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Amma’s stories on Guru, Role of Guru, Guru-disciple Relationship – Part 4 (5 more stories)

[If you have not read the previous 15 little stories of Amma under this topic,  you can read them here: Amma’s stories on Guru, Role of Guru, Guru-disciple Relationship – Part 3)

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1.  Bottled Krishna?

One day a Pundit came to see a Mahatma.

The pundit was famous for his scholarship and his knowledge of the scriptures. He was a very proud man. The pundit said to the Mahatma: “I am well versed in all the shastras of our religion. I came to you with an expectation that you may be able to teach me something extra that I don’t know of”.

The Mahatma smiled and said, “I am afraid I don’t have anything to tell you more than what you already  know.  But there is a shopkeeper in this village, who, I believe, has something to teach you”.

The pundit got curious. He inquired who the shopkeeper was and immediately proceeded to go and meet him. When the pundit reached the grocery shop, he noticed that he was in the process of supplying various grocery items to one of his clients.  He heard the shopkeeper telling the client, “You please read out the items one by one from your shopping list and my boy will weigh and pack them.”

Immediately, the Pundit understood that the shopkeeper was a simple, unlettered man. What could such a person teach a scholar like him? Anyway, having come all the way, he approached the shopkeeper and introduced himself. He said, “The Mahatma in this village asked me to meet you. He told me that you have a piece of wisdom that you can teach me”.

The shopkeeper was surprised. He said, “Revered Sir, I am an unlettered man. I have no knowledge whatsoever except selling provisions. What can I ever teach you? Anyway, having come all the way to meet me, I request you to sit with me for a while in the shop, relax yourself and then go back home”.

The Pundit sat in a chair next to the shopkeeper and looked around the shop. In one shelf nearby, there were several jars  painted  in different colors. The pundit became curious. “What do these jars contain? Why are they painted in different colors?”

The shopkeeper said, “Sir, it is for my easy identification of items, that I have colored them differently. The first jar in red contains pepper. The second one in yellow contains mustard. The third one in green contains cardamom. The next one contains cloves. The last one contains Krishna”.

What? Krishna? What do you mean?”

“Sir, actually the last one does not contain anything. It is empty. I call it the jar of Krishna”.

“Why?”

“You see, you cannot put anything in a  jar that already contains something. If you have to put something, it should be empty first. If our mind is filled with so many things, it has no space for the lord to come and reside inside. Only when we keep our mind empty without thoughts, God can come and occupy it. That’s why I call the empty jar as the jar of Krishna”.

The pundit was awestruck hearing the explanation from the unlettered shopkeeper. He immediately understood that his mind was full with ideas and concepts learned from scriptures and hence it does not have any space for God to enter and reside in him. He understood that knowing God and establishing God in his heart was far more important than stuffing himself with scriptural knowledge. He understood that he should get rid of all his pride and make his heart empty to have the vision of God.

(From Amma’s Krishna Janmashtami Satsang 10/9/2020)

2.  What you really lost

Once a group of travellers were going to a village. As they walked, they reached a place adjacent to a forest. There they saw a pond with clear water. They left their possessions at the bank of the pond and got into water to take bath. When they returned to the bank after taking bath, they were shocked to see their possessions missing. Thieves had indeed stolen them and run away.  The travellers immediately went around in search of the thieves.

They noticed a Sadhu sitting at the shade of a tree on their way. They asked him, “Did you notice any thieves running this way, carrying things? They have stolen our belongings”.

The Sadhu said, “You are all sad because you have lost your possessions. Aren’t you? Now think. You have lost your happiness now; the thieves who made you lose your happiness are outside you or inside you? Do you want only your lost possessions or want something that you will never ever lose? Think deeply on this.”

The travellers understood what the sadhu said. They understood that he was a Mahatma. They surrendered to him and requested him to take them as his disciples.

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol.1)

3.  Expansiveness matters

Once  there lived a householder who had the habit of visiting a  Mahatma frequently. He would always complain about the hardships and sorrows he was facing in his life. One day, when this devotee started to talk about his woes, the Mahatma cut him short and said, “You go and bring a glass of water and a handful of salt”.

The devotee brought them.  The saint said, “Put a  spoonful of salt in the glass of water, stir it well to dissolve it fully and then drink a little of that water”. The man did so.

“How does it taste?” asked the mahatma.

“Ah! Very salty; I can’t even swallow it” said the man.

Then the Mahatma took the man to a nearby pond. “Now put the handful of salt in the water and dissolve it fully” he said.

The man did so.

“Now taste a little of that pond water” said the Mahatma.

The man drank some water.

“Do you find it salty?” asked the Mahatma.  “No, Maharaj, not at all” said the man.

The mahatma said, “My son, the sorrows in our life too is similar to this. Pure water is ike the natural, inner joy that we all have. If a little of salt is added to a glass of water, the water turns salty and you can’t even drink it. But the same salt, if put in a pond of water, does not make the water salty. Your mind, at present, is very small, like the glass. But if you make your heart very large like the pond and awaken the bliss inside it,  then no amount of sorrow will disturb you”.

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol.1)

4.  The difference  (1)

Once a minister of a country went to meet his guru to seek advice and solace as he was highly tensed and disturbed by many problems facing the country that needed right solutions.

When he reached his guru’s ashram, one of his guru’s main disciples stopped him. The minister said, “Excuse me, I need to meet the guru very urgently to discuss on some very important matters”.

The disciple said politely, “Sorry sir, our guru is sick; he is taking rest. He has given clear instruction to me not to allow anyone to disturb him.”

The minister was in a dilemma. While he badly wanted to discuss matters with his guru, he could not argue with the disciple too to meet the guru. He stood there for a while very confused and disturbed”.

“May I know why you want to meet our guru so desperately?” asked the disciple.

The minister felt that it would be fine to share his problems with the disciple and he narrated the various serious issues that he is facing as a minister and looking for the right guidance.

The disciple too was quite a learned person and he was serving the guru since long.  So, he spoke to the minister for the next half an hour doling out advice as to how to the problems can be managed. The minister was nodding and hearing all that the disciple said, but there was no full conviction in him to accept all of them and take steps to act on them.

In the meanwhile, hearing the voice of the minister outside his hut, the guru, despite being unwell, came out. The minister was surprised and glad to see the guru and he prostrated before him. The guru asked him what his problem was. Again, the minister narrated his woes to the guru. The guru spoke to him only a few words lasting hardly for five minutes and bid him goodbye.

The minister was extremely satisfied with the guru’s advice and he left the place with mental peace and clarity. In fact, what the guru instructed was only the essence of what the disciple had already instructed in detail earlier, but the conviction came to the minister only through the words of the guru.

[Amma: “In this story, what the guru said and what the disciple told earlier were essentially same, but the words of the disciple are nothing but bookish knowledge; where as the words of the guru are based on his personal experience attained through self-realization. That’s why it creates so much conviction and trust in the listener.”]

(From Amma’s Vijayadasami Satsang on 25/10/2020)

5.  The difference  (2)

Once the king a country went to meet his guru to seek advice and solace as he was highly tensed and disturbed by many problems facing the country; he had lost all peace of mind and was gripped by a desire to relinquish the king’s role and escape from all the responsibilities. He felt if he could get some solution from his guru to enable him transfer all his responsibilities to someone else, he can have a breath of relief.

After listening to the king’s bag of woes and his final request, the guru said, “Fine. Do one thing. You make a vow to hand over the whole country to me”. The king gladly agreed and made a formal announcement to this effect.

Once it was done, the guru said, “Now, this country is mine. Now I appoint you as the caretaker of this country to govern it as my official representative.”

The king, as he was always obedient to his guru’s words, agreed. He went back to the palace and continued to rule the country. But now a sea of change had happened in his mindset. He felt a great mental relief. He was not the king any longer but only a servant to the guru who is now the real ruler of the country; he was just an instrument in the hands of his guru and felt totally free from the burden of all personal responsibilities that he was shouldering all along.

[Amma: “The sense of ownership is the cause of all tensions. If one becomes an instrument in the hands of God, then all tasks will be accomplished without mental agitation.”]

(From Amma’s Vijayadasami Satsang on 25/10/2020)

Amma’s stories on Guru, Role of Guru, Guru-disciple Relationship – Part 3 (15 more stories)

1. What next?

Once a sage was conversing with a new visitor who came to meet him.

Sage: “What are you doing?”

Visitor: “I am working as a clerk in a Company”.

Sage: “If you get a promotion what will you become?”

Visitor: “I will become a Senior Clerk”

Sage: “What is the next post you will get?”

Visitor: “I will become Assistant to the Department Manager”.

Sage: “What next?”

Visitor: “If I really strive well, I can become the manager one day”

Sage: “Oh! That sounds very nice! What is the next position you can aspire to get?”

Visitor: “Oh! That is very hard to guess. Perhaps, if I have lots of luck, I may become the Vice President of the Company!”

Sage: “Wow! (He pats the shoulder of the visitor).  That will be wonderful. But still I am wondering what could be your next level…”

At this point of time, the visitor lost all his patience. In a loud and curt voice, he shot back :”If I put tons of effort, have lots of luck and  some political backing, I can become the President of the company! Enough?”

The sage did not leave him at that. “What next?” he continued.

That was the last straw. The visitor shouted: “What do you want me to become? A God?”

Now the sage laughed aloud and said, “My son! Now you have said the final and correct answer.  But there is a little difference. YOu don’t have to become God’ you are already God.  It is enough if that knowledge dawns in you.”

[Amma: “It is this knowledge that is true spirituality.  We are so much immersed in  the idea that what we call as “I” is this limited body, mind and intellect. We have to discard that idea and move forward, it will dawn to us that I am indeed that divine power that permeates everything outside and inside and we can experience the bliss of that reality.”]

(From Oliyai Nokki – Tamil – Vol 3)

2. Amma with a Vedantin

[Amma: “People can buy Books on Vedanta from Bookshop and read them. After reading them, some may declare “I am Brahman”. But Advaita Vedanta is not something contained in mere words. It is something to be experienced and then expressed in practice at every moment of life.  If someone merely repeats Vedanta verbally it is just ignorance. He is simply acting like a tape recorder or a parrot. Once one of Amma’s young disciple came to Amma and the conversation went like this: “]

Devotee: “Amma, I am a Vedantin.”

Amma said nothing.

Devotee: “Aham Brahmasmi….Aham Brahmasmi….Aham Brahmasmi”

Amma said nothing. He was silent for a while. Then

Devotee: “Shivoham…Shivoham….Shivoham”

Amma said nothing.

Devotee: “Amma, Why aren’t you saying anything?”

Amma: “Son, aren’t you the Brahman already? What is there for me to say to you?”

Devotee: “But, Amma, Why do I still have anger, hatred and desire in me?”

[Amma: “That’s the crux of the issue!  One cannot become a Vedantin by merely reading books.  Vedanta should become the lifeline in us. However, it is indeed good to read Books on Vedanta. Then one should contemplate and understand it deeply.  Through meditation, it should sink deep into our heart. With that, we should strive to get past our weaknesses like anger, desire, hatred and so on.”]

(From Oliyai Nokki – Tamil – Vol 3)

3.  Guru has his way

Once a guru and his disciple were returning to their Ashram by walk after a long and tiring pilgrimage.  They rested for a while under a tree. The guru got up and said, “Come, let us keep going; I want to reach the Ashram before sunset”.

But the disciple, who was much younger to the guru, felt too tired and dull to proceed further. He said, “Master, I am feeling too tired. I want to have a nap before we proceed further; I am left with little energy”.  But the guru was very particular to move on. He said, “Leave behind your laziness; you are young and you can definitely walk further; we are not too far from the Ashram. Come on!”

But the disciple was adamant. He lied down under the tree and said, “Master, if you want to proceed please go ahead; I will rest for a while and come a little later”.

