What should one ask the Guru for?



1. A disciple’s life

1.1 Behaviour in society

In society, a disciple should be well behaved. Otherwise people will criticise the Guru saying, ‘Is this the way the Guru has taught him to behave?’ Every physical, verbal and psychological action of the disciple should be approved of by the Guru. For instance, he should avoid criticising others, behaving immorally, etc.

1.2 One should take treatment during an illness

‘When one of Baba’s disciples (Dr Jayant Athavale) noticed that another disciple appeared ill he asked him, “Are you taking treatment?” The latter replied, “I am completing my destiny by undergoing it.” In response, the former asked, “Have you found out whether the illness is due to destiny or wilful action?” He did not reply to this query. So the first disciple spoke further, “If one is not supposed to take medicines in an illness, then the Ayurveda referred to as the fifth Veda would never have been written. Besides, it is said that the physical body is the medium for practising Spirituality”. He did not respond to this as well.

Later, the first disciple, realising that the illness of the second disciple was grave, reported this to Baba. (This was a mistake on his part as Baba inspite of being Omniscient observes everything with the stance of a spectator. He too should have done the same.) Baba angrily retorted, “Does he think he is a greater Maharaj than Me? What does he mean by not taking medicines when even I take them? Just forget about him”.’(1)

1.3 Eating

‘I eat believing that I am eating the leftovers of the Guru, hence I do not offer chitrahuti (a portion of food set aside as an offering to God, before the commencement of a meal).

Question : Why does one eat the Guru’s leftovers?
Baba        : The Guru constantly chants The Lord’s
Name. One eats His leftovers so that one may
be able to chant similarly. If one’s motive is
otherwise then one may not eat it.’(2)

1.4 Living Spirituality

Once the Guru, when leaving by car told a lady disciple, “Sit in the car. Tell Me where to drop you”. On this, she replied, “What shall I tell You now? Take me wherever You wish.” Mostly the Guru speaks with a spiritual connotation while the disciple speaks in the worldly sense. Here, the reverse had occurred. The Guru spoke in the worldly sense and the disciple replied in the spiritual context!

1.5 The real relationship

The only real relationship is that of the embodied soul (jiva) and The Supreme God (Shiv), that is the disciple and the Guru. All other relationships from the Great Illusion such as those of parents, spouses, children, etc. are untrue.

1.6 The name given by the parents and that imparted by the Guru

A. ‘The name given based on one’s qualities is from the unmanifest (nirgun) while other names are from the manifest (sagun).

The implied meaning: In “the name given based on one’s qualities is from the unmanifest”, the unmanifest refers to either the signs of spiritual progress or the Guru’s naming of a disciple according to the sect. Contrary to this, parents name their child based on its visible external features or its constitution.’(3)

B. ‘The name given by the parents pertains to the physical body, that is Prakruti whereas that given by the Guru (The Lord’s Name) is in accordance with the God principle.

C. Impressions made on oneself make one feel that the name given by one’s parents is one’s own. Similarly one should make oneself feel that The Lord’s Name imparted by the Guru is one’s own, through impressions of the Name (by chanting). The Name given by the Guru indicates that one belongs to someone (the Guru principle). Later forgetting the name imparted by one’s parents, one should feel The Lord’s Name to be one’s own.

D. The son carries forth the name of his parents, while a disciple carries forward the one given by his Guru. [Shri Anantanand Saish used to call Baba (Bhaktaraj Maharaj) both His disciple and son. Thus Baba carried forward His Name in both ways. Physically He named Baba “Bhaktaraj” and internally kindled the Name of the Guru principle.]’(4)

1.7 Letter-writing

A. The Name of the deity to be written when beginning a letter: One should write the Gurumantra imparted by the Guru. (Those who do not have a Guru should write ‘Shri [ Name of the family deity with the dative case (chaturthi pratyay)] ….. namaha.’

B. How should one write a letter to the Guru?: There is absolutely no need to write to the Guru since He is Omniscient. However, under the influence of emotions if one feels like writing to Him then one should prefix the entire title, if any to His Name. For instance ‘108 Shri’, ‘Paramhansa’, etc. If he does not have a title then one should begin the letter with ‘To, H.H. Shrimat Sadguru …. I offer obeisance (shirsashtang namaskar) at Your lotus feet’ and should conclude it with ‘desirous of Your grace (krupabhilashi)’ or ‘desirous of the dust from Your feet (charanrajechchu)’.

