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What If The Guru Is a Cheater?

One of the most common obstacles people encounter with the concept of accepting a guru is that they think he might end up cheating them. Nowadays especially, there are so many bogus gurus, yogis and swamis, so who can we trust? In the following conversation, Srila Prabhupada, a genuine guru, explains the problem and it's solution scientifically.

Prabhupada: Everything is known, can be known, from authorized source of knowledge. A child does not know what is this. He asks father, "Father, what is this?" The father explains, "My dear boy, this is Dictaphone. When I speak, it records." Child knowledge, he sees. That is the way of knowledge. If you do not know God, you must approach a person who knows God. Then you know. There is no difficulty.


John Fahey: But I went to church, and I still don't know.


Prabhupada: Hmm?


Atreya Rsi: He went to church and he could not find out.


Prabhupada: That may be.


John Fahey: They told, but I didn't feel it.


Prabhupada: That may be, but you may be cheated, that is another thing. Suppose you ask something from somebody. If he cheats you, that may be your mistake or his, but the process is the same; you cannot avoid that. If you want to know God, then you have to go to a person who knows God. You might have gone to a person who does not know. That is another thing. You went to a wrong person. But actually if you want to know God, you must have to go to a person who knows God. That you have to search out. That requires intelligence.


But you cannot give up the idea. Because you have been cheated, "I could not get information," therefore you cannot give up that business. You have to find out somebody else. But because you say: "I have been cheated. I could not get the right information. I stop this business," that is not allowed. You must. Therefore, according to Vedic order it is said, tad vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet (MU 1.2.12).


Abhigacchet means he must (go) to a person to understand that science of God. You must go to a guru or a man who knows. Guru means who is more intelligent. Guru means weight, heavy, heavier, that heavier in knowledge. So you have to find out a person who is heavier than you, not ordinary. Must go. Not that may go or may not go. No. Must go. Tad vijnanartham sa gurum eva abhigacchet.


And what is the symptom of guru? Srotriyam. Means he has heard about God from his superior, his guru. Srotriyam. And how can I know that he has heard from his superior about God? He might say that "Yes, I have heard," but what symptoms I shall . . .? Brahma-nistham. Brahma-nistham means that he has become a complete devotee of God, result. Just like a man, a physician.


A physician means he has attended the medical college, passed the examination, and the result is that he's practicing as a physician. Not only passing will do, but he's actually passing and he's actually practicing and he's curing patients. Therefore you find out a physician, "Here is a physician." It is not difficult.


So guru means one who knows God. How can I know that he knows God? Because he's making others to know God. Where is the difficulty? But if you go to a person who does not know God, that is your fault. If you go to a physician who is not actually physician, a store-keeper, then that is your fault. You must have the intelligence who is a physician.


That much intelligence you have got. You see a signboard, Dr. Such-and-such M.D., medical practitioners. Now you go there and you see there are patients waiting for him, for his treatment, he's giving medicine and they are being cured. Then where is the difficulty to find out a physician? There is no difficulty.


So if one is serious to be cured of the disease, he must go to a physician. If he does not go to the physician, how he can be cured? Just like you have learned the guitar playing. Do you learn it alone or learn it from somebody?


John Fahey: Mainly by myself.


Prabhupada: Huh?


John Fahey: Mainly alone.


Prabhupada: Anyway, you have followed somebody at least, standard.


John Fahey: Oh, yeah, people I heard.


Prabhupada: Yes. So that is the way of learning what is God. The main business is that one must know God. It is not that because I approach some person and he did not know, he could not give me the right knowledge of God, then I give up this idea of knowing God. No. That will not . . . that is not good for human life. Then you remain animal. I might have been cheated or I might not have approached the proper person, but that does not mean I can stop that idea. That is not . . .


In another place it is said, tasmad gurum prapadyeta jijnasuh sreya uttamam (SB 11.3.21). One who is actually inquisitive to understand the highest benefit of life, he must approach a guru. Tasmad gurum prapadyeta jijnasuh. Jijnasu means inquisitive. Sreya—the highest benefit of life. Uttamam—highest. Tasmad gurum prapadyeta jijnasuh sreya uttamam. Sabde pare ca nisnatam (SB 11.3.21).


What is the qualification of such a person? Sabde pare ca nisnatam: he is completely well versed in the transcendental science. And what is the symptom that he is well versed? Brahmany upasamasrayam: he has taken shelter of Brahma or Krsna or God, upasana, finishing all material desires. These two things: he is a devotee, but he has no more material desires. He must be well versed in the science, he must be a devotee, and he has no attraction for material things. These three things if you can find, then he's perfect guru.


Everything is there in the sastra; and therefore books should be consulted. If you have no books, those who are discussing books, you should approach them, you should hear them. Just like we are holding class morning, evening. People can come here, take advantage what we are speaking, then gradually they can understand. But we cannot avoid that. That is not good idea. If I say that, "I went to church. I was not very much enlightened; therefore I give up this attempt," oh, that is not good.

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