~ Jagad Guru Chris Butler (Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa)

A renunciant must have a renounced guru

"If for some reason a householder leaves home to embrace the life of a renunciant, and has still not been able to satisfy his spiritual yearnings, he naturally requires a saintly spiritual master. For such a renunciant, a spiritual master in the renounced order is best. By his spiritual guidance and initiation, the renunciant will very quickly relish the ecstasy of chanting the holy name.

"A householder devotee may suddenly feel the burden of family life affecting his spiritual quest. Though he leaves home, he heed not give up his previous spiritual master. A householder is advised to seek the shelter of a householder spiritual master if he is qualified and pure. If a householder spiritual master is not available, he may take initiation from a qualified renunciant guru. In any case, his spiritual master must be qualified. Under his guru's spiritual instructions, the neophyte begins devotional life and is gradually elevated to experience transcendental loving emotions in the service of the lord. He develops distaste for material life and then becomes a renunciant. Such developments are the natural course of things. Once he is in the renounced order, he is obliged to have a spiritual master who is a renunciant. He must be instructed in the life of renunciation from a renounced spiritual master, and accept from him the vesa or clothes of a mendicant.

Diksa-guru and siksa-guru equally respected

"There are two kinds of spiritual masters: the initiating spiritual master or diksa-guru, and the instructing spiritual master or siksa-guru. Both gurus have to be respected equally. This is the key to spiritual success. The diksa-guru initiates a person into the chanting of the holy name and the diksa-mantra, while the siksa-guru imparts spiritual conclusions to the disciple. This spiritual knowledge specifically means sambandha-jnana or the knowledge of the jiva’s relationship with the Supreme Lord and his multifarious energies. The diksa-guru is one but siksa-guru can be many. In fact all the Vaisnava devotees are siksa-gurus, but both the diksa-guru and the many siksa-gurus are to be equally respected.

The teaching of the adi-guru must be followed

"The Vaisnava disciplic successions are the real lines of saintly teachings and teachers. The Vaisnava lines have always disseminated the bona fide mantras, the proper scriptural conclusions, the authorized devotional process and the ultimate goal of life. If one is to be protected from the perils of mayavadi philosophy, then he should surrender to a spiritual master from a saintly line—namely a Vaisnava line.

The teachings left by the founder- acaryas of the sampradayas are to be especially honored. Sri Ramanuja, Sri Madhavacarya, Sri Nimbarkacarya, and Sri Visnuswami are the four original acaryas of the four Vaisnava lines. One should accept only their teachings and conclusions and not others. One should receive spiritual initiation in one of these four sampradayas and not others.

"A devotee must understand that the adi-guru, original spiritual master of the sampradaya, is the siksa-guru, and only his teachings are to be accepted and not those of any other scholar or teacher. And only a saintly devotee who has understood the teachings of the siksa-guru is eligible to be a diksa-guru for others. If one thinks that he can be initiated by a mayavadi guru into the teachings of Krsna consciousness, he errs severely. He will not attain pure devotion.

Accept only a pure devotee as guru

"He who imparts wrong teachings and he who receives them are both destined for hell. One who has accepted teachings and conclusions outside the line of pure bhakti has wasted his life. How then can such a person become a spiritual master? How can he save other conditioned souls? He himself is in illusion and is therefore an imperfect being, so how can he bring good fortune to others? One must understand that a pure devotee is not an ordinary soul. The scriptures declare that he is the most eligible to be a spiritual master.

The guru principle

"The diksa-guru and the siksa-guru are both intimate servitors of Lord Krsna. They are eternally situated in the Vraja mood of service; they are manifestations of Lord Krsna's energy. Never make the mistake of judging the guru as an ordinary mortal. The spiritual master is the representative of Lord Krsna's potencies, sent by the Lord as the eternal master of the disciples.

He must always be worshipped as an eternal associate of the Supreme Lord, nourished by the Lord's superior spiritual potency. However, one must never consider the spiritual master to be the Supreme Lord; this is mayavadi philosophy, not in line with the pure Vaisnava conclusions. The Vaisnava devotees are very wary of such misinterpretations, for the mayavadi whirlpool of word jugglery is indeed contaminating to the mind and heart. The spiritual master must always be worshipped according to the scriptural conclusions; when properly executed, these practices result in self-realization.

Guru-puja and respecting the spiritual master

"The spiritual master is to be worshipped first; only then may one worship Lord Krsna. The spiritual master should be offered different paraphernalia like a nice seat, shoes, foot bath, cloth, etc.; then with the spiritual master's permission one may worship the Deities of Sri-Sri Radha and Krsna. Food should be first offered to the Deities and then offered to the spiritual master, then to the demigods and other Vaisnavas. Without the spiritual master's sanction one cannot engage in Radha-Krsna worship. Before chanting the holy name, the disciple should remember the spiritual master and his instructions.

"One who disrespects the spiritual master commits a serious offense that will expel him from the path of pure devotion. The spiritual master, Lord Krsna, and the Vaisnavas must be worshipped with equal devotional fervor. Undeviating faith and devotion in the spiritual master will lead to pure chanting and the final goal of obtaining love of God—krsna-prema.