How should one receive the Guru at one’s home?

Contents


1. Inviting the Guru to one’s home

1.1 Whom does the Guru visit?

‘Should the disciple visit the Guru or should the Guru visit the disciple? Why should Baba visit someone who does not visit Him for reasons like leave not being sanctioned at the workplace, crowded trains, family problems, etc. Baba feels like visiting only those who visit Him inspite of all such obstacles. Besides when one says “come over to our place” the emotion that “this house is mine” is in the mind. The Guru does not like that. One should harbour the spiritual emotion (bhav) that “this is the Guru’s home. He will come whenever He wishes”.’ (1), and that ‘I am living in the Guru’s house’. If one maintains this spiritual emotion then the Guru Himself visits one without an invitation and even moves freely in and around the house. Harbouring the spiritual emotion that ‘this is the Guru’s home’ some disciples put the name plate of the Guru instead of one’s own on the main door of the house while others inscribe the Guru’s Name on home appliances. Still others name their house or even their children after the Guru’s organisation (sanstha) instead of His Name.

1.2 What should one do when the Guru comes to one’s home?

A. When the Guru comes home one should decorate the house with flowers, lit lamps and by elegantly drawing designs on the floor with special white powder and colours (rangoli). One should remember Saint Tukaram Maharaj’s quote, “The day saints come home is in itself the day of Divali or Dasara”. This also facilitates the development of spiritual emotion towards the Guru. Just before His expected arrival one should keep half a cup (vati) of milk, a tumbler of lukewarm water to wash His feet and a towel to wipe them, at the entrance. Similarly, a platter containing sandalwood paste (gandha), turmeric (haldi), vermilion (kumkum), consecrated rice (akshata), flowers, a lamp (niranjan) with clarified butter and an offering of some sweetmeat or sugar should be kept ready for performing His arti (the ritual of waving lit lamps).

    One should wait on the road to receive the Guru at the scheduled time of His arrival. When He arrives one should escort Him to one’s home with honour. One should enter the house before Him and request Him to step onto a wooden platform (pat) placed outside the threshold of the door. Then one should pour milk from the cup (vati), on His feet with the left hand and with the right hand rub the milk onto them. Keeping the cup of milk aside one should pour lukewarm water from the tumbler over His feet with the left hand and they should be washed with the right hand. In cities, due to tiled flooring there is a likelihood of collection of water. So instead of a wooden platform the Guru should be requested to stand on a big plate (parat). At such times His feet should be washed only with a spoonful of milk and then with water. Since there is a likelihood of the milk and water accumulating in the plate and of making the Guru’s feet greasy, less milk should be used. The Guru should then be requested to take one or two steps with wet feet and then they should be wiped with a towel. The big toes of both the feet should then be ritualistically worshipped in the usual way, with sandalwood paste, consecrated rice, flowers, turmeric powder and vermilion. This worship should be repeated on the forehead of the Guru, midway between the eyebrows and He should either be offered a flower or should be garlanded. Then He should be offered arti with a lit lamp (niranjan) waved around His head thrice. Finally a pedha or any other sweetmeat should be offered or fed to Him. Lastly, offering obeisance (namaskar) He should be escorted to His seat or room in the house.

    If the Guru looks tired after a long journey then instead of making Him stand at the doorstep He should be offered a seat in the house and then worshipped ritualistically. If He is very tired then instead of worshipping Him immediately one should allow Him to rest. Ritualistic worship can be performed after sometime.

    However, when doing all this one should remember the basic point that rather than external decoration, doing spiritual practice as advised by the Guru is more important. The Guru is appeased faster with internal decoration, that is with one’s spiritual practice rather than with external decoration. The importance of decorating the house when the Guru comes, preparing His favourite dishes, etc. is not even 1% in contrast to doing the spiritual practice advised by Him, which is of 100% importance.

B. Throughout the duration of His stay at one’s place the Guru should be worshipped every morning just like other deities. If not the entire ritual atleast sandalwood paste (gandha) and vermilion (kumkum) should be applied to the Guru’s forehead. Since it is important to serve the Guru when He is staying at one’s place one often does not find time to ritualistically worship the Guru’s photographs and deities as usual. Then it does not matter if one does not perform that worship. If possible one may also ask someone else to do so. When the Guru is departing from one’s home vermilion should be applied on His forehead and He should be offered arti with a lit lamp (niranjan). Whatever offering one makes to the Guru should be preferably done when He is worshipped either on arrival or before departure. If that is not possible then it may be done during worship on any other day during His stay.

C. One should take leave from the workplace and remain with Him constantly.

D. Water for His bath and His clothes should be kept ready. After His bath He should be ritualistically worshipped as described above by applying sandalwood paste (gandha) to His forehead and offering flowers and consecrated rice (akshata) at His feet.

E. Separate towels for wiping His face and hands and feet should be kept. After He washes His face and hands, He should be offered the towel meant for wiping His face and hands. His feet should be wiped outside the bathroom if He happens to stand there or otherwise after He sits down.

F. The meals prepared for Him should include His favourite dishes and should be in accordance with the dietary restrictions that He follows. If one is unaware of what they are then one should ask one of His close disciples. After the meal He should be offered water to wash His hands and a towel to wipe them.

G. One should wash the Guru’s clothes oneself and iron them as well. One should not get them washed from a servant or ironed in a laundry.

H. When fanning the Guru it should coincide with His or one’s own breath and should not be mechanical like the electric fan which operates without any spiritual emotion.

I. One should welcome everyone accompanying the Guru cordially.

J. When the Guru comes home, with His permission one should invite the other disciples of the Guru and also those who like to pay their respects (darshan) to saints. All those coming for the Guru’s darshan should be offered tea, snacks and meals courteously. Their accomodation, etc. too should be looked after. This is because they have come to visit the Guru and are not one’s unwanted guests! [Refer to the point ‘Visiting a disciple’ in ‘Science of Spirituality : Chapter 6 – Path of Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupayoga)’.]

2. One should not make the Guru an invalid

Bringing the car to the doorstep, keeping a toothbrush and water for brushing teeth by the bedside, fetching water to wash hands after a meal, lifting His luggage, etc. make the Guru become physically inactive and weak. The disciple should see that the Guru gets atleast some exercise. Thus, He remains healthy and there are less chances of His falling ill. Though the Guru is unaffected by His illness, if He remains in good health it proves beneficial to the disciple itself!’
                                        – H. H. Jijai (wife of Saint)

3. The behaviour of a disciple staying at a place of pilgrimage (tirthakshetra) along with the Guru

Never embark on a pilgrimage to a holy place
like Kashi or visit a temple of The Lord without serving
the Guru. – 2:203.

Do not go on a pilgrimage, to a temple, care for the
physical body or pay a visit to someone. Serve none
other than the Guru as The Supreme Brahman,
incessantly. – 2:204.
                                     – Shri Gurucharitra

3.1 The real place of pilgrimage (tirthakshetra) from the disciple’s viewpoint

‘When an average person who has incidentally realised the importance of fulfillment of human life acquires the satsang (holy company) of a devotee of The Lord and thus undertakes spiritual practice he progresses from the gross dimension to the subtle study of Spirituality and acquires pure spiritual intellect. At such a moment he develops an intense yearning for Liberation and realising that without the acquisition of a Sadguru there is no salvation, he sacrifices everything and goes in search of the Guru. During this process there comes a moment when the seeker gets very exhausted in his search and The Lord fearing that he will die if he does not meet the Guru assumes the form of his Sadguru and appears before him. On seeing the much desired Guru he feels gratified, that is he achieves quiescence. Feeling gratified is the very nature of the mind. His embodied soul disappears and his life gets transformed. Such a disciple himself becomes a holy place (kshetra)’.
                                                   – Saint

4. One should not tell the Guru anything

‘A disciple should listen to the Guru and not tell Him anything. If one expects the Guru to listen to oneself then it is as if one feels one is superior to Him.’(2) One should not tell the Guru anything regarding his food, medicines, rest, etc. A seeker had printed ‘no presents please’ on his wedding invitation. However, it was cancelled on the card offered to the Guru. On being questioned about it he replied, “How can I tell the Guru what He should do?” (This probably expresses the spiritual emotion that the disciple wants everything from the Guru!)

5. A function in the Guru’s home

If there is some function like a wedding, etc. in the Guru’s home, one should consider it to be one’s own.

5.1 The spiritual mission

A month before the 1993 Gurupournima, a Guru told His disciples about the expense they would incur at the Gurupournima celebrations. The expenditure was estimated to be sixty-five thousand rupees but there were funds of only forty-five thousand rupees. The very next day a disciple sent ten thousand rupees with the feeling, ‘From where will the Guru fetch so much money? I should do whatever I can to help.’ Others merely listened to the statement of accounts and forgot about it.

6. The Guru’s illness and renunciation of His body

6.1 Treatment during the Guru’s illness

If a Guru is in a coma during an illness, one should give Him the treatment prescribed by allopathic or Ayurvedic doctors. However, if He is conscious and refuses to take treatment or refuses to follow the dietary restrictions, one should listen to Him (the Guru).

6.2 The inability of the disciple to do anything

‘Once when Baba suffered a heart attack disciples of His who were doctors made three attempts to record His electrocardiogram (E.C.G.), against His (Baba’s) wishes. The machine failed all the three times. Thus, Baba taught that none of His disciples could do anything against His wishes.’(3)

6.3 A disciple cannot undergo the Guru’s suffering

When a disciple says, ‘I will undergo Your suffering’ the Guru tells him –

My sins are mine; they are not for my sons and disciples,
If I do not undergo them with this body they
will not get nullified. -Shri Gurucharitra 2:177

6.4 Going to pay obeisance (darshan) to the Guru when He is ill

When the Guru falls ill both, going to pay respects to Him in the ashram or waiting outside the hospital, both are meaningless. When Baba fell ill, everyday about five hundred people had to be served meals in the ashram. When He was admitted to a hospital, arrangement of meals had to be made for about two hundred people. This causes unnecessary strain on the seekers serving in the ashram. Besides, the Guru does not get sufficient rest required during the illness due to the flow of visitors and His worrying whether each one has had a proper meal. To avoid this, with the faith that curing His illness lies in His hands alone, one should continue one’s spiritual practice wherever one is. At the most, one may inquire about His health on phone or through letters.

The reasons why most people go to pay respects (darshan) to the Guru when He is seriously ill are:

  • If the Guru passes away, one will not be able to pay respects (darshan) to Him again.
  • What will happen to me?

Both these thoughts are erroneous. The Guru exists and will continue to be so. He will certainly meet one in future. The Guru refers to the Guru principle. The Guru principle is eternal and will definitely take care of all disciples.

6.5 The errors a disciple should avoid

When the Guru was ill an individual wrote a letter to the Guru, just as he would write to any other person. It said,

  • ‘One has to undergo one’s destiny’(!) How will the disciple know whether the Guru’s illness is due to His destiny or due to some other cause? One cannot decipher the cause-effect relationship in one who is more evolved than oneself.
  • ‘I pray to The Almighty for Your speedy recovery’(!) The Guru and God are one and the same. Since he had no faith in this, he wrote in the above manner. If one does write at all, then instead of this, one may write: ‘You are Omnipotent. Grant me the strength to endure the grief of Your illness’.

6.6 The gradual stepwise changes in the disciple’s attitude

A. Repeatedly telling the Guru the importance of taking medicines prescribed by the allopathic or Ayurvedic doctors, about following dietary restrictions, etc.

B. If the Guru refuses to take medicine or refuses to follow dietary restrictions, one should observe His illness and treatment with the stance of a spectator (sakshibhav), realising that He is Omniscient and Omnipotent.

C. Giving medicine by analysing through meditation, that is analysing in the subtle dimension: During Baba’s illness doctors who were His devotees were treating Him. Dr.(Disciple) used to request Baba to take the medicines prescribed by them. However, Baba continued to become frail day by day. One day Baba said, “You treat me like a stranger. Treat me like a family member. You administer medicines to me like a nurse. You should give them to me taking my constitution into consideration.” Then analysing through meditation Dr.(Disciple) reduced the dosage of the medicines. From that day Baba’s condition started improving. (The doctors thought that He had recovered with their treatment!) This is as though Baba had worsened His illness just to teach him!

D. Realising that ‘one cannot do anything’ and praying to Him to recover: Once Baba was very seriously ill. He was not responding to any kind of treatment. Then Dr.(Disciple) silently prayed to Him, “Baba, You had once prayed to Purnapurushottamacharya whom You considered Your Guru, to recover from His illness and He had recovered. I am praying to You in the same way. Please get well.” The next morning onwards Baba’s condition suddenly started improving and on the third day Baba had recovered completely.

6.7 The Guru’s renunciation of His body

A. After getting the news that the Guru has renounced His body the disciple should leave aside all his chores and as an expression of his gratitude should go to pay his last respects to the Guru. This is akin to a son who goes for the last rites of his father.

     The disciples attending the Guru’s last rites are classified in the following three categories.

  • Those attached to the Guru’s physical body.
  • Those going to express gratitude.
  • Those going to set an example to others.

B. Baba has said:

  • ‘If you are compassionate to even those who abuse, beat or murder Me then I will think that My Guru has prepared you well.

    The implied meaning: Abusing, beating, murder, etc. are all from the Great Illusion (Prakruti). Realising this, instead of expressing anger towards the doer if one feels compassion for him just like the compassionate Lord then it is an indicator of a disciple’s real progress.

  • What is the identity of the disciple who weeps when the Guru renounces His body?

    The implied meaning: A disciple attached to the Guru’s gross body will weep when the Guru renounces His body but the one who loves the Guru principle continues to do spiritual practice and makes spiritual progress even after the Guru’s renunciation of His body.’(4)

C. Normally after touching a corpse one has to bathe because it amounts to the act of seeing a corpse (shavadarshan). However, when one touches the Guru’s dead body, one does not have to bathe as it is a vision of The Supreme God (Shiv) itself (Shivdarshan).

D. Information on how energy is expelled from the Guru’s body when He is renouncing it, what happens to it, etc. is given in ‘Science of Spirituality: Chapter 6 – Path of Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupayoga), point – Guru’s renunciation of the body’.

7. One should not sit on the Guru’s seat

‘Baba used to spend at the most fifteen to twenty days every year in Kandli. At times, Baba sat on the swing over there. When Dr.(Disciple) visited Kandli five years ago, he felt like sitting on the swing. Two to three minutes after doing so, he felt nauseated. He thought that this was because he was unaccustomed to sitting on a swing. The next time, no sooner did he sit on the swing (without swinging it) than he developed heaviness in the head and slipped into meditation. Instead of narrating what he felt after sitting on the swing, he asked seven to eight seekers attending his spiritual workshops to “describe their experience after sitting on the swing”. Each one experienced some sort of distress. From that spiritual experience, all were convinced that if a swing that the Guru uses so rarely can have so much energy that a seeker with the ability to perceive sensations of the subtle dimension is unable to tolerate, then how great the one who can ascend the seat which is constantly used by the Guru will have to be!’(5)

8. Behaviour with the Guru after the disciple has attained Absoluteness (Purnatva)

A. ‘One disciple, after being fulfilled by serving his Guru, became steady in the natural state of communion with The Lord (sahajavastha). When the Guru and disciple were all by themselves, Shri Guru asked the disciple, “First you were ignorant. Was it not I who vanquished your ignorance and endowed you with the realisation of Brahman?”. The respectful disciple did not speak as he felt that his statement of truth would offend the Guru. Then Shri Guru said, “Do not bother about being respectful towards me now. There is no one around here. Speak the truth. That will please Me.” After the Guru’s repeated coaxing, the disciple was convinced that Shri Guru expected him to express his true feelings and that only that would please Him. So the disciple replied, “You have not done anything. I am originally Brahman”. Upon hearing these words the Guru was overwhelmed. Then He opened the door of the ashram and told the disciple, “Now people have started coming. Begin performing my ritualistic worship (padyapuja), etc. as usual because when by the grace of Shri Guru I attained the realisation of Brahman, I was doing the same. This itself is the sign of Absoluteness (Purnatva) and the culmination of one’s life”.’
                                                          – Saint

B. It is benevolent rather than malevolent for a disciple to ritualistically worship His Guru after he (the disciple) has attained Absoluteness (Purnatva) because this itself is a feature of Absoluteness. The Guru and disciple are merged into the state of The Supreme God (Shivdasha). So, there is no question of worshipping the Guru.On the other hand, when the disciple is in the state of the embodied soul (jivadasha) the spiritual emotion is that of a disciple; so he worships the Guru.

