ध्यानमूलं गुरोर्मूर्ति: पूजामूलं गुरो: पदम् | मन्त्रमूलं गुरोर्वाक्यं मोक्षमूलं गुरो: कृपा ||… Guru Geeta
The above quote is a famous verse from Guru Geeta. A Guru’s role in our spiritual journey from ignorance to wisdom is emphasized in this verse. The spiritual evolution happens in five stages – reverence, surrender, learning, transformation and gratitude.
First time when we come across a spiritual master, we see nothing special or great in him externally. Hence we wonder why people admire this man so much! By God’s grace, we get more and more occasions to be with the master. As the days progress, we find that we are helplessly attracted to the master, not knowing why. Soon we discover that in the company of the master we experience a divine peace unknown to us till then. We also find that in the company of the master, the cobwebs of confusion in us regarding life is disappearing day by day.
As our mind gets purer, we start seeing innumerable virtues in the master hidden from us till then – his undisturbed peace even amidst tragedies and failures, his unconditional love and compassion for all, his uncompromising attitude with regard to spiritual ideals, his love for God, his humility and simplicity, his depth of knowledge, his clarity in thinking, his purity of intentions, his impartiality in decision making, his dispassion towards worldly pleasures, his control over the mind, speech and the senses, his maturity in handling different situations, his selflessness – all these create a deep reverence in us for the master.
In the master, we start seeing a divine perfection rarely seen in others around. A time comes when the master becomes our inspiration, our object of wonder, our ideal in life. From then on, he is no more a mere spiritual master, but he becomes our Guru – the one whom we have chosen to follow all through our life unquestioningly.
Pooja-moolam Guroh padam: –
The ego in us never surrenders to anyone so easily.
But seeing the greatness of this master – who, despite his vast wisdom, power and glory, is so simple and humble – we come to realize how insignificant we are in front of this man of perfection. Our ego is humbled. Soon there arises an intense desire to learn from him and be like him.
Water always flows from higher to lower plane; electricity from higher to lower potential; so too knowledge can flow only from the higher to lower. Hence in our tradition, a seeker of knowledge approached the teacher with prostration. In prostration, the lowest in the teacher (feet) comes in contact with the highest in the taught (head). Greater the humility, greater is our ability to learn.
A Guru’s strength is Self-knowledge and it is this knowledge upon which he ‘stands’. Therefore we worship Guru’s feet or paadukas as a symbolic representation of revering this knowledge.
Thus when we are totally attuned to him in all humility and reverence, faith and devotion, we become prepared to receive his teachings. When the Guru sees this total receptivity in us, knowledge starts flowing from him, just like milk flows from the udder of the cow which is eager to feed her beloved calf.
Mantra-moolam Gurorvaakyam: –
Words coming from Guru are not mere words; they are mantras.
Traditionally, only the statements from the Vedas are called mantras. None dares to change the Veda mantras, even if it appears meaningless, redundant, illogical or grammatically incorrect. Being the words from God, the Veda mantras are given the highest status by all the spiritual masters.
So too the words of the Guru are mantras for the disciples. Guru being a shrotriya (well-read in scriptures) and a brahmanishtha (having the experiential knowledge), he employs scriptural methods of teaching. His words, being soaked in his own subjective spiritual experience of the Divine, carry tremendous power to inspire and to transform.
The Guru thunders, “Aham Bramhaasmi (I am God); Tat twamasi (You are also That); O Children of Immortality! Arise!! Awake to your Infinite nature!!! ”
The disciple wonders, “How can I – this miserable imperfect finite creature – be God? How can this solid world, seen so clearly through my senses be unreal?? Illogical! Ridiculous!! Unbelievable!! Blasphemous!!!”
But for a true disciple, his Guru’s words are mantras. His unshakable faith in the teacher guides him from within, “If my Guru has said it, then it must be right. He can never misguide us. My Guru can never be wrong. Must be I am wrong.”
The disciple approaches the Guru again in all humility with a silent prayer, “O Teacher! Please be gracious to me by clearing my doubts. I don’t question to challenge, to show off or to test you. I question only to clear my misunderstandings. My questions are only an expression of my inability to understand and not your inefficiency to teach…”
Thus we – the disciples – gain the knowledge from the Guru. Through shravanam (listening to the teachings from the Guru) we gain the information. Through mananam (reflection upon these teaching and clearing all doubts) the information in us becomes conviction. Doubt-free knowledge is called conviction.
The process of gaining knowledge is completed only when this conviction becomes transformation in us. The knowledge should become one with our personality. As Pujya Gurudev used to say, putting sugar in the coffee alone is not enough, it should get dissolved and make the coffee sweet. Similarly, the Self-knowledge in us should make our personality sweet.
This is done in the third stage called nidhidhyaasanam. Here, by constant meditation upon the scriptural truths, the habitual error is eliminated. For very many births, we have identified ourselves with the BMI (Body-mind-intellect). It takes time to replace this misunderstanding with the right understanding that our nature is Sat-Chit-Ananda.
After a long period of sadhana, when we have digested this knowledge completely, when we are able to respond to all situations based on this knowledge, when this knowledge has become effortless in us, when it has become a part of our thinking and behaving, then alone we say the knowledge has transformed us.
Moksha-moolam Guroh krupaa: –
With the final awakening, we, with tears of gratitude, recollect our spiritual journey, “O Lord! Now I understand; You are my own Self who has appeared as my Guru in human form. Guidance came from You, inspiration came from You, strength to persevere came from You, and now, at last, the final beatitude has also come from You alone!
“I did nothing O Lord; You did everything! How can I ever thank You for what You have done to me! Namo namah Shree Gurupaadukaabhyaam…”
What remains, in the end, is only gratitude…
O M T A T S A T