The Qualification of a Bona Fide Spiritual Master

The exalted position and character of the bona fide spiritual master

And the importance of accepting a bona fide spirtual master



“One should take initiation from a bona fide spiritual master coming in the disciplic succession, who is authorized by his predecessor spiritual master. This is called diksa-vidhana.”  (SB 4.8.54 Purport)

“As already stated, Brahmā is the original spiritual master for the universe, and since he was initiated by the Lord Himself, the message of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is coming down by disciplic succession, and in order to receive the real message of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam one should approach the current link, or spiritual master, in the chain of disciplic succession. After being initiated by the proper spiritual master in that chain of succession, one should engage himself in the discharge of tapasya in the execution of devotional service.” (SB 2.9.7 purport)


“A guru must come in a disciplic succession, and he must have heard thoroughly about the Vedas from his spiritual master. Generally a guru’s symptom is that he is a perfect devotee, that’s all. And he serves Kṛṣṇa by preaching His message.” (Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers: The Real Goal of life)

“The prime symptom of one who has become a spiritual master in disciplic succession is that he is one hundred percent fixed in bhakti-yoga.” (Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol. 2, Chapter 32)

“One who is situated in the disciplic succession can be understood by the result of his activities. This is always true as far as the activities of the Lord and His devotees are concerned.” (Cc Madhya-lila 16.65 purport)

“For a pure devotee, there is no scope for indulgence in mystic yoga practice or the cultivation of speculative philosophy. It is indeed impossible for a pure devotee to engage his mind in such unwanted activities. Even if a pure devotee wanted to, his mind would not allow him to do so. That is a characteristic of a pure devotee-he is transcendental to all fruitive activity, speculative philosophy and mystic yoga meditation.” (Cc Madhya-lila 13.140 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)

“This is the way to advance in spiritual science. One must accept the words of an ācārya, a bona fide spiritual master, to clear the path for spiritual advancement. This is the secret of success. However, one’s guide must be a spiritual master who is actually an unalloyed devotee strictly following the instructions of the previous ācārya without deviation. Whatever the spiritual master says must be accepted by the disciple. Only then is success certain. This is the Vedic system.” (Cc Madhya-lila 10.17)


“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)



“Unless one takes shelter of a bona fide, fully Krsna conscious spiritual master, there is no chance of understanding Krsna. […] Only one who has surrendered to a pure devotee of Krsna and taken the dust of his lotus feet can understand Krsna.” (SB 7.5.32 : Purport)


“There are many spiritual masters, but Ṛṣabhadeva advises that one should not become a spiritual master if he is unable to save his disciple from the path of birth and death. Unless one is a pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa, he cannot save himself from the path of repeated birth and death.” (SB 5.5.18)

“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)

“There is no possibility that a first-class devotee will fall down, even though he may mix with nondevotees to preach.”   (Cc Madhya-lila 22.71 Purport)

“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)

“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)

“…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)

“A person who has full control over the senses and mind is called a gosvami or gosañi. One who does not have such control is called godasa, or a servant of the senses, and cannot become a spiritual master. A spiritual master who actually has control over the mind and senses is called gosvami.” (Cc Adi-lila 7.13 Purport)

“The so-called spiritual master without sense control is certainly the cheater, and the disciple of such a so-called spiritual master is the cheated.”  (SB 2.9.43 Purport)

“One cannot become happy by accepting a false guru.” (SB 5.14.13 Purport)

“Presently people are so fallen that they cannot distinguish between a liberated soul and a conditioned soul.”  (SB 4.18.5)

“A pure devotee is never attracted by sense gratification, and consequently he is liberated.” (SB 4.22.52)

“Without being blessed by a pure devotee, no one can be fully satisfied, nor can anyone understand the transcendental position of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”  (SB 4.24.57)

“Sometimes the prākṛtā sahajiyās claim that they have heard the truth from their guru. But one cannot have transcendental knowledge simply by hearing from a guru who is not bona fide. The guru must be bona fide, and he must have heard from his bona fide guru. Only then will his message be accepted as bona fide. […] In this way the message is transmitted in the bona fide spiritual disciplic succession from bona fide spiritual master to bona fide student.” (Cc Madhya 8.312 purport)

