His Grace Sankarshan Das Adhikari

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Bhagavad-gita 4.34

December 30th, 2005 at Suva, Fiji

Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya
(repeated three times)

So tonight we are giving our final evening seminar of our 2005 Suva seminar series. Tonight we are talking about the importance of the spiritual master by studying chapter 4 and text number 34.

tad viddhi pranipatena
pariprasnena sevaya
upadeksyanti te jñanam
jñaninas tattva-darsinah


Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.


“The path of spiritual realization is undoubtedly difficult. The Lord therefore advises us to approach a bona fide spiritual master in the line of disciplic succession from the Lord Himself. No one can be a bona fide spiritual master without following this principle of disciplic succession. The Lord is the original spiritual master, and a person in the disciplic succession can convey the message of the Lord as it is to his disciple. No one can be spiritually realized by manufacturing his own process, as is the fashion of the foolish pretenders.”

Sankarshan Das Adhikari: This is really a fact. We will just stop here little bit of the reading of the purport. This is so much a fact. Nowadays people think they can be spiritually realized by manufacturing their own system. This person told me that…, well, we will discuss that later.

They are thinking that on their own realization they can achieve perfection. If someone is drowning in the middle of the ocean and they think they will swim for it on their own, is that a very smart idea? Someone drops you off in the water halfway between Fiji and Australia. He says, “Swim for it.” You say, “Yeah, I will swim for it.” and swim back to Nandi, Reki Reki, whatever,… Mombasa. How far is it between here and Australia? A thousand miles, two- thousand miles, three thousand miles? How many miles? Four hours flight, it takes two hours just to fly half the distance between here and Australia and how fast do those airplanes go? And you are going to swim?  So people think “Yes, I will do it on my own. I don’t need a guru. I will tell the guru what he can do and what he cannot do. I am so advanced in Krishna consciousness. I will instruct the spiritual master.” As soon as one takes that proud attitude of thinking that they can tell the spiritual master what he can do and what he cannot do, their spiritual life is absolutely finished. It doesn’t matter if they are chanting japa, following the principles, or whatever they are doing. If you become an offender against the spiritual master, your spiritual life is dead, completely dead. I don’t care if you are going to mangala arati every day.  I don’t care what you may be doing. If one becomes an offender against the spiritual master you are finished- absolutely finished.

yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado
yasyaprasadan na gatih kuto 'pi

“By the mercy of the spiritual master one receives the benediction of Krishna. Without the grace of the spiritual master no one can make any advancement.”

Cannot be, absolutely cannot be.

Someone may think, “Well, having a spiritual master is alright for you… but I don’t need one. For you, obviously it is a good thing. You needed one, but I don’t. I have some special qualifications. That means I don’t need a spiritual master.” “Oh, so you are more advanced than Arjuna, my dear sir? You are greater transcendentalist than Arjuna who is a personal associate of Lord Krishna? You are more advanced than Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead who showed the example of taking a guru, Sandipani Muni? Or Lord Caitanya who showed the example of taking a guru, Isvara Puri? You are more advanced? You are more advanced than Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvatiwho is nitya siddha, one of the rays of Vishnu? One of Lord Vishnu’s personal stock who is sent to assist  Bhaktivinoda Thakura who showed the example by  becoming the disciple of Goura Kishora das Babaji Maharaja? You think you are more advanced than Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati? Good luck! That’s all I can say. Good luck! Do you think you are so advanced that you don’t need a spiritual master, that you can ignore the instructions of Krishna?”

And it is re-confirmed in Adi Purana. Krishna is again speaking to Arjuna in the Adi Purana. “One who is my devotee is not my devotee; but the devotee of my devotee is my actual devotee.” Someone may say, “Well, you needed ISKCON in order to become Krishna conscious because you weren’t born in India. I became Krishna conscious before I met ISKCON so I don’t need ISKCON to tell me how to become Krishna conscious."

Well, the fact is there are different levels of being Krishna conscious. There is- kanishta adhikari, madhyama adhikari and uttama adhakari.

The fact is that there are millions of people who are Krishna conscious, who are not members of ISKCON.  They celebrate Janmastami. They go to Tirupati. They are Krishna conscious like that gambler who bet on the horses. He went to Tirupati and he made a deal with Lord Venkateshvara. He said, “My dear Lord I am betting on the horse and if he wins I will split the prize money with you.” So the prize money was 50,000 Rupees for the first place. So his horse came in second place and the prize money for the second place was 25,000 Rupees. So he went back to the Lord and he said, “My dear Lord,a You didn’t trust me. You have already taken Your half.” He didn’t give one rupee to the Lord Venkateshvara. So “My dear Lord why you are being…. Why are you not trusting me?” In this way he cheated. This is their Krishna consciousness. It is conniving business man’s mentality thinking, “Yes, I am Krishna conscious. I pray to Krishna.”

 One man in the Delhi airport very proudly told me... He was a young, bright-faced brahmacari back in 1980- fired up young brahmacari, bright faced brahmacari. He looked at me and said, (like you people don’t really know anything). He said, “We are all Krishna here.” You can only think “Oh, Prabhupada really knows what’s going on.” These people are so mayavadi. He was telling me that, "Everybody here in India is Krishna and you people don’t know anything, you ISKCON naïve ISKCON bubbly brahmacaris don’t know anything." The fact is that we didn’t know anything.  But by the mercy of taking shelter at the lotus feet of a bona fide spiritual master, we became the recipients of the knowledge of everything - perfect knowledge. That’s a fact.