The guru did not like the attitude of the disciple.  He walked alone. After a short while, he noticed some construction activity by the side of the road. Several men and women were working there as laborers.  A woman’s child was sleeping in a hammock under the shade of an adjacent tree.

The guru stealthily picked up the sleeping child and walked back before anyone could notice him. He went to the tree where his disciple was sleeping and left the child next to him.

He came back to the construction site, called one of the ladies working there and said, “Hello, have any one of you left your child in the hammock there? I happen to notice one young man picking up your child and rushing in this direction..” He pointed the direction where his disciple was sleeping under the tree at some far distance.

Hearing this, one woman started crying, saying that it was her child. All the laborers working in the site left their work and gathered immediately around the guru.

The guru said, “He would not have gone far off: run immediately and chase him” saying so, he coolly started walking towards his ashram.

The laborers picked up crowbars, sticks and stones and started running in the other direction. Soon they saw at a distance a man sleeping under a tree with a child next to him. Making loud cries, they started running towards the tree.
Their noisy shouts woke up the disciple. As he looked around confused, he noticed the child sleeping next to him. Then he noticed several laborers coming angrily towards him with weapons in their hands and shouting “There he is; catch him!”

The disciple immediately understood that there was something wrong and they mob was actually coming to attack him. Not thinking twice, he started running.  Before they could reach him he managed to run very fast from the place. He ran through lanes and bylanes to save himself from the fiery mob. Fortunately, the mob stopped once they saw that the child was safely sleeping under the tree.

When the guru reached the Ashram,  he chuckled within himself to see the disciple standing at the front gate sweating and panting, waiting for his arrival!

[Amma: “A guru knows the weaknesses of his disciple. He will create circumstances where in the disciple’s  undesirable tendencies are  corrected and his capabilities are stretched beyond limitations.”]

4.  Laughing at others

Once there were two disciples under a guru and both of them were very egoistic. It was their nature to speak ill of each other always.  However much the guru counseled them, there was no improvement in their behavior. One day the guru thought of a plan.

During the night, when both the disciples were in sound sleep, the guru brought some paints and painted their faces to look like clowns.

In the morning one of the disciples who got up first saw the face of the other and started laughing out loud. Hearing his laughter, the other disciple woke up. He saw the face of the first one and bursted out laughing.  Both of them continued to laugh by pointing fingers at each others’ face. One of the disciples got up and brought a mirror; he shouted it at the face of the other and said, “Look here O clown! This make up suits you perfectly!” and kept on laughing.

The other disciple grabbed the mirror and turning it at the face of the other said, “Look at your face! If you go and start performing tiger dance, you can earn lot of money!”

When it dawned to them that both of them had been painted on their faces to make them look funny, they stopped laughing instantly.

[Amma: “Children, It is always easy to laugh at the fault of others; everybody can do it. But only those endowed with the quality of discrimination can look into his own idiosyncrasies  and laugh at himself and go beyond them. Only then one can get real spiritual progress.”]

5.  Concentration

Once there was an excellent archer who participated in many competitions and won prizes. He participated in an international competition too and won the award as the topmost archer of the world.

When one of his friends came to know of this, he said, “I know a Guru who is a great exponent in archery. Only if you win over him, I can really consider as the best archer of the world”.

The archer took the challenge. His friend took him along to meet the Guru. Coming to know of his success at the global level competition, the guru congratulated him wholeheartedly.

The friend broached the subject of their visit to the guru. The guru said, “Let us first go for a walk for a while. You may please bring your bow and arrow along.

They walked together and climbed over a small hillock. Adjacent to it, there was another hillock and both were connected by a rope bridge. The guru proceed to walk along the bridge and the two men followed him. When they reached the middle of the bridge, the guru pointed out a tree on the opposite hillock and said to the archer, “Do you see a fruit hanging in that tree? Will you use your bow and hit that fruit with an arrow?”

The archer agreed. As he was taking aim at the fruit, strong wind started blowing and the rope bridge started swaying. The archer had to catch the side ropes to steady himself. The rope bridge continued to sway and however much he tried, it was difficult for him to balance himself and aim at the fruit. When he shot the arrow, it missed the target totally.

Now the guru borrowed his bow and arrow. While the bridge continued to sway wildly in the wind, the guru was totally unperturbed. He aimed at the fruit and shot the arrow. The arrow hit the fruit.

[Amma: “In this story, the guru had the ‘remote control” of his mind in his hand. He had no fear of failure nor any disturbance in concentration due to external factors. Is it possible for everyone to dance peacefully on a shaking stage? Leading a life without mental peace is also similar. The one which is ever steady and firm is God. If  we hold God as our base, then it would be like dancing on a firm dais. “]

(From Oliyai Nokki – Tamil – Vol 3)

6.  Not too far away

Once a guru and his disciple were travelling to a holy place by foot. It was a long and arduous journey and the disciple was feeling very tired. He wanted to take a long rest before continuing with the journey, but the guru was particular to reach the holy place before dark.

“The place is not far off.  We have to walk only a small distance and we will reach the destination. Then you can relax there. Come on!” he encouraged the disciple to keep walking.

They walked for another half an hour. The disciple felt exasperated. “Master, you said it is only a short distance and yet we have not reached the place despite walking for so long”.

The guru said, “I know this route very well. We are on the right path and we have to walk just a little more. We are almost there;  Come on!”

Again they kept walking. Another half an hour was gone. The disciple felt very disappointed. “No master; I cannot walk anymore. I am dead tired. Please tell me the truth. How long should we walk?”

“Ah! We have almost reached. A little more walking and we will end up there. Be cheerful!” said the guru.

After walking for another twenty minutes, they finally reached their destination.

[Amma: “Spiritual journey is never short and sweet. A seeker has to tread a long and arduous path to reach his goal of self-realization. There is every possibility for a disciple to lose heart, get disillusioned and drop out from his quest. But a Sadguru does not allow an earnest seeker to slacken his efforts upon facing difficulties. He constantly goads him to strive for more through soothing and comforting words of encouragement; he helps his disciple to stretch himself beyond his limits in order to reach his goal.”]

(from Amma’s Guru purnima message 5/7/2020)

7.  Boundless compassion

Once a good hearted man brought an young boy to meet his guru at an ashram. “Master, this boy is an orphan. None of his relatives are willing to take care of him since he is very arrogant and mischievous. May I request you to show him some way?”

The guru said he would admit the boy into the ashram and take care of him.

The guru kept the boy under his direct observation and showered lot of love and care on him. The boy however continued to be very arrogant and indisciplined. He behaved roughly with other boys in the ashram and created trouble for every one. Other inmates in the Ashram felt very annoyed and they kept on complaining about the boy to the guru. However, the guru brushed aside all their complaints and continued to shower his love and affection to the orphan boy.

A few years passed by. The boy grew up. He frequently went out of the ashram and joined evil company. He started stealing money from the ashram and spend it on smoking and drinking with his friends outside the ashram.

One night, a group of ashram inmates came to the guru and said, “That boy is hopeless.  We feel he can never be straightened. You see, he is right now lying on the road outside the ashram fully drunk. He is bringing such a disgrace to the ashram.”

The guru went out to see what happened. The boy was lying near the road under a tree.  It was pretty cold outside.  The guru removed his shawl and wrapped it around the boy. He sighed seeing the pitiable state of the boy and returned to the Ashram.

The boy woke up from his slumber a couple of hours after dawn. He noticed that he was covered with a shawl and it was his guru’s shawl. He felt deeply disturbed and moved. The thought that despite his evil behavior across all these years, the guru still loved him and took care of him when he was lying totally drunk on the roadside.

He started crying.

With teary eyes, he entered into the ashram, came to the guru’s room and fell at his feet. He cried his heart out and sought forgiveness from the guru for all his misdeeds. He promised to turn a new leaf right from that moment.

Soon a dramatic change started happening in his behavior.  Within a couple of months he turned out to be one of the best young disciples in the ashram and he could stand as an example for others.

(from Amma’s Guru purnima message 5/7/2020)

8.  Four gurus

Once a disciple asked his guru, “Master, can you tell me about your guru?”

The guru said, “I have learned from so many gurus. But four of them stand apart. I will tell you about them…” and he continued:

“My first guru was a thief. Once I stayed together with him for a few days. Every night he would promptly wake up at 2 AM and go out. He would return after a few hours. When I asked him whether he could get anything by stealing that night, he would say, “No. I am not lucky today. Let me try again tomorrow night”.

The next day too he would promptly get up at 2 AM at night and go out. He chose that odd hour because he knew that all people would be in deep sleep at that time and that would be the best time to break into houses and steal. That night too he returned empty handed. It happened so on several days.

 I asked him, “You have not been able to succeed all these days. But still you are doing it again and again. Why?”

He said, “This is what I know for earning my living. I don’t have any other skill. I have to persevere like this and I ams sure I would get a big booty one day, if I could break into a rich man’s house”.

From him I learned the importance of perseverance in pursuing one’s spiritual goal.

My second guru is a young boy. One day, I saw a boy going in the night with a lantern in hand. I wanted to tease the boy and asked him, “Do you know where from the light comes?”

He immediately lifted up the glass of the lantern and blew air into the flame. The light immediately got extinguished and it became dark. The boy said to me, “The light came from the place where it is gone now”.

I was taken aback by his brilliant retort. That day I learned that it is wrong to underestimate or disrespect anyone and even boys deserve respect.

My third guru is a dog.

One day, I was to cross a river. I noticed a dog too which wanted to cross the river. It went close to the water, looked at it and barked. Then it came back. After a while it went to the water and barked again and returned. I understood that it was looking at its own reflection and getting scared of presence of another dog in water and that’s why it barked. But after a while, it jumped into the water, swam across and reached the other bank.

This dog taught me a lesson that we should be firm on our spiritual goals even though we may get distracted by fear and loss of self-confidence. At some point or other, we should gather ourselves and proceed firmly to reach our goal.

My fourth guru was a farmer. Once I went to a village where an old farmer lived. He was revered by everyone in the village and they considered him a saint. I met him and interacted with him. I asked him, “Why are you so special that people respect you so much?”

He said, “I see goodness and hope everywhere. When I see a egg, I think of the hen inside it. When I see a seed, I think of the tree that it contains. When I see, death I see life.  When I see the diversity in the world,  I see the unity behind them all”.

From him I understood what  non-duality is.”

(from Amma’s Guru purnima message 5/7/2020)

9.  Blessings for prosperity?

Once in an Ashram, many disciples lived with their Guru.  Depending on the extent of development of spiritual maturity in them, the guru used to sent them for serving the society in suitable ways.

One day the guru chose a disciple for deploying him in some charitable activity.  Before departing, the disciple fell at the feet of the guru and sought his blessings. The guru blessed him saying, “My son, may you always get the comforts of stay in a palace, may you always be served with the foods of best taste, may you always sleep well in a bed of roses”.

The disciple was very surprised to hear such blessings from the guru. He asked, “Master, all along as we lived in the ashram, you have always professed simple living devoid of all comforts and insisted on sacrifice; now you are blessing me of all sorts of royal comforts. May I know why?”

The guru smiled and said, “My son, the true meaning of my blessings are indeed to tell you that you should progress in the path of sacrifice. When you go out and serve the world, you are most unlikely to get any form of comfortable stay. You must develop such an attitude  that you shall gladly  accept whatever meager facilities you get for your stay as if it is  a royal palace. Then you should eat food only after you feel extremely hungry. If you eat like that, whatever type of food you may get will taste delicious.  You will have to physically exert yourself so much that by the time you go to sleep, you will be so tired that you will find even a surface of rock to lie down to be a bed of roses!”

