In the Srimad Bhagavatam 11th Canto, seventeenth chapter, 27th verse it is stated:
aacaaryam maam vijaaniyaan naavamanyeta karhichit na martya-buddhyaasuyeta sarva-devamayo guruhAnd in the Chaitanya-caritamrita, Aadi Leela 1.47 it is stated:
"Know the acharya to be as good as Myself. Never disrespect him. Never envy him or consider him as an ordinary man for he is the sum total of all the demigods."
shikshaa-guruke ta'jani krsihnera svarupa antaryaami, bhakti-shrestha ei dui rupaFurthermore, in the same chapter of the above quote , verse 58, it is stated:
" One should know the shiksha guru to be Krishna Himself. As guru Krishna has two forms__as the Supersoul and as the best of devotees."
'jive shaakshaat naahi, taate guru chaittya-rupe shikshaa-guru haya krishna mahaanta-svaarupeThen in the 11th Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam, chapter 29, verse 6, without quoting the Sanskrit it is stated, "You appear in two features, as the acharya and internally as the Supersoul." And just to add a little more weight to the argument, in the Madhya lila of the Chaitanya-caritamrita, chapter 22,verse 47 it is stated:
"Since one cannot see the Supersoul directly, Krishna appears as a liberated devotee. Such a shiksha guru is none other than Krishna Himself."
'krishna yadi kripaa kare kona bhaagyavaane guru-antaryaami-rupe shikhaaya aapane,Not to confuse the issue or be attacked for equating the guru completely with Bhagavan, we take the commentary or aanubhaasya of Srila Jiva Goswami on the first chapter of Adi Lila, verse 46 where he qualifies that the guru is "not identical in all respects" with Bhagavan. Because he is most dear to the Lord and transmitting the essential knowledge of liberation from the modes of nature as well as instructing in the saadhana by which to obtain bhagavat-prema, we reserve all the honor of the Lord to him. (It was also Jiva Goswami who stated in his Bhakti-Sandarbha, Anuccheda 20 , that "One should not accept a spiritual master based on hereditary, social or ecclesiastical convention.")
"By the mercy of Krishna a fortunate soul is guided by the Supersoul from within and from the guru without."
What we are leading up to is the power and glory of the Vaishnava guru whereby he sees beyond the generally conceived limited range of perception. On the disappearance day of Shree Shreemad Bhaktiprajnana Keshava Goswami, Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Maharaja, who then became the next President of the Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti, said the following: "When the guru has attained omniscience, he falls in the category of 'antaryaami-tattva', which is to say that he is all-knowing like the Supersoul. Nothing need be presented to him as newsworthy. He is inherently aware of our mistakes, imperfections, faults and shortcomings: yet he still showers us with abundant encouragement to pursue spiritual life, inspiring us to perform 'saadhana-bhajana'. This is his special mercy." (Srila Vamana Maharaja was initiated by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur in 1936 with the name of Sajjanasevaka Brahmachari, and given sannyasa in 1952 by Srila Bhaktiprajnana Keshava Maharaja.)
So, that the guru can become omniscient is a fact. However, that omniscience is principally connected to the bhakti of his disciples and would-be disciples. Such a guru can, in fact, hear the prayers of the disciple, see the quality of his devotion or the lack thereof, intervene on Lord Krishna's behalf whenever needs be, and can reciprocate love and service with us just like the Supersoul. If we pray to our guru and know that he can actually hear us, we can no doubt elevate the standard of our submission and earnestness. That he is there for us personally takes on real meaning. He is not a sadhaka, but a sidhha.
Did Srila Prabhupada not chastise his disciple Sriman Ramesvara das for inferring that the Supersoul directed his intelligence to speak. Srila Prabhupada declared boldly to the press and his disciples that rather, Krishna was directly telling him what to say. In the purports to several Bhagavatam verses, Srila Prabhupada intimates the nature of a pure devotee's realizations. In the purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 3.7.8 he says: "Although a devotee may apparently express himself to be ignorant, he is full of knowledge in every intricate matter."
In the purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 8.6.9. he says: "When the devotee sees the Supreme Personality of Godhead by his meditation, or when he sees the Lord personally, face-to-face, he becomes aware of everything within the universe. Indeed, nothing is unknow to him."
Also, on a morning walk in Los Angeles on 6/8/76, Srila Prabhupada said the following: "God is omniscient, so a pure devotee can become omniscient by the grace of God." The 11th Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, 17th chapter, 27th verse says that the guru is the sum total of all the demigods, 'sarva-devamayo guruh'. So, if the 'devas' are so much empowered witnesses to the activities of the conditioned souls, then what to speak of one who is in the greater position as a pure Vaishnava.
