Saturday, March 20, 2010

Guru Business

I got annoyed with someone today when the first question he asked me was "which is your guru?" I may have over-reacted but still, how would you feel if someone walks up to you on the street and asks your political affiliation, your insurance, etc and makes a decision about you based on that alone. Of course, this always annoys the hell out of me, in ISKCON it has become acceptable to greet someone thus, "Haribol, who's your guru?" WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? Haven't you any manners or etiquette? I don't even know your name, and you don't know mine but you think its okay to introduce yourself like that? I don't like this guru-business.. "This guru" "That guru" "His guru" "My guru" "Their guru" "our Guru" and most of all guru-preachers. You've probably met a guru-preacher but were too shocked and dismayed to say anything and were probably at a loss for words. You probably couldn't even believe the audacity of the person or that he was saying these things so you had to slap yourself once or twice through the duration of the whole ordeal.
"MY gurudev is very advanced, he is a pure devotee, he has this bhava, he has that rasa, he is so nectarean, he is so transcendental, he's a maha-bhagavat, most merciful" its an obvious materialistic comparison that I dislike altogether.You can not compare rasa and bhava like material qualities, you can not compare gurus against each other, because all spiritual qualifications are equally important and relishable. Its like saying "More pregnant, most pregnant etc." Preggers is preggers... idiots. Yes, some mellows are more intimate but that doesn't mean that your guru is better than someone else because he relishes a particular taste. Indirectly it means, "My guru is better because of such and such reason, other gurus can not compare with mine because his spiritual mellows are obviously superior." Sometimes the guru-preaching is not even so subtle, sometimes the disciples will come right out and say it. "Our gurudev is far superior, he is offering something that you can not get elsewhere, he is a pure devotee of the Lord. You should take shelter of my guru and accept initiation only from him." Luckily, this is also a good way to sort out the people to avoid from those you want to approach for siksha and guidance. I was lucky to run into a Prabhupada disciple who sat down with me and discussed at length my attraction to many gurus. He didn't say I had to stick with only one but that they were all wonderful Godbrothers and very qualified but I would eventually have to chose one diksha guru, that didn't mean I had to give up my attachment for the other Gurus as well. Then he asked me "Did you have a particular one in mind?" I said, "Yes, I have an inclination towards one" He was so elated to find out and continued to tell me all about how he loved my spiritual master so much and that I had made a good choice. I took it as as Krishna's indication and fixed my mind that day.
Another thing, there is a huge clique culture and segregation system within devotee communities that is rooted with Guru. "If you're my godbrother that automatically makes you my best friend" and everyone else is unqualified somehow. Godbrothers will sit and talk together during programs and festivals, they only talk to other devotees if they are aspiring for their guru or they actively preach their Guru to newcomers without restraint. Not just gurus though, devotees segregate themselves according to nationality and race as well, I've noticed how the Russians sit with other Russians, Asians with Asians, Indians with Indians, whites, blacks, Latinos, etc.. and you can't say its a language barrier because everyone in ISKCON regardless of nationality and race speaks some English if not excellent English. How embarrassing... and we say we're not these bodies.
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