I was also Krishna conscious just like Indians are Krishna conscious before they found out about ISKCON. I was also Krishna conscious before I found out about this ISKCON. But my quality of Krishna consciousness was very low. I was offering my food.  I was chanting Hare Krishna before I knew there was Hare Krishna movement. Some friend taught me who had heard it from someone who had heard it from someone who had heard it from the devotees. So indirectly I got it from devotees. But my Krishna consciousness was contaminated with sahajiya and mayavada. It was contaminated.  It wasn’t pure bhakti.

So the fact is that many people are Krishna conscious outside of ISKCON, outside of the guidance of Srila Prabhupada.  But their Vaisnavism, their Krishna consciousness is contaminated with sahajiya and mayavada. That’s a fact. Because they haven’t taken … they think on their own they can be Krishna conscious. They don’t realize that Krishna is giving the formula of how to be Krishna conscious. They don’t want to realize it. They want to take Krishna consciousness to mean: you do your duty. “Because I go to work and I make money and I support my family therefore I am Krishna bhakta.” Krishna says, “Do your duty”. But the problem is that they fail to know the second half of the verse: “Do you duty and offer the results to Me.” They do their duty and they put all their result in their own pocket. They think, “Yes, I am very good devotee.”

We actually had that experience in Texas, one of our members who kind of fizzled out on us. You will see why in a minute. He opened a shop. He laid aside his career with the Power and Electric Company there and he opened a shop. He tried his hand of being an entrepreneur.

So we said, “Why don’t you give the first proceeds of your first sale every day to Lord Krishna? It would be very auspicious.”

He said, “Yes, very good idea.”

We brought him the donation box there in his shop there.  And he started doing that every day the proceeds from the first sale would go to Krishna, a very auspicious blessing for his store, for his business. So after some time we came to collect the donations for the temple.

He said, “Oh! I don’t have it. I gave it to my brother.”

We said, “What?”

He said, “Yes, my brother is Krishna.”

In this way people have their own ideas of Krishna consciousness. They have their own idea of what is the meaning of Krishna. They think everyone is Krishna. My family members are Krishna. They actually have that saying, daridra Narayana. By feeding the poor I am feeding Krishna. “The beggar on the street, if I feed him, then I am doing the best service to Krishna.” One of my students, a young girl in Bangalore, her brother found out that she was donating 250 rupees every week to buy flowers for the Deities in the temple.

And he said, “Krishna will be more pleased if you feed the poor.”

He told her, “This is stupid what you are doing - buying flowers for the Deities. You should feed the poor and that will please Krishna more.”

So this is their stupidity; they think they know how to please Krishna.

The fact is until you take shelter of bona fide spiritual master you don’t know anything about pleasing Krishna. Zip, zero, nada they say in Spanish, nothing. You know nothing about pleasing Krishna. You will never please Krishna until you take shelter of a bona fide spiritual master. That’s a fact.  It is insanity, it is just an insane condition; “Yes, I know how to please Krishna.”

I’ll continue reading the purport here-

“The Bhagavatam (6.3.19) says, dharmam tu saksad bhagavat-pranitam: the path of religion is directly enunciated by the Lord. Therefore, mental speculation or dry arguments cannot help lead one to the right path. Nor by independent study of books of knowledge can one progress in spiritual life.”

SDA: That’s why ISKCON is so important because we are giving the proper training. If somebody wants to gain a proper understanding of the scripture, we are giving that education. But if they think they don’t need it, that they can just speculate on their own, they will never make any progress in spiritual life. Never.

Continue with the purport:

“One has to approach a bona fide spiritual master to receive the knowledge. Such a spiritual master should be accepted in full surrender.

SDA: In other words you don’t tell the guru, “you don’t preach to me. Don’t try to enlighten me with transcendental knowledge. Don’t think that you know something that I don’t know.” You can’t tell your spiritual master that.

Continue with the purport :

…. “and one should serve the spiritual master like a menial servant, without false prestige. Satisfaction of the self-realized spiritual master is the secret of advancement in spiritual life.”

SDA: Do you realize the full ramification of that statement? Has that sunk into everyone’s brain, the significance of that statement? The secret of advancement, this is one of that insider’s secret Prabhupada is giving us. All you have to do is satisfy your spiritual master. That’s all you have to do. Nothing else is required, nothing else, nothing else required. You may be a total failure from the external view point, complete total failure but if your spiritual master is satisfied by what you did, you have achieved the top most success.

Do you know that when Srila Prabhupada came to America he told us this? I was personally with Prabhupada in Atlanta in 1975. He told us in that gathering in Atlanta that when he came to America he was thinking... Actually he explained first off when his Godbrothers had gone to England on the order of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, they had preached to one Lord Zetland. Actually Prabhupada could not say that with his Bengali tongue. He said Lord Jetland apparently Bengalis cannot pronounce Z.  So he said, “Lord Jetland.” It is actually Lord Zetland , Ze or Zed they also say Ze, Lord Zetland it is spelled Zetland. Any way Prabhupada said, "Lord Jetland." They approached Lord Jetland; they had meeting with him. He had been in India during the British rule period as the governor of Bengal. So he knew something about Varnasrama. So he asked the Godbrother of Prabhupada.

He said, “Swamiji” he knew that brahmana was the big cream of the crop. If you are brahmana, that’s very high prestige. 

He said, “Swamiji, can you make me a brahmana?”

And Prabhupada’s godbrother said, “Yes, you follow these principles: no illicit sex, no meat eating, and no intoxication, no gambling  and we can make you a brahmana.”

And Lord Zetland immediately replied, “Impossible, that is not possible.”

