There are a class of spiritual practitioners that artificial designate themselves as more advanced in spiritual consciousness than they really are. these people are dangerous and both seasoned and newcomer devotees should always stay away from them. the following article describes the nature of these "sahajiyas."
Lord Caitanya instructed all his devotees to become gurus and instruct others in the teachings of Krishna (krsna-upadesa). One does not have to be a great scholar or a sannyasi to be such a guru. If he simply repeats what Krsna said in the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam, he is a guru by virtue of his sticking to the pure message and repeating it without personally motivated interpretations. Srila Prabhupada describes such a guru as follows: A person who is liberated acharya and guru cannot commit any mistake, but there are persons who are less qualified or not liberated, but still can act as guru and acharya by strictly following the disciplic succession. Letter to: Janardana — New York 26 April, 1968 And furthermore: Anyone who preaches the teachings of Krsna, he is guru. Caitanya Mahaprabhu also says amara ajnaya guru hana tara' ei desa [Cc. Madhya 7.128]. "You become a guru on My order." "How shall I become guru? I have no knowledge." Oh, you don't require any knowledge to manufacture. Yare dekha, tare kaha 'krsna'-upadesa [Cc. Madhya 7.128]. "Simply repeat the instruction of Krsna, you become guru." Everyone can become. Evening Darsana -- July 11, 1976, New York At the same time, we find a different set of instruction which might apparently seem to be contradictory. Here, Srila Prabhupada says that not everyone can occupy the post of a guru. "When one has attained the topmost position of maha-bhagavata, he is to be accepted as a guru and worshiped exactly like Hari, the Personality of Godhead. Only such a person is eligible to occupy the post of a guru." (Madhya 24.330 purport) Any intelligent devotee therefore must inquire what is the difference between these two instructions? At which point one can and at which point one cannot become a guru? This is the contemplation of a devotee who wants to steadily advance in devotional service. The answer is that although one can certainly become a siksa guru by instructing what the diksa guru says, one should not artificially assume the post of an initiating guru since that requires one to be on the top most position of a mahabhagavata. Srila Prabhupada even states that such a guru must be the resident of the spiritual world: "Unless one is a resident of Krishna Loka, one cannot be a Spiritual Master. That is the first proposition. A layman cannot be a Spiritual Master, and if he becomes so then he will simply create disturbance." (Letter to: Mukunda -- New Vrindaban 10 June, 1969) Srila Prabhupada mentions about one of his Godbrothers who was initiating disciples as follows: "On the whole, you may know that he is not a liberated person, and therefore, he cannot initiate any person to Krishna Consciousness. (Letter to: Janardana -- New York 26 April, 1968) So when we speak of initiating spiritual master, we do not speak of a mere formality of initiation with fire yajna etc. Srila Prabhupada during his physical presence often appointed some of his more experienced disciples to perform initiation ceremony on his behalf. Therefore when we speak of an initiating spiritual master, we speak of a guru who re-establishes the disciplic succession when the succession deviates from the devotional service of the Lord. Ramesvara: It's clear that for the first time these scholars are understanding the difference between the Bhagavad-gita and the Mayavadi conception. It's clear that now you have saved them. Previous to this, all they knew about is this impersonal concept. Prabhupada: That is the business of acarya, sampradaya-raksana, to save the sampradaya from falling down. Sampradaya. Sampradaya raksana. (Room Conversation with Sannyasis -- January 22, 1977, Bhuvanesvara) He does this by re-explaining the science of bhakti anew just as Lord Krishna did it 5000 years ago on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra by speaking the Bhagavad-gita. Previously the Lord already explained the Gita to Vivasvan, but when the succession was broken, He decided to re-explain the science to his devotee and a friend Arjuna. Therefore, the successor acharya must present some unique contribution to the world. It is in this way we can understand the level of his realization. For example, Baladeva Vidyabhusana (to whom Srila Prabhupada dedicated his Bhagavad-gita As It Is commentary) is accepted as an acharya since he presented a commentary on the Vedanta sutra. Srila Prabhupada says: "Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana is our acarya. Baladeva Vidyabhusana is a fourth-generation acarya from Lord Caitanya -- fourth or fifth. Anyway, he is one of the acaryas. Just like Gosvamis, they are acaryas; Srinivas Acarya. So acarya parampara, disciplic succession. So Baladeva Vidyabhusana is also acarya in this Gaudiya-sampradaya. So his special gift... Every acarya means he gives some special things. Previous acarya has given, and the next acarya gives something more. That is the symptom of acarya. In the incarnation also, just like Lord Buddha incarnation. Then Sankaracarya, then Ramanujacarya, then Madhvacarya then, in this way Caitanya Mahaprabhu. So every acarya is giving a further lift. So Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana also gave a further lift to this sampradaya. What is that? Baladeva Vidyabhusana wrote commentary on Brahma-sutra, Vedanta-sutra. Vedanta-sutra, his Vedanta-sutra commentary is known as Govinda-bhasya, commentary of Govinda. (Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana Appearance – June 14, 1970, Los Angeles) Simply parrot like chanting and performing ritualistic ceremonies does not make one a diksa guru. One must be realized. At the same time, one should not try to surpass the previous acharya by manufacturing knowledge. Srila Prabhupada