 

What is the correct way of offering obeisance to the Guru?

Obeisance

Contents


1. The types of disciples

तद्‌ विद्धि प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया ।
उपदेक्ष्‍यन्‍ति ते ज्ञानं ज्ञानिनस्‍तत्त्वदर्शिन: ।। – श्रीमद्‌भगवद्‌गीता ४:३४

Meaning: Acquire spiritual knowledge (dnyan) by going to the Guru, offer obeisance (namaskar), ask questions and do service. The Guru possessing immense spiritual knowledge and experience will endow you with that knowledge.

‘This verse (shloka) itself describes the following three types of disciples.

1.1 The superior disciple

When the one who has a desire to acquire knowledge of the soul principle, that is, a superior seeker offers obeisance to one who has experienced the Absolute Principle (the Sadguru), the latter bestows the seeker with spiritual knowledge (dnyan). The superior disciple is a seeker who inspite of being trapped in unhappiness in the state of the embodied soul is convinced that “I am not the embodied soul but am really The Supreme God (Shiv)” through the study of the scriptures. He is the one who has overcome the anadi (one without a beginning) illusion but has not gone beyond the state of the embodied soul (jivadasha) and is thus not experiencing the state of The Shiv (Brahman) principle. He struggles just like a fish out of water for a Guru and wanders in search of Him. In such a situation God Himself appears before him assuming the form of his Shri Guru. After the seeker has offered obeisance, that is after his complete surrender to the Guru, when the Guru gives him a mere glance he feels that he has accomplished the very essence of his existence.

The quote by Saint Tukaram which means, “He moulds one like Himself at once, It requires hardly any time” is in the context of such a disciple.

In His Dakshinamurti verse (stotra) Shri Shankaracharya describes the superior seeker as, ‘गुरोऽस्‍तु मौनं व्‍याख्‍यानम्‌ । शिष्‍यऽस्‍तु छिन्‍नसंशय: ।’. This means that the Guru taught through silence (moun) and got rid of all the disciple’s doubts. Brahman is the nature of the soul and cannot be described in words. The adjective wordless is affixed to It, that is It is referred to as “The Wordless Brahman”. For the superior seeker silence (moun) itself is the real deliverance, the teaching. He is rid of all doubts at that very moment and acquires the spiritual emotion (bhav) of non-duality. He begins to experience the entire world from the sky to even his own body to be composed of Brahman. A superior seeker is one with an intense desire for Liberation (mumukshu).

Since Arjun (from the Mahabharat) was endowed with divine qualities one may refer to Him as a superior seeker. ‘Saint Dnyaneshvar says, “Only those who are capable of being in the same class as Arjun really deserve to hear the Gita”. The word Arjun can be defined as ‘शुद्धांत:करणयुक्त: इति अर्जुन: ।’ meaning that the one with a pure antahkaran is Arjun. After the deliverance of the Gita Arjun says,

    नष्‍टोमोह: स्‍मृतिर्लब्‍ध्‍वा त्‍वत्‌प्रसादान्‍मयाऽच्‍युत ।
    स्‍थितोऽस्‍मि गतसंदेह: करिष्‍ये वचनं तव ।। – श्रीमद्‌भगवद्‌गीता १८:७३

Meaning: I have lost the attachment that “I am the body” and have regained the realisation that “I am Brahman”. All this is the result of remaining in Your company. Now that I am free of doubts, I am sure that I shall be able to obey Your directives.’ This means that he was worthy of receiving this most secret teaching. Such a seeker has a sattvik (sattva predominant) temperament.

A superior seeker does not fall prey to any supernatural powers (ruddhisiddhis) attained during the course of his spiritual practice. Even if the hitherto unrevealed secrets of this universe were to lie exposed before him, they would be unable to divert him from his ultimate target even for a fraction of a second and he would attain the state of Absoluteness. The superior seeker is the one worthy of Sage Vyas’s quote, ‘शिष्‍यादिच्‍छेत्‌ पराजयम्‌ ।’ meaning that the Guru should expect defeat from His disciple. This implies that the Guru expects His disciple to merge into God.

1.2 The medium disciple

The Guru imparts spiritual knowledge to him by answering his questions. Since he is yet to master the Yogas, that is the art of being one with God (yogarudh) he is qualified only to do spiritual practice from the path of Action (karmasadhana). Such a seeker predominantly has combination of sattva and raja temperaments.

1.3 The inferior disciple

A Guru gets a lot of service done from him and then imparts him with spiritual knowledge. He needs to do spiritual practice for several births. He is predominantly of the rajasik (raja predominant) temperament.

The medium and inferior disciples can gradually become superior but this constitutes a rare exception. One comes across many who have fallen prey to supernatural powers (ruddhisiddhis), desire to be respected by others (lokeshana), etc.’
 – Saint

2. The Guru’s forms and His worship

2.1 The Guru’s physical (sagun) form

A. Keeping the Guru’s photograph or idol in the temple in one’s home: The Guru’s photograph or idol should be kept in the temple at home and should be worshipped like the deities, everyday. If it is the practice to sing a specific poetic verse for the Guru during the ritual of waving a lamp (arti) then it should be sung. If not, then one may sing Dattaguru’s poetic verse (arti) or chant the Name imparted by the Guru at that time.

  • The one living alone: After the acquisition of a Guru all the idols and photographs of deities in the temple in one’s home should either be given away to a seeker who performs ritualistic worship (puja) regularly or should be immersed in a river or the sea. Only the Guru’s photograph should be kept in the temple at home. This assists one in going from ‘many to one’. If the Guru has advised the chanting of a specific deity and if it is a male deity then His photograph or idol should be placed to the right of the Guru’s photograph and if it is a female deity then Her photograph or idol should be placed to the left of the Guru’s photograph.

    Later, after marriage for the sake of the other family members one should keep the male and female family deities’ idols or photographs in the temple at home, following the above rules.

  • If the one who has acquired a Guru is the head of the family: If the head of a family has acquired a Guru while the others in the family have not; then one should place the photograph of one’s Guru in the centre of the temple at home where the other deities are kept. The other male and female deities should be arranged as described above. However, after the demise of the head of the family who had acquired a Guru, his Guru’s photograph should either be given to another disciple of that Guru or should be immersed in a river or the sea.
  • If the one who has acquired a Guru is not the head of the family : If a student or a woman has acquired a Guru and faces opposition from parents or the husband respectively, then he/she should keep the Guru’s photograph in a place where it is not seen by the others such as one’s closet, book, purse, etc.

B. Keeping the Guru’s photograph in the house: As far as possible the Guru’s photographs should be kept in the temple in one’s home. However, if one wishes to keep His photographs in the living room, kitchen or office so as to remember Him constantly then instead of thinking that they are mere photographs one should harbour the feeling that the Guru is actually present there. This is because just as a word coexists with touch, form, taste, odour and energy so does the Guru’s divine consciousness (chaitanya) accompany His photograph. One should wipe the Guru’s photographs daily and worship them offering incense and should offer obeisance to Him after doing the same to the deities one worships. If one is unable to worship the photograph in the office with incense sticks then obeisance should be offered with wholehearted devotion. If a photograph is kept in one’s wallet, locket, etc. then that too should be removed and offered obeisance similarly.

C. Garlanding the Guru’s photograph

‘Question :  A person’s photograph is garlanded only after his death,
not when he is alive. Then why is a saint’s photograph
garlanded when He is alive?
  Baba     : Saints’ photographs are garlanded because They are not
alive. They are actually dead. (Their ego is dead).’(1)

     Since the ‘Guru is God in the manifest form’ He is garlanded just like the deities.

D. Offering to the Guru (Gurudakshina): One should send money to one’s Guru every month instead of offering Him money all at once on an annual or a bimonthly or trimonthly visit (darshan). The motive behind this is that the disciple should remember His Guru atleast every month. One should also send more money for Gurupournima and for every religious festival. Finally one has to surrender one’s body, mind and wealth to the Guru, entirely. Keeping this in mind a disciple should offer a greater portion of his monthly income and total assets stepwise, to his Guru. Only if one surrenders everything to the Guru then He gives His everything, that is, His Omniscience and Omnipotence to the disciple. Offering everything to the Guru is the real offering (Gurudakshina).

E. Gurupournima: Merely expressing gratitude to the Guru is not the only motive behind celebrating Gurupournima. The grace and blessings and the non-verbal knowledge endowed by Him on that day is ten times, more than that endowed by Him on any other day. Those, participating actively in the celebrations, benefit in proportion to their participation in it. Naturally, those who come on that day merely to pay their respects (darshan) obtain less benefit. The real disciple remembers his Guru every moment. Perhaps Gurupournima is celebrated so that the namesake disciple remembers the Guru atleast once a year!

F. The Guru’s birthday: It is important to celebrate the day the Guru met His Guru rather than celebrating His birthday, as the former is a kind of rebirth. The celebration should be held according to the date (tithi) in the Hindu lunar calendar. If one does not know that date, then one should certainly celebrate His birthday. But that too should be according to the date in the Hindu lunar calendar.

G. Remembering the Guru (Gurusmaran): Remembering the Guru (Gurusmaran) and the Guru are not distinct from each other. Gurusmaran is memory of the Guru’s physical (sagun) form. Remembering The Lord’s Name (Namasmaran) bestowed by the Guru is a form of the Guru’s unmanifest (nirgun) form which in a way assists in the attainment of the unmanifest form of the Guru. Hence, He who remembers the Guru dearly is worthy of worship in the three regions (trilokas).

Only that disciple who drinks the nectar (amrut)
of the manifest (sagun) form becomes immortal*.
                                               – Shri Gurucharitra 2:59

* Immortal means the unmanifest (nirgun).

2.2 The Guru’s unmanifest (nirgun) form

When performing ritualistic worship (puja), etc. of the Guru one should be aware that He is not a physical form but a principle. ‘The body consciousness (dehabuddhi) of the one who loves the Guru’s physical form lies in himself and in the world’.(2)

3. How should one behave with the Guru?

3.1 How should one approach the Guru?

‘One should approach Him in a naked and exposed state.’

The implied meaning: ‘Naked’ refers to not possessing anything, that is listening to everything that He says without speaking and ‘exposed’ means without hiding anything from Him.

One’s attire when visiting the Guru: The clothes should be simple. The attire or ornaments one wears should not be a display of one’s worldly riches.

3.2 Offering obeisance (namaskar)

A. The obeisance to be offered to the Guru by a disciple following the path of Yoga.

  • Initially: Since the battle in Spirituality is just beginning one should offer obeisance sitting on one’s knees, that is, in virasan (the posture of the brave one). Virasan is also called viramudra.
  • Once the target is achieved: One should offer obeisance by prostrating on the ground before Him (sashtang namaskar).

B. Placing one’s head on the Guru’s feet: If one meets an acquaintance, one always smiles, shakes hands with, greets him with obeisance (namaskar) or if he is elderly then offers obeisance by touching his feet. Whether one meets the Guru at one’s home, in His ashram, on the road or elsewhere one should place one’s head on His feet. Placing the head on someone’s feet denotes the surrender of the intellect.

    The amount of frequencies of Energy (Shakti) or Bliss (Anand) emanating from a Guru and a saint

  • The amount of frequencies of Energy (Shakti), Bliss (Anand) or Serenity (Shanti) present depending on the spiritual level
The spiritual level The amount of frequencies of
Energy, Bliss or Serenity %
1. An average person
    (20% level)
Energy 10
2. A saint of 70% level Predominantly Energy 30
3. A saint of 80% level Predominantly Bliss 60
4. A saint of 90% level Serenity 90
  • The amount of frequencies of Energy or Bliss emitted through various organs: First carefully observe the eyes, palms, feet and other parts of the body in the Guru’s sketch given below and note which part emits more Energy or Bliss.

Every individual may not get spiritual experiences from such experiments. The table below gives information regarding the spiritual experiences of only those who are able to perceive a little in the subtle dimension after having done some spiritual practice.

The organ The amount of frequencies of
Energy or Bliss emitted %
1. The eyes 20
2. The hands 20
3. The feet 40
4. Other organs 20
Total 100

From the above table one will realise why one offers obeisance to saints by placing one’s head on Their feet instead of merely folding one’s hands in the obeisance (namaskar) posture. At that time, a saint often touches one’s back or head. This bestows an even greater benefit. When one places one’s head on the feet of a saint, Energy or Bliss frequencies enter one’s body through the Brahmarandhra in greater quantities.

C. The real obeisance (namaskar): ‘मनेन नमन: ।’ means offering obeisance mentally. Undertaking spiritual practice however is the real obeisance.

3.3 Offering something

Instead of offering pedhas, garlands, coconuts, etc. it is better to offer some favourite dish of His made at home, money, etc. because the Guru distributes the pedhas, garlands, coconuts, etc. but the money is useful for His mission. However, the most valuable thing that one can offer to the Guru is spiritual emotion (bhav).

3.4 Continuous chanting of The Lord’s Name

A. One should chant The Lord’s Name continuously so as to purify oneself in order to be able to serve the Guru.

B. Chanting occurs easily and automatically in the Guru’s presence and when doing His service. One should take advantage of this phenomenon.

3.5 The Name imparted by the Guru is more important than the Guru’s speech

‘Question (Dr.(Disciple)): Sometimes instead of listening to Your speech my concentration turns towards chanting. If this happens, there may be inattention to a certain task one might have been asked to do. To avoid this, should I stop chanting the Name and instead listen to what You are saying?

Baba : While paying attention to chanting the Name, one need not pay attention to anything else; because all these things are from the gross dimension; whereas the Name is associated with the God (Purush) principle.’(3)

3.6 What should one do when the Guru reprimands, abuses or beats?

‘Question: When accompanying the Guru, if the disciple walks ahead of the Guru, He shouts, “How dare you walk ahead of Me?” If he remains behind, the Guru yells, “Why are you lagging behind when you are My disciple?” and if one walks alongside Him, He rebukes, “Are you trying to compete with Me?” Then how should the disciple behave? And what is the Guru’s intention behind it?

Baba: In fact not much importance should be attached to the Guru’s rebuke, as the Guru’s motive is to teach the disciple to continue chanting The Lord’s Name and not to feel aggrieved by the Guru’s rebuking.

    Once Shri Saish, Baba’s Guru was supposed to travel somewhere by horse carriage. He asked Dinu (Baba’s former name) to sit in the carriage. However, thinking “How can I sit beside the Guru?” Dinu instead of sitting in the carriage kept running behind it, barefoot. The Guru gave Dinu His slippers to prevent his feet from getting hurt. But he did not wear them thinking, “How can I wear the Guru’s slippers?” and kept running behind the carriage clutching the slippers to his bosom. The Guru then shouted at him. On asking Baba “Was this shouting due to Your disobeying the Guru?” He replied in the negative. Further Baba did not reply as to why the Guru shouted at Him. In short, instead of analysing the reason why saints or the Guru reprimand, one should continue chanting The Lord’s Name and perform Their service because eventually comprehending the real reason is beyond one’s intellect!’(4)

More information on why the Guru rebukes is given in ‘Science of Spirituality : Chapter 6 – Path of Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupayoga)’ point ‘Reprimanding and abusing’.

3.7 One should not force the Guru to eat

‘One should not force Baba to eat due to the following reasons.

