The Mother Divine
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Prof. K.C. Banerjee
Guru, as commonly understood, is one who is a beacon-light as it were to illuminate our path of spiritual progress towards the Spirit that pervades the universe – tadpadam darshitam yena (तद्पदम् दर्शितम् येन्) – one who opens our eyes to a beatific vision – chakshurunmilitam yena (चक्षुरुमिलितम् येन्) . As such, He is conceived of as a separate entity from the creator. Many hold this view of Guru, in other words, he is prophet who receives messages or interprets the will of God and warns us against the dangers that hang over us. The Hebrew Prophets answer exactly to this conception. They received and delivered the messages of “I am that I am”. But according to the Sadhakas who know better, Guru is Lord himself. He is one and the same with the threefold powers Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar and as the devotee or Sadhaka gradually advances through his spiritual exercises his concept acquires a wider significance. He passes on from the gross to the fine, from the concrete to the abstract. The threefold power is attenuated into a mere abstraction, into a blissful state of mind known as Brahmananada – Brahmanandam paramsukhadam (ब्रह्मानन्दम् परमसुखदम्) or as Illumination Incarnate kevalam jnanamurtim (केवलम् ज्ञानमुर्तिम्). The Sadhaka comes to realise in an ecstasy of mood a complete fusion of his individual self with the All-Pervasive one mama-atma sarva-bhuta-atma (मम्-आत्मा सर्व भूतात्मा). So the concept of Guru is elastic, varying from stage to stage in response to the adhikara (अधिकार) or capacities of the disciples. One who has reached, through gradual spiritual exercises, the ultimate stage of complete fusion, looks upon all objects, animate or inanimate, as the manifestation of that Primordial Energy and finds no distinction between his little ‘self’ and the bigger “self”. But such cases are rare. Such types of Sadhakas appear, in flesh and blood, only as very rare phenomena. A Lord Gauranga or a Nanaka or Kabir or a Ramakrishna and the like were only prodigies who washed clean at least some of the community who were peers. The light of the halo of such personages still shines to lure kindred souls to the Order founded by them. Saints like them ‘see a light that never was on sea or land’ and are guided by ‘the fire in the bush’. I would not deviate into the controversial discussion if they are Avatars or not. Personally I do feel such discussions cut no ice. They are all great men, rather supermen, who still live among us as beacon-lights. Such men, when they lived, were eager to lose themselves for others –so many images of the Supreme Self. They had no other urge, that of love of wealth and power to stimulate their activities, their very life was an unfolding of that one urge which may be called the divine urge.

In an age, when men are in a state of feverish excitement over getting and spending, knowing full well that they are dying every hour in their anxiety to live, such great men with their lives dedicated to the service of humanity are needed and should be invoked, and the more of them the better for the world.

Now let us see what the Gurus can do for the upliftment of the world and how they can work for it. They may do it in two-fold ways: -
  1. By sending out apostles or missionaries to broadcast what they have acquired in course of their spiritual exercises or what has been revealed to them in their moment of ecstasy.
  2. By baptizing is meant the initiation of the individual seeker after truth, into a new life –a life of inner conversion –with a magic word or letter supposed to contain in it the essence of the age-long meditation of the Rishis. It is a letter or a word to conjure with and a disciple is to tell it for a number of times, each day or night on the beads, strung in order, in a rosary. This practice, if regularly cultivated, adds to the spiritual strength of the teller and enables him to fix his straggling mind upon one object-his ‘Ishta’ or the cherished deity of his heart. There are devotees who are given to this practice for the attainment of ‘Siddhi’ i.e. self-realisation. But, then, they are faced with an ordeal. If they are eager to make a display, right and left, of the fruit of their siddhis, they are sure to lose hold of their power. On the contrary if it is used for the benefit of humanity at large their powers grow with their growth and strengthen with their strength.
Now what is the fountainhead of the energy of each magic letter? If we dismember a word–say aumwe find in it, A + U + M, each one of which is supposed to have its seat on one or other of the six lotuses associated with the six magic circles arranged according to a hierarchy – Shatchakras. So each magic letter has a combination of Naad + Bindu an expression of “Logos” or Shabda Brahma (undifferentiated Cosmic Energy).

