Qualifications of a Teacher
As well as being in a disciplic succession, there
are other qualifications required of a spiritual teacher. He or
she must also actually know the science of God as it is presented
in the Bhagavad-gita.
Spiritual teachers are known as gurus, and in another important
Vedic spiritual text, Srimad Bhagavatam,
it is said that no one should become a guru unless he is able to
lead his followers toward liberation. However, there are two kinds
of gurus recognised in the Vedic teachings.
This is explained in the Vedic writing, Chaitanya
Caritamrita (CC), as follows:
There are two kinds of instructing spiritual
masters. One is the liberated person fully absorbed in meditation
in devotional service, and the other is he who invokes the disciple's
spiritual consciousness by means of relevant instructions. (CC
Adi Lila Chapter 1 Verse 47)
I would put myself in the second category. In
other words I see myself as a teacher who, while not yet being fully
liberated, am nevertheless endeavouring to give relevant instructions.
My Spiritual Line
I am initiated into an unbroken line that goes back to Lord Krishna,
the speaker of the Bhagavad-gita
and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the original teacher
for all mankind.
That line descends through many spiritual masters,
one of whom is His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami
Prabhupada (Srila Prabhupada), who is my instructing spiritual master,
and who is accepted as the fully liberated soul.
Srila Prabhupada came to the West from India
in 1966 to found the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
A spiritual master in a line of teachers that goes back 5000 years,
he represented the pure message of the Bhagavad-gita.
Having virtually no money and very few possessions, he lived in
almost abject poverty for one year, depending on the help of friends
and struggling to adapt to the Western climate and lifestyle.
Always determined to share the sublime spiritual
teachings of Krishna, he went to New York where he would sit alone
in a park, chanting the Hare Krishna mantra. In this way he gradually
began to attract some followers who found for him a small shop where
he could give lectures. These lectures increased in popularity with
time, and soon his followers began to establish centres throughout
America, and then the rest of the world.
Within twelve years Srila Prabhupada saw more
than 200 centres spring up in dozens of countries. He travelled
the world many times in order to visit these centres, all the time
writing books, which he saw as his main mission.
In fact he translated some sixty volumes of
Vedic literatures into English, giving elaborate explanations of
the texts. His works include the epic Bhagavat
Purana (Srimad Bhagavatam), which describes
the qualities and pastimes of Lord Krishna, and the beautiful Chaitanya
Charitamrita, which recounts the life
story of Sri Chaitanya, the incarnation of Krishna who began the
Hare Krishna Movement.
Today Srila Prabhupada is revered as the Founder-Acharya
(Principal Teacher) of ISKCON,
being worshiped daily in all of its centres. His books form the
basis for the movement, which is now being carried on by his disciples
and their followers.
The six goswamis (saints) of Vrindavan
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