I hope this finds you well.
Reading recent accounts in the media, I feel compelled to present another perspective on today’s’ challenges in the area of India Spiritual Leadership. I humbly request that you please do not take any offense, but rather focus on addressing the topic itself in an effort to understand what the actual problem is.
My name is Bhakti Bibudha Bodhayan, I am a Vaishnava monk and president of Sri Gopinath Gaudiya Math. This society’s lineage originates from Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and came together under the shelter of my grand Spiritual Master, His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur Prabhupada and presided over by my Spiritual Master, His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Thakur, and was passed onto me after his departure from this world.
Recently we have noticed several famous so-called “gurus” who have been accused and found guilty of illicit sexual relations with their followers and as a result, a general mistrust of religious teachers has come about. Due to the influence of the present age of Kali, there are many famous so-called saints who are holding esteemed titles of “Baba,” “Bhagavan,” and other honorific names. However, many of these titleholders are not personally observing any Vedic instructions or injunctions in their lives nor are they setting a proper example in society. Instead, they invent their own religious philosophies, spiritual practices, and mantras which are in contradiction to the Vedas and thereby create chaos and confusion in people’s minds.
As per the Srimad Bhagavatam, it is well known that the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna appeared in the copper age of Dwapar-Yuga. Thereafter, in this iron age of Kali-Yuga, the same Sri Krishna appeared 531 years ago in the form of Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu displayed many magnificent pastimes and spread the message of eternal love of God for 48 years. In 1534, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu left this material world in a miraculous manner and entered His eternal abode of Goloka Vrindavan. He was seen entering three places simultaneously: He entered the Jagannatha temple, the Tota Gopinath temple, and the ocean in Jagannath Puri, all at the same time.
This is the miraculous nature of the real, original Bhagavan. According to the Srimad Bhagavatam, the real Bhagavan has unlimited opulence, fame, power, beauty, wisdom, and renunciation. There is no evidence of God’s incarnation as defined by the authenticated scriptures in these so-called ‘Bhagavans’ of today.
The literature composed by Mahamuni Veda-Vyasa, who was the son of Srila Parasara Muni and also the energetic incarnation of Lord Sri Krishna, constitutes instructive and authentic scriptures for mankind. If we ignore such authentic scriptures and blindly place our faith in fake or baseless scriptures, we will surely fall into the trap of fraudulent “Babas” and “Bhagavans.”
Our mundane conception is prohibiting us from understanding the real and untainted spiritual path. Therefore, the basis of spiritual practice is to follow in the footsteps of our previous, credible teachers in the line of our Guru-Varga.
We all know that, without attaining spiritual perfection, we can never be free from the consequences of our karma or actions. We should, therefore, make an effort to read authentic scriptures and earnestly pray to Sri Krishna to allow us to receive a genuine guru who can properly guide us on the spiritual path. With time, Krishna will undoubtedly send His proper representative to us, in the form of the guru. Without this essential process, those who take shelter of a ‘guru’ based on mental speculation or by being influenced by the canvassing of so-called bogus ‘gurus,’ will undoubtedly encounter problems and misfortune. The so-called religious leaders that are being arrested for rape, are emotionally blackmailing their followers, abusing public money (donations) for their own sense gratification, and committing other heinous crimes.
For example, I recently watched a YouTube video and heard an abusive comment made by a lady in Bengali about Lord Shiva and Parvati Devi’s sensual behavior. It was such an offensive explanation that I am unable to relate it to you. The video clip appears to have been made by a lady from another faith, with the intention of denigrating Hindu philosophy and faith. Although, I do not wish to transmit such a vile, illogical content, should there be any doubts about my statement, here is the link to the video: https://youtu.be/kv9cRES0BUw
The fundamental cause of this problem in society is that we are not educating our children or other members of society about Vedic knowledge and secularism. The Indian Constitution is based on secularism, which prohibits discrimination against groups of people in the name of religion. All religions are based on specific Holy Scriptures, i.e. Hindus base their religion on the Vedas, Puranas, Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, and Mahabharata; Muslims base their religion on the Quran, and Christians base their faith on the Bible. None of these scriptures propagate violence, and thus, everyone could actually live together in the same place, maintaining amicable relations amongst each other. Upon careful observation, we find that these arrested bogus ‘gurus’ actually do not follow any authenticated Hindu, Muslim, or Christian scriptures.
Thus, one cannot refute that the prime factor that drives Hindus to follow their own mental concoctions and illogical spiritual institutions in the name of Hindu faith is a fundamental lack of knowledge regarding the true conclusion of the scriptures. Nowadays, many such seemingly spiritual institutions have emerged in society with opportunistic bogus gurus seeking to take advantage of ignorant and naïve people who are incapable of recognizing duplicity in the name of religiosity.
When a Guru thinks that his disciples should worship him and that he is to be considered nondifferent from Bhagavan Sri Krishna, then, in fact, he becomes immediately ineligible and should not be considered a guru at all. For such a person, true saints have explained that we should replace the second letter in the word ‘guru’ with the letter ‘a’, thereby transforming the word to ‘garu’. Here, garu means cow. In India, people are worshiping the cow or garu as Sri Krishna’s dearest animal. However, the word garu is also used to address people with less intelligence, as is applicable in this case.