  • Many people who come to pay their respects to Him fondly bring pedhas, barfi or homemade ladu, chivda, etc. Often it is impossible for Him to taste even a little bit of everything.
  • One should take Baba’s physical condition, age and dietary restrictions into account.
  • Baba has no likes and dislikes of His own. If Baba says that He “liked” some food item brought by someone, it is actually the spiritual emotion (bhav) of that person that He is appreciating. If Baba says He “liked” someone’s chakli then an onlooker’s bringing chakli for Baba the next time proves wrong.’ (5)
  • Even if the Guru just touches a food item it is an expression of His acceptance.

3.8 One should keep only one thought in mind, that ‘the Guru should not experience any discomfort’

Once a lady disciple of our Guru, that is Baba came to stay with Him for Divali. Her intention was not to celebrate Divali joyously with Baba, instead her attention was fixed on whether Baba was following dietary restrictions like not eating oily foods. Another lady disciple of His wept after Baba scolded her because she felt upset that it must have caused Him trouble to yell at her. Once at Indore at the construction site of the ashram, Baba standing on broken bricks was beating up a disciple. The disciple however instead of paying attention to the beating was worried lest Baba lost His balance and fell injuring Himself!

 

What is the importance of serving sagun form of the Guru?

Contents


1. Participation in a bhandara

One will understand how one can serve the Guru in different ways from the illustration of a bhandara (the festival of distributing food for a spiritual purpose) given below.

1.1 The motive behind organising a bhandara

Those who attend a bhandara for the first time observe that some cook, serve food or clean utensils while others just chat, etc. This appears just like a gathering of scouts and guides or NCC cadets at a camp. One does not feel that there is Spirituality involved in a bhandara, at all. However, after becoming aware of the following objectives behind organising a bhandara, one realises that “One should not judge a book by its cover”.

  • Offering of food (annadan): Although imparting spiritual knowledge (dnyandan) is superior; yet, since it is in the subtle dimension most people do not realise its importance. As against this, since “offering food to the hungry” can be easily seen with gross eyes, most people realise its importance.
  • Service: Seekers get the opportunity to perform various types of service, for instance making preparations for the bhandara, serving food, cleaning utensils, etc. More than eating the food oneself, the joy that one gets by serving others and seeing them eat to their heart’s content needs to be experienced by each one himself.
  • Sacrifice: Due to physical work done at the bhandara there is sacrifice of the body and due to the money offered to buy the groceries or due to offering of other things, etc. for the bhandara there is sacrifice of wealth. Also since at that time the only thought in the mind of a seeker performing service is to do it in the best possible way it also results in sacrifice of the mind.
  • Feeling love for others: One begins to experience a feeling of brotherhood for other seekers participating in the bhandara.
        Thou hast shown us various relations
        Whom Thou lovest equally.
  • Assuaging the ego: No matter what one is in one’s personal life, thinking that one is a servant here helps to decrease one’s ego.
  • Satsang (Holy company): Whether organised by saints or seekers one gets the benefit of satsang, at the bhandara.

1.2 Preparing for the bhandara

Preparations for a bhandara begin a few weeks before the actual function. Buying groceries, cleaning the foodgrains, getting the grain ground into flour at the mill, etc.are tasks which have to be done two to three weeks in advance. Onions, potatoes, etc. are bought two to four days before while the vegetables are fetched on the eve of the bhandara. Some seekers from places other than the place where the bhandara is being organised come to help in these preparations two to four days before the event.

1.3 The eve of the bhandara

On the eve of the bhandara, seekers arrive by various means such as train, bus or car. On their arrival, they go to pay their respects (darshan) to Baba. If they have brought something from home, they offer it to Him. Baba too inquires affectionately about their well-being. A few words from Baba are sufficient to alleviate their fatigue from travelling and they feel very refreshed and relaxed.

Then they keep their luggage somewhere in the ashram and those interested in helping in the preparations for the bhandara, do so; while those who wish to chat, stand around the place or sit on the tea-vendor’s bench outside and chat. At night, after dinner, either Baba or His devotees sing devotional songs (bhajans). Those who are tired or those not interested in bhajans go to bed. Many seekers listening to the bhajans experience Bliss. Some, however, make preparations for the next day’s bhandara.

1.4 The day of the bhandara

Since dawn, there is great hustle and bustle as if it were a wedding. The serving of food begins by 12 noon or 12.30 p.m. This (mahaprasad) continues till 3 or 4 o’clock in the evening. There has never been an incident where there has been a shortage of food at a bhandara. Several devotees have experienced that two or three thousand people would partake food when it was prepared for only a thousand; inspite of continuous frying, the oil in the pan remained at the same level, etc. Baba sees to it that the devotees who stay for preparations of the bhandara get a variety of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Those leaving bid farewell to Baba and to one another and depart with a sacrament of food (prasad). Some stay behind to do the clearing up. After clearing up everything within a day or two, they too leave for their respective homes and look forward to the next bhandara.

1.5 The types of people who attend the bhandara

One can atleast see the saints who attend the bhandara but most people do not even realise when deities come and go.
     Invitations were sent to all, the celestial beauties, celestial musicians, deities, sages and their attendants. (Bhajan no. 107 Sai celebrates the bhandara)

People attending the bhandara behave in different ways as follows.

Types of people attending the
bhandara
Benefit
%
The number of
people attending
the bhandara %
1. Behaving as if on a picnic 0 30
2. Behaving as if on a holiday or
    as a girl visiting her father’s
    home after marriage behaves
0 20
3. Those who have come to
    remain in Baba’s company
1 20
4. Those who have come with
    the intention of learning
    Spirituality
2 5
5. Those who perform service
    physically to a maximum
    extent.
30 9
6. Those who perform service to
    a maximum extent physically,
    psychologically and financially
100 1
7. Others 0 15
Total 100

No matter how the ones who attend the bhandara behave, Baba loves them all equally. Once we had asked Baba, “Inspite of spending thousands or lakhs of rupees on bhandaras, very few people benefit from it, spiritually. Yet, why do you continue to organise them? In response, Baba had said, “For those few only.” And that is very true. It is not possible to acquire qualities of service, sacrifice, love for others, etc. despite discussing about them in our spiritual workshops, but is possible if seekers participate even in a few bhandaras whole-heartedly. Dr.(Disciple) has experienced this himself and have also noticed it in many others.’(1)

2. Collecting funds for the ashram

‘Question : If everything occurs according to the Guru’s wish, then
if the Guru so wishes funds for the ashram will come in
automatically. Why should one ask for donations?
Baba        : What if the Guru wishes that donations should be asked
for? Everyone must keep in mind that “what one sees is
his duty”.’(2)

3. Willingness to go anywhere to render service

The disciple should be mentally prepared to go even to hell to serve the Guru, if He happens to go there. However, in reality since the Guru is The Supreme God Himself there is no question of His going to hell!

4. One should not allow the obstacle of intellect to interfere in service towards the Guru

‘One night, Baba was sleeping with the fan on. At dawn as it was chilly, a disciple (Dr.) thought of putting it off but immediately recollected that Baba liked cool weather. So he did not put it off. In the morning Baba said, “It was so cold in the morning. The fan was not necessary”.

5. The importance of serving the manifest [(sagun), the Guru’s physical body]

Since the Guru is an unmanifest (nirgun) principle one tends to neglect His physical form. In reality too service of the unmanifest principle is 70% important while that of the manifest (sagun) form is only 30% important. Most disciples start with the manifest and then go to the unmanifest. Dr.(Disciple) however had gone in the reverse direction. He had yet to do service of the manifest. Although it is just 30% important yet to make progress and attain Absoluteness (Purnatva) service of the physical form is also necessary. He realised the importance of serving a Guru in the physical form when in 1995 during Baba’s illness He stayed with Baba for eight months. If one is unable to serve the Guru’s physical form then one may serve one’s grandparents, parents, etc. considering them to be the Guru’s form. This too becomes service of the Guru’s manifest form. Pundalik too realised God by serving His parents alone.

5.1 Study of service of the manifest (sagun)

Buying vegetables for the family becomes a chore while doing the same for the Guru whether He directs one to do so or not becomes spiritual practice.

‘Knowing how to respect the object of faith,
Is possible only if one’s Guru is Lord Sadashiv.
              – Shri Bhavarthadipika (Shri Dnyaneshvari) 12:216

Meaning: The Lord tells Arjun, “If one who is intensely devoted to Me is paid respect by an individual then the Guru of that individual is none other than Lord Shankar.”

The commentary on the implied meaning: If a devotee of Mine visits some person and if that person is able to pay due respect to him then his Guru has to be Lord Shankar Himself; as only then, will he be able to honour My devotee.

In the Dasbodh (9.3.11) Samarth Ramdas Swami says – Yogeshvar (Lord of Yoga) can recognise a yogi, Dnyaneshvar [Lord of Spiritual Knowledge (dnyan)] can recognise a knowledgeable person (dnyani) just as only the intelligent one can recognise one who is very intelligent.

In other words, this means that only a knowledgeable one will recognize The Lord of Spiritual Knowledge – Dnyaneshvar and only a yogi will perceive The Lord of yogaYogeshvar. One requires intense spiritual practice to have faith in a saint. After worshipping God with great fervour only when the heart overflows with intense motivation for Liberation will one come across saints, that is because of God’s compassionate nature He brings one in contact with one solely devoted unto Him. (He is called a saint.) The Avadhutgita says, ‘ईश्वरानुग्रहात् पुंसां अव्‍दैत वासना ।’ the purport of which is the same; because God grants this true realisation through a devotee solely devoted to Him. So, that is one’s real test; because so long as the saint with whom one has been associated is not appeased with one’s service till then The Supreme God will not bestow His grace on oneself, that is, one’s target remains unaccomplished. For instance, if a wealthy man is pleased with someone and bequeaths all his wealth to him the latter continues to consider himself poor as he is unaware of this favour. Actually, the very moment the will is made he becomes rich. The same holds good here. Even if a father bequeaths his assets to his son, till the son attains the age of majority the law does not grant him its possession. Similarly here attaining majority means appeasing one’s Guru (The Lord’s devotee) with one’s service.’
 – Saint

5.2 The difficulties in the service of the manifest (sagun)

Service of the unmanifest (nirgun) is easy as the unmanifest does not say anything if one makes a mistake. However, service of the manifest (sagun) is difficult. Whether one commits a mistake or not the manifest Guru reprimands. Those who have spent a day or two with Maharaj, do not realise how tedious the task of serving saints is. No matter what one does, He can never be appeased! This is what Dr.(Disciple) experienced when in 1995, he spent eight months with Baba, to render his services. Some examples have been cited below.

  • At Baba’s usual tea-time Dr.(Disciple) asked, “Baba will You have tea?” Baba retorted angrily, “Is this the time to have tea?” An hour later He shouted again, “No one is bothered whether I have had tea or not!”
  • Since it was time for His dose of medicines Dr.(Disciple) asked, “Baba will You take Your medicines?” Baba shouted suddenly, “Who are you to ask me? Throw away the medicines. I will take them if I wish, otherwise I will not.”
  • As Dr.(Disciple) was dressing the keloid on Baba’s chest H. H. Aanand was flashing light with a torch. Inspite of the light falling in the right place Baba abused and shouted at Him saying, “Why are you flashing the light just anywhere?”
  • Seated beside Baba, Dr.(Disciple) used to write the volumes of the book ‘Science of Spirituality’. One day Baba shouted, “I am sick and you are busy writing! Throw away those papers.” He stopped writing, stood up and began fanning Him to prevent flies from sitting on Him. Two days later as he was fanning Him Baba shouted again, “Why are you wasting time in this useless work? Start writing.”
  • Noticing that Baba was asleep Dr.(Disciple) went to switch off the lights. Just then He opened His eyes. So, Dr.(Disciple) casually asked Him, “Shall I switch off the lights?” Baba responded saying, “Who has asked you to meddle in these useless things? Someone else will be paying the electricity bill.” He said, ‘O.K. Baba’ and no sooner had he left the room than Baba sent for him. On going back to Him He said, “Put off the lights.”

    One should ignore such behaviour of the Guru and just keep on chanting. If one experiences Bliss from the chanting then one does not grieve.

  • ‘A disciple named Sandipak served his blind, crippled Guru, Vedadharma afflicted with leprosy at Kashi, a place of pilgrimage, for twenty-one years. He used to clean the maggot infested wounds and the urine and stools of the Guru. Inspite of being served food the Guru would shout that He was not served. If Sandipak did not bring delicacies in the alms then He would shout as well. At times, He would even fling the plate of food. (To avoid a lapse in the service of His Guru inspite of being in Kashi, Sandipak did not even go to the temple of Lord Vishveshvar.) Pleased with his service to the Guru when Lord Shankar and Lord Vishnu manifested to bestow upon him a boon, Sandipak said, “My Guru is capable of granting me everything.” This pleased Lord Vishnu and He cured his Guru of leprosy.’ – Shri Gurucharitra, Adhyay 2.

6. Examples

A. While serving his Guru the best disciple
     forgets even his hunger and thirst. – Shri Gurucharitra 1:76

B. ‘Dinkar’s service to his Guru is in itself an ideal lesson on service to the Guru. Some illustrations of this are given below.

  • Since the Guru would require hot water for His daily ablutions after waking up in the morning, Dinkar would wake up at four or four-thirty at dawn, warm the water and await his Guru’s awaking. After He woke up he would serve Him tea. Serving Him the whole day he would return home at 1.30 or 2 o’clock in the morning only after the Guru told him to leave. Thus Dinkar would sleep for only two to three hours everyday.
  • To prevent himself from falling asleep and from causing a lapse in his service, Dinkar would stand on his toes.
  • Within a few days of Mr. Haribhau Lambhate’s first meeting with Shri Saish, He came to stay with him. At that time harbouring the thought that “Since the Guru lives in this house everything should be neat and tidy”, Dinkar would wake up in the night and removing the contents such as sugar, rice, lentils, other foodgrains, etc. would clean all the containers from the kitchen, without disturbing anyone. Then he would refill the containers and keep them back in their respective places. The people in the household would realise this only the next morning. Dinkar spent many such sleepless nights. Yet he would be up to serve the following day too. Once as he was washing a pot scrubbing it with ash, he was granted a vision of Lord Shankar in the ash.
  • When the Guru would sit down for a meal, Dinkar would be very eager to serve Him. Even if His plate was full of various items he would not forget to add a crisp pungent wafer (papad), a preparation of rice flour resembling vermicelli (kurdaya), an exquisitely delicious pickle, etc.
  • After serving the Guru His meal, Dinkar would remain standing on one foot and would sing devotional songs (bhajans) till the Guru finished His meal.
  • Whenever the Guru told him to press His feet or to sing bhajans, etc. Dinkar would continue to do so for hours together till the Guru told him to stop. Sometimes he would press His feet or sing bhajans all night long.
  • Once when the Guru had gone down for His daily ablutions, as usual Dinkar dusted His mattress, cleaned it and spread out the bedsheet meticulously, without leaving a single crease. Then Dinkar went down to give the Guru water to wash His hands and feet. After the Guru had finished, he returned with Him. The Guru had the habit of chewing tobacco. On ascending the stairs, he observed that two or three tobacco leaves were stuck to the bedsheet. Dinkar was very upset about it. After a while, when he led the Guru to the bathroom for a bath the fragrance of roses emanated all over the place and Haribhau’s mother noticed that the Guru’s mattress was strewn with rose petals. So, she said to the Guru, “Baba, just see what he has done!” In reality, since Dinkar was accompanying the Guru he could not have strewn the petals. When talking about this later, Baba said, “The Guru must have done that realising the distress I underwent due to inefficiency in my service unto Him.”
  • Harbouring the feeling “How can one serve the Guru when one is impure?” Dinkar would chant The Lord’s Name as he served the Guru. (After Dinkar became Baba He would shout at His disciples if they did not chant during service.)
  • Dinkar would follow his Guru wherever He went, like a shadow. The Guru would at times stay with Dada Mujumdar at Ratlam, with Haribhau Lambhate at Tarane, in a room of the Tilbhandeshvar temple at Badhvah or in a hut at Mehtakhedi. Dinkar was always with Him.
  • When the Guru went out, anywhere that He took off His wooden slippers, Dinkar would stand holding them in his armpit. When it was time for Him to return he (Dinkar) would quickly place them at His feet.
  • Whenever the Guru travelled in a horse carriage, He would ask Dinkar to sit beside Him. But Dinkar would not, thinking “How can I sit beside the Guru?” Then the Guru would say, “Follow me”. Fearing that the Guru would reach His destination before him and to avoid any lapse in service towards the Guru, Dinkar would run behind the carriage. One can imagine how difficult it must have been for one to run after a horse carriage in a street where one has lived in dignity. But Dinkar would never pay heed to such things.
  • Once, soon after the Guru sat down in the horse carriage, it departed. Since Dinkar did not get time even to wear slippers he began running after the carriage, barefoot. Seeing this, the Guru threw His own slippers from the carriage, for him. Yet feeling that he could not wear the Guru’s slippers Dinkar held them close to his bosom and continued running behind the carriage, barefoot as before. The Guru reprimanded him for that too.
  • Once when running behind the Guru’s carriage barefoot, a thorn pricked Dinkar’s foot. However, to prevent a lapse in his service to the Guru, Dinkar continued running inspite of a bleeding foot. With every step he took the thorn pierced the foot even deeper. Yet he continued running. The Guru then felt that He was testing Dinkar far too much and was full of compassion for him. Then Dinkar stepped into cowdung and the next moment he realised that the thorn was no longer there in his foot.
  • Once, to prevent a lapse in service unto the Guru, Dinkar did not go to the latrine for his daily ablutions for two consecutive days. When someone told the Guru this He said, “He is a real ass. Is this something worth taking permission for? If he were to ask Me, would I ever refuse?”
  • Once when bathing on the banks of the Narmada at Sahastradhara, Dinkar realised that he had not brought a change of clothes for the Guru to wear after His bath. Thinking that he had failed in his service to the Guru and unable to face Him anymore, Dinkar went to end his life. Just as he was about to jump into the Narmada he heard a voice, “You fool! Do you think you will complete this destiny by giving up this body? Surrender your body unto the Guru.” Realising that Dinu was about to jump, Ramjidada, Haribhau, etc. tried to stop him. Hearing that, the Guru shouted, “Dinu what are you doing? Come here at once.” Only then did he turn back and run. He fell at his Guru’s feet and sobbed uncontrollably.’(3)