C. There is no need to write letters to the Guru: ‘Once as a disciple (Dr. Jayant Athavale) began writing a letter to Baba he felt that Baba was talking to him from within, “To whom are you writing a letter? I am already with you.” So he stopped writing the letter. Later, when he actually met Baba, He repeated the same sentence. Forgetting this incident, on 18th May 1992 the disciple wrote another letter to Baba. However, when the one who was to deliver the letter to Baba arrived, the letter just could not be traced! Then he recollected the earlier incident.’(5)

D. The commencement and conclusion of a letter written by the Guru’s most senior disciples addressing their junior gurubrethren

To, Shri .(Mr.) …. with blessings by the grace of Shrimat Sadguru (name of the Guru)
– Yours

E. The commencement and conclusion of a letter written to gurubrethren senior to oneself

To, Respected Shri .(Mr.) the Guru’s servitor …. I offer obeisance at your feet
Desirous of your grace,
– Yours

F. The commencement and conclusion of a letter written to other gurubrethren

To, the Guru’s servitor Shri .(Mr.) …. greetings (saprem namaskar).

Instead of obeisance one may write the mantra of the sect such as ‘Hari Om tatsat’. In the absence of a mantra one may write the Name of one’s family deity or ‘Shri Kuladaivatayai [the dative case (chaturthi pratyay) of the Name of the family deity] namaha’.
– Your gurubrother

G. The method of commencement and conclusion of a letter written to disciples of other Gurus: One should decide this depending on whether they are senior, junior or equal to oneself and do as given above. If one does not know this then one should write to them considering that they are senior to oneself.

1.8 How should one live in the ashram?

A. One should not live in the ashram as if living in a caravanserai (dharmashala).

B. One should not take away the Guru’s belongings such as slippers, blankets, etc. from the ashram, as the Guru’s holy sacrament (prasad) without anyone’s knowledge!

C. One should live in the ashram without being a burden to anyone there. One should see to it that other inmates of the ashram are neither overburdened with work or undergo mental tension by one’s presence nor that the ashram has to bear the expenses incurred on one’s behalf. One should also not be a financial strain on the ashram. Arrangements for bedding should be made by oneself.

D. In all aspects – physical, psychological and financial, one’s stay in the ashram should prove useful to the ashram. One should do any sort of work alloted in the ashram as part of service to the Guru.

E. One should meticulously follow the rules and regulations of the ashram.

F. The importance of living in an ashram: Living in the ashram is very important to reduce the attachment to one’s home, to eliminate the attachment to one’s body (dehabuddhi), to consider others as a part of one’s own family and to reduce one’s ego.

1.9 Behaviour with other Gurus and saints

A. One should certainly be loyal to one’s Guru. But one should not harbour duality about other Gurus. The feeling that ‘my Guru is superior to others’ is an indication of ignorance.

B. ‘Never compare two saints

  • One should never compare two spiritually evolved persons. A seeker should say, “Let Them be as They are, you be as you are. But make me steady where I am”.
  • One should never measure the difference between two saints. One should not compare two embodied souls (jivas).

    The implied meaning: The one who measures the difference between two saints has to be superior to both of Them. Even if this be so, since ultimately everything is Brahman neither can two saints nor can two beings be compared. Besides since each one acts according to God’s will (Ishvarechcha) and one’s destiny, making comparisons is pointless.

