By Smt. Bhanumathi Narasimhan
Who is a Guru? Why do I need a Guru? How do I recognize a Guru? Do I have to search for my Guru, or will my Guru find me? What is the relationship between a Guru, and a disciple?
These are some often-asked questions by any seeker on the path. There are many who can give answers but only a Guru can transform questions into wonder. Only the Master can take you to that space of wonderment where there is no duality.
Spirituality is an inward journey from the outer world of names, and forms to the subtle inner Self. The physical body is gross, and limited. The breath is subtle. The mind is subtler. The intellect is even more; the ego, furthermore. The Self is the subtlest. To the infinite depths of our beautiful being – it is the Master who guides us, and takes us on this journey step by step.
The Guru is an embodiment of wisdom, and love. In Sanskrit, the word for gravity is Gurutwakarshan. The earth holds us towards itself by the force of gravity. Without this attraction or love, we would not have a base, or a foundation. Similarly, Gurutva is the basis of our life. The Guru is the guiding light – removing the darkness of ignorance.
A Teacher can give knowledge, but the Master brings a heightened awareness.
A Teacher can give information but the Master awakens intelligence.
There is an ancient story. One day, while Lord Shiva was performing a puja, Parvati sees him bowing down. Seeing this, she asks, “You are the Supreme Consciousness, and substratum of this entire creation. Who is it that you bow down to?”
Shiva replies, “Dear Parvati, for the benefit of all humanity, I will answer your question. It is to the all-pervading Guru tatva that I bow down.” In the many beautiful verses that followed called the Guru Gita, Lord Shiva explains the Guru Principle, and says how fortunate one is to have a Living Master in his life.
The Guru in the physical form is called pratyaksh. In the presence of the Master, our enthusiasm, and spirit is in an elevated state - sorrows diminish, joy wells up, there is contentment, knowledge is nourished and protected, and talents blossom.
India honors a tradition of Masters who have protected, and given this knowledge to us, generation after generation, according to the need of the age and time.
When a drop feels connected to the ocean, it feels the strength of the ocean. When we are connected to this tradition, we feel the strength, and protection of all the Masters.
All these Masters are an expression of the same Infinite, Undivided, Supreme, Pure Consciousness.
The Guru is a tatva - an omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent principle. Establishing connection with this tatva is the source of greatest strength. We know we have forefathers, great grand parents and so on. Yet we feel most attached and connected to our father, or grandfather because they are with us. Similarly, we have many Gurus in our tradition, but when we come in the presence of our Living Master, the connection is established immediately. The entire knowledge from time immemorial is made available to us.
Gurupurnima is a time to feel grateful. The more grateful we are, the more grace flows in our lives. On Gurupurnima, we remember all the Masters who were, who are and who will be in future. We feel gratitude towards the Master who moves us from the limited understanding and pride of ‘I know everything” to “I am everything.”
A disciple seeks knowledge. A devotee seeks nothing. A devotee is soaked in love, and devotion. Gurupurnima is the day of the devotee. When the river meets the ocean, the river no longer remains a river. It becomes the ocean. It is the same when the devotee meets the Divine. Only Divinity remains. The individual ‘I’ dissolves in the One Divinity.
When we look at the world through the eyes of the Master, the world will look so much more beautiful – a place filled with love, joy, compassion, and virtues.
The Master is a presence that is unlimited, vast, infinite, and all-inclusive. The presence of the Master in one’s life brings fulfillment to all other relationships.
To that One, Eternal, Pure, Unbounded, Embodiment of Knowledge and Absolute Bliss,
To the Lotus feet of My Master, I bow down.
The writer is the sister of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Meditation teacher, and Director of Women and Child Welfare programs of the Art of Living Foundation.