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True Guru

Are you wandering in search of your Guru, or are they wandering in search of you.

The word “Guru” means one who dispels darkness or enlightens. “Gu” means darkness or lack of knowledge and “ru” means one who throws light and dispels the darkness. In simple words, a guru is a teacher; someone who guides an individual to learn something. The learning could be about music, painting, writing or simple values of life. Therefore, an individual would have many gurus during the course of a lifetime and the gurus themselves may come in many forms.

The English word, teacher is not adequate to define a guru. It is important for us to note the distinction between a guru and a teacher. Anyone with adequate training (e.g. in music or painting) can be a teacher. A guru, on the contrary, goes beyond the subject knowledge and becomes a mentor and a spiritual guide, leading the shishya (disciple). To lead and to be led, both the guru and the shishya need sincerity and a dedication to each other. Because you pay someone Rs.1000 per hour to give you piano lessons for one hour does not make for guru-shishya relationship. In a guru-shishya relationship, a disciple (the word originated from discipline) dedicates himself to the guru because of an inner desire to be led. The guru, in turn, takes the shishya as a sesha (an integral person in his life) and considers the mentoring of the shishya as his sacred duty. Only such mutual dedication and attachment makes for a guru-shishya relationship.

The guru and shishya relationship is unique to India and has been cultivated over 2,500 years of Indian heritage. Upanishads form a sacred part of our heritage. The word Upanishad comes from two words – upa and nishad. Upa means sitting nearby and nishad means to listen and learn; literally translated, Upanishad then refers to a dedicated shishya sitting near a guru and listening and learning from the spiritual experiences of a great master. In this relationship, the shishya considers the guru to be God himself and has absolute faith in the teachings and guidance of the guru. For his part, the guru dedicates himself to the guidance of the shishya. There is no competition in this relationship – just mutual respect. Nothing in this world is more satisfying to the guru than the accomplishments of his shishya. Such is the greatness of this relationship. However, for both the guru and the shishya, finding this relationship is as much about chance as it is about one’s own willingness to find knowledge wherever it may reside.

A King was passing through a forest followed by his entourage of soldiers carrying arms and his servants carrying jewelry and other ornaments. Suddenly they came upon an old man lying in the middle of the forest, clad only in a loincloth, laughing merrily and appearing enormously happy. The old man had no possessions and yet seemed quite content with life. The King, despite all his possessions, had never been this happy and was curious to learn the secret of the old man’s happiness.

The King got out of his chariot and approached the old man lying on the forest floor. The old man took no notice of the King or his entourage. The King, however, did not take the elder man ignoring his presence as an insult. Instead, the king approached the elderly man with respect and asked him, “Why are you so happy? You have no possessions or a comfortable place to live and yet, you seem to be content and satisfied. What is the secret of your happiness? Revered Sir! Would you let me know who your guru is so that I can also receive guidance from him on the secret to happiness.”

The old man turned to the King and said, “Oh King! I have had 20 gurus. My gurus include this body, this earth, the birds, the animals, and the trees. Everything in the world has taught me something. The good things of the world taught me what to see and how to be good and the bad things taught me what I must avoid.” The King saw the wisdom in the old man’s words, bowed to him and continued with his journey.

True Gurus are everywhere. They are waiting for their shishyas. Dedicate yourself as a true shishya, look around, and you will find one.

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