~ Jagad Guru Chris Butler (Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa)

When to reject a guru

"If by some misfortune the spiritual master falls into bad association, he gradually loses his spiritual realization and potency. At the time the disciple met him, the guru was bona fide and realized, but later, due to offenses against the holy name (namaparadha), he became bewildered by maya and bereft of knowledge.

In this condition he detests Vaisnava company and the chanting of the holy name; gradually he becomes enslaved by lust, greed, wealth and women. If by the mercy of Lord Krsna the disciple can see through all this, then he will reject his guru. Later he can again seek a bona fide and pure devotee and under his spiritual guidance cultivate the pure name.

Guru and disciple must test one another

"The spiritual master must be strict with his disciples. He must correct a prospective disciple before initiating him, and punish the wayward initiated ones. A disciple's spiritual life is rendered useless if he serves and worships an unqualified guru. But as long as the relationship between the spiritual master and the disciple is stable (i.e. each remains qualified in his position) then there is no question of one rejecting the other.

"The guru-disciple relationship is eternal. If both maintain their pure positions and are bona fide, their eternal relationship is never jeopardized. However, if the spiritual master is later exposed as perfidious, the disciple must immediately repudiate him.

The same is to be done by the spiritual master if the disciple is similarly exposed. If such repudiation is not carried out by both parties when it is necessary, then they stand to be doomed.

"One who disrespects the bona fide pure Vaisnava spiritual master is a reprobate and fit to be shunned by all. It is advisable, therefore, that before accepting a spiritual master one should carefully choose the right person. The spiritual master must be a pure devotee of the Lord. The scriptures recommend that both the spiritual master and the disciple place each other under strict scrutiny before mutual acceptance. This precludes the kula-guru or traditional family guru. Of course, if the kula-guru is qualified, it is of immediate convenience to accept him; but in the case that he is not saintly, a pure devotee should be searched out and taken as the spiritual master. Since even ordinary household items are tested before acquisition, it is only an unfortunate fool who will fail to go through a testing period in the selection of his true spiritual master, who is the best friend of the living entities.

The unqualified kula-guru should be offered due respect and devotion and, after begging permission to leave him, a person must seek a qualified spiritual master. The point is that one must not bring upon himself the calamity of having to reject his spiritual master. If one is prudent, he can avoid such a situation. One must watchfully avoid committing any offenses against a pure devotee guru. This is disastrous and will ruin both men and demigods alike.

How to serve the spiritual master

"Never disrespect the articles used by the spiritual master: for instance, his seat, bed, shoes, vehicle, footstool, bath water, etc. Stepping on his shadow, worshipping another person in his presence, giving initiation while he is itill alive, trying to impress others with one's spiritual knowledge in his presence, and trying to control him are to be totally rejected. Whenever and wherever one sees his spiritual master, he should offer his prostrated obeisances to him with prayers. The guru's name must be uttered with great reverence. His orders are never to be disobeyed. Always be eager to honor his remnants and do not say anything that is displeasing to him. Fall humbly at his feet and beg shelter from him, and in this way act to please him. Simply by behaving thusly, one can easily develop a taste for chanting, which in turn offers all perfection. This is confirmed in the Vedas.

"He who offends the nama-guru, or the spiritual master who initiates one into the chanting of the holy name of the Lord, falls into sinful company and adopts the viewpoint of unauthorized, sacrilegious scriptures. The nama-guru teaches scriptural conclusions and reveals the esoteric nature of the holy name. He initiates the disciple into the mantra of the holy name. The diksa-guru will generally be the nama-guru, and the diksa-mantra is actually the holy name. The mantra loses its meaning and purpose if it is separated from the holy name; simply by uttering the holy name of the Lord, the mantra is automatically chanted.

"The only way to be pardoned of this offense is to forsake sinful company, cast away the unauthorized scriptures and throw oneself at the spiritual master's lotus feet repenting piteously. The spiritual master is a compassionate Vaisnava; due to his merciful nature, he'll surely be forgiving."

I, the wretched author of Harinama Cintamani, am a sinner. My only hope of redemption is the dust of the lotus of Haridasa Thakura.