The Mother Divine
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Guru Poornima just passed and it is relevant to ask some questions here and discuss what the wise men had to say on the matter.

HOW TO CHOOSE A GURU? This is an oft asked question.

To some a Guru happens.

Someone takes a person to a holy man and it all leads to that person taking initiation from that Guru immediately. But this is accidental and must be treated as an exception.

Like other important relationships the Guru-Shishya relationship is not confined to one lifetime. The Guru transforms and enlightens the disciple over many lifetimes. It is true a Guru chooses a disciple though it may seem that the disciple has chosen. Because Guru does not “act” in a way that will convince us (rationally) that the Guru chose. The Guru acts “invisibly” in directing the disciple to choose him or her as the Guru. So, for all practical purposes, it is the disciple who has to choose the Guru.

“When the Student is ready, the Master shall appear”. This age-old saying is of course true, but the problem here is how does the student know he or she is ready? There are people who actually wait; some people, established in great ego, believe that the Guru will come seeking them. But this is vanity and misplaced romance. It is the duty of the lower to go to the higher with humility.

Some of those who wait for such miracles of Guru to come looking for them, actually miss the great event of the Guru and Initiation and they pass from this life without benefiting from this incredible event. But random seeking is also useless and obstinacy in demanding a Guru is equally ridiculous. One has to become worthy, ready, pure for the Diksha transformation, otherwise the spiritual change that the Guru can bring about is wasted.

The word ‘choose’ is disrespectful because Guru is not like an item on the shelf like a vegetable or home appliance that one has to “choose”. Adopting a Guru or taking refuge with a Guru is a better expression.

How to adopt a Guru is an important question.

First and foremost, the spiritual aspirant must have a strong desire to progress spiritually and be convinced that the journey cannot be scaled on one’s own, one needs a Guru’s blessings and support. Those who have notions of self-sufficiency will not attract the Guru Tattva.

Once the belief in utter necessity of a Guru is established, the aspirant keeps thinking about the good fortune of having a Guru. Secretly, he or she yearns and prays for one. Such a person is often found expressing, “Time is ticking, I don’t know when I will find a Guru.”

This desire leads the aspirant to learn about Gurus from books such as Autobiography of a Yogi, Towards the Silver Crests of the Himalayas, Living with the Himalayan Masters etc.

He or she now actively reads up accounts of saints and their Gurus, and how it all happened to them. On the other hand, the aspirant also speaks extensively with those who have a “living Guru” and understands the real process.

There is a great gulf that separates the thinking, beliefs, motivations and actions of those who have refuge with a living Guru and those who don’t. They are two different worlds actually.

It seems that one does not have to go “out of the way” to find a Guru. The regular course of one’s own destiny leads every person to one or more holy personages. A friend recommends a visit. Accidentally one meets someone at a temple or an ashram. It can also be at a discourse, or a friend’s or colleague’s house, that this meeting can happen. Or someone you know personally, and who you consider to be most spiritually evolved, talks about his or her Guru and you are inspired to meet. This is the way Guru comes to our life.

To some, spontaneous and instant awakening happens and they experience incredible things. However, it is not necessary that these things must happen on the outside. Whether one knows it or not, the Guru Principle starts to work subtly as soon as one meets the Guru; which Guru will come depends upon the destiny of each individual. Your work may take you to Eastern Europe and there on an evening, when you have nothing else to do, you find a Hindu Guru discoursing. And he may become your Guru. This is indeed accidental, but it’s in the course of your own destiny. So, the destiny will bring the Guru. One who is keen on having refuge with a Guru must sense which higher beings the destiny has brought in the context of one’s own life and not miss the opportunity of such satsang. More interactions of this nature/ satsang will create a great liking and attraction in your heart for one of these holy men. That’s your Guru!

For all those who have a working knowledge of religious process and are not deluded, there can be no superior or inferior Guru, or this type of Guru and that type of Guru. There’s only Guru, that’s all. The distinctions among Gurus are seen from an erroneous perception that all Gurus are available to all and we’ll pursue them and choose. This is not the way it works. It’s not a shopping spree. It’s a natural unfolding of individual destiny. Guru-shishya union is a unique step in individual destiny. It’s a happening, not a doing, but one must allow it to happen.
Openness of heart to all holy men, willingness to attend satsangs and seek blessings of whichever high souls come along, are mandatory. Otherwise the Guru comes and goes and you never think That was your Guru.

You can actually miss your Guru. It happens all the time.

It’s also necessary in this phenomenon not to trust reason too much. A Siddha Yoga Master has said, “Mainly, it is Disciples who can test (recognize) a Guru; casual observers cannot know who a true Guru is….only a Guru can fully test (recognize, authenticate) another Guru”.

