Who is a Bonafide Guru?


Reporter: But the bad gurus…
Çréla Prabhupäda: And what is a “bad” guru?
Reporter: A bad guru just wants some money or some fame.
Çréla Prabhupäda: Well, if he is bad, how can he become a guru? [Laughter.] How can iron become gold? Actually, a guru cannot be bad, for if someone is bad, he cannot be a guru. You cannot say “bad guru.” That is a contradiction. What you have to do is simply try to understand what a genuine guru is. The definition of a genuine guru is that he is simply talking about God—that’s all. If he’s talking about some other nonsense, then he is not a guru. A guru cannot be bad. There is no question of a bad guru, any more than a red guru or a white guru. Guru means “genuine guru.” All we have to know is that the genuine guru is simply talking about God and trying to get people to become God’s devotees. If he does this, he is genuine.

Science of Self Realization, Chapter 2 (SSR)

A bonafide guru honestly accepts and faithfully serves the authority of the disciplic succession represented by the Founder-Äcärya of ISKCON, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupäda.

The founder-äcärya of the sampradäya is the principal çikñä-guru for that disciplic succession. Speculations that contradict his teachings are to be immediately rejected. Only a saintly devotee who has understood the teachings of the principal çikñä-guru is eligible to be a dékñä-guru for others. If one thinks that he can be initiated by an unauthorized guru or a Mäyävädé into these teachings, he errs severely. He will never attain Kåñëa consciousness.

HNC 6.2126

All bona fide representatives of Çré Vyäsadeva in the chain of disciplic succession are to be understood to be gosvämés. These gosvämés restrain all their senses, and they stick to the path made by the previous äcäryas. The gosvämés do not deliver lectures on the Bhägavatam capriciously. Rather, they execute their services most carefully, following their predecessors who delivered the spiritual message unbroken to them.

ÇB 1.1.5p

The guru does not manufacture a new process to instruct the disciple. The disciple receives from the guru an authorized process received by the guru from his guru. This is called the system of disciplic succession (evaà paramparä-präptaà imaà räjarñayo viduù [Bg. 4.2]). This is the bona fide Vedic system of receiving the process of devotional service, by which the Supreme Personality of Godhead is pleased. Therefore, to approach a bona fide guru, or spiritual master, is essential. The bona fide spiritual master is he who has received the mercy of his guru, who in turn is bona fide because he has received the mercy of his guru. This is called the paramparä system.

ÇB 8.16.24p

A bonafide guru is fixed in serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead as servant of the servant.

A Vaiñëava never thinks that he has a direct relationship with Kåñëa. Lord Caitanya says, “I am the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant—a hundred times the servant of the servant—of Kåñëa [Cc. Madhya 13.80].” We have to agree to become the servant of the servant of the servant. This is the process of disciplic succession, and if one wants real, transcendental love of God, then he has to adopt this process.

SSR Ch. 8

A spiritual master’s qualification is that he is brahma-niñöhä, which means that he has given up all other activities and has dedicated his life to working only for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kåñëa.

Kåñëa Book Ch. 87

A bonafide guru hears from the disciplic succession.

Some spiritual teachers say, “In my opinion you should do this,” but this is not a guru. Such so-called gurus are simply rascals. The genuine guru has only one opinion, and that is the opinion expressed by Kåñëa, Vyäsadeva, Närada, Arjuna, Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu, and the Gosvämés.

SSR Ch. 2

An actual guru is çrotriya, one who has heard or received perfect knowledge through paramparä, the disciplic succession.

ÇB 7.5.31p

Perfect knowledge is called paramparä, or deductive knowledge coming down from the authority to the submissive aural receiver who is bona fide by service and surrender.

ÇB 1.2.21p

A bonafide guru has realized the conclusions of scriptures.

The qualification of a spiritual master is that he must have realized the conclusions of the scriptures by deliberation and arguments and thus be able to convince others of these conclusions. Such great personalities who have taken shelter of the Supreme Godhead, leaving aside all material considerations, are to be understood as bona fide spiritual masters.

NOD Ch. 7

A spiritually advanced person who is authorized to act as the spiritual master speaks as the Supreme Personality of Godhead dictates from within. Thus it is not he that is personally speaking. In other words, when a pure devotee or spiritual master speaks, what he says should be accepted as having been directly spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the paramparä system.

CC Antya 5.71p

Whatever position one may have, if he is fully conversant with the science of Kåñëa, Kåñëa consciousness, he can become a bona fide spiritual master — an initiator or a teacher of the science.

TLC, Ch. 31

A bonafide guru does not behave whimsically.

