A Living Sadhu

by Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja

[From Chapter Six of Pariprasna: The Process of Inquiry]

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?

Present in His Books

Gour Govinda Swami: If Prabhupada says he is there, then you try to see him, associate with him and listen from him. Do you see Prabhupada? Is he speaking to you?

Devotee: Through his books.

Gour Govinda Swami: Through his books, yes. All sadhus speak through their books. Jiva Goswami, Rupa Goswami, Sanatana Goswami, Bhaktivinoda Thakur, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and Srila Prabhupada all say that they speak through books.
This is not a new thing. This is our vaisnava procedure. But you should see him. Can you see Bhaktivinode Thakur? Can you see Jiva Goswami ? You may say, "Oh I have read their books, I have their association." 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 association with a sadhu who is physically present. Is there any sadhu? No, there is no sadhu at all."

Seeing is Believing

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.
Krsna 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 Krsna. 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 Krsna? It's nonsense, foolishness. We are so proud and puffed up. We are indentifying our self 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?

Gour Govinda Swami: Definitely. 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 perception 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 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.

Merciful Glance

Devotee: How are we seen by the 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 fortunate. 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 school 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 maharaj 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, sravanam, 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 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, 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.

[Pages 108-109]

Genuine Sadhu-sanga

Devotee: Paramatma is comparable to guru in some ways?

Gour Govinda Swami: Paramatma is the manifestation of guru and guru is the manifestation of Paramatma. Katha Upanisad says:

nayam atma pravacanena labhyo
na medhaya na bahuna srutena
yam evaisa vrnute tena labyas
tasyaisa atma vivrnute tanum svam
The Supreme Self can never be known by any amount of arguments, reasoning, intelligence, or by much hearing. To those whom He chooses, however, He may reveal His personal form.(Katha Upanisad 1.2.23)

If someone is crying for Krsna, Paramatma knows. Then Paramatma assumes a body and appears. When He appears externally He is guru. "Tanu" means body. Vivrnute tanum svam --- He assumes a body and is known as caitya-guru. Therefore I say cry, cry, cry! Paramatma will know, "Now he is crying for Me." In this regard, sadhu-sanga is most important. And that means sadhu in the true sense, not a hypocrite sadhu, not a bogus sadhu --- a real sadhu. "Guru" means heavy, not laghu. These words have their meanings and you should understand them. If you really meet guru then your association with laghus will be bitter. That's a most important thing. That's the test who is guru.

"Laghu" means material things. You are associating with material poets, material politicians, material wealthy persons and material learned persons. They are laghus. When you associate with a sadhu and get his krpa then automatically the taste will be bitter and you will no longer like to associate with laghus. You should associate with a real sadhu. Sadhu-krpa, the mercy of a sadhu, is powerful. It is a most important thing. It is said, vaisnava-krpaya tara sarva-siddhi --- If you can get the mercy of a vaisnava sadhu then you will achieve all perfection. Moreover, it must be with a real sadhu, a sadhu in the true sense of the term. Not a hypocrite or bogus sadhu or kali-cela! They are only posing like sadhu. If a genuine sadhu cast his merciful glance on you, then you have it! Sadhu-sanga is most important, most important, most important. One should develop greed for such a type of sadhu-sanga. Don't resist such greed. You are greedy for material accumulations. That is your enemy. That will lead you to hell. Now become greedy for this, to have such sadhu-sanga. "How can I get it, how can I get it?" Develop this greed. It should not be resisted. It is the only thing needed.

[Pages 113-114]

Blind Leading the Blind

Devotee: What if a devotee is initiated but he has not reached the stage of nista. Should he accept guidance from a superior vaisnava?

Gour Govinda Swami: Yes, they are teachers-siksa-guru.

Devotee: If one thinks I have my guru already, like Prabhupada, and I don't need any guidance?

Gour Govinda Swami: No, the moment this enters you are finished! You are welcoming your fall down. If one is not free from anarthas, how can he lead? He is a blind man. If a blind man is leading another blind man all will fall into a ditch, finished! The leader falls then the followers fall. This is going on.