So Prabhupada told us what he was thinking when he came to this country, America. He said, “I was thinking when I came to your country, as soon as I tell them no illicit sex life, no meat eating, no intoxication no gambling, they would immediately say, ‘Please go home’.” So Prabhupada was thinking that he would not be successful. But then he said, “I was thinking, ‘But let me try’.”  Prabhupada tried therefore we were all saved. So I said, “Jaya!” then everybody in the room thought that was an appropriate moment to say "Jaya!" Then the whole room of 300 devotees all said, “Jaya!” I started it. Everybody else joined in. they echoed after I said it because it was really an appropriate moment to say “Jaya!” because Prabhupada’s trying was what saved us. We were saved because Prabhupada agreed to try even though he was convinced that he would be a failure if he tried. Even if Prabhupada had been a failure and had  not been successful in starting this movement, still because he risked everything to try to do that, he was already successful.

 The sincere endeavor is success. It doesn’t depend on the result. But generally sincere endeavor will sooner or later meet with the successful result. That’s also there. It’s not that somebody can go out on book distribution and come back and having done nothing. Ten devotees went out on book distribution. Everyone did a lot of books and one devotee didn’t do anything and they said, “Maybe he didn’t really try sincerely.”

So success is a sign of purity and that’s a fact. One who is actually pure will be blessed with success… but not always. There are notable cases when pure devotees who had no success. Look at in Jhansi. Prabhupada in Jhansi. There was no success. He tried with all sincerity and it was a failure. Even Lord Caitanya was a failure in Navadvipa. Then He left to go elsewhere for preaching. He wasn’t able to be successful in Navadvipa. The atmosphere in Navadvipa was not conducive for His preaching work. So He left.

So the real point is the sincere… The order of the spiritual master, if it is taken with all sincerity, with all inclination, with all patience and with all enthusiasm, if one tries to the best of one’s intelligence to carry out the order of the spiritual master, he will be satisfied to see that his servant is sincerely trying and that’s all it takes. Do you have that sincerity?  if you sincerely try to please the spiritual master then you will advance in spiritual life. Really that’s all we have to do.

Now Prabhupada gives another formula on how to get spiritual understanding. This is a very important principle because unless we have spiritual understanding we won’t know how to satisfy the spiritual master. So how does one get spiritual understanding? This is a very important principle. One gets spiritual understanding by inquiries and submission. Inquiry is an important thing, and being submissive. These are important.

And Prabhupada continues:

“Unless there is submission and service, inquiries from the learned spiritual master will not be effective.”

SDA: So Prabhupada has commented sometimes that you should not take knowledge from the spiritual master gratis. There is an obligation when you receive knowledge from the spiritual master to give in return: to give some monetary contribution or to give some gift or to give some service. These things are important for the actual awakening of the transcendental knowledge within the heart of the disciple. There has to be some service given. You can give money. You can give gifts. You can give a flower garland. You can give service. There has to be some way of giving something to the spiritual master – giving service because that enables what you heard now and not some theoretical thing which goes in one ear and out the other ear. It enables to actually grow within the heart and become realized knowledge. It is a very important principle. Without that service to the learned spiritual master, the actual realization of that transcendental knowledge will not take place.

Prabhupada continues:

 “One must be able to pass the test of the spiritual master, and when he sees the genuine desire of the disciple, he automatically blesses the disciple with genuine spiritual understanding.”

SDA:  So what is that test? Is there some – something I can look up some thirteen questions? What is that test? Well it depends. This is a test in a very broad sense. It is not that there is something special exam or some quiz. But it really varies with each individual. Krishna arranges a test for you, something that tests your sincerity. If you approach the spiritual master with the genuine desire for spiritual realization, Krishna will put some test. Your faith will be tested. Are you really willing to put your faith to the test? There will be some point that you have to pass a test.

In other words you have to go to beyond your ordinary comfort zone. In this material world we have comfort zone. I am an American. I am Fijian. I am Indian. I am male. I am female. I am forty-three. I am twenty eight. We are comfortable with these concepts. I am a college professor. I am a restaurant manager. We are comfortable with these concepts. When we come to the bona fide spiritual master, he pulls the rug out from under us. “My dear sir, I beg to inform you that you are not really who you think you are.” And those thing we felt comfortable with, secure with, which are really false security.

Those things we were hanging on to, that false sense of security now the spiritual master pulls the rug out from under us. Then we can reject him, reject his words of wisdom or we can put a little bit of faith and say “Well, let me check this out. Maybe there is something here which will take me to a higher level of consciousness.” We don’t say you have to have blind faith. But we do say you have to be intellectually daring. That we do say. You have to be willing to have all your cherished philosophical pre-conceptions smashed if necessary to awaken higher consciousness within your heart. You have to be a daring consciousness voyager, consciousness explorer. If you want to expand your consciousness you can’t hold on to your philosophical comfort zone like a little child is attached to a blanket. You  have to be willing to let go of your toys.

 A child grows up and gives up attachment for his toys. But the trouble with us adults, we still have our toys that we are attached to, philosophical toys. We have to be willing to give up all of our toys and become fully matured in spiritual knowledge. So these are tests. Can we actually lay aside all pre-conceived ideas of what is true and what is not true and go into that level of realization where we can actually directly experience the Absolute Truth? So we have to pass some tests in order to enter into that state of consciousness.

Prabhupada continues:

“In this verse, both blind following and absurd inquiries are condemned.”

