Question: Are There Gurus Outside of ISKCON?
There is a young swami who gives discourses from the Bhagavad-gita etc. He is an enlightened spiritual master with many followers, even though he is young. And his bliss is notable!
Are there not swamis outside ISKCON that are spiritual masters who can lead to bliss just as well as you? He has awakened my spiritual world, even though I read your "Thought for the Day". And it seems that you both preaching similar truth. Please answer this question.
Answer: Use this Test to Find Out:
Since I am not familiar with the teachings of the swami, I cannot comment on whether or not he is bona fide. But I can teach you the principle by which you can test whether or not he or anybody else is bona fide.
The Vedic wisdom does not state that a guru has to be a member of ISKCON be bona fide. It simply states that the person must present the teachings of Krishna as stated in Bhagavad-gita without any interpretation, addition, or subtraction. This is the only requirement for being a bona fide spiritual master.
While on the surface it seems that all gurus who teach the Bhagavad-gita are bona fide, upon carefully comparing their Bhagavad-gita presentation with Lord Krishna's actual Bhagavad-gita teachings, it becomes clear that some gurus are presenting the Bhagavad-gita as it is and that some are in the name of the Bhagavad-gita giving their own philosophy.
Of course for the neophyte it is sometimes hard to make the distinction. Just like one time when a man was leaving India he wanted to turn his Indian rupees into US Dollars. He went to the money changer at the airport and gave him his rupees. When he got his dollars he was also handed back one of his rupee notes because it was counterfeit. He did not have the trained eyes to discern that it was counterfeit, but the money changer did.
In the same way a neophyte on the self realization path requires training in order to distinguish between someone who is accurately presenting the Bhagavad-gita and someone who is distorting it. It is unfortunate that most of the current Bhagavad-gita commentators twist the words of Krishna is such a way as to deny the personal existence of Krishna. They will say that it is not to the person Krishna that we must surrender. They teach us that instead we should merge into the impersonal oneness and become God. Such a philosophy is most destructive and dangerous because it blocks the ability of the aspiring transcendentalist to ever develop a loving relationship with the Supreme Person.
Sometimes such impersonalists will also promote bhakti or devotion to Lord Krishna and will even quote from the Bhagavad-gita. But they present devotion to Krishna as the beginning stage of self-realization, as a stepping stone to merging and becoming God. So we must carefully avoid such impersonalists who grossly twist the Krishna's words in such a misleading way. Unfortunately in the Kali yuga people are generally more attracted by the cheaters who distort Krishna's teachings than they are by those who present Krishna's teachings as they are. We cannot judge who is properly presenting the Bhagavad-gita by popular votes when the mass of people are not educated to properly understand the Vedic conclusion. In this connection it should be noted that Adolf Hitler was made the leader of Germany by popular vote.
So instead of popularity we should based our understanding a of guru's authenticity on whether or not he is faithfully presenting the teachings of Krishna without any addition or subtraction. Otherwise we may think we are being enlightened when in fact we are being misled. Anyone can make a show of bliss. But only a genuine spiritual master gives us the Absolute Truth.
So now that I've taught you the guru test, if you will carefully apply it, you will be able to know whether someone is a bona fide guru or not.