[Amma: “One can attain deathless state only through renunciation. Renunciation does not mean reducing all comforts alone. It includes serving others without any selfish motive.”]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

10. A Parable

Once the Prince of the World of Light was conquered by The Lord of Darkness and was incarcerated  in a dark cell.  The lord of Darkness arranged several security guards around him to ensure that he did not attempt to escape.

On the wall of the dark cell, there was a small hole and through the hole, sun light peeped in to the room. The light said to the Prince, “You give your royal crown and your royal dresses and jewels as bribe to the security guards. They are very greedy and they will help you to escape from this cell. Accordingly the Prince gave away his possessions and the guards helped him to escape.

As he came out, the Sun God presented him with a powerful sword. With that sword, the prince killed the Lord of Darkness.

He then returned to his World of Light. The aging king immediately crowned him as the new king.

[Amma: “In this parable,  the lord of Darkness is Ignorance (Ajnana).  The Sun God is the guru.  The crown and the jewels represent lust and other worldly desires. The sword given by Sun is Knowledge (Jnana).  This story tells us that by obeying the guru and relinquishing lust and worldly desires, one has to annihilate the ignorance using  the knowledge bestowed by the Guru.”]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

11. Love that too

[Amma: “If goodness exists in our hearts, then we will be able to see only goodness everywhere. When our heart is good, we will be able to enjoy the beauty of lotus flowers even if they are in a muddy pond. On the contrary, if our mind harps on the muddy pond, we won’t be able to enjoy or appreciate the beauty of lotus flowers.”]

Once a householder went to his spiritual master and paid his respects.  He wanted to speak his heart out. He said to the master: “Guruji, till this day in my life, I have never knowingly hurt any person; I have heard in my childhood a saying — ‘if your talk is good, your walk (i.e. behavior) too will be good’ and I have always followed it as a matter of principle right from my young age. I always take extra care to ensure that I don’t hurt anyone with my words…”

In order to explain how harsh words become so unpleasant to hear, he gave an example: “Master, whenever I come to this ashram and stay here, I hear lots of birds chirping in the mornings and evenings. I really enjoy hearing the singing of cuckoos and the chatting of parrots here which are so sweet to the ears. But amid all these, I also hear crows cawing and it really makes me cringe; It is so jarring to my ears and I don’t like it. So, speaking harsh words is similar to that, in my opinion…”

And he continued to speak of something that keeps disturbing him: “Master, despite my speaking nicely with others and never hurting anyone with my words, I find that my life is not smooth nor peaceful. What could be the reason for it?” He asked.

When he kept on talking, the guru, who was seated on the ground in front of him, was drawing something on the sand with his finger and patiently listening to him too.  Not lifting up his face from the picture he was drawing, the master said with a smile on his face: “I think you must try to love the crows too whose cawing  is unpleasant to you. If  your are able to like even the cawing of the crows, then you will be filled with joy in your heart. Further, you will become more eligible to receive God’s grace”.

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

12. Mother is the first guru

Once a group of scholars were discussing about the best commentaries and literary works based on Ramayana. 

One of the scholars said, “I consider such-and-such person’s work on Ramayana to be the best. He has thoroughly elaborated  out the spiritual aspects of Ramayana very well”.

Another person said, “I really love so-and-so’s Ramayana because it is poetry form and it is indeed a very commendable and lucid presentation of the emotions in Ramayana”.

Some other scholars were suggesting some other names.

One scholar said, “I consider my own mother’s version of Ramayana is the best”.

Others got curious. “Has she written a book elaborating Ramayana?” they asked.

“No” said the scholar. “When I was child, she narrated the Ramayana story so many times. I used to listen to her narration with rapture. Through her narration, I received so much valuable teachings for my life — the importance of dharmic conduct, valuing truth, adhering to truth, unselfishness and sacrifice, the importance of love between family members, respecting elders, fostering good friendship, surrendering to God and so many things.  My mother did not just told me Ramayana stories but she actually lived the various values taught by Ramayana in her own life and set an example to me. That’s why I say, her version of Ramayana is the best for me”.

(From Amma’s Ramayana month Satsang – 26/7/2020)

13. Finding God

Once a there was a young boy who was deeply devoted to Devi, the Divine Mother. He had a deep longing to have a vision of the Divine Mother. He approached his guru and expressed his desire.

The Guru said, “It is possible for you to see Devi, but not really in divine form. But you can definitely see Divine Mother coming in the guise of  of a normal woman. I will tell you an identification by which you will be able to know who that woman is. She will have a mole in the little toe of her right foot”.

From that day onwards the boy started looking at the right foot of every lady he came across. He would look for a mole in their small toe. Days and months passed; yet he did not come across any woman with that identity.

One day, his mother came towards him with a vessel in hand to give him something to eat. At that time, the vessel fell down. The boy bent down to pick the vessel from the floor and at that time, he noticed a mole in her right toe. He was overwhelmed by surprise. With devotion welling up in his heart he fell at the feet of his mother and prostrated again and again with tears flowing from his eyes.

[Amma: “If  we really want to see God, we should first see God amid people who are closest to us — mother, father, guru and friends. Then we should be able to see God  in whomsoever we meet. Then we should be able to recognize God inside each and every being. We should be able to love and serve everyone. That is what is needed. If this attitude comes, then in due course, we will be able to have the vision of God in each and every being in this earth.”]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

14. Creating Heaven and hell

Once a person visiting an ashram for the first time, met the guru and asked him a question: “Maharaj, Are heaven and hell really existing?”

The guru asked him, “Who are you?”

The man said with pride: “I am a soldier.”

The guru said, “A person like you, who is essentially very cruel and animal-like, is not qualified to ask this question to me. Don’t waste my time; Go away”.

The soldier could not bear such an insult thrown right on his face. He got very angry. He pulled out his sword from the sheath hanging on his waist and was about to slice the guru in one stroke.

The guru smiled at him without a trace of fear and said,”Aren’t you overwhelmed by anger? You are right now in hell!”

Hearing this, the soldier got bewildered. He felt ashamed to recognize his own fury. He slid back his sword into its sheath and fell at the feet of guru with humility.

The guru said, “You are now in heaven!”

[Amma: “Both heaven and hell are our own creation. If the mind is peaceful, even a gory hell would be like a heaven; If the mind is agitated, even the best heaven would be like a hell. Peace, equanimity and joy are all dependent on one’s mind. “]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

15. Acceptance

Once in  village, there lived a farmer who was facing lots of hardships in life. Some f his cattles met with untimely death. His farmland was attacked by pests. Heavy floods damaged his crops once. He had several family problems too. He felt sick of his life.

In his village, there lived a rich businessman who was also considered a very wiseman in the locality.  The farmer approached him for some financial help and and also sought counsel from him. He narrated in detail about his sufferings in life.

After patiently listening to him, the businessman said, “I will give you some job for you tonight.  Please do it well and  I will give you financial help to you and also give you some useful guidelines to face hardships in life.”

The  former nodded his head.

The businessman said, “I have got 100 horses in my stable. You have to ensure that all of them lie down and sleep together. Once you have finished it, come and see me”.

The former gladly accepted the job and went to the stable.

He went around and arranged to feed them all first. He thought that once they are well fed, they will sleep peacefully. Some of the horses ate well and after a while, they lied down to sleep. But several other horses did not eat. They were simply standing. The farmer went near each horse and cajoled it to eat. Some did and some did not.  He forcefully made some horses to lie down. Some of them yielded to his commands and some did not.  Past midnight, he somehow managed to  make 60 horses to lie down but the rest were not. By about 3 AM, when majority of the horses seem to be lying down, a few horses that had lied down earlier started standing up!

Even by dawn, the farmer could never succeed in making all the horses lie down together and sleep! The farmer lost his whole night’s sleep in this process!

Early morning he came and reported the matter to the businessman: “Sir, I could not succeed in making all the hundred horses to lie down and sleep together”.

The businessman smiled; he gave some money to the farmer and said, “You see, this is is how our life too is. You can never solve all your problems fully and enjoy a trouble free life. It is just not possible. Ups and downs will always be there. You have to bear with them, manage as best as you could and lead your life to the best of your ability. That’s  the only way.”

(Amma’s Onam Satsang 31/8/2020)

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.

Amma’s stories on Guru, Role of Guru, Guru-disciple Relationship – Part 2 (15 more stories)

1. There is no point in carrying

[Amma: “The past is like a cancelled cheque. It has no value. It is futile to keep brooding over the past worries, hurts and pains and making the present miserable.”]

Once a disciple went to his spiritual master and cried, “Guruji, I have so much of difficulties and pains in my heart that I have been carrying from the past and I could not get rid of them. Please help me to attain mental peace.”

The guru gave him various spiritual advices but the disciple could not grasp them well and put them into practice; he continued to suffer from the thoughts of the past and he kept complaining to the Guru again and again.

Then, the Guru gave him a sack load of vegetables weighing about 15 kilos and said to the disciple, “You carry this on your shoulders all the time; even when you are lying down for resting or sleeping, you should hold it on your chest. Do this till I give further instructions”.

The disciple obeyed the guru and carried the sack load of vegetables all the time on his shoulders or on his head. It was very painful and tiring for him. During nights, he kept the sack on his chest and slept. He could not sleep well.

He kept on doing this for the next few days. The vegetables started decaying and soon afoul smell started emanating from the sack. As they decayed further, liquid started dripping from the sack he felt it irritating and itchy.

Unable to bear the pain and discomfort any longer, he ran to the guru and sought his permission to throw away the burden. The Guru gave his permission and said, “This is precisely what I was advising you with regard to your carrying the mental burden of  the past too! That too was heavy, painful, irritating and itching in your mind! If only you could throw them away like the sack that you did now, you will be relieved!”

(Beach Satsang 2/1/2017)

2. The enlightened disciple

[Amma: “Amid spiritual aspirants living with a Sadguru, there are some whose nature is more feminine. They have no desire for lecturing; they care the least for fame or respect. They may not even aspire for self-realization. They are just content to be with the satguru and do His service. That’s their austerity. They don’t know any higher level of spirituality. They have nothing greater to aspire than the company of their sadguru. This devotion cannot be explained intellectually or logically. Their condition can be equated to the devotion of Gopi’s of Vrindavan on Lord Krishna.”]

One of the disciples of Lord Buddha was suddenly missing.  Over a week, everybody was searching for him but he could not be located, nor his whereabouts known. 

One day Lord Buddha located him. He was hiding himself by sitting in the roof of an Ashram shed. Buddha however knew that he was hiding there; he also knew that the disciple had obtained self-realization and was hiding himself after attaining it.

He made the disciple come down. Holding his hands, Buddha said, “I know you have attained your goal”.

The disciple said, “My lord, Even before you told me this, I knew that I have realized the goal of my life. In fact I was hiding from your view only because I feared that you will declare that truth.  I was afraid that you would then say, ‘Now that you have attained it, go out of this ashram and teach the world.’ But, my dear master, I would be happy only to remain unrealized and just be in your joyous company for ever. I don’t want to leave you. I don’t want to go out and teach the world as a person of self-realization”.

(From Arul Mozhigal-7 Tamil)

3. The essence of true knowledge

[Amma: “Explanations and interpretations (of scriptures or spiritual knowledge) actually become a hurdle in turning the mind inward and experience the Truth. In fact, our mind and thoughts become hindrance to real experience. If one has to experience the beauty of flower, all thoughts related to explaining the flower must stop. Likewise, only when the mind becomes silent, one can grasp the true meaning of scriptures. Do read scriptures; but never assume that you don’t have to do anything else over and above it. Only when one attains a childlike mind that says, “I don’t know”, one can really progress in spirituality.

Once a young man went to a saint and became his disciple. The saint said to him: “You write down whatever you have known and learned about religion and spirituality. It will benefit you. Then come and show it to me”.

The disciple, heeding fully to the Guru’s command, started writing in a big notebook whatever he knew so far in life about religion and spirituality. It took one year for him to complete it. He brought the notebook and handed over to the Guru.

The saint opened the notebook and glanced over several pages for a while. Then he said, “This is indeed written with clarity and mental focus. It can really give the reader the needed spiritual phillip to tread the path of spirituality. Your one year of hard work is reflected in the contents. However, it is rather too long. Can you please do a precis writing and reduce the length?”

The disciple agreed and went back. It took five years for him to condense his ideas and reduce it to half of its original length. He brought it to his Guru. The guru leafed through it and said, “Well done! Ideas are very clear and the writing style is excellent! However, I want you to make it considerably more brief”.

The disciple was disappointed when he heard this. However, bowing to the Guru’s wish, he started rewriting it. It took 10 years for him to finish the task of condensing all his ideas to just 5 pages. He submitted it to the Guru saying, “Master, I have condensed all that I have understood on spirituality in these 5 pages. I am thankful to you for making me fit for grasping this truth”.

The guru went through the five pages fully and thoroughly. Then he said, “Extremely well written! YOu have achieved it purely through your concentration and spiritual austerities. Yet, there is a little shortcoming in this. Try to rectify it”.

Years went by. The guru was getting old. He became bed ridden. The time had almost come for the guru to leave his mortal body. The disciple came to the guru and prostrated before him. He handed over a piece of paper to the guru. The guru glanced it. There was nothing written in it. Immediately, the guru placed his hand on the disciple’s hed and blessed him, saying, “Now you have grasped the truth fully. Let the truth henceforth be revealed to you and shine in you”. In that very moment, the disciple attained enlightenment. He sat silently at the feet of the guru. The guru left his mortal body and merged with the infinite.

 

 

[Amma: “Children! If you attain a mind that says, “I don’t know anything; I am nothing”, you will attain your goal. Only when you get that mindset, God’s grace will flow into you”]

(From Arul mozhigal-6 Tamil)

4. Relinquishing is not easy

[Amma: “Spiritual journey, in fact, is not a journey forward; it is rather travelling backward i.e. we travel back to reach our real source. In this process we have to drop off our attachments and vasanas (inborn tendencies) and it is painful. A person desirous of climbing a mountain and reach its top has necessarily leave behind his possessions down below. Else, the upward travel would be too taxing and difficult. If one does not relinquish attachments whole-heartedly, pain cannot be avoided. Amma will now share a story she had heard:”]\

Once a rich man, though possessing all objects of enjoyments that his money could buy, found his life empty and meaningless. He wanted to get rid of his worldly attachments and desires and lead a stress-free and peaceful life. He decided to seek counsel from a Sadguru.

Having known about a famous saint living in a village a few miles away, the rich man started to meet him. As he was about to depart, he thought, “What is the use of all the money that I have kept hoarded in my vault? Let me take all my gold coins, place them at the guru’s feet and forget about them”. He put all the gold coins in a bag and carried the bag with him.

After travelling the whole day, he reached the village where the guru was living. He found the guru sitting under a tree at the outskirts of the village.He rushed to the Guru, placed his bag at the guru’s feet and prostrated before him. When he rose up, he was shocked to see the Guru picking up the bag and running away!

For a moment, he was confused and shaken by the weird act of the guru. Instinctively he felt he should get back his bag containing the gold coins at all costs. He started chasing the Guru. The guru ran pretty fast; he ran across paddy fields, crossed streams, passed through thick bushes, climbed up and down a small hill and wound his way through the narrow lanes and bylanes of the village. With lot of difficulty, the rich man too ran behind the guru in order to catch him.

As the guru was very familiar with the local terrain, he could run through all nooks and corners of the village even in the dim twilight. Soon, the rich man lost track of the Guru. Dejected, he slowly walked back to the tree where he originally met the guru.

A surprise was waiting for him there. His bag was lying at the foot of the tree! The guru was not visible anywhere around. In fact, the guru was hiding himself behind the tree and watching what the rich man was doing. The rich man jumped forward to pick his bag and opened it eagerly to see whether the gold coins had been stolen. He felt very relieved and overwhelmed with joy to see that all the coins were intact.

From behind the tree, the Guru asked: “How are you feeling now, my son?”

Impulsively, the rich man replied, “Oh! I am extremely happy. This is one of the happiest moments of my life!”

The guru said, “My son, in order to gain real happiness, one has to undergo real pain!”

[Amma: “Children! You may run around behind worldly enjoyments. But unless you return to your starting point, you will never get true happiness. That is another important message from this story”.]

(From Ammavin Anbu Ullatthilirunthu – Tamil)

5.  Wider vision

[Amma: “When man thinks of himself and his desires alone, he becomes narrow minded. He becomes blind to things other than his self-interest”.]

Some youngsters went to a sage and expressed their desire to become disciples to him. The sage took them to a well nearby.He asked each of them to look into the well and tell him what they saw inside.

One youngster looked inside and said that he saw his own reflection in the well water. The sage asked “Did you notice anything else?”. The youngman said, “No”.

Almost everyone else, after looking into the well said the same thing.

The last younster said, “Swami, I see my reflection and also the reflections of trees and creepers that have grown tall all around me reflected in the well water”.

The sage accepted the last person alone as his disciple. He said to others, “You were all able to see just your reflection only. It indicates that each of you think about yourself only. Only this person saw trees and creepers too. It means he is not a person who thinks of himself alone. His outlook is clearer and wider than yours. Hence I am taking him as my disciple”.

(From Amutha Mozhigal-6 Tamil)

6. Who is the right person to take charge?

Once a guru had two disciples. He used to give the responsibility for most of the important activities of the Ashram to one of these two disciples; the other one was unhappy about it.  The reason for his displeasure was that he was the senior among the two in joining the ashram. Hence he got angry with the other disciple who got more prominence than him.

One day, he went to the guru and asked, “Master, why are you not giving ashram responsibilities to me? I can do them better than your other disciple”.

After listening to his complaint, the Guru called both the disciples together and gave them an assignment: they have to visit an adjacent village and assess the nature of people living there.

The first disciple, on his way close the village, noticed a man pacifying a crying child by offering a chocolate to him. As he inquired, he came to know that the person offering the chocolate was a murderer. The disciple was impressed to see the good attitude of the person who was keen on pacifying a crying child, despite being a murderer.

As he walked further, on the way, he noticed another person attending to an old man suffering from hunger due to utter poverty. The man was helping the old man to drink some water. Upon inquiry, he came to know that the person helping the old man was a robber; the disciple felt glad to see compassion in the heart of the robber.

Next, on his way, he noticed a woman wiping the tears of another woman and offering her solace. That woman, he came to know, was a prostitute. He was so glad to notice the good heart of the prostitute in offering emotional comfort to a distressed woman.

The disciple came back to Guru and explained what he saw. He was full of praise about the goodness in the people despite being anti-social.

The senior disciple too returned from the village by that time.

When the guru asked him what he saw, he said, “I saw a man beating an young boy; I saw another person shouting at a poor beggar; I also noticed a nurse severely scolding a patient. I could only hate  such people, who have no compassion in their heart.”

The guru arranged to investigate the cases reported by the senior disciple and then explained the real background to those incidences.

The man who beat the boy was a good samaritan; he was providing food and clothing to several destitute children. The boy who got beaten by him had a habit of stealing. No amount of good counseling could help to correct his behavior. As a last resort, the man, purely with the intention of correcting the erring boy, gave physical punishment. Hearing this, the disciple said, “I can’t accept such a behavior. However good the man be, what right has he got to beat a young boy?”

In the second case too, it turned out that the person who scolded the beggar was a one who donates generously for humanitarian activities. He was scolding the beggar because the latter was hale and healthy who could earn his living by working, instead of idling and living by alms. Even this was not acceptable to the second disciple. He quipped. “However generous the man may be, why should he scold a beggar? If he could give some alms, let him, else let him say ‘I can’t give you anything’. He has no right to scold the poor person”.

In the third case, the nurse was known for her dedicated service to patients day and night. She used to treat the man for a severe wound and she dressed it up with  bandage. But the man had the bad habit of removing the bandage and it delayed the process of curing of the wound. The nurse censured the patient for his foolish behavior. When the guru explained this, the second disciple said, “The nurse might have made the bandage too tightly; she might have hurt him and caused pain and irritation to him while doing the bandage. That could be the reason for the man to remove it. Just because she was a nurse who attended to him, she has no right to scold her patient”.

The guru called both the disciples together and said, “None in this world is totally bad or evil. However evil a person may be, he would still have some good qualities in him. The first disciple could see only the good qualities in a murderer, thief and a prostitute.  If we possess good qualities in us, we will only see goodness in others. We are all in need of only such eyes that see only goodness in others”.

Looking at the second disciple, he said, “My son, you only noticed your own mental tendencies in others too. You could only ‘find’ some evil even in good people. Only when your attitude changes, you will be able to see goodness in others and then you will  naturally become eligible for taking up ashram responsibilities”.

[Amma: “Most of us nowadays have the attitude of the second disciple only. Even if someone possesses thousand good qualities, we don’t notice them. If we find one mistake, we would notice only that. But God sees only good qualities in others.”]

(Source: Upadesamritam-1 Tamil)

7. Camel is my right guru!

[Amma: “Some people say that your Guru is within you and your own mind can guide you as a Guru. They ask, “what is the need to surrender to a third person as a Guru?” Of course it is true that there is an inner guru; but right now, it is like a guru enslaved by our own unbridled and evil tendencies. Our own mind is not within our control. It is totally at the grip of vasanas. If we go as per the whims of such a mind, it will only lead us to danger.”]

Once a man went in search of a guru. He went to several masters one after the other. Each one advised him about the need for humility and faith. It was not to his liking. He believed that he cannot be a slave to another person. Thinking so, he rested at the side of a road. He thought, ‘None of these gurus are fit enough to guide me through the right path’. As such a  thought passed in his mind, he saw a Camel which was grazing in front of him nodding its head. He was surprised to notice it. ‘Oh! This camel is capable of reading my thoughts! That’s why he nodded his head in approval! This must be the right guru I was searching all along!’ he thought.

He went close to the camel and asked, “Are you willing to be my guru?” The camel nodded his head. The man felt extremely happy.

Afterward, he made it a habit to take the camel’s permission for all his plans and actions. Whatever he asked, the camel would nod its head which he would take as his guru’s approval.

One day he asked the camel, “Today I saw a beautiful woman. May I start loving her?” The camel nodded.

A few months passed. He came and asked, “May I now marry that woman?” The camel nodded.

A few days passed. He came and asked the camel, “May I start consuming a little liquor?” Again the camel nodded. Then gradually drinking became a habit. His wife started severely criticizing him for it. He came to the camel and asked, “Shall I fight with my wife?” Again the camel nodded. He went and started fighting with his wife.

He rushed back to the camel and asked, “I just cannot tolerate her arguing and fighting with me like this, as she is bent upon stopping me from drinking. Shall I stab and kill her?” The camel nodded as usual.

He ran back to his wife and stabbed her. She died on the spot. Soon the news spread; the policemen came and arrested him. After trials, he ended up in jail with a life imprisonment.

[Amma: “Our mind is exactly like this Camel guru! It has no issue with right or wrong. Whatever we desire, the mind will give its total concurrence forgetting future consequences.   Thus, if we surrender to our mind which is a slave to vasanas, we will become slaves to our attachments.”]

(Source: Upadesamritam-1 Tamil)

8.  Obedient Disciple

[Amma: “A tree is no doubt contained in a seed; but only when the seed goes into the soil,  it can sprout and grow into a tree. Even an elephant can be tied to a tree once it is grown up. But if the seed is not cared, it will become food for bird. The truth of advaita is indeed inside us. But only when we develop humility and simplicity, read and contemplate deeply on the what we read, it could become our true experience.”]

Once an youngster went to meet a Guru and requested him to take him as his disciple. There were already many disciples in the ashram.

“Living in an ashram is not easy for everyone; please go back now and come later” said the guru.

The young man felt very disappointed. Noticing it, the guru said, “Well, are you good at any job?” He then proceeded to mention the various activities in the ashram to know whether he could fit into any of them. The youngster was clueless about all of them. Then the guru asked, “We have several horses in the ashram; will you be able to take care of them?”

“Yes, Sir, if you wish so” said the young man. The guru sent him straight away to the ashram stable to take care of the horses.

The new disciple engaged himself wholeheartedly in feeding the horses, bathing them cleaning the stable and so on. Soon, on account of his sincere  and abundant care, the horses grew fat and healthy.

The guru hardly ever gave any teaching to the students. Every morning he would call them and tell them a sloka (verse). He would ask them to keep contemplating on the meaning of the sloka the whole day to grasp its inner purport and put it into practice in their life. That was his mode of teaching.

One day, the guru came earlier than normal, gave the sloka to the disciples and departed somewhere on  a horse. The new disciple who was immersed in the job of attending to the horses came running. He did not get his sloka for the day from the guru.

“Master, what is my sloka?” He asked the guru, running behind his horse.

“Didn’t you notice? I am going out. Is it the time to ask?” chiding him so, the guru went away. The disciple started memorising these words of the guru again and again: ‘Didn’t you notice? I am going out. Is it the time to ask?

The guru returned in the evening. All the disciples were there to receive him except the new one. “Where is he?” asked the guru. The other disciples said in a mocking voice, “That fool is is mumbling something like  ‘Didn’t you notice? I am going out. Is it the time to ask?‘ the whole day!”

The guru understood. He called the disciple and asked him, “What are you doing?”

He said, “I am repeating and contemplating on the sloka that you uttered this morning while leaving”.

The guru’s eyes filled with tears. He called the disciple close to him, placed both his hands on his head and blessed him. The other disciple got very displeased with what the guru did.

“Master, we are with you in this ashram for so many years and yet you are showering your blessing to that foolish newcomer! It is unfair” they said.

The guru said, “Go, buy some narcotics and bring it here”.

They did. He mixed the narcotic drug in water, poured a mouthful in each disciple with a strict instruction that they should not swallow it, but spit it out. They obeyed.

“Do you feel intoxicated?” asked the guru.

“No master! How can we? We never drank it!”

The guru explained: “You too were only receiving my words in a similar way. You listened to them and immediately forgot about them. But look at him. He did not do so. Without trying to find fault in my words,  he simply accepted it. He has such a guileless heart. It is not just that. I had given the job of taking care of the horses to you people earlier; none of you took care of them properly; you never fed them in time nor bathed them properly; they were looking lean and impoverished during your days. They were also behaving very restless and unruly. But, after he took charge, the horses became hale and healthy. They not only received good feeding but also his love and care; hence they lost their aggressiveness and became friendly with people. He worked wholeheartedly; he did karma for the sake of karma. Above all, he could take my words totally as I uttered without questioning.  That’s how he became eligible for my blessing”.

[Amma: “Children! We should also strive to be like that disciple. One should not find fault with the words of the guru. He should accept them as such, take to heart and practice what he preached. Then none including the guru himself cannot stop the grace of the guru from flowing to him.”]

(Source: Upadesamritam-1 Tamil)

9. Guru’s tests could be toughest

[Amma: “Children! There is no difference between a brahmachari or a householder in the holy presence of God or Guru.  A disciple should always keep his mind on God and do his duties. What is important is the total, unwavering surrender to the will of God or Guru.”]

Once a guru went to a village accompanied by his disciples for conducting a series of discourses. A householder came regularly with his family to attend the discourses daily; he was highly impressed by the Guru and his teachings. He wished to join the ashram along with his family.

 After the discourse program was over, he went to Guru’s ashram with his wife and children and prostrated at the feet of the guru. He expressed his desire to join the ashram permanently and serve the guru.

The guru explained to him the hardships involved in living in the ashram in order to dissuade him from his desire. However, the householder was quite firm in his resolve. The guru permitted him to stay in the ashram with his family. Soon, the man shifted his residence there.

He engaged himself earnestly in all ashram activities and was very dedicated in his work. However, the brahmacharis in the Ashram were not happy to have a householder amid them. They found all sorts of faults with him and complained to the  Guru. The guru knew well that the householder was extremely dedicated and sincere. He decided to demonstrate it to the brahmacharis and make them understand.

He called the householder in the presence of other brahmacharis and said, “You have relinquished your home, hearth and job and come here to stay with us permanently. The ashram has very limited resources and somehow we have been managing things with only brahmacharis here.  If you are a single person, we could manage, but we are now burdened with the expenses of  your wife and children too. Hence you should go out, work and earn money to meet the expenses of your wife and children”.

The man started going out from the very next day to an adjacent town, did some labor work from morning to evening, collected his daily wages and gave it to the ashram for meeting their expenses. A few days passed.

The other bachelor disciples started finding new problems with the man and complained to the guru again.

The guru called the man and said, “The money you are giving hardly can meet your expenses. All these days, only ashram has been spending for your family. Consider it as an accumulated debt; you have to compensate it; work hard, earn double the amount and pay to the Ashram. Only afterward you can take food from the Ashram”.

The man explained the matter to his family and said, “You should not eat hereafter from the Ashram kitchen. Wait till I comeback from my work; I will buy and bring food for you when I arrive at night. Only then you should eat”. His family members agreed.

The man started working from early morning till late in the evening. He collected the wages and gave it to the Ashram. Whatever little money he was left with, he would buy some food and bring for his family. There were days when his earnings were inadequate and they would go hungry on such days.

Even after subjected to such hardships, the householder did not venture to move out of the ashram. The brahmacharis were very much surprised to see this. Yet they were unhappy. They created new reasons to complain. They said to the guru, “He is working from day to night in his own business and earning quite a lot of  money; he is giving only a portion of it to the ashram and  living comfortably otherwise, leaving the family inside the ashram”.

The guru called the man and chided him:”You are a cheat. You have left your family here in the ashram, earning big money outside, but giving only a little to the Ashram. You are a liar; a fraud”. The disciple did not even a speak a word against his guru. He hung his head and went silently back to his room.

That night the guru called his disciples and said, “Tomorrow there is going to be a big feast in the ashram. We don’t have enough stock of firewood with us. Some of you should go to the forest right away and bring dry firewood; make sure that it is finished before dawn”. He went to sleep after giving this instruction.

The disciples were too unwilling to go to the forest at night to bring firewood. They went to the householder’s room and woke him up. They said, “There is going to be a big feast in the ashram tomorrow and our guru wants you to get enough dry firewood urgently, right now”.

The man felt happy that guru had given him such an urgent task. He immediately left for the forest and the other disciples went to sleep.

Even after dawn the next day, the guru could not see his householder disciple in the ashram. He inquired where he was. The disciples said, “Last night, he went to the forest for bringing firewood”.

The guru immediately started walking towards the forest and his disciples followed him. The went through the forest in search of the man. They shouted his name aloud again and again. After a long search, they could finally hear his feeble voice calling them back from somewhere. Searching in the direction from where his voice came, they finally located a dilapidated well from where the sound was coming.  It was a shallow well with a little water inside it. While the man was tracing his way through the forest the previous night, he had fallen into the well.

It was still dark inside the well. The guru wanted other disciples to pull the man out immediately. Some of them lied down on the ground and extended their hand inside the well. What they felt first with their hand was a bunch of wood. They asked the man to extend his hand so that they could hold it and pull him out. The man shouted from the well. “You see, I am carrying the bunch of firewood on my head and holding it firmly with my hand; if I remove my hand, the firewood will fall into water and get wet. Please lift up the firewood first, which is essential for cooking the feast; please deliver it first to the Guru and you can come later and pick me up from the well”.

The Guru’s eyes became wet to hear his words reflecting the man’s total faith and surrender to the guru. Only after the firewood was picked up, the man extended his hand for getting lifted up from the well. As the man came out, his wet body was shaking in cold. The guru embraced the man lovingly, placed his hand on his head and gave him self-realization at that very instance, as the other disciples watched it with their faces dark in shame.

(Source: Upadesamritam-1)

10. Spiritual life is no cakewalk

[Amma: “A life dedicated to spirituality is meant for people with power and tenacity. It is the path of the bold and not the weak-kneed. If some people get disappointed with life suddenly jump into a life of renunciation wearing a saffron cloth without weighing the pros and cons, life would become very disappointing for them. It is enough if a house-holder takes care of his wife and a couple of children; but a true renunciate will have to bear the burden of the entire world. He could never be fickle minded, sensitive to criticism or emotionally weak.  Without discrimination and dispassion, none can live a life of spirituality”.]

Once there lived a husband and wife in a village. However much the husband worked hard and brought more and more money, his wife would keep on complaining, saying “This is not sufficient”. Because of her nature, the husband felt miserable in life. Since he had no courage to commit suicide, he decided to take up sanyas and left home.

He travelled long and finally ended up at the place of a guru. He requested the guru to give sanyas to him and take him as his disciple.

The guru asked. “Are you seeking sanyas just because you left your home and hearth out of dejection in your family life or have you really got dispassion?”

The man replied, “I have a strong desire to become a sanyasi. That’s why I left my home”.

“Don’t you have any desire for material things?”

“No; I have no desire at all”

“Don’t you want name, fame and wealth?”

“No; I don’t want any of them. I have no liking or attraction on them”.

“Are you sure you want to become a total renunciate?”

“Yes; I want to renounce everything”.

After interviewing him like this, the guru accepted him as his disciple and gave him a kamadal (water pot) and yoga dhanda (wooden staff).

Days passed. They set forth for visiting many holy places by walk. On the first day, after walking for long, they felt tired and rested at the bank of a river. The disciple wanted to take bath. He left the kamandal and yoga dhanda at the river bank and went to take bath in the river. When he returned, he was shocked to find the kamandal missing. He searched here and there but could not find it. He got very disturbed and angry.

The guru said to him smilingly, “You said you have no attachment for material things, but you seem to be very agitated for losing the kamandal! Let it go. Let us move on”.

The disciple retorted, “How will I have drinking water without a kamandal? We don’t have any other vessel with us”.

The guru said, “You are a man without desires and why are you carrying this small attachment to your drinking pot? Accept that it is by God’s wish that the kamandal has been lost”.

But the disciple continued to me in a dejected mood. It was time for lunch.  The disciple was feeling very hungry. But the guru did not offer anything to him to eat. The disciple started murmuring.

Hearing it, the guru said, “Persons choosing a life of spirituality must have patience and forbearance. Should you not learn to be active even if a whole day passes without food to eat?   If you become so weak due to hunger even at twelve noon, what can be done? A spiritual aspirant must learn to renounce attachment towards food as the first discipline.  You have to shrink your stomach first in spiritual life”.

However, after some time, the guru gave a little nutritional flour for the disciple to eat. But it was not at all tasty. The disciple could not eat it.  As it was bitter too, he started vomiting after eating a little.

That was the last straw! The disciple was ready to relinquish the life of sanyas! He somehow wanted to return to his old family life. He sought permission from the guru to leave.

“What was your idea of sanyas when you came to me with that request?” asked the guru.

The disciple said, “I never thought a life of sanyas will be so tough. I was thinking that if I take bath, smear my forehead with ash and kumkum and sit at a place with closed eyes, people would come and fall at my feet; they would offer food to me with reverence. I thought I will be fed on time thrice a day by devotees and I can lead a life of comfort without doing any work! Now I understand this sort of life by following you is worse than the scolding of my wife. Enough is enough”.

So saying, the disciple left the guru in a hurry.

(Source: Upadesamritam-2)

11. The final test

Once in an ashram a few disciples learned scriptures and spiritual practices under the guidance of the Guru.  Once their learning was over, the Guru wanted to send them out to the world so as to guide people on scriptures and lead a worldly life if they so wish. He called the disciples and said, “As a last test to gage how far you you have acquired the required disciplines, I want you to climb up the nearby hill and fetch me the fruits from the sacred tree at the top. You must not return without bringing the fruits”.

The disciples climbed up the hill and reached the top. There the tree was there, but it was well fortified by tall compound walls all around it. They could locate only one entrance in the wall but it was covered with a massive rock.  The disciples, tried to push the rock away, but it was too huge. They inspected the wall all around and found no way to climb over it and jump inside.

All the disciples except one, decided to return empty handed since it was practically futile to attempt any entry into the compound and reach the tree.  But the solitary disciple said, “Our guru has given specific instruction to fetch fruits from this tree. It is my duty to keep trying and put my best efforts to somehow gain an entry into this place. I will keep trying; you people can go if you like”. So saying, he resumed his efforts to push the rock away from the gate. He was straining every limb but could not even shake the rock by an inch. But he did not slacken his effort.

The other disciples laughed at his foolishness; they came back to the ashram and reported the matter to the guru. The guru noticed that one of the disciples had not returned. “Where is he?” he asked. They said, “We all tried to roll the rock away from the gate, but we could not succeed in our joint effort; yet, like a fool, he is trying all alone to accomplish the task” said they.

“Come, let us go up and bring the fellow back”.

Along with the guru, all of them climbed up the hill once again.

When they reached the top, the noticed that the disciple was sweating profusely and still attempting to move the rock by some means or other.

“Why are you still attempting to do the impossible, my son?” asked the guru.

“Master, you had instructed that we should not return without fetching the fruit from the tree. I have put all my efforts and now you are here already; will not the impossible become possible with your grace?”

Pleased, the guru placed his hand on top of the rock. Instantly, the rock split into two and gave way. Opening the gate, all of them went inside. Under the tree, there was a box containing gold coins and jewels. The guru took them and gave it to the disciple.

He said, “You are the person who has fully grasped the core teaching in spirituality — that one should obey his guru with unwavering faith and surrender, in order to become eligible for receiving the abundant grace of the guru. Take this wealth and go to the world; Lead a happy life and serve the world with the wealth as well as your spiritual teachings”.

(From Amma’s Gurupurnima message 16/7/2019)

12. Not ripe yet

Once the king of a country came and surrendered to Saint Kabir. He wanted to relinquish his kingdom and take up a life in quest of spirituality. After warning the king about the extent of sacrifices he had to make and extent of  surrender he has to possess in order to reach his goal, Kabir however took him as his disciple. He assigned the former king all sorts of sundry and unpleasant works and the king did them all without  murmur.

Several years passed. Kabir’s wife was observing the former king’s behavior and she felt very happy about his humility and dedication. She said to her husband, “That ex-king disciple is a gem amid your disciples; it is high time you bless him with self-enlightenment”.

Kabir said, “No. He is not ready, yet”.

But his wife was adamant. She felt sure of her judgement. Kabir said, “Okay! Let us do a test on him. Tomorrow, when he enters into the ashram, you throw a bucketful of rubbish on his head from the terrace”.

Guru’s wife did so. The moment the rubbish fell over him, the king looked up angrily, noticed his Guru’s wife and said, “If this had happened in my kingdom, I would have shown who I am”.

The wife reported the matter to Kabir. Kabir said, “Did I not tell you? He is not yet ripe”.

A few more years passed. Again, the guru’s wife had a strong urge to give her recommendation once again. “Okay. this time, you pour more filth, cow dung etc on his head and see what happens”.

Guru’s wife did the same. This time  the ex-king looked up, smiled at the lady and said, “Thank you, Mother! This is the what I deserve. My ugly ego does require such a treatment indeed!”.

When the wife reported the incidence to Kabir, he said, “Yes! Now he is ripe. Call him in and I will bless him”. When the king came, Kabir placed his palm on the head of the ex-king. Instantly, the king experienced self-realization.

(From Amma’s Gurupurnima message 14/7/2019)

 

13. Sakshi bhavam (Attitude as a witness)

Once a disciple went to the master and said, “Master, you are always emphasizing the need to have the attitude of a witness in handling all our emotions. But I find it extremely difficult to practice it. How do I practice it?”

The guru did not give a reply immediately.

In the meanwhile, the disciple committed a few mistakes in his actions and behavior inside the ashram. The guru called him and naming some other disciple, he explained him that such and such mistakes were committed by that particular disciple which were objectionable. The disciple heard them smilingly as it was meant to be about some other disciple.

Suddenly the Guru said in a stern voice, “Now I tell you, those mistakes were not done by that person, but were indeed committed by YOU”.

The disciples face turned very grim. He hung his head. He felt very agitated inside.

The guru said, “When I said that the mistakes were committed by you, you are feeling sad and disturbed. But earlier, when I said that they were done by some other disciple, you were able to receive them with an attitude of a witness! It means you do possess the capacity to remain as a witness. But when this subject “I” comes into picture, the trouble comes! If you consider this “I” in you as not your true Self, you can remain a true witness. We do possess the capacity to control our own thoughts and actions; if only we nurture and strengthen this capacity, then it is really possible to maintain the attitude of a witness in all circumstances and accept things with a smile. The mind will not get weakened under all circumstances.”

14. Guru’s teaching

Once a disciple went to the master at night with the intention of asking his guru’s spiritual advice specific for him. When he went there, the guru was busy writing a letter in candle light.

The disciple prostrated before the guru and asked, “Sir, I have come to you to seek your spiritual advice for me”.

The guru did not reply. He was steadfast in continuing to write the letter. After waiting for a while, the disciple asked the guru once again. No reply.

After a while, the guru finished writing the letter and instantly the flame in the candle too went out as it had burnt its full.

Now the disciple reminded his guru once again. The guru said, “I have already given you the instruction”.

The disciple was shocked. “Swamiji, I have been asking you a few times and you did not utter a word!”

The guru said, “Didn’t you notice what I was doing? The candle was burning almost close to its end; I had to finish writing this letter before the flame went out and that is what I did; that is precisely the instruction for you to comprehend too — The life is short and fickle. It might end at any time; you have to make the best use of it and attain your goal before your death.”

(Amma’s satsang 28/2/2020)

 

15. Guru’s only advice

Once there lived a Mahatma, who had many disciples and devotees. A constant stream of devotees would come and meet him and keep on pouring their many woes — need for money, health problems, family problems and so on. Hardly anyone would seek his advice on spirituality.  But the Guru would always give a single advice to them all: “You wake up”. That’s all.

A disciple who was always nearby the Guru asked him, “Maharaj,  why are you giving the same advice to all these people? Won’t it be better if you give different advices to different problems?”

The guru said, “Suppose many people are sleeping in a hall; all of them are having different nightmares in their dreams and were tossing and turning in their beds troubled by their dreams. What will you do to help them?”

The disciple said, “I will shout ‘wake up, wake up’ and goad them to wake up from their dreams”.

“That’s precisely what I am doing” said the guru!

(Amma’s satsang 28/2/2020)

 

 

 

 

Amma’s stories on Guru, Role of Guru, Guru-disciple Relationship – Part 1 (15 stories)

1. There is no time for japa

Once a rich businessman went and surrendered to a saint and said “Swami, I have no peace in life; I have so much responsibilities on my head that I am always tensed and running behind the clock to complete my commitments; I beg you to show me some way to attain mental peace”.

The saint said,”I will give you a mantra; you chant it as much as possible and you will gain peace”.

The businessman said, “Swamiji, where do I have time to do japa or chant mantras?” He pulled out a large bunch of keys from his pocket and showed it to the saint. “See, I have so many things under my care. I can’t find time to do any chanting; please suggest me something else” said he.

The saint said, “It is not really necessary that you sit at one place and do japa. Can you chant your mantra when you walk to go to your toilet?”

The businessman said, “My toilet is in my room itself!”

“Fine; how many steps do you need to walk from your bed to the toilet?”

“Some, 10-12 steps, Swamiji”

“That’s fine. You chant your mantra while walking those 10-12 steps. How far is your garage from your house?”

“It is about 30 feet, Swamiji”

“Good enough. Chant your mantra while walking those 30 steps”

The businessman agreed. He started chanting his mantra in those brief periods. Then he thought, “Can’t I extend this to other mundane activities too?”

Then he started changing his mantra while brushing his teeth and while answering his nature’s calls; he started changing while taking bath, while changing his dress, while driving to the office and so on. Gradually he started getting a  taste for chanting mantra and found more and more slots in his daily life to chant mantras without affecting his work and responsibilities.

He could notice that his mental peace was increasing on account of chanting mantras like this. He could gradually get distanced from his mental tensions and observe himself more as a witness rather than a doer. Without knowing, chanting Mantra became a second habit in him all the time!

2.  The virtue of patience

(From Upadesamritham-2 Tamil – Page 245)

[Amma: Patience is a quality that a spiritual seeker must possess right from beginning to end of his spiritual practice. A disciple can never realize his goal of enlightenment unless he eradicates his ego totally. A guru will conduct several tests  including surprise tests to ascertain whether a seeker has come with true earnestness or just out of a fleeting surge of dispassion. He will test whether the disciple has patience, commitment and surrender. He will test whether the disciple gets dejected easily or has the tenacity  and will power to cross hurdles. The Guru knows that if a disciple lacks the essential qualities like spiritual power, maturity and compassion, he cannot serve the world properly; he could even turn destructive instead of being constructive. The Guru may even take extreme steps to test a disciple’s patience and commitment].

Once a Guru handed over a piece of rock to his disciple and asked him to create a beautiful idol out of it.  The disciple started chiseling the rock in all earnestness. Ignoring food and sleep, he worked on creating a beautiful idol out of the rock to his own satisfaction.  With humility, he went to his guru and placed the idol at his feet.

The Guru looked at the idol, and expressed his dissatisfaction. “Is this the way to create an idol? It is ugly” Picking it up, the Guru threw it away and it broke into pieces right in front of the disciple’s eyes.  The disciple was shocked. ‘I have toiled so much, even forgetting to take my food and rest , to create this idol and how come the guru could not appreciate it at all?’ His dejection was writ on his face.

Even though the guru noticed it, he gave the disciple another piece of rock and said, “Now do it once again”.

Taking lot more care this time and with increased focus and concentration, the disciple chiseled the rock to create a beautiful  idol again. He felt, ‘I am sure this time my guru will really be impressed’. He took the idol and gave it to his Guru.

Seeing it, the Guru’s face frowned. “Are you laughing at me?  This idol is worse than what you did last time!” saying so, the Guru threw away the idol and broke it. He was intently looking at the disciple’s face to see the reaction.  The disciple stood there hanging his face. Even though he did not utter a word in retaliation for what the guru did, his disappointment was writ large on his face. The Guru gave him another piece of rock and asked him to make another idol.

The disciple worked  with his chisel on this rock with a lot more care to ensure that he could end up with an extremely  beautiful idol. The Guru threw it away too, with much harsher criticism of the piece! This time, the disciple did not have any negative reaction or dejection on his face. He thought ‘If this is Guru’s will, let it be so. Whatever he does is meant for my good only’. Thinking so, he collected the next piece of rock smilingly from the Guru’s hands and proceeded to work on it.

When the disciple went to Guru with yet another beautiful statue that he had carved out most painstakingly, the Guru once again did what he was doing all along. The disciple’s face did not express any feeling whatsoever. Seeing the serenity at the face of his disciple, the Guru felt extremely happy. He  joyfully embraced his disciple and kissed him on his forehead. At that very moment, the disciple attained self-realization.

[Amma: For any third person observing the way the Guru went about breaking the idols, it might look as if the Guru was very sadistic and cruel. One may even suspect the guru to be a lunatic. But what was truly happening there was only comprehensible to the guru and the disciple who had a total sense of surrender. Actually, whenever the Guru broke the disciple’s idol, he was in fact creating a true and divine idol in the heart of the disciple; what was really broken was the disciple’s ego. Only a true Satguru can do it. Only a true disciple can grasp the bliss that comes out of it.]

3.   The Power of Authority

Once a rich man was suffering unbearably on account of his hectic work schedules and mental tension. He lost his peace of mind totally; he consulted his friends and they advised him retire, to lessen his workload, delegate responsibilities, take a long break and so on. However, he was not convinced; .  He went to several doctors and psychiatrists; they prescribed medicines for him; they also advised him to plan for retirement and relax at home.

None of the medicines could cure him; he was not willing to heed to their advices.

One day, he came to know of a saint who was residing in a cave at a distant hill. The rich man took a decision to seek spiritual advice from the saint to solve his problems. He started immediately, despite the hardships involved in climbing the hill terrain.

With lot of physical strain, he traversed up hill and finally reached the cave of the saint.

It was freezing cold; the saint was sitting stark naked inside the cave. The rich man prostrated before the saint.

Without uttering a word, the saint signalled to the rich man to be seated next to him. He obeyed. The saint closed his eyes and went in to deep samadhi. He sat in that state for 3 consecutive days. The rich man too waited very patiently sitting beside the saint all the time. He ignored the cold, forgot food and drink and waited with the sole desire of getting a permanent solution to his problem.

On the third day, the saint attained outer consciousness. Looking at the rich man with compassion, the saint said, “you take retirement, stay at home and enjoy a peaceful life”. So saying, he blessed the man. The rich man returned home, fully satisfied with the statement of the saint.

Days passed. his friends visited his home one day. They were surprised to see that the face of the rich man was radiating peace and contentment now. How could such a drastic transformation take place in their friend within such a short time? They were wonderstruck.

The rich man explained to them about his visit to meet the saint and how he took his advice seriously and acted on it.

“But this is the same advice we gave you earlier!” they exclaimed.

Smilingly the rich man said, ” Yes; you used the same words alright. But when the saint uttered the same words, I could grasp the deeper inner meaning they carried; when he said ‘get retired from work’, the inner meaning I grasped was to withdraw my five senses from the world of distractions. When he said ‘stay at home and enjoy peace’, the inner meaning was ‘let your mind stay put in Atman and see everything as God’s form’. The very powerful ambience of the saint and the power of his words removed my fear, reluctance, anxiety and tension. That’s why I could continue to enjoy peace thereafter”.

[Amma: It is only in the presence of a self-realized saint that a true transformation in mind can take place].

(Arul Mozhigal-9  p. 53)

4.   A lesson from dirty water

Once a Guru was away from his Ashram for a while. When he returned to the  Ashram, he found there was a woman employed in the Ashram. He questioned his disciple who was managing the ashram as to why he allowed a woman into the Ashram. The disciple said,  “Maharaj, since the woman was neither young not beautiful, I thought there is no harm in employing her”. The Guru did not say anything.

A few days went by.

One day the guru was again going out of the Ashram. Before he left, he cooked food for his disciple with excess of salt added. He asked his disciple to bring some cow dung. When he brought it, he put a  some cow dung in the drinking water pot kept in the disciple’s room. When the disciple asked for the reason,  he did not give any reply. He then kept the food inside the disciple’s room, locked it from outside without the knowledge of the disciple and went away.

At noon, the disciple was feeling hungry. He tried to go out to the kitchen, but found that the room had been locked from outside. Then he noticed that the food was kept in a covered plate in his room itself. He ate it hurriedly as he was very hungry. He noticed that the food was excessively salty, but in any case he finished it off.

Due to the excess salt in the food, he started feeling extremely thirsty. He called out others from his room, but there was nobody around. As time passed, he thirst for water became very intense.  Knowing well that the water pot contained drinking water contaminated with cow dung, he decided to drink it in any case because his thirst was so unbearable.  Till the evening, he kept on drinking the same water, though with a sense of aversion,  to quench his thirst.

The Guru returned in the evening and opened the door. He went to the water pot and checked it. It was almost empty. “Why did you drink this dirty water, my son, knowing pretty well that I mixed cow dung in it?”

The disciple replied, “What to do Maharaj? The food you had kept for me was excessively salty and after taking it, my thirst for water became unbearable, Since I could not get any other water, I compromised myself to drink it. The situation was like that. What to do?”

The guru smiled and said, “When situations turned in such a way, you lost all your control and drank the dirty water knowingly. When our vasanas come out very strongly, we may act in such a weird way that we would not imagine doing it under normal circumstances. That’s why I was wary of employing a woman in the Ashram”.

(Amma Satsang – Mon 29/8/16)

5.   The obedient disciple

Once, in a gurukula, where practically all the disciples were Brahmins, the guru took a Shudra too as a disciple and taught him shastras along with other students.

After years of learning scriptures, it was time for the disciples to return to their homes and engage themselves in activities for earning their livelihood.

The Guru told all his disciples that they should ensure that they give lectures on Shastras to worldly people for the welfare of all.

Unfortunately, when the disciples, after returning to their homes, went about giving discourses on shashtras, people were not interested in listening to them.

After trying this out for a while, the Brahmin boys found out that there was no point in wasting their time like this and they went about in search of some other occupation to earn their livelihood.

However, the shudra student did not want to go against his guru’s instructions. He went to a nearby forest daily, sat amidst a few dense trees and started expounding the shastras he had learned from his guru. Only the trees were the silent audience for his discourses!

One day, the king of the country went to the forest for hunting. As he was roaming around he heard a human voice. As he went nearby, he could hear shastras being expounded nicely by a person sitting unobtrusively amidst the trees. The king stood there for a while, giving a patient listening to the talk. He was very impressed by the teaching of the shudra disciple. For the next couple of days, the king visited the forest once again and listened to the discourse without the knowledge of the young disciple.

Finally, he went close, paid his respects to the disciple and expressed his desire to take him to his court and offered him the position of Raja guru, to advise him on the matters of dharma.

Thus the shudra student got a well being and highly respectable position in the kingdom.

While all the rest of the disciples quickly discontinued the instruction of the guru, it was only the shudra student who was steadfast in carrying out the words of the guru and he was profoundly rewarded for his commitment. That how the grace of the guru acts.

(Amma Satsang – Mon 29/8/16)

6.  The secret kill

Once a guru, in order to test how far his disciples had progressed in their awareness, gave them a hen each and said, “Go and kill them where no one sees your act”.

The first disciple returned soon and said, “I have done as per your instruction. I took it to a nearby cave where no one was there and I killed it there”.

The second disciple returned to the ashram after a long time and the hen was still alive in his hands.  He said he could not find any place where none could see his act.

“Why? the other fellow found a cave nearby and he killed the hen! Why couldn’t you do it?”

“But Maharaj, wherever I went, the hen was looking at me! How can I kill it?”

(Amma Satsang – Fri 26/8/16)

7.   Shiva – the Guru

[Amma: When one is mentally united with one’s beloved God,  what remains is absolute silence and peace. It is meditation without break. It is samadhi.]

Once Lord Shiva and Parvathi were conversing. Lord Shiva was normally in samadhi most of the times; he would leave Parvathi alone and go to places elsewhere. Stung by the pain of separation from her beloved Lord, Parvathi insisted on being united with him forever. She wanted Shiva to teach her how to remain in Samadhi; Shiva agreed.

He asked her to sit in padmasan, close her eyes, turn her attention inwards and meditate on Him.

As she started meditating, Shiva asked her “What do you see?”

“I see your lotus feet in my mind’s eye”

“Now go beyond the form. What do you see?”

“I see a light so bright that it is even difficult to see it” said Parvathi.

“Now go beyond the light. What do you see?” asked Shiva.

“I am hearing the sound of ‘OM'”

“Go beyond the sound of OM too. Now tell me what do you experience?” asked Shiva.

There was no reply from Parvathi. Her sense of individual soul had disappeared and merged into the wholeness of Lord Shiva. In that state, there was no one to talk or hear. She had attained the pinnacle of love. It is beyond word, thought or intellectual analysis.

8.   Guru only knows

In a gurukula, the Guru gave Sanyas to all his disciples except for one. The disciple who did not get sanyas felt angry on his guru. He started thinking “Our guru behaves partially; he gave Sanyas to everyone, but not to me; he gave sanyas to those who even joined later than me; he is not a sadguru. It is better to leave from here and go elsewhere”; subsequently he started finding more and more faults with his guru. He did not hesitate to tell others his opinions about the Guru.

In the meanwhile, the guru planned to conduct a yaga (fire sacrifice) in the ashram. Various materials needed for it were brought and kept stored in a house adjacent to the ashram. The guru sent this disciple to fetch necessary materials from the house frequently. An young maiden in the house would issue him the materials from the house. This happened continuously for several days.

Since he was meeting the girl almost daily, the disciple got attracted towards her; gradually he started fell in love with her. Even after coming back to the ashram he could not forget the face of the girl.  The guru continued to send him almost daily to her house at some context or other. His love on the girl grew so strong that he felt he could not remain without seeing her for long hours. One day, he proposed to her.

The girl set forth several conditions for him to fulfil if she had to agree to marry him. They were in fact against the regulations of the ashram, but because of his infatuation on her, he agreed to her conditions. She told him “Now you have to carry me on your shoulders”. He agreed for it too! As he went closer to her so as to lift her up, the girl took a stick lying nearby and started beating him left and right. The disciple, unable to bear her beating, ran to the ashram and came panting in front of the Guru.

Knowing all that happened, the Guru said, “My dear son, don’t you understand now why I did not give you sanyas? You are wrong when you assumed that I don’t have love on you. As I knew you have this vasana in your heart, I did not give sanyas to you. You are not yet free from all your inner vasanas. If  I gave you sanyas, you will only cause trouble to the world’.

The disciple understood. He fell at the feet of his guru and sought his forgiveness.

9.  Prevention is better

Once a Guru in an Ashram was chit-chatting with a friend who came to meet him from outside.

A disciple was picking up a pot and was going out to fetch water from the stream nearby. Watching this, the guru said, “Be careful with the pot”. The disciple nodded. As the disciple was about to leave the door, the Guru asked him to come to him; he twisted the ear of the disciple and said, “Don’t break the pot; understood?” and sent him off.

Amused, the friend asked, “Why are you twisting his years and punishing him when he has hardly started? He has not broken the pot!”

The Guru said, “What is the use if I punish him after he breaks the pot?  Because of my twisting his ears in advance, at least he would be careful in handling the pot while fetching and bringing the pot! Prevention is better than cure”.

 

10.  Put it into practice

A disciple was living in an ashram for long. He regularly attended to Guru’s satsang and also studies shastras. After a period of time, he felt disappointed that he was not finding any progress in him. He want to the Guru and said, “Maharaj, you know I have been in the ashram for so long, but I have not been blessed with any spiritual experience nor am I feeling any progress in my status”.

The Guru said, “Have you ever gone to Kashi?”

“No, Maharaj. I have never seen Kashi”.

The Guru asked a couple of other disciples the same question. One of them said, “Yes, Swamiji, I have seen Kashi”.

“You please help this man to make a visit to Kashi. Give him necessary details and guidelines” said the Guru.

After several days, the Guru saw the disciple and asked him, “How is Kashi?”

The disciple said, “Swamiji, I have not gone to Kashi. The other day I just heard you suggesting me to make a visit to Kashi; I did not act upon it”.

