Is It Necessary To Accept A Spiritual Master?

Is It Necessary To Accept A Spiritual Master – Often this question comes to the mind of a seeker of truth whether it is necessary to accept a spiritual master. Can’t we understand the spiritual subject matter on our own or by reading the scriptures? Before understanding the necessity let us understand the role of the spiritual master in our lives.

Role of Spiritual master – Introduction

Every field of knowledge requires an expert and experienced teacher to guide the student in that particular field. Since the teacher has practical experience in that particular field he can guide students not only theoretically but practically. For example, if someone wants to become a doctor then he has to take admission in a medical college and study under an expert doctor who can guide the person practically in the field of medical science.

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Is It Necessary To Accept A Spiritual Master?
An Expert doctor guiding a new doctor

Similarly, spirituality or devotional service to Krishna is science. To properly advance in the science of devotion to Krishna, one must take guidance from an expert and experienced devotee of Lord Krishna. A devotee of the Lord very diligently guides the student giving him practical advice in his day-to-day life to apply the principles of Bhagwad-Gita.

Qualifications of a Spiritual master

According to Lord Chaitanya and the scriptures in the line of devotion, anyone who knows the science of devotion and follows the Great devotees is a spiritual master.

It is said in CC Madhya 8.128

kibā vipra, kibā nyāsī, śūdra kene naya
yei kṛṣṇa-tattva-vettā, sei ‘guru’ haya

Translation:Whether one is a brāhmaṇa, a sannyāsī or a śūdra — regardless of what he is — he can become a spiritual master if he knows the science of Kṛṣṇa.”

Is It Necessary To Accept A Spiritual Master?
Prahlad Maharaj teaching Krishna Consciousness to demoniac friends

It does not matter in which family, caste, or creed he is born. One may be a child or be born in the family of meat eaters if one knows the science of devotional service then he is real spiritual master. Prahlad Maharaj, Bali maharaj, Four Kumaras , Haridas Thakur are some of the perfect example of a genuine spiritual master.

Another qualification of a bona fide spiritual master is that he simply repeats the words of previous Acharyas and scriptures in the line of devotion like Bhagawad gita and Srimad Bhagawatam. He do not manufacture his own ideas and mental concoctions. Anyone who presents his own ideas which are not in line with the principles of Bhagawad gita is not a bona fide spiritual master.

Is It Necessary To Accept A Spiritual Master?
Srila Prabhupada’s authorative Bhagavad Gita As It Is

The process of accepting a spiritual master

The process of surrendering to a spiritual master is mentioned in Bhagawad gita (4.34)

tad viddhi praṇipātena
paripraśnena sevayā
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ
jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ

Translation: Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.

This is the process of receiving transcendental knowledge from a bona fide spiritual master. One has to take a humble position and serve the spiritual master and submissively inquire from him about the goal of life and how to achieve it. This process of surrender to a bona fide spiritual master is a joyful process and this joy continually increases as one advances in his relationship with the spiritual master and Lord Krishna. In this way the science of Krishna consciousness is gradually revealed in the heart of a sincere student.

 The science of Krishna consciousness

Krishna consciousness or devotional service to Krishna is the process of reviving our lost relationship with Krishna. A serious spiritual seeker who aspires to revive his lost relationship with Krishna acts under the guidance of bona fide spiritual master in the matter of executing his devotional service to Krishna. The bona fide representative of Krishna has no personal ambitions and he honestly guides the practitioner in accordance with the injunctions of the scriptures and path shown by great devotees and acharyas by their personal example.

Is It Necessary To Accept A Spiritual Master?
Great Acharyas in our Brahma Madhava Gaudiya Sampradya

There are nine processes of reviving our lost relationship with Krishna under the guidance of our spiritual master namely hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord, remembering the Lord, worshipping, praying, serving the Lord in the mood of servant, friend, and surrendering everything unto the Lord. To the degree, a student seriously follows any one or two or all of these processes under the guidance of a spiritual master to that degree he strengthens his connection or relationship with Guru and Krishna. Naturally, a bona fide spiritual master becomes very pleased when he encounters a sincere seeker of God and is affectionate towards anyone who is very seriously striving to be Krishna conscious and trying to give up material attachments.

Similarly, any sincere seeker automatically (being directed by Krishna from within) becomes attracted and submissive towards spiritual personalities who are simply delivering the transcendental message without manufacturing anything new or subtracting anything. So whenever there is the union of a sincere seeker of God and a bona fide and dedicated representative of Krishna there is formation of strong and substantial spiritual relationship.

Is It Necessary To Accept A Spiritual Master?
Srila BhaktiSiddhanta Saraswati Thakur accepting Srila Prabhupada as his disciple

Thus by the mercy of Guru and Krishna, the seed of devotional creeper is planted in the heart of disciple, gradually heat of material miseries are vanquished and he can experience presence of Krishna in his life and he becomes more and more attached to the service of the Supreme Lord simultaneously he feels himself more and more obliged and grateful to his spiritual master because it is only by the mercy of Guru that one gets relief from the blazing fire of material existence and is engaged eternally in the loving devotional service to Krishna. Therefore any sincere student can never leave the service at the lotus feet of a bona fide spiritual master.


The following verse of Srimad Bhagavatam(1.2.16) explains the importance of serving a bona fide spiritual master.

śuśrūṣoḥ śraddadhānasya
syān mahat-sevayā viprāḥ

Translation:  By serving those devotees who are completely freed from all vice, great service is done. By such service, one gains affinity for hearing the messages of Vasudeva.

Bhagavad Gita