Who is My Guru?

My first gurus were my father and mother, who taught me how to think and feel.

My first Gauḍīya-Vaiṣṇava-bhakti-yoga guru was Prabhupāda, Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swāmī, via his books – especially the Śrī Īśopaniṣad and Bhagavad-Gītā As It Is.

My first personal mentor was Ray Cappo (now Raghunātha dāsa). He did a good job, considering that he was all of only six months or so more “self-realized” than me!

Encouraged by him, I started visiting ISKCON temples and considered all the devotees in general to be my guides. Quite soon, though, I realized that a lot of them weren’t particularly deep, and seemed to blend Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism with their own western secular and religious background. So I began narrowing down who among them I would accept in the role of guru.

Raghunātha soon introduced me to his own guru, Śrī Dhanurdhara Swāmī, and I very soon came to consider him the ideal guru for me. He initiated me with the various Gauḍīya-Vaiṣṇava mantras, took me under his wing (essentially, I lived with him for four or five years), personally taught me the Nectar of Devotion sentence by sentence (connecting it to the Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu verse by verse), and tutored me verse by verse, section by section, theme by theme in Bhagavad-Gītā. He exposed me to real, Vṛndāvana bhakti and gave me an undeniable thirst for Vraja-prema.

Śrī Aindra dāsa was also my guru, because his example convinced me that the Gauḍīya system of bhakti-yoga really works – it really generates profound, high-level self-realization. I got whatever interest I have in nāma-japa and nāma-kīrtan mostly as a result of sitting in his kīrtan and listening to his kīrtan cassettes. Our losing him from the world recently was a shock and rude awakening for me, and thus he also acted as my guru even by how he left the world – startling me awake and causing me to become a little more serious about bhakti-yoga. Today I am extremely fortunate to be the author of his biography.

My wife, Śyāma-Sakhi, is also my guru. Without scholarship or pretense she teaches me how to apply the principles of bhakti to daily life as a real human being. She steers me away from the dangerous rocks and whirlpools as we cross the ocean of nescience.

I also consider Srī Satyanārāyaṇa dās Bābājī my guru. He is always there to answer almost any question, no matter how detailed or complex, with exact and confident reference to the śāstra as revealed by Śrī Jīva Goswāmī. In particular he is directly guiding my study of Śrī Jīva’s Ṣaḍ-Sandarbha.

More information: On Changing My Dīkṣā


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