Chapter 6.9 from "Study Circles for Divinity"
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"Oh My people! Follow the messengers: Follow those who ask you no reward, but are themselves guided ones."    Mohammed

"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits."    Jesus Christ

"The Guru is the skilful helmsman; Divine Grace is the favourable wind. If with such means as these, man does not cross the ocean of life and death, he is indeed spiritually dead."    Sri Krishna



In order to bring conviction to you in all this, it is best you approach a guru (spiritual teacher) who knows the Truth by experience and whose daily activities, words and thoughts reflect this realisation. The guru is called so because the letters GU signify gunathitha, one who has transcended the three qualities (gunas); the dull, the emotive and even the pure: and the letters RU signify one who is roopa varjitha, one who has grasped the formless aspect of God-head. Of course, he could come to that stage only through the sublimation of the lower into the higher qualities and the steady and conscious ignoring of the part played by mere name and form. In the preliminary stages of spiritual practice, name, form and quality all have their part to play in the moulding of the spirit. The guru destroys the illusion and sheds light; his presence is cool and comforting. That is why this day, a full moon day, is allotted for paying due honour to the guru. Moreover, the moon is the presiding deity of the mind and a fll moon day is the day on which the mind has become fully beneficent. Of course, you must know what you have lost, so that you may start on the search to recover it! The guru has very often to tell you that you have forgotten your real name or that you have lost the most precious part of yourself and yet are unaware of the loss. The guru is the physician for the illness which brings about the suffering of alternate birth and death. He is an adept at the treatment needed for the cure. If you do not get such a guru, pray to the Lord Himself to show you the way ... and He will surely come to your rescue. (010856)


There is need for a guru, someone who can guide and lead, who has covered the road and knows its ups and downs. You may have the lamp, wick and oil; but, someone must light it. There may be some convolute drawn on the board, but, someone who knows that it is the letter G, the letter O and the letter D must teach the child to identify them as Jee O and Dee. That is not enough; someone must tell him that it has to be read, not as Jeeodee, but as GOD, and that the sound God represents the concretised Divine principle that is immanent in the universe, that moves the dew to drop, the lotus to bloom, the butterfly to flit and the sun to rise, that is all the power, all the wisdom, all the love, all the miracle that ever was, is and will be. (180770)

A guru is a spiritual preceptor. He transmits wisdom to his disciple. His duty ends here. It is the disciple's duty to receive and respond to his master's spiritual wisdom. He must put into practice what he has learnt. A guru is like a 'guide-post' on the highway. He shows the path to the disciple. A sign-post indicates the road to be followed, but does not indicate anything about the ups and downs and the pitfalls on the road. It is the traveller's duty to beware of all pitfalls and obstacles on the road. Similarly, a guru is only a guide. The disciple has to find for himself all the obstacles on the mountain path of spirituality. He must personally experience all the vicissitudes of the spiritual life. (SSB 79,67)


The guru need not always come in actual concrete form; he can prompt the higher impulses and urges through a friend or a book or an event which reveals the reality in a flash. After this awakening, the rest is mostly in the hands of the aspirant. The guru can, at best, watch and guide. Do not get agitated or lose heart. You will be guided, however far you may be, geographically. I am as near you as you are near Me. Be steady, dear Charles, in your spiritual practice and you can certainly attain peace. (My Beloved 15)

He who seeks a guru can find him in every word spoken within his hearing, in every incident that happens around him. The deity Dakshinamurthi (presiding over the human endeavour to acquire wisdom) was walking along a wide seashore alone, immersed in deep meditation. He turned towards the waves and watched the unending succession of breakers. He saw a dry little twig on the crest of a wave in the distance; it was being passed on from one wave to another, from trough to crest, from crest to trough, until it was cast on the sands on the shore, near where He stood! Dakshinamurthi was astounded at the egoism of the ocean that would not give asylum to even a tiny twig. Sensing His reaction, the ocean declared, in words that He could understand, "Mine is neither egoism nor anger; it is only the duty of self-preservation. I should not allow the slightest blot to deface my grandeur. If I allow this twig to mar my splendour, it will be the first step in my downfall." Then, Dakshinamurthi smiled within Himself, admirin the vigilance of the mighty ocean. He pictured the incident as a great lesson in spiritual endeavour. The slightest twig of desire, if it falls on the mind, has to be immediately lifted out of the pure waters and thrown off. That was the lesson to be learnt. (290769)


The vision of God that resides in the heart can be had through unwavering devotion for the Guru, and by freeing oneself from the shackles of family, and by controlling the vagrant mind and the sense organs.

