Fake Spiritual Masters

B.Shahvir Balaporia, 12th November 2013

Hare Krishna!

What if, in an extremely unfortunate case, an aspirant follows a spiritual master for most of his life, but who later turns out to be a fraud! How can the disciple recover from such an unfortunate situation. What would be the role or intention of God in such a case?

Kind regards,

Sudeep Manchanda, 12th November 2013

Hare Krishna!

My answer is not authoritatively bonafide, but I would call the person lucky and one who is getting special mercy from Krishna. Conditioned that the person is not making false conclusions about his Guru. It is not without Krishna’s mercy that the curtain of delusion are raised. If one is able to see the truth it is a great mercy.

But, if a person out of ignorance considers a bonafide Guru as anything less than his eternal master then he/she is of-course the most unfortunate.

your Servant,
Sudeep Manchanda

Mahabhagavat Das SDA, 12th November 2013

Thank you.

Please note Srila Gurudeva’s words below “There is never any offense in submissive inquiry”.

To know who is bona fide and who is not bona fide, one should look at the instructions of the past Acharyas and Krishna. If the person is not following as per past Acharyas and Krishna, then that person is not bona fide and must be rejected.

Here’s a Q&A from 27th Feb 2012 that explains this (from www.sda-archives.com):

Question: Accepting and Rejecting Sri Guru

Dear Gurudeva,

How does one choose/judge the correct guru who can guide him properly on the pathway of Krishna consciousness?

Also, when can we know that our guru is acting wrongly, like Maharaja Bali who rejected his guru Sukracharya when he was told not to surrender to Krishna in His form as Lord Vamanadeva?

Was Maharaja Bali wrong for acting against the wishes of his Gurudeva, or was he right for acting in the favor of Krishna?

Please forgive me if my question appears to be offending.

Answer: Accept Real Guru and Reject Bogus Guru

There is never any offense in submissive inquiry. Your questions are most important:

1. How to choose the spiritual master who can guide you properly on the pathway of Krishna consciousness.

2. How to know when a guru is acting wrongly?

3. Was Bali Maharaja wrong to reject his guru and serve Krishna instead?

The answer to your first question is that you should thoroughly study all of Srila Prabhupada’s books and then see who is purely representing Srila Prabhupada’s teachings without any adulteration, both in words and actions. This person is the bona fide spiritual master at whose lotus feet you should fully surrender yourself.

If a spiritual master ever advises you not to surrender to Krishna, he is not a bona fide spiritual master. He is a charlatan who should be immediately rejected. Bali Maharaja become glorious by rejecting his bogus guru and surrendering to Krishna. The bona fide guru is never rejected, and the bogus guru should be rejected immediately without any hesitation.

Sankarshan Das Adhikari

Mahabhagavat Das

Jayakrishna, 12th November 2013

Dear Shahvir Prabhu,
Hare krishna!
Please accept my humble pranams!

Thank you for this wonderful question!

Prabhu,i wish to share what i understand on this subject.

From our common life experiences,we can understand that if we are offered any thing as cheap,there is a chance of being deceived..
To make it clear,if a ‘guru’ assure us something that dont need any pre qualification or effort from our side but need only some magical formulae or blind obedience,then,by following him we are doing fraud by cheating ourselves,because we want the duplicate,not genuine,the genuine always is costly,we dont want to pay the price for realisation because that is our life itself,ie,to dedicate whole heartedly with the strict observance of the vows the sad guru want from us.

The fact is that a true Guru dont create anything new but only upheld what he learned from his Guru and this chain ends at God,ie.,the words of God is gurus authority.

In short,
Krishna give a true guru for one who is sincere,and a fraud one will always get a fraud ‘guru’.


With love,

your servant

Haladhar Das SDA, 14th November 2013

Hare Krsna Shahvir ji !

Hope your query regarding fake spiritual master is being met now.

It’s indeed unfortunate to see people being cheated by fake gurus. The worst part is that even after being exposed, many of their followers still have full faith in them and they think it’s some false propaganda against them as they think their material opulence and material happiness, their children marriages, good education etc. is due to that Guru only that they were following. They in ignorance are not concerned about how much spiritual advancement they have made after being in contact with that guru, neither they know the regulative principles nor they want to know, so they fail to check the guru they are following as long their senses are being gratified.

