QUESTION: Sastra says guru is the representative of Lord Krishna and we should not see him as an ordinary man. At the same time we read that also great personalities can fall down from the position of guru (SB 5.18.4 purport and Adi-lila 7.110 purport).
So my question is how do we are supposed to see the guru? How can we reconcile both statements? It seems very difficult to me to worship my
guru as the representative of Krishna and at the same time thinking he can fall down from his position.
Thinking he can fall down does not allow me to really focus in the positive statements of sastra about guru. Please, clarify my vision so I can see in a transcendental way and not commit offenses.
Answer by Romapada Swami : First I will offer a very practical reply, then a sastric one.
On every air plane flight they tell you what to do in an emergency, how the oxygen masks will fall, etc. Nonetheless we fly knowing that most of the time the plane will make it to the destination without need of an oxygen mask. However, there is always a chance it won’t reach the intended destination without difficulty, so best to be prepared.
We must be aware: the independence of the jiva is always there. Maya is very powerful! Look what happened to Bharat Maharaja.
As the spiritual master takes more and more responsibility for disciples who don’t follow properly, they put themselves in danger. Therefore the best thing you can do to assure that your spiritual master remains strong and fixed is to become a good disciple and encourage your god-siblings to do the same.
Now I will offer more of a scripturally based reply.
As you indicated, the principle of Guru-tattva is that a bona fide guru is the representative of Krishna. Srila Prabhupada mentions in the purport to SB 4.20.13, how should one regard the spiritual master and take his guidance.
To the sincere disciple who has full faith in Krishna and equal faith in the bona fide spiritual master, all the truths of spiritual realization are factually revealed.
Although it is not impossible, it is very rare for a sincere bona fide spiritual master to fall down. So rather than cultivating the negative thought that my Guru may fall down, one should sincerely follow the guidance and instructions of the spiritual master trusting ultimately in the flawless protection and the shelter of Krishna. One should leave the rest to Krishna.
Srila Prabhupada was once very fervently praying before the deities and the devotees later asked, “What were you praying for?” Srila Prabhupada said “I was praying to Krishna to please not let me fall down.” Maya is indeed very strong but Krishna is stronger than Maya. A devotee should regard Maya with respectful caution and therefore take shelter of Krishna for protection.
Krishna promises that those who surrender to Him can easily cross over Maya. Srila Prabhupada once remarked “The reason I can never fall down to Maya is because I am ALWAYS praying to Krishna to kindly protect me from falling down.”