C. A saint(Anna) from Dahanu taught a lot of practical aspects of Spirituality along with its theory. In reality, His wife was His disciple. Everyone used to call her Vahini (sister-in-law). Towards the middle of 1988 Saint/Anna developed cancer of the large intestine. He was admitted to the Nanavati hospital in Mumbai. Vahini accompanied Him, so as to serve Him. Some examples given below will illustrate how much she had merged into Saint/Anna.

  • Saint/Anna had loss of appetite due to both, the illness and the medication. His diet consisted of about a quarter of a chapati, three or four teaspoonfuls of rice, one or two teaspoonfuls of vegetable (bhaji), one or two teaspoonfuls of curry, half a banana, one to two cups of tea and one to two biscuits. Saint/Anna was reluctant to eat even this much. However, He complied with solely due to others’ requests. Vahini too would eat the same amount of food as Saint/Anna. Yet she could manage to serve Saint/Anna energetically, day in and day out.
  • Saint/Anna was reluctant to take medicines. If some medicine was bitter He would refuse it. So Vahini would take that medicine first and would say, “It is not so bitter.” Then Anna too would be forced to take it.
  • Vahini would sleep only after Anna did and would wake up before Him.

Such blending is called ‘breathing in unison’(samashvasan). Vahini’s blending however was even beyond this, to the extent of 100%. The following instance will prove it.

Almost two months before Anna renounced His body, once when conversing with Anna and Vahini, Dr.(Disciple) said to Anna, “We are not worried about how Vahini will cope after You renounce Your body as she too will follow suit within five to six months.” (One does not feel inhibited about discussing anything with saints as They do not have emotions about anything.) Hearing this, Vahini responded sharply, “You are mistaken, Doctor. Only twenty-four hours!” In 1989, after Makar Sankranti in the first half of the year (Uttarayan) Anna renounced His body. True to her words, expelling the vital energy (pran) through the Brahmarandhra Vahini too left for the divine abode twenty-three and a half hours later. Those ignorant of all this, at the psychological and intellectual levels expressed the following reactions, at Vahini’s funeral.

  • 1. She expired because she could not withstand the shock of her husband’s death.
  • 2. She must have consumed poison and committed suicide out of despair, following her husband’s death.

Renouncing the body within twenty-four hours in this way is becoming a sati of the highest order. Such a chaste and devoted woman (pativrata) merges into her husband so much that when he breathes his last, so does she. Renouncing the body within a few months of the husband’s death is becoming a sati of the moderate type. Remaining faithful to her husband after his death, and spending the rest of her life following the ‘religious codes of conduct’ before renouncing her body is becoming a sati of the inferior type.

7. Service of the Guru after Self-Realisation (dnyanottar Guruseva)

Once one starts acquiring spiritual knowledge (dnyan) which is beyond words one should perform the service of the Guru physically by entering the state of the embodied soul (jivadasha). Generally this service is done as gratitude.

8. Total surrender

Total surrender means submitting oneself to the Guru, entirely. The table below explains the importance of surrendering oneself to the Guru totally.

  Chanting in the
Madhyama
mode of speech
Service
of the
Guru
Total
surrender
to the Guru
1. The minimum spiritual
    level % of the seeker for
    whom it is possible?
40 60 80
2. The importance % 50 70 100

9. The one staying in the company of the Guru

9.1 The importance of staying in the company of the Guru

In spiritual practice the fastest path to make spiritual progress is staying with the Guru, sacrificing one’s own home. To feel real love for the Guru, one needs to be in His company. Only after staying with the Guru can one acquire control over desires.

The objective of the liberated souls (jivanmuktas) in keeping a disciple in Their company is to purify the disciple’s mental and desire bodies even further and to keep them in harmony with Their own. In ancient India, according to the Gurukul tradition the pupils lived in the Guru’s ashram till the completion of their education.

‘Inspite of chanting five hours everyday for twelve years once Gurudev Ranade’s mind was in a turmoil. He could not meditate. So, He went to His Guru. The Guru asked, “Ramaraya, why have you come?” He replied, “Master, You know everything.” Then the Guru asked Him to stay with Him for eight days. Simply living with the Guru for eight days was sufficient to get rid of His mental turmoil.’

It is important to remain close to the Guru till He bestows His grace. Thereafter however, this is not a necessity as the Guru’s mind is Omnipresent and the disciple gets the spiritual experience that the Guru is perpetually with him. Those with subtle vision are able to view the silvery cord connecting the Guru and His faithful disciple.

9.2 Living with the Guru sacrificing one’s own home

This is very easy to talk about in lectures but when it is actually to be put into practice it is rather difficult. In March 1995, after Baba’s health had improved, that is, after staying with Baba for two to three weeks Dr.(Disciple) asked Him, “Shall I return to Mumbai?” He repeated this once a week for two to three weeks. Inspite of the reasons for the return being predominantly of a sattvik (sattva predominant) nature, that is to visit all the centres of the Sanstha and to complete all the volumes of the book ‘Science of Spirituality’ by the day of Gurupournima Baba replied, ‘We will see later’. When this occurred two to three times it struck him that being with the Guru who is beyond the three components (trigunatit) was even more important than these things and no matter how sattvik these reasons were, that to be in the Guru’s company one should be able to sacrifice even one’s mission. Thereafter he never asked Him when he should return to Mumbai and He too did not talk about it. After four months had passed thus, just four days before Gurupournima Baba gave him permission to return to Mumbai.

9.3 The progressive steps in the behaviour of the disciple with regard to the Guru’s presence

A. He behaves well so long as he is with the Guru.

B. He behaves well even when away from the Guru, that is he becomes his own Guru.

10. The one who respects the Guru

When a disciple performs the spiritual practice advised by the Guru, he gets spiritual experiences and then automatically begins respecting the Guru. Jagadguru Shri Shankaracharya the one who advocated the advait (non-duality) philosophy has said, ‘One should maintain the feeling of duality only towards the Guru and honour Him accordingly’.

11. The one who possesses the qualities of a seeker

A disciple should possess most of the qualities of a seeker given in ‘Science of Spirituality : Chapter 4 – The Seeker’.

12. The one curious about Spirituality (jidnyasu)

Initially one should certainly ask the Guru questions pertaining to Spirituality. The Guru’s answers assist in increasing one’s faith in Spirituality and in the Guru. After making a considerable amount of spiritual progress asking the Guru questions proves to be unnecessary for the following reasons.

  • It is the Guru Himself who imparts the spiritual knowledge required for the progress of the disciple.
  • The aim of spiritual practice is to bring about dissolution of the mind and intellect. So long as the disciple is entrapped in questions and answers, the activity of the mind of creating questions and deriving happiness from the answers obtained through the intellect, continues. Rather than asking questions, if one devotes time to spiritual practice then progress occurs faster. That is, one begins getting answers from within. When the access to receiving answers from outside is blocked, the route to getting answers from within is opened faster.

13. The one who can win over the Guru

The states of a Guru vary from a momentary state of the embodied soul (jivadasha) to the state of the embodied soul doing spiritual practice (jivatmadasha) and the state of the God realised soul (Shivatmadasha) each lasting for sometime and the state of The Supreme God (Shivdasha) lasting for most of the time. If one is able to behave appropriately for that state, that is, one is able to fulfill His expectations then the Guru is appeased.

14. Do not emulate the Guru

The Sadguru is beyond all behavioural restrictions. On the other hand, so long as the disciple is bound by restrictions he is not liberated. A disciple has to observe restrictions till he attains Absoluteness (Purnatva); hence he should not try to emulate the Sadguru’s behaviour. (The Guru’s behaviour appearing to be unrighteous may be so only externally.) A disciple should behave as advised by the Guru. Thus if one behaves like Rama who followed restrictions one can become like Shrikrushna who was beyond restrictions. Hence, in Shrimadbhagvat Shukacharya preaches to King Parikshit that instead of imitating the behaviour of saints one should righteously follow Their teachings and that one’s welfare lies in that alone.

15. The one without ‘ego’

The one who has no ‘ego’ is a disciple and the one who is devoid of the spiritual emotion that ‘He is I’ (So’ham) is a Guru.

16. For the sustenance of Absoluteness (Purnatva) the one remaining intensely devoted to the Guru even after its attainment

‘In the Yogavasishtha, the Final Liberation (Moksha) is defined as the “destruction of desires and instincts”. Destruction of the ego also means the same. But the irony of it all according to Shri Shankaracharya’s school of Ajatvad is that since nothing has originated at all, how can desires and instincts and ego be created? Then how will something which has never been created, be destroyed? Then what does its destruction mean? The answer to this is that “the conviction that there are no such things as the ego, desires, instincts, etc. itself amounts to their destruction. Hence only the appearance of their illusion will have to be considered as their origin. Manifesting itself is the very nature of the soul, hence one cannot predict when it will manifest itself. Thus one cannot say that the ego is destroyed”. Consequently, saints preach that until the end, devotion solely unto the Guru that is, worship of the Guru is necessary for the sustenance of Absoluteness (Purnatva). Gulabrao Maharaj says, “Even if one is liberated while still embodied (jivanmukta), one should continue chanting the Omkar till one renounces the body”.’ – Saint

Gratitude: One should constantly harbour the awareness that one’s spiritual progress is occurring (mainly) because of the Guru. If that is absent then at any moment ego can manifest in oneself. A seeker used to weep out of gratitude thinking, ‘My chanting is occurring automatically because of my Guru’.

17. The comparative importance of some qualities of a disciple

  The importance
%
The minimum
spiritual level %
required to follow
the spiritual practice
1. Chanting with effort 5 40
2. Remaining in the Guru’s
    company
30 50
3. Obedience 60 60
4. Service of the Guru 70 60
5. Surrendering one’s body,
    mind, wealth and life to
    the Guru
100 80

Obedience encompasses doing only ‘what one is told’ while service of the Guru is perceiving what is in the Guru’s mind and doing what pleases Him; hence service of the Guru is superior to mere obedience. Surrendering everything surpasses all other qualities; since, thereafter the disciple has no independent existence.

 

Why does a genuine disciple follow his Guru’s directives without any doubt?

Contents


1. The desire for Liberation (mumukshutva)

‘Although the Guru initiates one preaching, “You are That Brahman yourself” yet one has to live discriminating reality from mere illusion (vivek) because the Guru’s teaching is merely for the convenience of the spiritual discipline. Ultimately without the disciple’s intense desire he cannot get liberated from worldly life (jivanmukti). Saying, ‘शिष्‍य प्रज्ञेव केवलं: ।’ Bhagvan Shri Krushna told Arjun, “After assimilating all My teachings become aware of your own shortcomings, that is with the help of My teachings make a resolve and liberate yourself from worldly life.” Among the four fold spiritual practices realising what is eternal and perishable (nityanityavastuvivek), detachment (vairagya), controlling physical and psychological factors (shamadishatsampatti) and intense desire for Liberation (mumukshutva), the last that is, intense yearning for realisation of God is considered to be the main spiritual practice (Vedantashastra, Brahmasutras – A. 1). No matter how much a woman decks herself up with jewellery, etc. if she is a widow then will it suit her? Similarly even if a seeker has the other three qualities except yearning for Liberation then it is useless.’ – Saint

2. Obeying the Guru’s directives

This is the monarch of all the virtues of a disciple.

2.1 Do not analyse the Guru’s directives

A disciple may not be aware of the motive behind the Guru’s directives yet he is certain that whatever the Guru advises has a benevolent purpose. That is why a genuine disciple of the Absolute Truth carries out the Sadguru’s orders without a hint of doubt. When the Guru tells him, ‘Chant The Lord’s Name’ he does accordingly without doubting the usefulness of doing so. Ambu chanted continuously for seven days and nights because His Guru had advised Him to chant The Lord’s Name continuously. As a result, He attained Self-realisation and became Amburao Maharaj. Even if one disagrees with the Guru initially one should follow His directives and then ask the reason for them. If the Guru says, ‘Go back to your parents and obey them’ then one should do so without feeling hurt. One should not think ‘the Guru is driving me away from Him and back to my parents’ or ‘returning to my parents is all a part of the Great Illusion (Maya)’, etc. When the Guru advises one to go, there must be some intention behind that. Viththalpant, Saint Dnyaneshvar’s father had renounced the world but his Guru told him, “Become a householder again” because the Guru wanted to bless the world with Saint Dnyaneshvar.

2.2 Benefits

A. One should obey the Guru without using one’s intellect. Then one does not feel worried about any task to be accomplished.

B. If one obeys everything that the Guru says then one does not make use of one’s mind or intellect. It is therefore the best means of destroying the mind, intellect and ego.

C. ‘Just as a mound of clay rests peacefully in the hands of a potter so also if one surrenders oneself unto the Guru then Shri Guru can shape one appropriately.”(1)

2.3 What is more important obeying the Guru’s directives or other duties?

‘One of Baba’s (Saint’s) disciples (Vijay) used to conduct workshops on Spirituality every Sunday. If it was not possible to conduct the workshop on a Sunday then he would inform everyone beforehand. When the workshop was fixed on one Sunday, Baba summoned him to Indore. Since it was not possible to convey the message of cancellation of the workshop to the thirty or forty people who attended the workshop he was perplexed about how to cancel it at the last moment. Even so he immediately started out for Indore cancelling the workshop. When he reached Indore, Baba asked him, “Have you informed the people attending the workshop that you had to come to Indore because your Guru summoned you?” When he replied in the affirmative Baba said, “From this those attending the workshop will learn a lot more than what they would have learnt at the workshop.”