SDA: Many times people say, “Well, I can’t blindly accept anything.” Many people have the foolish idea that we want people to blindly accept our philosophy. There is nothing that can be further from the truth. I was trained by Visnujana Swami and Prabhupada confirmed. He said, “You have been trained under the expert guidance of Vishnujana Swami Maharaja.” The way he trained me was this: He said, “Your intelligence has to be satisfied.” He never told me to blindly accept it.

In fact when I told him… I said “I think I want to be a devotee now. I would like to be a devotee. Did he say, “Great, that’s wonderful”? No. You know what he said? He said, “I am afraid that’s ‘easy come, easy go’.” I was a little surprised when he said that. I thought he would say “Oh, that’s great. You want to be a devotee that’s wonderful! Jaya!” He didn’t say that. He said, “Well, I am afraid that’s ‘easy come, easy go’.” So he let me know that we don’t like people who come too easily to Krishna consciousness because they also go too easily. We like people who use their intelligence who take their time and use their intelligence, get their intelligence fully satisfied because those people never go.

Once a person has had complete philosophical understanding of this philosophy, they will never leave Krishna consciousness. The numbers… if you look at the numbers of ISKCON, it appears that most people never had a deep philosophical realization. It appears that most of the membership came on the sentimental basis ‘easy come, easy go’. But I guarantee, of those devotees who had deep philosophical understanding they will never leave this movement. You can’t budge them because they understand that any positions besides complete surrender at the lotus feet of guru and Krishna is an absolutely, philosophically asinine position. They realized with full logic and understanding, not blindly. They have full realization. So these are very profound word of Srila Prabhupada.

Prabhupada continues:

“Not only should one hear submissively from the spiritual master, but one must also get a clear understanding from him…”

SDA: this is the point not just sentimentalism but you have to clearly understand the philosophy, clearly and then….


“… and in submission and service and inquiries.”

SDA: That’s how it actually happens.


“A bona fide spiritual master is by nature very kind toward the disciple.”

SDA: Actually a bona fide spiritual master doesn’t have any ulterior motive. He is not after money. He is not after followers. He is not after women. All he wants to do is help people. He is simply motivated by love and compassion. That’s all. That’s his only motive. He cannot stand to see people suffering. He himself is tasting so much bliss and so much nectar and he sees all around him in the world how much people are miserable like anything.

Prabhupada used to take the morning walk in Auburn. He would even see the people on Monday morning on the morning commute and he started crying, understanding the position they were in. And it is actually horrible what people go through in this material world. How unhappy they are. I remember one time when I was doing some part-time work to help support our center. And the employees there they would put some picture of a South Sea Island like Fiji or something in front of their cubicle. “Yes, I will go on a vacation to the South Seas, one of those South Sea Islands like Fiji or whatever.” That would inspire them to struggle to go through all the work and here the people in the Fiji they are putting up something like the picture of Australia or New Zealand on their wall. (Laugh)

 Nobody is happy in this material world. No one is actually happy. We are just thinking “Yeah, it is somewhere else.” In North America they are thinking, “Yes, if I can really get to Fiji then I will really be happy, the Blue lagoon.” The people in the Fiji are thinking, “Yes, when I can get to Australia or New Zealand then I will be happy.” People in Australia they are thinking, “When I can get somewhere else.” No one is happy in this material world. Everyone is suffering. But if we can take shelter of the bona fide spiritual master and by his mercy be enlightened in transcendental knowledge then we will actually taste the happiness. We are actually looking for the spiritual master, the bona fide guru. That’s what we are actually looking for; that person who can reveal to us everything about God and our relationship with God.

Then Prabhupada concludes his beautiful profound purport:

“Therefore when the student is submissive and is always ready to render service, the reciprocation of knowledge and inquiries becomes perfect.” 

SDA: So that’s the key. You need to find a person that you can submit yourself to. Sometimes I have people approach me. They put themselves in the mode of being my disciple but then they want me to submit to them, like a mutual admiration society. “Gurudeva I will flatter you, then you can flatter me.” That is not guru-disciple.

Guru means that place where you completely surrender with no argument. You cannot argue with the spiritual master. If you think you can still argue with this person then he is not…, that is not the guru-disciple relationship. In the beginning you can place arguments. But when you are defeated you must accept. Prabhupada placed argument to Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. You must, if you have objection, if it doesn’t make sense to you what the spiritual master is saying then you should say something. So either he will be defeated and be shown not to be bona fide spiritual master or you will shown to be a fool.

Actually one Godbrother he came to see Prabhupada in Los Angeles and he was a very proud man. A young man, he had been a football player, he was big man on the college campus really very expert in debate and very intelligent man. So he was thinking “Well, I am going to test this Swami to see if he is really a guru. He has to be able to do this, this, and that. He has to be able to predict the future. He has to able to read my mind…” He had a whole list of thing that a guru had to be able to do to be a bona fide guru, according to his conception of a bona fide guru. So he came in Prabhupada’s quarter in Los Angeles. The whole room was filled with sannyasis and senior leaders and he was just sitting there with his long curly hippie hair down to his shoulders. Prabhupada had the great powers of the understanding.

Prabhupada, just out of the blue he said, “Why are you such a krpana?” Out of the blue he hadn’t said a word. Prabhupada said, “Why are you such a krpana?” He challenged him and he was shocked. There was so much energy, a heavy thunderbolt energy coming out of Prabhupada towards this young boy, Randy. Everybody else kind of moved out of the way. They didn’t want to be in the line of all these thunderbolts coming across the room. They kind of made little space. So these thunderbolts were coming from Prabhupada.  And Prabhupada completely smashed him. He tried arguing with Prabhupada and then Prabhupada actually covered all four points without him even bringing them up. 

