(Kadamba Kanana Swami, Untitled Lecture)
Question: What happens to an aspiring devotee who may have read Srila Prabhupada’s books, read his lectures and loves serving and associating with the devotees but cannot find a spiritual master on the level of Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada has said that the disciple should accept the spiritual master ‘as good as God’ and be ready to sacrifice their life to him. If such an aspiring devotee feels this way towards Srila Prabhupada but cannot find anyone who satisfies ‘as good as God’, is he then forced to take initiation from someone who he does not have full respect for?
I can appreciate the search for a spiritual master and who is like Srila Prabhupada. At the same time, I think that Srila Prabhupada was not an ordinary spiritual master. Of course, there are no ordinary spiritual masters but Srila Prabhupada was certainly more than a spiritual master! Srila Prabhupada 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 and then we must take this as Krsna’s plan!
So if you are in this predicament in spiritual life and you need to make advancement, you can wait and wait… You have heard that guru means heavy so you are weighing and each one is not heavy enough because Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasavati Thakur said that a guru is heavy! But not heavy in the sense that he speaks heavy, he may or he might not, he may speak very sweet but he is heavy because he never changes his position. So every time you may find that no one compares to Srila Prabhupada, that may be but while we looking at the qualification of the spiritual master and we may wonder if he is powerful enough, we should also look at our own qualification as a disciple!
We should also look at our own situation and we are probably worse off than all these spiritual masters that we are looking at. We may look at the spiritual master and find something that may not be up to the highest level, but where are we in our progress!? We are in a position where we need all the help we can get and if we can find only Srila Prabhupada suitable to give us guidance, the problem is that we cannot directly ask him a question nor can he directly turn to us and correct us as we need it…
But, if we find a spiritual master, 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 vaishnava can help us very much to increase our relationship with Srila Prabhupada, as Srila Prabhupada had a relationship with his spiritual master and his spiritual master had a relationship with his spiritual master and like this, the whole sampradaya works. In our movement, Srila Prabhupada is the founder acharya and in that way, is always the guru of all the 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 one can spend a whole lifetime saying that they cannot find anyone as qualified as Srila Prabhupada and they do not accept any guru and in that way, they actually become our own guru. Once I heard a statement that one who is his own guru accepts a fool for a disciple!