2.4 Obeying the Guru’s directives and the intellect

A. One should not use one’s own intellect in obeying the Guru’s directives

  • One disciple (Vijay) had an eighty-six year old father and a seventy-six year old mother. Both had suffered from three to four heart attacks. For two consecutive years Baba was telling him to bring his parents to Indore. The disciple used to feel that his parents would not be able to withstand the journey. Thus, he was using his own intellect. In 1990, when Baba told him to bring his parents to Narsobavadi for Gurupournima he arranged for their tickets, at once. He did not think, “There will be a huge crowd of three to four thousand people and they will have to wait for three to four hours in a queue just to pay their respects to Baba. Will they be able to cope all this?” He left it all to Baba. Baba took good care of them and then said, “You took the right decision of bringing them here”.’ (2)
  • ‘One Saturday night at 10 o’clock a perfume vendor who always offered Baba perfume came to pay homage (darshan) to Baba. Since he did not have the perfume that Baba wanted he affectionately told Baba, “Baba, tomorrow being a holiday the shops will be closed and the perfume that You want will not be available. But I have another good perfume at home which was ordered for someone else. I will bring that for You.” He returned with the perfume and handed it over to Baba to smell the fragrance. Suddenly Baba was enraged and ordered someone to sprinkle ten drops each of the perfume in the toilet and the bathroom. The other seeker did accordingly. The vendor too being a disciple neither felt angry nor dejected. He would be obeying the directives of the Guru if he were to tell Baba that the perfume He desired was not available and remained quiet or if he had tried to procure it within a day or two and then presented it to Baba or sent it to Him; if He was out of town by then. Bringing a similar perfume using his intellect was a mistake. Hence, Baba ordered it to be sprinkled in the toilet and the bathroom.’ (3)

B. Obeying the Guru better by using one’s intellect: If the Guru says, ‘Do ritualistic worship (puja)’ and the disciple performs it in a progressively better way using his intellect then it not only amounts to obedience but also pleases the Guru.

    Once Baba told a disciple, “When you visit Goa give some offering of food (prasad) to Mr Pansare, an old devotee of mine”. When the disciple went to Mr. Pansare’s house he was told that he was admitted in the hospital. On reaching the hospital that disciple realised that Mr. Pansare was in a coma. The disciple then put a small pinch of the prasad into his mouth. When one wishes to obey the Guru one is automatically guided by one’s intellect to act as per the situation. Any other person would have perhaps handed over the prasad to someone at Mr. Pansare’s residence and returned giving Maharaj’s message. That would have been just like running an errand.

2.5 The Guru’s question, wish and order are all one and the same

‘Once at Kandli, Baba asked one of His disciples (Vijay), “Could you go by car to Narayangaon and fetch some vegetables?” For a moment the disciple thought “could you go” means that he had an option. Why should he go to buy vegetables leaving Baba when he had come to the ashram to be in His company? But at once it occurred to him that His question, wish and order are all one and the same and so he replied in the affirmative. Baba then said, “I expected just this from you”.’ (4)

2.6 Obedience of the Guru’s orders occurring automatically

After one reaches a spiritual level of 70% or so there is nothing left in life to be done for oneself. So the disciple starts behaving according to the Guru’s directives.

2.7 Penetration of the Adnya chakra

‘According to the path of Yoga after intense and strenuous penances are performed over a prolonged period the Adnya chakra is penetrated but only after penetration of the Muladhar, Svadhishthan, Anahat and Vishuddha chakras. However, by obeying the directives of the Guru, penetration of the Adnya chakra occurs directly bypassing all these chakras.’(5)

2.8 The secret of obeying the Guru’s orders

The strength behind obeying the Guru’s directives lies in the very order. The Guru does not tell one something which is not possible for one to do. Although externally it appears that the directives cannot be obeyed, the Guru Himself gives one the strength to obey His directives.

2.9 The steps in obeying the Guru’s directives

A. Doing whatever the Guru says.

B. Perceiving the Guru’s wishes and fulfilling them accordingly.

2.10 The consequences of not following the Guru’s directives

The one who does not obey the Guru enters the dreadful
rourav region of hell*,
He becomes a resident of Yama’s region (hell)
and undergoes continuous suffering there. 15:22
The one who does not obey the Guru enters the dreadful
rourav region of hell.
He is not far from sin and he always remains a pauper.- 40:75
                                                                 – Shri Gurucharitra

* The worst region of hell is referred to as the rourav region.

2.11 Examples

‘Once Sage Dhoumya asked His disciple Aruni to water the crops in the field. On reaching there, Aruni realised that since the water was flowing away the crops were deprived of it. He attempted to dam the flow with stones, but due to the force of the current the dam would not hold. Finally he lay down on the ground between the two banks of the dam and thus blocked the flow of the water. As a result, all the crops began to receive water.’- Shri Gurucharitra, Adhyay 16.

‘To follow his Guru’s order a Shudra named Parvateshvar cut off the entire harvest of jowar crop not heeding the opposition of his wife and children. (Later the crop which was cut off grew in abundance and manifold more of jowar was harvested).’ – Shri Gurucharitra, Adhyay 47

3. Belief, faith, spiritual emotion (bhav) and devotion (bhakti)

‘A quote “न विश्वसेदविश्वस्‍ते विश्वस्‍तेऽपि न विश्वसेत्‌ ।”, means that not only should one not trust an untrustworthy person but one should also not trust even a trustworthy one. As against this, “One should have complete faith in the Guru’s words” is another quote. Ultimately what should one do? Belief is of two types, one arising out of respect and the second out of friendship. The trust developed in one’s parents due to one’s own weakness in the beginning is of the first type, while belief in others for the acquisition of greater strength despite having strength in oneself is of the second type. If the infant does not trust its mother then it will be handicapped. In the same way in Spirituality the disciple is like an infant without the guidance of the Guru. Hence, one needs to have belief of the first type. “One should have intense faith in the Guru” is a belief of the first type. On the other hand while planning worldly assignments one needs to have belief of the second type. Quotes like “न विश्वसेत्‌” meaning “Do not trust”, etc. refers to the second type of belief.’

Belief is developed through verbal information while faith develops from spiritual experiences (anubhutis). There is a saying,‘There is God where there is spiritual emotion (bhav)’ but there is no such saying as ‘There is God where there is faith’. Then what is spiritual emotion? Spiritual emotion lies in between faith and devotion. One who is not separate (vibhakta) is a devotee (bhakta). This is a state of non-duality (advait). Devotion (bhakti) is the energy which ends this separation. The components of spiritual emotion which convert faith into devotion are as follows.

The component The amount %
1. Gratitude 30
2. Service 10
3. Spiritual love (priti) i.e.
    love without expectation
10
4. Bliss (Anand) 30
5. Serenity (Shanti) 10
6. Others 10
Total 100

Out of these, the first three components that is gratitude, service and spiritual love are a part of spiritual practice whereas the next two, that is Bliss and Serenity are the results of spiritual practice. The Bliss one experiences when the eight sattvik emotions (ashtasattvik bhav) are aroused is because Bliss is an ingredient of each one of them. The first three components especially gratitude to the Guru are constantly essential. Only then can one obtain the spiritual experiences of Bliss and Serenity constantly.

Intellect is definitely not a component of spiritual emotion. Hence, spiritual emotion is always simple in nature. Minor incidents like the one regarding a wedding invitation illustrate whether a person has any spiritual emotion and if so to what extent.

  • Those without spiritual emotion: As is the custom they write the Name of Ganapati or the family deity on the wedding invitation.
  • Those with spiritual emotion: They write ‘By the grace of the Guru we have the pleasure of inviting you to the wedding of our son/daughter……….’.
  • Those who have merged with the Guru’s mission completely: In addition to point above, they conclude the invitation by writing ‘yours……..(name), name of the Guru’s organisation ’.

    Those with a lot of spiritual emotion write the Guru’s name or the name of His organisation on their house, all the items in the house such as utensils, etc.

    A disciple continuously chants the mantra imparted
    by the Guru day and night.
    He knows no lore other than his Guru’s quotes.

    A devotee of the Guru believes that the water
    which has been touched by the Guru’s feet
    no matter how it is, contains the holy water
    of the entire universe and that it is superior to
    all the holy waters.

    If a seeker suddenly obtains the leftovers of the holy
    sacrament of food (prasad) partaken by the Guru
    then in comparison to this achievement
    he does not aspire even for the
    superconscious state (samadhi).

    The seeker receives the dust particles
    which fly off behind the Guru as He walks,
    onto his head and considers himself fortunate
    to be blessed with Supreme Bliss.
                   – Shri Bhavarthdipika (Shri Dnyaneshvari) 13:446-450

    मंत्रे तीर्थे देवे व्‍दिजे दैवज्ञे भेषजे गुरौ ।
    यादृशी भावना यस्‍य सिद्धिर्भवति तादृशी ।।

    Meaning: One gets the benefit from a mantra, holy water offering (tirtha), God, a Brahman (priest), an astrologer, a physician and a Guru depending on one’s faith in them.

    From the mantras and holy water offering,
    Brahman, deity, spiritual practice and medicine
    one gets results according to one’s faith.
    Similarly by considering the Guru to be
    The Supreme God (Shiv), one gets His full blessings.
                                            – Shri Gurucharitra 40 : 49

3.1 Do not harbour doubt after offering everything to the Guru

On 2nd October 1995 after paying homage (darshan) to Baba He said, “Doctor (Vijay) you have given everything except your ‘self ’.” Since in today’s times some require to do spiritual practice adopting the warrior attitude to destroy evil (Kshatradharma) thoughts in that direction that is, of spreading that spiritual practice were arising in Vijay’s mind. Since these thoughts were contrary to the usual ones that is of chanting The Lord’s Name, being in holy company (satsang), service to God (satseva), the stance of a spectator (sakshibhav), etc. He felt that He was drifting away from Baba. On 8th October 1995 at Indore, He confided in Baba about these thoughts regarding the warrior attitude (Kshatradharma) and asked Him the meaning of His statement. Baba said, “If chanting The Lord’s Name is combined with spiritual practice with the warrior attitude then that too is appropriate. The fact, that you considered the thought on the warrior attitude to be your own, means that you have not surrendered your ego.” So after all, it was Baba Himself who had suggested that thought!

3.2 Fearlessness

How one develops fearlessness due to faith in the Guru is illustrated by the following examples.

  • A seeker working as a government official in Mumbai was threatened with murder by members of a political party when investigating the functioning of an organisation. Once, during the enquiry he said to a hundred and fifty workers creating an uproar, “You cannot scare me. My Guru is capable of protecting me. I will die only when the time comes for me to die. If I am destined to die at your hands; then so shall it be. But till then, I will not fail in my duties.”

    Many a saint visited this seeker’s office for their personal work. At that time, he would get up from his chair and pay obeisance to Them by placing his head on Their feet. As a seeker, he would guide Them as far as possible. But if anybody spoke arrogantly to him he would behave sternly like a government official. If anyone tried to show off his energy or supernatural powers (siddhis) he would ask the security guards to turn him out of the office.

  • Hundreds of Hindus and Muslims were killed in the horrifying riots in Mumbai in 1993. At that time Swami Parmanand with His matted hair locks tied in a bun, sporting a long beard and the usual sadhu’s attire went to visit an acquaintance in the Muslim locality. When asked whether he was not scared, He replied, “When my Guru is capable of protecting me, why need I fear?”

3.3 Illustrations

A. Some examples from the Gurucharitra:

     ‘When Shri Guru asked a Brahman lady to milk an infertile buffalo she began milking it with intense faith and the buffalo yielded milk in abundance.’ – Shri Gurucharitra, Adhyay 22

     ‘Due to the faith in his Guru obeying His directives, a Brahman named Narahari afflicted with leprosy watered a dried twig of the oudumbar (holy fig) tree for four years. Inspite of people labelling him as insane, he persisted in his act. Later the twig sprouted leaves and Narahari too was cured of leprosy.’ – Shri Gurucharitra, Adhyay 40

B. Once when a disciple of Samarth Ramdas Swami was walking on a road, he saw the aged parents, wife and children of a young man, the sole bread winner of the family, grieving over his dead body. Full of compassion he sprinkled some water on the corpse uttering ‘Rama, Rama’. He thus came back to life. When the disciple related the incident to Saint Samarth, He slapped the disciple on the face and said “Why did you call out to Rama twice? Did you not have faith that Rama would respond to your first call?”

C. Once a disciple named Ambadas was told by Samarth Ramdas Swami to perch himself at the end of a branch of a tree and then to cut it towards the trunk. With full faith in the Guru he set out on this task. On cutting the branch he fell into a well below the tree. Three days later Samarth asked him, “Are you all right?” He replied, “By Your grace I am alright.” Then Samarth brought him out of the well and renamed him ‘Kalyan’.

D. ‘To a disciple who had injured his leg the Swami said, “Your foot was swollen yet you walked. You were in pain yet you ignored it. Thus, if one ignores happiness and unhappiness, one will experience The Supreme God. If one clutches onto sorrow, it increases all the more. You walked; because you had trust (faith) in Me. Otherwise you would not have walked this much. That is why one needs a Guru. Though your leg is injured you will soon feel better. Do not worry.” Speaking thus, the Swami departed.’(6)

E. On a Monday in the month of Shravan (according to the Hindu lunar calendar) Baba went with a disciple to the temple of Omkareshvar. There, He handed over a bel leaf to the disciple and asked him to offer it to the deity, Omkareshvar. There and then in the temple itself, he offered it upon Baba’s head.

F.

Bhuranand Maharaj: Your parents will go to heaven
(Vaikuntha/Moksha).
The disciple            : Will they really go?
Bhuranand Maharaj: Now that you asked me this, they
will not go; because you do not
believe in your Guru.

G. A disciple married a girl without even approving of her just because Baba told him to marry her. After the wedding, he realised that she was afflicted with leucoderma. Even so, he did not blame Baba for asking him to marry her; because he had faith in Him. (The wife was a devotee of Sai Baba even before marriage. It was when she had gone to Shirdi that this disciple had gone to ask Baba whether he should marry this girl and Baba had replied in the affirmative.)

H. Entrusting everything to the Guru: A thirty-five year old spinster was asked by her Guru, “If you wish to get married, I shall make a resolution (sankalpa) and you will get married in six months.” She replied, “You only decide what is essential for my spiritual progress getting married or remaining single.”

I. A letter from a Guru to a disciple: ‘I am unable to protect you since you do not believe in My Omniscience and Omnipotence.’

4. The one sacrificing everything

A. Initially, it is not possible to sacrifice everything, all at once. It is possible only gradually as one makes spiritual progress. The noteworthy point here is that if one is destined to be rich due to merits acquired in one’s past births, one will definitely be so. Since the Guru has no desire for anything from the Great Illusion (Maya), He does not accept the money offered by a disciple. So it remains with the disciple. In such a situation the disciple should spend the money purposefully harbouring the spiritual emotion that ‘This is the Guru’s money’.

     The amount of money offered to the Guru is not important but not keeping any money for oneself is. For instance, an offering of ten thousand rupees by one who has a saving of one lakh rupees is far inferior to one offering his entire saving of fifty rupees.

     ‘Is not offering everything to the Guru contradictory to a (Guru’s) renunciant’s lifestyle? If the Guru is detached then what will He do by taking everything from the disciple? One who has actually experienced this will not get such doubts as he observes his destiny as a spectator. But to those who have not experienced this we reply that even if the disciple sacrifices everything, is it necessary that the Guru should use all that? If one considers the possibility that ‘the Guru is a shrewd householder who asks the disciple to offer everything to him’ He too must have offered everything to his own Guru. If this is the tradition according to the Vedas just like any other dealing, why then should one view it with scorn?’(7)

B. The more one sacrifices one’s intellect, the more one uses the universal intellect, that is the more the disciple merges himself in the Guru.

C. Normally, deserting one’s wife and children amounts to sin. However, if one leaves them and goes to the Guru, it is not a sin. On the contrary, it assists one in going beyond sins and merits. In 1993, Gurupournima celebrations were held in Goa. One day prior to it, in the evening there was a quarrel between Mr. and Mrs. Bhagat. Mr. Bhagat said, “Why such a fuss about Gurupournima? I am leaving for home, at once.” Mrs. Bhagat replied, “You may go if you wish, but I will not accompany you.” The husband then packed his bags and left. He returned in a short while saying, “I was just testing you.” God alone knows the truth! Later, when we asked whether she was not scared about what would happen if he really deserted her, Mrs. Bhagat replied that at that moment it did not matter to her even if he divorced her, but she was determined to remain by the Guru’s side.

D. ‘When Shabar could not find human ashes even after a search of seven days, Shabari his wife told him, “Burn me and use those ashes for the ritualistic worship (puja) of the linga”. A linga is a symbolic representation of Lord Shiva. When this was done Lord Shiva brought her back to life.’ – Shri Gurucharitra, Adhyay 40.

5. The one who does not think of the offerings he has made

‘Once in Dandi in the Indian state of Gujarath a businessman offered a bundle of five rupee notes (worth five hundred rupees) to Baba when He was bathing in a river. Annoyed with this Baba asked him, “Is this the time to offer money?” and hurled the bundle into the river. The businessman was awestruck. Then Baba told him, “Since you have offered me the money I will do whatever I wish with it – throw it in the water, burn it up or spend it on eatables. But this should not create doubt in your mind. Once you offer it to me; you should realise that it is like throwing the money into the river from a running train. Now the river will decide what is to be done with that money!”(8)

6. Humility

  • ‘Dinkar (Baba) never sat in front of his Guru.
  • When with the Guru, Dinkar would stand in a corner awaiting the Guru’s orders. ( He never tried to impress his Guru!)
  • Dinkar always gazed at his Guru’s feet or at the ground. Later when speaking on this Baba (Guru) would say, “A servitor should never look into his Master’s (Guru’s) eyes. That is why I always looked at His feet. Inspite of that I could see Saish’s face clearly.”
  • Dinkar never asked the Guru anything. He only knew that the Guru should command him and he should obey those commands.’(9)
  • One views people as per their ability, so let us see a great example,

    Water accumulates in a crater in the earth But flows away from a mound.
                                                                    – Shri Gurucharitra 3 : 32

    Intense devotion is like a crater, while the hypocrites are like a mound.
    It is for this very reason that one should surrender one’s
    mind, speech and actions to Shri Guru, with determination.
                                                                   – Shri Gurucharitra 3 : 33

Reference:

[1] Siddhabodh. First edition – Gurupournima 1985, pg. 5. Publishers : Gagangiri Publishers, 4, Nalanda Kalpataru Society, Mahant Cross Road, Vile Parle (East), Mumbai.

Sadhubodh: Shri Gulabrao Maharaj Virachit Prashnottaratmak Sukti Ratnavali. Ashtamayashti. Publishers : Shri Dnyaneshvar Madhuradvait Sampradayik Mandal, Dahisath, Amravati.
[6]. Pg. 47

[7]. Swami Shri Loknathtirtha Charitra. Pg. 504. Author : Achyut Siddhanath Poòbhare. Publishers : H.H. Shri Vasudevanand Sarasvati Swami Maharaj and H.H. Shri Loknathtirtha Swami Maharaj Memorial Trust Publishers, Shri Vasudev Nivas, 42/17 Karve Road, EranÅvane, Pune 4.

 

What are the stages of a disciple’s spiritual progress?

Contents


 

1. What does spiritual progress depend upon?

1.1 Before and after acquisition of a Guru

The following table illustrates the main factors upon which spiritual progress depends before and after the acquisition of a Guru.

The importance
before acquiring
a Guru %
The importance
after acquiring
a Guru %
1. One’s own efforts 40 10
2. Destiny 60 30
3. The Guru’s grace 60
Total 100 100

1.2 The progress in a seeker and a disciple

A seeker without a Guru can on an average make progress upto 0.25% per year and that too only upto a spiritual level of 50-55%. Contrary to this, the one doing spiritual practice under the guidance of a Guru, can make progress of 2-3% per year and one bestowed with the Guru’s grace of upto 5-8% per year and the progress can occur upto 80-100%.

1.3 If no progress occurs then the disciple is at fault

‘Saints always bestow one with the best. If They do not, then one must realise that one is lacking in something.’(1)

1.4 The grace of the Guru (Gurukrupa)

Refer ‘point The Guru’s grace (Gurukrupa)’.

1.5 The type of disciple, the spiritual level, maximum spiritual progress, the duration required for it and the Guru’s contribution

Types Spiritual
level %
Maximum
Spiritual
progress %
Minimum
duration
required for the
progress (years)
The Guru’s
contribution
%
1. Inferior 40 48 13 25
2. Medium 50 65 9 30
3. Superior 60 85 5 35

A seeker of an inferior level can acquire a Guru only if he has intense motivation for Liberation (mumukshutva).

2. Changing the Guru

In this context, one should take a decision considering the following points. However doing what another spiritually evolved person recommends would be even better in this regard.

2.1 Changing the Guru by oneself

A. If one feels distressed with the spiritual practice advised by a Guru, one should ask the reason for the distress. If one’s doubts are not cleared or the distress is severe, then it should be stopped and the Guru should be changed. A Guru had advised one of His lady disciples to worship Lord Shri Datta. After commencing that spiritual practice, she experienced discomfort. Another saint asked her to worship a female deity (devi). After commencing this spiritual practice, not only did she not experience any discomfort; but on the contrary, was benefitted by it. The point to be noted here is that if someone is afflicted by distressing energy, then initially one may be troubled by the spiritual practice advised by the Guru. At such times, continuing the same spiritual practice eventually overcomes the distressing energy.

B. After being in the Guru’s company if one realises that ‘the Guru’s spiritual knowledge and spiritual experiences are inadequate’, etc. or due to some reason if doubts about the Guru’s potential are generated in one’s mind, then one should change the Guru.

C. ‘Do what the Guru says, not what the Guru does.’ If a Guru were to go to a prostitute a disciple would follow suit but when the Guru swallows pieces of glass, the disciple loses courage. Some feel that changing the Guru due to the above mentioned reasons like the Guru’s external behaviour implies that ‘one’s spiritual level is low and hence one is blaming the Guru’ or that ‘one is lacking in faith’. At such times instead of wasting time in analysing whether one’s spiritual level is low or that of the Guru is low, changing the Guru is the best solution because once a doubt is generated in the mind, spiritual practice does not occur smoothly.

D. ‘अनभिज्ञं गुरुं प्राप्‍य संशयच्‍छेदकारकम्‌ ।
गुरुरन्‍यतरंगत्‍वा नैतदोषेण लिप्‍यते ।।
मधुलब्‍धो यथा भृंग: पुष्‍पात्‌ पुष्‍पांतरं व्रजेत्‌ ।
ज्ञानलुब्‍धस्‍तथा शिष्‍यो गुरोर्गुर्वन्‍तरं व्रजेत्‌ ।।

Meaning: If a disciple’s doubts are not vanquished by an ignorant Guru and the disciple goes to another Guru capable of eliminating his doubts, then he does not incur any sin. Just as a honeybee flits from one flower to another in search of honey, so also a disciple desirous of acquiring spiritual knowledge goes from one Guru to another till he acquires it.’(2) In this context, the Gurus so acquired by the disciple desirous of spiritual knowledge are only teachers and not real Gurus. Lord Dattatreya chose twenty-four Gurus (Shrimadbhagvat, skandha 11). They were not Gurus but only teachers or assistant teachers.

‘Datta: O King Yadu, you will wonder what the need is to have so many Gurus when only one is capable of endowing one with Self-realisation. Will it not make one the target of criticism like an adulterous woman? The answer to this is that, to attain Self-realisation only one Guru is sufficient. If one develops doubt about His preaching, one should get rid of it. To be able to perceive the soul principle which is common to all creation, visible and invisible I accepted the qualities of these objects as my Gurus. Thus the spiritual knowledge (dnyan) that my Guru endowed me with has been strengthened by accepting these attributes as the Gurus.

E. यत्रानंद: प्रबोधो वा नाल्‍पमप्‍युपलभ्‍यते ।
संवत्‍सरादपि शिष्‍येन सोऽन्‍यं गुरुमुपानयेत्‌ ।। – शिव पुराण

Meaning: If after practising Spirituality as advised by a Guru one does not acquire even a small quantity of Bliss and spiritual knowledge, then one should certainly take guidance from another Guru. – Shiva Puran

F. The Guru who cannot endow spiritual practice after acquiring spiritual knowledge, should be rejected. Samarth Ramdas swami describes this as,

Gurus who neither instruct the disciple to do spiritual practice,
Nor train him to gain mastery over his senses,
Are worthy of rejection; even though they are available by the dozen.
– Shri Dasbodh 5.2.21

G. Akin to Shri Ramakrushna Paramhansa who wished to acquire the experience of Self-realisation through various paths of Spirituality, after attaining Self-realisation one may accept a Guru with authority in the respective path. Generally a majority of the Gurus have knowledge only about the particular path through which They have performed spiritual practice. However, one should remember the example of the great Saint Gulabrao Maharaj of Vidarbha who says, ‘Once one acquires the genuine experience of Self-realisation, one does not even think of acquiring it through various paths.’

2.2 Harbouring the fear that the Guru will be enraged, if one is changing to another Guru

One should not fear that the Guru will be enraged by changing the Guru; because genuine Gurus never get angry and there is no need to fear the wrath of a fake one.

2.3 Changing the Guru according to the directives of one’s Guru

A. If one feels like changing the Guru then, only after seeking the permission of the Guru should the Guru be changed.

B. If the Guru so commands, “Now for further guidance He is your Guru” then considering it as the directive of the Guru, one should go to the Guru indicated by Him.

2.4 One should not change the Guru

A. Some change their Guru as their desires remain unfulfilled. They fail to comprehend that the Guru’s real mission is to destroy desires.

B. If spiritual progress is occurring smoothly, then one should not change several Gurus. This is just like one continuing a medicine to which one is responding, without changing it.

C. Thinking that ‘my Guru is not appropriate, I must change the Guru’ is considering oneself to be more knowledgeable than the Guru.

D. Losing faith in the Guru: Inspite of following his Guru’s advice a disciple suffered each time.

  • He got his daughter married but she had intense suffering at the in-laws place for two to three years after marriage.
  • One son refused a job abroad and stayed back in India. The company in which he was employed had to be closed down.
  • The second son was not settled in his business even after five years.
  • He himself suffered a loss; as he was not given a commission by his employer.

On asking the Guru about this on several occasions the Guru gave replies such as ‘you did not do spiritual practice appropriately’, ‘you did not undertake spiritual practice with faith’ and ‘as a disciple, I am responsible for you, not for your children’. The disciple felt all these were just excuses.

If this happens, one should consider this to be one’s ‘test’ and should continue one’s spiritual practice without losing faith. The Pandavas underwent so many tests, yet their faith in Lord Krushna did not waver. If this is not possible then one should return the knowledge endowed by the Guru like Yadnyavalkya, without making use of it and should begin learning everything afresh, from another Guru.

E. What should one do if one gets doubts about the Sadguru?: Getting doubts is a natural phenomenon. Once King Dashrath doubted whether Sage Vasishtha was possessed by a spirit. So, he augmented his spiritual practice and overcame the doubt.

F. “Since the disciple’s intellect is impure, the Guru’s intellect is necessary; but how can one say that the Guru’s intellect is not impure?” Even if the Guru’s intellect is impure whether ‘it can overcome the disciple’s impure intellect’ is the only thing that a disciple should take into account. This query is similar to the million dollar question whether the river Ganga which cleanses the sins of so many is a sinner herself.”(3)

G. ‘If one observes defects in the Guru, then how should one face it?: One should ignore such feelings thinking “there are more defects in objects than in the Guru”.’ – Shri Gulabrao Maharaj

H. One should remember that if one does not make spiritual progress, it is due to one’s past impressions or one’s inadequate efforts and should not attribute it to the Guru. Such a realisation can occur only due to devotion and faith.

I. ‘An incident: Dr. Jayant Athavale was accompanying Baba to Nashik.

Baba              : There is a great saint here. Go and pay respects (darshan)
to Him. He will also answer all your queries.
Dr. Athavale   : Now I do not feel like paying respects (darshan) to
anyone else. I am convinced that I will find all the
answers at Your feet.
Dr. Athavale   :
(after a while)
Should I have gone to pay respects to
that saint obeying the Guru’s directives?
Baba              : No. What you did was right.’(4)

J. When one is doing spiritual practice as advised by one’s Guru, if some other saint recommends some spiritual practice, one should not do it. (If one’s spiritual practice is going on appropriately then often real saints do not advise anything.) However, if one gets the spiritual experience that one’s Guru is speaking through that saint then one should certainly do the spiritual practice advised by that saint.

K. Since the basic tenet in Spirituality is going from ‘many to one’ thinking about going from one Guru to several, is wrong. When the disciple falls at his Guru’s feet tears* flow just as a chaste woman finds ultimate happiness at her master’s feet.
– Saint Bhaktaraj

* Tears: one of the manifestations of the eight sattvik emotions (ashtasattvik bhav).

L. Until one attains a spiritual level of 70%, one is bound to get doubts regarding the path of Spirituality and the Guru’s potential off and on, as the mind is active and getting doubts is a function of the mind. Later however, as there is dissolution of the mind, this does not occur.

M. Pleasing one Guru is so difficult, then how will one please so many Gurus?

नि:संगाशी संग आणि प्राणाशी गाठ! means being in the company of a saint is dangerous, as it dissolves all desires which one wants to fulfill for the sake of pleasure! Hence initially one should not accept a Guru. If one has already accepted one, one should not leave Him. Later even if one wishes to do so, He does not leave one!

3. Causes of deterioration

A. Not doing spiritual practice: By not chanting the Gurumantra imparted by the Guru both, that mantra and the Guru are offended.

B. Joking about the Guru: Just as one does not joke about one’s parents, one should not do so about the Guru.

C. Misuse of the Guru’s name

  • The Guru of H.H. Joshibaba of Mumbai, H.H. Bapu Maharaj would dictate the contents of a letter to a disciple who would then write it. If Bapu asked another disciple for a particular item, for instance if He dictated ‘Send me a fan’ in the letter, then this disciple would write ‘Send me two fans’. He would then give one fan to Bapu and keep the other for himself.
  • Bapu’s house had become dilapidated. One of His disciples collected a lot of funds from several other disciples conveying the false message that money was required to build a new house for Bapu.

However, later this disciple suffered immensely.

D. Criticising and detesting the Guru

How will he, who enthusiastically speaks of the attributes
and defects of his Guru, acquire knowledge,
And when will he become steady? 16:28 – Shri Gurucharitra

The one who hates the Guru has no place either in this
world or the next,
How will he, who is unable to perceive light, acquire true
knowledge? 16:30 -Shri Gurucharitra

Realising that the Guru principle is one, one should not criticise even one’s previous Guru.

E. Rejection by the Guru: The one who is rejected by the Guru is akin to the one who is rejected by all the three worlds (trilokas).

4. Spiritual experiences and signs of progress

4.1 Reduction in suffering

One disciple had a problem of stammering. He felt like conducting a spiritual discourse like his other gurubrethren. He told the Guru his difficulty and asked, “What is the solution to this?” The Guru responded, “If you speak thinking that you are speaking, you will falter because of your stammering. However if you foster the spiritual emotion that ‘the Guru is speaking through you’, you will not stammer; because the Guru does not.” Later, when delivering the discourse, the disciple who otherwise stammered at every sentence, stammered only once or twice in that one and a half hour.

4.2 Recovery from or cure of an illness

A. Communication with the Guru reduces an illness: If one’s illness is spiritual in origin, then how it can be overcome merely by reading the Guru’s letter is illustrated by the following: ‘H.H. …. Shirsashtang namaskar. I received both Your letters. When I received Your second letter I was tossing and turning in bed with pain in the abdomen. No sooner did I read Your letter than my pain reduced markedly. …. (A lady disciple) 6/2/1993’.

