The Transcendental Absolute has to be intuitively experienced and this experience has to be sparked by Guru's precept. 'You are the very Consciousness which makes you conscious of experiences' is a statement which only a Guru who is in that state of Consciousness can make. He himself confirms that He was able to get to that state because of his own Guru. Evam paramparA prAptam -- meaning, this is obtained by a legacy of generations galore - is the Lord's own statement in the Gita (Ch.IV).
Scriptures declare the analogy of the dream state to our real waking state. Just as all dream-experience is only a passing show from the point of view of one's waking state, so also the waking state itself, according to the scriptures, is a passing show from the absolute standpoint. But this declaration does not carry conviction with us because most of us have never had the experience of that absolute standpoint. On the other hand we do understand that the dream-state is not absolutely real because we do have the experience of the waking state of awareness. Nobody is able to tell us -- or has to tell us -- from within the dream that the dream experience is unreal. The beauty of the Guru-concept and the greatness of the Guru stem from the fact that a Guru does exactly this for us in respect of our waking state. From the absolute standpoint this waking state itself is dream-like. He, being a jIvan-mukta (liberated, even while living), knows this as a fact of experience. He is not only a jIvan-mukta who is in that absolute state of awareness all the time but he can also descend to our level of the ordinary mundane worldly waking state.
He therefore prods us, with all the powers that he has, to wake up from this dream-world of ours, which we think is real. It is as if he is appearing in our dream and telling us that we are dreaming! In other words he is able to wake us up from our dream-world, himself entering our dream-world. This is one of the major reasons why without exception, every great religious and spiritual leader from India extols the importance of the Guru to the skies. Says Kabir, one of the greatest saints India has ever produced: 'If body is a venomous creeper, guru is a tank full of nectar. Should you give for guru your head, still the price is far less paid' ----
yaH tan vish ki belrI, guru amRt kI khAn
sIs diye jo guru mile, to bhI sastA jAn //
Says Madhura-kavi-AlvAr, whose contribution to the 4000 Vaishnava hymns was just a piece of 11 four-lined stanzas on his AchArya, NammAlvAr "The name of the Great One, my AchArya, here uttered, brings nectar to my tongue and is far sweeter than the name of the Lord who willed that He should be bound with a small knotted rope!"----
kaNNinuN ciRuttAmbinAl kattu uNNap-
paNNiya perumAyan en appanil,
naNNit-tenkurugUr enRakkAl
aNNikkum amudu URum en nAvukke //
Who is such an ideal guru? What are his characteristics? How do you recognize him? There are scriptures galore answering these questions. One such for instance is in the Sarva Vedanta Siddhanta Samgraha by Adi Sankara. This work has 1000 verses or so and it takes us step by step up the ladder of spiritual knowledge. Quarter way through this ascent the AchArya defines in two verses the Guru concept:
Srotriyo brahma-nishTo yah praZAntaH sama-darSanaH /
nirmamo nirahamkAro nirdvandvo nishparigrahaH //
anapekshaH Sucir-dakshaH karuNAmRta-sAgaraH /
evam lakshaNa-sampannaH sa gurur-brahma-vit-tamaH //
meaning,
He must be an adept in all the vedas. He must be a realised Soul who is always rooted in absolute
brahman. Calm and serene, equanimous to the core, free from Ego, and from the evil of 'mine' and 'thine' he is devoid of all delusions of duality like happiness and misery, pleasure and pain, like and dislike, honour and dishonour, cold and heat, friend and foe and even cause and effect. He has no desire for possessions, he has no wants, is always pure in heart and mind and is at the top of his efficiency. He is an ocean ofcompassion and grace.
March 12, 1999
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Copyright V. Krishnamurthy
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