All the four points that he had listed to be the requirement for the bona fide guru, Prabhupada actually did all four of them without him even saying anything. He didn’t ask about any of the four but Prabhupada just in the course of his smashing this boy, all four points were covered and he was totally smashed and defeated. And he angrily got up and stormed out and got in his car and started heading back to the Laguna Beach completely angry: “Argh.“

But then, as he was driving for a while, I think he might have gotten home, he realized “You know what? You’ve just been defeated.Why don’t you just take it? You were defeated so why don’t you just admit it?” So he came back the next day with a thousand dollar donation to give it to Prabhuapda, to appreciate actually his great spiritual master. But then he gave it to Rameshvara. But he didn’t want to give it directly to Prabhupada. He just gave it to Rameshvara. Rameshavara said, “Why don’t you give, don’t you want to come up and see him? You would like to see.”  He said, “No, no, no.”

To become a disciple means you have to be willing to be defeated. Prabhupada was defeated by Bhaktisiddhanta. He challenged him. He said “Why do you want to spread this Krishna bhakti?” He challenged Bhaktisiddhanta. “This is not the right time for Krishna bhakti movement. This is now the time for Independence movement.” Can you imagine telling Bhaktisiddhanta that he is doing the wrong thing? 

Prabhupada was a pretty bold young man. He was wearing his white khadi “Yes, I am a Gandhian. I wear khadi, dhoti.” He didn’t even show up to accept his degree. He graduated. He passed all the exams. He wouldn’t even show up to accept the degree. “It is tainted.  It is British tainted degree from Scottish Churches College. I am not going to touch that contaminated degree. They can keep their damn piece of paper.” He had that really cocky anti-British attitude, pro-Gandhi attitude.

Bhaktisiddhanta completely smashed him. And Prabhupada realized that he had been defeated and he accepted it. He totally accepted: “Yes, I have met a great saintly guru.” So that moment in his heart he accepted that, “this is my spiritual master. This is my guru.” And even though he didn’t get initiated till eleven years later, he was always thinking, “Yes, this is my spiritual master.” He was always worshiping him in his heart at every minute.

So unless we are willing to be completely defeated and have the philosophical rug pulled out from under us, don’t take a guru like a pet. Don’t take a guru. There are enough pet dogs already going around Suva. If you want a pet, get a dog, don’t take a guru. A pet dog is better anyway because that’s the level you are on. You can keep him as a watch dog in your householder life. Keep the burglars away. Don’t take guru as a pet dog.

Guru means that place where you are willing to be completely defeated and completely surrendered without any argument. In the beginning you make arguments as a test to express your doubts. But when you are defeated, you must accept it otherwise there is no meaning to guru and disciple. And once you have accepted after that there is no question of argument. Once you have taken “Yes, you are my guru,” there is no question of the argument, once you have accepted.

So we can ask now if there are questions.

We can leave the fans on if somebody will make the questions very audible for me. So are there any questions? Yes, you have a question? I can hear you, go ahead and try. I will try.

Question: From Srila Prabhupada purport it is said that submissive inquiry and not challenging.

Answer: I am saying that one, who has not yet accepted a guru, may bring forward his challenges

Gurumataji: Shouldn’t that challenges be in the submissive mood?

SDA: It should be done in a submissive way. That’s right. But we see that sometimes when one hasn’t accepted the person as a guru, he may challenge. Why was Prabhupada not submissively accepting Bhaktisiddhanta? He actually challenged him at first but then he was defeated by him. He said, “Who will hear your Caitanya’s message?” Is that submissive? He was telling Bhaktisiddhanta, “This is wrong. You should support Gandhi’s movement, instead of this Caitanya’s movement. Right now, Gandhi is more important.”

Gurumataji: Submissive means ...

SDA: But as soon as he was defeated, he accepted it. We don’t encourage you to make challenges. But we are saying if someone comes forward with their doubts and they do challenge and they are sincere and if defeated, they will accept it.

Gurumataji: challenges in submissive mood it is more… (inaudible)

SDA: My point is that it happens. People do that. That’s the nature of this world. That’s not the recommended way to approach the spiritual master. But even if one has some feeling and brings it out, then one should be willing to hear the answer. One has to respectfully hear the answer. One may have an objection, if he is not yet a disciple.

Gurumataji: Objections may be there but if it is not in presented in a submissive mood then…

SDA: That’s right. It has to be in genuine way.

Gurumataji: But the answer must be respected.

SDA: Now if one is a gentleman he may have objections. Let’s say he is not a disciple but he is gentleman. So he may have some objection. “Swamiji, I feel this is wrong.” That’s an objection. But it should be presented in a gentlemanly way where you are having an open-minded discussion at least.  “Swamiji, I feel this is wrong for this, this, and this reason” and if a person has the proper attitude of a gentleman then he is willing to hear the other side also and if the argument is convincing to him then he will accept it. If he is gentlemanly minded. Anyone who is gentlemanly open-minded, if they actually hear the teachings of Krishna, they will accept. That’s a fact. If explained to them in a proper way and they are in a proper mood, open-minded hearing, submissive hearing even if they have an objection and they bring it forward, if they have done it in a gentlemanly way then they will do as Prabhupada did. Prabhupada, we can assure, was not arrogant in his attitude. He just expressed his honest understanding of the situation and because he was not arrogant, he was open-minded, he was submissive to the words of Bhaktisiddhanta, when he heard the argument, it made all the sense in the world to him and he immediately accepted it: “Yes, this is my spiritual master.” Sometimes we have questions. I openly say, “Are there any objections?” I am willing to hear objections because we can defeat all of them.

