Let us now take a closer look at what constitutes the essence of real, tangible advancement in spiritual life.

Adi lila 12.10-TRANSLATION — The order of the spiritual master is the active principle in spiritual life. Anyone who disobeys the order of the spiritual master immediately becomes useless.

PURPORT — Here is the opinion of Srila Krishnadas kaviraja Gosvami. Persons who strictly follow the orders of the spiritual master are useful in executing the will of the Supreme, whereas persons who deviate from the strict order of the spiritual master are useless.

Comment — In the above text and purport Srila Prabhupada explains the Order of the Spiritual master to be the active ingredient in any spiritual life. When you make bread, if you don't add yeast, the dough wont rise in baking and make a nice soft bread filled with air pockets. It will stay lump solid and feel like a brick in your hands. So without the yeast you dont really have edible bread, but something that resembles bread. And if you are older like I am, you may even break some tooth fillings in the process of trying to bite into that rock like bread. This, like having an unauthorized person posing as “guru” is not very palatable. So if we want to “rise” in spiritual life we must have the active ingredient – the orders of a bona fide spiritual master. And then follow them.

SB 2.9.8 P Answers –by Citing the Lord’ s Version —

One has to receive the TRANSCENDENTAL sound from the RIGHT SOURCE, accept it as a reality and prosecute the direction without hesitation. The secret of success is to receive the sound from the right source of a BONA FIDE spiritual master.


One should be qualified enough to discern such transcendental potency,and either by discriminating or by fortunate chance if one is able to receive the transcendental sound from the bona fide spiritual master, his path of liberation is guaranteed. The disciple, however, must be ready to execute the order of the bona fide spiritual master as Lord Brahma executed the instruction of his spiritual master, the Lord Himself. Following the order of the bona fide spiritual master is the only duty of the disciple, and this completely faithful execution of the order of the bona fide spiritual master is the secret of success.

Comment – This purport explains everything so nicely. In order to know we are getting the right mantra from the right guru, means we also, have to have some qualifications. One time Prabhupada explained that fools gold looks like gold, but if we want to buy real gold, and to make sure we don't get cheated, we have to become familiar with fools gold and real gold and know all the tests. In this above purport he explains so called transcendental sound may “sound” OK, but if it does not come from the authorized source or channel, then even though it “seems” OK, it is useless and has “no potency”. This one is a hard pill to swallow for all those who have been cheated by bogus gurus posing as “Gods representative on earth”. In order for them to admit to themselves and others, they had been cheated for so many years under an un-authorized guru it may be a very hard thing to do, since it means all those years were wasted in pursuing and serving a cheater who could only give them “fools gold”.

Guest (3) (Indian man): …without taking diksha from the guru also utters the name of Lord Krishna with devotion and…

Prabhupada: There is no devotion unless you go to a guru. Forget it. Adau gurvashrayam. First thing is, first business, is to accept a bona fide guru. Otherwise there is no devotion. It is simply false imitation. This is the injunction of Rupa Gosvami in Bhakti-rasamrita sindhu. Adau gurvashrayam: "Your first business is to approach bona fide guru and take his ashraya."Otherwise there is no devotion. That has been the defect in the modern society. They imagine.This business should be given up. He must follow. Sadhu-marganugamanam, which is prescribed by the sadhu, guru, you have to accept that. You cannot manufacture your own way.

Comment – This statement by Srila Prabhupada makes it even more clear, that even if one is doing all the things that a bona fide disciple may do, if the very first item is not there (a bona fide guru) then whatever we may be doing in the name of “devotional service” is only , as Prabhupada puts it — ”false imitation” and we are only “imagining” we have some devotion. This business of spiritual life is not something cheap that we can just make it up as we go along. God is not so cheap that He so easily available like some items of milk or bread anybody can find in a common grocery store. Once we come to this human form of life and become initiated disciples, our so called independence to think and do whatever we want is over – its over if we want to surrender to the Lord and go back Home. If we do not want to toe that thin line of surrender, then a make show of “devotion” produces nothing for us in terms of spiritual assets.

June 23 1976

Devotee (4): The difficulty is that we cannot understand, we cannot feel what pleases Krishna now, yet we can feel what pleases us, and that is the difficulty?