This is the last verse of the Bhaja Govinda series. After composing it Sankara left Benaras. It has been stressed in this verse that you must have unwavering faith in the guru, but we must try to understand what kind of guru Sankara had in mind in this context. One who lights up the Atmic effulgence in you by teaching you what is right and what is good, helping you to practise the sacred principles contained in the scriptures, calming your  mind, can be regarded as the proper guru. The word 'gu' means darkness or ignorance and 'ru' stands for the removal thereof. This means that the darkness of ignorance can be dispelled by the light of wisdom. Such is the function of a guru. 'Gu' also stands for one who is beyond all attributes, and 'ru' is 'roopa varjita' or one who has no form. One who has neither attributes nor a form is God alone.

In the present day world it is possible that the gurus will teach the right path and right ideas, but it is not possible for them to lead you from darkness to light or from ignorance to knowledge. Only God can do this. The present day teachers are of two types. There are those who claim to be exponents of Vedanta, but their main intent being pragmatic, they conform to the whims of their disciples and in doing so they succeed in dispossessing them of their possessions. Such gurus are an unbearable burden upon the surface of the earth, and they correspond to another meaning of the word guru which means weight or burden. The second type of gurus are those who can expound the sacred texts and help the disciples to discipline themselves to some extent. They impress upon their disciples that the guru himself is Brahma, Vishnu, Iswara, and also Para Brahma. This is how such teachers enhance their own stature in the eyes of their disciples. There is a lot of difference between a teacher and a guru. A teacher transmis what he has learnt in return for a reward, whereas a guru through his grace enters your heart, broadens it, and enables you to comprehend the aspects of Divinity. Such a being in the form of guru appears at an appropriate time. For example, when King Parikshit prayed, Suka immediately appeared. (SSB 73,265)

If you want to understand Divinity, you should have the firm faith that Divinity is everywhere. There is no place or object without Divinity. Gurupoornima means full moon without any defect or lacuna. Moon is nothing but mind. When the mind is completely perfect, it sheds light. Gurupoornima is not performed by circumambulation and offerings to the Guru. What is the real offering? It is the offering of one's love. To know that God exists everywhere is circumambulation. If you understand these terms, every day is Gurupoornima. There is only one Guru; that is God and there is no other Guru. Contemplate on that Guru. (140792)


On waking, pray every morning of your life, "Oh Lord, I am born now from the womb of sleep. I am determined to carry out all tasks this day as offerings to Thee, with Thee ever present before my mind's eye. Make my words, thoughts and deeds sacred and pure; let me not inflict pain on any one; let no one inflict pain on me; direct me, guide me this day." And when you enter the portals of sleep at night, pray, "Oh Lord! The tasks of this day, whose burdens I placed on You this morning, are over. It was You who made me walk, talk, think and act; I therefore place at Thy Feet all my words, thoughts and deeds. My task is done. Receive me, I am coming back to You."

Adopt these as your daily prayers. The best thing is to have your own Self as the source of light, as the guru. The inner intelligence, the inner guru will reveal the truth. This prayerful attitude will so educate your impulses that the inner intelligence will be fully revealed. (270761)

Be simple and sincere. It is sheer waste of money to burden the pictures and idols in the shrines and altars of your homes with a weight of garlands, and to parade costly utensils and vessels and offerings, to show off your devotion. This is deception; it demeans Divinity, imputing to it the desire for pomp and publicity. I ask only for purity of heart, to shower Grace. Do not posit distance between you and Me; do not interpose the formalities of the teacher-student (Guru-Sishya) relationship, or even the attitudinal distinctions of the God-devotee relationship, between you and Me. I am neither Guru nor God; I am You; You are I; that is the Truth. There is no distinction. That which appears so is the delusion. You are waves; I am the Ocean. Know this and be free, be Divine. (190770)


