AFFECTIONATE GUIDANCE: CHAPTER NINE
Devotee: Maharaj, though one may generally acquire knowledge from an external source, we can see in the case of Srila Guru Maharaj that transcendental knowledge was always coming from within his own self.
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Yes, this is a very important truth. Sometimes Srila Guru Maharaj would visit Badarikasram in the Himalayas, and once while he was there he contracted pneumonia and was confined to bed with a temperature of 102 or 103 degrees. I was not there on this occasion but other highly respected Godbrothers and disciples had accompanied Guru Maharaj.
It happened that at this time one greatly learned pandit came to debate with Guru Maharaj but when he heard of Guru Maharaj's illness he decided he wouldn't disturb him. Instead he began his philosophical talk with the other Vaisnavas present. All of these devotees were highly qualified in scriptural knowledge, but none of them could defeat that proud pandit.
Meanwhile Guru Maharaj, hearing everything from his bed in the adjoining room, could not tolerate that the opposing arguments of the pandit would not be defeated. So in spite of his high temperature and serious condition, Guru Maharaj sat up saying "Bring that man to me." It should have been impossible, all were astonished, and with great respect the pandit came before Guru Maharaj.
Guru Maharaj said "I am very sick but if you can tell me the gist of your question, I shall try to answer." Taking the stance of an agnostic the pandit posed his question, "Where is the proof that the soul resides within the body? Can you prove this?"
Guru Maharaj replied by quoting a verse from Srimad- Bhagavatam, "Everyone is questioning whether the atma (soul) exists or not, and this type of debate is continuing. Each gives his opinion based on knowledge gathered from the external world, but the atma is light and it is by this light only that knowledge can be seen. It is by the soul's power that they are able to debate. Although it cannot be seen, it is this light within the body that is the power which enables one to see, to walk, talk and do anything."
Upon hearing this verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam the pandit immediately accepted defeat and humbly submitted, "Maharaj, I also know that sloka but you have the feeling of atma whereas I have not. Because you have seen atma you can immediately fulfil my question whereas I could not have given that answer so quickly, and that is the difference between you and I."
The mood of the pandit changed and he took shelter at the lotus feet of Srila Guru Maharaj and continued to discuss the Scriptures. All the Vaisnava sadhus there were amazed that in only thirty seconds or so that great proud pandit had been defeated.
So we can see, knowledge and transcendental knowledge are not the same thing. We gather knowledge with our senses in this plane, but transcendental knowledge appears in the heart, through transmission from one who is fully conscious in the divine plane.
Devotee: It would seem that without real love and service to the Guru, too much knowledge can be a problem in our spiritual life.
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Yes, it is a very unfortunate problem, and I have seen this many times in my experience in this mission. We all have some power of realisation but that realisation is all based on our experience of the mundane world, therefore whatever we perceive will be with the eye of mundanity. This type of vision has been growing since our childhood and although we may develop great expertise in any given field of knowledge, still that will be mundane. That very knowledge may be an obstacle to our devotional life. Only by the mercy of Guru can we overcome these obstacles, otherwise it is not possible.
I often tell that I have been in this mission for over forty years now, so you will understand that I have seen many things in that time, many obstacles to devotion, but my guardian was very strong and by his mercy I crossed over those things. If I have strong faith in my guardian, then if I see anything wrong, I will be able to cross over that safely.
Everybody has some problem in this mundane world, it is by nature a faulty plane, but to see with a fault finding nature will be very bad. If I am examining a person why should I try to see where are his faults? Rather I should search where are the good tendencies in that person. I must try to see that, and this is my master's teaching.
If I have a strong master then there is no problem. By the grace of the Divine Master my fortune will also be that I can follow him. I shall think, 'I am a fallen soul, I had no real fortune but he has made my fortune, that is why I am fortunate,' and in this way, I will get some proper vision.
brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva
(Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 7.151)
"While wandering throughout the universe, if a soul is greatly fortunate, by the grace of Guru and Krishna he receives the seed of the creeper of devotion."
Our fortune is given by our Divine Master, and if we have strong faith in our master then we can cross over anything and everything. We shall be fearless. When my master is with me I shall have no care for any obstacle. Fearlessly I can jump from a high bridge into the river because my guardian is watching over me. If we can have this mentality, and can get this type of faith from our Gurudev then we are bhagyavan jiva, fortunate souls.
We can understand what is the nature of devotion only by the mercy of the Divine Master. Krishna warns the fallen soul, "Don't offend My devotees, don't underestimate their position. You cannot see if their position is high or low, so whenever you see My devotee, bow down to him and try to get his mercy. If you can get his grace by any means that will be your greatest fortune."
Section 1 — 'Siddhanta'
Section 2 — 'Biographical'
Section 3 — 'Our Devotional Line'
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