Questions & Answers with Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami Mahārāja
Published in The Worship of Sri Guru, chapter 3

Devotee 1: Śabda-brahma is Kṛṣṇa in sound vibration?

Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami: Yes. One has to hear. It is not that, “All right, tapes are there, I’ll hear the recorded tapes.” Śabda-brahma will never descend.

Devotee 2: It doesn’t descend through transmission of tape?

Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami: No, no.

Devotee 2: Only when you are personally sitting there with a pure Vaiṣṇava?

Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami: Yes. Now in this material scientific age so many techniques are there. People, say, “No more teachers are required. We’ll teach through television.” Nonsense, śabda-brahma will never descend.

Devotee 3: What if one is a disciple of a bona fide guru, and then later on that guru stops his līlā. What should one do?

Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami: Līlā is always there,

adyāpiha sei līlā kare gaura-rāya,
kona kona bhāgyavān dekhibāre pāya
(Cb. quoted in Bhaktivinode Thakur’s Navadvīpa Mahātmya Pramāṇa-khaṇḍa)

Gaurāṅga’s pastimes are still going on. People say, “Oh Gaurāṅga Mahāprabhu has disappeared.” One who is very fortunate and has the vision can see how gaura-līlā is still going on.

Devotee 3: That means that guru is always there?

Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami: Yes. He is always there. His līlā is going on.

Devotee 3: I may think, “I have already taken the dust of the lotus feet of my guru. Now he is not here. So I don’t need that dust anymore.”

Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami: Darśana is there. The guru is always there if you have the eye to see. If you are a sat-śiya you can always see how the guru is present.

Devotee 4: How can we see guru?

Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami: Blind man! If you are endowed with that vision you can see. I never lost sight of my guru. I see my guru is always there. Therefore I cannot say, “nitya-līlā-praviṣṭha”. It is so painful to me. No! He is here.

Devotee 4: Do you have to be a pure dovotee to see a pure devotee?

Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami: Yes! That vision is required. If you have no vision then you are a blind man. How can a blind man see? The object is there. What is required to see the object? The first thing is the eye. Next is light. You may be endowed with vision, but if there is no light, how can you see? Can you see in the darkness? Therefore two things are required, first vision and then light. Even if you are endowed with eyes, if there is no light then you can’t see. What is that light? The enlightenment by the mercy, potency. If you are devoid of that, how can you see?

Devotee 5: Anarthas are like clouds in front of the eye?

Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami: Yes, Yes. Anarthas are like clouds covering the sun. The eye is covered.

Devotee 2: Can one see guru appearing in different forms, or is he coming in dreams?

Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami: He may come in a dream. He has different forms also, just as Kṛṣṇa has different forms. Kṛṣṇa has so many manifestations. Therefore we have described in our book Śrī Guru-vandanā about samaṣṭi-guru and vyasti-guru.

Devotee 6: What are those kind of gurus?

Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami: guru kṛṣṇa-rūpa hana śāstrera pramāṇe(Cc. adi-lila1.45) — scripture describes that it is Kṛṣṇa who appears as guru.

Kṛṣṇa is one. Guru-tattva is also one. Guru is one, but he appears in different, different, forms. That is samaṣṭi-guru. The particular forms such as Śrīla Bhaktivedanta Swami, Śrīla Bhakitisiddhanta, this person and that; this is vyaṣṭi-guru.

Devotee 3: When Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura left, guru was still there?

Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami: Yes.

Devotee 3: Guru is always present?

Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami: Yes, always present.

Devotee 3: Because guru is non-different from Kṛṣṇa we understand that to be a guru is not an easy thing. So why is it said that someone maybe on the level of kaniṣṭha or madhyama can be guru?

Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami: All are gurus. There is kaniṣṭha-guru, madhyama-guru, uttama-gurus. Divisions are there. What you deserve you get. Kṛṣṇa knows what you deserve so He makes an appropriate arrangement for you.

Devotee 7: Some devotees are not accepting guru now. They are saying, “I’ll just accept śāstra.”

Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami: How can you understand śāstra?

Devotee 7: But we have seen, as in Russia, that some devotees have only gotten books and they are now chanting, worshiping the deity, and preaching.

Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami: You cannot understand. In śāstra, mantra is there and nama is there, but unless it comes out from the lips of sad-guru, Śrī Guru, your chanting will never be effective. The potency will never be there.

Devotee 7: But they say that smti-śāstra is coming from the lips of Vaiṣṇavas, so we are hearing smti.

Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami: Yes. This is how śāstra manifests. When it comes out from the lips of sad-guru, Śrī Guru, then it manifests. Though śāstra is there, by itself it will never manifest to you. It’s a question of manifestation.

Devotee 7: Other persons say that we can hear from the commentaries of the Vaiṣṇava ācāryas.

Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami: For that reason it is said, 

bhaktyā bhāgavata grāhya
na buddhyā na ca ṭīkayā (Cc. 24.313) 

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam can only be understood by bhakti, not be dint of one’s intelligence or by reading commentaries.You cannot understand Bhāgavata by taking help of the ṭīkās, commentaries. So many commentaries are there. One may think, “Yes, I am a scholar. It is all written in Sanskrit. I know the language so I can read and understand it.” No! You can only understand Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam by bhakti. You cannot understand Bhāgavata by dint of your material scholarship, learning, intelligence, or by taking the help of the commentaries. No, no. Hear from ācārya and then you can develop bhakti. Unless you hear, how can you understand just by reading? You cannot understand. Grantha-avatāra will never manifest to you. You will only see paper, and black and white. Nothing else.

Devotee 7: Then what is the meaning of the bhad-mdaga-sakīrtana? Śrīla Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati has said that our kīrtana is bhad-mdaga-sakīrtana, the printing press.

Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami: Yes. That will inspire you. Just one book distributed spreads so far. First you read the book and then one friend says, “Oh, let me read it.” Then he lets someone else read it. In this way it spreads so much. The sound of the mdaga only goes from here to there, but the bhad-mdaga spreads so far. That will inspire you. You will think, “Who is the source? Let me go and see and hear from him.”

Devotee 7: So first you hear and then if you read the same thing in the śāstra

Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami: Yes. It is only in Kali-yuga that books are required. In other yugas there are no books. Just by hearing once they would never forget, but in this yuga, if I ask you to repeat what you have heard after the class, how much can you repeat? You will have already forgotten ninety to ninety-five percent. Only five percent you may be able to repeat. Books are required. Therefore Vyāsadeva came and wrote books. In other yugas there are no books. They will help you remember, “Oh yes. I have heard. Now it is here.”

Devotee 7: In your book Śrī Guru-vandanā, you have described this flow of nectar as padma-madhu. You said that it comes to a devotee who is a sincere hearer. So someone who is very sincere to hear from guru and serves guru, he may get that nectar even though he may not have physical contact?

Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami: You should be greedy. Physical contact is required. You must hear directly, not just by listening to tapes. Śabda-brahma will never descend through a tape. One must hear from a physically present Śrī Guru.

Sent in by Goloka Vrindavana  Dasa