More Evidence for Rittvik Representation of the Acharya, Srila Prabhupada
This exchange between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples took place in Seattle, Washington, on October 10, 1968.
DISCIPLE: Srila Prabhupada, is there any way for a Christian in this age—without the help of a spiritual master—to reach the spiritual sky through reading the words of Jesus Christ in the Bible and trying to follow his teachings?
PRABHUPADA: When you read the Bible, you are following the spiritual master. How can you say “without a spiritual master”? As soon as you read the Bible, that means you are following the instruction of Lord Jesus Christ. That means you are following the spiritual master. So where is the opportunity of being without the spiritual master?
DISCIPLE: I was referring to a living spiritual master.
PRABHUPADA: There is no question of whether the spiritual master is “living”. The spiritual master is eternal.
Now, your question was what to do “without the spiritual master.” Without the spiritual master you cannot be, at any stage of your life. You may accept this spiritual master or that spiritual master. That is a different thing. But you have to accept.
When you say “reading the Bible,” that means you are following the spiritual master, represented by some priest or some clergyman in the line of Lord Jesus Christ.
So in any case, you have to follow the spiritual master. There cannot be the question of “without the spiritual master.” Is that clear?
DISCIPLE: I mean, for instance, we couldn’t understand the teachings of Bhagavad-gita without your help, Srila Prabhupada, without your representation.
PRABHUPADA: Similarly, you have to understand the Bible with the help of Christ and the priest in the church.
DISCIPLE: Yes, but is the priest receiving a good interpretation from his disciplic succession or his bishop? Because there seems to be some kind of discrepancy in the interpretation of the Bible. There are many different sects of Christianity that interpret the Bible in different ways.
PRABHUPADA: Of course, there cannot be any interpretation of the Bible. Then the Bible itself has no authority. It is just like the old saying, “Call a spade a spade.” Now, if someone calls it something else, that is another thing. He’s not a spiritual master.
For instance, this is a watch. Everybody has called it a watch. But if I called it a spectacle, then what is the value of my being a so-called spiritual master? I’m misleading. [laughter] “It is a watch.” That I must say.
So when someone makes some misrepresentation, he’s not a bona fide spiritual master. Reject such a spiritual master immediately.
That intelligence you must have: Who is a pseudo spiritual master and who is a real spiritual master? Otherwise you’ll be cheated. And that is being done. Everyone is interpreting in his own way.
The Bhagavad-gita… there are thousands of editions, and all of them have tried to interpret in their own way. All nonsense. They should all be thrown away. Simply you have to read Bhagavad-gita—as it is. Then you’ll understand.
There is no question of interpretation. Then the authority is gone. As soon as you interpret, there is no authority. Take a law book. Do you mean to say that in court, if you say before the judge, “My dear lord, I interpret this passage in this way,” it will be accepted? The judge will at once say, “Who are you to interpret? You have no right.” After all, thne what would be the authority of the law book if everyone came and said, “I interpret in this way”?
When is interpretation required? When a thing is not understood. If I say “This is a watch” and everyone understands that “This is a watch, yes,” then where is the opportunity of interpreting that “This is a spectacle”?
So unnecessary interpretation is not required, and that is not bona fide. And those who are interpreting unnecessarily—they should be rejected immediately. Immediately, without any consideration.
“Better remain a foolish person perpetually to be directed by Guru Maharaja”
Examine this excerpt from Conversations with Srila Prabhupada, August 16, 1976, Bombay, Vol. 26, p.59-60:
If one remains always a servant everlastingly of guru, then he is liberated. And as soon as he thinks that he is liberated, he’s a rascal. That is the teaching of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu…. You must be ready always to be chastized by guru. Then he’s liberated. And as soon as he thinks that “I am beyond this chastizement, I am liberated,” he’s a rascal….
Why this Gaudiya Math failed? Because they tried to become more than guru. He [Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual master and Founder of the Gaudiya Math], before passing away, he gave them all direction and never said that “This man should be the next acharya.” But these people, just after his passing away, they began to fight, Who shall be acharya? That is the failure. They never thought, “Why Guru Maharaja gave us instruction on so many things, why he did not say that this man should be acharya?” They wanted to create artificially somebody acharya, and everything failed. They did not consider even with common sense that if Guru Maharaja wanted to appoint somebody as acharya, why did he not say? He said so many things, and this point he missed? The real point? And they insist upon it. They declared some unfit person to become acharya. Then another man came, then another acharya, another acharya.
So better remain a foolish person perpetually to be directed by Guru Maharaja. That is perfection. And as soon as he learns the Guru Maharaja is dead, “Now I am so advanced that I can kill my guru and I become guru.