The Uttama-adhikārī – 10 Important Points


Srila Prabhupada seated on Vyasasana in Paris

Srila Prabhupada seated on Vyasasana in Paris



From the original, unedited teachings of Srila Prabhupada


1. Uttama-adhikārī is the highest devotee, very advanced – the association and service of such a mahā-bhāgavata, or perfect Vaiṣṇava, are most desirable

“In order to intelligently apply the sixfold loving reciprocations mentioned in the previous verse, one must select proper persons with careful discrimination. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī therefore advises that we should meet with the Vaiṣṇavas in an appropriate way, according to their particular status. In this verse he tells us how to deal with three types of devotees—the kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, madhyama-adhikārī and uttama-adhikārī. The kaniṣṭha-adhikārī is a neophyte who has received the hari-nāma initiation from the spiritual master and is trying to chant the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. One should respect such a person within his mind as a kaniṣṭha-vaiṣṇava. A madhyama-adhikārī has received spiritual initiation from the spiritual master and has been fully engaged by him in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. The madhyama-adhikārī should be considered to be situated midway in devotional service. The uttama-adhikārī, or highest devotee, is one who is very advanced in devotional service. An uttama-adhikārī is not interested in blaspheming others, his heart is completely clean, and he has attained the realized state of unalloyed Kṛṣṇa consciousness. According to Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, the association and service of such a mahā-bhāgavata, or perfect Vaiṣṇava, are most desirable. (The Nectar of Instruction 5, Purport)

2. Uttama-adhikārī is one out of many Vaiṣṇavas – highly advanced – his association should always be sought

“In this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement a chance is given to everyone without discrimination of caste, creed or color. Everyone is invited to join this movement, sit with us, take prasāda and hear about Kṛṣṇa. When we see that someone is actually interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and wants to be initiated, we accept him as a disciple for the chanting of the holy name of the Lord. When a neophyte devotee is actually initiated and engaged in devotional service by the orders of the spiritual master, he should be accepted immediately as a bona fide Vaiṣṇava, and obeisances should be offered unto him. Out of many such Vaiṣṇavas, one may be found to be very seriously engaged in the service of the Lord and strictly following all the regulative principles, chanting the prescribed number of rounds on japa beads and always thinking of how to expand the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. Such a Vaiṣṇava should be accepted as an uttama-adhikārī, a highly advanced devotee, and his association should always be sought.” (The Nectar of Instruction : NoI 5 : Purport)


Therefore, if we do not associate with the advanced devotees, uttama-adhikārī, if we simply want to remain in the lowest stage of devotional service, then we are not making progress. Then we shall simply enjoy the material field, without entering into the spiritual platform.” (Lecture: Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.33 — Vrndavana, November 12, 1972)


3. The Stage of uttama-adhikārī is very rarely attained – not to be imitated

And uttama-adhikārī, that is very rarely attained, this stage. Uttama-adhikārī, has only equal, one vision, samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu mad-bhaktiṁ labhate. The uttama-adhikārī, he does not think that “He is envious,” or “he is this,” or “he is that,” he sees that everyone is engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That is not to be imitated.” (Lecture: Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.4 — Mayapur, February 11, 1976)

To become first-class devotee, that is very difficult job.” (Lecture: The Nectar of Devotion — Vrndavana, November 4, 1972)

 Srila Prabhupada praying

4. If the kaniṣṭha-adhikārī thinks that “I have become uttama-adhikārī,” then he’s a rascal. He’s a rascal.

Not that a tiny devotee can claim that he has overcome the influence of this world. No. This is called paramahaṁsa. Sa guṇān samatītyaitān [Bg. 14.26]. Not that because you have taken to devotional…, you have become immediately. The process has begun immediately, curing process. But we should not think that we have become perfect. That is wrong. Yajña-dāna-tapaḥ-karma na tyājyam. Therefore you must follow the regulative principles. As soon as you become a rascal—”Now I have become advanced. I don’t require to chant sixteen rounds. I can do whatever I like”—then he has gone to hell. Upstart, immediately he becomes paramahaṁsa. He’s a rascal. He was given the path of becoming paramahaṁsa. One is admitted in the school, he must learn, and one day he will become M.A. But simply by entering in the school, if he says, “I am M.A.,” that is rascaldom. This is a chance. To become jitendriya is very difficult task. But it is easy if he immediately becomes a pure devotee. Anyābhilāṣitā-śūṇyam: [Brs. 1.1.11] “Everything make zero, all desire, except Kṛṣṇa consciousness.” That is wanted. But that does not become very easily done. One has to try very rigidly; then he’ll be paramahaṁsa. Therefore amongst the devotees, there are three grades: kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, madhyama-adhikārī, and uttama-adhikārī. So if the kaniṣṭha-adhikārī thinks that “I have become uttama-adhikārī,” then he’s a rascal. He’s a rascal. If he wants to imitate the uttama-adhikārī, then he’s a rascal.(Morning Walk — February 4, 1976, Mayapura)


5. Should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikārī as a spiritual master

“The guru must be situated on the topmost platform of devotional service. There are three classes of devotees, and the guru must be accepted from the topmost class.” (Cc Madhya-lila 24.330 Purport)

