What is True nature of the Guru?

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Contents -

  1. The nature of Guru
    1. A disciple’s faith
    2. The clarifying reply
    3. The Guru principle is one
  2. God and the Guru
    1. Similarities
    2. Differences
    3. The Guru's prayer to The Lord when the Guru is in the state of the embodied soul (jivadasha)
    4. God and the Guru from a disciple's point of view
  3. Incarnations and the Guru

1. The nature of Guru

A. A disciple’s faith

        ‘The Guru depends on faith. In one’s faith itself lies the greatness of the Guru. The Guru too depends on your faith. He lies in your faith.'  – Saint Bhaktaraj

Implied meaning : In “The Guru depends on faith. In one’s faith itself lies the greatness of the Guru” the Guru refers to the Guru’s external form. Only if one has faith in a Guru can He function as a Guru. “The Guru too depends on your faith. He lies in your faith” refers to the Omniscient Guru within oneself.’

B. The clarifying reply

        ‘According to me the question expressing doubt is in itself the disciple and the answer giving the clarification is the Guru. As long as the darkness of igno­rance in the form of questions is not eliminated and the genesis of wisdom in the form of answers giving clarification does not occur, the debate shall continue. In reality the Guru and the disciple are one and the same.’

C. The Guru principle is one

        All Gurus are the same internally though externally Their physical appearances may differ. Just as the milk oozing from any udder of a cow is equal­ly pure and clean, so also there is only one Guru principle in all Gurus and the frequencies of Bliss (Anand) emanating from all of Them are the same. Just as sea waves advance towards the shore the waves of Brahman / God, that is the Guru come towards the society. The taste of water in all the sea waves is the same. Similarly the principle in all the Gurus is one and the same, that is Brah­man. If a water tank has many outlets whether small or large, the same water from the tank flows out from all of them. However varied the shapes of bulbs maybe, when elec­tricity flows through them only light is emitted from all of them. In the same way, though Gurus differ in physical ap­pearance, yet the Guru principle that is the God principle in Them is the same.

        The Guru does not mean a physical body. Since Gurus are devoid of a subtle body [sukshma deha] (mind) and a causal body [karan deha] (intellect) They can communicate with the universal mind and universal intellect. Thus since the mind and intellect of all Gurus is the universal mind and universal intellect, They are one.

2. God and the Guru

A. Similarities

2 A 1. God and the Guru are one and the same

        The Guru is God's manifest form while the unmanifest form of the Guru is God.

1. A bank has several branches. According to one's convenience one opens an account and deposits money in a local branch. There is no need to take the trouble of going to the main branch situated elsewhere in a distant place, to deposit the money. In the same way spiritual emotion (bhav), devotion, service, sacrifice, etc. are easier to practise in the context of God's manifest (sagun) form, that is the Guru, instead of doing them for the invisible unmanifest God. Just as the money deposited in any branch of a bank finally reaches its main branch so also service rendered unto the Guru amounts to that of God.

2. Vaman Pandit travelled all over India defeating great intellectuals. He took letters which showed that they had accepted defeat, from him. As he was returning with these letters of victory, one evening as he sat under a tree to perform the ritual of sandhya he spotted a brahmarakshas (a haughty, disdainful spirit of a Brahman) seated on a branch of that tree. At that very moment another brahmarakshas appeared and attempted to sit on a neighbouring branch. The first brahmarakshas stopped him saying, “This place is reserved for Vaman Pandit because his victories have inflated his ego.” Hearing this, Vaman Pandit tore all the letters of victory and retired to the Himalayas to undertake austerities. Despite several years of penance God did not grant him His vision (darshan). Dejected, he jumped off the cliff. Just then God held him and placing His left hand over his head, blessed him. Then the following conversation ensued.

Pandit : Why did You place Your left hand and not the right on my head ?
God : Only the Guru has the privilege to do that.
Pandit : Where will I meet my Guru ?
God : Atop the mountain Sajjangad (situated in Maharashtra in India).

Vaman Pandit then went to offer obeisance to Samarth Ramdas Swami at Sajjangad. Samarth placed His right hand on Pandit's back and blessed him.

Pandit : Why did You not bless me by placing Your hand on my head ?
Swami : God has already done that.
Pandit : Then why did God say that ‘only the Guru has the right to place the right hand on the head' ?
Swami : Both God's hands, right and left are one. How did you not understand that God and the Guru are one and the same ?

