Understanding the Instructions of the Spiritual Master

Understanding the Instructions of the Spiritual Master

Tusta Krsna das

Dear Prabhujis and Mathajis, 

Hare Krishna! Please accept our humble obeisances! All Glories to Srila Prabhupada and Gurudev! 

Once there was a poor boy named Dharma Sethu who was seriously inquisitive to find the Absolute truth. So he approached a spiritual master. By his submission and service, he won the heart of the spiritual master. The other disciples became very much envious of him. So they would delegate all the menial services to him and in this way Dharma Sethu was all the time busy in serving. Thus they prevented him from attending any of the classes. Dharma Sethu felt very much that he could not attend the classes. He tried to always recite and think over whatever he had learnt from the guru earlier and was doing the services. The spiritual master was aware of all this but he did not say anything. 

One day the guru called all his students and told them that he was going to test what they had learnt. All the other students were very eager to show their talent and at the same time were making fun of Dharma Sethu that because he did not attend the classes he would definitely fail. The guru asked each one of them to kill a bird in a place where nobody would see them doing so. He then told them that they had to return with the dead bird before sunset. As asked by the Guru, all the students ran and killed a bird each in places they felt nobody saw them doing so. But Dharma sethu came back without killing a bird. Surprised, the guru asked him why he did not kill one. He replied that there was no place in this world where nobody was watching him. He then said that he was watching the bird, the bird was watching him, and moreover the paramatma was watching both of them. Satisfied, the guru agreed that he was the only one who had understood the instructions correctly. 

Srila Prabhupada states in his purport to Srimad Bhagavad Gita 4.34, 

"Unless there is submission and service, inquiries from the learned spiritual master will not be effective. One must be able to pass the test of the spiritual master, and when he sees the genuine desire of the disciple, he automatically blesses the disciple with genuine spiritual understanding." He further states, "A bona fide spiritual master is by nature very kind toward the disciple. Therefore when the student is submissive and is always ready to render service, the reciprocation of knowledge and inquiries becomes perfect." 

When the sages of Naimisaranya were inquiring from Suta Goswami, they said (SB 1.1.8)

vettha tvam saumya tat sarvam tattvatas tad-anugrahaat
bruyuh snigdhasya sishyasya guravo guhyam apy uta 

"And because you are submissive, your spiritual masters have endowed you with all the favors bestowed upon a gentle disciple. Therefore you can tell us all that you have scientifically learned from them". 

Srila Suta Goswami fulfilled all the qualifications as a disciple by being obedient and submissive and therefore he was endowed with all favors by his learned and self-realized spiritual masters such as Srila Vyasadeva and Srila Sukadeva Goswami. 

What was the difference between the other boys and Dharma sethu in the above story ? They all acted as per their guru's order, then what made Dharma Sethu please his spiritual master more than others ? It was because he was humble and submissive and at the same time sincerely understood the principle behind his guru's instructions. Once we understand the principle behind the instructions, then we can apply it anywhere according to the time, place and circumstances. And only when we apply the instructions of the spiritual master and shastras, can we please him and get his blessings. As a result, realizations will appear in our hearts by the mercy of Guru and Krsna.

Srila Prabhupada rightly makes a punching comment in the first line of the purport - "The secret of success in spiritual life is in satisfying the spiritual master and thereby getting his sincere blessings." 

Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada, 
Tusta Krishna das