To assist in rectifying the situation, if the government were to establish and introduce a Vedic curriculum as a part of its academic education, then those duplicitous religious leaders would not be able to make fools of us or abuse our faith in our Hindu scriptures, namely: Vedas, Srimad Bhagavatam, Mahabharata, Ramayana, Puranas, etc.
In the Gaudiya Vaishnava lineage, one leading spiritual teacher is Srila Rupa Goswami. He has nicely explained the qualities of the true guru in one of his compositions:
vācho vegam manasah krodha-vegam
etan vegana yo visaheta dhirah
sarvam apiman prithivim sa sisyat
The inner meaning of this verse is—“only that personification who is able to control the six urges of speech, mind, anger, tongue, stomach, and sensual emotion is eligible to accept disciples all over the world.” (Upadesamrta, Text 1)
The correct manner to channel these urges would be:
1. Speech: one should speak with humility; the voice and dialog should not be harmful to anyone; and most importantly, one should always speak the glories of the Supreme Lord and His devotees, instead of engaging in mundane gossip.
2. Mind: one should control their thoughts by always engaging the mind in the services of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna.
3. Anger: one should control the harmful emotion of anger, i.e. anger should only be used with people who are disobeying the Supreme Lord and His devotees in order to rectify their ignorant nature.
4. Tongue: one should utilize the tongue to taste only the Lord’s remnants; no mundane restaurant food that cannot be offered should be taken. One should also not discriminate among the tastes of the different preparations of Lord’s remnants.
5. Stomach: one should not be greedy and overindulge in filling the stomach.
6. Sensual emotion: one should not be promiscuous; it is better to practice sense control and keep celibacy with full of love for Sri Krishna’s services.
Due to the lack of understanding regarding the real nature and qualities of Sri Gurudeva, people are easily misguided or misdirected by pretenders, who pose as a guru but have no control of the above-mentioned urges. An imposter guru refers to an individual who is not recognized by previous teachers of the authorized lineage and who is greedy to accept disciples in order to obtain a life-long income from them to maintain their own livelihood.
Most philosophers of the Hindu or Sikh faith advocate the need for a spiritual teacher to improve our spirituality. They have also said that the guru is non-different from God or Bhagavan. As a result, duplicitous so-called religious leaders are taking advantage of soft-hearted Hindu followers. It is true that we need a guru, however, we are not educated about the true qualifications of a genuine guru.
According to Vaishnavism, which is a branch of Hinduism, the Guru has to be connected to a recognized lineage. This fact is reiterated in the Padma Purana, which states:
sampradaya vihina ye mantraste viphala matah
ata kalau bhavisyanti catvarah sampradayinah
sri brahma-rudar-sanaka vaisnavah ksiti pavanah
catvarste kalau bhavya utkale purusottamat
“The holy mantra that is received from a source outside of the proper disciplic succession will never bear any fruit. This is why, in this age of Kali, four great souls will emerge and establish the four Vaishnava successions initiated by Sri (Laxmi Devi), Brahma, Rudra (Lord Shiva), and the four Kumaras (Sanaka, Sanatana, Sanat, and Sanandana). The four great leaders will each begin to manifest their authorized disciplic successions from the holy Dhama of Puri.”
In this text, Puri refers to the famous holy place in the state of Orissa, India, known by most as Sri Jagannath Puri. Originally, Sri Laksmi Devi had given this sacred knowledge to Ramanujacarya, Lord Brahma to Sri Madhvacarya, Rudra to Visnu Swami and the four Kumaras to Nimbarkacarya. Being so endowed with spiritual knowledge, they propagated this knowledge to their disciples, and it was thus transferred through further disciplic successions. After some time, the Divine Couple Sri Sri Radha Krishna combined appeared in this world in the form of Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, to illuminate the Madhva sampradaya and spread the message of eternal love. Sriman Mahaprabhu was followed by numerous divine Spiritual Masters.
Similarly, we can also see that Sikh people are strictly following the instructions of Guru-Nanak.
The most distressful thing is that, due to these unfortunate incidents, people are concluding that all saintly people are the same. If someone says that they saw a pickpocket wearing brown trousers, we cannot conclude that anyone wearing brown pants is a pickpocket. Similarly, we should not assume that all saints are fraudulent and duplicitous.
My humble request to everyone is to please read authentic scriptures such as Srimad Bhagavatam, the Puranas, and the Upanishads to try to educate oneself and then subsequently to educate others. We need to first adopt and then propagate. In other words, first read, properly understand, and follow the Holy Scriptures, and then spread the holy message by exemplifying these principles…
Currently, both political leaders and the general public require further study in this field. Therefore, instead of shifting the blame on others, we need to take the responsibility upon ourselves to find and practice the proper spiritual path set out by authorized saints, and thus, prohibit abusive activities from being practiced in the name of spirituality. For this purpose, we need to work together, on the basis of our respective scriptures, and establish secularism as propagated by previous revolutionary leaders who contributed to India’s freedom, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Ballav Bhai Patel, Khudiram Bose, Vinay, Badal, Dinesh, Master Surya Sen, Bhagat Singh and others.
With kind regards,
Sept 3, 2017