Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja:

tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta
jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam
śābde pare ca niṣṇātaṁ
brahmaṇy upaśamāśrayam

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.3.21)

[Any person who is seriously desirous of achieving real happiness must seek a bona fide spiritual master and take shelter of him by initiation. The qualification of a spiritual master is that he must have realized the conclusion of the scriptures by deliberation and arguments and thus be able to convince others of these conclusions. Such great personalities, who have taken complete shelter of the Supreme Godhead, leaving aside all material considerations, are to be understood as bona fide spiritual masters.]

Suppose a person unfortunately took initiation from an unqualified guru, who was not at the stage of a mahā-bhāgavata (a fully self-realized soul). That is, that guru was not realized in the established truths. The word śabde refers to śāstras like the Vedas, upaniṣads, and so on. It also means the holy name. Pare means the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa. That guru had no realization of Kṛṣṇa, or His names, or His glories as told in śāstra. He was only at the level of kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, but still he thought himself guru. He had many worldly desires, such as the desire for name, fame, and wealth, and someone unfortunately took harināma and dīkṣā* from him.
Do the verses that glorify the qualifications of guru apply to that guru or not? Should the disciple obey that guru with the attitude of surrender as ordered by all the śāstras? Should he follow that guru totally, or not? can a person acquire pure cowmilk from a male donkey? can a person get sweet mangos from a thorn tree? What is the disciple’s duty towards that kind of guru?
We must consider that the presence of uttama-adhikārīs (those approaching prema-bhakti or those already relishing prema-bhakti), madhyama-uttama-adhikārīs (those approaching the stage of bhāva), and even madhyama-madhyama-adhikārīs (those at the stage of āsakti) are very rare in this world. It is very rare, therefore, to have a guru of this caliber.
What should we do under these circumstances? We will have to take a guru. If a guru is not śābde pare ca niṣṇātam, if he has not realized the established truths delineated in the Vedas, upaniṣads, and other śāstras, but he has very strong faith in his pure guru and is sincerely following him, then, even if he is a madhyama-adhikārī, do not reject him. If he is always serving his own mahā-bhāgavata guru and is obedient both internally and externally, then do not reject him. We can give up our guru only with the consideration given by Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī in his Hari-bhakti-vilāsa:

pūtaṁ hari-kathāmṛtam
śravaṇaṁ naiva kartavyaṁ
sarpocchiṣṭaṁ yathā payaḥ

[The nectarean topics of Śrī Hari are always purifying, but if they emanate from the mouth of a non-Vaiṣṇava, it is prohibited to hear them, for they become as poisonous as the milk touched by the lips of a serpent.]

If a guru is not serving his own gurudeva, if he has left the process given by him, and his guru is not satisfied by his behaviour – only in that case can we reject him. On the other hand, if the guru is a madhyama-adhikārī and sincere, if he is very obedient and following in the footsteps of his guru, then he will gradually become uttama-adhikārī. So we should not reject him. At the same time, if he is not perfect and thus cannot remove all our doubts about Kṛṣṇa consciousness, what should we do?
We should offer praṇāma to him and ask his permission to have the association of a mahā-bhāgavata devotee: A disciple may ask, “May I go to Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī?” or “May I go to Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī?” or, “May I go to a high class of Vaiṣṇava?” If the guru says, “No, you cannot go,” then give him up.** However, if he says, “certainly you can go, and I will also come,” then he is a real guru.
A guru who sends his disciple to a superior guru for instruction may also be an uttama-mahā-bhāgavata, as there are various stages of uttama-mahā-bhāgavata, and that guru is certainly not to be rejected. Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura was a disciple of Śrīla Lokanātha Gosvāmī, but he took permission from him to take shelter of Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, and Śrīla Śyāmānanda Prabhu took permission from Śrī Hṛdaya-caitanya for that same shelter of Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī.
There are three levels of devotees who can act as sad-guru, and they are: (1) bhagavat-pārṣada-deha-prāpta, (2) nirdhūta-kaṣāya, and (3) mūrcchita kaṣāya.***

*That religious undertaking which bestows divya-jñāna, or transcendental knowledge, and destroys pāpa (sin), pāpa-bīja (the seed of sin), and avidyā (ignorance) to the root is called dīkṣā by learned authorities in the absolute truth” (Hari-bhakti- vilāsa 2.9). Dī means transcendental realization of one’s relationship with Kṛṣṇa, and kṣā means destruction of the above-mentioned obstacles. Therefore, unless one receives initiation from a mahā-bhāgavata devotee, he is not receiving dīkṣā in the real sense.

** Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī has stated in his Bhakti-sandarbha (Annucheda 238): “A guru who is envious of pure devotees, who blasphemes them, or behaves maliciously towards them, should certainly be abandoned, remembering the verse “guror api avaliptasya”. Such an envious guru lacks the mood and character of a Vaiṣṇava. The śāstras enjoin that one should not accept initiation from a non-devotee. Knowing these injunctions of the scriptures, a sincere devotee abandons a false guru who is envious of devotees. After leaving one who lacks the true qualities of a guru, if a devotee is without a spiritual guide, his only hope is to seek out a mahā-bhāgavata Vaiṣṇava and serve him. By constantly rendering service to such a pure devotee, one will certainly attain the highest goal of life.”

***Bhagavat-pārṣada-deha-prāpta – After giving up the gross material body, those
who have perfected themselves through the practice of bhakti obtain sac-cid-ānanda
spiritual forms which are just suitable for the service of the Lord as associates (pārṣadas).
Such persons are the best of all uttama-bhāgavatas.
Nirdhūta-kaṣāya – Those who, although still residing within the gross material
body made of five elements, have no trace of material desire (vāsanā) or any material
impressions (saṁskāras) within their hearts are called nirdhūta-kaṣāya (who have
thrown off all material impurities). They belong to the intermediate class of uttama-bhāgavatas.
Mūrcchita-kaṣāya – Those pursuing the path of bhakti in whose hearts there
remains a trace of desire (vāsanā) and impressions (saṁskāras), based on the material
mode of goodness, are known as mūrcchita-kaṣāya. Due to influence of their bhakti-yoga,
these vāsanās and saṁskāras remain in a dormant or unconscious state. As soon
as there is a favourable opportunity, their worshipful object, Śrī Bhagavān, somehow
causes their desire to be consumed and attracts them to His lotus feet. Such elevated
souls belong to the preliminary (kaniṣṭha) stage of uttama-bhāgavatas” (Śrī Bhaktirasāmṛta-sindhu).

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: In the form of a Deity, Kṛṣṇa told Sanātana Gosvāmī, “You are not giving Me even salt?” Sanātana Gosvāmī then asked the Deity, “From where will I get salt?”
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: “Today you are asking for salt, tomorrow it will be sugar.”
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: The Deity replied, “Oh, but what if I will arrange this Myself?” Sanātana Gosvāmī said, “Oh, You can do that. You are the Supreme Lord.” Thus, Kṛṣṇa made the arrangement.
The Ṭhākura (Deity) of an uttama-adhikārī, or even a madhyama-adhikārī, has a speciality. He can speak or do anything in order to reciprocate with His devotee. For a kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, He will not do so.
Even if an uttama-adhikārī worships grass, thinking it to be Kṛṣṇa, this is so much better than the kaniṣṭha adhikārī’s worship of the Deity in His original form. For that devotee, Kṛṣṇa acts even through grass.
Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja: Is this because an uttama-adhikārī has the mood of sarva-bhūteṣu yaḥ paśyed?

sarva-bhūteṣu yaḥ paśyed
bhagavad-bhāvam ātmanaḥ
bhūtāni bhagavaty
ātmanyeṣa bhāgavatottamaḥ

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.2.45)

[One who sees his own mood of attraction for Śrī Kṛṣṇacandra, the Soul of all souls, in all jīvas, and who also sees all living entities residing within the shelter of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, is an uttama-bhāgavata.]

