What are the qualities of a Guru?

Contents


A Guru has all the qualities that an ideal teacher possesses. The Guru’s real quality is Self-realisation (Atmanubhuti). However since that cannot be comprehended with the intellect, only some prominent qualities of the Guru which can be understood with the intellect are enlisted here.

1. One possessing spiritual knowledge (dnyani)

A. One experiencing Self-realisation

B. Omniscient

Few Examples are given below.

1B1. ‘One so-called saint asked one of Baba’s disciples (J.B.A.) to give up eating his most favourite food item. So for one year he had stopped eating custard apples. When in September 1990 Baba visited him, the disciple thought to himself “Giving up custard apples, etc. are trivial matters. They are meaningless. But I will eat custard apples only if Baba Himself tells me to”. The next day someone brought custard apples for Baba. Then Baba told the disciple, “You too have one”.’

1B2. ‘I know you more than you would not know yourself. I know you much more than you know yourself. According to worldly norms the greater the proximity, the more one knows another. You have maximum company of your body. This body is meant only for this birth. You can perceive just that. By the grace of Lord Rama I can perceive all the bodies that you have changed since you have attained the state of the embodied soul (jivadasha). From this you will realise that I know you.’

1B3. ‘Do not harbour the fear that your friend will be neglected. For that matter no one is neglected, but all the actions (karmas) of this particular gentleman are not yet nullified. He will take another birth and then his actions will be nullified. Your suggestion will then come true. He did not stop speaking thus but in keeping with His usual gracious nature, He merged me into His consciousness and for that purpose endowed me with a vision of a very high level as compared to my usual level. Consequently, I could perceive with what perspective He viewed the entire world. At that time we could see before us the entire earth, full of innumerable unevolved embodied souls (jivas); however all that had no clarity. Among those innumerable embodied souls doing spiritual practice (jivatmas) one could percieve one who had attained the level to be useful for the mission of the Absolute Truth as a glittering lamp in a dark sky. Granting this direct experience Guruji said, “Did you see this? It is impossible for an embodied soul with real potential to escape My attention”.’

2. The yearning to impart spiritual knowledge to a disciple

The Guru earnestly wishes to generously impart the spiritual knowledge that He has acquired from His Guru and other saints to His disciple.

‘Nowadays Shri Gurumaharaj would have long conversations with His devotees. Even this would exhaust Him. So sometimes Dr.Bendre, Keshavrao, Shamrao Gokhale or Chouhan would request Shri Gurumaharaj to speak less. Shri Gurumaharaj would then give answers with such intense yearning that it would stun the speaker. He would say that the disciples of Shri Ramakrushna Paramhansa would also tell Him not to speak excessively and that Ramakrushna would then respond, “If even one individual is uplifted by My talk, I will be happy no matter what the consequences with respect to My health are. It is really a punishment for Me if I am forbidden from conversing with those who love Me so much and travel such great distances to meet Me ! If I do not speak to them, meet them, then how will I remain in good health?”.’

3. Teaching only that disciple who will obey

One who follows devotedly something told just once
Only to such a person will I preach and he should undertake
it with the same spiritual emotion.

– Shri Gurucharitra 47:14

4. Teaching the disciple according to his spiritual level

‘J.B.A.: Despite chanting The Lord’s Name being the supreme spiritual practice, in our ashram why is ritualistic worship (puja) performed daily and ritualistic worship and the ritual of consecration by sprinkling water (abhishek) done on days of religious festivals ? Also why do you say that our trust should start a school, a hospital,etc.?

Baba : I am doing that so that each one is given a chance to undertake spiritual practice such as ritualistic worship, starting a school, etc. required for his progress depending on his spiritual level and path of spiritual practice.’

One of Baba’s devotees has been learning classical music since the age of eight. She has been teaching music since the age of fifteen. In the past seven to eight years she also sings Baba’s devotional songs (bhajans) and rehearses singing as spiritual practice for atleast twelve hours a day. Baba has blessed her that she will get the spiritual experience of Brahman in the form of sound (Omkar) through this medium of spiritual practice.

The Yogavasishtha (4.39.24 and 26) warns against teaching an undeserving disciple as follows.