A colleague of mine was following such a fake guru and when the guru was exposed he took complete U turn and said he was never following him. Another ex-colleague of mine is the example of above quoted detail, they have put bigger picture of Guru and smaller picture of God in their home altar; when their guru being exposed, they still say “we have perfect faith in our guru, it’s a political campaign against him, we are sure that he will come out honest soon”. Some years before, they used to say that we follow this guru because they get peace of mind there in his ashram. I told them it’s better to sleep for 4 hours rather than going to another city expecting for getting peace of mind while suffering botheration during travel. The desire to enjoy sense gratification is so attractive, that people even after being get cheated from one guru, approaches another cheater guru, then another, then another………………….. but they don’t try to work on themselves, they don’t want to read/follow the scriptures. They always keep following their philosophy of “more gain, less or no pain”.

Many people make guru to make a show among people or relatives of how religious they are. They generally follow the latest fashion, whichever guru is popular or whichever God is popular, accordingly they too jump in the queque. Like these days Peer Baba, Sai Baba are in the latest fashion among so called gods and I have seen not only such peoples but even many temples are making adjustment to allot some space to these gods too in their home altar or temples so that people/money can flow in. When I was a kid, I had hardly seen even Shani dev temple but with times people being fearful of losing wealth/health have started going on Saturdays and seeing the demand, now most of the hindu temples have made makeshift arrangements for Shani dev in their temples. But Shani dev at least is a demigod but what to say of others??

jihvara lalase yei iti-uti dhaya
sisnodara-parayana Krsna nahi paya

“That person who runs here and there seeking to gratify his palate and who is always attached to the desires of his stomach and genitals is unable to attain Krsna.”

Like a child has some qualification to get admission into school and the teacher too has some qualification who is supposed to teach. Similarly a disciple and guru both have requisite qualifications which are mentioned in the shastras. And those who knows the required qualifications can see there are still so many people who are following cheater gurus. But they don’t want to listen either, as they are mad after gratifying their senses and hence their knowledge is being stolen by illusion.

BG 2.44
vyavasayatmika buddhih
samadhau na vidhiyate

“In the minds of those who are too attached to sense enjoyment and material opulence, and who are bewildered by such things, the resolute determination for devotional service to the Supreme Lord does not take place.”

In short, birds of same feather flock together, impurity attracts impurity.

As already told by devotees here, we can find the qualification of a spiritual master in the books of Srila Prabhupada. A small quote from one of his lectures is given below for reference:

“The spiritual master is compared to a cloud. Just as there are torrents of rain from a cloud, so the spiritual master brings mercy from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. A cloud takes water from the sea. It doesn’t have its own water, but takes water from the sea. Similarly, the spiritual master brings mercy from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Just see the comparison. He has no mercy of his own, but he carries the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is the qualification of the spiritual master. The spiritual master will never say, “I am God-I can give you mercy.” No. That is not a spiritual master-that is a bogus pretender. The spiritual master will say, “I am a servant of God; I have brought His mercy. Please take it and be satisfied.” This is the spiritual master’s business. He is just like a mailman. When a mailman delivers you some large amount of money, it is not his own money. The money is sent by someone else, but he honestly delivers it-“Sir, here is your money. Take it.” So you become very much satisfied with him, although it is not his money he is giving you. When you are in need and you get money from your father or someone else-brought by the mailman-you feel very much satisfaction.”

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

“A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak, the mind’s demands, the actions of anger and the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals is qualified to make disciples all over the world.” (The Nectar Of Instruction, verse 1)

Regarding your other question, what would be the role or intention of God in such a case?

For this, first of all we have to understand who we are, then who God is and then what’s our relationship with Him so that we can act accordingly. Hope you are reading “Bhagvad Gita As It Is”, There are many verses on this subject. You can read verse 15.15 with purport as well as verse 18.61 with purport.

As already been answered by Mahabhagavat Prabhu, we get what we desire/deserve due to our past pious or impious deeds but intelligent person instead of repenting or rejoicing in such situations move on towards his goal i.e. serving Krsna for the devoted man and serving own or related people senses for the materialistic man. Krsna like a loving parent does not interfere with our little independence and acts as neutral, like parents they try their best always guiding their children to become good human beings but still children somehow or other cheat them on their back and turns out to be rascals. Similarly Krsna too guides everyone through the scriptures being left by Him, through His pastimes, His representatives etc. but only rare fortunate ones are able to take advantage of His mercy.

BG 9.9 – “O dhananjaya, all this work cannot bind Me. I am ever detached from all these material activities, seated as though neutral.

From the purport : “Although He has control over every minute detail of material activities, He is sitting as if neutral. The example can be given of a high-court judge sitting on his bench. By his order so many things are happening — someone is being hanged, someone is being put into jail, someone is awarded a huge amount of wealth — but still he is neutral. He has nothing to do with all that gain and loss. Similarly, the Lord is always neutral, although He has His hand in every sphere of activity. He is not situated in the dualities of this material world. He is transcendental to these dualities. Nor is He attached to the creation and annihilation of this material world. The living entities take their different forms in the various species of life according to their past deeds, and the Lord doesn’t interfere with them.