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: This is certainly true for an uttama-adhikārī. If the devotee is really madhyama-madhyama (an intermediate-intermediate devotee) or madhyama-uttama (the highest of the intermediate devotees), who is just about to become an uttama devotee, then his Deity installation (vigraha prāṇa-pratiṣṭhā) is also accepted as bona fide. He has something – a special attachment towards Kṛṣṇa.
Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja: Kṛṣṇa is everywhere. So, if a general devotee is doing prāṇa-pratiṣṭhā, the installation ceremony…
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: We are madhyama-adhikārīs.
I am madhyama-adhikārī…
Devotees: No, no, no.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: …but still, I perform this ceremony around the world.
Tri-lokanātha dāsa: You are uttama-uttama (the topmost of the topmost devotees), Śrīla Gurudeva.
Vṛndāvana dāsa: Some question comes up. We were talking in Badger about prāṇa-pratiṣṭhā (installation of the Deities). When Kṛṣṇa manifests in a Deity form, are there different degrees that the Lord will manifest in that form? Or, if He is there, is He there fully?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Yes, there is so much difference. If one is not qualified and he has done pratiṣṭhā, the effect of worshiping may be of lesser degrees. An uttama-adhikārī or madhyama-adhikārī will give more fruit. An uttama-adhikārī like Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī used to talk with his Ṭhākurajī [Madanamohana]. The Deity of Madana­mohana asked him, “Oh can you not give me salt?” Ṭhākurajī will not ask us about our worship.

Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: Gurudeva, in the Upadeṣāmṛta of Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja, at the end of Purport Five, he says not to take a guru if he is not uttama-adhikārī. He also says, “Don’t become guru if you are not uttama-adhikārī.” Then he says that both the kaniṣṭha-adhikārī and madhyama-adhikārī may also take disciples, but that such disciples cannot make much progress due to insufficient guidance. The question is this: Below which level would you say that one should not venture to take disciples?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: It is not written anywhere. But I think that, at the least, one requires the qualification of a madhyama-madhyama devotee in order to give initiation.
Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: Does his giving of the dīkṣā-mantra have the power to give divya-jñāna (transcendental knowledge)?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: It is not as powerful as if Nārada would give it. If Nārada gives initiation, at once, in a second, divya-jñāna will manifest. But we are not like him.
Śrīpāda Nemi Mahārāja: What are the symptoms of a madhyama-madhyama-adhikārī, Śrīla Gurudeva?
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: He is asking: what is the qualification of a madhyama-madhyama? Is it ruci, or āsakti, or niṣṭhā, or what?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: [He must have come] up to āsakti. And, if bhāva comes…
[When Śrīla Gurudeva said ‘up to āsakti,’ he meant that the guru must have already reached up to the stage of āsakti. He must already be on the stage of āsakti.]
Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: The definition of divya-jñāna is that the guru is
putting the form of Bhagavān in the heart by the mantra, like a seed. From that seed manifests bhagavatā sambandha viseṣa jñānaṁ ca (Bhakti-sandarbha, Anuccheda 283), meaning specific realized knowledge of one’s relationship with Bhagavān. At which level can guru know this?

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: If I know, and you know, why will that madhyama-madhyama not know? However, realization of that knowledge will come at bhāva. Without bhāva, or rati, realization will not come; but even at that level the realization will be as though ‘covered with glass.’
[Here, Śrīla Gurudeva is pretending to be like us, saying that he and we and the madhyama-madhyama guru may have varying degrees of theoretical knowledge of one’s particular relationship with Kṛṣṇa.]
Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja: So, does ‘up to āsakti’ mean ruci? Is ruci not madhyama-madhyama? ‘Up to āsakti’ begins from where?
Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: Ruci.
Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja: [To Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja] He didn’t say ruci with his mouth. You said ruci.
Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: [To Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja] But it is understood in all śāstra.
Vrajanātha dāsa: Gurudeva said, “Āsakti.”
Śrīpāda Śrīdhara Mahārāja: If we look closely, we see that so many gurus take disciples although those gurus’ anarthas have not gone. They have not passed anartha-nṛvrtti, yet they are taking disciples. How can they do this?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Nowadays there is no consideration of qualification at all – nothing. All are allowed to give, especially unqualified persons.
Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja: Śrīla Gurudeva, you said, “up to āsakti.” Do you mean niṣṭhā-ruci madhyama-madhyama, or only ruci-āsakti madhyama-madhyama?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Ki sab? [Bengali phrase, meaning, “What is it that you continue to ask again and again?”]
Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja: If one is not madhyama-madhyama and he gives dīkṣā, what reaction will he receive?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Good result (gati); there is no harm in this. Kṛṣṇa will do what is needful.
Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja: No, I am not referring to the madhyama-madhyama. I am asking about one who is less than that.
Vrajanātha dāsa: What is the result of an unqualified guru giving dīkṣā?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: He should be qualified.
Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja: But what if he is unqualified? Then?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: What will be the result? You know.
Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: So madhyama-madhyama begins at ruci; yes?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Do you know the meaning of māna (honour) and sammāna (honour, or respect)? The desire for these things will grow. That unqualified person will thus think, “I am the only guru,” and then he will fall down.

