Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Thoughts on guru purnima 2010.

srigurubhyO namahA

The guru pUrnimA this year is fast approaching (it falls on the 25th of this month) and I seem to be getting at least 20 hits to my blog daily with the search string '' thoughts on guru purnima''! So, I am regurgitating an old post of mine from 2007 here pertaining to the topic. The images that accompanied the original post have not been included here - those who want to see the full post please click here . Those who want just the text, please read on.

Within the context of hinduism, the word/term Guru is a very special one, one pregnant with innumerable layers of meaning. It means both the Jnana (knowledge) and the imparter of such knowledge. In todays world almost all of us are aware of the word guru, we are exposed to some or other interpretation of the term. More often than not, the word guru is used to describe a persons mastery of any particular subject. However, the term has traditionally been used in a different sense.

As much as it is a noun, the word Guru is also an adjective and as such it means, 'heavy' - the opposite of laghu or light/weightless. The 'heavy' here does not describe the physical characteristic, rather the fact that the guru is 'heavy with knowledge' or 'heavy with spiritual knowledge' to be precise.

A more esoteric interpretation of the term Guru can be understood when we observe the root syllables that make up the word. The syllable 'gu' corresponds to darkness (the darkness of avidya or ignorance) and the syllable 'ru' corresponds to the one who takes away(that darkness of avidya). This beautifully shows us the interplay of darkness and light and conveys the meaning that because of his capacity to dispel the darkness and reveal the light, the guru is called guru.

Traditionally so much has been said about the guru in the various branches of Hindu thought. Much emphasis has been laid on the guru in all the systems, even to the extent that it is generally agreed that a guru is indispensable in the path to enlightenment or self realisation. And, believe me, not an ounce of exaggeration is there in such a statement. The guru is the embodiment of the supreme Brahman himself. As the subject (guru) is mightier than the mightiest, the ramblings of someone like me means nothing. Still, I would like to mention a few things in connection to the guru here (with Guru Purnima only around the corner). In a dialogue between Shiva and Parvathi, we can see a very deep and thorough description of the various qualities, attributes etc of a guru. From that text we find another interpretation of the term guru - the syllable 'gu' is the root representing the gunas (inherent qualities) of rajas, sattva and tamas and in this context means one who is beyond the action of the three gunas. The syllable 'ru' is the root of rupa (form) and in this context is to be understood as beyond all form. Thus Guru is someone who is capable of giving the wisdom that takes one beyond the gunas; to that transcendental place devoid of all form.

An interesting thing to note is the attitude of Hinduism towards one without a guru. In fact the word 'anaatha'/'anadhai' which is used today to mean an orphan or one without any family, actually means ''one without a guru''!! That is how important the guru is to the Hindu: that one without a guru is perceived to be very unfortunate indeed. However, a cursory reading of the text will make it exceedingly clear that it is but the highest of fortunes to have found a guru. It is not everybody's fate or destiny to obtain the grace of a guru. As the grace of the guru marks the beginning of the journey towards oneness and perfection.

The guru is capable of transmitting knowledge to the sishya (disciple) through siksha (teaching) or through diksha (initiation). The process of diksha transmits some of the gurus own spiritual powers to the disciple which will then enable the sishya to progress further on the path of realisation. In some traditions like the Srividya tradition, the guru is both the beginning and the end of the path. The guru is himself the path and the result of the path. The devata or deity and the mantra and the other methods and the guru and non different from each other. The sishya is also non different from the guru - as the sishya is but a sesha (part) of the guru and as such is non different from him. Thus the guru reveals the underlying oneness of the mantra,yantra the process (tantra), the devata (divinity) and the guru and the essential non difference of the sishya to the above mentioned.

One need not be taught what is the knowledge within, because each one is his own Guru. The sharira (body) and manas (mind), of the unit, which is known as a human being, do not realize that they have all these powers. To make him understand this, a Guru is required. That is why the Supreme Power does not teach you, only a Guru teaches you. The Supreme Power makes you feel that He is within you, but the Guru shows it to you and proves to you that He dwells within. Only when the Guru makes you realize this, you can feel it. This realization can be brought to you only by the Guru, not by God. Guru is the manifested God, Guru demonstrates the path, HE illuminates the darkness, and thereby becomes the purest reflection of one's highest aspirations. He is not the aspiration; he is the reflector of the aspiration.

The highest form of Guru is Lord Shiva Himself (Adi Dakshinamurthy), the ultimate knowledge, and the Guru is the manifestation of that knowledge. From that original guru a whole unbroken lineage of gurus have ensured the continuity and the transmission of the knowledge of the supreme Brahman. That unbroken lineage of gurus is called the guru parampara or the guru mandala. The mantras Gurumurthih, Gurumandala rupini, Dakshinamurthyswarupini, etc from the Lalitha sahsranama also illustrate that Amba Herself is in the form of the guru and the entire mandala or lineage of the gurus.

A teacher has a student whereas a Guru has a disciple, or a sishya. A sishya differs from the vidyaarthi (student), who goes to a teacher to attain the artha of the vidya. A sishya's place is in the heart of the Guru whereas the vidyaarthi's place is in front of the Guru. A sishya is not different from the Guru. A student is one who studies. He does not study other than what is taught, he does not know himself, he does not study his own self, he studies something else. Who would want to study? Only one who does not know. Who is that who does not know? The manas and sharira, which do not know anything, keep studying. The aathma need not be a student, because it knows everything.

There is also a difference between a teacher and a Guru. A teacher is not a Guru. The one who teaches what is taught is called a teacher. His knowledge of the taught is teaching, he has not attained it as shruthi (noble words echoed by the Supreme), he has acquired it from some book or some person. A Guru is one who leads you from darkness to light and one who transmits shruthi.

