Spiritual practice according to the Path of Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupāyoga)

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In order to be blessed by a Guru, it is necessary to follow few steps for the constant bestowal of His grace, as only by the grace of the Guru can the disciple attain his ultimate benefaction which is spiritual progress. Let us study this article that lists various criteria which we can follow in order to be worthy of a Guru in our lives.

1. Worship of the family deity (kuladevatā)

The Deity chooses each individual to be born in that kula (particular family) whose family deity he needs to worship so as to make spiritual progress. Worship of the family deity also alleviates the intensity of the destiny which accompanies each one till the last breath. Due to these two main reasons, instead of any other spiritual practice, one should worship the kuladevatā (family deity) in order to be blessed by a Guru. To achieve this end, one should perform its pūjā (ritualistic worship), chant stotrās (verses) in its praise, pārāyans (recite holy books periodically), darshan (visit the temple) as often as possible, etc.

2. Worship of Deity Datta

Unlike the bygone days, nowadays since rites like shrāddha, paksha, etc. for departed souls are not performed by most people nearly 30% of people are troubled by ancestors’ unsatisfied souls. That is why there are obstacles both in worldly life as well as in one’s spiritual practice. Since an average person can never know whether he is included in those 30% or whether he will be troubled by ancestors in the future, one should chant three mālās (rosaries) of ‘Shrī Gurudev Datta’ daily. One should increase the chanting to six to nine mālās if the trouble is severe.

3. Chanting The Deity’s Name (Nāmasmaran)

Chanting refers to the continuous remembrance of The Deity’s Name. Of all the Names of The Deity, chanting the Name of the kuladevatā (family deity) is the most useful. In fact it is the foundation of all the spiritual practice incorporated in the Gurukrupāyoga (Path of Guru’s Grace). As one does chanting gradually one’s spiritual level reaches 40%. Then chanting occurs automatically off and on and one is also able to perceive a little in the subtle dimension. Also due to chanting one forgets about other things and begins to experience Bliss off and on.

4. Satsang (holy company)

The Bliss obtained through chanting of The Deity’s Name is experienced automatically despite not chanting, at a satsang (spiritual meeting). Such an experience is obtained at a spiritual level of 50%. Due to the cumulative Sattva component of all the seekers at the satsang, each one who attends it is benefitted by it, that is the raja and tama attitudes in each one gradually begin to decrease. It is much easier to obtain the experience of Bliss by attending a satsang rather than increasing one’s own sattva component by chanting. Hence a seeker diligently attends satsangs more often. If a satsang is conducted by an evolved seeker then attending it proves to be even more beneficial. Since the sattva component of an evolved person is substantial, the amount of frequencies of Bliss emanating from him is greater and as a result a seeker experiences more Bliss. The importance of satsang will be illustrated by the story below. Once an argument took place between the Sages Vasishtha and Vishvāmitra on the relative superiority of satsang and penance. Sage Vasishtha proclaimed satsang to be superior whereas Vishvāmitra was in favour of penance. To decide the winner of the debate, They went to God. The Deity said, “Only the serpent Shesh will be able to settle the dispute”. Then the duo went to the serpent Shesh. When They asked Shesh the question, He replied, “Please lighten the load of the earth on My head. Then I will think it over and answer your query”. So, Vishvāmitra made the following resolve, ‘I offer the benefit acquired as a result of a thousand years of my penance. May the earth above Shesh’s head shift a little’. Yet, the earth did not stir. Then Sage Vasishtha expressed His resolve, ‘I now offer the benefit gained as a result of being in satsang (holy company) for half a ghatkā (twelve minutes). May the earth lighten the load.’ The earth immediately moved upwards. Another benefit of remaining in satsang is that one develops the feeling that the other seekers attending it are one’s own. Hence, even the younger generation starts living amicably forgetting the animosity present for generations together. From this very feeling the concept that ‘the entire universe is my home’ develops in due course of time.

