Guru Dispels Darkness
If you want to attain Divine Grace, you have to seek the guidance of a Guru who is well-versed in the Vedas and all other scriptures, and who has realised God. You have to surrender to him alone; there is no other way. This has been ordained by God Himself. Why? God alone knows! He has made the rule that one can attain Him only through a Saint, a genuine Guru; there is no other way.
Firstly, you all would like to know who ‘God’ is, ‘Who am ‘I’ and ‘What is ‘maya? ‘What are these ‘senses’? ‘What is this ‘mind,’ this ‘intellect,’ this ‘body’ and these ‘worldly pleasures’? Your ignorant mind has been full of these questions since eternity. It is essential to understand all this properly, but who will make you understand?
You will say that God has explained this in the Vedas and therefore you don’t need a Guru, because you can find all your answers by reading them. Well then, let me tell you that God has also stated in the Vedas that you should not read the Vedas by yourself, lest your mayic intellect misunderstands them. So you have to seek the guidance of a Guru to properly understand them.
‘गुं रौतीति गुरुः, गुरु मेटत अँधियार ।’
The Guru is one who dispels darkness. Only a sadguru is able to dispel the darkness of ignorance and give us divine knowledge. We erroneously identify ourselves with our body and acquire knowledge which gives us material happiness. All our effort is directed to attaining happiness through appeasing our senses.
This pleasure from the senses that we acquire makes us feel happy and sad alternately. At times we are happy and sometimes we are sad. It is surprising that the same mother, the same father, the same wife, the same husband and the same son who gave us happiness a thousand times, also caused us unhappiness a thousand times. Sometimes we love them and sometimes we hate them. Why do these contradictory things happen? We don’t know, but it does happen!
For example, a mother very lovingly embraces her son who has returned home from school in the evening, as he has been away from her since morning. After sometime, she asks her child to go and play. If he becomes obstinate and persists in showing his affection towards her, she who only moments ago was overwhelmed with motherly love for her son, now becomes annoyed and chastises him.
The same is also true in the case of a husband and wife. The husband who was ready to give his very life for his wife, a few days later may turn hostile towards her, even thinking of taking her life! Though we know this to be true, still we never stop to reflect on the nature of worldly love – as being just a peculiar form of play-acting.
Our condition is as pitiable as an insane man who keeps swallowing dirt even though he vomits it up again and again. Endless lifetimes have passed in this way and still we proudly proclaim that we are wise and not foolish. If you behave like this and take exception to being called a fool, then let me tell you straight that you are far worse than even birds and animals. They come into season once in a year, but you indulge yourself in gratifying all your senses – each one in countless ways. This disease is worsening day-by-day and yet you still have not come to your senses.
Who will explain all this ignorance of yours? God will not come to your rescue. Though He is omnipresent, formless and present everywhere as such, yet even if He did come before you in a human form as Shri Rama or Shri Krishna, you still will not recognise Him! Instead you would hurl abuse at Him and make slanderous remarks against Him, “This is Shri Krishna? He has no moral character and is always running after girls!” “See this Shri Rama, look how mad he is after His wife, Sita.”
Thus we have to properly understand and examine the nature and extent of the various types of ignorance as a prelude to our search for knowledge; then receive the right kind of knowledge to overcome them, and all this is possible only through the help of a genuine Guru. Although according to the Vedas and other scriptures, God and Guru are one and the same, and both are capable of gracing us with divine love, yet it is the Guru alone who can help us achieve our goal. The Guru is actually more merciful.
A Saint or Guru is particularly important to us; like us individual souls, he too has undergone many forms of suffering prior to attaining God-realisation. He is therefore well aware of our pitiable situation. Like us, he has already experienced all miseries, humiliation and wretchedness in countless lifetimes, but God remains ever blissful. A person cannot properly treat a patient unless he himself has suffered that problem. A dentist treating a patient can better understand the pain of tooth extraction if he himself has experienced it. If not, he will pull out the patient’s tooth using his full force, unmindful of the excruciating pain that the patient might feel.
Once there was a Guru who was teaching a Prince all the disciplines of learning. He told the Prince to return the following day when he would be taught his final lesson and thereafter it would be declared that he had successfully completed his education. Hearing this news, the King was delighted. He let all his subjects know that there was only one lesson remaining for his son to complete, before he could be considered master of all branches of knowledge.