“A pseudo spiritual master cannot transform a person into a brāhmaṇa, but an authorized spiritual master can do so. This is the verdict of śāstra, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and all the Gosvāmīs.” (CC Madhya-lila 10.139 purport)

“Unless one is initiated by a bona fide spiritual master, all his devotional activities are useless. A person who is not properly initiated can descend again into the animal species.” (Cc Madhya-lila 15.108, cited from the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa (2.6) as quoted from the Viṣṇu-yāmala)

“A good man or woman accepts anything very easily, but a man of average intelligence does not do so. But, anyway, we should not give up our reason and discriminatory power just to be gentle. One must have good discriminatory power to judge a thing on its merit.”  (SB 1.7.42 Purport)

“According to revealed scriptures, a teacher or spiritual master is liable to be rejected if he proves himself unworthy of the position of a guru or spiritual master.”  (SB 1.7.43 Purport)

“Anyone who is supposed to be a guru but who goes against the principle of viṣṇu-bhakti cannot be accepted as guru. If one has falsely accepted such a guru, one should reject him.” (SB 8.20.1 purport)

“If a man who does not factually possess the attributes of a great personality engages his followers in praising him with the expectation that such attributes will develop in the future, that sort of praise is actually an insult.”  (SB 4.15.23 Purport)

“Īśopaniṣad confirms that these pseudo religionists are heading toward the most obnoxious place in the universe after the completion of their spiritual master business, which they conduct simply for sense gratification.”  (Sri Isopanisad 12 Purport)

“…of all sinful activities, actions directed against a pure devotee out of sheer envy are considered extremely severe.”  (Cc Adi-lila 17.51 Purport)

“A mundane person in the dress of a Vaisnava should not be respected but rejected. […] There are many jealous people in the dress of Vaisnavas in this Krsna consciousness movement, and they should be completely neglected.”  (Cc Madhya-lila 1.218 Purport)

“If one thinks that there are many pseudo devotees or nondevotees in the Kṛṣṇa Consciousness Society, one can keep direct company with the spiritual master, and if there is any doubt, one should consult the spiritual master.”  (Cc Madhya-lila 19.157 Purport)


“When guru speaks, you cannot argue. That is not the process. You should accept a guru who is infallible. Otherwise it is useless. He accepted guru Krsna because Krsna is infallible. If we accept guru, a bogus guru, then it is no benefit. Guru means Krsna’s representative. Not that everyone can be guru.” (Lecture: Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.7.43 — Vrndavana, October 3, 1976)



Aksayananda: I was recently told by one devotee that the acarya does not have to be a pure devotee.

Prabhupada: What?

Aksayananda: That the acarya does not have to be a pure devotee.

Prabhupada: Who is that rascal?

Aksayananda: Well, he said it. Who said it?

Prabhupada: Who said? Who is that rascal? The acarya does not require to be a pure devotee?

Aksayananda: He said it. Nitai said it. He said it in this context. He said that Lord Brahm is the acarya in the Brahma-sampradaya, but yet he is sometimes afflicted by passion. So therefore he is saying that it appears that the acarya does not have to be a pure devotee. So it does not seem right.

Prabhupada: So who is that rascal? I want to know who has said.

Aksayananda: Nitai. Nitai dasa.

Harikesa: Nitai said that?

Prabhupada: Who is Nitai dasa?

Harikesa: Our Nitai.

Aksayananda: Nitai.

Prabhupada: Oh, our Nitai? Oh.

Aksayananda: He said he couldn’t understand it, but he thought, he said that he thought…

Prabhupada: He manufactured his idea. Therefore he’s a rascal. Therefore he’s a rascal. Nitai has become an authority?

Aksayananda: No, actually he said that he thought…

Prabhupada: He thought something rascaldom, and he is expressing that. Therefore he is more rascal. These things are going on.

Morning Walk — December 10, 1975, Vrndavana


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