Śrīpāda Nemi Mahārāja: Śrīla Gurudeva, in his letters, our guru mahārāja (Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja) did not usually say that he was giving dīkṣā. He said that he was giving second initiation. What kind of dīkṣā was he giving, or not giving?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Did he give the guru-mantra and all the other mantras?
Śrīpāda Nemi Mahārāja: Yes.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: That is dīkṣā. He called it ‘second initiation’ as an English translation. Harināma is given first. If dīkṣā and harināma are given at the same time, at the same ceremony, then harināma is given first and just after that dīkṣā is given.
Śrīpāda Nemi Mahārāja: You were saying that nowadays one’s dīkṣā is not vidvad-rūḍhī. It is merely giving some adhikāra, or qualification, for later advancement. Is the bona fide guru simply giving some adhikāra, or is he giving full dīkṣā?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: The guru gives an opportunity for the disciples to begin their dīkṣā process. We see in Jaiva-dharma that when Vijaya Kumāra and Vrajanātha took dīkṣā, they at once realized and saw Gauracandra (Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu), but nowadays the dīkṣā initiations are not of that caliber.
Śrīpāda Sajjana Mahārāja: Is it that the madhyama-guru gives instructions, thereby giving their disciples sukṛti (spiritual merits), and then, when the disciple follows these instructions he will get the association of the topmost devotees?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: A disciple should always think, “My gurudeva is an uttama-adhikārī and an associate of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.”
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: Otherwise he cannot advance.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: He should think like that. In the Bhagavad-gītā there is a śloka which states that if anyone is worshiping the demigods, the fruit of that worship is given by Kṛṣṇa, because the demigods have no power to give that fruit. Suppose you worship grass or straw, thinking, “I am worshiping Kṛṣṇa.” That straw is not Kṛṣṇa, but if you consider, “Kṛṣṇa is here, I am worshiping Him,” He will know this and sprinkle His mercy upon you at once.

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: When Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda entered his unmanifest pastimes, the Gauḍīya Maṭha became divided over who would be the next ācārya. Ananta Vāsudeva was nominated, but in time it was seen that he was not qualified. Many devotees asked my guru mahārāja what to do, and he told them that if a guru is fallen he should be given up, and a bona fide guru accepted instead. If a disciple does not realize that his guru is unqualified at the time of dīkṣā but finds out later, he should reject that person and accept a real guru. If one’s dīkṣā-guru is unable to give pure bhakti, then one should humbly ask his permission to take shelter of a qualified śikṣā-guru. However, if the disciple is refused permission, then he must conclude that this so-called guru is selfish and worldly-minded, and should therefore be rejected.

Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: That is why after she spoke one night at the ISKCON temple in Cebu, they would not let her come back the following night.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: They fear.
Suppose one takes harināma and dīkṣā from a guru who later falls down. Or, even if that guru does not fall down, he cannot remove the doubts of his disciples and he has no realized experience of Kṛṣṇa.
How can he give Kṛṣṇa from his heart into others’ hearts?
If a man is nourishing a cow that after a while no longer gives milk, what should he do? He should get another cow. He should get a cow that has milk. In the same way, if a guru to whom we are attached cannot give transcendental knowledge or realization, cannot remove our doubts, and cannot give Kṛṣṇa from his heart to our hearts, how can he be a bona fide guru? If he is a Vaiṣṇava and you beg permission from him to go to a more qualified guru, he will allow you to do so. If he is not a true Vaiṣṇava, then he will not allow you. He will say, “Don’t go. If you go, I will curse you.” Some persons think, “My disciples are my property,” but the bona fide guru does not think like this.
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: ISKCON’s philosophy is now similar to the ṛtvik philosophy. They are saying, “We do not have the highest realization, but we are connecting you with Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja Prabhupāda. You will get all things from him.”
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: If the ṛtvik system is bona fide, then why did Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja take initiation from his Gurudeva? And, why did his Gurudeva allow his many sannyāsī disciples to initiate? Why did Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura accept a guru who, being illiterate, could not even sign his name, and who was blind? Moreover, that blind personality rejected him two times, saying, “I don’t know anything. You should go to another guru.” Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura replied, “If you do not initiate me, I will fast until death.” At last Śrīla Gaura Kiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja initiated Prabhupāda, who would later say with pride, “I am his only disciple.”

