Guru - The Spiritual
Who is a Guru?
A guru is essentially a mentor and personal guide specialising in spirituality. The guru's job is to assist the student to advance in his or her spiritual practices. Due to having such an important responsibility, a guru needs to be well educated in spiritual knowledge as well as how to apply it practically in everyday life. A guru needs to be a perfect embodiment of the knowledge and culture presented within the yoga texts by personal character.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada (1896-1977) is widely regarded as the worlds greatest exponent on the teachings of Bhakti Yoga in the Western world. Amongst a vast array of accomplishments, his most significant contribution is publishing over 70 volumes of transcendental literatures on the art, culture and science of bhakti. His most eminent publications are the great spiritual classics "Bhagavad Gita As It Is", the 30 volume "Srimad Bhagavatam" and the 17 volume "Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita", the postgraduate study of spiritual philosophy.
“The thing that always stays is his saying, “I am the servant of the servant of the servant.” I like that. A lot of people say, “I’m it. I’m the divine incarnation. I’m here and let me help you.” You know what I mean? But Prabhupada was never like that. I liked Prabhupada’s humbleness. I always liked his humility and his simplicity. The servant of the servant of the servant is really what it is, you know. He just made me feel so comfortable. I always felt very relaxed with him, and I felt more like a friend. I felt that he was a good friend. Even though he was at the time seventy-nine years old, working practically all through the night, day after day, with very little sleep, he still didn’t come through to me as though he was a very highly educated intellectual being, because he had a sort of childlike simplicity. Which is great, fantastic. Even though he was the greatest Sanskrit scholar and a saint, I appreciated the fact that he never made me feel uncomfortable. In fact, he always went out of his way to make me feel comfortable. I always thought of him as sort of a lovely friend, really, and now he’s still a lovely friend. Srila Prabhupada has already had an amazing effect on the world. There’s no way of measuring it. One day I just realized, “God, this man is amazing!” He would sit up all night translating Sanskrit into English, putting in glossaries to make sure everyone understands it, and yet he never came off as someone above you.” George Harrison - Musician & Singer-Songwriter
“Swami Bhaktivedanta came to the USA and went swiftly to the archetype spiritual neighborhood, New York’s Lower East Side, and installed intact an ancient, perfectly preserved piece of street India. He adorned a storefront as his Ashram and adored Krishna therein. By patience, good humor, and singing and chanting and expounding Sanskrit terminology, he day-by-day established Krishna consciousness in the psychedelic center of America East. He and his children sang the first summer through in Tompkins Square…To choose to attend to the Lower East Side, what kindness and humility and intelligence ….The main thing, above and beyond all our differences, was an aroma of sweetness that he had, a personal, selfless sweetness like total devotion. And that was what always conquered me” Allen Ginsberg - Poet & Writer
“Swami Bhaktivedanta brings to the West a salutary reminder that our highly activistic and one-sided culture is faced with a crisis that may end in self-destruction because it lacks the inner depth of an authentic metaphysical consciousness. Without such depth, our moral and political protestations are just so much verbiage” Thomas Merton - Trappist Monk, Theologian & Mystic
"When I first met the students of Srila Prabhupada, I can remember thinking how surprised I was, and I wondered what this meant. But as I came to know the movement, I came to find that there was a striking similarity in the essence of what they were teaching and in the original core of Christianity-that is, living simply, not trying to accumulate worldly goods, living with compassion towards all creatures, sharing, loving, and living joyfully. I am impressed with how much the teachings of one man and the spiritual tradition he brought impacted themselves into the lives of so many people. In my view Srila Prabhupada’s contribution is a very important one and will be a lasting one….This life of Srila Prabhupada is pointed proof that one can be a transmitter of truth and still be a vital and singular person. At what almost anyone would consider a very advanced age, when most people would be resting on their laurels, he harkened to the mandate of his own spiritual teacher and set out on the difficult voyage to America. Srila Prabhupada is one in a thousand, maybe one in a million” Harvey Cox - Professor of Divinity, Harvard University
“Srila Prabhupada gave meaning to many whose lives had become meaningless during the countercultural revolution. In a time of prosperity, many American youth have felt a disdain for the materialistic goals of the established culture. They have not felt that earning more money to spend on sensual pleasures has given an abiding happiness to their parents. They have come to believe that there must be a more valuable transcendental reality which they have yet to find. Therefore, they have not found direction toward a goal in our established culture, nor have they found meaning in the mainline religions that have supported this culture. For these people, Srila Prabhupada has provided a meaningful place which bears witness to quite different objectives, and he has provided a strict discipline by means of which one may achieve them. So this, I think, was one of his greatest contributions….I certainly honor Srila Prabhupada as one of India’s pre-eminent scholars. As a translator of many of India’s important religious texts, he gave special attention to the spirit and beauty of the texts. Srila Prabhupada, in his translations, really captured their essential spirituality. A literal translation which lacks sympathetic reverence for the text itself can obscure rather than elucidate its profound inner meaning. I find that Srila Prabhupada’s translations bring these works to life….Due to his unstinting and diligent labors, the whole world now has been made aware of the devotional essence of the Indian spiritual tradition, as well as of one of India’s great saints, Sri Caitanya, and of Gaudiya Vaisnavism, whereas before they were scarcely known outside India except by specialists in Hindu religious tradition” Dr Stilsson Judah - Professor of History of Religions, Graduate Theological Union, CA