(Srila Prabhupada in San Francisco, 1967)
"Dayā. One must be merciful. Dayā means... When a man is suffering, a fellow man, another fellow man must feel for it. That is called dayā. There are two things: dayā and sevā. Sevā means to give service to the superior, and dayā means to give service to the inferior. Both of them are service. Dayā, I mean to say... A man is suffering. He is in helpless condition. Just like in hospital, those who are patients, who are diseased, they go to the hospital. There is also sevā. The nurse is serving. The doctor is serving. But that is not sevā. That is called dayā. He is not obliged, but out of his compassion he's giving service to the patient. That is called dayā. And sevā means superior. Just like spiritual master. Sevayā. Tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā (BG 4.34). Because the Vedic injunction is that 'You must go to a spiritual master.' Tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet (MU 1.2.12). Abhigacchet means 'must.' There is no alternative. If you're actually interested in transcendental knowledge, tad-vijñānam... Tad-vijñānam means transcendental knowledge. Athāto brahma jijñāsā. And the human life is meant for tad-vijñānam, to understand.
So tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet. So there, how to learn from guru, that is also stated. Tad viddhi: try to learn from him. Tad viddhi praṇipātena. First of all surrender yourself. You cannot go to any person for learning anything where there is no sense of surrender. I accept a guru, but in my mind I remain independent, 'Oh, why shall I abide by the orders of guru?' that means there is no surrender. There is no surrender. It is false. It is just to satisfy some motive, but that will not help. If you have got any duplicity in your mind, then you'll never be successful in any field of activities. So the process is... Tad viddhi praṇipātena (BG 4.34). Must be surrendered. Praṇipāta means prakṛṣṭa-rūpeṇa nipāta. And therefore, unless you find somebody where you can fully surrender, don't accept guru. That is cheating.
Unless you are fully confident that 'I am surrendering to this person. He is... Actually he is superior to me. He can give proper knowledge...' So therefore the process is before accepting a guru, one must hear him at least for one year. And when he's convinced that 'Here is actually a guru who can teach me,' then you accept him, guru. Don't accept him whimsically. This system now should stop, that somebody's coming for three days—'Prabhupāda, initiate him.' Why? First of all see whether he's fit for becoming a disciple; then recommend. Otherwise, don't recommend. Because the chief recommendation is creating havoc. One is not fit for becoming a student, disciple, and he's accepting discipleship, and after three days he's going away. This should not be allowed. Therefore, in the Bhakti-rasāmṛta..., er, Hari-bhakti-vilāsa by Sanātana Gosvāmī it is directed that the spiritual master and the disciple must meet together at least for one year so that the disciple may also understand that 'Here is a person whom I can accept as my guru,' and the guru also can see that 'Here is a person who is fit for becoming my disciple.' Then the business is nice. Because the business is tad viddhi praṇipātena (BG 4.34): one must be prepared to surrender. So unless that character is there, surrendering, how he can become his disciple? It is not possible.
So these are very difficult things, but because it is the age of Kali, kālena balīyasā, as we studied yesterday, that kālena vā te balināṁ balīyasā: time is very hard time. Therefore Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has said that it is very difficult time, kalau. It is not Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu's version; it is the Vedic version. Kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva nāsty eva (CC Adi 17.21). Simply chant Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. This will clarify your heart. Then you can understand who is guru, where to surrender, where to take lesson. In this way we can make... Haphazardly, if we accept, then there will be failure."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Honolulu, January 21, 1974)