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Role of Guru by Swami Chinmayananda

[Excerpts from commentaries, articles and letters by Swami Chinmayananda]

When an individual starts striving, the seeker need not wait for a Guru. But the Lord’s message comes, to the seeker in a thousand varied fashions. In fact, all the necessary indications and directions are given to the seeker in his own within, but unfortunately, the agitated bosom of the seeker fails to receive these subtle messages. The Lord, in His infinite kindness, is therefore compelled to manifest Himself in a grosser form to declare the same message in the grosser language, and the disintegrated mental conditions of the seeker understand it as coming from a GURU.

Seek and he will come

There is no need for anyone to go in search of a Guru. When the mind is ripe, the Guru automatically comes along. One meets his Master in a moment of miracle, never by appointment! When one comes to deserve a Master, He shall reach him to guide, help, and enlighten. When the correct type of student, who is fit for the knowledge meets a true teacher, the transformation that takes place in the student is almost miraculous and certain. 

The influence of a true Master is unerringly sure and infallibly helpful, at all times, to all sincere and serious students. To the disciple, the Teacher is as great as the Self Supreme. Rare indeed are such chances for a great Master to have the blessings of meeting an equally great student!

To resolve the confusion — the Great Riddle of Life, the disciple approaches his Guru, enquiring if there is an independent Eternal “Director” who, by his mere ‘Wish’, prompts the mind to alight on the objects. If there is such a great Illuminator and Controller, Who is he? What is it? What is my relationship with the Supreme Power existing ever so secretively within me, ever vigilant, ever brilliant and ever alert?

Start with devotion

No amount of enquiring into or discussing with a Teacher is available unless the student has taken enough time to tune himself up to the teacher. Students of Vedanta must have devotion to the teacher so that they may learn to tune themselves to the teacher’s right attitude and intellectual reaction to the external world of happenings and beings. A sadhak trying to lead a noble way of life should mentally have the presence of his ideal or his teacher always before him so that his baser tendencies get weaker and he is always inspired to live the ideal way of life.

In Brahma Vidya, no progress is possible without the active cooperation of the teacher and equally sincere cooperation from the disciple. The shortest and most direct method is to hear from a “Master of Experience”, with all attention, full faith, supreme concentration, abject devotion, extreme vairagya, and acute intellectual absorption. Such rare ones are called “supreme disciples”. For them, to hear the Guru is itself to float at once into the experience of it. Not only do we need a teacher, but we, the taught also must have certain special inner energy to concentrate and contemplate upon the subtler factors in our own make-up. This energy is gained only when we live a noble life of ethical and moral values.

Vedantic approach

In the Vedanta classroom, the teacher writes with words on the heart slabs of the boys; the students read the golden letters of knowledge in the light of kindling love, and understand them with a “head” peeping out of his “heart”. In the still moments of its silent inspirations, in quick and brilliant flashes the boy experiences the transcendental Truth.

Guru makes the disciples think clearly and freely and helps them to understand the mysteries about themselves and the world. His words are the least part of his teaching; the effect of his life is always out of all proportion to the words he speaks. Though he does not transform his disciples all at once into spiritual giants; his life and teachings have a lasting influence on their evolving minds. 

A Guru does not condition the minds of his disciples by the walls of his ideas but points out to them new and untried realms of contemplation. In fact, he only tries to paint in words his blissful experience of Truth and the path that led him to it. It is the disciples that must reflect, meditate and realize.

If a cultural flavour, moral dignity, and ethical glow are to be imparted to the student’s personality, the student must approach his teacher in a spirit of reverence, love, devotion, and friendliness. These are the emotional requirements that alone can bring about the necessary conditions around us, so that a teacher, when he drops his divine apparel, may fall upon our shoulders!!

Spreading the knowledge

To carry the torch of Knowledge earlier lit up at the Master’s Feet, to convey it far to provide light wherever there is darkness, to keep oneself ever bubbling with an inspired enthusiasm to pour out one’s convictions into the hearts of others — in short, VIDYADHAN is, in Hinduism, a duty religiously imposed upon all students.

Master-Minds, in the past, retired to the banks of the Ganges, and living through years of self-watching and self-analysis, slowly cut out the route to the peak of Self-perfection. They handed down their discoveries to the next generation through their disciples, and they, in their turn, added miles of the path to the Unknown, and themselves disappeared through death, leaving the work for their disciples to complete.

From the teacher to the taught, the Knowledge-Supreme has come down, in each succeeding Master — the Self-Science gaining in authority and wealth of detail. The wisdom sparks, the findings of a life-long specialized self-effort, the Master handed down to his disciple, who also had reached him, just as he had reached the banks of Mother Ganges. The disciple learned from his Guru and carried the torch of knowledge, maintained, tended, nursed and nourished by his own experiences and conclusions until he handed it over, intact and blazing, to his disciple.

To a Vedantin, the real Guru is the pure intellect within. The purified, deeply aspiring mind is the disciple. I have guided you in direction — you have to make your own pilgrimage. Some power has brought us together — let us surrender unto Him.

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