C. Two individuals differ in their basic temperaments, but share a common principle.

The implied meaning: The temperament of every individual differs according to the variation in the three components (trigunas)- sattva, raja and tama in him. However, the principle which is common to all individuals is the soul or Brahman principle.’(6)

1.10 Considering a saint as one’s Guru

‘Baba established an ashram at Mortakka and named it after His Guru Shri Anantanand Saish as “Anantanand Saish Sevasadan”. Later Purnapurushottamacharya came into Baba’s life. Baba considered Him as His Guru. Once seeing the word “Anantanand” in the name of the ashram Purnapurushottamacharya said, “Don’t you consider me your Guru? Then why did you name the ashram only Anantanand?” Then Baba realised that since the Guru principle was the same He could not name the ashram only Anantanand. So He changed the name of the ashram to “Shri Sadguru Sevasadan”.’(7)

2. Disciples and gurubrethren

2.1 Relations with gurubrethren

‘The disciple should especially remember the point that one should maintain a loving relationship with gurubrethren. Jealousy or hatred for gurubrethren wastes one’s energy. Besides, the attitudes of the subconscious mind (chittavrutti) start getting engrossed in these matters. Even when one sits down to do spiritual practice, the same thoughts cross one’s mind repeatedly. Hence, it is very essential to ignore others’ defects. In worldly life too one should be tolerant. Instead of letting the mind wander, it should be kept engrossed in the mantra imparted by the Guru. The greater the feeling of love for others the greater will be the bestowal of the Guru’s grace. At the time of initiation (diksha) too, the Guru wishes for the disciple’s well-being. If a particular seeker happens to harbour a feeling of hatred towards his gurubrethren then since this feeling is contrary to that expressed by the Guru it will definitely hamper the growth of the Guru’s energy in that seeker. Hence, it is absolutely essential to foster the feeling of mutual love among gurubrethren.’
– H.H. Swami Shivom Tirtha Maharaj

2.2 One should not criticize one’s gurubrethren

A. ‘An incident: Three devotees were not singing devotional songs (bhajans) during Baba’s bhajan programme. Two of them were seated with their eyes closed while the third was with his eyes open. Later one of the gurubrethren said to the other, “Everyone was singing bhajans. Only these three were not.” He implied that they were conceited, etc. Later, in their presence Baba said, “During bhajans the two with their eyes closed had gone into meditation while the third was experiencing Bliss.” Indeed, the third devotee (Dr. Jayant Athavale) was really experiencing Bliss at that time. But instead of humming the bhajan in his mind as usual, he was chanting; as, Baba has preached through several bhajans that one should “chant The Lord’s Name” and was simultaneously experiencing happiness from the bhajans. Most of the other devotees were merely singing bhajans, not chanting!’(8)

B. ‘When sitting for chanting at a specific time it was the responsibility of the one reading the holy verses (pothi) to keep the others awake. Taking undue advantage of this to make people believe that when Baba (Amburaya) sits for chanting with His face covered with a blanket He is actually asleep, the reader of the holy verses began proclaiming Baba’s name aloud. Baba responded to his call once or twice. Later when Baba realised that the reader was doing it deliberately, He stopped responding. This encouraged the reader to call out Baba’s name even louder. When another saint who was also seated there, saw this He sent a message to the reader “Amburaya does not sleep. He is engrossed in chanting. Do not disturb Him by calling out to Him again and again”.’(9)

2.3 Financial transactions

One should responsibly carry out monetary transactions with gurubrethren using one’s intellect. Otherwise there is a chance of being cheated by so-called gurubrethren as follows:

  • Some people collect money from gurubrethren saying that the Guru has sent a message to do so.
  • One such person collected money from several gurubrethren stating that he needed money to pay his lawyer.
  • Locating several people from the addresses given in the information brochure of the Sanstha, a swindler extorted money from them saying, ‘I attend satsang (spiritual meetings) in a far off centre. I was pickpocketed here. Please give me money for my return journey’.

To avoid such cheating, one should take the following precautions.

  • If one of the gurubrethren asks for help, instead of helping individually one should inform the head of the local centre and if necessary, help the person through the Sanstha.
  • If he belongs to another centre, one should contact others from that centre and then only, help the individual; if he is deemed to be deserving.

2.4 The Guru and other gurubrethren

If the Guru is enraged with a disciple then realising that there must be some motive behind it, one should observe that with the stance of a spectator (sakshibhav).

3. When a couple has the same Guru

When a couple has the same Guru, they become gurubrethren only from the spiritual and not from the worldly point of view. The advantage of both spouses having the same Guru is that differences arising from following different paths of spiritual practice are averted. Also, arguments like ‘My Guru said this’, ‘My Guru is great’, ‘What did your Maharaj do for you?’ are avoided. They are able to blend with each other all the more.