A Visitor:  What is a guru?
Sai:  A guru is a light to show one the road, but the destination is God. One is grateful to the guru, but it is God that one worships. Nowadays, one worships the guru, which is quite wrong.
Hislop:  Suppose that guru is the Lord Himself. How would that change the picture?
Sai:  (laughs) It changes the picture a great deal. If the Lord is one's guru, no need to worry about anything. Just as a loving mother cares for her child, if one has surrendered his life to God with full faith in Him, the Lord takes care of that devotee. No need to worry about anything. Really, guru is only God. God is within only. Those outside are not gurus. They are teachers of one sort or another. Guru means, 'He who removes darkness'. Only God can remove the darkness within: only by God's grace.
Hislop:  In this business of spiritual practice, why is it not possible from the very start to take the Lord as guru and surrender one's life to Him?
Sai:  (again laughing) That is not so easy! It is very difficult to do. First one needs to tame the mind. It is just like a wild elephant in the forest. It must be caught and tamed. Once subdued and tamed, it is like an elephant in a circus who can be made to sit on a small stool by a small boy. And that is the result of training and practice.
A Visitor:  The problem of training the mind seems very difficult. Why not take the path of love?
Sai:  Love also is not that easy. In the world there can be too much love, which leads to unbalanced action. Indian culture manages wives by keeping them fully occupied in the house. But for the Divine, love may be unlimited; there is no danger. 'Worldly' love should have a limit. But love of God is unbounded; it has no limit. Lack of understanding is not too dangerous, but misunderstanding is very dangerous. In America, the movies, although bad, are taken for granted. In India, they corrupt and destroy respect for womanhood.
A Visitor:  How about American gurus?
Sai:  People come from America, learn some yoga, return to America, put up a board, 'Yoga Institute', and become leaders. They read a few books, then offer to answer all questions. The real leader practices and lives his philosophy, and then people look to him because they see life in what he says.
Hislop:  How should we regard these many gurus here and there in the world? Some of them seem to do much good, but Swami has no good word for them. They talk very well about the Divine, and they collect many disciples.
Sai:  The proper course is for that person to admit that he does not know God, and to suggest that he and his followers jointly investigate, and do spiritual practices. But they do not do that. The idea is to pick up an answer here and an answer there, then give out the information like a phonograph recording, pretending it is their own wisdom. One such person has a son over whom he has no authority or influence. A man cannot guide his own family, but sets himself up as a guide for others. It is ridiculous.
Hislop:  Another type of guru is the Indian who comes to America. The outstanding example is a man who is known internationally and whose followers may even run into the millions. Through him people become interested in India, learn meditation, and there are thousands of reports of the beneficial effects on the lives of the followers. Is not a guru such as this of some value?
Sai:  A million people sit cross-legged in meditation. Not one gains liberation from bondage. What is the point of it all? If even the guru gained liberation, there might be some value. But even that does not happen. And if some slight mistake is made, there is great harm. The net effect of it all is that it spoils both guru and disciple. The apparent benefit is only temporary; it is not permanent. You have had considerable genuine experience. Will you be a guru?
Hislop:  God forbid! On no account would I be a guru. I cannot imagine anything I would be more against. I'm even against the appearance of it!
Sai:  That is it! That is the right path. That way you are a guru. The genuine guru never sets himself up as a guru. He proceeds with his own spiritual practice, keeping out of public notice. By observing his life, one or two people will pursue him and force him to disclose or share something of value, and such aspirants may get some genuine help from such a person. (CSSB 123)

There is no guru other than the One Divine. As long as you consider yourself a mere human being, you may regard yourself as a disciple. But when you realise that you are the embodiment of the Atma you become your own guru. Seek refuge in yourself. Recognise your Reality. That is the right path and that is the way to revere the guru. (260791)

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