महापुरुषमभ्यर्चेन्मूर्त्याभिमतयात्मन: ॥ ४८ ॥
labdhvā — having obtained; anugrahaḥ — mercy; ācāryāt — from the spiritual master; tena — by him; sandarśita — being shown; āgamaḥ — (the process of worship given by) the vaiṣṇava-tantras; mahā-puruṣam — the Supreme Person; abhyarcet — the disciple should worship; mūrtyā — in the particular personal form; abhimatayā — which is preferred; ātmanaḥ — by himself.
Having obtained the mercy of his spiritual master, who reveals to the disciple the injunctions of Vedic scriptures, the devotee should worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the particular personal form of the Lord the devotee finds most attractive.
According to Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, the word labdhvānugrahaḥ indicates formal initiation by a bona fide spiritual master. It is stated in the Padma Purāṇa:
avaiṣṇavo gurur na syād
vaiṣṇavaḥ śvapaco guruḥ
A bona fide spiritual master must be a soul surrendered at the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord. In the Brahma-vaivarta Purāṇa it is stated:
gurur yena parityaktas
tena tyaktaḥ purā hariḥ
“One pollutes his own intelligence and exhibits severe weakness of character when he rejects his own spiritual master. Indeed, such a person has already rejected the Supreme Lord, Hari.” The bona fide disciple should always remember that his entire understanding of Vedic knowledge is coming through the mercy of his bona fide spiritual master. If one superficially or whimsically accepts and rejects a bona fide Vaiṣṇava spiritual master, sometimes becoming attracted to another spiritual master, one commits a vaiṣṇava-aparādha, a great offense against the devotees of the Lord. Sometimes a foolish neophyte mistakenly thinks that the relationship with the spiritual master is meant for the sense gratification of the disciple, and therefore in the name of spiritual aspirations such a fool gives up a bona fide Vaiṣṇava guru. One should understand oneself to be the eternal servant of the guru. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, however, has quoted this verse from the Nārada-pañcarātra:
mantreṇa nirayaṁ vrajet
punaś ca vidhinā samyag
grāhayed vaiṣṇavād guroḥ
“One who is initiated into a mantra by a non-Vaiṣṇava must go to hell. Therefore he should again be initiated properly, according to the prescribed method, by a Vaiṣṇava guru.” It is the duty of the bona fide spiritual master to examine carefully the qualification of the disciple, and the disciple should similarly approach a bona fide spiritual master. Otherwise, the foolish disciple and the indiscriminate guru may both be punished by the laws of nature.
One should not artificially try to assimilate all of the apparently conflicting branches of Vedic knowledge. Vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyaḥ. Conditioned souls have various conflicting natures, which are engaged by apparently conflicting Vedic injunctions called pravṛtti and nivṛtti-mārga. But the easiest path is simply to learn the process of regularly worshiping advaya-jñāna, Lord Viṣṇu. All the demigods mentioned in the Vedas are paraphernalia for the service of the Supreme Lord, Viṣṇu. Whatever exists in the visible material world is also meant to be engaged in the Lord’s service; otherwise, it has no value. If one artificially renounces material things useful in the service of the Supreme Lord, he loses his spiritual qualification of seeing everything as meant for Kṛṣṇa’s pleasure and will be forced to think of material objects as meant for his own sense enjoyment. In other words, material things should be accepted or rejected according to the pleasure of the Supreme Lord. Otherwise, one will fall down from the standard of pure devotional service. As stated in this verse, labdhvānugraha ācāryāt: such discrimination can be learned when one receives the mercy of a bona fide spiritual master, who reveals to the sincere disciple the practical application of Vedic knowledge.