4. A disciple’s test

A. Even if a Guru takes a disciple with Him to a prostitute and asks him to wait outside, he should not let any doubt cross his mind. The Guru has done this either to test his faith or to bring about the upliftment of the prostitute.

B. ‘If one has to listen to criticism by a saint, then realising that it is a test one should divert one’s mind from it.

The implied meaning: If someone is criticised by a saint since one is unable to understand why He is speaking so or His motive, one should not pay attention to it. If one does pay attention, then taking for granted what is said to be true, he may unnecessarily misunderstand others.’(10)

C. In the examination of Spirituality, one has to solve all sorts of questions. It is not sufficient to answer just four out of six questions. One has to succeed in all the questions. Here passing does not mean acquiring 35% or 50% marks. It refers to a disciple who has acquired 100% qualities and has been declared successful.

D. In reality, since the Guru is Omniscient, He does not need to test a disciple. However, at times a Guru does it just to display the potential of a disciple to others.

E. A Guru teaches a disciple, tests him, suggests answers and declares him successful! If He were not to do this, He would be a failure Himself!

5. The planets in the horoscope, the days of the week and the Guru

5.1 The planets

The range of influence of the planets is only upto the physical body. The one who has no attachment to his body (dehabuddhi) is unaffected by planets. Thus the physical suffering of the one who has surrendered to the Sadguru depends on the Sadguru’s wish and not on the motion of the planets. According to His wish a disciple’s destiny is either postponed or suffered beforehand or the disciple undergoes it at his convenience.

The old horoscope is of no use after rebirth. Acquiring a Guru too is a kind of rebirth. The horoscope needs to be restructured according to that time. Actually once the Guru is acquired no planet other than ‘Guru’ remains in the disciple’s horoscope.

An individual asked Bhuranand Baba for His horoscope. He responded saying, “Only the body has a horoscope. Saints do not have a body, so which horoscope shall I give you?”

5.2 The day of the week

The devotee of the Guru knows only one day (var) of the week and that is ‘Guruvar (Thursday)!

6. What should one ask the Guru for?

A. Do not take undue advantage of the Guru!: An individual once prayed to the Guru for cinema tickets! The real disciple of course, never asks the Guru for such materialistic things. The disciple, who is a newcomer however, should not entertain such thoughts even in jest.

B. ‘Do not ask me for happiness, ask for the strength to endure unhappiness.

The implied meaning: Since happiness is from the Great Illusion, it is temporary. Hence, one should not ask the Guru for it. Simultaneously one should bear in mind that granting everlasting Bliss is the real mission of the Guru. However, if one has to experience unhappiness according to one’s destiny, then the Guru definitely gives one the strength to endure the unhappiness arising from those traumatic events. So, it does not matter, if one asks the Guru for inner strength to face them.’(11)


The Guru      : What do you want?
The disciple : I wish that You cherish my memory in Your
heart (I cherish Yours in mine) constantly.

D. ‘Shri Shankaracharya said, “If you have anything to ask, then do so.” Tears welled in Padmapad’s eyes. Folding his hands in obeisance he said, “Guru, my Lord (Acharyadev) now we have nothing left to ask. By Your grace may we follow the path that You have chalked out by Your lifelong efforts. You alone are the guiding light of our lives. Bless us so as to develop the potential to follow in Your footsteps”.’

E. Never ask the Guru for anything: Harbouring the faith that ‘one’s Guru is Omniscient and that He knows what is useful or necessary for one, more than oneself ’ one must continue to carry on spiritual practice. If one asks for something without deserving it, He will not grant it. But if one deserves it, then He grants it without one’s asking for it. Then why should one ask for anything at all?

F. After offering one’s body, mind, wealth and life to the Guru need one ask the Guru for anything else?

G. No matter how great the obstacles are,
Instead of seeking help from others,
He knows that obstacles can do nothing before
Lord Rama’s Name. – Shri Eknathi Bhagvat 24:341

Meaning: A real seeker does not pray even to the Sadguru, if faced with severe obstacles; as he has such intense faith that no obstacle can survive the chanting of The Lord’s Name. Here, Lord Rama’s Name refers to The Lord’s Name.


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