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Maybe, without a spiritual master is harder, but still possible !
the scriptures proclaim having a spiritual master is mandatory, (of course, not necessarily in person as explained in other replies). sincerity is crucial. having a spiritual master makes us humble. a master is not someone with a stick who will beat you if you falter. rather, he is your best friend who helps overcome difficulties & gives more pleasure & benefits than any other friend. having such a friend is what you really want :)
SB 11.3.21 — Therefore any person who seriously desires real happiness must seek a bona fide spiritual master and take shelter of him by initiation. The qualification of the bona fide guru is that he has realized the conclusions of the scriptures by deliberation and is able to convince others of these conclusions. Such great personalities, who have taken shelter of the Supreme Godhead, leaving aside all material considerations, should be understood to be bona fide spiritual masters.
As explained in shastras, Guru must be there. Even people who have simple love & devotion like the cobbler got it by hearing from a Guru at some point atleast - maybe their parents or someone else
My dear King Rahūgaṇa, unless one has the opportunity to smear his entire body with the dust of the lotus feet of great devotees, one cannot realize the Absolute Truth. One cannot realize the Absolute Truth simply by observing celibacy [brahmacarya], strictly following the rules and regulations of householder life, leaving home as a vānaprastha, accepting sannyāsa, or undergoing severe penances in winter by keeping oneself submerged in water or surrounding oneself in summer by fire and the scorching heat of the sun. There are many other processes to understand the Absolute Truth, but the Absolute Truth is only revealed to one who has attained the mercy of a great devotee.
this notion of a master being 'strict' - it may work for some people, but others may run away - which is not what we want. A master can sit with the disciple, understand his problems, offer tips and give him confidence that he can wake up & attend the arati on time, and the same goes for all other challenges as well ... this has been my personal experience
Hi Gayatri, I like your replies, and there is no problem with them. There will be a problem if one stops thinking, and just follow some directions !
yes i agree with you.... gayatri ji's replies are nice & there's nothing wrong with them
Maybe, our karma is a kind of burden, we are obligated to carry ? So we rely on guru to share our own burden! Maybe it is worth to get rid of our negativity all by our self !
Maybe, without spiritual master is harder, but still possible ?!
Krsna consciousness is a descending process. It is a process which has been given by the supreme personality of godhead Himself. Spiritual master is the agent who provides us the process of practicing Krsna consciousness. There is no scope for "may be this or may be that" in Krsna consciousness.
Spiritual master is the one who puts an end to all the maybe
Hare Krishna _/\_
We must clean the house before the arrival of the guest. Similarly we need to clean our heart for inviting Lord to come and sit in our heart. The cleaning process is already given by Prabhupada.
Prabhupada said through that process we will get 2 installments -
1) ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam: first instalment will be => I become liberated from the material conception of life at once. Therefore the misunderstanding of this body identification is at once removed by chanting mahamantra offencelessly.
2) bhava-mahā-dāvāgni-nirvāpaṇam: In the forest nobody goes to set fire---it automatically takes place---similarly, in spite of our good wish that we want to live peacefully in this world, there cannot be any peace. There will be fire, fire sets off. So as soon as one be confidently convinced that "I am not this body," then he is protected from this fire of this material world, fire, material world.
So when one who is fully convinced that there is no happiness in this material world - either through one's body (SB 11.3.18) or through wealth (SB 11.3.19) or even by getting heaven(SB 11.3.20) one cannot get happiness. Such a person who seriously desires real happiness must seek a bona fide spiritual master and take shelter of him by initiation (SB 11.3.21).
Have faith - If we are serious, Krishna Himself will guide us on this path !! Remember the powerful son of Vyāsadeva, Srila Sukadeva, appeared to deliver king Parīkṣit. King Parīkṣit himself said -
SB 1.19.36 — Otherwise [without being inspired by Lord Kṛṣṇa] how is it that you have voluntarily appeared here, though you are moving incognito to the common man and are not visible to us who are on the verge of death?
- Jai Shri Krishna !! Jai Bhakt Prahlad ki Jai !!
Is it okay to practice bhakti even without a spiritual teacher and learn through reading Srila Prabhupada's books ?
Yes, it is okay.
When we read Srila prabhupada books, accepting the knowledge and practicing the instructions then depending on the sincerity the practitioner is accepting Srila Prabhupada as spiritual master.
So it is not actually without spiritual master. The connection to spiritual master is through the instructions and service. Instructions are accepted and service is rendered.