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Where can I find a real guru? All popular gurus of today seem to be rolling in wealth, immersed in materialism, running multi crore institutions and doing globe trotting

Divine grace is needed to get the right guru. If the seeker is earnest, he will get the right guru at the end for sure.

A truly realized Jnani can be a pauper like Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi or a king like Janaka Maharaja. Sri Krishna, an absolute total Avatar of God was living amidst worldly pleasures and materialism but nothing touched him.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa lived a poor man’s life; he could not even touch money with his hand. He lived such an exemplary life of renunciation. But think of Swami Vivekananda, his prime disciple, to whom Sri Ramakrishna transferred all his shakti before leaving his body and the way he “extracted work” from Vivekananda!

Vivekananda roamed all around India as a penniless mendicant; he got the divine prompting to go to USA again as a penniless person. He swept the west like a storm, brought wealth, started Sri Ramakrishna Mission and Math, built Belur Mutt, built a grand temple for Sri Ramakrishna there, set up several branches of the mutt, engaged his brother monks into various social service activities, built educational institutions and other institutions for the welfare of the downtrodden men and women.

Like a tempest he worked ceaselessly and built a huge institution and left his body when he was just 40 with total detachment as a true Sanyasin!

Think of Swami Sivananda. He was floating in wealth as a popular doctor in Malaysia. He was gripped by thirst for spirituality, came to India, got initiated into Sanyas, did tapas at Rishikesh, lived the life of a begging monk and got enlightened.

He served the poor and sick monks of Rishikesh. He started Sivananda Ashram – ‘Divine Life Society’ from a humble hut and built it into a huge Ashram comprising of a temple, a hospital, a photo studio, a Yoga Institute, a Vedanta Institute, a printing press and he had an office manned by some 40 typists with typewriters to handle all his correspondence and writing!

Swami Sivananda once said, “If I can serve 100 people unobtrusively or serve thousands of people through advertisement, I would choose the latter”. Same Swami Sivananda, when his ashram was gripped with financial difficulty, said, “I have no qualms if we have to shut down everything and we can always go back to our old simple ways by taking food at Annakshetra”. That is the sign of a mahatma.

Likewise, there are indeed Gurus of today that the media may project as billionaires rolling in luxury, materialism and worldliness, but they may be totally untouched by any of them even today.

Kali yuga is such that even Ashrams cannot totally escape some pomp, show, commercialization and materialism. If the head of the ashram is a pure realized soul, everything can remain in balance. The institutions may have to be run by ordinary people with ordinary morals (who are yet to be evolved) and some of them may bring bad name to the Mahatma who runs the institutes too! But true Mahatmas accept all sorts of people out of compassion to elevate them spiritually.

As I said, it requires divine grace — the grace to know the difference between the right Guru and a fake Guru, to differentiate the wheat and the chaff.

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How does a seeker get his right guru? How to seek him? How to approach him? How will you know that he is the right guru?

For some people, Guru comes on his own in their life. They are blessed. They have done their homework in their previous births!

Others tend to search for a Guru. They may finally find a Guru of their liking, but only time can tell whether they have ended at the right place, or it is only a temporary shelter till they find the permanent one. The reality is that when the search is earnest, the right Guru actually finds them, sooner or later, in first attempt or later attempts!

A serious seeker, intentionally and consciously searching for a Guru should sincerely answer many queries.

Each of us have different tastes, temperaments, capacity of intake w.r.t. religion and spirituality.

