Where do I start? Talks at RIMYI are always rich in subject and today’s exploration was ‘Guru’.
The thoughts expressed were familiar and new, the nuances different and it probably cannot be summarised in a post. Simply, because there is much to ruminate on. Prashantji left us with an interesting question to ask ourselves, ‘Who am I?’. The first thought that came to mind was the book, I am That by Nisarga Dutt Maharaj. It’s a theme common in Swami Chinmayananda’s works as well. But then, all teachings are one…
As usual, the Institute was chockablock with students, old and new, local and foreign. All of us, regardless of experience or lack of it, students. On such occasions, we usually chant the invocation together and it is a very powerful sensation. There is a palpable energy in that hall which somehow feels like a living entity. In the few minutes before the program started, I thought about what Guruji meant to me.
I never had the opportunity to study from him in person, yet like Eklavya, I found my Guru in him. ‘Guru in absentia’ as Firooza put it. Unlike Eklavya though, I am an undeserving pupil. Guruji is like an ocean, both the anonymous drop and the mighty ocean. As Prashantji pointed out, his brilliance was the cumulative effect of his many Gurus over many lifetimes and their Gurus over their lifetimes. The eternal Guru-Shishya parampara that transcends time and space. Each generation stands on the shoulders of the previous one and builds from that base. Prashantji shared an anecdote of how as a child, he couldn’t see what was going on during a Ganesh festival procession. His father hoisted him onto his shoulders and then a young Prashant could see beyond what his father could! He reminded us about the traditional practice of paying homage to our ancestors, the pitrs. There’s an interesting story about Bhageerath and the Ganga that touches on this theme. But, that’s another post altogether. This day, Guru Pournima, is in honour of that Guru principle.
Besides the pancha tattvas, there is a sixth- the Guru tattva as Firooza said. The inner Guru, the one that manifests itself when the student is ready. The analogy of a mirror brought out the concept beautifully. Darshan being nothing but Atma Darshanam, the illuminating of the Self within. That mirror needs constant cleaning and polishing to remain clean and free from distortion to see clearly. Until then, it is abhyasa and vairagyam- the twin tools or techniques to prepare ourselves for that vision. Even Arjuna needed special vision to see his beloved Krishna’s true essence.
Guruji’s life and conduct was his teaching and that’s why he is a true Guru despite multitudes never having been in his physical presence. He is a living force for me through his students and writings. Thanks to technology, I can hear him too and it is that booming voice that jumps out from the pages whenever I read his books.
Two hours of experience and knowledge of those blessed with his attention will need many more hours of introspection and contemplation before they start revealing their truths as and when I become worthy.
As the concluding lines of the Svetasvatara Upanishad goes, “He who has the same supreme devotion for the Guru as for God, indeed to the great person the spoken meanings of the Upanishads become revealed.” I pray that I remain a devoted student all my life and find the strength to come back no matter how many times I fall.
Signing off with a verse from the Bhaja Govindam (31)
द्रक्ष्यसि निजह्रदयस्थं देवं।।३१।।
Image courtesy: Rupali – a fellow student at RIMYI