Having asked many new devotees: "What are the qualifications you need to know in order to recognize a bona fide guru?," for decades now, hardly any have been able to give an accurate reply. At best, gave well intended speculations, but no factual knowledge of Prabhupada's instructions or quotes on this specific matter.
Thus this page.
Currently folks are often unaware of Vedic qualifications required for diksa [initiating] guru. Here then, are some quotes about what to look for when selecting a Diksa guru. This list is not complete, as it never will be, BUT it is sufficient.
If a devotee becomes first class uttama, plus ordered [somehow or other] by Srila Prabhupada to be a diksa [initiating] guru, then there are qualifications which would automatically be there to prove they are qualified pure devotee diksa.
A first class Mahabhagavata devotee, the pure devotee, or a bona-fide diksa guru, must:
* Must be above the bodily platform with ALL senses under control [For example, no anger when he doesn't get the maha plate]; must be COMPLETELY free of sex desire. This is a tall order and one that must be achieved to accept the post of guru. They must even be free of “subtle” sex desire. That's important since history has revealed various guru's falling down with women even on subtle levels.
* Always avoids the 10 offenses to the holy name, especially the first offense, which means he must be free of the propensity to criticize others or gossip.
* Is happy! Jolly, never morose. Brahma-bhuta, or liberated from the material concept of life: "I and mine."
* Meek and humble. He has genuinely become the personification of 3rd verse in Siksastakam, lower than a straw, yet more tolerant than a tree.
* Always speaks of Krishna.
* A pure devotee is not recognized by popular social position, number of followers, ashram, or so forth - but by their attraction to the holy name.
* Has all qualities of a Brahmana: Honesty, cleanliness, etc. Simultaneously is above brahmana, or is Vaisnava - transcendental [yet follows properly, not misusing “transcendence” to do nonsense. Rather he sets the perfect example].
* Siksastakam is their life and soul, especially na dhanam, na jahnam, na sundarim, and so on - or no desire for profit, adoration and distinction [not showing off or trying to stand out in a crowd.]
* Is a maha-bhagavata, and those who see such a personality immediately think of or remember the holy names of Krishna.
* Must be situated on the topmost platform, a first class devotee [beyond mechanics] -
"The guru must be situated on the topmost platform of devotional service. There are three classes of devotees, and the guru must be accepted from the topmost class. The first-class devotee is the spiritual master for all kinds of people. It is said, gurur nirnam. The word nirnam means "of all human beings." The guru is not limitedto a particular group. It is stated in the Upadesamrita of Rüpa Gosvami that a guru is a gosvami, a controller of the senses AND the mind. Such a guru can accept disciples from all over the world. This is the test of the guru." ~ Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 24.330, P
"When one has attained the topmost position of mahä-bhägavata, he is to be accepted as a guru and worshiped exactly like Hari, the Personality of Godhead. Only such a person is eligible to occupy the post of a guru." Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 24.330P
* Must be above the six stages mentioned in Srila Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakur's book Madhurya-Kadambini, the six stages of unsteady or anisthita stages of bhajana-kriya (activities of worship). The sixth stage is enjoying the facilities of bhakti, or playing in the waves of the ocean of bhakti, a position known as taranga-rangini.
* To accept disciples one must have such great faith in their own guru that they are always in agreement with their guru, "never" questions/doubts their guru, does not try to philosophize "around" something their guru has instructed. And is always obedient to guru. [Remember, they all ready checked out their guru prior to accepting initiation, thus there should be no more doubt. Also, it’s not based on 'blind' faith, but on shasta, knowledge, etc.]
* A PhD is not the least bit important. :) Nor does it make one a better choice of guru, nor is any high level of material education needed:
"My Guru Maharaja was very great scholar, and his Guru Maharaja, from literary point of view, he could not even sign his name, Gaura-kisora dasa Babaji Maharaja. And Bhaktivinoda Thakura asked Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura to accept Gaura-kisora dasa Babaji Maharaja as his, as his spiritual master, that 'You go and take your initiation from Gaura-kisora dasa Babaji Maharaja.' So he thought that 'I am a great scholar, and I am son of a magistrate, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and great Vaisnava. He'll be very much pleased to accept me.' Of course, he was very much pleased. But in the beginning he refused. He refused. Because... Of course, that is only show. He was not proud. Just to teach us. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati explained that 'I was little proud. So I was thrice refused by Guru Maharaja,' although he was the only disciple. So the scholarship is not a qualification of becoming devotee. That is Caitanya Mahaprabhu's teaching. Scholarship may help, but it is not necessary. Real necessary is that one should be humble and meek and follow the instruction of the spiritual master. This is real qualification." ~ Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 03/13/74, Vrindavan
* And my all-time favorite is in the exalted status described in Caitanya-caritamrta Adi 1.46P (quote follows)...
