Prabhu: Could we hear a little bit more about what’s the purpose of mentors?

HH BVPS Maharaja: What’s the purpose of a mentor?

Prabhu: The whole system of having mentors.

HH BVPS Maharaja: It’s someone you can turn to that can help you to have proper perspective and understanding and inspiration and engage in service. Does that make sense?

Prabhu: This question includes that I am trying to find that how am I supposed to relate to if I had been speaking with other devotees, and the experience they had before Krishna consciousness was that when they had relationship with a girl that was… [indistinct] intimate relationship, that what should I do, in any way get involved…? How to relate to the fact that the relationship… [indistinct]

HH BVPS Maharaja: I mean the point is is, if what they say works for you, then you don’t mind them being involved. Means, if it doesn’t work then why would you want them involved? Otherwise you just stick to philosophy, sadhana and stuff like that. You know what I am saying? In other words, gain from the mentor what they can do. Someone is a teacher, so that means they know how to teach their area of expertise. A language teacher can teach language, a math teacher can teach math, a history teacher can teach history. So, like that, you go to language teacher for language, not for math. Does that make sense? So that means, if they know what they are talking about in marriage, then you can discuss it, if they don’t, then there is no need to discuss it. Everybody has their nature, so they should act according to that nature. Means, false ego doesn’t fit into the equation. You know what I am saying?

Just like someone is in the position of management because they are a manger, not because they are senior or bigger, fatter than anybody else, or been in the yatra for longer. So many times mistakes are made is taking the temple leaders, “Oh, he has been there longer.” “I have been there longer than him, why I shouldn’t be the president?” I am a Prabhupada disciple,” or ” I am this,” or “I am that.” No, it’s who can manage and do the job, they should be the one doing it, right? You know what I am saying? Bhishma was senior to Yudhisthira or Dhritarashtra, or Duryodhana, but he had said, “I won’t get married,” therefore he is not, can’t be king. Do you understand? So he is senior to everybody in every way. He is a Mahabhagavata, so that means in Krishna consciousness and philosophy he knows more than anybody, he was trained in the shastra and in the martial sciences by Bhrigu, Brihaspati, Shukracarya and Parashurama. Who is gonna get better than that? Bhrigu, son of Lord Brahma, Brihaspati, Guru of the demigods, Shukracarya, Guru of the demons – that’s the whole universe. And Parashurama, which is the Lord’s incarnation in the martial arts. Right?

Bhima is as strong as 10,000 elephants. That’s not an allegory, is that what you say? He could take them up, spin them around and throw them on other elephants. Dhritarastra was as strong as 10,000 elephants. Solid iron deity of Bhima that Duryodhana, who was the most expert in club, and they used clubs that were equal to 100,000 of other clubs, and he would hit that deity as hard as he could, one, it would not fall over when hit, two, it would not break when hit; Dhritarastra by embracing it, crushed it into powder. Strong. [Laughter] Now, Bhima is very upset at the Rajasuya. Shishupala is not overly pleased that Krishna was chosen as the one to be worshiped out of the whole assembly of the universe. So he decided to express that discomfiture through some comments. Right? So Bhima was so angry, so he was trying to get up from his chair. Bhishmadeva just puts his arm across the chair and holds him in place, with one arm, not a whole arm, just a forearm. So Bhishma, we don’t even talk about how strong he is. He defeated Parashurama in a battle, but he bowed out, so it wouldn’t look bad for Parashurama, at the request of the demigods. So, he could say, “Hey, I am the man, step aside punks!” But he doesn’t, right? So who is qualified, who should be, that’s who runs things, that’s who takes the position. It has nothing to do with prestige or anything else. Does that make sense?

So that’s the point is therefore if the mentor knows something about grihastha life and you feel comfortable, then ask, if you don’t, don’t ask. Then if they know the philosophy, they know service, they know sankirtana, whatever it is that they are expert at, take advantage of that. You know what I am saying? Mentors are there in when you have in the academic field. Means, in some systems you have tutors starting from university, older students teaching younger students. And then in postgraduate then you have a mentor who teaches you how to think and become an academic. So it is there in the West, but it’s basically… Also in the senior armed forces you have them, like that, they are there everywhere actually if you look. The skilled trades are there, these are always there, it’s just recognizing them. Because previously you had relatives that would tell you what to do. The man, the older man in the family would pull the younger man aside and tell him, “Hey, you should do this or do that.” And the women would do that for the girls, so it was there before, but the problem is is, we are stuck between an environment where materially it doesn’t work, until we get spiritually established we are not used to these things, because in the spiritual they are there and in the traditional material they are there, but we are kind-of in-between. Is that okay?

Prabhu: The point of this is that when you choose a mentor, is it important to choose somebody whose nature is actually matching the nature of the couple who is choosing them?

HH BVPS Maharaja: Not to give too much of a British response, but absolutely. That’s what Rupa Goswami says, you choose association that are like-minded, sva-jati, the same group, like that. Otherwise, how are they going to give advice? Means, their advice may be good, but they don’t know how to relate it to you. In other words, like you are picking a Guru. All the gurus are saying the same thing, but they may be speaking to a different audience. Does that make sense? So you choose the guru for which you are an audience of. Means, when they speak, you understand it and you can apply it. So the same for a mentor.

Prabhu: Also in India sometimes you see that we have men preaching to men and women being in some different relationships also like mothers or sisters, it’s something like that. So if that should apply… [indistinct] possible to apply it?

HH BVPS Maharaja: In the relationships? In traditional families then you had natural relationships that functioned. So those same rules of conduct would then be applied within the modern family environment. In other words, for example, the elder sister is treated like mother, the younger sister is treated like daughter, means, yes, it would always work if you use the Vedic approach. If you use the Western, it doesn’t work, now it won’t work if you do it. Do you understand? In other words, older sister like mother means, you respect her, not that you hate your mother, so therefore you hate your older sister. Younger sister means, is daughter, means, you protect, you provide, you give her gifts, you are always kind, you are never unkind. It’s said that the father’s relationship with the daughter is that of the utmost kindness. Like that, that’s Vedic. So if you follow that, it will work, everybody would like to be dealt with nicely.

(From Man Woman Interaction Seminar, 4th August 2007, Eger, Hungary)

Full lecture transcription

Lecture audio, this passage starting at 22:07

Foto © Ananta Vrindavan

Used with permission

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