I could carry on endlessly in this vein and quote from many more texts the exalted state of the Guru. But I would rather not - instead it would be my greatest pleasure if you, the reader, could be inspired by the few things in this post to ponder on the merits of the guru in your own inner being. Though, before finishing I would like to leave you with another interpretation of the famous sloka Gurur brahma.......

gurur brahma

Guru is Brahma, the creator, He creates the disciple. If there were no Guru, there would be no disciple. Gods were there and Gods will remain, but unless there is a Guru, disciples cannot be created and no one can reach God. We look at Guru only as a creator, who can give pleasures, blessings and identify him as Brahma. Most people are stuck with Guru as Brahma. They only want the Guru to create new things, they look for materialistic and spiritual benefits, they find only the glitter, and as a result only their moha (delusion) increases. Guru creates awareness of knowledge in a disciple and leads him towards it. This is Gurur Brahma.

gurur vishnu

Guru creates a disciple, gives certain intimation, warnings, tests in some ways and then vanishes. The disciple keeps on searching for the Guru, he presumes that the Guru has disappeared, as he is not physically visible. The Guru is aware that since he has created you, he also has to protect you. The disciple looks for the Guru or the knowledge, which will liberate him from the cycle of births and deaths. He looks for the Supreme Divinity, which is by no means an easy task: going through the karma yoga, the dhyaana marga, the bhakthi and the jnaana marga. The Guru has created this thought within you and in order to search for him, he makes you walk the path, clears the path, makes you experience the life and throughout the experience, he protects you. You realize that he is not merely a giver, but when you are in trouble, when you are faced with diseases and difficulties, he protects you even at the cost of his life! When all doors are closed, when there is no way out, when even God does not listen to your call, Guru Vishnu protects you! Through all the struggles, the Guru is always with you. This is Gurur Vishnu.

gurur devo Maheshwara

Ultimately you come to Lord Shiva! Guru has all the three virtues within Him. The knowledge is implanted in your mind, you are asked to contemplate, made to struggle, made to work hard, made to realize and ultimately reach the transcendental. Once you reach there, he enables your transcendence totally, he removes the veil of ignorance from you. In order to make you see your own Divinity, in order to make you understand that you yourself are the Supreme, he destroys what is not required for you. He is a destroyer because he destroys the darkness, the ignorance, the avidya from within you.Shiva is called the destroyer, but not in a negative sense. Without destruction, there cannot be construction. Unless the dirty water is thrown out, clean water cannot be filled in that place. New is neither an extension of old nor is it an addition; old has to be destroyed so that new can be created. If he did not transcend things, Brahma would not be able to create, Vishnu would not be able to protect. At the right time, transcendence has to take place. He does not destroy, He changes the bad to good, He balances. Knowledge alone can understand when a person finishes his karmas, and needs to be relieved. The place has to be vacated so that a new creation can take place. This is what Lord Shiva does! He has been entrusted with the responsibility of transcendence. He removes the obstacles in order to create and maintain dharma. This is Gurur Devo Maheswara.

Guru saakshaat Parabrahma

Who is the Parabrahma? The one who has created the universe, who has created the Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesha, is Parabrahma. After passing through all the stages, after unconditional surrender, when he reaches the stage of HE AM I, the disciple suddenly finds saakshaat Parabrahma standing there! He immediately prostrates before the Parabrahma -- Guru saakshaat Parabrahma tasmai Sri Guruve Namaha!Then you realize that the Guru is the saakshaat Parabrahma! When you reach the Brahma, then the Parabrahma is visible. Parabrahma is the Supreme Divinity. Brahma cannot create the Guru, Vishnu cannot create the Guru, Maheswara cannot create the Guru, it is only the Parabrahma who can create the Guru. All the three are merged in the Guru, enabling the powers of the Parabrahma to be transmitted to him and through him.

Guru is beyond gender, beyond form, and is the Supreme Divinity. Guru is in your heart, in the heart of all living beings.

This offering brings the radiance of illumination to a greater enhancement. We knock on many doors in search of a Guru and return disappointed, we search for eternal love but it eludes us, we hunt for money and fame but it is only a temporary quest and even after attaining it, we are still dissatisfied and discontented. All these create the fear of losing; association with the Guru removes all illusions and thereby the fear of losing. A quote from the Baja Govindam- '' Satsangatve Nissangatvam - Sat sangatve - through the company of the good (the guru), Nissangatvam - (there arises) non-attachment.Nissangatve Nirmohatvam- Nissangatve - through non-attachment, Nirmohatvam - (there arises) freedom from delusion.Nirmohatve Nischalatattvam - Nirmohatve - through the freedom from delusion, Nischala - Immutable, Tattvam - Reality. Nischalatattve Jeevanmuktih - Nischalatattve - through the Immutable Reality, Jeevanmuktih - (comes) the state of 'liberated-in-life'.'' We attain peace and moksha when we do not have desires, when we do not have the fear of losing.

Meditate on all that the Guru has given you, on all that he has revealed, on all that he has removed and on all that he lived for; this Guru Purnima. Give thanks (a hundred million of them!) for his immeasurable compassion and his boundless wisdom. Revere the entire lineage, the guru mandala, going up from your own guru through to his guru and then to the gurus gurus guru and so on till the original Guru Dakshinamurthy. It is only as a result of the unbroken tradition of these self realised masters that we the people of todays world have any connection at all to the 'reality' of the spirit. May the grace of the Guru and the great gurus of the past flow like a mountain river to you and through you to the world around you.

Shree guru padhukam dhyayami pujayami namaha.


Guru Purnima said...

Happy Guru Purnima to all my friend...