To challenge a Vaishnava or ridicule him using our mundane intelligence is putting our devotional life at risk. If we do not know the glories of Krishna's devotee, then better to remain silent, for the mercy of Shree Guru and Vaishnavas is the one and only means by which we can achieve the goal of human life, Krishna-bhakti.
There, it would seem the dire necessity is to correctly identify a Vaishnava. Without such finer discrimination we may fall prey to honoring a 'kanishta-adhikari' as befitting an 'uttama-adhikari' or on the contrary treat an 'uttama-adhikari' as if he were a 'madhyama-adhikari' or even worse a 'kanishta-adhikari'.
The primary quality of a Gaudiya Vaishnava is his exclusive dedication to serve Shree Shree Radha and Krishna. Krishnadas Kaviraja's defining of the 26 qualities of a devotee, full surrender to Shree Krishna is primary. All the other 25 qualities manifest by virtue of this one quality. But only a devotee who has developed a proper service attitude and who has surrendered himself without duplicity can appreciate the transcendental qualities of a Vaishnava. One may simply be impressed by apparent material qualities or unimpressed by apparent material qualities without recognizing the genuine spiritual nature of such an exalted soul. Vamsheedas Babaji may have seemed to some as mad, yet he was greatly honored by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. Rishabdev was so renounced an avadhuta than children and laymen would grossly offend him and yet He is considered a full avatar of Bhagavan. Shukadeva Goswami was wandering naked and yet the sages selected him to speak Srimad Bhagavatam to King Parikshit. In Srimad Bhagavatam first canto, second chapter, in the prayer of Suta Goswami to his guru maharaja,it is written: '
tam sarva-bhuta-hridayam munim aanato 'smi',This shows how such a perfected soul can, like the Supersoul, enter the heart. Also, in the Chaitanya-caritamrita, Narsimha (Nakula?) Brahmachari wanted to convince Shivananda Sena of his powers of cognition and to do so revealed the later's worshipful mantra to him. Shivananda then had no doubts as to the glory of such a devotee's empowerment.
"You (Shukadeva Goswami) can enter the hearts of all living beings."
We should, therefore, pray to be able to recognize such empowered servants of Shree Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and consequently honor and serve them as per the statement of Srila Rupa Goswami in the 5th verse of his Upadeshamrita:
'shushrushaya bhajana-vigyam anangam anya-nindaadi-shunya-hridam'One who is conversant with the science of 'bhajana' as described in the Srimad Bhagavatam and other Vaishnava scriptures and who performs exclusive 'bhajana' of Shree Krishna is a 'maha-bhagavata' devotee. Due to his undeviating absorption in Krishna, the pure heart of such a devotee is free from faults such as the tendency to criticize others.
He is expert in 'bhajana', meaning that he mentally renders service (manasa-seva) to Shree Shree Radha Krishna's pastimes, which take place during the eight segments of the day (ashta - kaluiya - leela) knowing him to be a topmost devotee whose heart is established in the particular mood of service to Shree Shree Radha and Krishna for which one aspires and who is affectionately disposed toward oneself. One should honor him by offeing dandavat pranams (pranipaata), making relevant inquiry (pariprashna) and rendering service (seva) with great love." (Gaudiya Vedanta Press)
To make it to first-base in Krishna consciousness we must be able to see who is actually a Vaishnava, and who is not. Such Vaishnavas are indeed very rare in this material world. Diamonds you can get almost anywhere these days, but darshana with a realized tattva-darshi is such a priceless commodity.
One devotee years ago had remarked to Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja about the seriousness of Vaishnava-aparadha, to which the Maharaj answered, "Baba, first you must find a Vaishnava before considering aparadha!"
I end here with a quote from shastra on the rarity of a qualified guru. In Katha Upanishad 1.2.7 it is stated:
shravanaayaapi bahubhir yo no labhyah shrinvanto 'pi bahavo na vidyuh, aashcharyo asya vaktaa kus lo 'sya babhdaa aashcaryo gyataa kusalaanushishtah"Many cannot hear about the soul and even after hearing about it many cannot understand it, because it is hard to find a guru who is a genuine seer of the truth. Such a qualified guru is a great soul and very rare. Only those who follow his teachings can realize the truth and become expert in the science of god. Such disciples are also very rare."