Why Take a Spiritual Master?
It is said that one cannot meet Lord Krishna directly. We have to first surrender to the spiritual master and then it may be possible to meet the Supreme Lord. At the same time, it is said that we can have a relationship with Lord Krishna as our mother, father, brother, lover, master and so on. If we relate to Krishna as our mother, then why do we need a spiritual master? Nothing should come in between a mother and her child, isn’t it? – Vishant Naik
Our reply: When someone with hyperopic vision wants to read a book, he is dependent on a pair of spectacles. The defective eyes of such a person are incapable of reading a book on their own and a pair of transparent glasses altered suitably for his condition comes to his rescue. Such glasses do not impair the person’s vision but instead enhance it. The transparent glasses can be compared to a “transparent” spiritual master who is a pure representative of the Supreme Lord, free from any contamination. A conditioned living entity has not only his eyes defective but all his senses are defective. How can he then understand about the Supreme Lord who is beyond the reach of material senses? Thus, a conditioned living entity’s need of a bona fide spiritual master increases all the more. We should understand that a transparent spiritual master, instead of obstructing our relationship with Krishna in fact pulls us closer to Krishna by his purity, instructions and personal example.
We can definitely relate to Lord Krishna in the vatsalya rasa as a mother or father. However, isn’t this information about the Lord made available to us through the transparent agency of the spiritual master? How then can we conclude that the spiritual master will “come in between” the Lord and us? On the contrary, the spiritual master will train us to have a better and deeper relationship with the Supreme Lord. Even when the transcendent Lord personally descends, many fools clouded in ignorance, unable to fully grasp their supreme fortune, end up deriding Him. It is only by the mercy of the Lord’s pure and transparent devotees that one gets a chance to appreciate and benefit from the Lord’s presence.
Thus, just like an adolescent may be guided by an elder brother or sister to come close to the mother, a struggling living entity can benefit from a spiritual master to form a close relationship with the Supreme Lord.
Advaita Achrya’s Identity
I would like to draw your attention to the article “Lord Shiva in Caitanya’s Pastimes” in the “Letters” section in BTG (Oct 2011), wherein you have mentioned Lord Shiva is Srila Advaita acharya. I distinctly remember having read in Srila Prabhupada’s books that Sri Advaita was Maha-Vishnu . If I am correct, I think you should publish a correction in BTG so that the readers should have right information about the Panca-Tattva viz. Lord Caitanya and His four main associates. – Neelam Kurup
Our reply: At different places in the scriptures, Sri Advaita acharya is mentioned as Lord Maha Vishnu (CC. Adi 1.12, Adi 17.139) and as Lord Sada Shiva(CB Antya Khanda 4.485, purport to CC Adi, 17.301, purport to SB 4.6.39 ).
To get a proper understanding of the issue, we refer to an extract from a letter written by Srila Prabhupada to Mr Vincent Karl, April 6, 1975:
Regarding your question, you may refer to Caitanya-caritamrta adi-lila, Chapter 6, Text 79 along with the purport. The answer is there. The basic understanding is that Sada-Shiva is an expansion of Maha-Vishnu and that same Sada-Shiva incarnates as Advaitacharya. Therefore, since Advaitacharya is an incarnation of Sada-Shiva who is non-different from Maha-Vishnu, we can say that Advaitacharya is an incarnation of Maha-Vishnu. It can be said both ways, that He is an incarnation of Sada-Shiva or Maha-Vishnu.
We hope that you are satisfied with this reply.
Reply to the above letters were written by Nanda Dulal Dasa.
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