We must consider that the presence of uttama-adhikari (mahabhagavata), madhyama-uttama-adhikari (those approaching the stage of bhava), and even madhyama-madhyama-adhikari (those at the stage of asakti) devotees are very rare in this world. It is very rare, therefore, to have a guru of this caliber. What should we do under these circumstances? We will have to take a guru. If a guru is not “sabde pare ca nisnatam”, if he has not realized the established truths delineated in the Vedas, Upanisads and other sastras, but he has very strong faith in his pure guru and is sincerely following him, then, even if he is a madhyama-adhikari or even kanistha-madhyama do not reject that guru. If he is always serving his own mahabhagavat guru and is obedient both internally and externally to him, then do not reject him. We can give up our guru only with the consideration given by Srila Sanatana Gosvami in his Hari-bhakti-vilasa:
avaisnava-mukhodgirnam putam hari-kathamrtam
sravanam naiva kartavyam sarpocchistam yatha payah
“One should not hear anything about Krsna from a non-vaisnava. Milk touched by the lips of a serpent has poisonous effects; similarly, talks about Krsna given by a non-vaisnava are also poisonous.”
If a guru is not serving his own gurudeva, he has left the process given by him, and his guru is not satisfied by his behavior only in that case can we reject him. However, if the guru is a madhyama-adhikari and sincere, if he is very obedient and following the footsteps of his guru, then he will gradually become uttama-adhikari. So we should not reject him. At the same time, if he is not perfect and thus cannot remove all our doubts about Krsna Consciousness, what should we do?
We should offer pranama to him and ask his permission to have the association of a mahabhagavata devotee: A disciple may ask, “May I go to Srila Jiva Gosvami”? or “May I go to Srila Rupa Gosvami?” or, “May I go to a high class of Vaisnava?” If the guru says, “No, you cannot go,” then you should give him up. On the other hand, if he says, “Certainly you can go, and I will also come,” then he is a real guru. In fact, a guru who sends his disciple to a superior guru for instruction may also be an uttama-mahabhagavata, as there are various stages of mahabhagavata, and that guru is certainly not to be rejected. For example, Srila Narottama dasa Thakura was a disciple of Srila Lokanatha dasa Gosvami, but he took permission from him to take shelter of Srila Jiva Gosvami; and Srila Syamananda prabhu also took permission from Srila Hrdaya-caitanya dasa Gosvami for that same shelter of Srila Jiva Gosvami.
Murwillumbah, Australia: December 3, 2002