अज्ञस्यार्धप्रबुद्धस्य सर्वं ब्रह्मेति यो वदेत् ।
महानरकजालेषु स तेन विनियोजितः ॥ – 4.39.24

Meaning : A Guru who preaches the tenet that ‘everything is Brahman’ to a completely ignorant or partially knowledgeable disciple, pushes that disciple into hell. – 4.39.24

अपरीक्ष्‍य च यः शिष्यं प्रशास्त्यतिविमूढधीः ।
स एव नरकं याति यावदाभूतसंप्लवम् ॥ – 4.39.26

Meaning : The Guru who preaches spiritual knowledge to a disciple without testing him or learning of his potential will eternally experience the sorrow of hell. – 4.39.26

5. Teaching stepwise based on the spiritual level

Just as when a child is just learning to talk it is taught to utter small words, when it is just learning to walk it is done gradually, so also the Guru teaches the disciple gradually in a stepwise manner.

1. Finally a disciple has to surrender his everything – body, mind and wealth to the Guru. Inspite of this being so a seeker in the initial stage finds it difficult to even listen to such things. Hence during the 1993 Gurupournima celebrations in Goa Baba said, “Just as one eats to one’s heart’s content and then does not bother about the left-overs in the plate, a seeker too should enjoy worldly pleasures to the maximum and sacrifice as much as the left-overs, but then not think about it anymore.”

This is meant only for a seeker in the primary stage. Someone misinterpreted it and thought that Baba advises only to sacrifice that bit and not to surrender everything. (Baba Himself had sacrificed everything !)

2. Stage 1: May 1995

Compiler (J.B.A.): One of the missions of an incarnation is ‘the destruction of evildoers’ yet how is it that one does not see any Guru or saint performing this ?
Baba: The Guru’s mission is to grant salvation to thedisciple. The Saviour form of The Lord itself is the Guru. A Guru cannot attain the spiritual level of an incarnation. He has limitations.

Stage 2 : June 1995

Compilers: I am feeling more drawn towards Arjun who fights rather than observing everything with the stance of a spectator (sakshibhav). Am I drifting from Your teaching of The Lord’s Name?
Baba: Why did you feel so ? Could it not be that I Myself have generated this thought in your mind !

From this I (J.B.A.) understood what I had to. Due to my ego I considered that thought to be my own. After offering everything to the Guru one cannot have any separate thoughts. From this point I realised the futility of the point in stage 1 ! According to the mission The Lord, that is the Guru assumes the Saviour or Destroyer forms. It was Guru Vasishtha Himself who told Rama to slay the demons !

Later the following notes jotted down during conversation with Baba on 4/1/95 were found.

I will not wield a weapon but will narrate four facts of prudence.

This was what Lord Krushna said during the Bharatiya war. The four facts of prudence that Krushna would speak of were with regard to the destruction of evildoers, meaning that Krushna would destroy the evildoers indirectly without fighting them Himself. This was exactly what Baba suggested.

6. Provocation to think (an excerpt from Baba’s audio cassette)

1.

Compilers: Saints ‘protect seekers’ and incarnations ‘destroy evildoers’. Saints do not slay others. Although saints areincarnations ofThe Lord why don’t They destroy?
Baba: Because They are Gurus.
Compilers: Yes, but They are Gurus only for Their disciples. What do They do for the sake of society ?
Baba: Here, there is no relationship with the whole world but only that of the Guru with His disciple.
Compilers: Are the missions of incarnations and saints different?
Baba: Of course, Their missions are totally different.
Compilers : Ultimately whose mission helps society – that of an incarnation or a saint ?
Baba: The world should decide who is greater the incarnation or the saint.
Compilers: How will the world decide ? For that it has to be greater than both of Them.
Baba: Analyse what saints have done and what God has and then decide which mission is superior.

2.

Compilers: It is said that the Vedas were written to fulfill the cause of spiritual upliftment of society as a whole and not that of an individual.
Baba: The Vedas are foolish. Who created the Vedas ? The sages. They documented only what was realised by Them and thus the Vedas came into existence.

(At this juncture we are reminded of the quote by Saint Tukaram, ‘We know the meaning of the Vedas’. – Compilers)

7. Examining the homework

If spiritual practice is not occurring appropriately then just as a good teacher asks his students to do homework, corrects it, takes tests, etc. a Guru should be able to ask His disciples about it. Hence some Gurus ask Their disciples to write down The Lord’s Name and check it regularly while others tell seekers to communicate their thoughts and spiritual experiences to Them.