The soul, through a mystic process of culture as directed by the Guru, ascends upwards from one circle to another, till it is merged into the thousand-petalled lotus where is enthroned the Prototypal Guru; one who has experienced this state of blissful union reaches the stage of spiritual exaltation leading to self-abnegation. He is a pure spirit though in a corporeal mould. Such men should be welcomed as our Gurus but unfortunately many of them choose to live in isolation in caves or away from human society. Such ideal of cloistered virtue is only born ‘to blush unseen.’

What, then, is the crying need of the hour? Let us search within ourselves and answer. Do we need Gurus who have renounced hearth and home? Or do we require those, who, though of earth, are not earthy, though with a family of their own, are with and for others, living a life of detachment, unstained by the passions of love and hate?

It does not matter much if they fight shy of baptizing others. It goes a long way if they are only seen moving in society and participating in its affairs. They cannot but touch, if not transform, by the alchemy of their personality, those that come in contact with them. If this inner conversion can be achieved in this way, do we need any Guru for a formal baptism?

The great Lala Babu of sainted memory was at first denied baptism by his Guru. All importunities of the great disciple were ignored. But he was given the sacred letter through his ears when he fell into a swoon. The Guru knew when the disciple was ripe for formal baptism after a thorough purgation. Here was a Guru indeed who watched Lala Babu all along and made him a fit vehicle, as it were, for the communication of his secret fruit of meditation. Self –realization i.e. the inner conversion of soul came to him, hand in hand with baptism. Ordinary men, after their baptism, practice penance and do other things, as directed by Gurus, but with what result?

So we hear of Vama Kshyapa of Tarapitha who baptized only one Tara Kshyapa after severe ordeal. Vamdeva, popularly known as Vama was not a professional Guru, he was a mere devotee of mother Tara, so far as I know, he received formal baptism from Mokshadananda Goswami whom I still remember to have seen, when I was a boy of six or seven. Both Guru and chela were rather bulky, with bulging bellies. Both were voracious eaters. I can’t say how much of fire Vama received along with his formal baptism from his Guru. He was a devoted to mother Tara. His devotion was that of a child, purely unorthodox, breaking new ground altogether. He was all along his life a grown-up child –the Eternal child. He adored Ma Tara with his whole soul, with all the primal passions – love and wonder, hate and fear, anger and abuse, pique and pride. This form of unconventional adoration made him interesting and extremely likeable. People felt drawn towards him from far and near and Her favourite son eclipsed even Ma Tara. They say that Ma Tara visited him one night and called him away from his hearth and home to Tarapith.

He lived apparently a vulgar life –a life of animal gratification, eating and drinking; kicking and abusing. Yet how strange it was that nobody felt scared; rather everybody felt drawn by that Eternal child’s freaks and sallies. We hear of vice masquerading as virtue but just the reverse was the case with Vama. Those that know better of the man, of his deepest depth, say that animal gratification with him was not an end in itself but a means to an end, that of sublimation. He was cross with a world which could not recognize his Ma Tara and plunged himself into a world of gross gratification to forget the world and wake up to a life of eternal bliss in the lap of his mother Tara. This is one of the paths to self-realisation as taught by the Tantric Cult, self-gratification according to which is a symbolic form of renunciation, provided such gratification is dedicated as an offering to Brahma (Brahmarpan) etc

Such a one was accepted and admitted by all as a Guru, though he never formally baptized anybody but Tara Kshyapa.

So there is no cut-and-dried formula of a Guru. He who feels the urge to better his community or humanity at large, i.e., who chooses to live the larger life, attracts kindred souls round him as his followers. In this sense the great political leaders of every age – I need not mention them –who by thought or action can reorient the outlook of their nations and bring about a regeneration are styled as leaders or political Gurus, here, too, the followers are made to cleanse and purge themselves through certain ideologies and practices of self- sacrifice and self-discipline and that is exactly what the scriptures enjoin on each one.

Sri Aurobindo is an illustrious example. He devoted himself to meditation not for egoistic spiritualism, but to use it as a reserve force for the liberation of his motherland. His disciples were, each, given an amulet with a talismanic virtue which was supposed to protect them from accidents or blows of misfortune. His disciples believed that their Guru was capable of communicating to them a portion of the mighty spiritual power he had acquired.