Prabhupada: You have no feeling, that everyone knows. Therefore you have to carry out the order of spiritual master, that's all.

Devotee (1): If we try to please Krishna with all of our service and activities, that automatically brings pleasure to the self?

Prabhupada: You cannot please Krishna directly. You please your spiritual master, Krishna will be pleased. If you want to please directly Krishna, that is not possible. That is concoction You cannot please. Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadah **. You have to please your spiritual master, then Krishna will be pleased. Don't jump. Guru-mukha-padma-vakya, cittete koriya aikya …

1.) Honolulu july 4 1974 –

Prabhupada: Authority is your spiritual master. You do not know who is authority? Why this question is there? If one is initiated, then he accepted the authority. And if he does not follow the instruction of spiritual master, he is a rascal. He is defying the authority. That’s all.

… Then so siksha and diksha-guru… A siksha-guru who instructs against the instruction of spiritual, he is not a siksha guru. He is a demon. Siksha-guru, diksha-guru means… Sometimes a diksha-guru is not present always. Therefore one can take learning, instruction, from an advanced devotee. That is called the siksha-guru. Siksha-guru does not mean he is speaking something against the teachings of the diksha-guru. He is not a siksha-guru. He is a rascal. Because that is offense. Guror avajna. First offense is guror avajna, defying the authority of guru. This is the first offense. So one who is offensive, how he can make advance in chanting? He cannot make. Then everything is finished in the beginning.

Madhya 15.10-purport–

The Hari-bhakti-vilasa (2.6) quotes the following injunction from the Vishnu-yamala:

adiksitasya vamoru kritam sarvam nirarthakam pashu-yonim avapnoti diksha-virahito janah …"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."

Comment — This verse quoted from Vishnu Yamala is quite specific. It gives us the definite formula for actual spiritual life. We must find a bona fide guru and then take initiation from him. Other than that-all else is “useless”. Again here, another bitter pill to swallow for those who are sentimentalists. One of the 4 regulative principles we promise to follow at initiation is no gambling and no speculation. We have composed several articles on just this one point, it is so important. If one wants to be a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, and he can at present, then we must agree, completely, to what he teaches us. Prabhupada uses the word accepting verbatim what the guru speaks.

If there is an opinion different than the spiritual masters, then that opinion must be given up in order to advance in spiritual life. It is just that simple. And that is called surrender.

LA July 13 1971 — Prabhupada: Unless one is prepared that "I am accepting somebody as my spiritual master. I must accept whatever he says," if there is any doubt, that "I cannot accept his words verbatim," then one should not accept him as spiritual master. That is hypocrisy

“Unless one is under the shelter of a realized spiritual master, his understanding of the Supreme is simply foolishness” quote from TLC

Sept 10 1973 Stockholm

Devotee: He's asking if this religion is a matter of reason or is it a matter of feeling?

Prabhupada: Because it is a science. Religion means a kind of faith. It is not faith. It is a science. Science must be based on logic and philosophy. Science means that. And religion means sometimes sentiments. So religion without philosophy is sentiment, and philosophy without religion is mental speculation. Both must be combined. Then it is perfect. You cannot have religion without philosophy. That is sentiment, fanaticism. And if you simply take philosophy without religion, without sense of God, this is mental speculation. So religion must be on the basis of science and logic. That is first-class religion.

Comment – The above statements by Srila Prabhupada clearly give us the information that in order to advance properly in spiritual life we must combine (philosophy) science, logic, and reasoning with religion and that is first class religion. So when somebody tells us that so and so is making advancement in spiritual life, we must use both elements of philosophy and religion to determine if that is true. Otherwise why so many big big books that Srila Prabhupada wrote – if we only have to “just chant Hare Krishna”??

Dec 23 1970 Surat

Devotee (3): In regard to worshiping archa-vigraha form, you have explained that if one receives a mantra from a spiritual master who is not bona fide, that mantra has no effect. So I would like to ask if one is worshiping a Deity and his spiritual master is not bona fide, so that Deity cannot be considered the Supreme Lord?

Prabhupada: Well, first of all, thing is if the spiritual master is not bona fide, how his mantra can be bona fide? Your statement is contradictory. If you say the spiritual master is not bona fide, then how his mantra becomes bona fide? If he is bona fide, then his mantra is bona fide.

