Continuing with our series on the Nectar of Iststuction (Upadeśāmṛta), we are posting Text 5, the very important instructions given by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī on vaisnava association, and on accepting spiritual initiation. Srila Prabhupada explains very nicely in his purport to this verse the importance of accepting an Uttama-adhikārī Vaiṣṇava as a Spiritual Master.
…In this verse Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī advises the devotee to be intelligent enough to distinguish between the kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, madhyama-adhikārī and uttama-adhikārī. The devotee should also know his own position and should not try to imitate a devotee situated on a higher platform. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has given some practical hints to the effect that an uttama-adhikārī Vaiṣṇava can be recognized by his ability to convert many fallen souls to Vaiṣṇavism. One should not become a spiritual master unless he has attained the platform of uttama-adhikārī. A neophyte Vaiṣṇava or a Vaiṣṇava situated on the intermediate platform can also accept disciples, but such disciples must be on the same platform, and it should be understood that they cannot advance very well toward the ultimate goal of life under his insufficient guidance. Therefore a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikārī as a spiritual master.
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