Guru Happens !
(Reproduced from Niladri, Guru Purnima 2008 issue)

By Dr. Pradipta Samantray, M.D.

Om Vishnupad 108 Tridandi Swami Sri Srimat Bhakti Sravan Tirtha Goswami Maharaj ki Jai !!

Goswami Tulsidas declared from his heartfelt wisdom: ‘Binu punya punji mile nahin santa’.

Ages go by… lifetimes slip away…drop by drop one accumulates good deeds. The result of which is birth in the human form. It is in effect, the birth of freedom of choice. Freedom to act in ways that bring either joy or sorrow.

It is only in the human form of life that the intellect is fully developed. An individual questions not only the world around him, but his own existence, the purpose of his life and the nature and origin of things around. Thus begins the divine sojourn back to Godhead.

This seedling of questioning becomes strengthened by the company of good souls who are already ahead in the spiritual process and more evolved. It is in the association of saints that questions and doubts get addressed and the purpose of life becomes clearer.

The scriptures, which are representatives of the words of God, help and give impetus and direction. But it is satsang or association with saintly persons that purifies the consciousness and trains the restless mind to attain steadiness.

The Difficulty

When so many scriptures, texts and literature are available to guide us, then what could possibly be the difficulty?

Initially the difficulty faced by an individual is the surfeit of choice that confronts us. The process of choosing which path is ideal for us to follow can be challenging.

In our society, there are different processes and paths available like Gyana yoga, Kriya yoga, Laya yoga, Japa yoga, Raja yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Upasana yoga, Sahaj yoga etc.., the list is endless.

Faced with such a bewildering array of choices - like hundreds of TV channels - it becomes extremely difficult to assess and decide which path to follow. At this initial stage, the individual lacks depth of conviction. Based on biases, lack of proper knowledge and intelligence he starts following a process without fully understanding its implications or firmly believing in it.

In the course of time, if he comes across some other process presented attractively by others, he deviates from his track and follows the other path. To his vacillating mind every ‘other’ process seems better and more effective. The fickle mind of the novice spiritual aspirant cannot decide with certainty which process to follow or which God to worship. As a result he ultimately gets confused and disheartened.

These problems pertain to choosing one’s “Ishta Deva” i.e., one’s favoured form of Godhead. Suppose one hears the glories of Lord Shiva, he rushes to procure His idol and emblems. After sometime he hears about Lord Ganesha and obtains his idol or image, thus typically filling his prayer room with a number of Gods.

Not knowing how to serve so many deities and unable to keep up with the different ways of puja or aradhana, the individual eventually gets tired and stop worship altogether.

What a Scene

In this modern and scientific age, we think ours to be the most advanced and developed civilisation. With technological advancement in communications and transportation, distances have shrunk. Medical science is now able to facilitate transplant of heart, kidney, liver, etc., increasing life expectancy. If and when ‘teleporting’ becomes a reality, we will be able to transport ourselves anywhere in the world at will.

Dependency on machine will make man a combination of machine and human being, a ‘bionic individual’. However even with all the technological and medical advancement, man and machine still stand perishable.

They have not been able to attain immortality and are subject to decay and destruction. Even though life has become easy for many, happiness and peace of mind are elusive. How then can one attain relative joy and peace in this world of conflicting dualities? Who can teach us to live with a sense of satisfaction in whatever we do?

The answer is a Guide or Guru – the very personification of knowledge and compassion. Guru helps us realise the path or process most appropriate for us.

What about a Guide

In olden days, the Guru used to take a long time, in fact many many years, to purify and prepare an individual to become a true disciple. Only when one acquired proper qualification, was one accepted as a disciple.

In the current times, the market is flooded with Gurus. As our revered Baba used to say, “Guru mile lakhon lakhon, shishya miley na ek”, implying that one can find numerous Gurus, but to find one true disciple is difficult.

There are numerous Gurus who declare themselves God-sent or even incarnations. They are adept at using modern media and marketing techniques to attract devotees. Simple souls deluded by their sweet and wise sounding words lose everything in the process.

In the rush to accumulate a large following, everybody is accepted as a disciple without any discrimination. Just as a tasty dish becomes bad when put in an unclean vessel, the ineligible disciple cannot sustain the process of ‘sadhana’ and gives up in between bringing disgrace to the Guru.

Guidelines to choose a Guru

What are the guidelines to choose a Guru?

Sri Sarada Tilak states:

Matrutah pitrutah sudho sudhabhavo jitendriyah
Sarvagamanar saranagatoh sarva shastra artha taturabit
Paropkaranirato japa poojaditatparah
Amogh vachanah shanto veda vedarthaparagah
Yogamarga anusandhayee devata hridayangamah
Ityaadiyuno samparna guru ragam sammatah

The above verse states a Guru should possess the following qualities:

- Belong to a good clan
- Saintly behaviour
- Have pure thought
- Have control over his senses
- Have clear understanding of yogas and scripture
- Serve all without discrimination
- Must be God-realised, polite, humble and infallible
- Well-versed in the Vedas and be able to explain it
- Be compassionate and be able to give solace to everybody

To possess these qualities the following credentials are essential:

- Purity of clan or genealogy
- Purity of action
- Purity of mind and thought
- Established in sat-chit-ananda

These are the qualifications to distinguish a true Guru from a fraud.

Similarly, the Sarada Tilak also describes what a true disciple should be like. A disciple must fulfill the following rquirements:

- Belong to a good clan
- Be well behaved and obedient
- Enthusiastic and eager to acquire knowledge
- Studious, intelligent and desireless
- Thinks of and serves all, firm in belief and avoids associating with non-believers
- Sincere in own path, devoted to parents, always alert and eager to serve the Guru with complete
dedication of mind, body, soul and wealth not caring for personal comfort and pain
- Follows instructions diligently. Keeps mantras and siddhis given by the Guru a secret
- Observes trisandhya daily and is eager to study the scriptures

Trying to inculcate these qualities is extremely difficult. Perturbed by all the qualifications required and our inability to acquire them, we asked Baba what can be done to get out of this impasse.

Baba’s suggestion

With a smile, Baba explained that without going into such an elaborate critical methodology, we can adopt a simple method.

Listen your heart. Your heart will tell you who your Guru is. Hearing his name, seeing and talking to him will give you a deep sense of joy, peace and quiet fulfilment. It will seem like your search and your long quest has ended.

The Guru is divinity in human form. After many rounds of births and deaths and the gradual accumulation of good deeds does one get the blessed privilege to get a Guru who guides and supports one in the journey back to Godhead. When the time is right, the Guru finds the shishya Himself.

A prime example of this is Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa. He never went anywhere in search of a Guru. He continued His devotional worship of Goddess Kali as his Mother. Eventually, His Guru searched Him out and initiated Him in the path.

When Guru Happens

Until one feels the divine spark, one has not come across the Guru. Even if one has accepted a Guru unless there is a spiritual bond between Guru and disciple, the relationship is not complete. Guru is the direct representative of God; the personification of Godliness.

Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Gurudevo Maheshwarah
Guru Sakshaat Para Brahma Tasmayee Sri Guruve Namaha

Agyaan Timiraandasya Gyananjana Ahalaakaya
Chakshurun militam yena Tasmayee Sri Guruve Namaha

Guru is the very embodiment of divinity. He is non-different from Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. He is the personification of knowledge, peace and bliss. He is Self-realised and is the Supreme Para Brahma Himself. He dispels the darkness of ignorance and lights the lamp of purity, knowledge and devotion. He graces us and opens our spiritual eyes so that we can perceive God.

The real test of the Guru is not how many followers or disciples he has, but how many he has been able to uplift and instil in them a love for the divine.

A touch-stone turns iron into gold, but cannot convert it into a touch-stone. Whereas the Guru has the capacity to transform a disciple to become like Himself.

Jai Guru !!

Jai Sri Radhey !!