Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Maheshwara
Guru Sakshat Param Brahma Tasmai Shri Gurave Namah
The Guru performs the roles of Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh. Playing the role of Brahma, he gives us the jnana or knowledge. As Vishnu, he protects that knowledge, and as Shankar or Mahesh, he destroys or dispels ignorance.
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 efforts are 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 some time, 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 once was ready to give his very life for his newlywed wife, a few years 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. We are actually far worse than even birds and animals. They come into mating season once a year, but we indulge in gratifying every one of our senses in countless ways. This disease is worsening day by day, and yet we still do not come to our senses.
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 realized God. You have to surrender to him alone; there is no other way. Some may say that God has explained everything in the Vedas and therefore you don’t need a Guru because you can find all your answers by reading them. But let me tell you that God has also stated that you should not read the Vedas by yourself, lest your material intellect misunderstands them. So you have to seek the guidance of a Guru to properly understand them.
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 to achieve our goal because he is actually more merciful.
A Saint or Guru is particularly important to us because, like us individual souls, he too has undergone all forms of suffering prior to attaining God-realization. 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 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.
A Saint is therefore 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:
“Only when you completely surrender to Me, and your heart becomes completely purified, will I 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 instill in their daughter the values of good conduct, good behavior, intelligence, and kindness. 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 Eternal Groom of all souls, i.e., God. God accepts only those whose heart and mind remain fully attached to him alone. If any worldly relation – even a celestial being – were to attract your mind, God would immediately reject you. It is the Guru who purifies your heart by removing the dirt of all your worldly attachments.
While a soul is under the rule and command of Maya, a Saint or Guru is above the rule and command of Maya, and God is the commander and the Master of Maya. Thus, a Saint’s actions are never influenced by material nature. Although a human, a Saint, and God (during his appearance period) all act in the same world, their ranks are different. We can understand this by the below example.
Suppose a person commits a crime and is sent to jail. He is free to move about in the prison but within bounds. If the king of that country wants to visit the prison, he comes in with the jailor. Now all the three, the prisoner, the jailor, and the king stand on the same ground within the prison walls, but it does not mean that everyone standing within the premises of the prison is a prisoner. The jailor is free to come and go according to his own will, and the king is the owner of the prison, though he seldom visits it. Similarly, in the material world, souls remain under the bondage of Maya as prisoners, but Saints are free, and God descends sometimes on this Earth.
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 Guru that we receive the gift of Divine love, and all our senses are divinized 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 devote yourself exclusively to Guru because devotion to God alone will not take
you to your ultimate goal.
Ved Vyasa has stated in thousands of mantras and verses that all your efforts to attain God, whether through the practice of yoga or the performance of a yagna, 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.
“Without surrendering to the Guru and without the Grace of the Guru, God-realization is impossible.”
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, devotion must be practiced not only to God but also to Guru. You should practice 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 realize God. This means that God and the Saint are non-different. They are one and the same. Shri Krishna declares in the Bhagavatam:
“Know the Guru to be Myself. Never think unfavorably about him. Do not use your material mind to comprehend his Divine actions, for all forms of God dwell in the Guru.”
Though all the scriptures declare God and the Saint to be equal, from the point of view of our self-interest, the Guru is given greater importance. God is not pleased as much or as quickly by his own devotion as he is by the devotion of his devotees. Ved Vyas 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 Jagadguru 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 Maharajji)
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.