durdarśo yo ’kṛtātmanām
diṣṭyā pāda-rajaḥ spṛṣṭaṁ
śīrṣṇā me bhavataḥ śivam
The perfection of transcendental life can be achieved simply by touching the holy dust of the lotus feet of a holy man. In the Bhāgavatam it is said, mahat-pāda-rajo-’bhiṣekam, which means to be blessed by the holy dust of the lotus feet of a mahat, a great devotee. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, mahātmānas tu: those who are great souls are under the spell of spiritual energy, and their symptom is that they fully engage in Kṛṣṇa consciousness for the service of the Lord. Therefore they are called mahat. Unless one is fortunate enough to have the dust of the lotus feet of a mahātmā on one’s head, there is no possibility of perfection in spiritual life.
The paramparā system of disciplic succession is very important as a means of spiritual success. One becomes a mahat by the grace of his mahat spiritual master. If one takes shelter of the lotus feet of a great soul, there is every possibility of one’s also becoming a great soul. When Mahārāja Rahūgaṇa asked Jaḍa Bharata about his wonderful achievement of spiritual success, he replied to the King that spiritual success is not possible simply by following the rituals of religion or simply by converting oneself into a sannyāsī or offering sacrifices as recommended in the scriptures. These methods are undoubtedly helpful for spiritual realization, but the real effect is brought about by the grace of a mahātmā. In Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura’s eight stanzas of prayer to the spiritual master, it is clearly stated that simply by satisfying the spiritual master one can achieve the supreme success in life, and in spite of executing all ritualistic performances, if one cannot satisfy the spiritual master, one has no access to spiritual perfection. Here the word akṛtātmanām is very significant. Ātmā means “body,” “soul,” or “mind,” and akṛtātmā means the common man, who cannot control the senses or the mind. Because the common man is unable to control the senses and the mind, it is his duty to seek the shelter of a great soul or a great devotee of the Lord and just try to please him. That will make his life perfect. A common man cannot rise to the topmost stage of spiritual perfection simply by following the rituals and religious principles. He has to take shelter of a bona fide spiritual master and work under his direction faithfully and sincerely; then he becomes perfect, without a doubt.