Gurus are of many types. Kularnava Tantra, an eleventh century sacred text, describes the following six types:
1. Preranaa-Daayak Guru, he who inspires
2. Suchanaa- Pradaata Guru, he who gives valuable hints and warnings
3. Vaachak Guru, he who explains in words the scriptural philosophy and principles
4. Darshak Guru, he who throws light on matters of significance and guides
5. Shikshaa Daataa Guru, he who teaches you, as in a school or secular place
6. Bodhak or Jnana Daataa Guru, he who imparts divine knowledge

The first five are kaaryabhuta i.e. incidental in works inspired, but the sixth one, Bodhak Guru, dispels the darkness of ignorance directly by giving Diksha and transferring his spiritual energy to the disciple, such a one alone is to be called Satguru; his sandals/ padukas are worthy of being worshipped.

He is the Bodhak Acharya, who once having taken refuge in, must never be rejected.

The first five types of Gurus are worthy of respect and must accordingly be revered, but they cannot ‘self-start’ you, they can only point directions. The Bodhak Guru, on the other hand, is all-encompassing, he can and does everything. They are also called Siddha Gurus who can pass on anything to us. Sri Sri Sitaramdas Omkarnath, is one such, so are high souls like Anandamayi Ma, Swami Muktananda, Swami Sivananda etc.

Whole world of knowledge lies sterile in front of us, it's there yet it's not there. Everything comes into being, afresh, after the grace of Gurudeva descends. It is for this reason one must revere all the types of Gurus but follow only one’s own Bodhak/ Siddha Guru.

Guru is a mysterious being. What appears is not reality. There are many subtleties and depths involved in the Guru which can only be understood with more refined and powerful awareness. The process is important, its understanding is secondary. Guru Principle or Diksha is too large a phenomenon to be understood before having a Guru. All one can hope to have at the outset is an intuition that this will help me, the real implication dawns only afterwards. In fact, reason and great faith is not necessary. Having a Guru and receiving initiation itself produces both faith and understanding.

Before we seek to know who a true Guru, it helps to know who is a false Guru. According to the sages, a false Guru is known by the following characteristics:
  1. False Guru has had no Guru, or he does not acknowledge the Guru from whom he has learnt
  2. He is uninitiated and lacks knowledge of scriptures and acts in contradiction with scriptures
  3. His conduct pertaining to purity, dietary habits and daily religious practices is wanting.
  4. His words are meaningless, he is a gossip-monger and he demonizes and condemns all those who disagree with him.
  5. He indulges in displaying siddhis, providing quick fixes such as herbs and chalices to overcome afflictions and performs miracles to attract disciples
  6. He is competitive and engages in self-promotion and making his clan of disciples flourish
  7. He seeks is exacting and seeks material reward and compensation for the things he does
  8. He indulges in sense pleasures and is a slave to addictions
  9. He has no kindness and compassion, he is passionate, harsh, cruel
  10. He is hypocritical, jealous, miserly and a cheat
  11. He has no adherence to truth and he lies, cheats, swindles

The marks in a true Guru are simple. Texts such as Kularnava Tantra, the Guru Gita, the Bhagavad Gita, the Devata Mantrasvarupini, and the sacred writings of great saints have listed the distinguishing marks of a true Guru.

  1. He sees God in everything and finds no fault in anyone
  2. The True Guru is exemplary in moral conduct; he is virtuous and devoted to the study and practice of Scriptures
  3. He is ever smiling and God-intoxicated; a current of inner bliss permeates his entire being, his company confers peace and a sense of spiritual elevation
  4. His speech is sweet and truthful, his words bear out wisdom and righteousness and clear all doubts
  5. If he commands someone to do something, it always bears fruit
  6. He is selfless, loving, and free from ego 
  7. He is beyond the three gunas (three forces of worldly existence) and free from duality; he roots out impurities and destroys duality to reveal the perception of unity with God
  8. Although his eyes are fixed on inner Self, he is omniscient, and supernatural powers follow him. He knows space, time, past, present and future
  9. He awakens the Kundalini, he can pierce the chakras, and transmit his shakti to others
  10. He has conquered the shadripus, six enemies (desire, greed, anger, lust, envy and infatuation).
  11. He has no notions of inequality and disparity. He holds equanimity in the face of praise and censure, and is free of conflicts, desires and thoughts
  12. He gives joy to all and banishes sorrow in the worthy
  13. He bestows grace and metes out punishment
  14. He carries no business but Guruhood and regards praise and blame equally
  15. He does not disturb your beliefs but helps you on from where you are
Once you have initiation and look back at the event of initiation and the years that have passed, in retrospect it becomes clear that all the efforts of the disciple in finding and following a Guru were a part of a greater scheme in which the only key component on the part of the disciple was “surrender”.

For one to adopt a Guru and even to follow his or her instructions, the key components are “willingness”, “unconditional surrender” and “sadhana”. One is led only as much as one wishes to be led. Yathaa Bhakti tathaa laabh! You will progress as much as you believe. Those who want to lead themselves usually don’t need or have a Guru in the first place, or slip from his or her influence in case they take refuge with one and still continue to be led by their own light as against Guru’s. This is a false disciple who is steeped in ego and limitations of one’s own knowledge and refuses to be led or see what lies beyond.

Once a disciple has a Guru, the Guide is found, the Goal is found, the Path is found, the Instrument to walk the path is found, and all that remains is effort.


Raj Supe (Kinkar Vishwashreyananda)
The Editor