Glass of Water


Recently we had Romapada Maharaja's answers to a question on guru-tattva. You can find them here Although the whole answer may appear as full of wisdom, it is in fact closer to confusion than to a clarification! Let's see that:

Romapada Maharaja:

"The qualification of a bona fide spiritual master is that he is a transparent representative of the predecessor acharyas within the disciplic succession, he must have received knowledge from his spiritual master in disciplic succession, and he must be strictly following those teachings by both prachar and achar.

It is also further recommended that one accept a spiritual master who is on the topmost platform of devotional service, i.e. an uttama adhikari. How we can identify such an uttama adhikari is explained by Srila Prabhupada in Nectar Of Instruction Text 5: essentially such a devotee is always engaged in serving Krishna's interest 24 hours a day, having lost interest in everything else and having realized himself to be an eternal servitor of Krishna. (Please see NOI Text 5 translation and purport"

Till now, nothing to argue about! Everything is perfect. The only point we can discuss, without questioning what Srila Prabhupada wrote, is how a new person in Krsna Consciousness can recognize that "a devotee is always engaged in serving Krishna's interest 24 hours a day, having lost interest in everything else and having realized himself to be an eternal servitor of Krishna"? If you put yourself in the place and position of this new person coming to bhakti process, you may acknowledge that the whole thing is very subjective. This person will try to make for himself (herself) an opinion about it from his own very conditioned level and ignorant basis. So, his (her) criteria will be strongly tainted by sentimentalism, impersonalism, false concepts of spiritual life, etc., etc. We can not avoid that and it is not Krsna's fault, nor Srila Prabhupada, Romapada Maharaja, ISKCON, the GBC or the guru's fault! We must accept, from the very beginning, that to go on the spiritual path is not so simple and easy.

"Shastras do enjoin that before surrendering to a guru, it is the duty of the disciple to ascertain that the spiritual master is a pure representative based on the above mentioned scriptural standards, and to develop the confidence that 'Here is a person unto whom I can fully surrender'; but it is beyond the disciple's jurisdiction or ability to try to judge the degree of their realization or to compare two exalted vaishnavas. Doing so would be presumptuous and could easily become seriously detrimental to one's own devotion."

Ah! It looks that deviation starts at this point. It looks like Maharaja could not wait anymore... the natural tendency and desire for sophism was too hot! So, in this sumptuous paragraph, he very carefully does not mention which part of this paragraph is confirmed by Sastras. The whole paragraph? He seems to start with something which is actually sustained by the Scriptures (the first part, till "fully surrender") and very innocently goes on with the second part, englobing it in this whole thing which is supposed to be confirmed by Sastras. But the second part of it is actually much more dubious to be! And this second part really serves his and ISKCON gurus' goal! It is a classical way of acting, first bringing bona fide and unquestionable points to asleep people and then, when the persons are at the point of being totally confident, to introduce the sophism or poison at the right moment and with the hope that it will not be seen and noted. And the way Maharaja did it is more or less safe for him... In case of emergency, it will be easy for him to acknowledge some involuntary lack of precision.

So, to resume his philosophical point:

"it is the duty of the disciple to ascertain that the spiritual master is a pure representative...."


"it is beyond the disciple's jurisdiction or ability to try to judge the degree of their realization or to compare two exalted vaishnavas. Doing so would be presumptuous and could easily become seriously detrimental to one's own devotion."

So, on the first part, to prove his spiritual honesty and goodwill, Maharaja does not only speak about the right for the aspirant disciple to ascertain that... etc., etc., but speaks about "a duty"! It gives more weight to the whole thing! After such an emphasis, who can reasonably have any doubt about his intransigence on the subject?!!!

But later, he writes:

"but it is beyond the disciple's jurisdiction or ability to try to judge the degree of their realization or to compare two exalted vaishnavas. Doing so would be presumptuous and could easily become seriously detrimental to one's own devotion."

So, the aspirant disciple MUST, but cannot! (and should not!)

Well... except the "should not", it is more or less what I wrote when I was speaking about the difficulty to do that, but I did not say that the aspirant disciple should renounce for this reason! Krsna will help this person! But Maharaja does voluntary discourage this person to do that and it looks to be his own and ISKCON's global strategy on this topic. Maharaja introduces two notions:

- feeling guilty (he introduces the word "jurisdiction" which immediately refers to laws and justice and the word "presumptuous"), and;

- fear and feelings of absolute danger: (could easily become seriously detrimental to one's own devotion").

If you add the word "easily", which new innocent person would not be frightened by such a perspective? Note that Maharaja writes that this person must not even "try"!!!

To resume, this new innocent person MUST ascertain, etc. (big emphasis implicitly put by Maharaja on his own parampara and spiritual rightfulness, truthfulness and intransigency on this field) and after that, is said all that is necessary to frighten and make this person feel potentially completely guilty only to try to do what she is required by Maharaja to do! Well… Machiavelli is actually already very far in the rearview mirror!

The implicit message of this second part of the paragraph, and result of it, is:

"Simply renounce to understand things and just surrender to our present ISKCON gurus."

So, normally, after this "innocent" introduction of poison, Maharaja, according to this art procedure, is supposed to come back quickly to unquestionable parampara points to make the previous poison points be swallowed and digested without too many problems. Let's see that......

"Having surrendered to the spiritual master, he should be accepted as a confidential servitor and direct representative of Krishna. Srila Prabhupada, in fact, taught us that the guru is not many, there is only one guru since anyone who is representing the disciplic succession is essentially transmitting the same absolute message and descending mercy."

