(Kadamba Kanana Swami, Radhadesh, Belgium, 10 April 2003, Q&A Session)
Question: What happens to an aspiring devotee who may have read Srila Prabhupada’s books, heard his lectures, loves serving and associating with devotees but cannot find a spiritual master on the level of Srila Prabhupada? Srila Prabhupada has said that a disciple should accept a spiritual master as good as God and be ready to sacrifice his life to him. If such an aspiring devotee feels this way towards Srila Prabhupada but cannot find anyone who satisfy the “as good as God” requirement, is he then forced to take initiation from someone for whom he does not have full respect?
I can say that I appreciate the search for the spiritual master who is like Srila Prabhupada. At the same time, I think that Srila Prabhupada was not the “ordinary” spiritual master, as there are no ordinary spiritual masters, but Srila Prabhupada certainly was more than a spiritual master; he was more than a sannyasi.
Srila Prabhupada was such a wonderful, pure devotee of the Lord, that such a spiritual master may not always be here. We must take it that Krsna has a plan. So, we are in this predicament that we find ourselves in spiritual life and we need to make advancement. So we can wait, and wait and wait, and say, “This one is too light; this one is not heavy enough – I have heard that guru means heavy.”
So, we are waiting and each spiritual master is not heavy enough! Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur says that guru is heavy but not in the sense that he speaks heavy – he may speak very sweet or he may speak heavy – but he is heavy because he never changes his position.
So, every time we may find that no one compares to Srila Prabhupada. That may be, but we are always looking for the qualifications of spiritual master. We may think, “Well, is he powerful enough?” But are we looking at our own qualifications as a disciple? We should also look at our own situation and we are probably worst off than all these spiritual masters that we are looking at. We may look at these spiritual masters and find that maybe they are really not up to the level, but where are we? We are in a position where we need all the help we can get, and for us we can find only Srila Prabhupada suitable to give us guidance, but the only problem is that now we cannot directly ask him a question or now he will not directly turn to us and correct us as we need it.
If we find a vaisnava who is truly a dedicated servant of Srila Prabhupada and mature in that service to Srila Prabhupada, then we will find that this vaisnava can help us very much to increase our relationship with Srila Prabhupada. As Srila Prabhupada had a relationship with his spiritual master, his spiritual master had a relationship with his and that is how the entire sampradaya works…
In our movement, Srila Prabhupada is the founder-acarya and in that way, always the guru of all members of this movement. Some may have that relation with Srila Prabhupada by serving the servant of Srila Prabhupada, not to the exclusion of Srila Prabhupada but rather to enhance their relationship with Srila Prabhupada. So, we can spend a whole lifetime thinking, “I cannot find anyone as qualified as Srila Prabhupada,” and meanwhile we don’t accept any guru and in that way we actually become our own guru. There is a statement, “One who is his own guru accepts a fool for a disciple.”