A Sadhu is Always Present
by Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja
Devotee: Srila Prabhupada always emphasized that he was eternally present in his books, instructions, tapes and letters. So when you say we should take association of a sadhu, can we do that through Srila Prabhupada’s books?
Gour Govinda Swami: If Prabhupada says he is there, then you try to see him, to associate with him and listen from him. Do you see Prabhupada? Do you hear from Prabhupada? Is he speaking to you?
Devotee: Through his books.
Gour Govind Swami: Through his books, yes. All sadhus speak through their books. Jiva Goswami, Rupa Goswami, Sanatana Goswami, Bhaktivinode Thakura, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarswati and Srila Prabhupada all say that they speak through their books. This is not a new thing. This is our vaisnava procedure. But you should see him. Can you see Bhaktivinoda Thakura? Can you see Jiva Goswami? You may say, “Oh I have read their books; I have their asociation.” That won’t help you. You cannot understand what they have said merely by reading their books. Your consciousness is very low, so you cannot understand their words. They are very, very merciful, but you should follow the proper path. If you are intelligent you will understand how they are still here, not only in the form of their books but also they are here. You should see them. Why are you thinking so foolishly? So many books were already there, so why has Srila Prabhupada said this? You are thinking, “We need only to read books. There is no need of associating with a sadhu who is physically present. Is there any sadhu? No, there is no sadhu at all.” Your motto is, “Seeing is believing.” You cannot see, so you cannot believe. Because you are a conditioned soul, your vision is defective. You cannot see a sadhu. Krishna is there, can you see Him? No, you cannot, because you are not endowed with proper vision. First develop the proper vision, and then you can see Krishna. Then you can see how a sadhu is there. It is not a fact that sadhus are not present. How is everything going on? How does the sun rise, the wind blow, and Indra give rain? All these things are going on. No sadhu? No Krishna? It’s nonsense, foolishness. We are so proud and puffed up. We are identifying ourself as the body, mind and false ego. We think we are very great. So we say, “Oh, there is no sadhu.” We are in the category of identification with the body and mind.We have not come to the beginning of the stage of purity. No!
Devotee: So we have to associate with a living sadhu? 1
Gour Govinda Swami: Definately. 2 There is always one there. But he is not a cheap person. Such a person is very rare. If you can get his mercy then you can see him. Otherwise, by your own effort and perceptoin, you cannot see him. No, no, no.
You always think that you are drasta, the seer, and that the sadhu is drsta, the one to be seen. Everyone is like this. They think they are the seers. But it is just the reverse. You are to be seen and they are the seer! Think this over very deeply. I think you cannot completely understand what I say. We always think that we are the seer and that they are to be seen, but this is not a fact. It is just the reverse. They are the seers and we are to be seen.
Devotee: How are we seen by sadhu? By our service?
Gour Govinda Swami: Yes, the sadhu is the seer. If he showers his mercy upon you, he sees you. If you receive that merciful glance then you are very fortuntae. However, you are in the category of bodily consciousness. How can you have it? Guru is the manifestation of the Supersoul, caitya-guru in the heart. He manifests a body and appears. He knows your heart.
Devotee: I don’t quite understand.
Gour Govinda Swami: Yes, try to understand. As I told you, just hear patiently. A new bhakta cannot understand it because it is a topic of the highest class. You are in pre-primary class, how can you understand? You are not even in the primary class. How can you understand this topic of the highest class? Just accept the bona fide authorities. That will help you. The teacher says, “Two plus two is four.” The primary student accepts it. If the teacher asks the child, “What is two plus two?” The child will reply, “Two plus two is four.” “ Why is two plus two four?” “My teacher says.” He will answer like this. That means he has accepted authority. This is the only principle in the beginning. How is two plus two four? Why not three or five? That will be explained in a higher mathematics class, not in the beginning. You have to have patience and get a promotion. My guru maharaja says in his purport that the beginning is purity of consciousness. First come to this beginning stage, then gradually other things will come up. You are not in the beginning stage, so how will the higher topics come up? This is a very, very subtle and very deep philosophy.
Putting full faith in the sadhu, you need only submissively hear --- sravanam, sravanam, sravanam. In that way you can get the mercy of that sadhu. That will help you. Only one thing is required, nothing else --- sravanam, sravana, sravanam. Just hear. Serve that sadhu, please him, hear submissively, surrender yourself at his lotus feet and submissively ask questions. Out of mercy the sadhu will impart this tattva jnana to you. This is the only process.
Unless you get association with a living sadhu, what can you do? Will you put some question to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Prabhupada will answer you? This process is a living thing. It is always there, and it is always current. It is not that inquiry was done a certain way in the past and now things are done differently. No! It is an eternal process, pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya.
---The Process of Inquiry, Chapter Six. Gopal Jiu Publications.
bhattera hrdaye drdha abhimana jani'
bhangi kari' mahaprabhu kahe eta vani
bhattera hrdaye--in the heart of Vallabha Bhatta; drdha--fixed; abhimana--pride; jani'--understanding; bhangi kari'--making a hint; mahaprabhu--Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu; kahe--spoke; eta vani--these words.