5. Satsevā (Service of the Absolute Truth)

After attending satsang for a while a seeker realizes that the ones who are active participants at or those who conduct a satsang (spiritual meeting), so also if the satsang is being conducted by an evolved seeker, then they all experience much more Bliss than himself. So, the seeker who wishes to experience Bliss like them instead of merely being a passive listener starts participating in the activities at the satsang. Thus he participates in organizing the satsang, for instance by distributing pamphlets giving information about the satsang, by pasting posters and putting up banners, giving information by personally contacting people, by tidying the venue of the satsang, spreading out mats or arranging chairs for the audience, etc. At a later stage he studies the matter himself and conducts satsangs. One should take special note of the following points with regard to service of the Absolute Truth.

  • Service has to be that of the Absolute Truth. It has to be performed with the body, mind and wealth. Unless the spiritual level rises to 60% service does not occur wholeheartedly. Until then it is performed only intellectually. Service with the mind means chanting The Deity’s Name.

  • By giving precedence to satisfying someone else’s desires, gradually one’s needs become less and the seeker becomes more adept at following the path of Spirituality.

  • Asat (Service of the non-truth), for instance the service of patients is mostly done under the influence of emotions considering illusion to be the truth. Also, the ego that ‘I am doing this service’ is present in such an attitude. As a result, as spiritual practice it is not of much use. As against this, to overcome the ego, one serves the Absolute Truth with bhāv (Spiritual emotion). Besides with service of the non-truth, a ‘give and take account’ is generated.

6. Best satsevā : The spread of Spirituality

6 A. Importance

Doing whatever one can according to one’s potential for the Guru’s mission is the simplest and the most important path. This point will be highlighted with the following example; Suppose preparations are going on for a programme and everybody is busy doing different chores like cleaning or decorating the place, cooking or cleaning utensils. If one is busy in cleaning the place and at this juncture if another person steps in and joins the group busy with the cooking then one does not feel any closeness towards him. On the contrary if he comes forward to assist in the cleaning then one definitely feels drawn to him. The same is true for the Guru. The mission of Gurus and saints is to inculcate a liking for Dharma (Righteousness) and spiritual practice among the masses; to inspire them to practice Spirituality and to spread Spirituality. If one performs this task according to one’s potential then the Guru feels, ‘He is mine’. Such a thought in the Guru’s mind itself is the heralding of gurukrupā (His grace).

6 B. The spread of Spirituality is more important than the samādhi (superconscious state)

The Guru is pleased to see that the disciple
has attained the superconscious state.
He wishes to awaken him for the sake of the masses. – 52:5
He fondles him gently, embraces him lovingly,
O dearest disciple return to the waking state. – 52:6
You have crossed the illusion of worldly life but if you remain in the superconscious state,
The spiritual knowledge will remain obscured in you,
Then how will the masses attain salvation? – 52:7
-Shrī Gurucharitra

6 C. Comparative importance: The following table gives the amount of (gurukrupā) that a disciple can acquire by performing a particular action.

The disciple’s action The Guru’s grace (gurukrupā) %
1. Paying a visit (darshan) to the Guru 2
2. Asking questions only on Spirituality 10
3. Performing tasks at the ashram 40
4. Effective *part time spread of Spirituality 70
5. Effective *full time spread of Spirituality 100

* To spread Spirituality effectively one needs to have all the virtues of a disciple. It is not sufficient to preach like a politician or a social reformer.

6 D. Service unto the nirgun (unmanifest) and the sagun (manifest) forms of the Guru

The spread of Spirituality is service unto the nirgun form of the Guru. This service has 70% importance in acquiring the grace of the Guru whereas service to the sagun form of the Guru has only 30% importance. To achieve the complete grace of the Guru it is essential for one to do both.

6 E. Spiritual practice for samashti (the sake of society) and vyashti (individual) spiritual practice)

Spiritual practice maybe undertaken for the sake of society or maybe confined to an individual seeker. According to the influence of time in the Kaliyug (Era of strife), the importance of practicing Spirituality for the sake of society is 70% and that of practicing it individually is 30%. Hence, to progress spiritually it is important to motivate as many people in the society as possible, to practice Spirituality. This is the service of the Absolute Truth in its real form. However to accomplish this one needs to increase one’s own spiritual level.

