Guru Poornima Message
In Srimad Bhagavatam, Sage Narada, while speaking to Sage Veda Vyasa about his earlier birth, says that he attained bhakti simply through association with sadhus. In fact, he says that the Lord Himself told him (then a little boy) that he (Narada) had found a shortcut to come to Him through sadhu seva (service of sadhus).
So which is the greatest path to God? Is it dhyana (meditation) or Raja yoga or Vedanta vichara (self-enquiry) or sanyasa (asceticism) or to tightly hold on to the feet of a Mahatma? Holding on tightly to the feet of a Mahatma is truly the greatest!
Why? Because in the other paths, you do not know if we will attain God or fall down. You may do dhyana for some days but stop after a while. You may be deeply devoted for a while, but permanent devotion cannot be vouchsafed. You may think you have deep vairagya (dispassion) for a while but you know not if it will remain forever. You may be pushed to a state where you would say “Oh, Sir! I was so full of bhakti in those days. But now it’s all gone!” or “Oh, how deeply I would get into dhyana before, but now it’s all gone!”
Why does this happen? Because in this case, you are depending on yourself and your efforts. On the contrary, when you hold the feet of a Mahatma tightly, he will pull you along with him to the shore!
While speaking of Guru Bhakti it has been said: There are deep hollows and valleys in the forests. The fly, mosquito, bee, ant… all aspire to cross this deep hollow. But is it possible for such tiny creatures to cross it? But a mighty lion has the strength to jump across in a trice to the other side. Now all that the fly, mosquito, bee and ant have to do is to climb onto the mighty lion. Are they a burden to the mighty lion? Certainly not. So when the mighty lion jumps over the huge hollow to the other side, thousands of flies, mosquitoes, ants and other insects are automatically carried to the other side. In the same way, hold on to a powerful Mahatma: when He jumps across the deep pit of samsara you will also jump over and move to the other side.
Who is a Guru? One may earn the desire to attain God. Or the Lord Himself may desire to give Himself to a person! Or, let us put it this way – when Bhagavan feels the desire to show Himself to a person he (the person) gets the desire to attain Bhagavan! When this desire arises, Bhagavan shows him (the person) the one who can show Him (Bhagavan)!
The one who can show Bhagavan to His Bhakta is verily the Guru. So He leads that person to the Guru. Bhagavan thus prepares the jiva (soul) slowly and lifts him up gradually only through satsang and Guru’s grace (Guru krupa). So some come to a Mahatma early, some later. This is all the will of Bhagavan.
There are so many people whose lives have changed completely simply with Guru krupa. Vijaya Vittala Dasa was a great Mahan who has composed many songs and works, among them the famous song,”Sada enna hrudayadalli vaasa maado Sri Hare.” He was born in a very poor family and faced a lot of difficulty in life. Once he went to Kasi, and on the way he had to endure several abuses and insults. At Kasi, he had a vision of Sri Purandara Dasa, who showered His grace on him. After that, he was filled with devotion and began to sing the Lord’s glories, and people automatically began to respect and honor him. Vijaya Dasa thought, “While going to Kasi I only received abuses and insults but now on my way back from Kasi I receive honor. What have I earned in between? I have earned Guru krupa! Guru krupa has changed everything!”
Even when we look into our own lives don’t we realize the state in which we were before earning the grace of the Guru and the state we are now in after having earned the grace of the Guru? We may not be able to actually fathom it but just think of what great understanding Guru krupa has given us over so many matters. Did we know what Moksha is? Did we know what human birth was meant for? Did we know what Bhagavatam is? Did we know about Bhagavan Naama? Did we know who Sadhus are? Did we know who Mahans are? Did we know what Vaikuntam is? Did we know what Jivan mukti is? Did we know what was meant by papa or punya (sins or merit)? How many things does the Guru incessantly teach us! The transformation that has been wrought by Guru krupa is known to each one of us deep within. This is the rarest thing to attain.
In the world when you ask someone, “What have you achieved in your life?”, each person may give a different reply – of having earned much wealth, some high position, having settled all his children, earned the President award, etc. But the highest achievement that one attains in life is verily Guru krupa. That is truly the supreme. Greater than everything. Very special. Though one may understand this it gets obliterated from memory now and then, due to Maya. Only at the time of death when the life leaves the body will one realize what Guru krupa has done to him.
Excerpts from HH Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji’s discourse on Guru Poornima Day, July 12, 2014.