Srimad Bhagavatam 11.03.48 - Vedic truths are revealed by the mercy of Spiritual Master (download mp3)
by Radha Vallabha Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty
Having obtained the mercy of his spiritual master, who reveals to the disciple the injunctions of Vedic scriptures, the devotee should worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the particular personal form of the Lord the devotee finds most attractive.
According to Srila Jiva Gosvami, the word labdhvanugrahah indicates formal initiation by a bona fide spiritual master. It is stated in the Padma Purana:
avaisnavo gurur na syad
vaisnavah svapaco guruh
A bona fide spiritual master must be a soul surrendered at the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord. In the Brahma-vaivarta Purana it is stated:
bodhah kalusitas tena
gurur yena parityaktas
tena tyaktah pura harih
“One pollutes his own intelligence and exhibits severe weakness of character when he rejects his own spiritual master. Indeed, such a person has already rejected the Supreme Lord, Hari.” The bona fide disciple should always remember that his entire understanding of Vedic knowledge is coming through the mercy of his bona fide spiritual master. If one superficially or whimsically accepts and rejects a bona fide Vaisnava spiritual master, sometimes becoming attracted to another spiritual master, one commits a vaisnava-aparadha, a great offense against the devotees of the Lord. Sometimes a foolish neophyte mistakenly thinks that the relationship with the spiritual master is meant for the sense gratification of the disciple, and therefore in the name of spiritual aspirations such a fool gives up a bona fide Vaisnava guru. One should understand oneself to be the eternal servant of the guru. Srila Jiva Gosvami, however, has quoted this verse from the Narada-pañcaratra:
mantrena nirayam vrajet
punas ca vidhina samyag
grahayed vaisnavad guroh
“One who is initiated into a mantra by a non-Vaisnava must go to hell. Therefore he should again be initiated properly, according to the prescribed method, by a Vaisnava guru.” It is the duty of the bona fide spiritual master to examine carefully the qualification of the disciple, and the disciple should similarly approach a bona fide spiritual master. Otherwise, the foolish disciple and the indiscriminate guru may both be punished by the laws of nature.
One should not artificially try to assimilate all of the apparently conflicting branches of Vedic knowledge. Vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah. Conditioned souls have various conflicting natures, which are engaged by apparently conflicting Vedic injunctions called pravrtti and nivrtti-marga. But the easiest path is simply to learn the process of regularly worshiping advaya-jñana, Lord Visnu. All the demigods mentioned in the Vedas are paraphernalia for the service of the Supreme Lord, Visnu. Whatever exists in the visible material world is also meant to be engaged in the Lord’s service; otherwise, it has no value. If one artificially renounces material things useful in the service of the Supreme Lord, he loses his spiritual qualification of seeing everything as meant for Krsna’s pleasure and will be forced to think of material objects as meant for his own sense enjoyment. In other words, material things should be accepted or rejected according to the pleasure of the Supreme Lord. Otherwise, one will fall down from the standard of pure devotional service. As stated in this verse, labdhvanugraha acaryat: such discrimination can be learned when one receives the mercy of a bona fide spiritual master, who reveals to the sincere disciple the practical application of Vedic knowledge.