Oh! It is exactly what Maharaja is doing!!! Amazing! Well... he was a good student at Sophisms and Manipulations University and obviously got his diploma! Maybe come first of his year? With the Jury Congratulations?

Through this new paragraph, while coming back and staying in a strict philosophical line for the sake of the "cause", he even implicitly raises present ISKCON gurus to an absolute platform (confidential servitor and direct representative...) Implicitly, after those lines, in the reader's subconscious, today ISKCON gurus immediately take position in the Sampradaya at the same level as Srila Prabhupada, Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaja, etc… Great!

Let's go on!

"All spiritual perfection can be achieved by faithfully serving and pleasing one's spiritual master. This is the mystery of disciplic succession"

OK! No problem! That is true with uttama-adhikari gurus, of course, but Maharaja does not make any more mention of this insignificant detail. He is obviously already far beyond that... The essential is that ISKCON gurus are henceforth more or less accepted as such uttamas in the subconscious of the persons who read or hear that. I guess he maybe saw his interviewer's reaction to what he already said and he thinks that it's ok! No apparent rebellion! So, he is confident. And the word "mystery" instead of "secret" adds a little more to the aspirant disciple's confusion. A mystery is something which can never be really understood. So don't even try! Just surrender to me and my companions gurus! Good work Maharaja!

"Within all of this framework, we should understand that it is Krishna who is doing the delivering, not the jiva soul who is one's spiritual master. If we take shelter of the system given by Krishna (and outlined above), all spiritual perfection will follow; this is not realization- of-guru specific. Once again, Krishna is the deliverer, and he has His agents or instruments through whom He acts"

Not wrong! But what happened to justify this sudden crisis of humility? Maybe it is to reinforce the aspirant disciple's idea not to bother him(her)self any longer with his discrimination spirit... take it easy!

So, in the previous paragraph, serving and pleasing the guru was the essential and unavoidable key and the "mystery" of success ... and now, the spiritual master is not so important anyway! Only Krsna really makes the whole thing…

What happened with our usual "only through the mercy of a pure devotee can someone receive Krsna's mercy"? And "Only one second of association with a pure devotee can give perfection to someone"? The humility crisis is quite serious! Is there a doctor in the room?

So, coming back to the first paragraph of Maharaja's answer, since so long, ISKCON guru system is much based on the illusion and sophism that someone practicing Krsna Consciousness has the power, even if he is not completely purified, to be transparent. In fact, only an uttama adhikari can be in such a situation. It does not matter his rasa with Krsna, his characteristics (I can not find it again, but I read Srila Prabhupada saying that in the spiritual world, every jiva has his own way to (spiritually) think and anyway, it's obvious!) This uttama is transparent, for he has no material conception of life at all. Not even a little insignificant bit! There is absolutely no material garbage in such a person.

Now, take a glass of water. Add some mint or strawberry syrup in it. If you stir the whole thing with a spoon, you will have tainted water everywhere. If you don't do that, the syrup will go and concentrate on the bottom of the glass. So, the water will appear as clear and transparent but still and anyway, the syrup is there in the bottom of the glass. Whatever you do, the syrup is there, somewhere! So, to really reach Krsna means also to reach real pure goodness level, suddha sattva. No real complete love for Krsna can be achieved while staying in material conditioning. So, to reach this perfection, you have to go through this glass of water. Does not matter where the syrup is, you will be confronted by it if there is some syrup. If the syrup is dispatched with the spoon in all the water, you will be confronted by it in a soft way, everywhere and all the time.

If the syrup is in the bottom of the glass, you will be confronted by it only at some precise moments but it will very thick. So, however the syrup is present in the glass of water, nobody can say that the water is transparent. So, gurus who are not uttama-adhikaris can pretend or try to be transparent, sometimes by not shaking the water, but still it is an illusion. Everyone can even think that he is transparent because he just repeats Prabhupada's and the acaryas' message, but spiritual perfection is not only a matter of repeating perfectly things. I know many wild parrots in the gardens of Barcelona whose vapu is wonderful! Beautiful colours, funny and nice voice! And very kind! But an uttama has something more and special. He repeats very strictly the same philosophy but with the full realization of it and with full complete attachment for Krsna. And that makes the full difference! You can really reach Krsna through such a person. There is no syrup anywhere, even if we can be bewildered sometimes by apparent so-called "defects". Those so-called "defects" are not in the same category as those of syrup tainted water glasses! Really not in the same categories. For an eventual perfect human "parrot", the syrup will possibly appear in the form of his mood which is not the right one, the one of a realized soul. So, in one way or other, the syrup will be there....."

So, if ISKCON is so attached to having gurus and if those gurus are attached, at least, the system should clearly make a difference from the very beginning between those gurus and the Sampradaya's acaryas, by clearly giving them names. Whatever those names are: madhyama guru, kanistha guru, corporal guru, lieutenant-colonel guru... does not matter if it makes a clear difference for the new people who come to Krsna Consciousness.

As I wrote in a previus article, to make this difference can not be only the guru's business. Because the new persons who come to Krsna Consciousness are very often on also a very sentimental platform, which is normal. The more the guru will say that he is not a pure devotee, not at the same level as the acaryas, the more the disciple eventually will think that all that is the definitive proof of his guru's humility and definitive proof that he is actually at those acaryas' level! Even if the guru is honestly trying to explain the contrary! So, that is actually the business of the institution.