. pare brahmani ca nisnatam aparoksanubhava-samartham, anyatha tat-kripa samyak phalavati na syat. para-brahma-nisnatatva-dyotakam aha, - upasam asrayam krodha-lobhady-avasibhutam
Sreela Vishvanath Chakravarty in his commentary explained the characteristics of a Bonafide Guru. Gurudeva should be well-versed in the Vedas and other allied scriptures. An aspirant disciple cannot progress in his worship of God without taking shelter of a really qualified Bonafide Guru, who should have the capacity of removing the doubts of disciples by reasoning substantiated with evidence from authentic scriptures. If Gurudeva is incapable of removing the doubts of the disciple, the disciple's belief in Him may slacken. The second characteristic of Gurudeva is that He should have realisation of the Divinity. Only by theoretical knowledge of the scriptures, without having practical realisation, Spiritual Guide cannot give proper advice and direction in accordance to the eligibility of the disciple. By the instruction of a Guru possessing the quality of practical realisation, the disciple can have actual spiritual progress. It is to be considered here, a disciple can have the capacity to comprehend scriptural knowledge of Gurudeva by hearing from Him; but how can a disciple understand whether Gurudeva has got realisation of Divinity or not? Supreme Lord is Transcendental Reality, His Absolute Counterpart Gurudeva is also Transcendental. Therefore, a neophyte votary cannot understand Gurudeva's realisation of Divinity by his own endeavour.
There are two aspects of Supreme Lord and His Absolute Counterpart Gurudeva - (1) morphological aspect and (2) ontological aspect. Conditioned souls can by their mind, intellect and sense-organs grasp the morphological, i.e. the external aspect of the thing - thing as it appears - and not the thing as it is. The thing as it is, can be realised only by the grace of Transcendental Realities, through unconditional complete surrender. As for example the self-luminous sun can only be known by it's own light and not by the help of other lights. We cannot see sun in the night with the help of other lights, but when sun rises, by accepting the grace of the sun-it's light- we can see the sun and all things of this world in the proper perspective. Supreme Lord and His Absolute Counterpart Gurudeva are self-effulgent. Sree Vishwanath Chakravarty Thakur, in his commentary, has given to the bonafide neophyte aspirants, a clue to recognise Guru by one external quality - a Bonafide Guru is not subdued by passions- anger, greed etc.
Of course, realised soul can use the passions for the service of Supreme Lord and for the eternal benefit of conditioned souls, but He can never be subjugated by them. Sree Narottam Thakur has advised us how the cardinal passions can be used for the service of Sree Krishna, except for malice -'Kama krisna-karam-arpane, krodha bhaktadvesijane, lobha sadhusange harikatha, moha ista-labhavine, mada krisnagungane niyukta kariba yatha tatha'. Kama - passion for fulfillment of desires should be diverted to desire to serve Krishna, 'anger' should be used against those who are hostile to devotees, 'greed' should be employed to increase the desire to hear Hari-Katha from a bonafide sadhu, 'infatuation' should be over not being able up till now to utilise the valuable time of this precious human birth for worship of Sree Krishna and 'madness' should be after singing the glories of Sree Krishna. Even Narada Goswami, out of compassion, used anger on the sons of Kuber- Nalkuber and Manigriva- to rescue them. According to Gita, the cause of anger is obstruction to fulfillment of one's desire. A real devotee cannot have any desire of his own except service of Sree Krishna. So, in a pure devotee, there cannot be any possibility of the origination of such anger due to hindrance to worldly desires.
It is essential for the votary to submit to Gurudeva wholeheartedly with words, mind, sense-organs and everything, for realisation of Divinity. Evidence-Mundaka Sruti:-
Pariksa lokan karma-citan brahmano
tad-vijnanartham sa gurumevabhigacchet
samit-panih srotriyam brahma-nistham (Mundaka Sruti 1 / 2 / 12)
A brahmin should have the knowledge that the fruits of Karma are non-eternal and Eternal Reality cannot be attained by karma. As such a brahmin has no attachment to karma and therefore, he takes absolute shelter at the Lotus Feet of a Bonafide Guru. Two characteristics of Bonafide Guru are mentioned in Mundaka Sruti- 'Srotriyam' and 'Brahma-Nistham'. Interpretations of the word 'Srotriyam -(1) Well-versed in Sruti sastras - the Vedas and other allied scriptures and (2) blessed by the descent of the Divine knowledge through preceptorial channel.
