(Click to enlarge photo of Srila Prabhupada)
Prabhupāda: You have read Bhagavad-gītā. You will find Arjuna was talking with Kṛṣṇa. Then, when the things were not solved, perplexed, Arjuna surrendered himself, śiṣyas te 'haṁ śādhi māṁ prapannam. Find out this verse.
Devotee: Text seven.
pṛcchāmi tvāṁ dharma-sammūḍha-cetāḥ
yac chreyaḥ syān niścitaṁ brūhi tan me
śiṣyas te 'haṁ śādhi māṁ tvāṁ prapannam
"Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of weakness."
Prabhupāda: Yes. That... Here is the question, "confused."
Desmond O'Grady: I am the first statement. "I am confused about my duty," that's what it is.
Devotee: "...and have lost all composure because of weakness. In this condition I am..."
Desmond O'Grady: This duty, this duty, is this duty to the self or duty to others or duty to the state?
Prabhupāda: He is confused because he was a kṣatriya, soldier. A soldier's duty is to fight with the enemy. So Kṛṣṇa was advising him, "The opposite party is your enemy. You are a kṣatriya. Why you are trying to become nonviolent? This is not good." Therefore he says, "Actually I am now confused. So in confusion I cannot take the right conclusion. I therefore accept You as my spiritual master. You just give me the proper lesson." This is the point. So they were friends. Still, he was confused. So in chaotic condition, in confusion status of life, we must approach the person who is in full knowledge of the things. Just like you go to a lawyer, you go to a physician. Similarly, every one of us in the material world, we are confused. Therefore we must go to the spiritual master who can give us real knowledge.
Desmond O'Grady: Right. So therefore, for example, I am very confused.
Prabhupāda: What is that?
Devotee (2): He is confused.
Desmond O'Grady: Very confused.
Prabhupāda: Yes. So you must approach a spiritual master.
Desmond O'Grady: And you make a decision, therefore, to try to sort this confusion, to make some...
Prabhupāda: Yes. Spiritual master means who solves all confusion. That is spiritual master. When one is confused, he goes to a spiritual master, and the spiritual master's duty is to save him from all confusion. That is the relationship between the spiritual master and the disciple. If the spiritual master cannot save him from confusion, then he is not spiritual master. That is the test.
vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam
This whole world is confusion, just like a blazing fire in the forest. When there is forest fire, all the animals become confused, "Where to go? How to save life?" It is very good example. When there is fire in the forest, all the animals become confused. Similarly, this material world is just like a blazing fire in the forest. Everyone is confused. Now, how the blazing fire in the forest can be extinguished? You cannot take there your man-made fire brigade. That is not possible. Neither bucketful of water. So in this confused state of the human society you cannot manufacture the solution. The only solution is that when there is rain from the cloud on the forest fire, then it is extinguished. That is not in your hand; that is mercy of God. So spiritual master means who has received the mercy of God, and he can deliver to the confused man. Then the solution is there. This is very good verse, saṁsāra-dāvānala-līḍha-loka-trāṇāya kāruṇya-ghanāghanatvam, prāptasya. One who has received mercy of God, he can become spiritual master. He can deliver the mercy of God.
Desmond O'Grady: A friend, for example. Yes.
Devotee (2): A real friend.
Desmond O'Grady: Well, if one says he's a friend, that's how he feels. A friend is a friend. There's no question of...
Devotee (2): True well-wisher.
Desmond O'Grady: There's no question of being half-real friend or unreal friend. A friend is a friend.
Prabhupāda: Yes, the best friend is the spiritual master, because he saves from the blazing fire of confusion. That is best friend.
Desmond O'Grady: The problem is to find this friend. The problem is to find this spiritual master.
Prabhupāda: No, there is no problem. The problem is if you are sincere. Yes. That is stated. Because actually you have got problems, but God is within your heart. Īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe arjuna tiṣṭhati (BG 18.61). God is not far away. God is within your heart. So if you are sincere, then God will give you spiritual master. If He knows that now you are sincere, then He will give you a spiritual master.
Desmond O'Grady: Okay. Thank you. That I know.
Prabhupāda: Therefore God is called caitya-guru, the spiritual master within the heart. And the physical spiritual master is God's mercy. If God sees that you are sincere, He will give you a spiritual master who can give you protection. He will help you from within and without— without in the physical form of spiritual master, and within as the spiritual master within the heart.
(Srila Prabhupada Conversation with Poet Desmond O'Grady, Rome, May 23, 1974)