Dhruva dāsa: Śrīla Gurudeva, what should be my regard for senior devotees who are taking so many good things from your books, yet they are not taking guidance from you personally and simultaneously they are not allowing other devotees to come to see you?
Vrajanātha dāsa: His question is: How should we respect senior devotees who are reading your books yet do not allow other devotees to come to you?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Why don’t they allow others to see me? Oh, they are very cruel; very, very cruel.
Dhruva dāsa: Is there any value in trying to preach with them?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: If they don’t want to hear from my disciples, why go there to preach with them? The entire world is available for preaching; you can preach anywhere in this world. If they are unfavourable, then better not to preach with them.
Dhruva dāsa: What is the consequence of their taking so many good things from your teachings and your books, and at the same time disrespecting you by not letting others come to you and not coming to you for guidance themselves?
Śrīpāda Sajjana Mahārāja: And although they speak to others and give classes from your books, they do not acknowledge that the knowledge in your books is coming from you.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Their disciples should not obey them. They should kick out such so-called gurus.

Śrīpāda Sādhu Mahārāja: This devotee is from ISKCON. She is asking if it is possible to have a śikṣā-guru in her life who is more qualified than her dīkṣā-guru in ISKCON?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Certainly. Sometimes the śikṣā-guru is more qualified than the dīkṣā-guru. There are instances where the dīkṣā-guru will personally send his disciples to receive instruction from the more qualified guru. For example, the gurus of Śrīla Śyāmānanda Prabhu, Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura, and Śrīnivāsa Ācārya did this. Their gurus sent them to Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, saying, “Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī is the authority on bhakti; go and take śikṣā from him.” They went to Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī for instruction, but they did not reject their dīkṣā-gurus. They considered Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī to be their śikṣā-guru and the others their dīkṣā-gurus. There is no fault in this; it is certainly authentic and proper.
Śrīpāda Sādhu Mahārāja: Sītā-devī is asking about the same topic: Many devotees come to you from ISKCON, where they received their first initiation, and then take shelter of you and receive dīkṣā. It is with their gurus’ blessings that they have come to you for this. What is their relationship with their gurus in ISKCON after they obtain your shelter?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: If the guru is happy that you have come to me, then you should respect him as guru. If that guru says, “You can go and take dīkṣā,” he must be respected.
Regarding how you should think of me, you can think of me as you like. I have no objection regarding anyone who wants to receive my help. My doors are open for everyone, regardless of caste or creed, and regardless of whether they are in ISKCON or anywhere else.

Sañjaya dāsa: After gurudeva gives harināma, his disciples begin their sādhana; some of them seriously and some not so seriously. Just as the fish maintains its eggs by vision, turtles by meditation, and birds by physical closeness, will gurudeva meditate on all his disciples equally?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: No, not equally. The more a person desires bhakti, the more he surrenders, the more Kṛṣṇa reciprocates.
Rohiṇī-nandana dāsa: Kṛṣṇa reciprocates according to the surrender of the devotee. So, if Kṛṣṇa’s pure devotees behave like Kṛṣṇa, how can they be considered more merciful?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: A madhyama can somewhat give mercy, but an uttama can give it fully; this is certain.
Rohiṇī-nandana dāsa: Isn’t gurudeva supposed to be more merciful than Kṛṣṇa? Or, will he also respond only according to the surrender of the disciple?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja:

ye yathā māṁ prapadyante
tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham
mama vartmānuvartante
manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ

(Bhagavad-gītā 4.11)

[O Pārtha, in whichever way a person renders service to Me I reciprocate with him accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects.]

