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Krishna Talk 122 – Crows and Eagles

Krishna Talk 122 – Crows and Eagles
by Rupanuga Dasa

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 In his Niti-sastra, the wise brahmana statesman Sri Canakya Pandita has

kakah kim garudayate

Even though perched on the pinnacle of a palace, can a crow become Garuda?
(Niti-sastra 16.6)

The metaphor given here is that of a crow, who poses and sits on the pinnacle
of a palace and thinks he is an eagle. The eagle is deemed as the king of
birds. He has attained that title, not because he sits on the highest peaks,
but because he carries with him the grace and the tenacity of a king. That
qualifies him for the title. If a crow imitates an eagle by sitting on the
apex of a tree, it won’t instill in him the other qualities of an eagle.
We live in a world of instant fame and fortune. Many individuals and groups,
irrespective of their profiles and occupations, seek immediate success and
the propensity to acquire a name for themselves.  Yes – it’s all very
flattering to have our voices heard amongst the crowd, to have many
followers, to be the center of attention, and to have the fame and riches
that comes with it, but then all at the sake of one’s integrity, self
deception and ultimately deceiving the ignorant masses.  The world has
changed dramatically over the last century, not just demographically, but
also in how we live our lives in this senseless, modern materialistic chaos.
The majority of the people is impious and indulges in debauchery. Now and
then, when someone does become inquisitive about the true meaning of life,
their questions are ready to be answered by the ‘god-men’ who act has
gurus and spiritual masters. They’re not difficult to find nowadays since
they have sprung up practically everywhere.

Materially speaking, becoming a god-man definitely has its perks. Just
imagine – wouldn’t it be a terrific opportunity to take a break from our
dull lives, boring families and bullying bosses? Given the endeavor one needs
to be even slightly successful in this world, becoming a god-man is probably
the easiest way to attain instant fame and fortune. You can avoid the morning
rush-hour simply by traveling around the globe in our own private jet and
have all material comforts within reach.
All one needs to do is invent some breathing techniques, some yogic exercises
or package some speculative mantra meditation, then give it a Sanskrit name
and pass it off as ‘spirituality’. Depending on how creative and
innovative one wants to get, many tricks could be easily pulled off.

In this day and age, spirituality clearly isn’t about being spiritual and
certainly has nothing to do with God anymore. This new brand of spirituality
created by the god-men now comes with a business plan, along with marketing,
syndication and publishing rights. If you manage to do it well, you can
probably have a hundred asramas on six continents named after you! It’s
certainly a lucrative way of life – the only sacrifice one has to make is
simply to give up one’s daily struggle and hardships and start acting like
God  Who are these god-men? What are their true intentions and do they have
any real concern for the lost souls in this material world? 
These god-men are no more than opportunists and businessman peddling their
concocted, baseless philosophies in order to live in luxury. They claim that
they have divine powers to perform miracles and extraordinary feats gullible
people, in desperation,  fall prey to their smooth talk and become their
followers. They use many popular titles such as Sri Sri, Bhagavan, jagat-guru
etc. and claim to be avataras, making a mockery of what the sastras say.
However, titles don’t carry much weight when it comes to true excellence
and authenticity. All these titles are acquired simply by their expertise in
word-jugglery, in performing street magic and in social welfare work. Cap it
off with saffron robes, a large rudraksa-mala and long hair and beards and
they have the ignorant masses in the palm of their hands.

However, despite their success in attaining many followers, opening asramas,
publishing books, performing welfare work etc. such god-men cannot maintain a
proper spiritual standard. Because they are not on the platform of
suddha-sattva (pure goodness), they eventually have to submit to their base
natures again.

sva yadi kriyate raja
tat kim nasnaty-upanaham

Even if a dog is made king, he will still end up eating someone’s shoe.