Devotee: Maharaj, you were explaining two processes for controlling the mind. One was to turn a deaf ear to the mind. I think the other was taking shelter of a guru who has taken shelter of Hari?

Gour Govinda Swami: Sadhu-hari-guru caranopasanastrah- There are two weapons: First, turn a deaf ear to the promptings of your wicked mind. If you lend an ear your mind will capture you. It will become your master and you will become weak. The second weapon is guror hares caranopasanastrah (S.B.CH.11Text 17) --- Service to the lotus feet of guru and Krsna.

Devotee: Because you love your spiritual master you don't want to fall down, in that way you control the mind. Is that how it works?

Gour Govinda Swami: Guru will inflict discipline on you. Sisya means under discipline. Sisyas te ham sadhi mam tvam prapannam --- In the second chapter of Bhagavad-gita Arjuna says, "I am now Your disciple, please inflict discipline on me." If guru inflicts discipline on you he will catch hold of your ear and slap you. "You rascal, idiot, kanka. Why are you doing this?" Discipline means punishment. Guru has the right to chastise you. And by that chastisement your heart will be cleansed, your anarthas will go. Otherwise how will they go? Accept that discipline ungrudgingly. Don't complain, "You rascal guru." Rather you should think, " Oh, gurudeva has inflicted punishment on me. I am so fortunate. I am getting krpa now." If guru never inflicts his punishment on you it means no krpa.

Devotee: Like Sivananda Sena. Nityananda Prabhu kicked him.

Gour Govinda Swami: Yes, he kicked him, "You rascal, what are you doing!"

Sivananda Sena was not there. He came late and Nityananda Prabhu got angry, "Where is that rascal Sivananda Sena?" Then Nityananda Prabhu kicked him. Then Sivananda Sena started dancing, "Oh today I have got such good fortune. He kicked me." His wife was weeping and crying, but Sivananda Sena danced in pleasure. This is vaisnava-krpa, the devotee's mercy.

Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 5 Ch.11


bhratrvyam enam tad adabhra-viryam
upeksayadhyedhitam apramattah
guror hares caranopasanastro
jahi vyalikam svayam atma-mosam


bhratrvyam--the formidable enemy; enam--this mind; tat--that; adabhra-viryam--very, very powerful; upeksaya--by neglecting; adhyedhitam--unnecessarily increased in power; apramattah--one who is without illusion; guroh--of the spiritual master; hareh--of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; carana--of the lotus feet; upasana-astrah--applying the weapon of worshiping; jahi--conquer; vyalikam--false; svayam--personally; atma-mosam--which covers the constitutional position of the living entity.


This uncontrolled mind is the greatest enemy of the living entity. If one neglects it or gives it a chance, it will grow more and more powerful and will become victorious. Although it is not factual, it is very strong. It covers the constitutional position of the soul. O King, please try to conquer this mind by the weapon of service to the lotus feet of the spiritual master and of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Do this with great care.


There is one easy weapon with which the mind can be conquered--neglect. The mind is always telling us to do this or that; therefore we should be very expert in disobeying the mind's orders. Gradually the mind should be trained to obey the orders of the soul. It is not that one should obey the orders of the mind. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura used to say that to control the mind one should beat it with shoes many times just after awakening and again before going to sleep. In this way one can control the mind. This is the instruction of all the sastras. If one does not do so, one is doomed to follow the dictations of the mind. Another bona fide process is to abide strictly by the orders of the spiritual master and engage in the Lord's service. Then the mind will be automatically controlled. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has instructed Srila Rupa Gosvami:

brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva
guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija
When one receives the seed of devotional service by the mercy of the guru and Krsna. the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one's real life begins. If one abides by the orders of the spiritual master, by the grace of Krsna he is freed from service to the mind.

Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Fifth Canto, Eleventh Chapter of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, entitled "Jada Bharata Instructs King Rahugana."

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