Qualifying to be a Disciple

Dear Prabhujis and Matajis,
Hare Krishna. Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.

In due course of our association in Krishna consciousness, we end up hearing from so many senior Vaishnavas who are qualified spiritual masters. We learn about the process of initiation and get a desire to be initiated. Then we start finding out which spiritual master is better. We then start looking at all the external signias and start comparing. The result is we become bewildered. The whole process is not to find a qualified spiritual master to initiate us but to get ourselves qualified to be initiated by a bonafide spiritual master who can bestow upon us the mercy of the taste for the holy names and pastimes of Lord Krishna. The process of initiation happens as soon as the Supreme Lord finds that we are sincerely eager for this supreme mercy. It is not that the disciple finds a spiritual master rather the spiritual master finds the sincere soul eager for performing bhakti. Dhruva Maharaj is the best example for this. He did not go to the forest to find a spiritual master. He was extremely eager to do whatever it takes to see Krishna. On seeing the sincerity in him, the Lord sent the spiritual master to initiate him and train him in the subject matter of transcendence.

Hence we should not be unduly worried about the spiritual master's qualification. Even if we try to find, due to our imperfect senses, we won't be able to find the right spiritual master to take shelter. Therefore, Lord Krishna advises us in Srimad Bhagavatam first to improve our own qualities through the two verses SB 11.3.24 and 11.10.6,

śaucaṁ tapas titikṣāṁ ca maunaṁ svādhyāyam ārjavam
brahmacaryam ahiṁsāṁ ca samatvaṁ dvandva-saṁjñayoḥ

To server the spiritual master the disciple should learn cleanliness, austerity, tolerance, silence, study of Vedic knowledge, simplicity, celibacy, non-violence and equanimity in the face of material dualities such as heat and cold, happiness and distress.

amāny amatsaro dakṣo nirmamo dṛḍha-sauhṛdaḥ
asatvaro ’rtha-jijñāsur anasūyur amogha-vāk

The servant or disciple of the spiritual master should be free from false prestige, never considering himself to be the doer. He should be active and never lazy and should give up all sense of proprietorship over the objects of the senses, including his wife, children, home and society. He should be endowed with feelings of loving friendship toward the spiritual master and should never become deviated or bewildered. The servant or disciple should always desire advancement in spiritual understanding, should not envy anyone and should always avoid useless conversation.

If we develop these above qualities, then Krishna will automatically send the perfect spiritual master to us who can take us back home, back to Godhead. And He does explains the qualities of a bonafide spiritual master (SB 11.3.21) too to make the entire process fool-proof so that the sincere disciple once develops these transcendental qualities, ends up taking shelter of the right person.

tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam
śābde pare ca niṣṇātaṁ brahmaṇy upaśamāśrayam

Therefore any person who seriously desires real happiness must seek a bonafide spiritual master and take shelter of him by initiation. The qualification of the bonafide guru is that he has realized the conclusions of the scriptures by deliberation and is able to convince others of these conclusions. Such great personalities, who have taken shelter of the Supreme Godhead, leaving aside all material considerations, should be understood to be bonafide spiritual masters.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Kalacakra Krsna das