Guruji On True Disciple

Human birth, faith in God, and finding one’s Guru – happen only through the grace of God. Today, just as it is difficult to find a true Guru, so also is it difficult to find a true disciple. It is only through the grace of Guru’ that Vedic knowledge, knowledge of the Brahman be bestowed upon the disciple. Once you have selected your Guru, then intense devotion and faithful adherence to Guru’s teachings, are the most essential qualifications of a true disciple. Who is a true disciple? a sadhak who faithfully follows the Guru’s teachings, one who has extreme devotion, Shraddha, whose Guru-bhakti allows discipline in sadhana, who carries out the Guru’s instructions to the ‘T’, without asking any questions at all. The Guru-Shishya relationship is the most sacred of all relationships on earth.

The examples of Swami Samartha Ramdas and Shivaji Maharaj, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Vivekananda, Dronacharya and Ekalavya, are some of the classic examples of Guru-Shishya relationships in India. Swami Vivekananda who was the driving force behind revival of Hinduism during the 19th century, made the statement, “All that I am, and all that the world will one day become, is owing to my Guru, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.” Swami Vivekananda and his other brother disciples were inspired by their Guru to form the Ramakrishna Mission, which continues till date, offering spiritual guidance and imparting the teachings of living the ideal Hindu way of life, on a world-wide scale.

Since ancient times, when teachings were imparted orally – by word of mouth, since then the Guru-shishya relationship has been an integral part of our tradition. ‘Upanishad’ is a Sanskrit word derived from upa (near), ni (down) and şhad (sit). When translated, it means: ‘sitting next to’ the spiritual teacher. The Upanishads speak of different types of gurus and shishyas, viz: a husband answering questions about immortality, or a teenage boy being taught by Yama; in some cases, the teachers are seen to be women, and at times teachings are asked for by the kings. Surrender to Guru is the easiest method for the disciple to earn the Guru’s grace, to learn under the Guru’s guidance, and to achieve God-realisation.

Many disciples of Sri Ramana Maharshi have reached their goals through this method of total surrender. The great scholar Aruni of ancient India and his relationship with his Guru Sage Dhaumya is a prominent example of ‘surrender’ discipleship. Such surrender to the Guru is worthy of being imitated. Aruni lived in the Guru’s ashram on the banks of a river. Once during a night, when it was raining very heavily, his Guru Sage Dhaumya asked him to supervise the water level in a field, and to ensure that the crops in the field were not damaged by excessive water. During the night, Aruni noticed that the excess water was flowing into the field through a gap in the make-shift dam. He made many attempts to stop the water, by plugging the gap with various available materials, but was unsuccessful.

Aruni became worried that the crops would be damaged. Suddenly, he came upon an idea. He lodged his own body in the gap and plugged the opening, thereby stopping the inflow of water. He lay in that position during the entire night, until his Guru and brother-disciples came in search of him. They found him cold and inert in a vertical position, and rescued him. Aruni’s dedication towards the task given by his Guru was possible only because of his complete sense of ‘surrender’. His Guru Sage Dhaumya then blessed Aruni and said, “You shall be remembered forever, for your unmatched devotion and obedience towards your Guru.” This kind of obedience is very rare but is vital for developing Guru-bhakti and earning Guru’s grace. Contemplate upon this quality, and make the necessary efforts towards developing the same. It is important to cultivate shraddha and gurubhakti.

Without devotion, the disciple will be like a flower without fragrance, or like a well without water. Devotion towards the Guru is not something that can be taught. It has to be cultivated, gradually, through constant efforts and prayers. The disciple should be blind to the human aspects of the Guru, else he or she may fall into the trap of criticism. Lead a life of austerity and discipline. Be silent, sincere and determined. Have faith in the thoughts, words and actions of the Guru. Faith brings about confidence and trust in Guru. The disciple who has faith in the Guru does not argue, but simply obeys the Guru, without even a murmur of dissent.

Dedicate yourself to the cause of the Guru’s divine mission. Approach the Guru with inner humility, and serve without any expectation towards the fruits of service. When you are full of reverence, you shall see only perfection in the Guru. Then, even if you cannot understand the Guru’s actions, you will not misunderstand them. Only through such devotion will the grace of Guru descend upon the disciple. It is important for the disciple to work towards his or her own improvement. Before desiring the grace of the Guru, one should deserve it. Divine grace happens when the disciple is fit to receive it. Guru’s grace descends only upon those who feel utterly humble and faithful towards his or her Guru.

Once Shankaracharya wanted to test the devotion of his disciple Padmapada. So once, when river Kaveri was flooded, standing on one bank of the river, he called out to Padmapada who was on the other bank. The Guru asked Padmapada to come over to him immediately. Padmapada immediately jumped into the river and though not knowing how to swim, tried to go over to his Guru. It is said that through the grace of Shankaracharya, the disciple easily crossed over. At each step, a lotus flower appeared, and he easily walked over it. His devotion to Guru earned him the name of Padmapada, or ‘lotus feet’. Devotion to Guru ultimately prepares you for higher devotion, and finally leads you to God-realisation.

May you develop devotion towards God and Guru. Bless you All

– Guruji.

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