Sri Guru-Gita - An Introduction
Sri Guru-Gita is a dialogue between Lord Shiva and Matha Parvathi, where Bhagawan Shiva glorifies the importance and the necessity of the Guru to Matha Parvathi. He also illustrates how upaasana to the Guru should be carried out. Guru-Gita comprises of 182 shlokas and is a part of the uttarkhand of Skandha Puraana.
The Guru has no gender. He is neither a man nor a woman. He is beyond these attributes. He sees through his aathma (soul) and sees only the aathma. External discipline was imposed upon the Guru during the Vedic period. Dress code was defined, modest clothing was insisted upon and head normally had to be shaven. Even though today we find saints in different coloured robes, in those days golden or white was prevalent. The red colour is meant for awakening of the kundalini and for specific purposes like the activation of the muladhara chakra (root chakra), where the highest frequency activated through the sushumna, goes to the sahasrara chakra, and they attain bliss! They are normally upaasaks (worshippers) of Devi (Goddess). Devi is the female energy, the mother energy, the dynamic energy, or the kundalini shakthi. Those upaasaks who concentrate on the spiritual upliftment of the aathma use golden robes. Through the golden colour, the rays pass into the physical body, and create vibrations in order to uplift the aathman. A person need not wear golden if he can wear white, because white represents the purity of the aathman. For emission and transmission of powers, white is the best.
Apart from the colour, the Sashtras specify the material of the clothing, which should normally be silk, either white or cream in colour. Silk is an insulator and so are the golden colour and mrigacharma (animal skin). During meditation people normally sit on the mrigacharma. There are two reasons for it: firstly because of the insulation properties and secondly when the dead skin is processed or dried, the smell keeps the insects away. Hence even if one meditates in the jungle he is not disturbed. Silk is also used for insulating the self. Why does one need to insulate the self? A Guru comes in contact with innumerable people having different characteristics. Initially, he needs an insulation to protect himself and keep the negative emotions at bay, which are being transmitted in the atmosphere. After a certain period of time, the silk can be done away with. His inner strength is good enough to resist these negativities. The dress code helps distinguish a saint from the common man. This distinction is not to satisfy the ego, but it helps maintain his nobility, his dharma. It also prevents others from indulging in any undesirable activities with or before the Guru, which could deviate the Guru from his path.
According to the Sashtras, the Guru follows the principles of dharma, artha, kaama and moksha. Dharma is to attain the ideal perfection; artha is to procure the right result necessary to attain the ideal perfection, and to become free from all desires is kaama. These are the three qualifications of a Guru. Dharma is chitta ki shuddhatha (the purity of the heart). Dharma is based on the thoughts he has within. External appearance of the Guru is no indication of what he contains within his mind, or within his aathma.
Attaining the perfection is dharma. It is not the perfection in executing the karmas, it is not the perfection in thoughts, it is the perfection of the characteristics of the aathman, which means jnana and bhakthi. A man who has travelled through jnana and bhakthi, alone can attain perfection and can be called the Perfected Master. Such a person is called the Guru. By attaining the perfection itself, he has become pure, he has become a part of God, he has become God, he does not have a separate entity. He has attained the bodiless, mindless, the aathma-less state. He has reached the state of HE AM I. Such a Perfected Master does not live for himself; he lives to transmit this perfection to others, which is why he takes a rebirth. He lives in dharma and does not need to attain it further.
Whatever assistance is required to maintain this dharma and transmit it to others, whatever he earns in the process is artha. Artha in the physical sense is a means to buy, sell, gain or borrow something; it is a means to attain perfection. Hence whatever you gain is artha. What is that artha? Artha is the result you earn from execution of karmas. ARTHA IS KNOWLEDGE when one does the right karmas! Only through knowledge, and jnana, one can attain perfection. Attainment of jnana and bhakthi is called artha. In order to gain this jnana and bhakthi, you gain a Guru, you gain God, and you gain a disciple. There can be two meanings of "Artha": if your intention is to buy dharma, to be with the dharma, then whatever you gain is artha. Secondly, artha also can be " dhana-laabha". Dhana is knowledge used to attain spiritual upliftment. A shloka goes thus:" Dhanam dhaanyam bahu putra laabham ". Why is dhanam dhaanyam considered as laabham? Why is dhanam or knowledge a gain? You can lose what you have acquired, but what you have gained can never be lost. Knowledge gained can never be lost and remains with you throughout all the janmas. That is why it is called " dhana-laabha". Jnana is what you gain without any investment. You receive this over and above what you desire. Laabha is not your right, it is given to you because of your efforts, it is an interest of your efforts, so you can never lose it. That is artha! The Guru who lives in that artha is the right Guru. He uses this artha acquired through the jnana marga and bhakthi marga, to preach, to transform people, to transmit knowledge to others, and he never loses it. The more he imparts the knowledge to others, the more he gains. Money once spent is exhausted, jnana keeps increasing. Such a person, who uses the artha to maintain and transmit dharma, is called the Guru.
