Is it Necessary to Accept a Spiritual Master for Learning Devotional Service?

By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Lakshmi, the Goddess of Fortune serving the lotus feet of Lord Vishnu.

iti pumsārpitā visnau bhaktiś cen nava-laksanā
kriyate bhagavaty addhā tan manye ’dhītam uttamam
 

“A person who directly applies these nine principles [hearing, chanting, remembering, etc.] in the service of the Lord is to be understood as a greatly learned man who has assimilated the Vedic literatures very well, for the goal of studying the Vedic literature is to understand the supremacy of Lord Śrī Krishna.” Śrīdhara Svāmī confirms in his commentary that first one must surrender to the spiritual master; then the process of devotional service will develop. It is not a fact that only one who diligently pursues an academic career can become a devotee. Even with no academic career, if one has full faith in the spiritual master and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he develops in spiritual life and real knowledge of the Vedas. The example of Mahārāja Khatvānga confirms this. One who surrenders is understood to have learned the subject matter of the Vedas very nicely. One who adopts this Vedic process of surrender learns devotional service and is certainly successful. One who is very proud, however, is unable to surrender either to the spiritual master or to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus he cannot understand the essence of any Vedic literature. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 11.11.18) declares:

śabda-brahmani nisnāto na nisnāyāt pare yadi
śramas tasya śrama-phalo hy adhenum iva raksatah
 

“If one is learned in the Vedic literature but is not a devotee of Lord Vishnu, his work is a useless waste of labor, just like the keeping of a cow that does

not give milk.”

Anyone who does not follow the surrendering process but is simply interested in an academic career cannot make any advancement. His profit is only his labor for nothing. If one is expert in the study of the Vedas but does not surrender to a spiritual master or Vishnu, all his cultivation of knowledge is but a waste of time and labor.

[Bhaktivedanta Purport to the Chaitanya Charitmrita Adi 17.257]

Also Read:
A DEVOTEE OF KRISHNA REJECTS ALL FIVE TYPES OF LIBERATIONS
ATM LEADS TO ATH
8.4 MILLION SPECIES OF LIFE
BIRTH OF KRISHNA IS NOT ORDINARY
KRISHNA IS BEYOND DIRECT PERCEPTION

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