One who is in the line of disciplic succession cannot manufacture his own way of behavior. There are many so-called followers of the Vaiñëava cult in the line of Caitanya Mahäprabhu who do not scrupulously follow the conclusions of the çästras, and therefore they are considered to be apa-sampradäya, which means “outside of the sampradäya.”

CC Ädi 7.48p


One who is now the disciple is the next spiritual master. And one cannot be a bona fide and authorized spiritual master unless one has been strictly obedient to his spiritual master.

ÇB 2.9.43p


If one is seriously interested in Kåñëa conscious activities, he must be ready to follow the rules and regulations laid down by the äcäryas, and he must understand their conclusions. The çästra says, dharmasya tattvaà nihitaà guhäyäà mahäjano yena gataù sa panthäù (Mahäbhärata, Vana-parva 313.117). It is very difficult to understand the secret of Kåñëa consciousness, but one who advances by the instruction of the previous äcäryas and follows in the footsteps of his predecessors in the line of disciplic succession will have success. Others will not.

CC Ädi 8.7p


A bonafide guru is selfcontrolled.

One who is not self-controlled, specifically in sex life, can become neither a disciple nor a spiritual master. One must have disciplinary training in controlling speaking, anger, the tongue, the mind, the belly and the genitals. One who has controlled the particular senses mentioned above is called a gosvämé. Without becoming a gosvämé one can become neither a disciple nor a spiritual master. The so-called spiritual master without sense control is certainly the cheater, and the disciple of such a so-called spiritual master is the cheated.

ÇB 2.9.43p


A person who has full control over the senses and mind is called a gosvämé or gosäïi. One who does not have such control is called a godäsa, or a servant of the senses, and cannot become a spiritual master.

CC Ädi 7.13p


A bonafide guru is an uttama-adhikäré.

The guru must be situated on the topmost platform of devotional service. There are three classes of devotees, and the guru must be accepted from the topmost class. The first-class devotee is the spiritual master for all kinds of people…… The guru is a qualified brähmaëa; therefore he knows Brahmanand Para-brahman. He thus devotes his life for the service of Para-brahman. The bona fide spiritual master who accepts disciples from all over the world is also worshiped all over the world because of his qualities. Lokänäm asau püjyo yathä hariù: the people of the world worship him just as they worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead. All these honors are offered to him because he strictly follows the brahminical principles and teaches these principles to his disciples. Such a person is called an äcärya because he knows the principles of devotional service, he behaves in that way himself, and he teaches his disciples to follow in his footsteps…… The mahä-bhägavata is one who decorates his body with tilaka and whose name indicates him to be a servant of Kåñëa by the word däsa. He is also initiated by a bona fide spiritual master and is expert in worshiping the Deity, chanting mantras correctly, performing sacrifices, offering prayers to the Lord and performing saìkértana. He knows how to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead and how to respect a Vaiñëava. When one has attained the topmost position of mahä-bhägavata, he is to be accepted as a guru and worshiped exactly like Hari, the Personality of Godhead. Only such a person is eligible to occupy the post of a guru.

CC Madhya 24.330p

One should not become a spiritual master unless he has attained the platform of uttama-adhikäré. A neophyte Vaiñëava or a Vaiñëava situated on the intermediate platform can also accept disciples, but such disciples must be on the same platform, and it should be understood that they cannot advance very well toward the ultimate goal of life under his insufficient guidance. Therefore a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikäré as a spiritual master.

The uttama-adhikäré, or highest devotee, is one who is very advanced in devotional service. An uttama-adhikäré is not interested in blaspheming others, his heart is completely clean, and he has attained the realized state of unalloyed Kåñëa consciousness……Out of many such Vaiñëavas, one may be found to be very seriously engaged in the service of the Lord and strictly following all the regulative principles, chanting the prescribed number of rounds on japa beads and always thinking of how to expand the Kåñëa consciousness movement. Such a Vaiñëava should be accepted as an uttama-adhikäré, a highly advanced devotee, and his association should always be sought……When a person realizes himself to be an eternal servitor of Kåñëa, he loses interest in everything but Kåñëa’s service. Always thinking of Kåñëa, devising means by which to spread the Holy Name of Kåñëa, he understands that his only business is in spreading the Kåñëa consciousness movement all over the world. Such a person is to be recognized as an uttama-adhikäré.

NOI Text 5p


Note :The above content is copied from An Ocean of Gaura’s premämåta-kåpä – An elaboration on Srila Rupa Goswami’s Sri Upadesamrta by H.G. Srimati Mataji. We can download the book CLICK HERE

In the next blog I will quote a heavy check list on what is meant by a bonafide Guru by Srila Bhaktisdhanta Sarasvati Thakura.


All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.


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