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Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj  Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj  Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj  Bhagavan Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupad
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The Land of Gurus


In the Srimad Bhagavatam (11.9.31) it is stated:

na hy ekasmad guror jnanamsu-sthiramsyat supuskalam

"One certainly cannot get complete knowledge from only one Guru." In the highest stage of devotion, we must see not only one Guru; we must see that Guru is everywhere. In the land of Krishna, all are Gurus; our transformation should be towards that. Everything in the spiritual world, the entire environment, is our Guru, and we are servants. To enter into Vaikuntha, or Goloka, means that on all sides we must see Guru and pay our respects. There is gradation of course, but all are Guru.

There are different classes of Guru. All Vaisnavas are considered Gurus. If the Spiritual Master gives even one letter to the disciple, what is contained there is infinite. The knowledge given by the Spiritual Master is infinite. To know and understand it fully, however, different sources are necessary.

In the highest position one can read devotion to Krishna from everywhere. If we can attain the proper vision, then everything will supply inspiration towards the performance of our duties. Whenever Mahaprabhu saw a forest, He saw it as Vrndavan. Whenever He saw a river, He saw the Yamuna. Whenever He saw a hill, He saw it as Govardhan Hill. In that highest stage, wherever we cast our glance, it will remind us about our Lord. That is the duty of Guru. They will teach us, they will press us to engage ourselves in service to Krishna. Wherever we cast our glance, whatever we come in contact with will only excite us: "Do your duty." That is Guru. Our Guru is whoever gives us impetus for the service of Krishna, whoever helps us to look towards the centre. So, because every atom in Vaikuntha and Goloka will encourage us towards our duty, they are all our Gurus. Gurus will be very amply available when we can raise ourselves to a higher level.

Guru—dispels darkness

When we are in the lower stages of material conception, everything we see takes us away from the centre by the out-carrying current. Whatever we see says, "Oh, come and enjoy me." The invitation of enjoyment is found here in the lower level, and the inspiration of renunciation is also found in a particular stage. The impersonalists who desire salvation say, "Whatever we find here is temporary. Reject it all!" But devotion is the positive side. From the side of devotion, everything will draw me towards the centre, towards Krishna. And those who will help us in that way are our Gurus. Guru means 'one who dispels the darkness of both enjoyment and renunciation'.

Krishna tells us not to particularise in one point (Acharyam Mam vijaniyan). There are so many Siksa-gurus in the line, and it is our good fortune to see more Gurus, to come to the stage where we see Gurus everywhere. Everywhere we shall try to draw the hints of the auspicious presence of Godhead. Krishna says, "One who can see Me everywhere, and everything in Me, is never lost to Me, nor I to him."

yo mam pasyati sarvatra sarvam cha mayi pasyati

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 6.30)

We shall try to see Him in every medium. Then our position is safe. Not to see Guru is a dangerous position. But if we can see Guru everywhere, advising us to concentrate our energy towards the service of God, then we'll be safe. Of course, there is also a specific vision of Guru, from whom I can get the maximum immediate help. But ultimately, Krishna says, "I am the Acharya: see Me in him."

Jewel within the palm

Who is Acharya? One who knows how to give due respect to his own Acharya. Baladev Vidyabhusanhas explained in one of his commentaries how both Rupa and Sanatan Goswamihave shown Govinda to the world. He says that if one has a jewel in his hand, he can show the jewel in various ways by holding it differently. Rupa and Sanatan have each dealt in various ways with the jewel by the Name of Govinda, who is always served by the supreme Goddess of fortune. They have both shown that high substance, Govinda, to the world, just as a jewel within their palms.

So not only in the supreme goal of life, but in everything, our knowledge depends on more than one source. We mainly learn from one place, but this is verified and corroborated by many sources; then it comes to be proper knowledge. In the nyaya sastra, the codes of logic, the six processes of acquiring knowledge are mentioned: visaya, the thesis; samsaya, the antithesis; purva-paksa, cross-examination; mimamsa, synthesis; siddhanta, conclusion; and sangatih, verification from different sources. After these six stages, something may come in the name of truth in this world. Any knowledge presupposes consultation with different sources, although mainly we can get it from one source. In the beginning we enquire about the truth, not from one, but from many sources. Then we concentrate to enquire from a particular higher source.

Our first connection with the truth comes from here and there in small quantities. First there is ajnata-sukrti, unknown pious activities; then jnata-sukrti, pious activities performed in knowledge; then sraddha, faith; then sadhu-sanga, the company with saints. In this way, we search for Sri Krishna. We enquire here and there. Many saints help us to a certain extent. Ultimately we go to that Spiritual Master in whom we find the greatest possibility of learning the truth, and we surrender there.

