~ Jagad Guru Chris Butler (Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa)

— Chapter Six —

Disobeying or Disrespecting
the Spiritual Master

All glories to Sri Panca-tattva and Sri Radha-Madhava. All glories to Navadvipa-dharma, Vraja-dhama, Yamuna-devi and to all the Vaisnava devotees.

The preciousness of human life

SRILA HARIDASA THAKURA SAID, "O Lord, kindly allow me to explain the third namaparadha. This aparadha is to disobey the orders of the spiritual master or to disrespect him.

"The soul travels through many lifetimes in different bodies and at last gets the chance of a rare human birth, which is auspicious in every respect. The soul has rotated through 8,400,000 different species; by ajnata-sukrti, or involuntary pious activities, the soul finally attains a human body.

A birth in the human form is most uncommon, because only in that body are spiritual activities possible, not in any other species. A demigod or denizen of the heavenly planets is destined only to enjoy the reactions of his past pious activities; he cannot voluntarily initiate any saintly activities. Animals are likewise bound by karmic reactions and are too steeped in gross ignorance to undertake any pious activities independently. The human birth alone is most conducive for spiritual life and for service to the Supreme Lord.

A spiritual master is essential for everyone

"Yet the fact remains that this body is transient. If one doos not carefully endeavor for self-realization, which is the greatest benediction, then he returns again to the endless cycle of birth and death. An intelligent person will therefore utilize this rare opportunity. He will search out a spiritual master who can lead him to the Supreme Lord Krsna. Such a spiritual master is truly a helmsman who can help the drowning jiva cross over the ocean of material nescience. Only the most foolish persons will attempt to cross this ocean by their own intelligence. The achievement of any success in this world requires the help of a guru's instructions. How, then, can one obtain perfection in the best of all subjects, spiritual science, without the aid of a guru? Only one who is self-realized and fully proficient in spiritual knowledge is fit to be a spiritual master.

"A few of the characteristics of a bona fide spiritual master are that he is peaceful, unperturbed, and a pure devotee of Krsna. He should be approached with humility.The jiva should satisfy him with service and receive formal initiation from him into the worship of Lord Krsna; herein lies his best chance to surmount the material entanglement. The jiva's inherent love for Krsna lies dormant in the heart and can easily be revived. But he can easily lose this chance through speculative debates and mischievous logic. He must evade such pitfalls, surrender to the spiritual master's instructions and receive the proper mantra from him. As for householders, they should remain within the varnasrama system and take shelter of a bona fide spiritual master.

A good brahmana is fit to be a spiritual master

"A brahmana is fit to be a spiritual master for all the other varnas or social orders if he is a devotee of Lord Krsna. But if a brahmana spiritual master is not available, then a spiritual master from another varna should be searched out. Still, the householder is best advised to accept initiation from a brahmana-varna spiritual master.

"A real spiritual master is one who is conversant with the science of Krsna consciousness. A spiritual master can be from any varna or asrama, but he must be a kalpataru or touchstone (which converts iron into gold), fulfilling everyone's spiritual longings, The prestige of having a spiritual master from a superior

varna is a material consideration; that prestige simply depends on the caste status of the one who is judging the spiritual master's caste. External factors such as caste have hardly any bearing on spiritual realization. Necessity demands that one must find a spiritual master who is bona fide and qualified; if he happens to belong to a higher varna, so much the better. A householder should look for a spiritual master from one of the higher varnas; if he finds one who is qualified then he may not look for one from a lower varna. It must be noted well, though, that in looking for a ‘high class’ spiritual master, one should not choose an unqualified person simply for the prestige of having a spiritual master from a higher varna.