When the Prince reported to the Guru for his lesson the next day, the Guru closed the door of the room behind him and started hitting him with a cane. The Prince was screaming in pain, but the Guru continued to batter him until he became unconscious. People in the surrounding neighbourhood heard the screams. They rushed to the King and told him that the Guru had gone mad and was hitting the Prince mercilessly and that the poor Prince was crying aloud.
The Guru did not stop until the Prince fell silent. “Maybe he has died of unbearable pain.” It is shocking! Why did Guru Ji beat him so mercilessly as though he was his enemy, particularly as for all these days he had taught the Prince, treating him as he would his own son? It is not clear what happened to the Guru all of a sudden to make him do this. This angered the King. He too thought, “Guru Ji must have gone mad. A madman can do anything, even kill his own father. If one is not in control of his senses he can go to any extent.”
Finally, the Prince regained consciousness, but his body was lacerated all over. The King ordered that Guru Ji be summoned before his court. However, the King wanted Guru Ji to be treated with due respect and so he was not handcuffed. When Guru Ji appeared before the King, he was told that he would be tried for beating the Prince and that the Ministers of his court would hear the case.
He was then asked why he beat the Prince, and was reminded that nobody was above the law of the land. Guru Ji said, “The Prince will become the King in the future and among other duties, he will have to decide the quantum of punishment to be awarded to a person guilty of committing a crime. If he does not have personal experience of the severity of punishment, he will not be able to dispense justice accordingly.
For example, for a crime like petty theft, he may sentence the accused to 500 lashes out of sheer arrogance of power. He would have no idea whether that person could survive such a beating or not. Similarly, he could pronounce 2,000, 10,000 or any number of lashes that immediately come to his mind. The executor will dutifully follow the order and strike the accused as many times as ordained, even though the accused may die well before the sentence is fully executed. I battered your son so that he could have the first-hand experience of the severity of punishment, and so he can when the time comes, judiciously decide about the quantum of punishment in any particular case.”
Therefore, what I mean to say is that a Saint has already experienced our suffering and our pitiable condition, and therefore he is best suited to help us. We cannot approach God. Moreover, even if He were to appear personally before us, we would not be able to understand Him with our material intellect. Then how can He be helpful to us? God declares in the Gita:
तेषां नित्याभियुक्तानाम् ।
निर्मल मन जन सो मोहि पावा।
“Only when you completely surrender to Me, and your heart becomes completely purified, I will come to your rescue.”
This job of purifying your heart and teaching you how to surrender to God is done by the Saint. God’s grace is the natural consequence of the grace of the Guru.
Parents take a lot of care and do everything for their daughter, right from the time she is an infant. They spend money on her education in various fields such as the arts, sciences and culture. They exert their best effort to instil in their daughter the values of good conduct, good behaviour and the qualities of head and heart. And when she reaches marriageable age, on one fine morning a boy arrives to ask for her hand in marriage. He interviews her in order to judge her suitability. If he says he likes her then it is good for her and her parents. Who knows, he may have rejected scores of girls!
Reflecting on the above analogy, understand the importance of the Guru. He works so hard to make the individual soul suitable to be accepted by the groom of all souls, God. God accepts only those whose heart and mind remains fully attached to Him alone. If any worldly relation – even any celestial being were to attract your mind, then God would immediately reject you. It is the Guru who purifies your heart by removing the dirt of all your worldly attachments.
So from our practical point of view, the place of the Guru is higher than God, because it is the Guru who stands by us from the beginning until the end. It is by the grace of the Guru that we receive the gift of divine love, and all our senses are divinised to see, feel, touch, hear and smell God. Therefore, the scriptures have prescribed two types of devotion: worship both God and Guru treating them equally or be devoted exclusively to Guru, because devotion to God alone will not take you to your ultimate goal.
Veda Vyasa has stated in thousands of mantras and verses that all your effort to attain God, whether through the practice of yoga or the performance of a yajna, giving charity, observing fasts, performing penance or chanting and singing the praises of God, or whatever else it may be, all this will not yield you any results:
बिना महत्पाद रजोऽभिषेकम् ।
“Without surrendering to the Guru and without the Grace of the Guru, God-realisation is impossible.”