Sri Caitanya Caritamrta Madhya 19.151
brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva
guru-krsna prasade paya bhakti lata bija

“According to their karma, all living entities are wandering throughout the entire universe. Some of them are being elevated to the upper planetary systems, and some are going down into the lower planetary systems. Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Krsna. By the mercy of both Krsna and the spiritual master, such a person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service.”

When we speak of brahmanda, we refer to the whole universe, or to the cluster of many millions of universes. In all the universes there are innumerable planets, and there are innumerable living entities upon those planets — in the air, on land and in the water. There are millions and trillions of living entities everywhere, and they are engaged by maya in suffering and enjoying the results of their fruitive activity, life after life. This is the position of the materially conditioned living entities. Out of many of these living entities, one who is actually fortunate (bhagyavan) comes in contact with a bona fide spiritual master by Krsna’s mercy.

Krsna is situated in everyone’s heart, and if one desires something, Krsna fulfills one’s desire. If the living entity by chance or fortune comes in contact with the Krsna consciousness movement and wishes to associate with that movement, Krsna, who is situated in everyone’s heart, gives him the chance to meet a bona fide spiritual master. This is called guru-Krsna prasada. Krsna is prepared to bestow His mercy upon all living entities, and as soon as a living entity desires the Lord’s mercy, the Lord immediately gives him an opportunity to meet a bona fide spiritual master. Such a fortunate person is fortified by both Krsna and the spiritual master. He is helped from within by Krsna and from without by the spiritual master. Both are prepared to help the sincere living being become free from material bondage.
How one can become this fortunate can be seen in the life of Srila Narada Muni. In his previous life he was born of a maidservant. Although he was not born into a prestigious position, his mother was fortunately engaged in rendering service to some Vaiṣṇavas. When these Vaiṣṇavas were resting during the Caturmasya period, the boy Narada took the opportunity to engage in their service. Taking compassion upon the boy, the Vaiṣṇavas offered him the remnants of their food. By serving these Vaiṣṇavas and obeying their orders, the boy became the object of their sympathy, and by the Vaiṣṇavas’ unknown mercy, he gradually became a pure devotee. In the next life he was Narada Muni, the most exalted of Vaiṣṇavas and the most important guru and acarya of Vaiṣṇavas.
Following in the footsteps of Narada Muni, this Krsna consciousness movement is rendering service to humanity by giving everyone a chance to come in contact with Krsna. If one is fortunate, he becomes intimately related with this movement. Then, by the grace of Krsna, one’s life becomes successful.
Everyone has dormant Krsna bhakti— love for Krsna— and in the association of good devotees, that love is revealed. As stated in the Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 22.107):

nitya-siddha-Krsna prema sadhya kabhu naya
sravanadi suddha cite karaye udaya
Dormant devotional service to Krsna is within everyone. Simply by associating with devotees, hearing their good instructions and chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, dormant love for Krsna is awakened. In this way one acquires the seed of devotional service. Guru Krsna prasade paya bhakti lata bija.

So in a nutshell, as the intention of a father is always the welfare of his children, similarly intention of Supreme loving father Krsna or His love for His lost suffering children is quite imminent and hence through the Krsna consciousness movement His representatives are rendering the best welfare service to the entire suffering humanity by giving everyone a chance to come in contact with Krsna. If one is fortunate, he becomes intimately related with this movement. Then, by the grace of Krsna, one’s life becomes successful.

Hare Krsna !

Haladhar Das

B.Shahvir Balaporia, 14th November 2013

Hare Krishna!

Dear Harishji,

Please except my gratitude for your wonderful post. I just wanted to highlight the fact that fraud people are fantastic actors. They perfectly pretend to be the servant of God (after all it is OK if it keeps the money flowing). An innocent aspirant might not be able to see through this veil. The characteristics of a bonafide guru are indeed mentioned in the Shastras, but for an innocent layman distinguishing the genuine from the fraud is very difficult as they are perfect pretenders.


Haladhar Das SDA, 16th November 2013

Dear Shahvir ji,
Hare Krsna !

Thank you for your reasonable query. The understanding that innocent people are cheated by false pretenders is not correct. Its not innocence but Ignorance actually which leads to suffering. We suffer due to our sinful life and sinful life is due to ignorance of nature laws or God laws. Like there are State laws like keeping to the left and one cannot claim innocence when fined driving on the wrong side, he has to suffer for disobeying State laws. Similarly there are God laws also and one cannot claim ignorance and avoid being punished.