B. Getting cured by obeying the Guru’s directives: Once Ramjidada was sleeping as He was running high fever. When His Guru Anantanand Saish came to know of this He said to Ramjidada, “Take a bath, your fever will subside.” Though Ramjidada was burning with fever He went to the well and as usual poured two to three buckets of cold water on Himself. Not only did His fever subside; but His exhaustion too disappeared and once again He felt refreshed.

4.3 Not experiencing fatigue in the Guru’s presence

‘An individual normally tired with four to five hours of hard work can work for fifteen to sixteen hours a day, at a stretch continuously for six to seven days in Baba’s presence and still not feel exhausted. Several devotees have experienced the acquisition of divine consciousness (chaitanya) and energy (shakti) in Baba’s company.’(5)

4.4 The spiritual experiences obtained when the Guru is speaking

A. Feeling like listening to Him constantly: Those listening to Baba’s conversation feel that it should go on and that they should continue listening to it. One realises that in it there is something beyond lucid speech. Even though He does not crack jokes or impart knowledge and just speaks on the usual worldly topics like travelling, food, etc. yet one feels like listening. Naturally, the reason for this is the divine consciousness (chaitanya) in His speech. Hence, even if one has heard Baba relating an incident several times one still feels like listening to it again. But if one has to listen to the same incident repeatedly from someone else then one is bored. In short, one gets the real spiritual experience of satsang (holy company) when listening to Baba’s conversation.

B. Absence of awareness regarding time.

C. Absence of awareness regarding meals, bathing, etc.

D. Often, later one is unable to relate exactly what Baba spoke.

E. Some enter a state of meditation.

F. One can decipher whether what the Guru speaks is just in humour or casual or whether He is trying to teach something through it, only when one is at a very high spiritual level.’(6)

4.5 Inability to do anything without the Guru’s wish

‘Once when Baba visited Dr. Athavale as soon as He arrived He said, “Serve me food.” Dr. Athavale said to Him, “Baba food is ready. Only the lentil (Dal) for the curry is in the cooker. The curry will be ready within ten minutes. Then, I will serve You.” In response, Baba said, “Then serve Me yesterday’s curry.” Dr. Athavale thought to himself, “How can I serve stale curry to Baba?” Thus half an hour elapsed saying “I will serve You now”. Still the pressure cooker did not sound its whistles. Then realising his mistake Dr. Athavale served Him the stale curry according to His wish. Later he found that the lentil in the cooker had remained uncooked !’(7)

In the 13th adhyay (chapter) of the Gurucharitra the Guru tells the disciple chanting The Lord’s Name, ‘You have acquired the Guru’s speech’. This means that from that moment onwards, all his actions – physical, psychological and verbal will be as approved by the Guru.

4.6 Inability to do anything without the Guru’s knowledge

‘Jiji (wife of H.H. Bhaktaraj Maharaj) has financial difficulties since Baba does not give her money. Knowing this if someone gives Jiji a sari or any other gift without His knowledge, then Baba immediately tells Jiji, “Give me the sari and money that has been presented to you.” If Jiji makes a fuss, then He shouts and abuses to such an extent that finally she is compelled to give them to Him. Nowadays knowing this well she surrenders it the very first time that He asks for it. Through this, Baba teaches His devotees that they cannot do anything behind His back, without His consent.

4.7 Getting rid of a disciple’s ego

In 1992, Gurupournima was celebrated in Mumbai. When preparations for it were on, off and on Baba used to ask whether any help was needed. At that time, Dr. Athavale used to tell Baba, “We will take care of everything. Please do not worry.” The feeling behind it was that they would collect money and celebrate Gurupournima in a grand way. Later when Baba informed that “money was required for the construction of the Indore ashram” Dr. Athavale gave away all the funds collected for Gurupournima. After funds were collected again, Baba said, “Give me a part of the money that you will offer me as a gift (Gurudakshina) for Gurupournima, to dig a well at the Kandli ashram.” So Dr. Athavale gave it to Him. Now that they had given away all the collected funds, he was worried as to how they would celebrate Gurupournima. However, he immediately realised that Baba had done all this just to get rid of the ego, “We will celebrate Gurupournima”. From then on both, the tension disappeared and the rest of the jobs were completed smoothly.’ (8)

4.8 Falling in spiritual love with the Guru

A. Feeling like looking at the Guru all the time.

B. Feeling like staring at the Guru’s photograph.

C. Feeling like living with the Guru.

On account of this love when returning after meeting the Guru, the disciple’s state is akin to that of a daughter who looks back as she leaves for her in-laws’ home.

4.9 The stages of going to pay respects (darshan) to the Guru

A. A yearning to meet the Guru.

B. An increase in the yearning and visiting the Guru repeatedly.

C. Visiting the Guru less often or not going at all due to a decrease in the attachment to the Guru’s body. ‘One disciple (Dr. Athavale) used to often visit Baba so as to be in His company. Later, that attachment disappeared. So he felt that there was a lapse in his spiritual practice. When he asked Baba about this, He replied, “This happens as one progresses towards non-duality (advait)”.’(9)

D. Visiting the Guru to express one’s gratitude to Him.

E. After becoming one with the Guru’s mission visiting Him only when it is essential for the mission or when the Guru so wishes.

4.10 How does a disciple who has surrendered everything write his name?

‘Shri Bhaktaraj, Guru Anantanand Saish (the Guru’s Name is written instead of one’s father’s name. The surname is omitted.) [The method of writing names in North India is: Mr. (Shri.) Kanhaiyalal, son of Shivkumar, Yadav).]’(10)

4.11 Whether good or bad everything belongs to the Guru

Sadguru, my Lord, You are the guilty one,
forgive Your Own mistakes.

The implied meaning: Once a disciple surrenders everything to the Guru, nothing belongs to him, anymore. Hence, if a disciple commits mistakes physically or mentally they are in a way made by the Guru Himself! So the Guru Himself is held guilty!

4.12 The real disciple

The one who obtained it, hid it.
He is the great one, he himself is the Guru’s child.

The implied meaning: Here “obtained it” refers to the experience of Self-realisation (Atmanubhuti). “Hid it” means hid the fact that he had attained Self-realisation, from others. (In fact it cannot be narrated in words.) “Guru’s child” refers to the Guru’s real disciple. One does not tell everyone that one possesses a precious diamond. Similarly, one who has acquired the invaluable spiritual experience of Self-realisation, does not proclaim it to the world. He has experienced it because he has no ego and it is for the same reason that he does not tell everyone about it.’(11)

4.13 How does attachment to the Guru persist after transcending from the Guru’s physical body to The Lord’s Name?

With the constant awareness that it is the Guru who has imparted The Lord’s Name.

4.14 Stages of progress

‘In reality one’s soul, the Guru’s soul, God and Brahman are all one and the same. Hence one has to say that Godliness is the nature of the soul. When that nature of the devotee’s soul manifests itself it is referred to as The Lord’s or the Guru’s grace. Saint Eknath has said, “I (The Lord) at once uplift the one on whom the Guru bestows His grace”.

  • Initially the average person considers that “The Lord is the Master-doer of all actions”.
  • When his spiritual practice becomes balanced, The Lord grants him with a Sadguru for his upliftment. Then he begins to feel that “The Sadguru does everything”.
  • On acquisition of the Guru’s grace, that is after attaining Self-realisation he realises that “I am doing everything” and that earlier too “I was doing everything without realising the same”.’
    – H.H. Kane Maharaj, Narayangaon

Information on how a disciple makes spiritual progress step by step is given in ‘Science of Spirituality: Chapter 41 – Spiritual Progress’.

4.15 Blending of the Guru and the disciple

A. ‘Baba: I could read My Guru’s thoughts automatically. He had caught My pulse, so I could catch His.

B. An incident: Once one of Baba’s disciples felt that he should offer obeisance to another disciple. When the first disciple went to Baba, Baba told him to do exactly that.

Dr. Athavale: In this case in whose mind did the thought appear first, Yours or the disciple’s? Which was the image and which the reflection?

Baba: Here there was no image and reflection, there was no duality. The same thought appeared in my mind and that of my disciple simultaneously.’(12)

C. ‘A call of the mendicant and the mendicant of the call.

The implied meaning: “A call of the mendicant” refers to the call of the disciple. Later, the same disciple gets transformed into a Guru. Hence he is referred to as “the mendicant of the call”. Just as there is non-duality between a call and a mendicant later it develops between a Guru and a disciple.’(13)

D. In the final stage of progress the disciple merges into the Guru completely. Only their physical bodies are different. Merging of the disciple with the Guru means the disciple’s desire, mental, causal and supracausal bodies are almost completely destroyed, just like the Guru’s.

E. A Guru’s service unto the disciple: After the blending of the Guru and disciple occurs if the Guru serves the disciple during his illness or even otherwise the disciple does not feel anything about it. When the disciple is eating, the Guru feels ‘He is feeding Me’, when bathing that ‘He is bathing Me’ and while washing his clothes ‘He is washing My clothes’ and both experience the love of the manifest (sagun).

F. Forgetting the Guru: When experiencing objects, one gets engrossed in them. In the same way, forgetting the Guru when performing devotion unto Him means non-duality (advait).

G. The disciple in the company of the Guru changes,
He changes so drastically that he himself becomes the
Sadguru.

You too must change just as I,
I have changed because of Lord Janardan and have become
Parabrahman.

H. Maximum merging of the various bodies of the disciple and those of the Guru

The body Maximum merging %
1. Physical 1
2. Subtle 40
3. Causal 100
4. Supracausal 100

4.16 Ascending the Sadguru’s seat after His renunciation of the body

The disciple hesitates to take the Guru’s seat even after the Guru tells him to do so as he is worried whether he will be able to shoulder such a great responsibility. However, this is wrong; as, actually the Guru Himself fulfills that responsibility.

What should one ask the Guru for?

Contents


 

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)

C.

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.

What should one do to acquire a Guru and His grace?

Contents


 

1. The Guru’s grace (Gurukrupa)

There is no salvation other than the Guru,
One should surrender unto Him. – Saint Tukaram

I follow the orders of the Guru of this world,
I at once uplift the one on whom He bestows His grace.
– Shri Eknathi Bhagvat 11:788

2. The importance of the Path of Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupayoga)

Without the Guru’s grace (Gurukrupa) it is difficult to progress beyond a spiritual level of 60% no matter which path one practises, Path of Action (Karmayoga), Path of Knowledge (Dnyanyoga), Path of Devotion (Bhaktiyoga) or any other. In the Path of Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupayoga), a seeker learns how to acquire the Guru’s grace (Gurukrupa) faster, by sidetracking the other paths rather than wasting years practising them. In this path a Guru is acquired at a spiritual level of just 55%. Naturally, this path expedites spiritual progress.

3. The importance of the Guru’s grace (Gurukrupa)

‘One comprehends the unmanifest (nirgun) with intellect and the manifest (sagun) with spiritual love (priti). In other words, this intellect is a subtle form of the intellect acquired by studying the scriptures. This intellect destroys the anadi (one without a begining) illusion. From the beginning of the state of the embodied soul (jivadasha) each one has the illusion (misconcept) that ‘I am distinct from Brahman’. By studying the scriptures one realises that ‘I am not distinct from Brahman’ by means of his intellect. However later he begins to feel ‘If I am not different from Brahman then how is it that I do not experience it?’ and thus another illusion develops. This illusion having an origin is described as adi illusion. This (adi) illusion is destroyed solely by the grace of the Guru. This means that on account of the Guru’s grace that is the love of the manifest (sagun prem) and the devotion of the manifest (sagun bhakti) derived through satsang (holy company) transform His love, that is convert love into spiritual love (priti) which is devoid of expectation, the form of the manifest (sagun) itself vanishes. As a result, the notions originating from relative knowledge that the manifest has a form and the unmanifest is formless are destroyed. When relative knowledge gets transformed into absolute knowledge the difference between the manifest and the unmanifest with regard to form, no longer persists. If relative knowledge were to be true then its awareness would not have been destroyed. This awareness of relative knowledge, that is pratyay itself is the adi illusion. Once the devotion of the manifest begins, actual realisation (sakshatkar) that the manifest is really unmanifest Bliss occurs, the knowledge of the unmanifest that is thinking that the unmanifest is different from the manifest dissolves and one experiences “I am Brahman” that is he experiences non-duality. Hence, saints term the unmanifest as the most subtle among spoken topics (vachyansha) and the manifest as the ultimate target (lakshyansha), that is The Lord. Since scholars have no experience of satsang (holy company), this concept is not acceptable to them. Rameshvar Bhatt who was instrumental in immersing the holy verses of Saint Tukaram in water attained Absoluteness (Purnatva) with the grace of Saint Tukaram alone.’ – H.H.Kane Maharaj, Narayangaon.

4. The mechanism of action of the Guru’s grace (Gurukrupa)

The success of any activity depends upon the functioning of the various components constituting that activity. Just as the hydrogen bomb is more powerful than the atom bomb, so also is the subtle in comparison to the gross. This point will be illustrated by the example of the various methods employed to destroy the enemy, given below. The more progressive the step, the more effective it is.

A. Physical: Perceiving the whereabouts of the enemy with the five senses, for instance sensing the enemy or his movements, one can shoot with a gun. However, if he hides behind a structure, motionless then the gunman will not be able to shoot him and therefore cannot kill him. Here, only a physical weapon is employed to kill. Different substances are used for different functions, for example different tablets are used as medicine for different disease causing germs, etc. Therefore if mere physical means do not help then they should be combined with subtle means as described below.

B. A combination of physical means and a mantra (subtle): In the ancient times, arrows were shot from a bow only after chanting a mantra. Due to the mantra, the name of the enemy would get recorded on the arrow and no matter where the enemy hid in the three regions (triloks) that is earth (bhu), nether region (bhuv) and heaven (svarga) the arrow would certainly kill him. This was due to the energy of the subtle means (mantra) which accompanied the weapon (arrow). The motive behind chanting mantras while preparing medicines in the Ayurveda is the same. Similarly when removing a spirit responsible for possession blackgram (udid), marking nut (bibba), lime, needles, etc. are used to the accompaniment of mantras. Nevertheless, at times inspite of both the physical and subtle being present, one does not achieve much success. At such times a more subtle means, that is more powerful mantras should be used as given below.

C. Mantra (more subtle): In the next step an enemy can be vanquished without using physical weapons like guns, bows and arrows, etc. In order to achieve certain things, for instance marriage, riches, etc. various mantras are prescribed. At times, however, even mantras do not yield results. In such cases the next step has to be implemented.

D. The intention (sankalpa) [even more subtle]: Even a mere thought like ‘May it occur’ in the mind of an evolved person (saint) is sufficient for the occurrence of an event. Nothing else is required. However, this is possible only in the case of a saint whose spiritual level exceeds 80%. Only when a Guru makes an intention (sankalpa) ‘May this disciple progress spiritually’ does the disciple make real spiritual progress. This itself is termed as the Guru’s grace (Gurukrupa). A disciple cannot make spiritual progress without it as otherwise the adi (one with a beginning) illusion persists.

Anadi and adi are the two types of illusions. Being unaware of the presence of God in the Great Illusion (Maya) is the anadi (one without a beginning) illusion. This illusion is destroyed through the subtleness of the intellect which is acquired through the study of the scriptures. The illusion which has no beginning [an (अन्‌) + adi (आदि) = no beginning (अनादि)] is called anadi while the one which has an origin is called adi. Even after meeting Shri Guru so long as one experiences happiness and unhappiness, that is so long as attitudes perceiving that ‘one is happy or unhappy’ are generated in the antahkaran, till then that illusion persists. After meeting Shri Guru that illusion gets transformed into the adi type. The adi illusion is overcome with the Guru’s grace alone, that is one gets a spiritual experience of that nature.

E. The presence (most subtle): In this final step one does not even have to express an intention. Mere presence, proximity or company of the Guru is sufficient for a disciple’s spiritual practice and progress to occur automatically. The mission of a Guru of a spiritual level of more than 90% is of this nature.