Knowing that Vallabha Bhatta's heart was full of pride, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu spoke these words, hinting at how one can learn about devotional service.
Vallabha Bhatta was greatly proud of his knowledge in devotional service, and therefore he wanted to speak about Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu without understanding the Lord's position. The Lord therefore hinted in many ways that if Vallabha Bhatta wanted to know what devotional service actually is, he would have to learn from all the devotees He mentioned, beginning with Advaita Acarya, Lord Nityananda, Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya and Ramananda Raya. As Svarupa Damodara has said, if one wants to learn the meaning of Srimad-Bhagavatam, one must take lessons from a realized soul. 2 One should not proudly think that one can understand the transcendental loving service of the Lord simply by reading books. One must become a servant of a Vaisnava. As Narottama dasa Thakura has confirmed, chadiya vaisnava-seva nistara payeche keba: one cannot be in a transcendental position unless one very faithfully serves a pure Vaisnava. One must accept a Vaisnava guru (adau gurv-asrayam), and then by questions and answers one should gradually learn what pure devotional service to Krsna is. That is called the parampara system.
Cc. Antya lila, Ch. 7. Txt 53
Translation and Purport by
His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
"yaha, bhagavata pada vaisnavera sthane
ekanta asraya kara caitanya-carane
yaha--just go; bhagavata pada--read Srimad-Bhagavatam; vaisnavera sthane--from a self-realized Vaisnava; ekanta asraya kara--fully surrender; caitanya-carane--at the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
"If you want to understand Srimad-Bhagavatam," he said, "you must approach a self-realized Vaisnava and hear from him. You can do this when you have completely taken shelter of the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu."
Herein Svarupa Damodara Gosvami instructs the poet from Bengal to hear Srimad-Bhagavatam from a pure Vaisnava and learn from him. In India especially, there is now a class of professional Bhagavatam readers whose means of livelihood is to go from village to village, town to town, reading Bhagavatam and collecting daksina, or rewards, in the form of money or goods, like umbrellas, cloth and fruit. Thus there is now a system of Bhagavata business, with recitations called Bhagavata-saptaha that continue for one week, although this is not mentioned in Srimad-Bhagavatam. Nowhere does Srimad-Bhagavatam say that the Bhagavatam should be heard for one week from professionals. Rather, Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.17) says: srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah punya-sravana-kirtanah. One should regularly hear Srimad-Bhagavatam from a self-realized Vaisnava. By such hearing, one becomes pious. Hrdy antahstho hy abhadrani vidhunoti suhrt-satam. As one thus hears the Bhagavatam regularly and sincerely, his heart is purified of all material contamination.
bhaktir bhavati naisthiki
"As one regularly hears the Bhagavatam or renders service unto the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is practically destroyed, and loving service unto the glorious Lord, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact." (Bhag. 1.2.18)
This is the proper process, but people are accustomed to being misled by professional Bhagavatam reciters. Therefore Svarupa Damodara Gosvami herein advises that one should not hear Srimad-Bhagavatam from professional reciters. Instead, one must hear and learn the Bhagavatam from a self-realized Vaisnava. Sometimes it is seen that when a Mayavadi sannyasi reads the Bhagavatam, flocks of men go to hear jugglery of words that cannot awaken their dormant love for Krsna. Sometimes people go to see professional dramas and offer food and money to the players, who are expert at collecting these offerings very nicely. The result is that the members of the audience remain in the same position of grham andha-kupam, family affection, and do not awaken their love for Krsna.
In the Bhagavatam (7.5.30), it is said, matir na krsne paratah svato va mitho 'bhipadyeta grha-vratanam: the grhavratas, those who are determined to continue following the materialistic way of life, will never awaken their dormant love of Krsna, fur they hear the Bhagavatam only to solidify their position in household life and to be happy in family affairs and sex. Condemning this process of hearing the Bhagavatam from professionals, Svarupa Damodara Gosvami says, yaha, bhagavata pada vaisnavera sthane: "To understand the Srimad-Bhagavatam, you must approach a self-realized Vaisnava." One should rigidly avoid hearing the Bhagavatam from a Mayavadi or other nondevotee who simply performs a grammatical jugglery of words to twist some meaning from the text, collect money from the innocent public, and thus keep people in darkness.
Svarupa Damodara Gosvami strictly prohibits the behavior of the materialistic so-called hearers of Srimad-Bhagavatam. Instead of awakening real love for Krsna, such hearers of the Bhagavatam become more and more attached to household affairs and sex life (yan maithunadi-grhamedhi-sukham hi tuccham). One should hear Srimad-Bhagavatam from a person who has no connection with material activities, or, in other words, from a paramahamsa Vaisnava, one who has achieved the highest stage of sannyasa. This, of course, is not possible unless one takes shelter of the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The Srimad-Bhagavatam is understandable only for one who can follow in the footsteps of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Cc. Antya lila, Ch. 5, Txt 131
Translation and Purport by
His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada