GURU is made up of two syllables “GU” and “RU”. GU means darkness and RU means light and so the combination indicates one who dispels the darkness of ignorance and bestows the light of knowledge or wisdom. According to the Brahmanda Purana : “Guru is Shiva without his three eyes, Vishnu without his four arms, Brahma without his four heads. He is Parama Shiva himself in human form.”
In common parlance we call all those who are masters in a field, a Guru. We also call people who teach us anything, our Guru. But what is it that makes somebody a Guru? What is that special quality about Him which we bow down to?
SEEING ONLY THE GOOD QUALITIES: Very often we come across people who are very knowledgeable. But unfortunately, they are so full of light that they shine it on the qualities we lack. They are ever willing to find out our shortcomings, advice us and help us get rid of them. A true Guru does just the opposite. He only shines the light on our good qualities and helps us expand on them. People in a family were complaining about the black sheep of the family. When everybody stopped talking, Guruji had only one question to this person: “What do YOU feel about this?” He broke down and said: “I know I am wrong, but am unable to control myself.” The Guru told him to remember only this feeling every time he was tempted. That was it! Guruji only saw his STRENGTH (his realizing his mistake) and did not nag him about his weaknesses. Needless to say this person soon quit his bad ways.
UTMOST KINDNESS: A Guru showers kindness and love on his true followers. It is believed that Totakacharya, one of Shankaracharya’s shishyas was a rustic; all the other followers made fun of him behind his back for his lack of erudition. But he was highly devoted to Shankaracharya and took care of his daily needs with love. Shankaracharya knew the disdain that the others had for Totakacharya and to teach them a lesson in humility, it is said that once when the Jagadguru was composing a shloka, he decided to bless Totakacharya, who had gone to fetch bath water for him. While coming back, the light of knowledge shone on Totakacharya’s face and he arrived with the water, mouthing new shlokas as an addition to the Acharya’s work. All the other followers were humbled and never made fun of him again.
FREEDOM TO DISCOVER THE TRUTH YOURSELF: No true Guru never forces any of his followers to blindly follow his path. As a Guru, His main teaching is to discover the innate divine in every person. Every Guru stresses upon this fact, that the disciple has to discover the truth in ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ (I am Brahman) on his own.
REAFFIRMING THE GOAL WHILE SHOWING THE PATH: Krishna, when He gave the Divine Song ‘Bhagavad Gita’, kept showing Arjun the larger picture of Dharma, thus reaffirming the real goal of life. But knowing fully well that no human being would be able to reach that goal without any help, He also showed Arjun and thus all of us, the path to reach one’s goal in life.
DIFFERENT WAYS OF BLESSING A DISCIPLE: Swami Vivekanand is said to have experienced his first moment of eternal bliss when his Guru, Ramakrishna Paramahansa touched young Narendra’s head with his toe. Similarly, Kabir learnt the Mahamantra ‘Rama’ from his Guru when he stepped on Kabir who was purposely lying down on the steps to the tank. They got their blessing through the Guru’s Charana (feet). The Guru can also bless by putting His hand on the disciple’s head. In many cases blessings come by way of a thought as in the case of Totakacharya above. Shiva, in His avatar as Dakshinamurthy, the divine Guru, never spoke a word. Still all the sages who came to His discourse learnt from him and had all their queries answered to their satisfaction. Every doubt of theirs was cleared only through the thought process.
PROTECTION IN UNKNOWN WAYS: The Grace of the Guru protects His devotees from all danger; it also helps them to overcome difficulties. A King, who was hunting, suddenly decided to visit his Guru in the forest. Unfortunately, he was thrown off his horse and it bolted, leaving him alone in the forest. With great difficulty he reached his Guru’s ashram, all bruised and in a bad state. He asked his Guru why he had to suffer such a fate when all he wanted was to visit the Guru. The Guru just smiled and told him that he would get his answer when he reached home. On reaching his kingdom the next day, the King came to know that he had escaped an attempt on his life. The servant, who decided to sleep on the King’s cot in his absence, was beheaded by an enemy soldier, who mistook him to be the King. The Guru’s grace had made the King want to visit his Guru and thus protected him.
Thus we see that the Guru works in many ways to help His devotee cross this ocean of life and reach the penultimate state of bliss that every soul yearns for. It is said that one must test a Guru before accepting Him as one, but once one decides on a Guru, one should have total faith in Him. That faith alone is enough to endear the disciple to the Guru and also to God.
आनन्दमानन्द कर प्रसन्नं
ज्ञान स्वरूपम् निज भोध रूपं I
योगीन्द्रमीड्यं भवरोग वैद्यम्
श्रीमद्गुरुं नित्यमहं नमामि II
AANANDAMAANANDA KARA PRASANNAM
JNAANASWAROOPAM NIJA BHODHA ROOPAM
YOGEENDRAMEEDYAM BHAVAROGA VAIDYAM
SREEMADGURUM NITYAMAHAM NAMAAMI II
He who is the Personification of Bliss ( Ananda ),who Blesses us of Pure Bliss,/
He who is Jnaana (Wisdom) incarnate, who is true realization incarnate,/
He who is the conqueror of all Yogas (Karma, Bhakti, Gyan) and Cures us of Worldly Attachment,/
To ( that) Holy Guru I offer my Salutations every day ( or day after day )/
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