Kaama in common language means desire, but here it means to become free from all desires. Whatever you do, the result ultimately is the same, as we have seen in the Isavasya Upanishad: thena thyakthena or te na thyakthena. Similarly, kaama can be understood as desire and kaama can also be understood as being relieved of all desires. A desire to be free from all desires is also kaama. It has been identified as the desire of the aathman, the desire of the mana. Any desire for that matter is wrong, even the aadhyatmika desire. The Guru is desireless. He has no desires. He does not want to be the Supreme Power. He does not wish to be known as God. He is bereft of even the desire to be a Guru or have disciples. Guru does not want the sharira itself, because Guru lives in dharma. Inspite of that Guru qualifies as kaama - it is only to make the disciple understand that the Guru does not want to acquire or possess the disciple. The Guru has no kaama; the desirelessness of desires is the identification of kaama. When one is free from all desires, then one attains moksha or liberation. The Guru is a realized soul. He is one who has merged with the Supreme. His life is full of dedication and selfless service. He is prepared to do any thyaaga. According to the Sashtras, a Guru is one, who has been appointed by the Supreme Power to make others realize the guruthwa in them and also teach them that the Supreme Power dwells in each one of them. Guru is a reincarnation of God. One need not be taught what is the knowledge within, because each one is his own Guru. The sharira (body) and mana (mind), of the unit, which is known as a human being, do not realize that they have all these powers. To make him understand this, a Guru is required. That is why the Supreme Power does not teach you, only a Guru teaches you. The Supreme Power makes you feel that he is within you, but the Guru shows it to you and proves to you that he dwells within. Only when the Guru makes you realize this, you can feel it. This realization can be brought to you only by the Guru, not by the God and this is how Guru-Gita begins.
In accordance with this ideal of perfection, Bhagawan himself calls Guru, the Supreme Divinity. Guru is the manifested God, He is the sambhoothi, Guru demonstrates the path, HE illuminates the darkness, and thereby becomes the purest reflection of one's highest aspirations. He is not the aspiration; he is the reflector of the aspiration. Why is He called the reflection of the highest aspiration? The Guru shows you the path, illuminates that path, removes the darkness, teaches you how to reach God, he has no selfishness attached to it. He convinces the disciples that they are God, that they are their own Master. Hence it is the purest form of reflection that you are seeing through the Guru. When you join this purest form, this reflection, then you too become the purest form, the highest aspiration, and then you become Supreme!
Guru-Gita is a geetham, a song. It has been put in a poetic form and not as a prose. Poetry has its own intrinsic beauty, complete with its own meter, rhythm and raaga. Prose has none of this poetic freedom. It has no melody, no taala. Prose has to be written within the confines of grammar. Poetry is concise, conceptualized, a skillful play of words deftly arranged to create a certain rhythm full of concealed meanings. The nuances have to be decoded, interpreted and explained. Prose does have clarity of expression and vibrations but a geetham is certainly more appealing. When you listen to a geetham, you have to contemplate to understand the meaning, to get to the depth of it, which makes it interesting. In prose you do not have to contemplate, the clarity of expression is already there.
Guru is like a poem, which you do not understand when you read it at first. You have to go beyond the external form. You have to contemplate on the Guru, which means you have to understand the Guru. To contemplate, you have to be with him, understand him, do upaasana, conceive, then only you realize how wonderful that geetham or Guru is. That is why this is known as Guru-Gita. Besides, none other than the Guru is authorized to transmit this geetham to others, which is another reason why it is called Guru-Gita.
Who is that Guru, the Supreme Divinity? Who is that who does not see himself, who thinks he is no more? The highest form of Guru is Lord Shiva Himself, the ultimate knowledge, and the Guru is the manifestation of that knowledge. GU means darkness and RU means light. The Guru illuminates the path, removes the darkness of ignorance and reveals the truth. He transmits the knowledge to the disciples. He teaches the disciples.
