Guru, accept guru means you must surrender there. Samit-pāṇiḥ śrotriyaṁ brahma-niṣṭham. Tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum eva abhigacchet, śrotriyaṁ brahma-niṣṭham (MU 1.2.12). Tad viddhi praṇipātena (BG 4.34). Bhagavad-gītā says that "You learn from guru by praṇipāta, surrendering." The whole system is surrender. So vāsudeve bhagavati bhakti-yogaḥ (SB 1.2.7). Bhakti-yogaḥ prayojitaḥ means in order to enter into bhakti-yoga one has to first of all surrender to a bona fide spiritual master. Ādau gurvāśrayam. This is the beginning of bhakti-yoga. And what kind of guru? An... That is also explained in the śāstras: śābde pare ca niṣṇātaṁ brahmaṇy upaśamāśrayam. Guru must be śābde pare ca niṣṇātam (SB 11.3.21). Śābde means śabda-brahman, Vedic knowledge. He must be dipped into the Vedic knowledge, śābde pare ca, and in devotional service, śābde pare ca niṣṇātam, brahmaṇy upaśamāśrayam. And accepting the Supreme Brahman, Paraṁ Brahman, as the ultimate goal of life. Not he has got any other goal of life. These are the signs of guru.
And why you should surrender? Jijñāsu. If you are actually inquisitive, inquirer, what about? Śreya uttamam. Śreya means the ultimate benefit of life. And preya means immediate benefit of life. There are two things: śreya and preya. The human life is meant for sreya. And animal life is meant for preya, immediate benefit. That is called preya. And śreya means ultimate benefit of life. That one who is inquisitive to understand about the ultimate goal of life, for him there is need of guru, not a fashion. Tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijñāsur śreya uttamam (SB 11.3.21). Then what is that guru? That is also explained: śābde pare ca niṣṇātaṁ brahmaṇy upaśamāśrayam. Śābde means Vedic literature. Vedic He has drowned himself, he has bathed himself in the ocean of Vedas. Śābde pare ca niṣṇātam. Just like if you take bathing in a river, deep down you'll become refreshed. Similarly, one has to take śābde pare ca niṣṇātam. And what is the symptom? How I shall know that he has taken bathing fully in the ocean of Veda? Brahmaṇy upaśamāśrayam, he has finished all desires for material happiness or distress. He is brāhmaṇy upaśamāśrayam. He has taken shelter of Brahman—the same thing, Para-brahman, Kṛṣṇa. Sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja (BG 18.66), one who has taken fully shelter under the lotus feet of Para-brahman, Kṛṣṇa, you have to take shelter of such a guru. Otherwise you'll not be able to get out of these clutches of māyā. Tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta (SB 11.3.21), every śāstra you go.
Now, the next question is, "Who is spiritual master, where I have to go and inquire?" Otherwise I'll be misled. I may approach a person who is not actually bona fide spiritual master. That should also be known. And what is that? That is stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, in the Vedas and Bhagavad-gītā—everywhere the same thing is. Here also it is said that you should approach a bona fide spiritual master. Jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam, to whom? Śābde pare ca niṣṇātam: (SB 11.3.21) one who has actually taken full bath in the ocean of transcendental knowledge. Śābde pare ca niṣṇātam. Śābde means the transcendental sound. The Vedic words, hymns, are called transcendental sound, and the gist of all such sound is om, or Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma... So one has to take bath in the ocean of this transcendental sound, then he is bona fide spiritual master. Śābde pare ca niṣṇātam. And what is the symptom? Everyone can say that "I have taken full bath in this transcendental sound," but the symptom is there. What is that symptom? Śābde pare ca niṣṇātaṁ brahmaṇy upaśamāśrayam. He has taken shelter of the Supreme Brahman, finishing all material activities. He has no more any material activities. He is simply after the Supreme Brahman or Kṛṣṇa. This is the qualification.
And who is spiritual master? That is also stated. Śābde pare ca niṣṇātam. Śābde means the Vedic śruti, śruti. This is called śābda-brahma. One who has learned both śruti and smṛti. Śruti means Vedas, and smṛti means books derived from Vedic knowledge. That is called smṛti. And Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī says in his Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, śruti smṛti...
- pāñcarātriki-vidhiṁ vinā
- aikāntikī harer bhaktir
- utpātāyaiva kalpate
- (Brs. 1.2.101)
If one poses himself a great devotee, but does not follow the principles of śruti, smṛti, purāṇa, and Nārada Pañcarātra, and the rules and regulation thereof, then his presentation as great devotee is simply disturbance. According to this Hari-bhakti-vilāsa and according to the direction of the Gosvāmīs in the Lord Caitanya's line, if one does not follow the principles of Vedas, principles of the smṛti or corollaries, Vedic literature... Just like Bhagavad-gītā is called smṛti and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Mahā-purāṇa. So śruti, smṛti, purāṇādi (Brs. 1.2.101), and pāñcarātriki-vidhim, Nārada Pañcarātra. Without following the rules and regulation of these scriptures, if one poses himself as devotee of Kṛṣṇa, aikāntikī harer bhaktiḥ-harer means Lord, bhakti, devotional service—he is a disturbance to the society.
Without approaching a bona fide guru there is no possibility of understanding the nature of God and our relationship with Him. So one has to approach a guru. To accept a guru is not a fashion, it is necessity. If one is actually inquisitive, it is a necessity. So the qualification of guru is also given there, that what sort of guru you should search out. Śābde pare ca niṣṇātam (SB 11.3.21). A guru is he who has taken full training in the ocean of spiritual knowledge or Vedic knowledge, śābde pare. Śābde means the Vedic words, or vibration of sound, but that is not ordinary sound, material sound, but spiritual sound. Just like we are chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, this spiritual sound. So one who has taken full bathing in the ocean of spiritual sound, and how he has realized the symptom of his life is that such guru is no more interested in materialistic way of life. Such guru does not manufacture gold or jugglery words to attract some foolish men and make money. That is not guru. Guru means who has no more interest in material things. Śābde pare ca niṣṇātaṁ brahmaṇy upaśamāśrayam. He has taken shelter of the Supreme Lord, completely satiating his material desire. So one should approach such guru, then tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā (BG 4.34). By serving such guru, bona fide guru, and surrendering unto him, and then questioning him, he can make actual progress in spiritual life, and then he understands properly what is God, what is our relationship with Him. That is perfection of human life.