Devotee (3): Then why is he giving instruction to worship the Deity? If the spiritual master is not bona fide, then is the Deity also not bona fide?

Prabhupada: I do not follow. What does he say?

Tamala Krishna: His idea is that if one receives a mantra from a spiritual master, if the spiritual master is not bona fide…

Prabhupada: Then there is no question of mantra. There is no question of worshiping Deity. These are all bogus things. If you are not… Just like here is a young medical man. If he has not received instruction from a bona fide medical college, so what is the value of his medical, being… That is… What is called? What is the technical name?

Devotee (4): Quack.

May 2 1976 Fiji

Guru-kripa: Just like, for example, in Bengal before, there was that Charan das Babaji. He induced them to chant the wrong mantra, but where is…. He's not specifically parampara.

Prabhupada: No. He chanted for some time and, of course, there was chanting of "Nitai-Gaura." He introduced new system of chanting: nitai-gaura radhe-shyama. So the Nitai-Gaura chanting will have some effect, Kali-yuga. Although he was presenting pervertedly, the beginning was Nitai-Gaura, so it would have some effect. He did not know actually Nitai-Gaura. From his words it appears. He used to preach that Nitai is Radharaṇi, and Gaura is Krishna. That is siddhanta-viruddha. But some way or other, he was chanting Nitai-Gaura. So some effect were there. Just like sandalwood. You do not know which way better pulp comes out, but if you rub any way, some pulp will come because it is sandalwood. So he had some effect of chanting Nitai-Gaura, but later on they deteriorated because they did not know actually, neither they were taught. Siddhanta-viruddha. The siddhanta-viruddha means it will deteriorate. It will not endure.

For neophyte, one should stick to the worship of Deity in the temple. And those who have understood the philosophy, applied the philosophy in his life, he should go for preaching. Otherwise he'll preach wrongly, like…. What is that? Charan das Babaji. And it will stop. He wanted to preach, but he did not know how to preach, and therefore, after his life, it is finished. So Chaitanya Mahaprabhu does not say like that, that "You remain a rascal and go to preach." No. Janma sarthaka kari. "Your first business is that you make your life perfect. Then go to preach. Perfect means you learn how to obey My orders." That is perfection.

Comment and conclusions – This above conversation reveals that if someone is chanting Nitai Gaura, even if it is done without proper understanding of Who is this Gaura and Nitai, then that person gets some “effect” as Prabhupada mentions this twice in this one conversation.

So in all fairness, we have to include this in the article about spiritual advancement.

Those people, who chant like the above mentioned mantras still do exist today because I met them in one Gaudiya matha temple some 20 years ago in Jagannatha Puri when I did not know what was “siddhanta Viruddha” was as Srila Prabhupada puts it above. Their chanting was nice to hear, they were chanting all the same names of God that we do – (Nitai Gaura, Radhe Shyam, Hare Krishna Hare Ram) But as my devotee friend then told me – it was a bogus mantra because it was NOT given by Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu for us in this age but instead was a concoction made up by this Charan das babaji, who was not in the proper line of disciplic succession.

Seems like a small thing? Well that deviation may seem small to some but to those who practice bhakti yoga properly (Srila Prabhupada, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaja, the 6 Goswamis etc) it was and still is a BIG DEAL .

We can do what we want, make things up from our fertile imagination, but as Srila Prabhupada tells us above – ”It will not endure”

So what I take from that is this – spiritual life is eternal, whatever we do (properly) has an eternal credit in our “spiritual bank account”. And if it is done improperly, then it will simply not endure – why? Because it is not spiritual. Actual Spiritual activity has to be authorized, and practiced properly, then we get eternal benefit not something which has no endurance.

"This Bon Maharaja, perhaps you do not know, has been rejected by Guru Maharaja. So I cannot recommend him as siksha guru. I think that he has no actual spiritual asset. For spiritual advancement of life, we must go to one who is actually practicing spiritual life; not to some head of a mundane institution, not to one who has offended his Spiritual Master in so many ways."

(Letter to: Hrsikesa—Los Angeles – 31 January, 1969)