Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Three, Part One, Chapter Four, Texts 25-26
Text 25: Vidura said: O Uddhava, because the servants of Vishnu, the Lord, wander in the interest of serving others, it is quite fit that you kindly describe the self-knowledge with which you have been enlightened by the Lord Himself.
PURPORT by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada:
The servants of the Lord are actually the servants of society. They have no interest in human society other than to enlighten it in transcendental knowledge; they are interested in imparting knowledge of the relationship of the living being with the Supreme Lord, the activities in that transcendental relationship, and the ultimate goal of human life. That is the real knowledge which can help society achieve the real aim of human welfare. Knowledge in the matter of the bodily necessities of eating, sleeping, mating and fearing, transformed into various branches of advancement of knowledge, is all temporary. A living being is not the material body but an eternal part and parcel of the Supreme Being, and thus revival of his self-knowledge is essential. Without this knowledge, the human life is baffled. The servants of the Lord, Vishnu, are entrusted with this responsible work, and so they wander over the earth and to all other planets in the universe. Thus the knowledge which was received by Uddhava directly from the Lord deserves to be distributed in human society, especially to persons like Vidura, who are highly advanced in the devotional service of the Lord.
Real transcendental knowledge descends in the disciplic succession from the Lord to Uddhava, from Uddhava to Vidura and so on. Such supreme transcendental knowledge is not possible to achieve by the process of imperfect speculation as performed by the so-called learned mundane wranglers. Vidura was anxious to know from Uddhava that confidential knowledge known as paramam sthitim, in which the Lord is known by His transcendental pastimes. Although Vidura was older than Uddhava, he was anxious to become a servant of Uddhava in the transcendental relationship. This formula of transcendental disciplic succession is taught by Lord Chaitanya also. Lord Chaitanya advises that one receive transcendental knowledge from anyone—whether a brahmana or a shudra, a householder or a sannyasi—provided that person is factually conversant with the science of Krishna. A person who knows the science of Krishna is factually a bona fide spiritual master.
Text 26: Sri Uddhava said: You may take lessons from the great learned sage Maitreya, who is nearby and who is worshipable for reception of transcendental knowledge. He was directly instructed by the Personality of Godhead while He was about to quit this mortal world.
PURPORT: Although one may be well versed in the transcendental science, one should be careful about the offense of maryada-vyatikrama, or impertinently surpassing a greater personality. According to scriptural injunction one should be very careful of transgressing the law of maryada-vyatikrama because by so doing one loses his duration of life, his opulence, fame and piety and the blessings of all the world. To be well versed in the transcendental science necessitates awareness of the techniques of spiritual science. Uddhava, being well aware of all these technicalities of transcendental science, advised Vidura to approach Maitreya Rishi to receive transcendental knowledge. Vidura wanted to accept Uddhava as his spiritual master, but Uddhava did not accept the post because Vidura was as old as Uddhava’s father and therefore Uddhava could not accept him as his disciple, especially when Maitreya was present nearby. The rule is that in the presence of a higher personality one should not be very eager to impart instructions, even if one is competent and well versed. So Uddhava decided to send an elderly person like Vidura to Maitreya, another elderly person, but he was well versed also because he was directly instructed by the Lord while He was about to quit this mortal world. Since both Uddhava and Maitreya were directly instructed by the Lord, both had the authority to become the spiritual master of Vidura or anyone else, but Maitreya, being elderly, had the first claim to becoming the spiritual master, especially for Vidura, who was much older than Uddhava. One should not be eager to become a spiritual master cheaply for the sake of profit and fame, but should become a spiritual master only for the service of the Lord. The Lord never tolerates the impertinence of maryada-vyatikrama. One should never pass over the honor due to an elderly spiritual master in the interests of one’s own personal gain and fame. Impertinence on the part of the pseudo spiritual master is very risky to progressive spiritual realization.