3.      Shankaracharya in His text Sarvavedantasiddhantasar-sangraha has said,

जन्मानेकशतैः सदादरयुजा भक्त्या समाराधितो ।
भक्तैर्वैदिकलक्षणेन विधिना संतुष्ट ईशः स्वयम् ।
साक्षात्‌ श्रीगुरूरूपमेत्य कृपया दृग्गोच्चरः सन् प्रभुः ।
तत्त्वं साधु विबोध्य तारयसि तान् संसारदुःखार्णवात् ॥

Meaning : When a devotee worships The Lord in the course of hundreds of births in a sattvik (sattva predominant) manner, with faith, following the Vedic scriptures and observing rituals, then in some birth, Lord Shankar is venerated and appears in the form of a Guru. Thus granting the realisation of the universal principle (the soul principle – atmadnyan) in its absoluteness He redeems the disciple from the worldly ocean of unhappiness. – 254

The same text also quotes,

शिव एव गुरुः साक्षात्‌ गुरूरेवः शिवः स्वयम् ।
उभयोरन्तरं किंचित् न द्रष्टव्यं मुमुक्षुभिः ॥

Meaning : Lord Shiva is the real Guru and the Guru is Lord Shiva Himself. Those desirous of Liberation should never think of Them as distinct from each other.

Lord Hari imparted Me with a blessing (prasad)
Because Guru and Govind are one and the same.
– Saint Bhaktaraj

2 A B. After worshipping God devotedly He is appeased and arranges for one to meet Shri Guru and when Shri Guru is appeased The Lord manifests before oneself to grant a vision.

I follow the orders of the Sadguru of this world,
I at once uplift the one on whom He bestows His
grace. – 11 : 788

I am little attached to My devotees,
But I love devotees of Gurus immensely.
The spiritual emotion (bhav) of devotion is not attainable
without the company of saints (satsang). – 11:1527
– Shri Eknathi Bhagvat

2 A C. Fulfilling one's desire through The Lord, Guru and saints one gradually develops detachment (vairagya) while experiencing object pleasure and the one with desires becomes worthy of following the spiritual path. This phenomenon does not occur when the same wishes are fulfilled by subordinate deities (kshudradevata).

2 A D. 'Science of Spirituality : Vol. 7 – Supreme God, God, Incarnations and Deities' enlists all the characteristics of God. Excluding those of the physical body, all the others are found in a Guru.

B. Differences

1. The following table clearly shows the externally vis­ible differences in God and a Guru.

    God The Guru
1 Duration of the manifest / unmanifest state    
A. Most of the time Unmanifest Manifest
B. Rarely Manifest Unmanifest
C. Their being in the company of average individuals Not possible Possible
2 Energy Destroyer and Saviour Saviour
3 Mercifulness Usually absent Present most of the time
4 Expectation that someone should undertake spiritual practice Absent
Devoid of expectation is He and does not expect devotees to practise Spirituality – Eknathi Bhagvat
Present
[Present – in the state of the embodied soul (jivadasha), absent – in the state of the God realised soul (Shivadasha)]
5 Privilege to place His hand on the head in the form of a blessing Absent* Present
6 From whom does He save ? From everyone excluding the Guru. Even God cannot save one from the Guru's wrath. One has to humbly surrender at the Guru's feet and plead for forgiveness. The Guru can save from God's wrath.**
7 What does He endow once He is appeased ? A. Whatever the devotee wishes for That which is useful to the disciple
B. From the manifest (sagun) The unmanifest (nirgun), that is God !

* Since God is in the unmanifest state He cannot place His hand in the manifest form ! If God does do it then He is named as some other deity.

** If Shrihari or Shritripurari get enraged with devotees,
Then Shriguru protects them with determination.
– Shri Gurucharitra 2 : 24

Implied meaning : Shrihari (Vishnu) and Tripurari (Shiva) are the Names for The Lord used in the Vaishnav and Shaiva sects respectively. If The Lord's destroyer form gets angry just to teach something, then simultaneously The Lord's saviour form, that is the Guru takes care of the devotee. However if the Guru, that is the saviour form itself is enraged then there is no solution but to ask for His forgiveness.

2. The disciple follows the advice of the Guru; hence he acquires spiritual knowledge of the unmanifest. God complies with what the devotee tells him, that is He attains the manifest form and appears before the devotee.

C. The Guru's prayer to The Lord

When the Guru is in the state of the embodied soul (jivadasha)

Lord grant Me a disciple who has the knowledge of Brahman,
One who is supreme in spiritual emotion, an icon of devotion and love.
Detachment will occur in the one who has these qualities.
If I find such a disciple, I will be the happiest person,
I will shield the dear one from evil eyes.
Lord with Your grace grant Me a disciple
Who will carry on My work (of spread of Spirituality)
May he become Omniscient in the knowledge of Brahman and be upheld in glory in all the three worlds.
Tuka is calling out to You, My Lord Vithoba.
He is knocking at Your door.

D. God and the Guru from a disciple's point of view

From the point of view of a disciple the Guru is superior to God.

3. Incarnations and the Guru

        Guru's mission is usually confined to two – four disciples while that of an incarnation is generally concerned with protection of society and the reinstatement of Righteousness (Dharma). Even incarnations possessing a human body like Lord Rama, Lord Krushna, etc. stayed with Their Gurus and acquired the grace of the Guru by serving Him. Of course, all this was meant to teach others.

(Ref: Sanatan's Publication – 'Path of Guru's Grace (Gurukrupayoga)')

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