God realization is not possible without a Guru. Shree Krishn Himself has said this in the Gita (chapter 4, verse 34); the Upnishads, Puranas and Ramayan all make similar statements. It would be like trying to get a PhD without the help of a professor. That Guru must be someone whom we can see, talk to and relate to. We should be able to ask them questions and clear our confusions. They will tell us the path so we know how to live our life for God realization.
Krishn helps us by sending a Guru into our life. The Guru helps us to purify our mind through proper bhakti. Once our mind is fully purified and we become surrendered, then Krishn comes to us. (Harihin bhave shuddh jan tohin patit bhave pyare; explanation of the difference between God and Guru from the kirtan "Jayati Guruvar" by Shree Kripaluji Maharaj). It is through the Grace of the Guru that we receive the Divine vision of Krishn (Guru mile kripa Rijhavar, Guru kripa mile sarkar; from the kirtan "Guru charan kamal balihar" by Shree Kripaluji Maharaj). So ignoring the Grace of the Saint and asking Krishn to help you is like the person who is searching for his spectacles when they are hanging on a string around his neck.
One should also know that we not only need to follow the instructions of the Saint for how to do devotions, we also need to open a channel in our heart to receive the Saint's Grace. This is done by surrendering (internally) to the Saint. This allows us to receive the Grace of the Saint, which will redeem past spiritual transgressions and open us to experience bhao in our devotion to Radha Krishn. This is the real devotion. Otherwise, it is like a dry practice of devotion, with no real feelings of affinity. Thus, we see that not only following the teachings of the Guru, but an internal feeling of surrender in order to receive his Grace is required to proceed on the path of bhakti.
Swami Nikhilanand, JKP Radha Madhav Dham. © 2011. All rights reserved.