The Incomparable Sadguru

Isn’t the Guru’s grace indeed wonderful? Generally, to bring out the sweetness or beauty of something that is wonderful, wise ones use similes and comparisons. “The face was bloomed like a lotus,” they would use the lotus as a simile for the face. Here, in a highly Vedantic work called “Satasloki”, Sri Adi Shankara Bhagavadpada begins the work with an extraordinary sloka that speaks of Guru mahima. It is a Vedantic text. It is a work about the Supreme Brahmam, which is beyond name and form. Vedanta itself establishes the Supreme only through negation – “not this, not this” (nEti, nEti). Our Bhagavadpada begins the Guru vandanam also in the same style.

The very first phrase starts with, “The krupa of the Satguru who bestows jnana cannot be described with any comparison!”

drishTAnto naiva drishTi: tribhuvanajaTharE sadgurOrjnAnadAtu:
sparshashchEt tatra kalpya: sa nayita yadaho svarNatAmashmasAram |
na sparshatvam tathApi shritacharaNayugE sadguru: svIyashishyE
svIyam sAmyam vidhattE bhavati nirupamastEna vAloukikOpi ||

If we search, not only in this world but also in Devaloka, Patalaloka, and up to Brahmaloka, we cannot find anything that is comparable to the Satguru. A Satguru who is a jnani bestows the incomparable jnana itself! Is that all? Certainly not. An example presents itself. It seems there is a stone called sparshavedi. It seems it can convert any metal that it touches, into gold. It seems it can convert even a rusted iron rod into a golden rod. “It is a beautiful comparison. We can say that a Satguru is also like this!” – if we say this, Sri Bhagavadpada says, “The sparshavedi stone can turn iron only into gold. Can that converted golden rod convert another iron rod into gold? It cannot, right? But see the grace play of the Satguru. He converts the disciple who takes refuge in Him into one like Himself and that disciple becomes a Guru for many others and brings about an awakening of jnana in them. Can a sparshavedi do this? Iron touched by a sparshavedi will only become gold, and not another sparshavedi!” But a Guru, as Sant Tukaram sings in an abhang “ApNA sArike kariti tatkAl”, converts the disciple who takes refuge in him into a jnAnavAn like himself, and makes him a Guru who awakens divine wisdom in several others… does this happen anywhere else?

Hence the Satguru is incomparable. No comparison can be given to him in this world. Nor is he one who is of this world, i.e. the philosophy of the Satguru is aloukikam (something that is beyond what we see in this world) is what is shown here. We can interpret this sloka like this also – when there is no simile to describe even a guru who teaches worldly knowledge, there is certainly no simile for that Guru who imparts spiritual knowledge and converts his disciple into an acharya like himself!

Let us bow down to the feet of such a great Satguru!

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