gurur na sa syat sva-jano na sa syat
pita na sa syaj janani na sa syat
daivam na tat syan na patis ca sa syan
na mocayed yah samupeta-mrtyum
guruh—a spiritual master; na—not; sah—he; syat—should become; sva-janah—a relative; na—not; sah—such a person; syat—should become; pita—a father; na—not; sah—he; syat—should become; janani—a mother; na—not; sa—she; syat—should become; daivam—the worshipable deity; na—not; tat—that; syat—should become; na—not; patih—a husband; ca—also; sah—he; syat—should become; na—not; mocayet—can deliver; yah—who; samupeta-mrtyum—one who is on the path of repeated birth and death.
“One who cannot deliver his dependents from the path of repeated birth and death should never become a spiritual master, a father, a husband, a mother or a worshipable demigod.
There are many spiritual masters, but Rsabhadeva advises that one should not become a spiritual master if he is unable to save his disciple from the path of birth and death. Unless one is a pure devotee of Krsna, he cannot save himself from the path of repeated birth and death. Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so’rjuna [Bg. 4.9]. One can stop birth and death only by returning home, back to Godhead. However, who can go back to Godhead unless he understands the Supreme Lord in truth? Janma karma ca me divyam evam yo vetti tattvatah [Bg. 4.9].
We have many instances in history illustrating Rsabhadeva’s instructions. Sukracarya was rejected by Bali Maharaja due to his inability to save Bali Maharaja from the path of repeated birth and death. Sukracarya was not a pure devotee, he was more or less inclined to fruitive activity, and he objected when Bali Maharaja promised to give everything to Lord Visnu. Actually one is supposed to give everything to the Lord because everything belongs to the Lord. Consequently, the Supreme Lord advises in Bhagavad-gita (9.27):
“O son of Kunti, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.” This is bhakti. Unless one is devoted, he cannot give everything to the Supreme Lord. Unless one can do so, he cannot become a spiritual master, husband, father or mother. Similarly, the wives of the brahmanas who were performing sacrifices gave up their relatives just to satisfy Krsna. This is an example of a wife rejecting a husband who cannot deliver her from the impending dangers of birth and death. Similarly, Prahlada Maharaja rejected his father, and Bharata Maharaja rejected his mother (janani na sa syat). The word daivam indicates a demigod or one who accepts worship from a dependent. Ordinarily, the spiritual master, husband, father, mother or superior relative accepts worship from an inferior relative, but here Rsabhadeva forbids this. First the father, spiritual master or husband must be able to release the dependent from repeated birth and death. If he cannot do this, he plunges himself into the ocean of reproachment for his unlawful activities. Everyone should be very responsible and take charge of his dependents just as a spiritual master takes charge of his disciple or a father takes charge of his son. All these responsibilities cannot be discharged honestly unless one can save the dependent from repeated birth and death.
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