The Purpose of a Guru


Sri Swamiji_chinmudraWhat is the mukhya prayojana (main purpose) and the mukhya kãrya (main work) of the Guru? Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji says, “The work of the Guru is to stop the manas (mind) that is running towards prakriti (world) and turn it towards bhagavat vishaya (divine matters). All other work is only secondary.”

While a Guru has that as his main goal, on the other hand, our own goal is all about the world and its offerings – health, beauty, family, money, fame, power, etc. Who can deny the attraction of the world, for after all, it too has sprung out only from Him and by His power (of delusion or Maya). So to our mundane mind, only this—prakriti—makes sense because we can see it, feel it and relate to it.

“Bhagavat vishaya” however is rather intangible. It is said that it comes with faith, by looking inward, by cleansing our  impurities.

The two goals are obviously in quite the opposite tracks. One goes inside, the other outside. One is intangible to the senses, the other is tangible. One is Love, while the other settles for searching for love. How can they meet? Unless a third entity enters the fray, these two will forever be apart.

Here is where the mukhya prayojana of a Guru comes into play. The one who, in the role of a perceptible human being, is verily that God incarnate come down with the prime purpose of taking us ashore.

In our lack of faith, we asked that God appear in front of us, for us to have believe in His existence. He obliged, by becoming the Guru in a form that we can relate to. We asked that the path to joy be in the world outside. He obliged here too, and made the Guru take care of all of our worldly needs.  But over time, from our own experiences, we realize the futility when our needs seem to have no end, and the gains do not give any permanent joy.

Now the Guru’s primary role becomes evident to us, although He has been working on it all along — to lead us to the point of seeking permanent good, i.e. in god-speak “from prakriti to bhagavat vishaya”.

The Guru lays down the apt path for the disciple: the one that is appropriate for him/her and for which he/she is eligible. But in truth, the path too is only a mere pretext. For as long as we continue to think that it is we who are doing the sadhana (spiritual practice) to realize the Truth, the Guru would oblige there too. Sadly that only delays the process for us.

Finally, the Guru makes us realize that it is indeed His grace and grace alone that is needed, and that paths are merely an excuse. When such surrender ripens, love flowers like a flash and both His and our purpose is accomplished.

Guru Poornima was celebrated this year on July 3, 2012. Prostrations to the Supreme Guru on this auspicious occasion.

Sriram Ramanujam, Houston, TX

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