Supreme Lord is Transcendental and beyond comprehension of human intellect, mind and sense-organs. He is 'Asamorddhva', i.e. there is no one equal to Him or more than Him. So, His grace is the only means of getting Him. At the beginning of creation, when Brahma originated from the navel of Supreme Lord, Supreme Lord imparted Divine knowledge to him out of compassion.
jnanam parama-guhyam me'I tell you the most secret of all secrets for esoteric realisation of Divinity. Accept it and practice different forms of devotion to get the objective'.
sarahasyam tad-angam ca
grihana gaditam maya (SB 2. 9. 30)
Brahma, after realisation, imparted that Divine knowledge to Narada Goswami and Narada Goswami to Vyas Deva - in this way the knowledge of Divinity is extended through preceptorial channel or disciplic channel. Sree Amarartha Chandrika has interpreted the word 'Amnaya' as 'Sampradaya'. The etymological meaning of 'Sampradaya'is Divine Knowledge descending through bonafide preceptorial channel where sanctity of knowledge is correctly and completely retained. Nowadays due to prostitution of language, 'Sampradaya' is misinterpreted as 'sectarianism'.
sampradaya-vihina ye mantras te nisphala matah
sadhanaughair na sidhyanti, koti-kalpa-satair api
atah kalau bhavisyanti, catvarah sampradayainah
sri-brahma-rudra-sanaka, vaisnavah ksiti-pavanah (Padma Purana)
All mantras without connection to 'Sampradaya', or not received through preceptorial channel, are fruitless. Practise of such mantras for millions and millions of years will be in vain. Therefore, four bonafide sampradayas in this Kaliyuga (black age)-- 'Shree' (Lakshmi), 'Brahma', 'Rudra' and 'Sanak'- have appeared to rescue the fallen souls. It is stated in 'Premeya Ratnavali', written by Sree Baladeva Vidyabhushan Prabhu that 'Shree', i.e. 'Lakshmi Devi' has accepted 'Ramanuja' (other names- Ramanandi or Ramait), Brahma has accepted Madhvacharya (another name- Madhvi), 'Rudra'-Visnuswami (other names- Vallabhacharya or Vallabhi) and 'Chatuhson' (other names- Sanak, Sanandan, Sanatan and Sanatkumar) -- Nimbaditya (other names- Nimat or Nimbarka or Nimanandi) as Acharyas of the respective sampradayas. "Sree 'Brahma' Sampradaya is the preceptorial channel of the devout devotees of Sree Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. In conformity to this preceptorial channel, Sree Kavi Karnapur Goswami has determined 'Guru-Pranali' (succession of Gurus) in his own writing - Gaur-Ganadesha Dipika". Sree Baladeva Vidyabhushan, commentator of Vedanta-Sutra, has firmly corroborated this. Those who disown this Guru-Pranali, are considered to be the greatest foes against the verdict of Sree Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's followers and personal associates.
Acceptance of the system of bonafide sampradaya is absolutely necessary. Therefore, from ancient times, this acceptance of the system of bonafide sampradaya is very acutely followed by sadhus. Those who have understood the significance of the teachings of the Vedas through preceptorial channel from Brahma, have accepted this perfect representation. Others, having diverted from this opinion, have become the slaves of various blasphemous atheistic views"
Sree Bhakti Vinod Vani Vaibhav Kavi Karnapur in his book Gaur-Ganadesh Dipika, has ascertained Guru Parampara (succession of Gurus) in this way :-
tatra maddhavisampradayah prastavadatra likhyate parabrahmesvarasayasicchiyo jagatpatih
Parampara (preceptorial channel):- Brahma is the disciple of the Lord of Transcendental Realm. From Brahma, gradual succession - Narada - Vyas Deva - Madhvacharya - Padmanabhacharya - Narahari - Madhava - Akshobhya - Jayatirtha - Jnanasindhu - Mahanidhi - Vidyanidhi - Rajendra - Jayadharma - Purushottama - Vyasatirtha - Lakshmipati - Madhavendrapuri - Ishvarapuri - Sree Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Sreela Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur in his 'anubhasya' (commentary) on Sree Chaitanya Charitamrita, remembers Guru Parampara from Sree Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and prays their grace as follows:-
mahaprabhu sri-caitanya, radha-krisna nahe anya,
rupanuga janera jivana
viswambhara priyankara, sri-swarupa damodara,
tara mitra rupa-sanatana,
rupa-priya mahajana, raghunatha bhaktadhana,
tara priya kavi krisnadasa,
krisnadasa-priya-bara, narottama seva-para,
jara pada viswanatha-asa,
bhaktaraja viswanatha, tahe sraddho jagannatha,
tara priya bhakativinoda,
hari-bhajanete ja'ra moda,
ei saba harijana, gaurangera nijajana,
tadera ucchiste yara kama,
sri-varsabhanavi-bara, sada sevya-seva-para,
gaur-jana-sastra dekhi,' sei anusarya likhi,
'anubhasya' rupanuga mata
Srotriya, brahma-nishtha, mahabhagavat vaishnavs are 'Jagat Gurus' (Spiritual Guides of the whole world) for all time to come. By their remembrance, all objectives are attained. firstname.lastname@example.org