The uttama-adhikārī will behave in such a manner.
Rāmacandra dāsa: How is one an uttama-adhikārī if he is not more merciful to devotees than their ratio of surrender?
Umā dīdī: Gurudeva is giving mercy, and Bhagavān is giving mercy. But realization of that mercy will come only to the degree of our surrender?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Yes. This is correct.
Rāmacandra dāsa: In this situation, people like me, who are good for nothing, lose hope because we are very laid-back.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Gurudeva is the mediator. He has made a contract to take his disciples to transcendental Vraja.
Rāmacandra dāsa: Gurudeva is the mediator, so that is how he is more merciful than Kṛṣṇa.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: That is why you first offer your praṇāma to gurudeva.

Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja: I have a question on guru-tattva. Yesterday you explained that if a kaniṣṭha-adhikārī gives dīkṣā, the result is zero. But it has been said that you previously mentioned that if the kaniṣṭha-adhikārī who is giving dīkṣā is himself taking śikṣā from a higher devotee, this system might be okay.
My question is this: What is the need for a kaniṣṭha-adhikārī to give dīkṣā if he can directly send that person to the higher devotee, and he himself just helps with instruction?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: The kaniṣṭha-adhikārī should not give dīkṣā. He should take the candidates to the uttama-adhikārī.
Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja: Somebody said that you mentioned once before that this system may be okay. I just wanted it confirmed.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: But it is better to take them to the uttama-adhikārī.
Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: What if there is no mahā-bhāgavata available in our saṅga?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Madhyama.
Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja: Madhyama; madhyama-madhyama.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Madhyama is available everywhere.
Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: Everywhere?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: [To Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja] You yourself can give dīkṣā.
Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: Why are you cheating me now?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Nemi Mahārāja, and you [to Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja], and all. One day you will have to give dīkṣā – today or tomorrow.
Sannyāsīs: Next life.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Better to start now.
Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: Double cheating now.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: They can all do it.

Bhakta-svarūpa dāsa: I heard once that Śrīla Gaura Govinda Mahārāja explained that the madhyama-adhikārī who is the real preacher is madhyama coming from uttama, not kaniṣṭha.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: That is right.
Bhakta-svarūpa dāsa: So, is the madhyama who is giving dīkṣā coming only from the uttama stage, or from the kaniṣṭha stage?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Do you have any doubt in him?
Bhakta-svarūpa dāsa: No, no. I am giving his statement as an introduction to my own question about dīkṣā.
Vrajanātha dāsa: His question is: Who can give dīkṣā – a madhyama who is progressing from the kaniṣṭha stage, or a madhyama who is actually uttama?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Both.
If you are not reading any books, how can you ask a question?
Bhakta-svarūpa dāsa: I am reading, Gurudeva.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: You have no time to read.

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Very soon I will tell my preachers who are preaching in different areas that I will not go to those areas to initiate. They should give harināma and also dīkṣā, and thus continue the mission. After my departure, and also while I am still in this world, I will allow all to preach and make disciples in their areas.
But do not be like ISKCON leaders. They quarrel with Vaiṣṇavas and don’t honour them; especially they don’t honour senior Vaiṣṇavas. I want everyone to give respect to seniors, whether those seniors are gṛhasthas or sannyāsīs. I request the sannyāsīs not to think, “The gṛhasthas are controlling us. They should not come.”
Problems always come, and they will continue to come in the future. At the time of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda there were so many problems, and my gurudeva even had to go to jail. But pure Vaiṣṇavas always keep their feet on the head of problems, and I do that as well. Problems come, but I keep my feet on the head of problems.
In ISKCON, almost all sannyāsīs have gone down and left sannyāsa. Then, new ones are coming and making their pockets heavy as well. Still, to this day, I have no bank account nor do I keep even one paisa. Vrajanātha and Rādhā-kānta and Yaśodānanda have accounts, but I do not. I have something in pocket, but not in my pocket. Everything is in the pockets of Mādhava Mahārāja and Vrajanātha, and Vrajanātha keeps all the accounts.
I have not done anything for myself; I have not kept even one paisa or shilling. Be selfless like me, following in the footsteps of what I have done for the mission – preaching, establishing preaching centers, and helping others.
I also want a ladies’ āśrama for ladies who are orphaned (who have left their home and family); either here in Gopīnātha Bhavan or outside. Also, I want a school in Vṛndāvana for the children of devotees.


Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Why are you worried?
Kiśorī-mohana dāsa: I am worried because two days ago, after the meeting, you said very clearly, “I will stop travelling. My disciples, the preachers, will be travelling everywhere, and they will be giving harināma and dīkṣā.” And then you said, “They will make their own disciples.” My worry is that everything I have heard from you for the last eleven years about the qualities of guru, guru-tattva, who can give dīkṣā, and what is the definition of dīkṣā – it seems like it was all smashed to pieces at that moment.
I want to understand from you how someone can give dīkṣā who does not have realization of his own relationship with Kṛṣṇa and who cannot see the svarūpa (form) of the soul. I don’t understand.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: You should not be worried about that. [Indicating some Western sannyāsīs in the room] Those sannyāsīs who are preaching my mission everywhere are madhyama-adhikārī. I think they will not deviate; I have that faith. Only a few went, like Prema-prayojana, but I have no doubt about these sannyāsīs. The Indian sannyāsīs, like Vana Mahārāja, Tīrtha Mahārāja, and Mādhava Mahārāja, are qualified, and they are also madhyama-adhikārī.
For my gurudeva, I am giving initiation, dīkṣā, and even sannyāsa. So, I want that, in my lifetime, those who are qualified should do the same. Thus our paramparā will continue. I would like that.
If they are madhyama-adhikārī, they can give initiation even if they have no realization. I have been giving initiation for the past forty years, since our guru mahārāja ordered me to do so. We should obey our holy master, our spiritual master. But I also want them to be qualified.
I have not told this for the gṛhastha-bhaktas. I have said this for these sannyāsīs – that after some time, in my lifetime, I am allowing them to initiate. After some time I will stop travelling and if I have energy at that time I will write books as I am doing now. And at some time, if my health is okay, I may go one time to America, or one time somewhere in the East.
You should all preach my mission.
Vrajanātha dāsa: Gurudeva, but you will also continue to accept disciples.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Oh, one thing more. The sannyāsīs are going to all the places, but if any devotee wants that,
“I will take dīkṣā and harināma from Mahārāja.…”
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: From Gurudeva.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: They will come to me, and I will initiate them.
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: Direct or by phone; in some way he will give.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: But those who are satisfied by them should take initiation from them.
Kiśorī-mohana dāsa: But how do we continue to preach guru-tattva – pure guru-tattva?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: They will preach as I preach guru-tattva.
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: Gurudeva is saying, “If they want, they can take initiation from me.” Gurudeva is happy to give them initiation.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Yes. I will give. But if they are satisfied by the sannyāsīs, oh, no harm.
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: Śrīla Gurudeva, Kiśorī-mohana’s concern is that our siddhānta, and what we have heard from you, is that the bhakti-latā-bīja (the seed of devotion) and one’s relationship with Kṛṣṇa can only come from a Vaiṣṇava who is on the high-level uttama stage. What will the disciple be receiving if he receives dīkṣā from a lower Vaiṣṇava – a madhyama or.…?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: By the order of Gurudeva, the disciple acts like a postman. The postman gives money, money orders, and everything else, but that money is not his. Similarly, that ‘money’ is Gurudeva’s, and thus he is distributing to all.
They can take what I am saying in this sense. They should not think, “I am guru.”
Śrīpāda Bhāgavata Mahārāja: Last year in Vaṁśī-vaṭa, you told me that only the vraja-rasika-uttama-adhikārī (the self-realized guru who is an associate of Kṛṣṇa in Goloka Vṛndāvana) can give the bhakti-latā-bīja.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: It is true. It is true.
Śrīpāda Bhāgavata Mahārāja: Then I asked you, “Can one who is coming up from kaniṣṭha to madhyama give that bīja?” You said, “No.” But are you saying now that if you give the order to that madhyama, then…
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: He should give initiation like a peon (postman).
Śrīpāda Bhāgavata Mahārāja: It will come by that order?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: If he follows the order sincerely, then Kṛṣṇa realization may come.
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: Gurudeva, you are saying it is true – you just said it is true – that only the uttama-mahā-bhāgavata can give the bīja. Is that true, or not true?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: It is true.
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: So the madhyama cannot give it.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: If the madhyama is sincere, he can inspire them for that. He will tell all these things to him, and inspire them for that kṛṣṇa-sevā-vāsanā to come. [Kṛṣṇa-sevā-vāsanā is the desire to serve Kṛṣṇa purely, the seed of which is the symptom of the bhakti-latā-bīja.]
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: But in some lifetime that disciple will have to receive initiation directly from the uttama-bhakta? Otherwise, it is not possible to actually receive it.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Don’t have any doubt or worry.
They should follow what I’m telling them. They should not think,
“I am guru.”
[To Śyāmarāṇī dāsī] What do you want to tell?
Śyāmarāṇī dāsī: When we go to preach, we tell people, “Surrender to śrī guru.” Suppose the disciple thinks, “Yes, my guru, Padmanābha Mahārāja, is śrī guru, that very guru who is talked about in śāstra.”
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: When I am not alive, what will happen?
Śyāmarāṇī dāsī: Won’t there be another one coming like you?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: If I leave this planet, what will happen? Will everyone stop giving and taking initiation? What will they do?
Śyāmarāṇī dāsī: I am just speaking by siddhānta.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: No, no. I want to ask you: When I leave this planet, what will they do? Will they initiate, or not?
Śyāmarāṇī dāsī: Whatever you desire, of course. But isn’t there another uttama-adhikārī always present on the planet who one should search for?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: I think that whether I will tell them to do so or not, they must initiate.
Śyāmarāṇī dāsī: “They will anyway,” you are saying?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: I know. So, why not beginning from my lifetime?
In his last days Śrīla Srīdhara Mahārāja stopped giving initiation, and when anyone came to him he told them, “Go to Govinda Mahārāja.” But during my lifetime, if someone really only wants to take initiation from me, I will initiate him.
Śyāmarāṇī dāsī: It was just a question about our preaching.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: They may tell the candidates for initiation, “Your main guru is Mahārāja [Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja].” They may say this during my lifetime. They are free to initiate, or to send the candidates to me; no harm.
[Stretching out the word ‘worried’] Don’t be w o r r r i e e e e d.