"In his prayers to the spiritual master, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura confirms that all the revealed scriptures accept the spiritual master to be identical with the Personality of Godhead because he is avery dear and confidential servant of the Lord. Gaudiya Vaisnavas therefore worship Srila Gurudeva (the spiritual master) in the light of his being the servitor of the Personality of Godhead. In all the ancient scriptures of devotional service and in the more recent songs of Srila Narottama dasa Thakura, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and other unalloyed Vaisnavas, the spiritual master is always considered either one of the confidential associates of Srimati Radharani or a manifested representation of Srila Nityananda Prabhu." ~ Adi 1.46
* Does not have the AMBITION to be diksa guru, or does not think they are qualified. This example is found in Srila Bhaktivinode's "Jaiva Dharma" where the babaji is a first class devotee, but when he is asked by the disciple to give diksa, he declines, saying he is not qualified to be a diksa guru.
* "Unless one is a resident of Krishna Loka, one cannot be a Spiritual Master. That is the first proposition. A layman cannot be a Spiritual Master, and if he becomes so then he will simply create disturbance ... So to summarize the whole thing, it is to be understood that a bona fide Spiritual Master is a resident of Krishna Loka." ~ Srila Prabhupada Letter, June 10, 1969
* ETC. -- This is not a complete list, though the point gets made sufficiently. :-)
"Yes. A spiritual master must have seen Kṛṣṇa. Without seeing, he cannot be spiritual master. But how Kṛṣṇa can be seen? Kṛṣṇa can be seen by love. Premāñjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena [Bs. 5.38]. Premāñjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena santaḥ sadaiva hṛdayeṣu vilokayanti. Just like if you are in love with somebody, you can see him constantly—he is always on your eyes, anyone you love—so similarly, Kṛṣṇa also can be seen by development of love. Otherwise how we can see Kṛṣṇa? He is so great, unlimited. Your eyes, your senses, are all limited. You cannot see the unlimited by your limited sense perception. But you can see... Not you can see, but svayam eva sphuraty adaḥ. When you are developed in the sense of love of Godhead, then He reveals unto you. Therefore you can see. " - Srila prabhupada's Lecture : Bhagavad-gita 4.34-39 -- Los Angeles, January 12, 1969
"So this adhokṣajam, Kṛṣṇa, we have to worship. Adhokṣaja. So we cannot see if it is beyond our sense perception. How we can worship Him? Therefore you have to take shelter of the spiritual master who has seen Him." - Srila Prabhupada's Lecture : Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.25 -- Los Angeles, August 28, 1972
Woman Interviewer: But I mean supposing I wished to become an initiate. Wouldn't I have to come and live here?
Prabhupāda: Not necessarily.
Woman Interviewer: Oh, I could stay at home?
Prabhupāda: Oh, yes.
Woman Interviewer: What about work, though? Does one have to give up one's job?
Prabhupāda: You have to give up these bad habits and chant these beads, Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. That's all.
Woman Interviewer: Would I have to give any financial support?
Prabhupāda: No, that's your voluntary wish. If you give us, that's all right. Otherwise, we don't mind.
Woman Interviewer: Sorry, I didn't understand.
Prabhupāda: We do not want, depend on anyone's financial contributions. We depend on God, or Kṛṣṇa.
Woman Interviewer: So I wouldn't have to give any money at all.
Woman Interviewer: Is this one of the main things that distinguishes a genuine guru from a fake guru?
Prabhupāda: Yes. A genuine guru is not a business man."
From Srila Prabhupada's Temple Press Conference -- August 5, 1971, London
Who is ShaktyAveshAvatara?,
Handwritten Notice by Prabhupada to Disciples.
Finding A Genuine Guru