Gurumataji: The way it is presented to the spiritual master.

SDA: The mood will make you or break you. That’s right. If one maintains a proud arrogant attitude then one will never be able to become spiritually enlightened. One may have a disagreement or misunderstanding or an objection but if these are brought forward in a submissive way and open-minded discussion, if one is willing to hear and consider that “maybe there is some higher understanding beyond what I have,” then one can be enlightened by the spiritual master.

Gurumataji: It depends on the attitude.

SDA: the attitude as we spoke the other day. ‘Attitude, not aptitude determines your altitude’. If you have the right attitude even if you don’t have PhD, you’re okay. And if you have the right attitude and even if you have a PhD, you’re okay. Because the attitude, that submissive attitude is what will take you to a high spiritual level. You just have to have a submissive attitude and have a bona fide guru. Those two things will take you to a very high level of spiritual realization.

Questions more? Yes…

Question: What happens to the spiritual life of a disciple who would like to take or obeys the instructions, the guidance, the advice by his spiritual master that the disciple likes and may not follow the instructions as advised by his spiritual master that the disciple doesn’t like.

Answer: So if one picks and chooses, “Well, this order of Guru Maharaja, I very much like; I will do that. And this order, I do not like. I will not do that.” Then they are called ardha kukuti nyayi. They are adherent of the logic known as ‘half-hen logic’. Ardha kukuta nyayi. So the farmer he had the hen and it was laying very nice eggs, big eggs, many eggs. He was so happy with his hen… so many wonderful eggs. But then there was another problem. This hen was eating so much and it was costing him so much money to feed the hen. So he got a very good idea “I will cut off the head then I won’t have to feed the hen anymore. I will just take the eggs.” So the disciple thinks, “Oh, Guru Maharaja, that order I like very much- ‘take prasadam’. I like that order very much, ‘take prasadam’ but the order to give service to the Vaishnava, “Oh no, that order I don’t like. I will just take prasadam.” They will lose their spiritual life. You have to take all the orders. You have to accept Guru Maharaja en toto - not pick and choose. One of the offenses is to disobey the guru. The third offense to the holy name is to disobey the orders of guru. It doesn’t say to disobey some of the orders of the guru. To disobey the orders of guru that means all the instructions must be followed.

Questions more?

Question: A woman is supposed to follow her husband. If the instructions given by the spiritual master to the husband are different from the spiritual master of the wife whom would she follow?

Answer: Yes. Well, if both of the gurus are within ISKCON then gurus will coordinate with each other so you have a happy marriage because we are all working together as a team in ISKCON. Let’s say I was your spiritual master and Bir Krishna Maharaja was your wife’s guru for example. If that was the case then Bir Krishna Maharaja and I would coordinate how we would coordinate our guidance to you and your wife so that if would perfect harmony.

Question: Prabhuji is asking, wife is supposed to be following her husband and even in the scriptures it is like that wife follows the husband so for perfection.

Answer: The ideal standard is actually the husband and wife both takes diksa together from the same spiritual master. They act as one unit.

Question: What if both take from the spiritual master but if the husband’s view point is different from the spiritual master’s view point? The wife should follow the husband or the spiritual master’s instructions?

Answer: The spiritual master will instruct the wife to follow her husband. For example, if you and your wife became my disciple. I would train you to follow me perfectly and I would train your wife to follow you perfectly. That’s how I would do it.

Gurumataji: If the husband has a different view from his spiritual master then who should she follow?

SDA: Oh! If the husband has a different view from the spiritual master. So that means he is not a disciple. Ok. In other words if you were not a disciple but your wife was. That kind of scenario that means you were not the initiated disciple but your wife was, is that the case? That is the case? Is your wife an initiated disciple?

Question: What I am saying suppose the views of the husband are different from the Guru’s view so who does the wife follow? And husband may not be initiated?

SDA: Ok! alright

Devotee:  Different situations

I understand what he said. The husband is not initiated.

Devotee: May or may not.

SDA: Is the husband willing to allow the wife to follow the four regulative principles? No illicit sex, no meat eating, no gambling, no intoxication?

Devotee: It doesn’t matter. It is a very general question.

SDA: We have to get specific now. If it is a situation where the husband is willing to allow the wife to follow the four regulative principles then it makes it much easier.

Devotee: Suppose we have a case where the husband is not initiated.

SDA: Ok. That’s what I am talking about. The relationship with the husband is one lifetime only, but the guru-disciple relationship is eternal.

Devotee: Does that mean the wife should disobey her husband?

SDA: The spiritual master will instruct the wife to serve her husband so nicely that he will feel, “I am so glad that my wife became an initiated devotee because she is the best. I have never seen a wife that is this wonderful. My friend’s wives they are not initiated devotees and they don’t serve as well as she does.” That’s how I train my disciples. I have that case. I have one disciple, a Gujarati woman. Her husband is not initiated and she is. I have the exact situation that you are talking about. I have that going on with one of my disciples. So the way I trained her is that "you should give such nice service to your husband and children that he would be just thinking, 'Wow! How fortunate I am that my wife is an initiated devotee. Because she never served me like this before.'” He is just feeling, “Wow! This is fantastic. I am really glad that she got initiated. Because she never served me like this before.” That’s the solution.

