Guru Avajna, The Root Of Sectarianism

There was a famous king. He was not only famous but also very wise. One day two women approached him both claiming to be the mother of a little baby child. After some deliberation, the kind ordered the child to be cut into two sections and each piece given to each woman. When the king gave this verdict, one of the women said: "I cannot bear that the child be divided into two sections, let the other woman take the child." The king then changed his verdict and concluded that the woman who forgone the claim for the child was the real mother of the child and that the child be given to her.


This episode can be used as an analogy to a motivated person who wants to enjoy the property of the spiritual master, but does not want to follow his instruction. Just like the pseudo mother in the above mentioned story of wise king does not hesitate the child to be killed simply for the sake of satisfying her claim for so-called motherhood, motivated persons in the dress of devotees approach the spiritual master with ulterior motive to improve their economic condition and rarely care about the mission of the spiritual master.

Srila Prabhupada reveals: "We have practical experience in discharging our missionary activity that some people come and apply themselves to the Krsna consciousness with some hidden motive, and as soon as they are economically a little well-situated, they give up this process and take to their old ways again." (Bg 9.3 purport) They more interested in material benefit than spiritual profit. Thus their surrender to the spiritual master's instructions is rather selective and they divide the instructions of the guru into those that fulfill their sense gratification and those that do not. In the words of the ardha-kukkuti-nyaya philosophy, they want to enjoy the eggs of the chicken, but do not want to feed the chicken. This is hardly considered a surrender to the spiritual master and one cannot advance in Krsna consciousness if he maintains such a mentality. Lord Krsna explains:

"Those who are not faithful on the path of devotional service cannot attain Me, O conqueror of foes, but return to birth and death in this material world. " (Bg 9.3)

Srila Prabhupada comments on this verse as follows: "Faith is created by association with devotees. Unfortunate people, even after hearing all the evidence of Vedic literature from great personalities, still have no faith in God. They are hesitant and cannot stay fixed in the devotional service of the Lord. Thus faith is a most important factor for progress in Krsna consciousness. In the Caitanya-caritamrta it is said that one should have complete conviction that simply by serving the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna he can achieve all perfection. That is called real faith." (Bg 9.3 purport) One must have complete faith that by following the spiritual master's instructions, he will achieve all perfection. If one does not have faith in the spiritual master, he cannot advance.

Instead of surrendering to the spiritual master, the unfortunate soul surrenders to the modes of material nature that push him to acquire material benedictions. In this way, he disobeys the spiritual master and becomes an offender to the holy name. While chanting the Hare Krishna, one should be very careful to avoid the various offenses against the holy name. Caitanya Caritamrta warns that if one commits the various offenses, he will not be able to achieve the love of Godhead, which is the mature fruit of the chanting process. Being self-interested one creates divisions in the spiritual movement since his desire is not Krsna-centered. If we put Krishna in the center, no matter how many interests we might have, they do not clash since they become all subservient to the sublime cause of Krishna. Similarly, genuine disciples always keep the wishes of the spiritual master in the center of al their Godbrotherly interactions.


Srila Prabhupada writes in a letter to his disciples: "As long as we are sincere there is no question of split amongst us; the split only means someone is not sincere, otherwise there is no question of it." (Letter to: Mukunda -- Hong Kong 1 February, 1974)

The genuine disciples might even forgo the spiritual master's institution if they cannot execute the order of the spiritual master within it as we have seen in the example of Srila Prabhupada himself and his relationship to his Guru Maharaja's Gaudya Matha. They are not interested in the petty squabbles over material assets. The motivated so-called disciples however do not hesitate to create more and more divisions in the spiritual movement and just as they seperate themselves from the original spiritual master, their so-called disciples and grand disciples similarly separate themselves from them all being motivated by the material assets they can gain from their so-called gurus rather than following any spiritual instructions. Srila Prabhupada writes: "When disciples do not stick to the principle of accepting the order of their spiritual master, immediately there are two opinions. Any opinion different from the opinion of the spiritual master is useless. One cannot infiltrate materially concocted ideas into spiritual advancement. That is deviation. There is no scope for adjusting spiritual advancement to material ideas." (Adi 12.9 purport) Thus the order of the spiritual master is the bloodstream of one's spiritual life. Out of various offenses against the holy name, the offense of disobeying the spiritual master is the most severe. Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami states:

The order of the spiritual master is the active principle in spiritual life. Anyone who disobeys the order of the spiritual master immediately becomes useless.

(Adi 12.10)

It does not matter whether the order comes from the initiating or instructing spiritual master. In fact, to make a distinction between the two is yet another example of the "divide and conquer" mentality of such materially motivated persons.

Srila Prabhupada states:

"The third offence is disregard of the Spiritual Master. The devotee must receive the transcendental Name of the Lord from the transcendental lips of a bonafide spiritual master who is cent percent devotee of the Lord and nothing more or nothing less and then begin chanting the transcendental Name of the Lord by constant repetition. Such spiritual master as above mentioned is known as the Guru from whom either initiation is taken or the one from whom spiritual instruction is received."(BTGPY1f: The Science of Congregational Chanting of the Name of the Lord (Samkirtan))

In fact to make such sectarian distinctions is an offense in the discharge of devotional service to the Lord. Srila Prabhupada states: "There is no difference between the shelter-giving Supreme Lord and the initiating and instructing spiritual masters. If one foolishly discriminates between them, he commits an offense in the discharge of devotional service." (Adi 1.47 purport) Srila Prabhupada also remarks: "According to sastric injunctions, there is no difference between siksa-guru and diksa-guru, and generally the siksa-guru later on becomes the diksa-guru. (SB 4.12.32 purport)

Both gurus are passing on the instruction from the Supreme Spiritual master Bhagavan Sri Krsna. It is the message we should be concerned with and not exactly in the way the message comes to us. Srila Prabhupada concludes: "What Vyasadeva and Krsna taught five thousand years ago is also being taught now. There is no difference between the two instructions. Although hundreds and thousands of acaryas have come and gone, the message is one. The real guru cannot be two, for the real guru does not speak differently from his predecessors. Some spiritual teachers say, "In my opinion you should do this," but this is not a guru. Such so-called gurus are simply rascals. The genuine guru has only one opinion, and that is the opinion expressed by Krsna, Vyasadeva, Narada, Arjuna, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and the Gosvamis. Five thousand years ago Lord Sri Krsna spoke the Bhagavad-gita, and Vyasadeva recorded it. Srila Vyasadeva did not say, "This is my opinion." Rather, he wrote, sri-bhagavan uvaca, that is, "The Supreme Personality of Godhead says." Whatever Vyasadeva wrote was originally spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Srila Vyasadeva did not give his own opinion. Consequently, Srila Vyasadeva is a guru. He does not misinterpret the words of Krsna, but transmits them exactly as they were spoken. If we send a telegram, the person who delivers the telegram does not have to correct it, edit it, or add to it. He simply presents it. That is the guru's business. The guru may be this person or that, but the message is the same; therefore it is said that guru is one." (SSR 2a: What Is a Guru?)

We should therefore be careful not making such an offense and carefully follow the order of the spiritual master to preach this Krishna consciousness movement for the benefit of everyone and avoid sectarianism and pride.

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