writes: "Personal realization does not mean that one should, out of vanity, attempt to show one's own learning by trying to surpass the previous acarya. One must have full confidence in the previous acarya, and at the same time one must realize the subject matter so nicely that he can present the matter for the particular circumstances in a suitable manner. The original purpose of the text must be maintained. No obscure meaning should be screwed out of it, yet it should be presented in an interesting manner for the understanding of the audience. This is called realization." (SB 1.4.1 purport) When an unqualified person assumes such a position of a guru, pretends to be a personal associate of the Lord on the highest platform of devotional service and attempts to bring unique realizations (which are nothing but mental concoctions) he simply creates disturbance. This attempt to directly become the associate of the Lord immediately pushes him into the category of a Mayavadi. Srila Prabhupada explains this in connection with trying to become the father (personal associate) of Krsna. "In the development of becoming either the father or friend of the Lord, there are two varieties. One method is that one may try to become the father of the Lord directly, and the other is that one may follow Nanda Maharaja and cherish the ideal of being Krsna's father. Out of these two, the attempt to directly become the father of Krsna is not recommended. Such a development can become polluted with Mayavada (impersonal) philosophy. The Mayavadis, or monists, think that they themselves are Krsna, and if one thinks that he himself has become Nanda Maharaja, then his parental love will become contaminated with the Mayavada philosophy. The Mayavada philosophical way of thinking is offensive, and no offender can enter into the kingdom of God to associate with Krsna." (NOD: Parenthood or Friendship) The same warning is given by Srila Prabhupada when he writes about the sahajiya group of the name sakhi bheki, whose aim is to artificially pretend to be direct associates of the Lord and dressing in gopi clothing in order to attract Him.Srila Prabhupada writes: "Some materialistic sahajiyas who cannot actually understand the pastimes of Radha and Krsna manufacture their own life-styles without referring to authority. Such sahajiyas are called sakhi-bheki, and sometimes they are called gaura-nagari. They believe that the material body, which is fit to be eaten by jackals and dogs, is enjoyable for Krsna. Consequently they artificially decorate the material body to attract Krsna, thinking themselves sakhis. But Krsna is never attracted by the artificial grooming of the material body. As far as Srimati Radharani and Her gopis are concerned, their bodies, homes, dresses, ornaments, endeavors and activities are all spiritual. All of these are meant to satisfy the spiritual senses of Krsna. Indeed, they are so pleasing and endearing to Krsna that He is subjugated by the influence of Srimati Radharani and Her friends. They have nothing to do with anything mundane within the fourteen planetary systems of the universe. Although Krsna is attractive to everyone, He is nonetheless attracted by the gopis and Srimati Radharani. One should not be misled by mental concoctions, supposing his material body to be perfect and deeming oneself a sakhi. This is something like ahangrahopasana, that is, a Mayavadi's worship of his own body as the Supreme. Srila Jiva Gosvami has cautioned mundaners to abstain from such conceptions. He also warns that thinking oneself one of the associates of the Supreme without following in the footsteps of the gopis is as offensive as thinking oneself the Supreme. Such thinking is an aparadha. One has to practice living in Vrndavana by hearing about the talks of the gopis with Krsna. However, one should not consider himself a gopi, for this is offensive." (Madhya 8.204–205 purport) Similarly, the pretender gurus dressed in the external status symbols of a liberated diksa guru think that this will attract Krsna, but being devoid of any realization, by such status symbols they simply attract a group of insincere followers who further push them to materialism. Since the body of liberated spiritual master is spiritual it should be worshipped as good as the Lord and the pretenders thus think their material body is to be worshipped as such by their followers. This however simply waters the seeds of impersonalism. Srila Prabhupada writes: "A devotee on the topmost platform of devotional service always humbly thinks that he is not rendering any devotional service. He thinks that he is poor in devotional service and that his body is material. On the other hand, those known as the sahajiyas foolishly think that their material bodies are transcendental. Because of this, they are always bereft of the association of pure devotees, and thus they cannot behave like Vaisnavas. Observing the defects of the sahajiyas, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has sung as follows in his book Kalyana-kalpataru: ami ta' vaisnava, e-buddhi ha-ile, amani na haba ami pratisthasa asi', hrdaya dusibe, ha-iba niraya-gami nije srestha jani', ucchistadi-dane, habe abhimana bhara tai sisya tava, thakiya sarvada, na la-iba puja kara "'If I think I am a Vaisnava, I shall look forward to receiving respect from others. And if the desire for fame and reputation pollutes my heart, certainly I shall go to hell. By giving others the remnants of my food, I shall consider myself superior and shall be burdened with the weight of false pride. Therefore, always remaining your surrendered disciple, I shall not accept worship from anyone else.' Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami has written (Antya-lila 20.28): premera svabhava -- yahan premera sambandha sei mane, -- 'krsne mora nahi prema-gandha' "'Wherever there is a relationship of love of Godhead, the natural symptom is that the devotee does not think himself a devotee but always thinks that he has not even a drop of love for Krsna.'" (Antya 4.174 purport)