THE IMPORTANCE OF GURU

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As I always say, we all are divine beings going through our individual journeys in the manifested creation, some of us choose the path of sadhna and make an effort to rise or evolve from one dimension to the other. The process requires continuous and dedicated practice, which culminates in yog.

As yog starts and ends at the Guru’s feet, in this article I will emphasise upon the energy, which we call the “Guru”. After that I will explain the significance of discipline in the process of awakening.

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Be it yog sadhna or tantra sadhna the Guru is considered Supreme; his glory is anant (unending), akhand (expansive). Guru is the ultimate, for it is said that no shastra, no tapasaya, no mantra, no form or appearance, no God or japa is superior to the Guru. By performance of sadhna of the Guru alone can one become siddha in all the other modes of sadhna. As the path of yog is one of experience and not of the intellect, it requires a force — a guiding light to take you through those experiences. No book, no lecture, or discourse or any other means can give you those experiences; only a Guru can, because a Guru is not a physical being. One should not make the mistake of identifying the Guru with a physical form. When one looks at the different images of mother Goddess, however different in appearance each image looks, it is the same force that is embodied in those images. Similarly, the Guru, although for each one of us appears in different physical forms, is the embodiment of the One, Supreme Guru.

When you embark on the path of sadhna, it is like venturing into an all-new territory, something similar to entering into an expansive jungle, (as the path of sadhna is a path of austerities). The jungle is dense and full of fierce animals; it is deep and dark and there is no path carved to walk upon. And if that doesn’t deter you from moving ahead, the need of a guide arises. Once you have made up your mind to move further you have taken your first step. As you go ahead you find a stream flowing in front of you and you need to cross the stream. As you are wondering what to do, how to do it, you see a boatman bring his boat through the mighty current of the river. You feel the boatman can take you across, so you get into the boat and request the boatman to carry you across to the other bank. The boatman takes you through and you reach your first camp, the other shore.

Now you wonder what to do. There are many paths in front of you, each one seems good, but you don’t know where it will take you. You have two choices now — either you make your own choice based on your limited intellect, or you ask the boatman, who, of course knows the jungle and the various paths where each one goes and he knows you, what are your capacities and limitations. Based on all of this he can guide you in a better way because he has experienced the jungle, which you have not.

Blinded by your ego, you many think you have come this far yourself and you can go further also. This is where you make a mistake. This story portrays the journey of a sadhak when he takes on to the path of sadhna and the role of the Guru. The boatman is his first Guru because he aids his first step, he knows what are the sadhak’s limitations and capabilities. He knows his background and knows the path that is most suitable for him and he takes him through.

It is the result of the good karmas of all previous lifetimes that the gate of the being’s good fortune opens and he meets his Guru, who is the Guru of all, none other than Lord Shiv, the ultimate Guru, appears in front of his eyes. As a rule, that fortune doesn’t arise unless preceded by the term of intense sadhna, performed in previous births. And very often it happens that even if a great saint, the very incarnation of Lord Shiv, appears in front of an unfortunate being, he so completely blinded by ignorance or ego that he takes Him to be an ordinary man and looks for only faults in Him. Whereas, if a being has acquired a store of religious merits in the form of positive karmas generated in the previous births, love as single-minded devotion at the feet of the Guru are his natural qualities. He would never lose the chance of meeting and recognising that it is the same Lord, the Guru of the world who has appeared in front of him.

Nowadays people debate about the concept of the Guru. There are people who start judging the Guru by his physical appearance; they dislike accepting a man who in the literal sense is not a brahman. As in their opinion mantra is mere alphabets, so in their judgment the Guru is a mere man. In Yogini Tantra it is said, “It is because the Supreme Guru appears in the body of the human Guru that shastras relate the greatness of the latter”. If it were only the physical body of a Guru that is taken into account as “Guru”, the formula and the aim of sadhna for every Guru would differ according to the appearance of the individual Guru. For this reason, the shastras clearly state that for those who think of the Guru as mere man and identify him with his physical attributes, they can never be liberated.

Therefore, one must be very careful when one decides to embark on the journey of sadhna. It is advised to take time, to decide whom you are calling your Guru, because once you do that, even the slightest disregard results in losing the fortune collected over all the previous lifetimes.

Guru mahima is anant, akhand — it is not possible to sum up even a fraction of it in limited time and space. In the next issue I will attempt to explain deeper and subtler layers of this great force.

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