A teacher has a student whereas a Guru has a disciple, or a sishya. A sishya is the sesha of the Guru, the sesha part of the Guru, which means a part of the Guru. A sishya differs from the vidyaarthi, who goes to a teacher to attain the artha of the vidya. A sishya's place is in the heart of the Guru whereas the vidyaarthi's place is in front of the Guru. A sishya is not different from the Guru. A student is one who studies. He does not study other than what is taught, he does not know himself, he does not study his own self, he studies something else. Who would want to study? One who does not know. Who is that who does not know? The mana and sharira, who do not know anything and hence, keep studying. The aathma need not be a student, because it knows everything.
There is also a difference between a teacher and a Guru. A teacher is not a Guru. The one who teaches what is taught is called a teacher. His knowledge of the taught is teaching, he has not attained it as shruthi (noble words echoed by the Supreme), he has acquired it from some book or some person. A Guru is one who leads you from darkness to light and one who transmits shruthi.
Who is a disciple? Disciple comes from discipline. Commonly, discipline is considered to be an imposition upon a person. Anything imposed by others but not accepted cannot be termed as discipline. Discipline comes from within, and everyone does and should have their own discipline. Once you have formulated your own discipline, you follow it too. What is that discipline? Whatever your mind thinks and you follow is not discipline, in fact this can be detrimental to your interest. A discipline should be beneficial to you. A child should not talk during the class in order to gain; a child should benefit while studying is the reason why discipline is imposed upon him.
The disciple is a disciplined disciple. No one has imposed any discipline on him. In order to be in upaasana, the disciple must release the desire, moha (desires), ahankara (ego). For this the disciple imposes discipline on himself. Only a disciple can attain a Guru, not a student. There is classification of discipline; all the vikaaras (emotions) of the sharira and mana have to be renounced to become eligible to be called a disciple. When the panchendriyas (the five organs of senses) are relieved from the vikaaras, a person is disciplined enough to attain the Supreme Power, to attain the Divinity. One who has no separate identity, one who is disciplined towards the Guru, is a disciple.
In the Vedas and Upanishads, jnana kaanda and karma kaanda have been given importance. We have gone a little further, starting with renunciation, then karma yoga, dhyaana marga and then bhakthi marga and jnana marga together. A person who attains the karma kaanda is addressed as siddhantha achara, one who follows the siddhantha or the karma yoga. Sanathana dharmam is based on siddhantha achara, which is necessary in order to attain the Divinity. The siddhantha achara fall into seven categories: worship, recitation of scriptures, sacred fire ceremonies, music, dance, philosophical discourses and offerings. These can stop the modifications of the objects of consciousness. Therefore, these actions may be termed as karma yoga; they are only for the external sharira, for the physical and mental body. Whatever the panchendriyas are supposed to execute is known as karma. In order to make the panchendriyas function properly, the dedication of these panchendriyas should be classified as worship, so that the panchendriyas concentrate only on themselves.
Guru is known as Brahma, as Vishnu and as Lord Maheswara. Guru is actually the Supreme Divinity and therefore we bow down to the respected Guru. Through all the teachers, guides, inspiration, examples of every realm of heaven and earth, the principle of Guru is what has shown forth. Why is Guru known as Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara? Is it possible to have a confusion of loyalties?
What is the meaning of this shloka:
The literal meaning, as most people understand is qualifying the Guru as the Brahma the creator, as Vishnu, the protector and as Lord Shiva, the balancer.
Guru is Brahma, the creator, He creates the disciple. If there were no Guru, there would be no disciple. Gods were there and Gods will remain, but unless there is a Guru, disciples cannot be created and no one can reach God. We look at Guru only as a creator, who can give pleasures, blessings and identify him as Brahma. Most people are stuck with Guru as Brahma. They only want the Guru to create new things, they look for materialistic and spiritualistic benefits, they find only the glitter, and as a result the moha increases. Guru gives attraction initially, for instance when you first go to a saint, he may bring out a Shivalinga and give it to you. Next day, he gives you Lord Krishna, and the third day vibhuthi (scared ash). The fourth day he asks you not to come for all these things. By this time you realize that you do not want to go anywhere else. He has shown that if he can give all these, he can give something else also. A child initially needs some sort of attraction, the saint does all this to attract you towards knowledge. He does not have to please you by giving all these things. He only attracts the human mind but people misunderstand these gestures as a cheap expression of powers. According to me the philosophy is that the human mind in todays world requires certain attractions from Brahma. When the child weeps, we give him chocolates so that he stops weeping, and then you can coax him to do as you want. In this kaliyuga, in order to find the true path, to reach the path of knowledge, human beings have to be given attractions initially. Gradually a person realizes that there is more to it than just that and pursues further, then he would not like to go away. Guru creates awareness of knowledge in a disciple and leads him towards it. This is Gurur Brahma!