In connection with the Second World War those who have heard of the activities of the Azad Hind force will bear witness to the favour and faith aroused in each by the command or the mere wish of their leader. Many flung away their entire savings of life in response to the mere wish of their leader. Here was a leader whose wish galvanized his followers.

Now, I am afraid I may be misunderstood as clouding the issue. But I think not. A Guru in the scriptural sense is a great leader of men as well and we all know how Shivaji’s Guru inspired his disciple and blessed his work.

But a political Guru has sometimes to justify the means on the ground of the nobility of the end –while there is no scope for any wild orgies or any fanaticism among the disciples plodding step by step towards the goal under the watchful guidance of the spiritual Guru.

We all know how designing leaders who exploit the brutal passions of their disciples in the name of a noble cause inflame political fanaticism under the cover of spiritual zeal. The hope of a triumphal entry into heaven is held out to these fanatics. Should we take them as Gurus? Again sometimes great actors are employed by the State to play the role of Sages only to attract hundred of hypocrites disguised as loyal disciples. Their business it is to sing the glory of their Guru regarding his capacity of bearing the pang and fatigue of hunger and thirst and many other supernatural feats, only to lure the enemies of the state to their doom. This practice can be dated back as early as the age of the Mahabharata.

Even instances are not very far to seek when gurus of established positions had been set on move, as directed by interested political parties, to exploit the devotional sentiment if their disciples, to cast their votes in favour of their party-nominees. It is a form of prostitution, to say the least of it, to stoop to such a vulgar use of something sacred. There are cases where honest and religious-minded persons have been left duped by hypocrites masquerading as Gurus.

So we have to be on our guard, to be a bit skeptical before we commit ourselves to the care of a Guru. Better skepticism than blind faith. The famous saying of Rama Krishna is worth recalling and bears repletion “test your Guru once, twice and thrice, in light and darkness”. So far as India is concerned, formerly, every family of disciples had particular family of Guru, known as Kulaguru (कालगुरू). The relation between the two was sweet. The one felt for the other and the tie seemed to be indissoluble. Nowadays the tie has been cut asunder for many reasons, due to the growing skepticism of the age, the scarcity of worthy Gurus, but mainly for the reason that people now take to a Sannyasi Guru and this seems to be the fashion in vogue. So the personal tie or the continuity of the tie is getting loosened, and the day is not distant when the cult of Guru might degenerate into a mere transient sentiment.

If we ought to test our Gurus for the sake of our safety, should we not test ourselves too? We certainly should. We should ask ourselves why we seek Gurus at all. Should we seek him for mundane prosperity or for spiritual bliss, for mere ‘having’ or ‘being’? There is a saying that Guru and his disciple in their finally evolved forms stand in each other’s embrace; but that height is well-nigh inaccessible. It is “siege perilous” so to say. The Guru is Shishya’s God, his friend, his slave, all rolled up into one. It is a meeting of God-in-Man and Man-in-God; of shadows and prototypes. Such a disciple is the chosen one –the cynosure of a million of professional Gurus.

So a Guru’s business is to help his disciples advance on and on in the path of their spiritual life, not at the expense of material life.

We must have our feet planted on the solid ground of reality. It is a mistake to turn our back on the problems that stare us in the face for immediate solution. That is escapism; there is no room for it in a robust spiritual life that is never divorced from material life. They are interpenetrated, one being a check on the other. It is for the Guru to see that the balance between the two is maintained. Renunciation of the world and its pleasure for the sake of spiritual purity defeats its end. Desires of life, the cravings of the flesh do not die out with a life of inhibition, but break out all on a sudden to the surprise and irritation of all. An attempt to kill Mr. Hyde results in killing Dr. Jekyll too. So a Guru’s responsibility is immense, the fulfillment of which requires a close personal contact. The more frequent the contact, the deeper the understanding and the better it is for both.
We should welcome such types of Guru and be faithful to them, minister to their comforts and follow them like shadows. That does not mean the cultivation of a slave mentality, as it is very often misinterpreted by the perverse. The relation is very sweet and one, who has been fortunate enough to taste of the joy once in his life, can never forget it. Such joy is the greatest boon of his life and it will enable him to stand like a tower firmly against all the adverse strokes of fortune. His Guru is his God and like Job of old his faith in Him will continue unshaken in spite of the sophistry of his so-called “comforters”.