The devotee is the best of everything. The husband is the best, the wife is the best, the best professor, the best boss, the best politician, the best everything, the best laundry merchant, laundry walla, whatever. The devotee is the best of everything. Whatever he does, he becomes the best. So when a woman becomes …if the wife becomes a devotee that means she becomes the best wife in the whole world. She gives the service to her husband that he couldn’t believe that a wife could serve him with so much love and devotion because she doesn’t see you as your body anymore she sees you as an eternal spiritual being. And she wants to inspire you to also perfect your life. So to give you all encouragement she serves you with unbelievable love and devotion. That’s the answer.

Devotee: When one takes initiation, when she takes the vows after she becomes the devotee, she serves the husband.

SDA: The husband tells her to stop chanting her rounds?

Gurumataji: The husband may want illicit sex.

SDA: The husband wants to have illicit sex

Gurumataji: Because she should follow her husband.

SDA: Then she should disobey her husband then.

Devotee: Disobey her husband

SDA: If he wants to have illicit sex after she took the vow. Tough luck! He’ll have to go to a prostitute.

Gurumataji: I want to ask a question. What is the point of having a husband? When he is not following his duty?

SDA: The husband is not doing his duty. The husband has to act according to Bhagavatam. The husband’s duty is to deliver the wife from birth and death. If he is standing in the way of her deliverance, he is not being a proper husband. He’s not. He is hurting her. He is doing violence. If he really loves his wife then he will honor her initiation vows.

Devotee: If the wife leaves the husband in this situation that means there is no possibility of the husband becoming a devotee, too.

SDA: No. the wife should stay with her husband and maintain her vows. That’s all. We never tell the wives to leave their husbands. I never do that. We don’t want to break up families. We want to make families perfect. That’s our mission. We want to make family life perfect. Ours is not family breaking movement, ours is family making movement. We want to make families stronger, more loving, more close. That’s our mission. They might feel “if you become a devotee you can’t have close relationships with any one; you just have to only love Krishna.”  No. The devotee becomes the most loving of all personalities, the most friendly. The most loving person is the devotee because he sees beyond the temporary covering. He actually loves the eternal spiritual being within. Therefore the most loving person is Krishna’s devotee. So if your wife becomes a devotee she will becomes more loving, not artificially, but genuinely. She will become 1000 times more loving than before she was a devotee, if she is actually fixed in Krishna bhakti.

Devotee: I think it is for the protection of the wife. The wife will love the husband more but the husband will only his desire will be fulfilled he won’t love the wife.

SDA: Yes. There can be a problem for the husband. "What is this useless wife? Let me get rid of her."

Devotee: So the scriptures is …. My understanding is that son should listen to the father and wife should listen to her husband but where what purpose if the instructions are not then we should discard these kinds of instructions,

SDA: Yes. Krishna says “Give up all the obligations and just surrender unto Me.” If the husband is an impediment to the wife’s emancipation then according to Bhagavad-gita she should give up that duty of following her husband. Krishna says:

sarva-dharman parityajya

“Give up all duties and surrender to Me.”

We don’t want to break families up but if the husband insists on wife remaining in sinful activities then she will be forced to give him up. But actually we have seen many marriages where one spouse is into it and other wasn’t, but over a period of time… And even today, we visited one family where the son was so against Krishna consciousness he wouldn’t let his mother even sit in a car with tilak on her forehead. Now he is a very wonderful devotee. So it happens sometimes. One family member takes it up and the other family members are totally irate and they can’t handle it. They cannot understand it. They can’t relate to it. But that one family member remains fixed in Krishna consciousness and continues to share the mercy of Krishna, then everyone will come around sooner or later.

Devotee: I read somewhere… you can point me if I am wrong.  Prabhupada says if a father and son fall in the water and the father knows that if he tries to save the son, he will drown himself too, then that time you leave the son, you just save yourself.

SDA: I don’t know that example. You are saying that the father will risk his own life to save the son ?

Devotee: Father and son have fallen into water and the father knows if he tries to save his son then he might drown too. That time he saves his life and gets out, let the son drown.

SDA: Is it? I know there is some statement that one person can be sacrificed to save a whole village. That is also stated.

Devotee: You do your best but where it is not possible we must leave it be.  Finally we should pacify our own life. It is my understanding. If I am wrong, please...

SDA: No. If some relationship we have in this material world we tried everything possible to maintain our Krishna consciousness and keep that relationship intact and they are adamantly preventing us from practicing Krishna consciousness then we may have to put that relationship on hold for a while; let it become deactivated for a while.

Devotee: As far as for the example, for the husband’s duties, he tried his best .

SDA: He may have to deactivate some relationships. My family wasn’t very happy; in one sense they were. My grandmother said, “Why didn’t you become Christian preacher?” I had to not listen to my grandmother to become a devotee even though normally you are obliged to your grandparents. “They want me to be a Christian preacher. I guess I will have to do that because Grandmother wants me to be a Christian preacher not a Hare Krishna preacher.” So if I had fulfilled the ordinary obligation, so-called obligation, I wouldn’t be here. I would be caught up in the cycle of birth and death. So the ordinary obligations we have to wife, to family, to husband, to grandparents, we try to fulfill them as far as possible for social upkeep and encourage those people in their spiritual advancement. But if they remain adamantly opposed and an impediment for our spiritual emancipation then we have to slip out of those entanglements. I never destroyed any relationship. I kept all my relationship intact. I just moved somewhere else; I just kept them at distance. I never alienated myself from any of my family members, that “I never want to see you again.” I never spoke harsh words to them. I always kept the good relationship but I just kept them at distance so I could do my Krishna conscious thing without being bothered by them and then sometimes I would maintain and have contact with them on my own terms.

Gurumataji: The wife has to be dutiful to her husband. Doesn’t the husband have his duty towards his wife?

