By Kripamoya Das
Here is a brief checklist to help you with your testing of a prospective guru.
- Has he studied Vedic literature sufficiently to become a teacher?
- Has he become an expert in any particular literature?
- Has he passed any examinations?
- Can he recite verses from memory?
- Does he demonstrate his learning by references when he gives classes?
- Is he faithful to Srila Prabhupada’s translations and commentaries in his presentations?
- Are you sure that he does not unduly emphasize any particular portion of the philosophy but provides a balanced presentation?
- Is he knowledgeable of Deity worship?
- Does he perform Deity worship himself?
- Can he conduct ceremonies and teach others how to celebrate festivals?
- Does he know how to cook for Krishna?
- Does he know the standard Vaishnava songs and prayers?
- Is he faithfully following Srila Prabhupada’s instructions regarding sadhana-bhakti, the daily practise of chanting sixteen rounds on beads, studying the Vaishnava literature and discussing it with others, engaging in worship and kirtan and so on?
- Does he exhibit the devotional qualities you have read and heard about?
- Is he controlled and moderated in his speech, eating and sleeping?
- Is he free from attachment to money, power or sexualised speech?
- Would you describe him as having the ‘spirit of service?’
- Does he personally exemplify the qualities you’d like to have?
- His personal example should make you aware of your own obstacles – is this happening?
- Does he have strong friendships with his peers?
- Are there any devotees he considers to be his superiors?
- Does he meet with them for guidance?
- Does he deal affectionately with other Vaishnavas?
- Is he helpful to those who are not his disciples?
- Does he personally teach you, or can you regularly access his teaching?
- Does he encourage learning, and does he make it enjoyable?
- When he answers your questions do you feel as if your doubts have been removed?
- After a class or talk from him you feel inspired and determined?
- Does his teaching leave you enthusiastic?
- Apart from his guru, who were his teachers?
- Has he been blessed by his seniors to teach officially and accept disciples?
- What are his other disciples like?
- Is he committed to advancing the mission of his own guru?
- Does he personally exert himself in establishing Krishna consciousness in new places?
- Does he advocate standard preaching activity such as street chanting, book distribution, prasadam distribution, hall festivals and home gatherings?
- Does he answer the questions of new enquirers, correspond with them, or host a website for introducing visitors to Krishna consciousness?
- Is he successful at attracting new people to Krishna?
- Does he have time to offer you guidance and encouragement in addition to teaching?
- Is he somewhat experienced in offering help at important points in life such as times of transition, bereavement, adversity or spiritual challenge?
- Does he have the ability to care for you in addition to his existing disciples?
- Does he reply to correspondence or offer some other way of regular connection?
- Does he schedule personal visits to your country, at least annually?
- Has he successfully helped others in their spiritual lives and does he have a good number of balanced, happy and successful disciples?
- How many of his disciples do you personally know?
- Will you be able to take instructions from him if you choose him as your guru?
- Can you trust his guidance?
- Would he be pleased if you surpassed his knowledge or service?
- Is he generally happy within himself?
- Is he free from the tendency to criticise others?
- In conversations and actions, does he direct attention to himself or to others?
- Would you say that he is not overly demanding as regards personal service?
- Is he free from distracting eccentricities of behaviour, speech, eating or dress?
- Is he emotionally balanced or is he prone to spells of negativity, anger or depression?
- Does he request large sums of money as ‘dakshina’ to be spent on projects situated in other countries from where you live?
- What is his personal history? How much do you know?
- Does your prospective guru function well as a member of a team?
- Does he become involved in joint projects with his peers?
- Does he generally work in a spirit of cooperation with local leaders?
- Is he respectful of, and responsible to, a governing body that supervises him?