  • How much of spirituality do you want?
  • How much of worldly life do you still want to enjoy?
  • Is your search of a guru or a saint simply for finding solutions to your current worldly problems and to get His blessings to escape from them?
  • Or is it higher and more purposeful to understand the goal of life and just not materialistic?
  • If you want both, how much of balance between the two is acceptable to you?
  • How much of sacrifice are you prepared to do to acquire real spiritual knowledge?
  • What is your mental inclination towards Bhakti? What is our taste towards Jnyana? Are you attracted by yoga?
  • If you have bhakti, are you confined to a specific God form or sect only (like emotional bonding to Shiva/ Vishu/ Shakti and tend to think other Gods as lesser Gods?).
  • Would you be more comfortable and content to follow rituals, do formal worships, chant slokas and so on as a devotee rather than read scriptures and break your head with matters like soul, Atman, Brahman, Nirvikalpa Samadhi and so on?
  • Do you have a family Guru by tradition? Do you have liking and respect for him? Would you be contented to follow him or you want something better?
  • What is your exposure to spiritual books? How much of exposure do you have towards our scriptures in general? Have you read Ramayana and Mahabharata reasonably well?
  • Have you read Bhagavad Gita? Do you find its teachings making an impression in you or having an influence on you?
  • Have you got any idea about the Hindus ideologies like Advaita, Vishistadvaita and Dvaita?
  • Have you got exposed to any of the life and teachings of Avatara Purushas, Mahatmas and saints like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Sarada Devi, Swami Vivekananda, Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi, Kanchi Maha Periyaval, Shirdi Saibaba, Satya Saibaba, Ma Anandamayi, Swami Shivananda, Papa Ramadas, Swami Chinmayananda, Shringeri Shankaracharyas, Nisarga Datta Maharaj, Mata Amritanandamayi or any such saints of recent history?
  • Do you feel highly attracted or influenced by any of their lives and teachings? Do you feel like surrendering and seeking their guidance (even if they are no longer alive)?
  • Would you be happy to follow the living disciples of any of the above Gurus who are not alive now? Or do you wish for a living Sadguru’s guidance only?
  • Do you know the difference between a Guru, Acharya and a Sadguru?

If you earnestly get the answers to these queries from your heart, you will at least know where you stand and what you expect.

If you seek help and suggestions from people who already have gurus, you will invariably end up listening to a sales-promotion talk recommending their Guru for you too! It is exactly like people offering free medical advice when you tell them about some ailment you are having!

In olden days, people were less informed, had better humility, faith and sense of surrender. Spiritual knowledge or ideas were not freely available. Like arranged marriages, people easily accepted their traditional Gurus and got better. Only earnest Mumukshus (ardent seekers of Moksha – liberation) went around searching for Gurus. But times have changed now.

It is better to acquire some spiritual basis by reading books or listening to their talks/ videos unless you are blessed with a Guru who comes on his own in your life. Personally, I got my spiritual fundamentals firmed up by reading books. I was immensely influenced by reading Deivaththin Kural (Tamil, from Kanchi Paramacharya), The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Life and teachings of Ramana Maharshi, Swami Shivananda, Exposition of vedanta from Swami Chinmayananda and so on.

The more and more I read them, the more I got a clearer picture of my own mental leanings, tastes, strengths and weaknesses, idiosyncrasies and limitations. And I would say divine grace started working on me to guide me to seek my Guru. I found my life being lead from one step to another to lead me to my Sadguru.

I am just sharing what happened to me. Divine grace is the real thing and it acts differently in different people. I know that there are umpteen ways and inscrutable happenings through which so many others have come and landed at the feet of my Sadguru.

The same is true for those who have found their own living Gurus in the present and in the past.

Bhagwan Ramana with his western disciple Sadhu Arunachala

If you get a feeling that such-and-such person could be potentially your Guru, visit him and offer yourself there with humility. He may or may not be your final Guru. Sri Ramamaharshi gives one indication – If your mind finds total peace when you are at the sannadhi of the Guru, he is most likely to be your Guru.

If disturbances and doubts are there, perhaps he is not your Guru. May be his grace will guide you further to end up at your right Guru’s feet. May be he could still be your Guru, too but your time has not arrived!

 

 

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

You don’t have to break your head too much on the correctness of your judgment. The earnestness and humility are the vital needs. Sri Ramakrishna used to say “Suppose a person goes on a pilgrimage to Puri by walk from his village; he is not familiar with the directions and roads; somewhere he might have turned a wrong direction and missed his path. But as he inquires, somebody will always correct his mistake and redirect him to the right path. Quickly or belatedly he is sure to end up in Puri. Don’t worry”.

Search – earnestness – humility – surrender –grace . This is the working reality of getting the right guru.

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