“The bonafide spiritual master always engages in unalloyed devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By this test he is known to be a direct manifestation of the Lord and a genuine representative of Sri Nityananda Prabhu.” (Cc., Adi-lila, 1.46)

“One should not become a spiritual master unless he has attained the platform of uttama-adhikārī. A neophyte Vaiṣṇava or a Vaiṣṇava situated on the intermediate platform can also accept disciples, but such disciples must be on the same platform, and it should be understood that they cannot advance very well toward the ultimate goal of life under his insufficient guidance. Therefore a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikārī as a spiritual master. (Nectar of Instruction 5)


6. No possibility that a first-class (uttama) devotee will fall down

“It should be understood that a madhyama-adhikārī, a second-class devotee, is fully convinced of Kṛṣṇa consciousness but cannot support his convictions with śāstric reference. A neophyte may fall down by associating with nondevotees because he is not firmly convinced and strongly situated. The second-class devotee, even though he cannot support his position with śāstric reference, can gradually become a first-class devotee by studying the śāstras and associating with a first-class devotee. However, if the second-class devotee does not advance himself by associating with a first-class devotee, he makes no progress. There is no possibility that a first-class devotee will fall down, even though he may mix with nondevotees to preach. Conviction and faith gradually increase to make one an uttama-adhikārī, a first-class devotee.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta – 1975 Edition Madhya-lila 22.71 purport)

“One is therefore advised to studyBhagavad-gītā, or any other scripture, under a bona fide spiritual master, with service and surrender. A bona fide spiritual master is in the disciplic succession from time eternal, and he does not deviate at all from the instructions of the Supreme Lord as they were imparted millions of years ago to the sun-god, from whom the instructions of Bhagavad-gītā have come down to the earthly kingdom. One should, therefore, follow the path of Bhagavad-gītā as it is expressed in the Gītā itself and beware of self-interested people after personal aggrandizement who deviate others from the actual path.” (Bg 4.42 purport)

 Srila Prabhupada

7. Accidental falldowns occur only at the lower, weaker stage

“Devotional service is more or less a declaration of war against the illusory energy. As long as one is not strong enough to fight the illusory energy, there may be accidental falldowns. But when one is strong enough, he is no longer subjected to such falldowns, as previously explained. No one should take advantage of this verse and commit nonsense and think that he is still a devotee. If he does not improve in his character by devotional service, then it is to be understood that he is not a high devotee. (Bhagavad-gita As It Is (1972) 9.30 purport)

“Actually Arjuna is asking a very appropriate and intelligent question. It is not unusual for one to fall down from the platform of devotional service. Sometimes a neophyte devotee does not keep the rules and regulations. Sometimes he yields to intoxication or is trapped by some feminine attractions. These are impediments on the path of yoga perfection. But Śrī Kṛṣṇa gives an encouraging answer, for He tells Arjuna that even if one sincerely cultivates only one-percent worth of spiritual knowledge, he will never fall down into the material whirlpool. That is due to the sincerity of his effort. It should always be understood that we are weak and that the material energy is very strong. To adopt spiritual life is more or less to declare war against the material energy. The material energy is trying to entrap the conditioned soul as much as possible, and when the conditioned soul tries to get out of her clutches by spiritual advancement of knowledge, material nature becomes more stringent and vigorous in her efforts to test how much the aspiring spiritualist is sincere. The material energy, or māyā, will then offer more allurements.” (The Perfection of Yoga – 6: The Fate of the Unsuccessful Yogi)


8. Falldowns occur from disobeying the [uttama-adhikārī] spiritual master

“If one always follows the orders of the spiritual master, there is no question of falling down. As soon as a foolish disciple tries to overtake his spiritual master and becomes ambitious to occupy his post, he immediately falls down.” (SB 5.12.14 Purport)


9. Must be self-realized – by imitation one will eventually become degraded

“When a person realizes himself to be an eternal servitor of Kṛṣṇa, he loses interest in everything but Kṛṣṇa’s service. Always thinking of Kṛṣṇa, devising means by which to spread the holy name of Kṛṣṇa, he understands that his only business is in spreading the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement all over the world. Such a person is to be recognized as an uttama-adhikārī, and his association should be immediately accepted according to the six processes (dadāti pratigṛhṇāti, etc.). Indeed, the advanced uttama-adhikārī Vaiṣṇava devotee should be accepted as a spiritual master. Everything one possesses should be offered to him, for it is enjoined that one should deliver whatever he has to the spiritual master. The brahmacārī in particular is supposed to beg alms from others and offer them to the spiritual master. However, one should not imitate the behavior of an advanced devotee or mahā-bhāgavata without being self-realized, for by such imitation one will eventually become degraded. (The Nectar of Instruction – Text 5 purport)


10. A symptom of unauthorized, lower-stage neophytes posing as uttama-adhikārī spiritual masters

“…sometimes, if a spiritual master is not properly authorized, and only on his own initiative becomes a spiritual master, he may be carried away by an accumulation of wealth and large numbers of disciples. His is not a very high grade of devotional service.” (Nectar of Devotion 14)

Srila Prabhupada pointing




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