Guru creates a disciple, gives certain intimation, warnings, tests in some ways and then vanishes. The disciple keeps on searching for the Guru, he presumes that the Guru has disappeared, as he is not physically visible. The Guru is aware that since he has created you, he also has to protect you. The disciple looks for the Guru or the knowledge, which will liberate him from the cycle of births and deaths. He looks for the Supreme Divinity, which is by no means an easy task: going through the karma yoga, the dhyaana marga, the bhakthi and the jnaana marga. The Guru has created this thought within you and in order to search for him, he makes you walk the path, clears the path, makes you experience the life and throughout the experience, he protects you. You realize that he is not merely a giver, but when you are in trouble, when you are faced with diseases and difficulties, he protects you even at the cost of his life! When all doors are closed, when there is no way out, when even God does not listen to your call, Guru Vishnu protects you! Through all the struggles, the Guru is always with you. This is Gurur Vishnu!
Ultimately you come to Lord Shiva! Guru has all the three virtues within Him. The knowledge is implanted in your mind, you are asked to contemplate, made to struggle, made to work hard, made to realize and ultimately reach the transcendor. Once you reach there, he transcends you totally, he removes the veil of ignorance from you. In order to make you see your own Divinity, in order to make you understand that you yourself are the Supreme, he destroys what is not required for you. He is a destructor because he destroys the darkness, the ignorance, the avidya from within you.
Lord Shiva is called the destroyer, but not in the negative sense. Without destruction, there cannot be construction. Unless the dirty water is thrown out, clean water cannot be filled in that place. The unwanted for the bhumi has to be removed, to bring in purity. New is neither an extension of old nor is it an addition; old has to be destroyed so that new can be created. Even though it is known as destruction, Lord Shiva is the transcendor. If he did not transcend things, Brahma would not be able to create, Vishnu would not be able to protect. At the right time, transcending has to take place. He does not destroy, He changes the bad to good, He balances. Knowledge alone can understand when a person finishes his karmas, and needs to be relieved. The place has to be vacated so that a new creation can take place. This is what Lord Shiva does! He has been entrusted with the responsibility of transcending. He removes the obstacles in order to create and maintain dharma. Guru Devo Maheswara!
Guru saakshaat Parabrahma! Who is the Parabrahma? The one who has created the universe, who has created the Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesha, is Parabrahma. After passing through all the stages, after unconditional surrender, when he reaches the stage of HE AM I, the disciple suddenly finds saakshaat Parabrahma standing there! He immediately prostrates before the Parabrahma -- Guru saakshaat Parabrahma tasmai Sri Guruve Namaha! You have no sharira, no mana, no aathma. Then you realize that the Guru is the saakshaat Parabrahma! When you reach the Brahma, then the Parabrahma is visible. Parabrahma is the Supreme Divinity. Brahma cannot create the Guru, Vishnu cannot create the Guru, Maheswara cannot create the Guru, it is only the Parabrahma who can create the Guru. All the three are merged in the Guru, enabling the powers of the Parabrahma to be transmitted to him.
To such a Parabrahma, is it possible to have a confusion of loyalties? Why should this question arise at all? There are only two types of people who would not want us to explore this Parabrahma. One is a materialistic beneficiary who would always discourage you from approaching a Guru. He will try to dissuade you, tempt you with external pleasures. Some think that Rishis and Munis make people crawl on the ground that is they make them do thyaaga of everything. They tell people to enjoy in order to reach God. The principle here is that if you allow people to enjoy, the mind and body reach the saturation point, exhaust themselves and then turn towards God. Another principle is that the truth should be understood, the mind and body should not be allowed to wander as they want. If they go as they wish, you lose time, the karmas change, the samskaaras change, according to the samskaaras, the next janma also changes, and in no janma you can attain liberation or moksha. The word "enjoy" is correct, but the definition of enjoyment differs. Enjoy the life so that you do not have to struggle, you do not have to weep, you do not have to worry. This principle is absolutely right. Why do people suffer? It is only because of ignorance, you do not know what gives you pleasure, and you struggle. Vedas and Upanishads cannot be wrong. If you follow the mind and body and attain these temporary pleasures, only maaya multiplies. People, who crave for wealth and political power, never reach a saturation point. People in politics kill one another just to get recognition maybe for a day! The desires are endless in kaliyuga. One never reaches saturation, on the other hand there is disappointment and frustration, then he starts from this thathwa, of crawling like a small creature on the ground. Why should one be satisfied with temporary pleasures of the body and mind, which is only an illusion, when there is a way to achieve permanent pleasure for all the janmas?
