Srila Giri Maharaja “Choosing a Guru”

Date: 11/2/18

Dear Sriman Nila Madhava dasa,


I think you know what I mean. For example, [of] late one recent non-ISKCON acharya has admitted to sexual misconduct with a female disciple. Is the misconduct to be ignored? Chalked up to ‘api cet su duracaro’? Is he to be disregarded?

(I assume “sexual misconduct” and “misconduct” are terms used to soften and minimize the actual term that should be applied to the conduct. That term is: “illicit sex.”)

He should be completely disregarded. I would run away from him; fast and far.

It is most unfortunate you feel you have to ask these questions. It is unfortunate for two reasons. One; you have been reading Srila Prabhupada’s books for several (if not many) years and associating with his apparent devotees and followers for a similar amount of time, and you do not know the answers to these questions. Or, perhaps you know the answers but are looking for reenforcement of them. In either case, I’m sure you are not alone. I suspect there are thousands like you, with similar doubts. So, I see it as a most unfortunate state of affairs. There should be no questions such as these, and yet there are. It is good you have asked about them, it is unfortunate you feel the need to do so.

Two; it must be that you see no one clearly superior to the “acharya” you have asked about and, therefore, you wonder if you should consider him, and those like him, as prospects in your search for an initiating guru.

Today we are celebrating the appearance of His Divine Grace Srila Sridhara Maharaja. We never had to consider such questions with regard to him, his Godbrother Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja or his disciple Srila Govinda Maharaja. These are my gurus. My advice to you, and to all, is to search for a guru of similar quality and character; whose life of dedication and devotion to serving his spiritual master is beyond question and continues uninterrupted after the disappearance of his guru. His dedication to his guru should be reflected in his character, which should be unimpeachable.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja believed that even “love letters” exchanged between an “acharya” and a disciple were sufficient grounds to cause him to leave the post of acharya:

Devotee: Maharaja, why Swami Maharaja didn’t like the arrangement, never liked?

Srila Govinda Maharaja: Who will like prabhu? Acharya will go… in the night to the pub. Who will like that? In London? Nobody will like it. First Vasudeva Prabhu hiding that mood, fearful. Until living there Guru Maharaja, he was very fearful, and hiding himself. But some letter come out, and that is love letter. And Guru Maharaja has seen that love letter and Guru Maharaja said “Yes [it is Ananta Vasudeva?].” Guru Maharaja knows his writing. Guru Maharaja said “Yes, it is.” Hrdaya Govinda that man’s name. He was the press manager at that time [Gayatri?] Press. I have seen. I met with him many times.

Devotee: It was in whose handwriting?

Srila Govinda Maharaja: Vasudeva’s. Vasudeva Prabhu’s handwriting, love letter published, Kunja Babu’s group. And Guru Maharaja believed it. Then Guru Maharaja gave some proposal. “Vasudeva Prabhu leave his acharya post. He is Vaishnava, no doubt. And it is not fault, so much fault. But this is fault for one acharya. This is point. Then he leave acharya post. And, shall give nourishment to him. And he may come perfect way. Again he will come perfect.” That was Guru Maharaja’s proposal.

— Srila Govinda Maharaja, “The Disappearance of Srila Saraswati Thakur (12/31/93)”

Nothing in this world is of value. The jiva has value, and it is a very high value. You are a jiva. Do not devalue yourself by accepting a cheap guru, one who is not highly qualified with realized knowledge of the Absolute Truth. One who is inappropriately attached to, or related to ladies, disciples or otherwise, should not be considered as having a very high degree of realized knowledge of the Absolute Truth.

This Bhagavad-gītā is the science of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. No one can become Kṛṣṇa conscious simply by mundane scholarship. One must be fortunate enough to associate with a person who is in pure consciousness. A Kṛṣṇa conscious person has realized knowledge, by the grace of Kṛṣṇa, because he is satisfied with pure devotional service. By realized knowledge, one becomes perfect. By transcendental knowledge one can remain steady in his convictions, but by mere academic knowledge one can be easily deluded and confused by apparent contradictions. It is the realized soul who is actually self-controlled, because he is surrendered to Kṛṣṇa. He is transcendental because he has nothing to do with mundane scholarship. For him mundane scholarship and mental speculation, which may be as good as gold to others, are of no greater value than pebbles or stones.

—Bhaktivedanta Swami, Bg. 6.8, Purport

I pray this finds you well in health and spirits.


Swami B.K. Giri