भयं द्वितीयाभिनिवेशत: स्या-
दीशादपेतस्य विपर्ययोऽस्मृतिः ।
तन्माययातो बुध आभजेत्तं,
भक्त्यैकयेशं गुरुदेवतात्मा ॥
“We have been turned away from God since eternity. For this reason, the soul is under the bondage of maya. The cure for this is to turn towards God. However, the devotion must be practised not only to God, but also to Guru. You should practise devotion, considering the Guru as God and as the beloved of your soul.”
Love your Guru as your ishta deva or tutelary Deity. Treat him as your atma or ‘self’ which means the Guru is more dear than the atma. One who worships the Guru as such alone will realise God.
The greatest acharya of bhakti and an avatar of God, Narada Ji has declared:
‘तस्मिंस्तज्जने भेदाभावात् ।’
This means that God and the Saint are non-different. They are one and the same.
Shri Krishna declares in the Bhagavatam,
आचार्य मां विजानीयान्नाव मन्यते कर्हिचित् ।
न मर्त्यबुद्ध्यासूयेत सर्वदेवमयो गुरुः ॥
“Know the Guru to be Myself. Never think unfavourably about him. Do not use your material mind to comprehend his divine actions, for all forms of God dwell in the Guru.”
Thus, all the scriptures declare God and the Saint to be equal.
बहु जन्म करे यदि श्रवण, कीर्तन
तभू न पाये कृष्ण पदे धन।
“You may continue singing praises of the Lord for countless ages or listen to the sermons of great scholars but it is impossible to attain divine love without the Grace of the Guru.”
Nobody can realise God, even if he has practised navadha bhakti (nine kinds of devotional practice) or sahasradha bhakti (thousand kinds of devotional practices) in his countess births
There is an incontrovertible law of God that He does not directly deal with devotees. He has delegated all such powers to the Guru. It is the Guru who will make you practise sadhana and take care of your welfare. It is he who will bestow divine love on you when your heart is completely purified.
Though all the scriptures declare God and Guru to be equal, but from the point of view of our self-interest, the Guru is given greater importance,
राम ते अधिक राम कर दासा।
आराधनानां सर्वेषां विष्णोराराधनं परम् ।
तस्मात्परतरं देवि! तदीयानां समर्चनम् ॥
Veda Vyasa says that of all kinds of worship, tamasic worship is the lowest. The other kinds of worship in ascending order are rajasic and sattvic devotion of Deities. Next in that order is the worship of nirguna (attributeless) and nirakara (formless) Brahm. Higher than that is the worship of God, the Supreme Self. Next in that order is the worship of all avatars. The highest of all is the worship of Shri Radha Krishna. But what is even higher in precedence is the devotion of Their devotees or Saints.
God is not pleased as much, or as quickly by His own devotion, as He is by the devotion of His devotees:
त्वद् भृत्य भृत्य परिचारक भृत्य भृत्य भृत्यस्य भृत्य इति मां स्मरलोकनाथ ।
मद्भक्तस्य ये भक्तास्ते मे भक्ततमा मताः ॥
Veda Vyasa has categorically declared at thousands of places that God is instantaneously pleased by the worship of His devotees.
So one should love Shri Radha Krishna and the Guru equally and simultaneously, or love only the Guru. In either case the result will be the same. But, devotion to God alone is not advocated in the scriptures, as it will not take you to your goal.
By Jagadguruttam Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj
Credits: A Journey towards Divine Love
*A brief introduction of Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj*
(Known by His devotees as Shri Maharaj Ji)
The original title of Jagadguruttam (‘Greatest Spiritual Teacher of the World’) was bestowed upon Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj on January 14, 1957, by ‘Kashi Vidvat Parishad’ (a council of 500 greatest scholars saints of India). He composed divine texts like ‘Prem Ras Madira’, ‘Prem Ras Siddhant’, and ‘Radha Govind Geet’ to lead us on the right path of devotion. He also gave priceless monuments as gifts to the world which include - Bhakti Mandir located in Bhakti Dham, Mangarh, Prem Mandir located in Vrindavan Dham, and Kirti Mandir located in Barsana Dham. Shri Maharajji also built hospitals for the impoverished, the Jagadguru Kripalu Chikitsalaya in Vrindavan, Jagadguru Kripalu Chikitsalaya in Barsana, and another one in Pratapgarh. All three help millions of underprivileged to gain free access to medical care. His Kindergarten, School, and College for impoverished girls Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat Education is located in Kunda and provides completely free education.