Rukmiṇī Chacon: I am asking this because, just like when Śrīla Prabhupāda left the planet – not left; he is always here – many of his disciples left bhakti. Everyone is urging me to take initiation from you, but what will happen when you are no longer here with us?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: No harm. Even if you have chanted one day, or one moment, from the core of your heart, you will definitely come in the line of bhakti. There will be no loss, only ever-increasing gain.
My Guru Mahārāja gave me harināma, dīkṣā, and sannyāsa. No one thought at that time that I would be preaching all over the world, but I am doing so. My Gurudeva and guru-paramparā have given me the power to do so.
Kṛṣṇa is very merciful. He wants everyone to enter the path of bhakti. He repeatedly comes to this world, either personally, or as His incarnation, or by sending His representative. A real, bonafide guru is His representative. A madhyama-adhikārī Vaiṣṇava can help you more, not an uttama (he sees everyone as already engaged in the Lord’s service) or kaniṣṭha-adhikārī. The uttama Vaiṣṇava therefore acts in the role of a devotee on the madhyama platform and thus give his mercy.

Devotee: Gurudeva, you were saying last night that an uttama adhikārī has to come down to the madhyama platform in order to give mercy. Can a madhyama-adhikārī who has come up from the kaniṣṭhā-adhikārī platform also give mercy?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: The madhyama-adhikārī will give mercy to the innocent, and he will avoid those who are envious of bhakti, bhakta, and Bhagavān.
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja:

īśvare tad-adhīneṣu
bāliśeṣu dviṣatsu ca
yaḥ karoti sa madhyamaḥ

(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 11.2.46)

An intermediate or second-class devotee, called madhyama adhikārī, offers his love to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is a sincere friend to all the devotees of the Lord, shows mercy to ignorant people who are innocent, and disregards those who are envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: The madhyama-adhikārī you have described can only give mercy according to the limit of his capacity; not beyond that. He can give hari-kathā according to what he knows.
If Nārada Ṛṣi says to you, “Kṛṣṇa-bhakti will now come to you,” at once you will dance and sing in prema. A madhyama-adhikārī cannot do this. He can give hari-kathā. In this way bhakti will gradually manifest, and then you will dance and sing.
How will this come about? The madhyama-adhikārī guides his followers in the right direction. He directs them to the pure devotee. Thus gradually, by exalted association, pure bhakti will manifest within their followers’ hearts.

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