8. Avoiding answering of unnecessary questions

Anandrao: Brahmanand Maharaj says that You (Gondavlekar Maharaj) are a great saint. So when and where will You renounce Your body ?
Maharaj: Having taken birth as a human being instead of enjoying life and chanting Rama’s Name why do such inauspicious thoughtscome to you ?
Anandrao: Maharaj what You say is true but this thought is interrupting my chanting hence I ask the question.
Maharaj: Should I tell the time of renouncing the body inclusive or exclusive of you ? Because you and I are one and the same. So we will both depart together.’ (?)

9. Teaching with a positive attitude

‘Baba teaches with a positive attitude. He says, ‘‘Sing devotional songs, chant The Lord’s Name, perform service, etc.’’ He never preaches negative things such as ‘‘Do not drink alcohol, do not behave this way,’’ etc.’ The reasons for this are given below.

A. Teaching not to do certain things is at the psychological level. It does not serve any purpose from the point of view of making spiritual progress.

B. Teaching with a negative attitude is about infinite things from the Great Illusion (Maya), this is not the case in teaching with a positive attitude.

10. Equality towards all disciples

It is natural for a Guru’s love for a disciple to vary according to the disciple’s spiritual emotion (bhav) towards Him. This is akin to parents’ variable affection for their children. However just as good parents do not display it, so also the Guru.

‘Though the clouds shower rain equally everywhere the water accumulates only in craters while the erect mountains remain dry. Similarly saints do not discriminate. The bestowal of Their grace on all is the same but the one with a pure antahkaran who humbly surrenders to Them gets the deserving benefit in accordance with his faith.’

11. Protecting the disciple

If a disciple is desirous of Liberation then even if he commits mistakes, the Guru protects him. No matter how impulsive, stubborn, illiterate or incompetent the disciple maybe, the real skill of the Guru lies in His taking care of that disciple. Even if a disciple is terribly annoyed with the Guru, the Guru Himself takes care of him. Once one of Baba’s disciples placed a pair of slippers on His photograph. Inspite of this Baba did not get angry with him, instead He continued to love him as before.

12. Appreciating the disciple

A Guru expresses appreciation for His disciple off and on either in words or by endowing him with spiritual experiences. ‘Raising me and holding my face in His hands Gurudev looked at me and fondly kissed both my cheeks.’ (?)

13. Ability to get spiritual practice done from the disciple

The one who is able to endow His disciple with detachment (vairagya) that is create detachment in him is the real Sadguru (Eknathi Bhagvat). The Guru knows what spiritual practice the disciple requires. He merely does not stop after recommending the spiritual practice but gets it done from him. This is the Guru’s real teaching. The following example will clarify this point.

We realised from the incident given below why some saints have said, “There has not been a single saint like Baba who kindles chanting in an individual, in the past five hundred years and will not be another for another thousand years.” On 15/9/1992 I (J.B.A.) asked Baba, “In one sect if someone’s chanting is not occurring smoothly then he is asked to chant with effort for one or two hours. You do not tell anyone this. Then what should people who are unable to chant do?” Baba irritably replied, “They do that because they are incapable of kindling the Name in others. Is there anyone who has come to us and whose chanting has not commenced ? Why is rigorous effort necessary ? Nowadays is there any other Guru who can initiate chanting of the Name ? See how great the grace of our Guru is !”

The Guru takes away everything such as the body, mind, wealth, happiness, unhappiness, ego, etc. (from the one on whom He bestows His grace). In other words He prepares the disciple for total surrender.

14. The one without any expectation of receiving an offering (gurudakshina)

1. Because of detachment and dissolution of the ego of the Guru and attainment of all pervasiveness by the Guru, He does not aspire ‘to acquire anything’.

2. Since a Guru gets free spiritual knowledge from His Guru, He imparts it to others, free of charge.

3. Divine knowledge being invaluable the Guru does not even evaluate it.

15. Pure sattvik (sattva predominant) ego

The Guru is God, that is Shiv. Most of the time the Guru is in the state of The Supreme God (Shivadasha). Since in this state the mind remains thoughtless, the thought that ‘I am a Guru’ does not occur to Him. When the Guru returns to the state of the embodied soul (jivadasha) the following thoughts occur to Him.

‘The Guru has ego. All this awakening is based only on His ego (that is the Guru’s mission is fulfilled only because of His ego). This is pure sattvik ego. This is present with regard to leading the disciple to the Absolute principle. To achieve that there is no alternative but to say “I am the disciple of so and so”. So in other words such an alternative of pure sattvik ego is absolutely necessary.’ (25)(Refer point ‘17 C. Absence of ego from the worldly point of view’.)

 

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