The Significance of the Guru
On January 9th we celebrate
Dhyanyogi Madhusudandasji’s birthday.
It is very auspicious to do extra practices and even better to get together with other disciples for group practices on this day. Contact your local group for any celebration plans. The following talk given by Shri Anandi Ma on the occasion of Guruji’s birthday was first published in Shakti in January 1985.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
During all the years I lived with Guruji I several times heard him speak of the greatness and significance of the Guru. Again and again he would repeat that the significance of the Guru is limitless. Even while talking about his own Guru, tears would flow from his eyes. We all have experienced the greatness of our own Guru, deep as the ocean itself. We experienced this in the past, today, and will continue to experience this in years to come.
According to the scriptures, the letter “GU” means darkness, maya, and ignorance; whereas the other letter “RU” means the destroyer of darkness and maya, and the giver of knowledge. So the Guru is the destroyer of karma, purifying us and granting us grace. Swami Ramdas used to say that there is no personal form of the Lord greater than the Guru himself and there is no scripture more powerful than the words of the Guru, no mantra greater than the name of the Guru. Of all the holy places in the scriptures‑‑the heavens and Mt. Kailash–there is nothing greater than the feet of the Guru. The Guru will always listen to any prayer from your heart and will take care of all your karma. He is the knower of everything, including your thoughts. He knows your purpose. He is closer to you than your own mind and breath because he is residing in your heart. Of all the relations of mankind, all are fragile and may leave you, but the Guru stays on forever. He is your companion on the path of birth.
It is the birthright of every human being to travel the spiritual path, only those who deserve it are granted its knowledge. Therefore throughout the ages, Gurus have tested disciples. Then when truly qualified, the students were granted teachings. But Guruji is very unique in this respect. He would sing these words often, “If you see Lord Rama and the Mother in every human being, then who is worthy and who is not worthy?” His own Guru told him, “Before you judge the worthiness or unworthiness of someone else, ponder this verse by St. Kabir, “When I searched the world looking to find someone unworthy, I couldn’t find anyone more impure than myself.” When Guruji thought of this, he felt everyone born was worthy enough, and he’d say, “Why should I waste my energy and time trying to decide who is worthy? That is for the Lord to decide.”
His own Guru explained these facts in greater detail: In the Ramayana, when the battle between Rama and Ravana was over, Lord Indra bowed down to Lord Rama and asked, “What services can I offer?” Lord Rama said, “Raise the monkeys and other devotees of mine who are slain in the battlefield.” When Lord Indra did as He asked and showered His nectar down onto the field, the devotees of Lord Rama were resurrected, but the demons were not. This is the same principle as when a farmer sows grain. If the grain falls on fertile soil, it grows and flourishes, but if it is thrown in desert sand, it shrivels and dies. As rain falling on the earth makes no distinction, so does the grace of the Guru fall equally on all disciples. Our own Guru is an ocean of mercy and His grace is continuously pouring on each and every one of us.
There is no relation to compare with that of a Guru and his disciple. In all other relations, some selfishness is included. Only the Guru expects nothing from his disciple. On the contrary, the Guru sacrifices everything, even his own body, for the welfare of the disciple. His only desire is that the disciples attain realization. We have all experienced that through Shaktipat. When a particle of the Guru’s energy is given to the disciple, he takes on the disciple’s positive and negative karma. Physical ailments came upon Guruji many times and he suffered a lot as a result. Thus the role of Guru is a difficult and responsible position, but there is nothing more unique than the grace of the Guru. The whole world may be your enemy, but if you have the grace and protection of the Guru no one can harm even a hair. All of us have experienced this.
Here is one incident that shows how the Guru’s grace affects us. In Bombay there was a disciple who didn’t have her monthly period for two or three months and when she started having pain she went to the doctor. The doctor who examined her found a large tumor on her uterus and recommended immediate surgery. She couldn’t decide immediately, so she went home and called her husband who was out of town. He was extremely devoted to Guruji and said he wouldn’t do anything without consulting Guruji first. In the meantime he said that he would do prayers and a sankalpa and that she should do the same.
At that time Guruji was travelling, and there was no way to get in touch with him. Six months passed and her pain increased, but she bore it and waited for Guruji to arrive. When Guruji came to Bombay, he said there was no need for surgery; and he told them to just meditate. In his usual sweet way, he said, “Don’t worry.” The day after that she went to the doctor. He was very angry, saying they were taking a great risk, but the couple had immense faith in Guruji. She started meditating regularly, but this didn’t last long due to pain and household duties. So she asked Guruji, and he said, “If you cannot meditate, ask your husband to meditate with a sankalpa for you.” So the husband meditated, offering a sankalpa for her. After one week, she had less pain, and after another week her tumor was completely gone. The doctor wouldn’t believe it and said she went to another doctor and had surgery. But finally he accepted the fact. This is a small example of the Guru’s grace. There are many incidents of much more intensity.
The Guru says, “I am always with you.” Sai Baba said the role of Guru is one of great responsibility. As long as a disciple is not liberated, the Guru has to return again and again until the disciple attains the goal. Many teachers talk and quote the scriptures, but they are not Gurus. They cannot replace the spiritual Guru. From the moment the disciple is initiated the Guru is responsible for his spiritual goal. Through soft means of love and compassion or harsh means, he is constantly guiding the disciple towards the goal. He’s constantly supervising the disciple to see if he’s following the path or not. If the disciple has to give up the body, even in the next birth the Guru is there, helping him in his spiritual growth. The Guru sticks to his dharma of helping the disciple attain his true goal. Grace falls on every aspect of life both spiritual and material. Often in day-to-day life there are difficulties put there purposely by the Guru to help in spiritual growth. Whether circumstances are favorable or hard, everything is designed for the spiritual growth of the disciple, and the Guru is constantly watching. As Rama Krishna used to say, “Until every disciple is liberated I don’t desire liberation for myself.”
We are all fortunate to have met one of the greatest saints of the century. His mere look is enough to shower His entire grace on us. His sentences are powerful, filled with energy to remove one’s fears and doubts. Our Guruji spoke very little but they were the most precious, golden words we ever heard. In my life I see nothing but the grace of the Guru. There were many circumstances when I would have been taken away from Guruji, but no matter, Guruji never let me go. He always kept me with Him. Guruji has always been the sculptor of my life, and I am meant for Him and His work. He has given so much to me. There is no way I nor any of us could ever repay the debt to the Guru.
In an incident from the Ramayana, Bharat was going to go see Rama in the forest, and he asked a blessing from the river Ganges. He said, “O Mother Ganges, I ask nothing material, not even the four blessings or liberation. All I want is your love, faith, and devotion towards the feet of my Lord Rama.” This day let us all pray for the same blessing, the same love, faith, and devotion towards the feet of our own Guruji.
On behalf of Guruji, I shower you all with blessings. May we attain the welfare of our souls, and may the love and grace of the Guru shower on us. And through His love and blessings, may we attain an understanding of His greatness.