SDA: Yes. The husband has a duty to protect the wife. That means to give her all material protection and it also means to protect her from the repetition of birth and death. That’s his duty. The husband is meant to become a spiritual master by taking shelter of a bona fide spiritual master. He is meant to be a guru, a siksa guru for his wife, by himself becoming a disciple of a bona fide guru to become empowered to act as siksa guru to liberate his wife from the cycle of birth and death. And if he cannot do so, he is failing to discharge his duties as a husband.

So the wife therefore can say, “Well, you are not doing your duty. Why should I do mine? You say I should do my duty. I say you should do yours. You do your duty and I will do mine. Is that a deal?”

If the husband wants her to do her duty then she has a right to ask him of his duty also. If both do their duty, there is no problem. But if one wants to be dutiful and other want to be irresponsible then there is problem. Let both of them be dutiful, then there is no problem.

Devotee: Otherwise it will be like ardha kukuti nyaya 

SDA: Yes, half-hen logic again.

Devotee: Prabhu is asking you are you an initiating spiritual master? Your are a disciple of Srila Prabhupada and Mataji is a disciple of Tamal Krishna Maharaja. Isn’t there some conflict?

SDA: No. Just like on a Mango tree whether you get the fruit from this branch or from that branch, it is still mango fruit. What is the difficulty? So we are both situated on the Prabhupada tree.

Devotee: Sometimes even the Prabhupada’s disciples, their views are slightly different. I have seen that. Sometimes we ask question – same question we get different answers from different spiritual masters, from different sannyasis. That case is very common actually. I have actually experienced.

SDA: Just like you can take one diamond and you can look at that diamond from many different angles of vision. It is still the same diamond but you can look at from this angle or you can look at it from that angle. So one guru he will answer from one angle, another guru will answer from another angle. If you are thinking it is a different diamond this means you have not yet have deep understanding of our philosophy. But when you come to the deep understanding of Krishna consciousness philosophy then you will see there are many different angles of vision. That’s all. It is the same diamond seen from different angle of vision and the spiritual master answers according to the time place and circumstances also. If you ask one question and if you ask the same question you may get different answers because you are two different people. And it depends on the way it is asked also and the assembly in which it is asked too. If it is asked privately or if it is asked in public. There are so many variables can affect how something is answered.

 But the fact is that if you study Prabhupada’s books very deeply you will see that all the devotees are answering according to Prabhupada’s books. We are all presenting the same teachings, just different angles. I hear many classes. I give many classes when I am travelling but also when I go to Vrindavana, I hear many lectures by my other Godbrothers but I never hear someone giving different philosophy. We are all presenting Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and Prabhupada is simply presenting Krishna’s teachings. I did not see there are different philosophies being presented, although maybe different ways of explaining the same principle.

Prabhupada himself would give different instructions to different disciples. So it is according to time place and circumstances. It is only a matter of having deep enough understanding of the philosophy. The spiritual master is empowered by Krishna to connect the student with Krishna according to what is needed at that particular time and that particular situation. So I do not see any contradiction. Did you see some specific contradictions? You can tell me what they are. You have my email address now. You can write me. “so and so said this and so and so said that.” It is specific philosophical point you feel that are being presented in contradictory ways, you bring it to my attention I will explain to you so that you can be satisfied.

Questions more?

Questions have now run out. It is getting a little late. Yes,

Question: Can I decide to be reinitiated if my spiritual master falls down?

Gurumataji: Can the disciple be reinitiated if the spiritual master falls down.

SDA: Yes, that is there in the writings of our past acaryas. One should take some time to find a spiritual master who won’t fall down. That’s the best thing. Take some time to find a spiritual master who will not fall down, then you won’t have to worry about if you could be reinitiated. Don’t blindly take a guru.

Devotee: Is it true if the disciples don’t follow the regulative principles, the guru can also fall down?

SDA: Guru suffers. It’s it’s not that the guru will be forced to fall down if his disciple fall down. No. But the guru will suffer when his disciples commit sinful activity. That’s a fact. It is described that if the spiritual master is too eager, for the sake of prestige, to increase his number of disciples that means he has a motive that, “I want to become a famous guru with lot of disciples” that can cause him to fall down if his motive for initiating disciples is his own fame. So we have to be very careful to find a guru who doesn’t have any motive for being a guru just in the mood of service just wanting to help people. That’s all. But that will not cause the guru to fall down. I have never read that. The spiritual master is fixed in Krishna consciousness. He is purely serving his spiritual master. He will never fall down even if his disciples fall down. That will not cause him to fall down. He will have to suffer. He may have to suffer disease, horrible nightmares sometimes, things like that. He won’t fall down from Krishna consciousness. He will just have to take some of the karma from his disciples to suffer some of it.

Questions more?

Last lecture will be tomorrow morning’s lecture.  We appreciate very much the wonderful loving kindness that you all have given to us. Mataji and I have been both very, very happy to have been here by Krishna’s arrangement and your kindness to be here in this wonderful seva dhama in Suva. This abode of serving Krishna, seva, Suva, seva. So we hope Krishna will bless us so that we can come back. We have already been invited to come back so we are already thinking to add it to our agenda on our next around-the-world tour in the next year 2006. So we will be in contact with your leaders here sometime around July to work out the details of the schedule, after we finish our European and North American tours.

 So now we have some prasadam. So everybody can come forward for some Radha Damodar prasadam, some other prasadam here for preaching purpose.

Srila Prabhupada ki ! 


Transcribed by Her Grace Bhaktin Shobha

Index of Transcribed Lectures