Going to a fake guru is not innocence but wilful ignorance, rather a strong desire to satisfy the senses for quick name, fame, wealth etc. When we get our children admitted to school we try to find out about the school result, their reputation, see their prospectus, and visit personally also and compare with other options also. But when it comes to seeking a Guru or God also specially in India, we dont want to go through the scriptures, see the results/effects on their followers, we just see material opulence, and are just interested in quicker results, less or no austerities.Its a general saying that “No pains, no gains”. But those who feel otherwise looking for quick and favourable results got cheated. Some years before, one of my ex-colleague after understanding our regulative principles said to me these regulative principles, chanting etc. is very troublesome, but their Guru and their religous organisation is very nice and there is no conditions there, anyone can keep on doing anything, there is no restrictions.

BG 18.37 – “That which in the beginning may be just like poison but at the end is just like nectar and which awakens one to self-realization is said to be happiness in the mode of goodness. ”
“In the pursuit of self-realization, one has to follow many rules and regulations to control the mind and the senses and to concentrate the mind on the self. All these procedures are very difficult, bitter like poison, but if one is successful in following the regulations and comes to the transcendental position, he begins to drink real nectar, and he enjoys life.”

Srila Prabhupada used to say that this society is a combination of cheater and the cheated. So everyone is either a cheater or is being cheated. Those who are getting cheated they also have cheated someone.Like Srila Gurudeva says, that we should accept that we get the results of our own past deeds and the deliverer is just the courier guy, who is just delivering us our mail. But we need not have to worry for such so called innocent cheated people, as Lord Caitanya being extreme merciful has empowered the Hare Krsna’s to help them out by spreading Krsna consciousness all over the Globe. So December Bhagvad Gita Marathon month is coming and hence please join your nearest Iskcon temple in distributing Bhagvad Gita As It Is to every nook and corner and help these innocent cheated or about to be getting cheated people. Sympathy is good but empathy is far better.

thank you.

Haladhar Das

Nandapriya Devi Dasi, 16th November 2013

Hare Krishna

Please accept my humble obeisances.

In one lecture i heard that Srila Prabhupada said how to know who is bonafide and who is bogus Guru. Ask these two questions to the person whom you considering Guru.. 1.Who is God?  And 2.How to love God?. And if the answers were as follows…1. Krishna is God., and we can love God through by rendering devotional services.
if you got these answers for your those two questions then he is bonafide Guru otherwise a bogus Guru.

your servant,
NandaPriya Devi Dasi

Shahvir, 16th November 2013

Hare Krishna

It is indeed very difficult to distinguish a genuine guru from a fraud one, as a fraud guru can easily act  genuine. He may pretend to preach about God consciousness & spiritual aspects, etc., but his character would be otherwise in private. This is what i consider a dangerous situation wherein a genuine aspirant may fall prey to a fraud guru who is expert at pretending to be genuine in front of general public! There have been several such cases highlighted by the media in the recent past. Why should the innocent disciple suffer for no fault of his.


T V Sanilkumar, 16th November 2013

Hare Krishna Prabhuji
Please accept my humble obeisances
All glories to Srila Gurudeva

It is not that difficult to identify a guru, provided we know the minimum qualifications required for a bona fide guru as well as a disciple. If we know these qualifications, we can very easily identify a bonafide guru after observing and interacting with him for a few times.  For this, we need to read Srila Prabhupada’s books in detail. These qualification requirements are mentioned in many places in his books.

your servant,
Sanil kumar

Jagannatha dasa SDA, 16th November 2013

Hare Krishna,

Please accept my humble obeisances.
All glories to Srila Gurudeva!
All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

In addition to the nice points, already mentioned, I’ll add that this is why we recommend everyone should be very fixed in Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.  By taking shelter of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, nonsense becomes evident and real Krishna consciousness becomes ever more attractive.

We are most fortunate to take shelter of Srila Gurudeva through the Ultimate Self-Realization Course, and this e-group, as he is Prabhupadanuga, following fully in the line of Srila Prabhupada.

Lecturing on this topic, Srila Prabhupada said:

“yare dekha, tare kaha ‘krishna’-upadesa
amara ajnaya guru hana tara’ ei desa
[Cc. Madhya 7.128]

He is guru. One who is strictly following the instruction of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and after following Him, he is just delivering the instruction as Krishna has said, then you become guru. It is not difficult. Caitanya Mahaprabhu has ordered everyone. Therefore our process is to follow Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and then try to understand Krishna’s instruction.”

your servant,
Jagannatha Dasa Brahmacari

Mahabhagavat Das SDA, 16th November 2013

Dear Shahvir,

Hare Krishna!