One who sincerely desires proper spiritual guidance will certainly find a
true bona-fide spiritual master. But someone who wants to compromise their
spiritual quest will only find imposters who will loot them in every respect
and leave them in such a condition that they will finally lose all faith in
the system of guru and disciple. That is why it is imperative that one should
first understand what the sastras say about false gurus.

guravo bahavah santi sisya-vittapaharakah
durlabhah sad-gurur devi sisya-santapaharakah

One can find many gurus who can take away the wealth of the disciples, but
there are few who can remove the miseries of their disciple. (Padma Purana)

There are also injunctions for abandoning such bogus gurus:

gurur apya avaliptasya karyakaryam ajanatah
utpatha pratipannasya parityago vidhiyate

A guru addicted to sensual pleasure and polluted by vice, who is ignorant and
has no power to discriminate between right and wrong, or who is not on the
path of suddha-bhakti must be abandoned. (Mahabharata, Udyoga-parva 179.25)

 What are the qualifications of a true guru according to scripture? In the
Visnu-smrti it says:

krpa-sindhuh su sampurnah
nisprhah sarvatah siddhah
nalaso gurur ahrtah

One who is an ocean of mercy, who is fulfilled in all respects, who has all
good qualities, who works for the benefit of all souls, who is free from
lust, who is perfect in all respects, who is well-versed in the scriptures,
who knows the science of Krsna, who can remove all the doubts of his
disciples, and who is always alert in the service of Krsna is known as a
genuine guru. (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 1.45-46)

It is also stated in Bhagavatam:

tasmad gurum prapadyeta jijnasuh sreya uttamam
sabde pare ca nisnatam brahmany-upasamasrayam

A person who is searching for the Absolute Ultimate Truth must surrender to a
guru who knows the inner meaning of the Vedas, is fixed in the Absolute
Truth, and is expert in sastra. (Bhag.11.3.21)

In his Upadesamrta, Srila Rupa Gosvami says:

vaco vegam manasah krodha vegam
jihva vegam udaropastha vegam
etan vegan yo visaheta dhirah
sarvam apimam prthivim sa sisyat

A peaceful sober person who can control the urge to speak, the mind, the
urges of anger, the tongue, belly and genitals is qualified to make disciples
all over the world. (Upadesamrta 1)

That being said, it also doesn’t matter what caste the guru is from, as
supported by this verse from Padma Purana:

vipra ksatriya vaisyas ca guruvah sudra janmanam
sudras ca guravas tesam trayanam bhagavat-priyah

A brahmana, ksatriya, or vaisya can be guru for the sudra class, but a
Vaisnava, even if born a sudra, because he is dear to the Supreme Personality
of Godhead, can be the guru of these higher orders.

Although a guru must have all the knowledge of the sastras, dry knowledge
alone does not qualify a person to become a guru. In Srimad Bhagavatam it

sabda-brahmani nisnato na nisnayat pare yadi
sramas tasya srama-phalo hy adhenum iva raksatah

One may be expert in Vedic scholarship, but if he fails to understand the
position of the Absolute Truth and doesn’t recognize Krsna as the supreme
Personality of Godhead, all his study is a waste of time. His hard work will
be his only reward, and his efforts will be like the labor of one who
struggles to maintain a cow that has no calf and cannot produce milk.

Hence, the position of guru is like a ‘grand throne’ that may bring many
followers, fame, wealth and knowledge, but these are not an indication of
one’s greatness or authenticity. One’s greatness comes from one’s
virtue and true teachings. It is sheer foolishness to think that anyone
simply sitting on the throne of the guru is automatically great! Excellence
is attained through efficacy – not by clinging to a tall throne.
A true spiritual master has only come to deliver us from the heat of the huge
forest fire of material life. Other than this, he has no other purpose but to
rescue as many souls as possible. Pseudo-gurus, on the other hand, only have
their own ignorance and confusion to offer to the world. The only miracle
that needs to be performed by a guru is the miracle of his instructions –
not any conjuring tricks with the willingness to deceive the common people
and take them away from the true path to God.  A false teacher seeks to bind
himself to the energy of his neophyte followers, whereas a sad-guru receives
all his energy from his divine guardians above. He has no need to bind
himself to his followers – it is we who are dependent upon him and not
Only by praying to Krsna sincerely and taking association of saintly persons
can we find a genuine guru. Then with a humble demeanor and with sincere
inquiry and service to him, we can tread the path of purification and
actually understand the true purpose of human life.


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