6 F. How can one accomplish it?

Some people err in thinking that ‘When I myself am not well versed about Dharma and Spirituality, how will I be able to spread Spirituality?’ When Deity Krushna lifted the Govardhan mountain with His little finger the cowherds and their wives (gopās and gopīs) helped in their own way by supporting it with their sticks. Though the Guru that is God is the one who will reinstate Dharma each one should make one’s small contribution towards it. One should study and teach Spirituality or provide financial help for the mission, whatever is possible according to one’s ability. If both these are not possible then one can paste posters, put up banners, organize lectures or workshops on Spirituality, collect funds for the mission, etc.

7. Guruprāpti (being blessed by a Guru) and service unto the Guru

With service of the Absolute Truth one’s spiritual level rises upto 55%. Then some saint accepts one as His disciple. Thereafter one begins doing service unto the Guru. Once a spiritual level of 60% is attained, sacrifice in the real sense commences. One needs to give up the attachment to the body, mind and wealth in order to make spiritual progress. Of these, sacrifice of wealth is the easiest as it can be done physically. One can give away one’s wealth totally. However, the body and the mind cannot be sacrificed likewise. Yet one can sacrifice them before giving up wealth. This means that initially one can do service physically and chant The Deity’s Name mentally. Later, only when a seeker progresses upto 70% can he sacrifice wealth to some extent. Sacrifice does not mean giving away all of one’s belongings. Rather it is getting rid of one’s attachment to them. In the beginning, the Guru makes the disciple sacrifice the objects in his possession. Finally, when the attachment ceases, He showers him with plenty. Since Shivājī Mahārāj had no attachment for the kingdom he had offered to Samarth Rāmdās Swāmī, the Swāmījī returned it to him.

8. Donation (offering)

Donation should always be of the nature of ‘donation to the deserving’, that is to ‘the one worthy of it’. In this world, there is none more worthy than saints. Hence, whatever one wishes to donate should be offered only to Them. This is possible only for a seeker in the stage of upāsanākānd (mental worship). The one practicing the inferior Karmayoga (Path of Action) gives alms to beggars, donations to schools and hospitals under the influence of emotions. One acquires only merits from it. Seekers desirous of Liberation (mumukshu) want neither merits nor sins, since only heaven and not the Final Liberation (Moksha) is attainable with merits.

Saints and Gurus are the manifest (physical) forms of the unmanifest God. Hence, any offering made to saints and the Guru is as good as an offering to God Himself. Thus offering back to God that which is bestowed by Him does not create a give and take account but completes it. As such, the offering made to saints reduces the sanchit (accumulated account) and increases the ability to withstand the effects of destiny. Moreover, neither is any give and take account thereby created, nor is any merit acquired. Hence, whatever has to be offered should be given only to saints or for the mission of the Absolute Truth.

9. Prīti (Spiritual love) for others

One feels spiritual love for others only after attaining a spiritual level of 70%. Spiritual love means love without any expectations. In worldly love, there are expectations. By practicing spirituality the percentage of the sattva component in oneself increases and one tends to satisfy the visible and invisible creation in one’s surroundings. There is an expansion of love and one develops spiritual love towards others. One is able to perceive the presence of The Supreme God in each and every object and the whole world becomes one loving family. In order to achieve this, in the beginning, one has to make efforts to love others. For this, it is important to remain in satsang.. At first, one begins to feel spiritual love for other seekers attending the satsang then for seekers from other sects, still later for non-seekers and finally for all living creatures.

10. Sākshībhāv (Stance of a spectator)

After attaining a spiritual level of 80% one is able to observe everything including one’s own spiritual progress as occurring due to the Guru’s wish.

11. Mission after attaining Self-realization (dnyānottar kārya)

After attaining a spiritual level of above 90% the disciple lives with the feeling, ‘Now I am left only to repay the favours done by others’, that is one continues to live doing what is necessary for the society. With such spiritual practice the Guru’s grace is constantly showered upon the disciple and he progresses towards the Final Liberation.

Reference : Sanatan Sanstha’s Holy Text on ‘Gurukrupāyoga’