Need for a Guru

Hari Om

First and foremost, a Guru needs to be defined before one can discuss anything on Guru. One of the popular and easy to comprehend definitions is:

gukAraschAndakArohi rukArastejocyate
aj~nAnagrAsakaM brahma guroreva na saMSayaH
The literal translation would be: the akshara Gu is said to be darkness and Ru as light; the brahman that swallows the ignorance is, doubtlessly, the Guru.

That is, the way the Sun can be said to swallow the darkness, at dawn, similarly the Guru can be said to swallow the darkness of ignorance of the disciples, and help in the dawn of knowledge. In other words, the brahman being the whole of what exists, including the dark ignorance and the opposite of it, the light, the Guru who has known That, the brahman, is the Guru who removes the ignorance of disciples.

Now that we've looked at how a Guru is defined, we could also look at how tradition qualifies the Guru: shrotriya and brahmanishTa say the shAstrAs. What that means is that the Guru is one who must be well-read in the scriptures and should have realized the Truth. Without both of these qualifications, the disciple is not guaranteed to realize himself. What it also means that if the person is realized, but not well-read, he can end up confusing the disciple, while if he's a scholar but has not experienced brahman, he cannot impart anything useful to the disciple in mokshamArga.

Today, one can imagine how utterly difficult it is to find a Guru then and instead one must live on the hope that when the disciple is ready, the Guru will appear! This has been well-known, anyway. But what I'm trying to get at is the following. If the Guru is so difficult to find and one has to just live with hope, then what chance does one have, how wherefrom will the seeker get any inspiration? This is readily understood if one tries to gather the above things that we learnt about who the Guru is in terms of definition and qualifications and think on the lines of what brahmaj~nAna means, what moksha actually is! This is what we'll consider next. Its not at all complicated, for one, I've always seen this clearly. And its not hope. In fact, its guaranteed, with faith, a little understanding and will. Anything other than that would be wrong. Why wrong is ... well, maybe a little later. Now, to understand moksha.

Moksha is understood by all of us as that which clears us from the miserable shackles of birth and death. While brahmaj~nAna is explained as another term for moksha, the Upanishads say:

brahmavid brahmaiva bhavati
The knower of brahman becomes brahman

As in, becomes One with it, or knows that he has always been That. This means that the jivanamukta, one realized while being in the body-mind-intellect trio is brahman Itself. It doesn't matter for this person, who is a person only in the sense that others know him so, but is brahman. This is what acts in the Guru's qualification of being a brahmanishTa. If this Guru bodily passes on, or stays in the body, doesn't matter to Him. In fact, it shouldn't matter to the disciple too! Turned the other way round, it means that as long as you have access to Guru's shrotriyata, from what you've heard off him, in recordings, writings, or in any form, his brahmanishTatva is available all the time, even on his leaving the body! And that is your Guru, you don't need to have a Guru in the mortal body.

I've another argument. Imagine having a Guru as defined and qualified earlier on. While following him as a disciple and all that he teaches, if he dies, should the disciple go on to look for another Guru, that he spent lives in finding? Obviously, that would be ridiculous. A good, sincere, disciple would still continue with the Guru's teachings, pray the Guru, and realize by that sheer knowledge and grace which always shines. When in trouble, the Guru would come to his rescue, the way he used to earlier while in the body!

My Gurudatta, Bhagavan Sridhara Swamiji, himself took Samartha Ramdas as his Guru and followed his teachings to reach moksha, so I've not even an iota of doubt that this is the correct approach. Now to conclude why people who think that a Guru in mortal body is necessary are dead wrong. They are contradicting the basic principle of Guru being brahman, since brahman is omnipresent, with or without body. That same brahman blesses them with the knowledge only in the form of Guru.

The Guru is also sarvadhi sAkshi bhUtam like Ishvara as is said in:

yasya deve parAbhaktir yathA deve tathA gurau
The disciple must have the same bhakti towards the Guru that he has towards God.

Sadly, these are the people who will be giving up their seeking if and when their Guru passes on, if they hold on to such illogical understanding!

So, I'll end this topic by building up some thoughts on what Bhagavan Ramana, another of my Gurus, said about Guru. He said that the Self itself is the Guru, it pulls the seeker from within towards one's own Self and if need be, manifests itself in form(s) outside to push the disciple towards Self. The Guru is nothing but the manifestation of the Self, that is brahman, for the benefit of the disciple. And truly, what it is, is that everything around us is a Guru, its Guru rupa, the entire nature itself turns to be a Guru if one really tunes into it. Since it is brahmaiva kevalam, only brahman, nothing else exists.

Lets end with a prayer, shall we? For a change, we'll use a song:

bina sadguru apNo nahi koi
ko yeh raha batAve
kahat kabIra suna bhai sAdho
sapNe mein pritam Ave

--Kailash Kher in the song Naiharwa.

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