To reach the Supreme Divinity, you should have jnana and bhakthi. That should be the enjoyment. A person smoking a bidi (local cigarette) on the footpath enjoys and another smoking a top brand cigarette sitting on a revolving chair in an air-conditioned room also finds the same enjoyment. Only the classification of enjoyment is different. What I am trying to convey is, that smoking does not give enjoyment, the enjoyment lies in not smoking! Smoking may give you perhaps five minutes of pleasure and years full of diseases after that; the pleasure in not smoking at all is permanent! Realize the true enjoyment of the panchendriyas (the five sense organs), panachkoshaas (the five sheaths) and panchathathwa (the five elements). Thyaaga does not mean crawling on the road, renounce what is not necessary for the aathman, for our karmas, in other words, the negative activities of the panchendriya. We should be able to identify the qualities of life and enjoy only that. When a naasthika is forced to attend a spiritual development ritual, it is like crawling on the ground for him, whereas it a heavenly experience for an aasthika.
A bhakta may be sitting under a tree in front of a small Shivalinga. He is least concerned about people walking around, he is immersed in bhakthi and keeps chanting Lord Shivas name. He is not conscious of his attire, all he has with him is a lota (a bowl) with water to perform the abhisekha. He derives immense satisfaction and this is enjoyment, this is contentment, this is bliss for him! The right enjoyment for the sharira and mana has to be understood.
We do not deny that material is necessary. When we have sharira which is material, we require material to maintain this material, but you should know how much to acquire. It has already been provided to you and in future also it will be provided because the Parabrahma has created you. Maintaining the sharira is necessary but hoarding wealth for the sharira is not at all necessary.
The second type of person is the one, who says, "I know enough". He also distracts you away from the path of Supreme Divinity. A nobleman or a well wisher would always lead you to the right path, in the right way and in the right sense. A person who is not meant for you always shows you the glamour, which ultimately dooms you. A dirty businessman can make quick money by blowing up his own ship, and claim the money from the insurance company. He has the means to acquire wealth in the right manner, but he is misled into taking this path. There is a saying that even if you cannot bring happiness to others, at least do not harm them. Misleading others into a crime or a sin is in itself a big sin! Such a person does not understand or attain any of the thathwas in a number of janmas. He has to struggle in order to find a Guru. He falls in the category of people with confused loyalties. Only to fulfill their ego or for some material benefits, they go to a Guru, but they can never be loyal.
There are three types of sishyas: uttama, madhyama and adhama. Such people fall in the category of adhama sishyas. An adhama sishya not only ignores the instructions of the Guru, he does not even have loyalty towards the Guru. These are the people who would want you to explore elsewhere. Just receive the blessings wherever possible and learn to give wherever you go! That is what a Guru does, you do not ask for anything, you just get it!
There is a story of a king who claimed to be a great disciple of his Guru. One day when the Guru visited him at the palace, the King after greeting him with full respect and dignity, prayed at the Gurus feet and wanted to know what he could offer the Guru. This just showed the kings arrogance! What can you offer to the giver of all? Nevertheless, the Guru replied: give me whatever is yours! The king started by offering his palace to live in and meditate, then all his wealth, his praja (people), but the Guru declined everything, because nothing belonged to the King. Even the kingdom does not belong to you, said the Guru when the king offered the entire kingdom. The king offered his sons, then his sharira but the Guru refused even these. When the king offered his mind, the Guru said he would go insane, if he offered his mind, so the king offered his mind and aathma. At this the Guru said: "If you can do this, then YOU ARE ME. For the time being, please rule your country properly." The Guru then departed. What does this show? Guru does not want what you think he wants. He wants to uplift your aathma, reach you to the Supreme Power, the Divinity, because he himself is Divine. Divine only accepts divinity and nothing less than that. As long as you do not become divine, he keeps you at a distance, you have to transcend, you have to reach: Guru Devo Maheswara. Only upaasana can help you to reach there. No material, no mind, no thought!
Guru is beyond gender, beyond form, and is the Supreme Divinity. Guru is in your heart, in the heart of all living beings. This offering brings the radiance of illumination to a greater enhancement. You knock on many doors in search of a Guru and return disappointed, you search for eternal love but it eludes you, you hunt for money and fame but it is only a temporary quest and even after attaining it, you are still dissatisfied and discontented. All these create the fear of losing; association with the Guru removes all illusions and thereby the fear of losing. You attain peace and moksha when you do not have desires, when you do not have the fear of losing.