This has occurred because of Me but I have not done it.
He who has realised this is liberated from the cycles
of birth and death.
– Shri Bhavarthadipika (Shri Dnyaneshvari) 4:81

The literal and implied meaning: In ‘this has occurred because of Me’ Me refers to The Supreme God principle in oneself. ‘But I have not done it’ implies absolving oneself of the sense of doership. A beautiful example to illustrate this is the sun which awakens everyone and makes the flowers bloom when it rises. This happens simply with its existence. The sun does not ask anyone to wake up or the flowers to bloom.

The Guru’s grace operates based on points ‘D. The intention’ and ‘E. The presence’ given above.

The Guru’s energy of initiation (anugraha) itself is the universal energy of the Guru principle (Gurupad). Though initiation is acquired through spiritual practice (sadhana) as the means, it is actually Shri Guru Himself who is the ultimate solution!

5. What should one do to acquire a Guru and His grace?

The only virtue responsible for the rapid acquisition of a Guru and the constant bestowal of His grace thereafter, is intense motivation for Liberation (mumukshutva) or intense yearning for a Guru. A youth strives to win a girl’s heart by constantly contemplating on what he should do to please her. Similarly, one should make all efforts to acquire the Guru’s grace so that the Guru calls one His own. One should constantly strive day and night to do whatever one can to please Him. In the Kaliyug, acquisition of a Guru or His grace is not as difficult as it was in the previous three eras (yugs). A salient point to be noted here is that one cannot acquire a Guru without bestowal of His grace. A Guru is already aware of who His future disciple will be. One should undertake the spiritual practice mentioned in the following points in order to acquire the grace of the Guru. The points are enumerated in ascending order of importance. Along with the practice of these points one should also try to develop the qualities of a disciple.

6. Spiritual practice according to the Path of Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupayoga)

In order to acquire a Guru, points ‘6.1 to 6.4’ and for the constant bestowal of His grace excluding point ‘6.3’ all the other points should be practised conscientiously. In point ‘6.2’ the only modification is that instead of the family deity’s Name, the Name imparted by the Guru should be chanted.

6.1 Worship of the family deity (kuladevata)

The Lord chooses each individual to be born in that particular family (kula) whose family deity he needs to worship so as to make spiritual progress. Worship of the family deity also alleviates the intensity of the destiny which accompanies each one till the last breath. Due to these two main reasons, instead of any other spiritual practice, one should worship the family deity (kuladevata) in order to acquire a Guru. To achieve this end, one should perform His/Her ritualistic worship (puja), chant verses (stotras) in His/Her praise, recite holy books periodically (parayans), visit His/Her temple (darshan) as often as possible, etc. Details about why one should undertake the spiritual practice of the family deity (kuladevata) is given in ‘Science of Spirituality : Chapter 9 – Path of Chanting The Lord’s Name (Namasankirtanyoga)’.

Worship of Lord Datta: Unlike the bygone days, nowadays since rites like shraddha, paksha, etc. for departed souls are not performed by most people nearly 30% of people are troubled by ancestors’ unsatisfied souls.  That is why there are obstacles both in worldly life and in one’s spiritual practice as well. Since an average person can never know whether he is included in those 30% or whether he will be troubled by ancestors in the future, one should chant three malas (rosaries) of ‘Shri Gurudev Datta’ daily. One should increase the chanting to six to nine malas if the trouble is severe.

6.2 Chanting The Lord’s Name (Namasmaran)

Chanting refers to the continuous remembrance of The Lord’s Name. Of all the Names of The Lord, chanting the Name of the family deity (kuladevata) is the most useful. In fact it is the foundation of all the spiritual practices incorporated in the path of Guru’s grace (Gurukrupayoga). As one does chanting gradually one’s spiritual level reaches 40%. Then chanting occurs automatically off and on and one is also able to perceive a little in the subtle dimension. Also due to chanting one forgets about other things and begins to experience Bliss off and on. Detailed information on chanting of The Lord’s Name is given in ‘Science of Spirituality: Chapter 9 – Path of Chanting The Lord’s Name (Namasankirtanyoga)’.

6.3 Satsang (Holy company)

The Bliss obtained through chanting of The Lord’s Name is experienced automatically despite not chanting, at a satsang (spiritual meeting). Such an experience is obtained at a spiritual level of 50%. Due to the collective sattva component of all the seekers at the satsang,each one who attends it is benefitted by it, that is the raja and tama attitudes in each one gradually begin to decrease. It is much easier to obtain the experience of Bliss by attending a satsang rather than increasing one’s own sattva component by chanting. Hence a seeker diligently attends satsangs more often. If a satsang is conducted by an evolved seeker then attending it proves to be even more beneficial. Since the sattva component of an evolved person is substantial the amount of frequencies of Bliss emanating from him is greater and as a result a seeker experiences more Bliss.

The importance of satsang (holy company) will be illustrated by the story below.

Once an argument took place between the Sages Vasishtha and Vishvamitra on the relative superiority of satsang (holy company) and penance. Sage Vasishtha proclaimed satsang to be superior whereas Vishvamitra was in favour of penance. To decide the winner of the debate, they went to God. The Lord said “Only the serpent Shesh will be able to settle the dispute.” Then the duo went to the serpent Shesh. When they asked Shesh the question, He replied, “Please lighten the load of the earth on My head. Then I will think it over and answer your query.” So, Vishvamitra made the following resolution, ‘I offer the benefit acquired as a result of a thousand years of my penance. May the earth above Shesh’s head shift a little’. Yet, the earth did not stir. Then Sage Vasishtha expressed His resolve, ‘I now offer the benefit gained as a result of half a ghatka (twelve minutes) of being in satsang. May the earth lighten the load.’ The earth immediately moved upwards.

Another benefit of remaining in satsang is that one develops the feeling that the other seekers attending it are ‘one’s own’. Hence, the younger generation starts living amicably forgetting the animosity present for generations together. From this very feeling the concept that ‘the whole universe is my home’ develops in due course of time. More information on satsang is provided in ‘Science of Spirituality : Chapter 44 – Introduction to Spirituality and Individual Spiritual Practice’.

6.4 Service of the Absolute Truth (Satseva)

After attending satsang for a while a seeker realises that the ones who are active participants at or those who conduct a satsang (spiritual meeting), so also if the satsang is being conducted by an evolved seeker then they experience much more Bliss than himself. So, the seeker who wishes to experience Bliss like them instead of merely being a passive listener starts participating in the activities at the satsang. Thus he participates in organizing the satsang, for instance by distributing pamphlets giving information about the satsang, by pasting posters and putting up banners, giving information by personally contacting people, by tidying the venue of the satsang, spreading out mats or arranging chairs for the audience, etc. At a later stage he studies the matter himself and conducts satsangs. One should take special note of the following points with regard to service of the Absolute Truth.

  • Service has to be that of the Absolute Truth (Satseva). It has to be performed with the body, mind and wealth. Unless the spiritual level rises to 60% service does not occur wholeheartedly. Until then it is performed only intellectually. Service with the mind means chanting The Lord’s Name.
  • By giving precedence to satisfying someone else’s desires, gradually one’s needs become less and the seeker becomes more adept at following the path of Spirituality.
  • The service of non-truth (asat), for instance the service of patients is mostly done under the influence of emotions considering illusion to be the truth. Also, the ego that ‘I am doing this service’ is present in such an attitude. As a result, as spiritual practice it is not of much use. As against this, to overcome the ego, one serves the Absolute Truth with spiritual emotion (bhav). Besides with service of the non-truth (asat), a ‘give and take account’ is generated.

A. Importance of spreading spirituality (the best service of the Absolute Truth)

  • 1. Doing whatever one can according to one’s potential towards the Guru’s mission is the simplest and the most important path. This point will be highlighted with the following example: Suppose preparations are going on for a programme and everybody is busy doing different chores like cleaning or decorating the place, cooking or cleaning utensils. If one is busy in cleaning the place and at this juncture if another person steps in and joins the group busy with the cooking then one does not feel any closeness towards him. On the contrary if he comes forward to assist in the cleaning then one definitely feels drawn to him. The same is true for the Guru. The mission of Gurus and saints is to inculcate a liking for Righteousness (Dharma) and spiritual practice among the masses; to inspire them to practise Spirituality and to spread Spirituality. If one performs this task according to one’s potential then the Guru feels, ‘He is mine’. Such a thought in the Guru’s mind itself is the heralding of His grace (Gurukrupa).

    Once a Guru handed over some grains of wheat to two of His disciples and told them, “Preserve these grains carefully until I return.” On His return after a year, the Guru approached the first disciple and asked him, “Have you preserved the wheat carefully?” Replying in the affirmative the disciple brought forth the container with the wheat grains and showed it to the Guru. He then said, “The wheat you had given me is just as it was.” Then the Guru approached the second disciple and asked him the same question. The disciple then took the Guru to a nearby field. The Guru was overjoyed seeing a field flourishing with the wheat crop everywhere. In the same way, one should spread the Name and spiritual knowledge (dnyan) imparted to one by the Guru, to others.

  • 2. The spread of Spirituality is more important than the superconscious state (samadhi)

    The Guru is pleased and says the disciple has attained
    the superconscious state,
    He tries to awaken him for the sake of the masses. – 52:5
    He fondles him gently, embraces him lovingly,
    O dearest disciple return to the waking state. – 52:6
    You have crossed the illusion of worldly life
    But if you remain in the superconscious state,
    The spiritual knowledge will remain obscured in you,
    Then how will the masses attain salvation? – 52.7
    -Shri Gurucharitra

  • 3. The comparative importance: The following table gives the amount of the Guru’s grace (Gurukrupa) that a disciple can acquire by performing a particular action.
The disciple’s action The Guru’s grace %
(Gurukrupa)
1. Paying a visit (darshan) to the Guru 2
2. Asking questions only on Spirituality 10
3. Performing tasks at the ashram 40
4. Effective *part time spread of Spirituality 70
5. Effective *full time spread of Spirituality 100

*To spread Spirituality effectively one needs to have all the virtues of a disciple. It is not sufficient to preach like a politician or a social reformer.

  • 4. Service unto the unmanifest (nirgun) and manifest (sagun) forms of the Guru: The spread of Spirituality is service unto the unmanifest form of the Guru. This service has 70% importance in acquiring the grace of the Guru whereas service to the manifest form of the Guru has only 30% importance. To achieve the complete grace of the Guru (Gurukrupa) it is essential for one to do both.
  • 5. Collective (samashti) and individual (vyashti) practice of Spirituality: Collective practice of Spirituality means that which is undertaken by society, whereas individual practice is confined to an individual seeker. According to the influence of time (kal) in the Kaliyug, the importance of practising Spirituality collectively is 70% and that of practising it individually is 30%. Hence, to progress spiritually it is important to motivate as many people in the society as possible, to practise Spirituality. This is the service of the Absolute Truth in its real form. However to accomplish this one needs to increase one’s own spiritual level.

B. How can one accomplish it?: Some people err in thinking that ‘When I myself am not well versed about Righteousness (Dharma) and Spirituality, how will I be able to spread Spirituality?’ When Lord Krushna lifted the Govardhan mountain with His little finger the cowherds and their wives (gopas and gopis) helped in their own way by supporting it with their sticks. Though the Guru, that is God is the one who will reinstate Righteousness (Dharma) each one should make one’s small contribution towards it. One should study and teach Spirituality or provide financial help for the mission, whatever is possible according to one’s ability. If both these are not possible then one can paste posters, put up banners, organise lectures or workshops on Spirituality, collect funds for the mission, etc.

6.5 Acquisition of a Guru and service unto the Guru

With service of the Absolute Truth one’s spiritual level rises upto 55%. Then some saint accepts one as His disciple. Thereafter one begins doing service unto the Guru.

6.6 Sacrifice

Once a spiritual level of 60% is attained sacrifice in the real sense commences. One needs to give up the attachment to the body, mind and wealth in order to make spiritual progress. Of these, sacrifice of wealth is the easiest as it can be done physically. One can give away one’s wealth totally. However, the body and the mind cannot be sacrificed likewise. Yet one can sacrifice them before giving up wealth. This means that initially one can do service physically and chant The Lord’s Name mentally. Later, only when a seeker progresses upto 70% can he sacrifice wealth to some extent. This is akin to the trapeze artist in a circus. So long as the girl does not let go of the handle-bar of the swing she is clutching, the man hanging upside down on the opposite swing cannot catch her. Similarly, so long as a seeker does not sacrifice everything, God does not take care of him. How sacrifice of the body, mind and wealth goes on increasing stepwise is given in ‘Science of Spirituality : Chapter 44 – Introduction to Spirituality and Individual Spiritual Practice’ under point ‘10 C’.

Sacrifice does not mean giving away all of one’s belongings. Rather it is getting rid of one’s attachment to them. The Guru makes the disciple sacrifice the objects in his possession. Finally, when the attachment ceases, He showers him with plenty. Since Shivaji Maharaj had no attachment for the kingdom he had offered to Samarth Ramdas Swami, the Swamiji returned it to him.

6.7 Donation (offering)

Donation should always be of the nature of ‘donation to the deserving’, that is ‘to the one worthy of it’. In this world, there is none more worthy than saints. Hence, whatever one wishes to donate should be offered only to Them. This is possible only for a seeker in the stage of mental worship (upasanakand). The one practising the inferior path of Action gives alms to beggars, donations to schools and hospitals under the influence of emotions. One acquires only merits from it. The seekers desirous of Liberation (mumukshu) want neither merits nor sins, since only heaven and not the Final Liberation (Moksha) is attainable with merits.

Saints and Gurus are the manifest (physical) forms of the unmanifest God. Hence, any offering made to saints and the Guru is as good as an offering to God Himself. Thus offering back to God that which is bestowed by Him does not create a “give and take account” but completes it. As such, the offering made to saints reduces the accumulated account (sanchit) and increases the ability to withstand the effects of destiny. Moreover, neither is any “give and take account” thereby created, nor is any merit acquired. Hence, whatever has to be offered should be given only to saints or for the mission of the Absolute Truth.

6.8 Spiritual love (priti) for others

One feels spiritual love (priti) for others only after attaining a spiritual level of 70%. Spiritual love means love without any expectations. In worldly love, there are expectations. By practising Spirituality the percentage of the sattva component increases and one tends to satisfy the visible and invisible creation in one’s surroundings. There is an expansion of love and one develops spiritual love towards others. One is able to perceive the presence of The Supreme God in each and every object and the whole world becomes one loving family – ‘वसुधैव कुटुंबकम्‌ ।’. In order to achieve this, in the beginning, one has to make efforts to love others. For this, it is important to remain in satsang (holy company). At first, one begins to feel spiritual love for other seekers attending the satsang (spiritual meeting) then for seekers from other sects, still later for non-seekers and finally for all living creatures.

6.9 The stance of a spectator (sakshibhav)

After attaining a spiritual level of 80% one is able to observe everything including one’s own spiritual progress as occurring due to the Guru’s wish.

6.10 The mission after attaining Self-realisation (Dnyanottar karya)

After attaining a spiritual level of above 90% the disciple lives with the feeling, ‘Now I am left only to repay the favours done by others’, that is one continues to live doing what is necessary for the society. With such spiritual practice the Guru’s grace is constantly showered on the disciple and he marches towards the Final Liberation (Moksha).

7. Initiation from the Guru (Gurudiksha) and Gurumantra

8. Physical indicators of the bestowal of the Guru’s grace

Once a seeker had gone to visit Chile Maharaj. Maharaj showed him his tonsured head on which there was an imprint of a hand. On enquiry Maharaj told him that, that indelible mark was imprinted on His head when His Guru had placed His hand on His (Maharaj’s) head to bless Him.

9. The necessity of continual grace of the Guru

Once one acquires a Guru and is initiated with a Gurumantra the bestowal of Guru’s grace begins. To maintain it perpetually it is mandatory for one to conscientiously continue the spiritual practice recommended by the Guru throughout one’s life.