These days it is very difficult to find a Guru! “Why”, one may say, “the country is literally infested with Godmen or the Gurus.” Lets see! For that we need to first see who a Guru really is. What you and I often refer to as a Guru is in fact a teacher. There are millions of teachers in the world. There are academicians, professors, school masters. But Gurus? No. They are not found in such profusion as we pretend they are. A Guru is a very rare phenomenon.
The above statement may be contradicted by saying that if the disciple is ready, it is possible he finds the Guru, not in the conventional sense, but in a different sense. There is a beautiful story in the eleventh section of the ‘Srimad Bhagavatam’, where a King encounters a naked ascetic and he says: “You appear to be a vagrant, a mendicant, a madman, but the radiance of your face belies all this. You have found something, what is that? If you are an enlightened person, tell me, who was your Guru?” The naked ascetic says, “Gurus, I have many. I have twenty four Gurus. From everything I learn, even from my own lungs and stomach I learn. I learn from them ‘enough unto the day the evil thereof.’ You can take only one mouthful each time, not too much. So I learn from everybody and everything.” When can that happen? When I am a good disciple. Leave that alone for the moment. We’ll go back to the Guru.
Who is a Guru? What is a Guru?
A Guru is one who removes the darkness of ignorance. Ignorance refers to ignorance of God or ignorance of the self. Has anyone done that to you? If not, you have not met a Guru. You might have met dozens of Swamis, but that is of no consequence whatsoever. It is possible that Swami X has brought enlightenment to the hearts of thousands of people, and yet, if it has not happened to you he is not your Guru. Leave Him alone.”It is simple . This is not said in a derogatory sense of a particular Swami X. He is probably God almighty, but if he has not touched your heart, sorry, leave him alone. Of course, learn from him as a teacher, but not as a Guru. Guru is one who has been able to remove the darkness of self-ignorance, or ignorance of God, from your heart, and enabled you to attain self-knowledge. Therefore, from that point of view, Guru and self-knowledge are identical. If this has not happened, that person is not your Guru. There is no harm in this, and there is no problem here either. It may also be that you are not a proper disciple. If we don’t understand this, the relationship becomes terribly perverse.
It all starts when you say: “He is my Guru.”
Why is he your Guru?
God alone knows, for nothing has happened to you. A Swami said once that a stone lies at the bottom of a lake. You take it out, put it in the sun, and it dries immediately, because it hasn’t been influenced by the water.So, it is possible that your heart is like the stone. It doesn’t respond to this Guru, and yet, because you have decided that he is your Guru, you have forged this kind of relationship.
First, You are convinced that you are the proper seeker. Then you find some kind of Swami and decide that he is your Guru. Why do you appoint the other man as your Guru? Because you think he is easy to please, or he is cheap, inexpensive. If you go somewhere else you may be asked for a quarter of your salary.
That is a bit difficult. So here it is easy. Then someone tells you that you must obey your Guru. You say: “Yes, I always obey my Guru, because He always tells me exactly what I want Him to tell me.” The moment He says something which does not suit you or please you, you will say: “No, a Guru should not behave like this.”
Watch carefully how the seasons change, from winter to spring and then to summer. In winter everything was cosy and nice. Then came spring, and you became the disciple, appointed a Guru and obeyed him nicely. So the relationship was very beautiful. Then He said something which didn’t suit you. The season turns into summer. How can a Guru say that? And so you dismiss Him. After summer there comes a rainy season, and you start shedding tears. You don’t realise that it is the summer that brought on the rain. This breaking down of the relationship was unnecessary in the first place. The whole thing was a hoax, right from the start. You are not a proper disciple, and the other person is not a qualified Guru. These two people enter into a funny relationship, which is based on falsehood, on untruth. Then begins the tug-of-war. I will obey my Guru, as long as He tells me what pleases me. If He says something that doesn’ t please me, then I begin to doubt. Probably He is not the right type of Guru. Then perhaps you pick up one of Sivananda’s books, and quote from somewhere where it says: “Be careful in your choice of a Guru, and accept Him only after testing Him severely, and finding out that He is the proper one to be your Guru.”
First He says that you cannot become a Guru without attaining self-realisation, secondly He says you must obey your Guru implicitly, and thirdly He says that you must examine your Guru before accepting him. I keep these three quotations in three different pockets, and pull each one out where it is applicable. When I look at you as my Guru, I pull out the quotation that says a Guru is necessary. When I am endeavouring to obey you, I pull the one out that says I must obey the Guru implicitly. But when the third period comes along, and I am given some instructions which I cannot obey, I pull the third one out and say: “I am sorry, I didn’t examine my Guru properly. Now that I have examined Him thoroughly I dismiss Him.” The whole thing is ridiculous.
In the Bhagavad Gita, this becomes very clear and beautiful. In the first chapter, the person who later became a disciple, Arjuna, literally and actually teaches Krishna. He says, “I know what is right, what is wrong, and I am telling you that this is not right. What you are asking me to do is not right. I want to stop this whole game.” Then early in the second chapter Arjuna says: sisyas te’ham sadhi mam tvam prapannam (11-7) “I am your disciple, please instruct me.” Note: He does not say, “You are my Guru.” still!!! The ex-pression ‘Guru’ comes later, when in the eleventh chapter Krishna reveals the cosmic form to him. Then he says: jagat Guru, Hey Bhagavan “You are not only my Guru, you are the Guru of the whole universe.” That is the sequence!!!
First I must realise my inadequacy, and then I must look for someone who will dispel the doubts in my heart, who will show me the inner light, who will enable me to attain self-knowledge. The person or the event, or the thing, or the object that enables you to attain self-knowledge, is the Guru.If it has not taken place, sorry, wait.
Don’t declare: “You are my Guru, I am your disciple.” It leads to unnecessary complications. That is the most important thing to remember. Until then go on learning.
(This post is not to denounce the relation. It highlights how we often tend to enter into the Guru-sishya relation in haste and later “break-up”?!? )