Having accepted a Spiritual Master, one will find that his Guru has so many disciples, and he will take from them also. His Spiritual Master will recommend some books for him. He will say, "Read Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam." That will also help us to get so many Gurus—through the books, where we will find many references and quotations from many Gurus.

All are Guru

All of them have their contribution, and ultimately we must understand that we have to enter into the land of the Gurus. Everyone should be respected as Guru that gives impetus to me to search for Krishna, to serve Krishna. They will all help to carry me to the centre. And this is the most fortunate position: to see everyone, everywhere, as Guru, to see that no one is our servant, and no one is indifferent to us. That is our highest fortune: to attain that highest spiritual environment where everyone is our Guru. Here, everyone is our servant; even our father and mother. We want to draw something from everyone in this world of exploitation. And by renunciation everything is eliminated; it is a deserted position. If we are to enter into the land of eternal prospect, then we must learn to see that all are our Guru, and we are servants.

They are all Gurus, and they are all our well-wishing guardians. In that plane, we shall imbibe help from everywhere. Their benediction and their grace will come from everywhere. They are all well-wishers, all guardians; they all guide us towards the highest attainment of our fortune. There cannot be any objection to that.

But still there is gradation, just as in the very existence of God there is gradation: Vasudev, Visnu, Narayan, Dvarakes, Mathures, Svayam Bhagavan Krishna—there are so many levels. Gradation is always there, according to our inner position. So, we must not be afraid.

Of course there is a time, when we are surrounded by an unfavourable environment, that the association of a real saint is very rare. In that stage, we may be warned not to mix with the mayavadis, Buddhists, Sankarites, naga-babas, and so many other groups of so-called sadhus, so that we may not run hither and thither only to find a guru to get any advice. To save us from such unfavourable circumstances, to protect us, we are warned, "Don't try to see Guru everywhere." In a particular stage, however, when we already have a taste for the real truth, we are taken to that plane where everyone is our Guru, helping us advance towards our destination.

This caution is valuable in the beginning because there are so many cheaters who want to devour us. At that stage especially, to help us proceed towards the goal, we must exclusively concentrate on our Guru, avoiding the Buddhists, mayavadis, atheists, and all those who wear red rags in the name of sadhus.

Still, in every sampradaya, or religious tradition, that trick has been used: "Only listen here. Stick to the words of your Guru, the advice of your Guru. Don't try to mix hither and thither, to run here and there to get advice. So many teachers are the enemies of your Guru. They are not preaching the real truth." That warning is necessary in some stage. "Don't try to see Guru everywhere, because in this world so many men in the dress of sadhus are going on with their lower campaign." This warning should come in that stage.

Hurled down to Vaikuntha

And in the lower stage also, to keep up and to develop our attention and devotion towards our Guru, so much help should come from our senior godbrothers. They will help us understand the greatness of our Guru in different ways. They are also doing the work of Siksa-guru. But when we enter in the kingdom of service, then, of course, everyone will help us. It is also said that we may have an inner attraction towards Vrndavan, and our inner awakenment may be in the service of Krishna of Goloka, but if we mix with so many sadhus in Vaikuntha, then we will be hurled down to Vaikuntha.

In a certain stage we should beware of bad association, so in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.90) Rupa Goswami has said:

sajati-yasaye snigdhe sadhau sangahsvato vare

What sort of saintly persons shall we try to mix with earnestly? Those who are in our line, who have the same high spiritual aspirations as we do, and who hold a superior position. To associate with such saintly persons will help us the most to progress towards the ultimate goal.

There may be some obstacles, but if at heart we are sincere, the environment cannot deceive us, because God's inner help is there, cooperating with our sincere, inner need: na hi kalyana krt kaschid durgatim tata gachchhati. What we want from our innermost hearts cannot but come true, because Krishna knows everything. There may be some obstacles but, by Krishna's help, they shall all be eliminated and our innermost aspiration will be crowned with success.


⇐ Instructing Spiritual Masters

Servant of the Servant ⇒


Surrender to Sri Guru
Initiation into Transcendental Science
Descent of the Revealed Truth
The Original Guru
God Consciousness vs Society Consciousness
"I Command You—Become Guru!"
The Initiating Spiritual Master
Separation from Sri Guru
Nam-guru and Mantra-guru
The Disciplic Succession
Instructing Spiritual Masters
The Land of Gurus
Servant of the Servant
Lives of the Saints
The Line of Sri Rupa
Explanation of Math Logo