“Unfortunately, when the acharya disappears, rogues and nondevotees take advantage and immediately begin to introduce unauthorized principles in the name of so-called svamis, yogis, philanthropists, welfare workers and so on.”
Srimad Bhagavatam: 4.28.48
Who is authorized to act as guru?
“Self-made guru cannot be guru. He must be authorized by the bona fide guru. Then he’s guru. This is the fact…Similarly; bona fide guru means he must be authorized by the superior guru.”
Srila Prabhupada, Lecture, Nectar of Devotion, October 31, 1972
“One should take initiation from a bona fide spiritual master coming in the disciplic succession, who is authorised by his predecessor spiritual master. This is called diksha-vidhana.”
Srimad Bhagavatam, 4.8.54, purport
Guru must be ordered by his guru.
“Why this Gaudiya Matha failed? Because they tried to become more than guru. [.] They declared some unfit person to become acharya. Then another man came, then another, acharya, another acharya.”
Srila Prabhupada, Conversation, August 16, 1976
Indian man: When did you become spiritual the leader of Krishna Consciousness?
Srila Prabhupada: What is that?
Brahmananda: He is asking when did you become the spiritual leader of Krishna Consciousness?
Srila Prabhupada: When my Guru Maharaja ordered me. This is the guru parampara.
Indian man: Did it…
Srila Prabhupada: Try to understand. Don’t go very speedily. A guru can become guru when he is ordered by his guru. That’s all. Otherwise nobody can become guru.
Srila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, Lecture, October 28, 1975
Political votes have no power
“Guru cannot be self-made. No. There is no such single instance throughout the whole Vedic literature. And nowadays, so many rascals, they are becoming guru without any authority. That is not guru. You must be authorised. Evamparampara-praptam imam ra…As soon as the paramparais…kalena yogo nasta parantapa,immediately finished. The spiritual potency finished. You can dress like a guru, you can talk big, big words, but it will never be effective.”
Srila Prabhupada, Lecture, February 27, 1977, Mayapur, India
You cannot create mahatma by rubber stamp or by votes. Mahatma’s symptom is that he is fully surrendered unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead and always engaged in glorifying His activities. Satatam kirtayanto mam yatantas ca drdha-varatah. He’s always very much careful about executing devotional service. Namasyantas ca mam. He’s always offering obeisances, Tusyanti ca ramanti ca. In this way they enjoy. Tusyanti, and they’re satisfied. These are the signs of mahatma.
Srila Prabhupada General lectures 1969
“Unfortunately, in this Age of Kali there are many mundane persons in the dress of Vaisnavas, and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has described them as disciples of Kali. He says, kali-cela. He indicates that there is another Vaisnava, a pseudo Vaisnava with tilaka on his nose and kanthi beads around his neck. Such a pseudo Vaisnava associates with money and women and is jealous of successful Vaisnavas. Although passing for a Vaisnava, his only business is earning money in the dress of a Vaisnava. Bhaktivinoda Thakura therefore says that such a pseudo Vaisnava is not a Vaisnava at all but a disciple of Kali-yuga. A disciple of Kali cannot become an acarya by the decision of some high-court. Mundane votes have no jurisdiction to elect a Vaisnava acarya. A Vaisnava acarya is self-effulgent, and there is no need for any court judgment. A false acarya may try to override a Vaisnava by a high-court decision, but Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that he is nothing but a disciple of Kali-yuga.
One cannot be an ācārya (spiritual master) without following strictly in the disciplic succession of the ācāryas”