Who is your true Guru?
Who is your Guru first? This is a very common question which you receive during your initiation to your spiritual path. If you are not able to answer you might feel embarrassed as you might not be taken seriously by your peers. May be you have not even thought about having a Guru. Or, after shopping around, after quite a long time, you end up choosing someone to be your Guru. But a Guru does not come across you; instead the right time will come for you to come across him. This is my Guru!
The Advayataraka Upanishad states, ‘the literal meaning of ‘gu’ letter is darkness and ‘ru’ means competent to resist the darkness. Therefore, the composite meaning of the word ‘Guru’ is a person who drives away the ignorance’. The Guru dispels darkness. As per Hindu philosophy, Lord Dakshinamoorthy is regarded as the ultimate Guru who is the embodiment of knowledge and the destroyer of arrogance and ignorance, as His cosmic knowledge illuminates the world. This Upanishad personifies the Guru and makes it simpler for common people to understand. In fact, the term ‘Upanishad’ which is derived from the words ‘upa’ (near) and ‘ni’ (down) and ‘sad’ (sit) means sitting down next to the spiritual teacher to receive knowledge.
There is a sacred and respectful relationship between a Guru and his disciple, known as sishya. The Guru is always lifted on the higher rank and the sishya sits down and follows. The Guru is to be recognised first as a Guru, otherwise there is no sishya. Similarly, someone could pretend to be a leader but when he looks behind he sees no followers. There is a lovely story in the Skanda Purana, where Lord Brahma was assigned by Lord Shiva to teach Lord Kartikeya. Brahma (the Guru) could not answer to Kartikeya (the sishya) about the meaning of OM. As Brahma, the supposed teacher, could not reply and also that Parvati was delighted by the explanation of OM from Kartikeya, he was then conferred the name of Swaminathaby his Mother. Swami means (Guru) and Natha means (Lord) – Guru to the Lord. Instead, Kartikeya teaches Brahma.
A sishya is required to be obedient, respectful, disciplined, committed and open to learning. If the syshya does not display these qualities over the long run, then he is not ready to receive the transmission of subtle knowledge. Either, he is dominated by ignorance or he is aware of the meaning of worldly pleasures but wants to remain in his comfort zone, i.e. unwilling to learn and know the truth. But the relationship and bond between Guru and Sishya transcends the actual readable, audible and physical meaning. Every Guru will tell you that a Guru is essential.
In some Ashramas, upon passing or before passing of the Guru it would be agreed that no other one (even the most knowledgeable and eligible sishya) shall be conferred Guru to take over. The closest sishya will only disseminate the teachings of the passing Guru and not more than this. The passing Guru would already ordain that he is to be the last Guru in the line. Hence, only the teachings of the last Guru in the lineage will prevails. After his death, ‘his teachings’ shall be the Guru. A critical reflexion will lead us to understand that such kind of school believes that the passing Guru owes the spiritual teachings and no other successor is required to stand as Guru to transmit the teachings. Is this spiritually correct? Does he want to be revered instead of the teachings? So does he has the qualities of a true Guru?
But who is the true Guru? The true Guru has no name. He is the source of all written scriptures. He is the source of the Upanishads. He does not require a physical body to become a Guru. Sri Ramana Maharishi said, ‘the true Guru is always within you’. When the Guru is also within you it does not mean that there is no Guru. Physically there is no Guru. The Guru is the teachings. If he is from within, how do you encounter him then?
Life events and karma resolving situations make you understand that you are not alone in this world. There is bound to be an inner self within you which is pure and requires connection. Once you start turning inward to look for solution you will identify your Guru. This requires that you tone down your ego. You can start serving others unconditionally and this is equivalent to keep serving the Lord. Live and let live. Once you are getting into it, you are open to accept the teachings. God’s grace begins to manifest. He will then guide you and teach you in an unwritten form. Then you can complement your learning from the written scriptures.
This is a kind of Guru’s grace in its highest form.