Oct 07, 2017 FRANCE (SUN)
In the article, "Initiation Into Spiritual Life, Part 2", Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Maharaja speaks about the necessity to completely surrender to a bona fide spiritual master. And so, about full submission to him. But he also speaks about the dilemma, for a conditioned soul, to practice this 100 % surrender, considering the real danger of it, if the person he (she) surrenders to is, maybe, not himself fully qualified. A dilemma which actually makes sense. That's the reason why Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Maharaja, like Srila Prabhupada himself did later, says: "But the submission of the disciple is neither irrational or blind". ("Initiation Into Spiritual Life, Part 1")
This dilemma actually exists for the conditioned soul who, by nature, has a natural propensity to be cheated and to even cheat himself. That is one of the thorns of conditioned life. But nobody ever said that spiritual life was easy before we reach the uttama-adhikari platform. Only deluded or cheating "gurus" make their disciples believe the contrary.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaja goes on saying that: "It is complete on condition that the preceptor himself continues to be altogether good. The disciple retains the right of renouncing his allegiance to the preceptor the moment he is satisfied that the preceptor is a fallible creature like himself."
From this saying, we can conclude that this 100 % submission of the disciple, probably precisely because it is difficult for a conditioned soul to be absolutely sure of his choice about the person he surrenders to, is also going through the test of time. That looks like the way for a nitya-baddha to make a right balance of the whole thing with his unavoidable incertitude in judging things in the beginning of his spiritual journey. This test through this criterion of time, therefore, appears not to be an offense on behalf of the disciple, even if the guru is a real pure devotee. But rather to be an excusable, an unvoidable, intelligent and acceptable necessary precaution from the disciple. It looks that there is some tolerance about this matter. Which is perfectly logical!
The next question is:
What are the weapons for the disciple to judge if: "the preceptor himself continues to be altogether good." And was good in the beginning too!
The answer was given (also) by the preceptors (acaryas) themselves:
Sastras, sadhus and also Hari.
About Hari, it is said that if someone is sincerely looking for a genuine spiritual master, Krsna, from within, will guide him to this person. That is a very concrete thing and is done also through the intelligence and the intuition which Krsna gives to the aspirant disciple. So, why should Krsna later be forgot in this aspect by this disciple, or why should Krsna Himself later disappear in this aspect, forgetting and giving up this person at a time when, due to his material conditioning, he is not in a capacity to be completely sure that his guru is bona fide. And, like Srila Bhaktisiddhanta says, must check that, also through the test of time. Considering too that the ultimate purpose of all this process is also precisely to fully connect oneself with Krsna.
Therefore, more globally, those three legs (Sastras, sadhus, Hari) stay permanently for the disciple, in order to, among other things, check the validity of the fourth one, meaning to try to judge and to be certain that his spiritual master is really bona fide. Only IRM members think that we can base our spiritual life on only one leg: guru. Which was never the gurus' themselves thinking and preaching! Why did Srila Prabhupada give us also the Maha mantra, the traduction of Krsna's words in Sastras and the association of devotees, through the creation of ISKCON? We see the result of the limitation of spiritual life to only one leg, in IRM very stupid and destructive (in the long run) philosophy and vision of Krsna Consciousness.
The other next question is:
How the absolute and complete surrender which Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Maharaja speaks about can be not a blind one and can be also submitted to intelligence and judgment, made through those three other legs or spiritual tools? That appears to be contradictory to the notion of absolute surrender or faith in the guru.
The answers are probably more than two. But:
First: the absolute surrender of a conditioned soul is not the same, and is not demanded to be the same, as the one of a liberated soul. It naturally includes the unavoidable doubts and incertitudes of any still conditioned soul on this matter. Which does not have a liberated jiva. There is some tolerance about those nitya-baddhas' imperfections. No one is ever required to do more than the maximum he can honestly do.
Second: the full and absolute surrender of a disciple to his spiritual master is supposed to be within the frame of what is the exact spiritual master's role. Not further. The unlimited surrender of the disciple is however supposed to be within the limits which the bona fide guru (like the previous acaryas) has himself defined, according to the eternal spiritual laws and reality. Not further. The absolute of the disciple's surrender stays within this transcendental frame. The spiritual master must be honored as God and must be seen as good as God Himself. And is the external manifestation of the Paramatma. All the acaryas know that and preach this message. Nevertheless, none of them ever said that they were themselves Krsna. The Paramesvara. They always marked a very clear difference in this matter. Even Lord Caitanya, who was Krsna Himself, was giving the same example. Therefore in this sense, the acaryas never take Krsna's seat. That does not mean that the spiritual master will be forgotten or less honored and considered the day when the disciple fully reaches Krsna.
As well, no acarya ever said that because he was there, anyone had to reject, minimize or not read the Sastras or take the association of devotees (sadhus). On contrary, the acaryas always encourage that. In this sense, neither do they ever take the Sastras or the sadhus' seat. They use themselves all those transcendental elements and weapons. They give the perfect example by doing that.
Considering those facts, we can understand that the apparent contradiction we were speaking about in the beginning of this article is not a real one. The absolute and complete surrender of a disciple to his spiritual master is unlimited. But nevertheless, stays within the spiritual unlimited (in time) limits and frame originally established by Krsna Himself and acknowledged, practiced and preached by those bona fide spiritual masters themselves.