It is a bit subtle… a person who is internally dishonest is attracted to those who are themselves dishonest… Let us take an example.

Srila Prabhupada preached so much all over the world, and before he went to the USA, he preached for decades in India, but no one took him seriously. Obviously, Srila Prabhupada is a bona fide spiritual master, but no one paid any attention to him. At the same time, people were running after charlatans, getting cheated etc., but still not listening to Srila Prabhupada.

Then, there were so many who came to Srila Prabhupada, but faced with the strictness of his discipline and the honesty of his speech and writings, many turned away and went to Sahajiyas who cheapen Krishna’s loving transcendental pastimes… in their search for “rasa” they got cheated. But if they had simply stayed and obeyed the order of Srila Prabhupada they would have tasted the real spiritual bliss. The impatience and greed to get the benefit without making the effort cost them.

But some fortunate honest souls got Srila Prabhupada’s mercy, and by following the pure-hearted among them, many more are benefiting today also…

Ultimately, since being cheated by a fraud spiritualist is not a spiritual thing, but a material thing, it boils down to karmic action and reaction. If I have cheated others in the past, even if I may be externally honest now, then if my past karmic action has fructified into a reaction, I must be cheated now. This is no different from being cheated in business deals, job, fake relationships, etc. But even being cheated is a great relief then, because at least my karmic reaction has been burned away. Now I can go after the real deal sincerely.

This is the same with children – people say children are pure, but they do bear the effect of past karmas that they have done, that is why one child is born to a low-class prostitute and another child is born to a chaste princess. But regardless, both children can become pure devotees if they follow the bona fide spiritual master, even if one comes from very humble circumstances and another comes from very privileged circumstances. And both are equally likely to cheat if they have the cheating propensity themselves…

At any given point, the reactions of past lifetimes sinful actions are hidden (apraarabdha) and then manifest as “prarabdha karma” – the karmas that will be experienced in this lifetime, and seen on three levels “kutam”, hidden, “bijam” manifested in seed form, and “phalonmukha” or in the form of fruits.

So what is the solution? Instead of lamenting over one’s loss, one should simply engage in devotional service to Sri Krishna / Vishnu or any of His plenary expansions – because “kramenaiva praliyeta vishnu bhakti rathaatmanaam” – gradually all those past reactions become burned up by the practice of devotional service.

One should qualify oneself to see who is pure and who is not by careful observance of whether the person is following an authorized Parampara strictly, whether the spiritual master is listening to their spiritual master’s instructions, etc. Please do read Srila Prabhupada’s books, you will see that a bona fide spiritual master is clearly described in his books.

Mahabhagavat Das

B.Shahvir Balaporia, 16th November 2013

Hare Krishna!

Dear Mahabhagavat Dasji,

Thank you very much for such a beautiful & resourceful explanation. I also appreciate the guidance provided by all my dear brothers & sisters who relentlessly serve Krishna & his servants through their posts.


Sulaksana devi dasi, 14th November 2013

Hare Krishna!
Please accept my humble obeisances!
All glories to Srila Gurudeva and Smti Gurumataji!
All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Krishna is situated as Paramatma in everyone’s heart and He knows all our thoughts and all our desires so accordingly He facilitates a guru to fulfill them. As it is said in the Bhagavad-gita 15-15 that “I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness.”  So one who is aspirant of real guru with no ulterior motive,  He as a caitya guru will send him accordingly to that person who is a bonafide guru or Guru will find him.

your humble servant,
Sulaksana devi dasi

Rathin Mandal, 16th November 2013

Hare Krishna,

Please accept my humble obeisances,
All glories to Srila Gurudeva and Srimati Gurumataji,
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I too had this question for a long time. In India we keep on coming across news like this every other day.
I got the opportunity to ask Srila Gurudeva this query.
Srila Gurudeva answered that those who want to get cheated, gets attracted to fake gurus. Those who are sincere, Krishna helps them.

Nothing to boast about me, but I must be having some desire. And that is why I am fortunate to be able to associate with so many wonderful devotees.
Even if one gets attached to someone wrong. But if he has true desire, he will come to the right place.

your Servant

Please subscribe to daily inspirational emails from His Grace Sriman Sankarshan Das Adhikari (Writings and lectures archived at sda-archives.com), written fresh every day from his travels around the world sharing the highest spiritual knowledge with everyone. Sign up now at www.backtohome.com

Author: Mahabhagavat Das SDA

I am a formally initiated disciple of His Grace Sriman Sankarshan Das Adhikari. My spiritual master was initiated by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1971. He is the author of the famous Ultimate Self Realization Course. Check it out at www.joincourse.com.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: