Gurus: Hinduism

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This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.


The Guru Principle

Its evolution

Andrew Cohen, Oct 16, 2019: The Times of India

In India it is often said, ‘Guru is God.’ But in the complex and ever-evolving world of the 21st century, can we still hold on to such beliefs? As Indian culture slowly makes the journey from the traditional, to the modern and postmodern era, can these ancient beliefs survive intact, untouched by the piercing lens of cultural evolution, the revelations of modern science and the profound insights about human nature that have come from western psychology?

Indeed, even in the land that gave birth to such remarkable spiritual geniuses as the Buddha, Adi Shankara, Sri Ramakrishna, Ramana Maharshi and Sri Aurobindo, can we still hold on to the notion that these profoundly enlightened masters were therefore, inevitably perfected human beings?

‘Guru is God’ implies that a true guru is perfect in all ways. This means that the physical form of body, mind and personality of the realised one is always an expression of manifest perfection. Does the profound gift of spiritual enlightenment inherently mean that the receiver of that gift is always perfect in all ways? I don’t think so. And that is because anything that is born, that has a beginning in time and that will eventually die, is inherently imperfect. But unmanifest absolute spirit or Brahmn isperfect because it has never been born and has never entered the stream of time and therefore is ever untouched by anything that has ever happened in time.

The man who has become a true guru, a true master, has a personality that has become radically transformed, now mysteriously and powerfully animated by the immortal consciousness of Brahmn. That awakened consciousness expresses itself as the guru principle. This principle has the power to awaken earnest seekers directly to the consciousness of Brahmn.

But if the guru-principle itself is to survive the unstoppable, dynamic movement of cultural evolution into the future, then it needs to be remodeled. The authority and power of the guru need to be downscaled in such a way as to emphasise that the human persona of the realiser is always inherently relative and in that, will always be imperfect. This somehow needs to be done while still finding a way to deeply honour that the manifestation of the guru-principle, when fully activated, reveals an absolute metaphysical source and uniquely reflects the brightness and brilliance of that source in all its overwhelming glory.

In my work as guru and spiritual teacher today, my own way to honour this guideline is to always make the effort to clearly distinguish between man and master. There is no way around the fact that the master always expresses himself through a relative personality structure, and his expression of the enlightened state is therefore always on the one hand limited, coloured and shaped by the condition of the body-mind of man, with his gifts and flaws alike; but on the other hand, he simultaneously transmits the uncorrupted purity and perfection of an authentic teacher.

Considering the guru perfect in all ways is confusing transcendental reality with manifest existence. Only at its deepest source the initial impulse of spiritual transmission is inherently pure and untainted by the deficiencies of this world.

An authentic master, because he is rooted in that source, is able to transmit a powerful measure of this inherent purity to his students – and to this day, this remains the most valuable aspect of the guru principle.


Mahima Sharma, July 15, 2022: The Times of India

Who is the Guru :-

1. Guru can be the one, who teaches the Life's lesson, that can be your father, mother and even your elder siblings.

2. The one who shows the right path and the one, who contributes to make you a good human being.

3. The one, who teaches you about humanity.

4. The person, who enlighten your life with the deepest knowledge of spirituality.

5. The person, who teaches you the way of leading a good life.


How Is A Sadguru Different From Saints?

Anup Taneja, July 12, 2022: The Times of India

Guru Purnima is a festival traditionally observed to honour one’s preceptor, spiritual guru in particular, from whom the disciple has received mantra-initiation. According to the Hindu calendar, it is observed on Purnima, full moon day, in the month of Ashadh, June-July. On this day, the disciple remembers his guru with deep feelings of devotion and resolves to follow the path shown by him with utmost tenacity. 
Though there have been countless sages and saints who rose to great spiritual heights, yet it is important to distinguish them from a sadguru, a perfect master, who has attained the exalted state of Self-realisation – oneness with the Supreme Being. 
In Sri Guru Gita, Shiv, in response to a question raised by his consort, Parvati, says that the Supreme Brahmn is none other than the sadguru who is regarded as the grace-bestowing power of the Divine. Such a realised Being takes shelter in the body like a traveller who takes abode in a guest house on a purely temporary basis. He is devoid of all attachment to the objects of the world and harbours no trace of duality. On the basis of his realisation, he recognises the Conscious Self everywhere – both in animate and inanimate objects – and draws no distinction among his devotees on the basis of caste, class, gender and religious affiliation. Just as the prana, despite operating within the body, remains different from it, an enlightened sadguru lives in the body while inwardly remaining completely absorbed in the bliss of the Supreme Self. The first syllable, ‘gu’, in the word ‘guru’ represents maya, the power that deludes, which poses as a big impediment to the seeker’s effort to attain God-realisation. The second syllable, ‘ru’, represents the Supreme Light of Consciousness. The word ‘guru’ thus indicates the rise of the sun in the form of knowledge of the Self. When the grace of a sadguru descends upon the disciple, the dark clouds of maya get dispersed and the Light of Pure Consciousness shines forth in all its glory.

According to yog scriptures, the greatest quality of a sadguru is his power and authority to awaken the dormant Kundalini within the seeker. Swami Muktananda says that it is only when, by sadguru’s grace, the Kundalini within the seeker is stirred awake that his inner eye of knowledge opens. The kundalini, when awakened, begins to move up the central channel of the seeker, purging him of all impurities. She ultimately unites with Shiv in sahasrar, the highest spiritual centre in the brain. When this happens, the seeker experiences in deep meditation the Blue Rays of Consciousness enveloping the entire universe. This sublime experience bestows upon the seeker spiritual enlightenment, liberating him in the process from the unending process of transmigration.

The sadguru thus leads the seeker from darkness to light, from ignorance to knowledge, and elevates him to the level of a siddha, a perfect being. We may conclude with Verse 33 of Sri Guru Gita which says: “Salutations to the sadguru who is Shiv, the first cause of the universe, the bridge to cross the ocean of worldliness, the source of all knowledge. ”

Guru Purnima is on July 13

Good gurus

Ashtavakra Gita on the real guru

Pranav Khullar, July 28, 2007: The Times of India

Guru Ashtavakra and King Janaka the Pupil

Many great classical texts are rich in Vedanta. One such is the Ashtavakra Samhita, a conversation between Janaka, the king-pupil and Ashtavakra, the guru-seer whose name indicates that his body had eight contortions. The subject of discussion was what constitutes bondage and liberation; the dialogue is a direct and simple articulation of the nature and joy of Self-realisation.

"Non-attachment for sense-objects is liberation: love for sense-objects is bondage...". Sage Ashtavakra says that the Self alone exists and all else, within the mind-senses vortex, is false and unreal. He draws his disciple's attention to his own restlessness, despite being a model king. This, Ashtavakra defines as the eternal yearning of the mind for its true nature, beyond all objects and desire. The seeker has only preoccupied himself in this world till now, to quench this restlessness, not fully comprehending himself what he seeks.

The seeker remains unfulfilled as a result of this preoccupation, because one can actually only feel satiated in the realisation of one's true nature. Ashtavakra continues with his exposition of the illusory nature of the world for enjoyment and learning, for "bondage consists only of desire, and the destruction of desire is liberation.." He asks Janaka to wake up to the transitory nature of all things, to cultivate dispassion, to understand that at the root of this cycle of suffering is attachment born of desire. The Ashtavakra Samhita focuses on the nature of atmanu-bhuti or Self-realisation, predicated on understanding the bondage-liberation paradigm.

In a way, one can see in this exploration the germ of what was later formalised as the Ajata-vadaor Advaita school of thought by Gaudapada and Shankara.

Ashtavakra goes on to annihilate the false sense of identification of the Self with the mind, saying that "it is bondage when the mind desires or grieves at anything, rejects or accepts anything, feels happy or angry at anything..". In a movingly simple verse, he sums up a free and fearless soul as one who has renounced desire, for "the renunciation of desire alone is renunciation of the world".

As Bhartrihari in his Vairagya-Shatakam — A Hundred Verses on Renunciation — puts it, renunciation alone removes all fear, for " enjoyment there is the fear of disease, in social position fear of a fall, in honour the fear of humiliation, in beauty the fear of old age... and while old age comes on, desire alone grows younger every day".

Ashtavakra then describes the state of bliss of the Self, in which all notions of plurality fall away, in which even intellectual, aesthetic or ethical pursuits seem secondary, where "there is no heaven or hell or liberation... nothing but the Self in this expanded cosmic consciousness".

The fire of knowledge ignited by the guru burns away desires of the disciple, and the last two chapters allude to the experiential realisation of the disciple himself. Janaka describes his own state to his guru Ashtavakra in terms and language that are reminiscent of the "neti, neti..." vocabulary of the Upanishads: "...where are the elements, where is the body, where is the mind, where is the knower, the means, the object of knowledge... where is anything, where is the world, where is the aspirant." The Self alone exists.

Tomorrow is Guru Purnima.

Kabir: On the sat (good, true) guru

साधो सो सतगुरु मोहि भावै

सत्त प्रेम का भर भर प्याला आप पिये मोहे प्यावै

परदा दूर करे आँखिन का ब्रह्म दरस दिखलावै

जिसके दरशन में सब दरसै अनहत शब्द [or naad] सुनावै

एकहि सब सुख दुःख दरसावै, शब्दन में सुरत समावै

कहें कबीर ताको भय नाहीं, निर्भय पद परसावै

The greatest Guru ever

The Times of India, May 24 2016

Pulkit Sharma  

The Mahabharata narrates the story of Eklavya, a tribal with immense potential who aspired to study archery from Dronacharya, the revered guru of the Kauravas and Pandavas. But, when he approached Dronacharya, his request was turned down as the guru was appointed to teach only royalty . Drona did not wish to accept a tribal boy as his disciple. Heartbroken, Eklavya made a statue of Dronacharya and every day he would seek guidance and support from the statue besides doing rigorous self-taught practice in archery .In due course, Eklavya turned out to be so magnificent an archer that he had the potential to defeat even the students trained personally by Dronacharya.

Who really was Eklavya's guru? Was it just his own aspiration inspired by Drona's skill or was there some kind of Divine intervention? When relating to a guru, people often confuse the physical body or mental intelligence to be the guru. They may even compare different gurus. The truth is, though, that there is only one guru in the universe ­ the Divine.According to Siddheshwar Baba, since time immemorial, the Divine has assumed different names and forms and has manifested in realised persons so that they could guide sincere seekers on the path of transcendence.

Some great spiritual experiences bestowed upon disciples through their guru may not be even known to the guru. This is because Divine Consciousness is utilising the form of the physical guru as an instrument to manifest itself and help genuine seekers in their evolution. Thus, all gurus, avatars and prophets put together represent One Reality . In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali highlights that `Ishvara' or Divine Consciousness which can manifest in different forms is unbound by time and has the unparalleled seed of omniscience.Ishvara is considered to be the earliest teacher ­ the teacher of all teachers.Success in yoga can be achieved by submitting to, reflecting on and meditating upon Divine Consciousness.When we surrender ourselves before the Divine, this seed of omniscience is positioned in us and in due course of time it sprouts and flourishes, thereby dissolving all falsehoods.

Whenever a seeker has the sincere aspiration to progress, Divine Consciousness graciously appears on the scene either in its original formless state or by assuming a form to guide the person.There are people who spend a lot of time in searching for an ideal `guru' in the external physical realm.They take initiation from several places but rarely show any commitment and quickly shift from one school of thought to another. They also try to compare various schools of thought with the intent of figuring out which is the better one. This is nothing but sheer ignorance and wastage of time.

What one requires to progress is a deep faith. When it is the same force that illuminates all masters, why bother about external attributes and practices?

Why should one waste time in fighting wars over which particular school of spirituality or religion is the superior one when all of them are only instruments for realisation? All paths are equally good because their end goal is the same. One must seek the One in everyone with reverence and gratitude.Therefore, one must never be hopeless but always pray to Divine Consciousness for guidance, support and enlightenment.And when the prayer is sincere and comes from the soul, it will be heard.

‘No Mortal Being Can Be A Guru:’ Dadaji

J Krishnamurti, No Mortal Being Can Be A Guru, Says Dadaji, January 13, 2018: The Times of India

Dadaji’s chief mission is to regenerate Truth Consciousness. He wants us to realise our own true nature which is divine and blissful. Man is born divine, an irradiation of consciousness and bliss. The Supreme lies within, in the form of Mahanam; we are born with our guru, the Self and the Mahanam within. No mortal being can be a guru. Your Self or God alone is guru. This is the message of Amiya Roy Chowdhury to the bewildered man of the modern agnostic era.

Contradiction is the child of ignorance. Things conceived in the right perspective, realised through the right angle of vision, do not leave any scope for contradiction and a healthy relation is established between the material and spiritual life charged with blissful harmony and rhythm within the framework of one fundamental principle of life ... the Truth ... the perennial prime source of our existence, of the existence of the whole of the universe.

There is only one Truth, the Self. It envelops us from without and is immanent within us. The aim of our life is to realise this great Truth. This Truth is our true nature, our true being, our safest stronghold.

We have simply to realise that we are born initiated. The enlightened Soul realises the whole of creation as Brahmn or Truth. Initiation conducted at the level of the senses by mortal beings can never lead to Truth which is much beyond the range of the senses.

Guru-ism, as we find it prevalent today, is the most abominable stigma in our spiritual life. It is the source of exploitation of innocent people by self-seekers for mundanevalues in the name of religion.

Dadaji, therefore, has launched a crusade against the evil practice of guru-ism and the associated evils in our current spiritual life. Those who undergo spiritual initiation in the presence of Dadaji get Mahanam directly from their own Self.

To bear prarabdha, destined events of life, or compulsions of the mind with patience and resignation, is penance. To have desire-less awareness of the Supreme with absolute self-surrender, unfaltering faith, single-minded love and devotion is meditation. No other penance except Mahanam jap with devotion is required for Self-realisation.

Practice of penance as we do it today is a body-mind behaviour and causes further bondage due to the piling up of impressions of the actions performed. Self-surrender is the real yoga that leads to Self-realisation.

We witness so many inexplicable supernatural events taking place in Dadaji’s presence. Material objects like silver or gold trinkets appear out of unknown sources. His multiple manifestation at different places at the same time and his ethereal presence felt through a unique Aroma at far off places, is all the more inexplicable.

But, Dadaji says that he does not do all these things. These are manifestations of the Divine Will that is limitless. After the public is baffled by such events, Dadaji, himself, condemns these things, describing them to be extraneous and superfluous for the Truth-seeker. The same Divine Truth throbs in the hearts of all human beings, and hence, Dadaji holds that mankind is one.

(Abriged from This article first appeared in the Free Press Journal, February 4, 1972. Today is Dadaji Amiya Roy Chowdhury’s birthday. He lived 1910-92.)

Gurus light, the fire of knowledge

Pranav Khullar, The Guru Lights The Fire Of Knowledge, July 27, 2018: The Times of India

The search for a genuine preceptor is triggered in most of us in that moment of inner dissatisfaction with the material acquisitions one has stacked up in one’s life – in the need to find inner peace beyond the material flux of life.

Conversely, tradition has it that the guru seeks out those who genuinely desire to understand this matrix of bondage and liberation. Only a highly evolved teacher can guide and inspire the disciple to knowledge of the Self, beyond dualities of the empirical world.

Escape chute

Most seek out a guru as an external aid to help resolve the daily issues of life, as a means of escape, without attempting to understand their own problems. Many gurus today have therefore set up institutions and new creeds, reinforcing the image of a guru as a means of escape. But a real guru seeking out a real seeker of Truth, characterises the Ashtavakra Samhita, that records the ancient dialogue between the young Sage Ashtavakra and King Janaka. A rousing call to atmanubhuti, Self-realisation, lies at the centre of this dialogue, in which the guru appears as a physically infirm figure, as if to challenge the notion that the physical frame is the be-all of life, and to inspire his disciple to look beyond the mortal frame of the five senses.

“Non-attachment for sense-objects is liberation: love for sense-objects is bondage,” Ashtavakra describes the nature of knowledge thus, going directly into the central focus of his teaching, that the Self alone exists and all else, within the mind-senses matrix, is false and unreal. He draws his disciple’s attention to his own restlessness despite being a satisfied king. The seeker remains unfulfilled because of material preoccupation.

World as illusion

Ashtavakra deconstructs the illusory nature of the world further, by exhorting Janaka to renounce desire in all form, be it the desire for enjoyment and learning or even of pious deeds, for “bondage consists only of desire and the destruction of desire is liberation.” He asks his disciple to wake up to the transitory nature of all things, to cultivate dispassion. Compassion and dispassion are the twin characteristics of a spiritually evolved state of mind.

Ashtavakra goes on to annihilate the false sense of identification of the Self with mind, saying, “it is bondage when the mind desires or grieves for anything, rejects or accepts anything, feels happy or angry at anything .” He sums up a free and fearless soul as one who has renounced desire, for the “the renunciation of desire alone is renunciation of the world”. It is from a sense of reality of the world that the mind functions, creating a cobweb of emotions which bind and attach us to this notion of ‘i, me, myself ’, and cuts us off from seeing everyone else as a part of myself.

Only bliss

Ashtavakra then attempts to describe this state of bliss of Self, in which all notions of plurality fall away, in which even intellectual, aesthetic or ethical pursuits seem secondary, where “there is no heaven, hell or liberation ... nothing but Self in this expanded cosmic consciousness”. The fire of knowledge ignited by the guru burns away the desires of the disciple.

Nature as teacher

Pranav Khullar, Dec 8, 2022: The Times of India

The attainment of Sama-Rasya, sahaj, an equanimous state of mind, lies at the heart of the Dattatreya-Yadu dialogue in the Bhagavad Purana. King Yadu, troubled by his father Yayati’s decision to divest him of kingship, wanders into a forest, where he sees an avadhuta, a wandering free soul, in ecstatic happiness. Wonderstruck, Yadu asks the young renunciate the secret of such happiness. Dattatreya, the avadhuta who has shaken off all the cares of worldly existence, sits the king down and gently reminds him of the need to connect back with nature.

Nature itself is the greatest teacher, the Adi Guru, beyond all philosophical and theological constructs. Dattatreya narrates the story of his 24 universal teachers, his gurus, having learnt from the five elements – earth, air, sky, water,fire – the sun and the moon, the sea, 12 animals, a prostitute, a child, a maiden and a blacksmith.

He tells the king of the unique lessons he has imbibed by carefully observing the nature of the five elements. From the earth, he has picked up the need for forbearance and the import of doing good to others; from air he has learnt the value of non-attachment and freedom; from the sky he has figured out the all-pervasiveness of the Self, which yet is untouched by any contact with any object. 
From water, he has picked up the need for purity and coolness, as it cleanses everything; and from fire, he has learnt the need for austerity, since the flame of self-knowledge alone can devour all worldly desires. 
His observation of the moon, which appears to increase or decrease onaccount of the shadow of the earth, has taught him that the Self is complete and changeless but appears to be changing to the casual eye. From the sun, he learnt that just as the sun appears as many reflections when reflected through different pots of water, the atman appears as manifold manifestations, when reflected through the mind.

He then talks of the dangers of attachment and bondage, by observing the life of pigeons, wherein an entire family gets trapped by the fowler. Dattatreya sees this as an entangling web in which man gets trapped continually. 
By observing a python, he has learnt the lesson of contentment, since the python’s vritti usually does not allow him to move around for gathering food. And from the ocean, he has learnt to remain quiet and unmoved, even as rivers continually pour into it.

From the moth, he understands the dangers of ruining himself, in distractions of the senses, just like a moth enamoured by the glow of fire, flies straight into it. From the bee, he has picked up that he should beg for a little food only, from one house and then another. From the honey-gatherer, the uselessness of hoarding things, and from the maiden to be wed and the noise of her bangles, he has picked up the values of silence and solitude.

From the child, Dattatreya has imbibed the need to have a carefree nature, and from the beetle and the worm, the principle that as a man thinks, so he becomes, and thus the need to constantly contemplate on the Atman. 
Dattatreya’s radical envisioning of nature as guru captures the avadhuta ideal of sama-rasya perfectly, beyond the bondage of desire.

What a guru does

Helping disciple reach higher goals in life

VS Krishnan, August 4, 2022: The Times of India

In the midst of darkness, there is only one who can provide the light, and lead us to our destination. He is the Master called Guru, who helps the individual to distinguish between matter and spirit, real and unreal, and truth and myth. It is the guru who elevates the devotee from the world of maya to the ultimate state of Truth. 

According to Vedic texts, the guru is held in high reverence, equal to God. He is considered a living God. He reveals the truth contained in the Vedas and scriptures in a way easily understandable. A Sanskrit hymn says: ‘Salutations to the teacher-disciple tradition starting from Sadashiv with Adi Shankara in the middle and continuing up to my immediate teacher – Sadashiv Samarambham. ’
Everyone aspires for happiness, but its concept differs from person to person. Happiness eludes those who seek it from outside sources. It is the mind that causes delusions. If one rises beyond the mind, he will realise his real natural state and attain the highest state of bliss. It is precisely for the purpose of pointing out the straight path towards happiness that Shiv took the form of Adi Shankara. Through his various commentaries, Shankara, the Advaita philosopher, said that through Jnana, knowledge, alone real bliss is achieved. There are various means to attain knowledge, like study of scriptures, introspection, or selfinquiry, but the most effective means is by seeking the grace of the guru.

For one who is humble, devoted and dedicated, the guru appears at the right time. Anandagiri, one of the ideal disciples of Adi Shankara, was not knowledgeable but humble and full of love towards his Master. When Shankaracharya was passing through Karnataka, Giri went and prostrated before him, seeking his sharan, refuge. Acharya said, ‘Through pure devotion and humility one becomes enlightened, and I accept you as one of my disciples. ’ Giri then dedicated himself to the service of Adi Shankara. While Hasthamalaka, another disciple, identified himself as the Self, Atman, Giri identified himself totally with his guru. Giri considered Atman and guru as one and the same. In Acharya’s spiritual sessions, Giri would only be a silent spectator; he would sit without participating in any discussion. Once, while beginning a spiritual session, Acharya waited for the arrival of Giri, who was washing clothes nearby. The other disciple asked Shankaracharya to go ahead with the class, as Giri wouldn’t understand anything in any case. Acharya then called Giri and graced him with higher knowledge, and Giri composed eight verses called Totakashtam, regarded as the highest work of jnana.

When Arjun, a warrior and master of archery, hesitated to take up arms, Krishn said: “Who are you to refrain or to act. Give up the notion of doer-ship. You are merely a tool in the order of Higher Power. ”

Taking the role of Jagadguru, Krishn said that the only wayby which one can gain real knowledge, Self-knowledge, is by approaching the guru who has realised it himself.

In short, it is the guru who helps the devotee to know that he is not a mere physical entity but a spiritual being, poised to reach the higher goals in life.

See also

Amiya Roy Chowdhury

Indic tradition

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