The guru smiled and said, “All along you simply listened to lectures on shastra. You never acted upon what was taught to you through the scriptures. That’s why you have not experienced any spiritual progress despite spending years in the Ashram”.

 

11.  Looking at the good side

[Amma: “Even in a criminal, divine qualities are latent. Even in an evil person one can find at least one good quality. Even such a person has got every potential to turn totally good. If only we are patient with such people,  it is possible to kindle their divinity. By developing the quality of seeing good in others, divine grace will fill up inside us. It is that grace that brings success in life”.]

Once a guru wanted to go and live in a new village. Before shifting there, he wanted to gauge the nature of the people living there. He sent two of his disciples to the village and asked them to make their own independent assessment and come back.

The first disciple went around the village, interacted with a few people and came back. He reported: “Maharaj, one cannot see such evil people in any other part of the country. There are only murderers, dacoits and whores in that village; that’s why I came back very quickly”.

The second disciple also came back after a while and he said to the guru, “Swamiji, the village people are very nice; we can’t find such people anywhere”.

‘Oh! How come there are two totally contradicting observations by two persons?’ wondered the guru. He asked them to elaborate more.

The first disciple said, “I saw a dacoit in the first house, a murderer in the second house; I was told that a whore lives in the third house. I felt that is enough to know about the general character of that village people; I felt no urge to know more about the rest of the people. How can I have a good opinion about them?”

The second disciple said, “I too went to those houses. I noticed that the dacoit was feeding a few people suffering under poverty; it is his practice to look around for people who have nothing to eat and provide them with food. I felt happy to see such a good quality in him. I came to know that the person in the  second house was a murder, but I saw him helping a poor man who had fallen down on the path. Though he is a murder, he has compassion to help someone who is suffering and it means he is not dry in his heart. That pleased me.

“I went to have a look at the prostitute’s house too. I saw four young boys there. when I inquired, I came to know that they were orphans and it is the prostitute who is taking care of them as if her own children.

“Thus when I saw such good qualities in people who are condemned as evil by the society, I felt what is the need to inquire about the other people living in the village? I formed a very respectable opinion about the villagers in general and then returned”

(Source: ‘Oliyai nokki’- Tamil)

12. Money for abuse!

Once a saint sent one of his disciples to a village of ruffians with a mission — he should preach dharma to the people there and reform them to become good human beings.

The disciple went to the village and stayed with the people.  Right from the beginning, the people did not like his presence there. When he tried to advise them, they got angry and hurled abuses at him. They treated him very badly. Sometimes, unable to contain himself, he also shouted back at them. That made the people more angry with him.

After trying his best for several days to make them see reason, he felt that he could not succeed in his mission. He came back to his guru and said, “Maharaj, the people in the village are extremely bad; I could not teach them any good values; they were always verbally abusing me and shouting at me. It was extremely difficult for me to be patient with them; I was alway mentally agitated and angry. I am afraid those people are beyond redemption”.

The master said, “I think you should make one more sincere attempt. This time I will give you 100 silver coins. Whenever someone verbally abuses you, don’t react. Simply gift that person with one silver coin”.

The disciple collected the coins and reluctantly went to the village once again.

Seeing him back, the people got agitated. He again started advising them on dharma and someone or other would start scolding him. Immediately, he would give a silver coin to the person who abused him.

This went on for a few days and soon he exhausted all his silver coins. The next day the villagers started shouting at him as usual. Hearing it, the disciple started laughing aloud. The people were surprised to see him laughing without showing any anger or irritation.

An old man came forward and asked him, “Why are you laughing?”

The disciple said, “All these days, I had spent silver coins to hear you abusing me. Now I am left with no money; hereafter, I don’t have to spend my money for hearing your verbal abuses and it is now free! When I thought of it, I could not contain myself from laughing!”

Thus, the disciple, over a period of time had developed the quality of patience and forbearance. He had now become mature enough to laugh even when somebody abused him. By obeying his guru’s words sincerely, he was able to develop such a noble spiritual quality.

The change in the mindset of the disciple created a positive vibration. The villagers started talking amidst themselves: “This man is so nice and patient. In fact, all these days, he has been rewarding us with silver coins for all the bad things we spoke at him. Patiently bearing all these, he has been trying to teach us a few good things for our well being. Let us not abuse him any more; let us attempt to understand what he is trying to teach us”.

Over a period of time, the villagers gradually became more refined, free of the various vices and their evil mindset. They gradually started following good and right conduct by absorbing his teachings.

13.  The power of concentrated mind

[Amma: “If one can attain unwavering peace of mind, many things can happen naturally without difficulty. Suppose you want to memorize something. If you sit at a place and manage to remove all thoughts from the mind and read the portion that you want to memorize once, it will get registered in your mind. You will not forget it till the end of your life. There is no need to memorize it hundred times with tension forgetting food and sleep. Endless hills are hidden deep in our mind. It can contain all the knowledge of the universe. We have not learned the secret of acquiring that skill yet.”]

Long ago a foreign emperor invaded India and conquered it. He wanted to take the four vedas without any distortion to his country. He sent his spies all over the country to find out where he can get all the four vedas in pristine form.

Finally, he came to know that a Brahmin family living in north India was preserving the original palm leaf texts containing all the four vedas. He went there with a team of his army men to meet the Brahmin.

The Brahmin was living in a cottage at the bank of river Ganga with his wife and four sons. The king approached the hut, placed his army men on security outside the hut and went inside. He ordered the Brahmin to handover the manuscripts of vedas to him.

The Brahmin said peacefully, “Venerable king, you don’t have to show so much authority to get the four vedas from me. I will give them happily to you. Before I hand over them, I have to conduct a special ritualistic pooja. I need a day for it.”

Seeing suspicion in the king’s face, the Brahmin said, “Don’t doubt me, Oh king! If you wish, you can keep your guards here. I will not run away. Please come tomorrow. I am only asking for time to conduct the pooja before handing over the palm leaves to you”.

The king ordered his security persons to stay there and guard the hut and he returned.

When the king came back the next morning and entered into the hut, he saw the Brahmin sitting in front of the ceremonial fire and dropping the last palm leaf into the fire, chanting some mantras very loudly. The brahmin’s 4 sons too were sitting around the fire with him and intently listening to what the father was chanting.

Seeing this, the king got very angry and shouted: “You cheated me; I am going to behead you!”

The brahmin replied softly, “Oh King! Don’t get worked up. My fours sons were listening to the chanting of the four vedas throughout the night. I finished chanting of the fourth one just now. Don’t think I have not honoured my promise and cheated you. Now all my four sons know the vedas perfectly without losing even a word of it. Please take them to your country. They will preach veda to your people totally sticking to the original text”.

The king could not believe it. “This can’t be true. You are cheating me”.

The Brahmin asked his sons to start chanting the vedas. They did it perfectly without missing a word. The king was surprised beyond measure.

It happened because the four sons, with total peace of mind, concentration and devotion to their father listened fully to the chanting of the vedas and hence they could absorb them totally.

(Source: Arul Mozhigal-8 Tamil)

14. The Guru Reveals the Real You

Once a hen was incubating her eggs; it so happened that there was an egg of an eagle too mixed up with her other eggs.

After a few days, the eggs hatched and chicks came out. The chick of the eable too was amiest them. Like all other chicks, the chick of the eagle too scratched the earth with its nails, caught worms and ate. It never knew that it belonged to a powerful species of birds that can fly and soar in the sky.

Months passed by. The chicks had grown big and so was the eagle.

One day, an eagle flying at the sky noticed this young eagle scrubbing the earth and eating worms, surrounded by other hens. The large eagle was very surprised. It waited for the opportune time to corner the ‘hen-eagle’ and explain to it what its real status was.

One day the hen-eagle roamed away from the other hens. Noticing it, the visiting eagle flew close to it and landed near it. The hen-eagle got extremely frightened to see the ‘enemy’ and cried out. Hearing its cry, all the other hens and cocks roaming nearby came rushing to help and the visiting eagle had to retreat in a hurry.

On another day, the hen-eagle got stranded quite away from the group of other hens. Noticing it, the visiting eagle came nearer. This time, it was more careful. It kept a safe distance and then spoke very softly: “Hey! Listen to me; don’t get scared; I am not your enemy, but your friend. I wanted to tell you one important truth”.

The hen-eagle was still scared; it wanted to run away. But, with lot of difficulty, the visiting eagle stopped it and started counseling: “You see, you are not really a hen; you are not destined to run around on the earth and eat worms like this! You are indeed a mighty eagle like me who can fly high on the sky and enjoy your freedom! You can fly because you are like me; whatever power I possess you too have it. Come on, flip your feathers and try to fly!”

The hen-eagle still could not get convinced. It could only think that the eagle was trying to brainwash it with the intent of killing and eating it. However, the big eagle did not relax its efforts to convince the hen-eagle. It kept on talking with lots of patience and tact. Finally it could gain the trust of the hen-eagle. The visiting eagle took the hen-eagle to a nearby lake and said, “Watch your reflection in the water;see how you look; don’t you agree that you appear same like me?”

The hen egle was surprised to see her image in water looking exactly like the other eagle. It could not believe its eyes. it kept looking again again at the water. Finally it was convinced that it was an eagle indeed and not a weak hen. Its faith and trust on the visiting eagle became full. It developed conviction on what the former said and its self-confidence grew. It started obeying the eagle.

The large eagle started teaching the young eagle how to fly. It was of course difficult for the young one initially. It flew a couple of feet above the ground and fell down a couple of times;but practicing repeatedly, it could soon fly higher and higher. After a while, both the large eagle and the young one flew together joyfully high up on the sky.

[In this story, the hen-eagle represents the worldly person; the visiting eagle represents the Sadguru who has known his oneness with God. Eating worms represents enjoying the petty sensual pleasures of the world and getting bonded to the world; seeing reflection in water represents getting a glimpse of one’s oneness with divinity by the grace of the guru; trying to learn flying represents doing spiritual sadhana as per Guru’s guidance; soaring high in the sky with the Guru represents getting liberated (attaining mukti) and attaining Unity with the infinite in the same way as the Guru.]

 

 

 

15. The Lazy disciple

Once a Guru and his disciple were sleeping inside a hut on a cold night. In the middle of the night, the Guru asked said to the disciple “Please check whether it is raining outside”.

The disciple felt too lazy to get up, go out and check whether it was raining. At that time, a cat came inside the hut through the window. The disciple extended his hand, touched the cat to check whether it was wet. Since it was not wet, he said, “Guruji, it is not raining outside” and dozed off.

After some time, the guru said, “I am really feeling cold; will you please shut the window?”

The disciple covered his face and ears with his bedsheet and said, “Guruji, we are spiritual renunciates; are we not supposed to bear heat and cold with equanimity?” and continued with his sleep.

After a while, the Guru said, “Please get up and turn off the lamp”.

The disciple said, “Master, Have I not obeyed and responded to your previous two requests?  Why don’t you do at least this yourself to set an example of self-help?”

[Amma: “The disciples of the present day are mostly like this! They want to instruct and manage the guru rather than obeying Guru’s instructions”.]

 

 

 

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.

Understanding the role and purpose of Guru in Hinduism

The word “guru” in general means a teacher in Sanskrit. In the generic sense any teacher, whether the one who teaches worldly knowledge or the one who teaches spiritual wisdom, is a guru. But normally, from the point of Hindu religion, a guru is one who teaches you spiritual knowledge, who initiates you into a spiritual path or who guides you along the path of a spiritual quest. A highly learned Guru with deep knowledge of the scriptures is also called an Acharya.

Great spiritual masters of Hinduism are of the firm opinion that the human birth is rare and the purpose of the human birth is to attain God or realize one’s atman, which are one and the same, viewed from two different perspectives.

This is the ultimate goal to be attained and it is varyingly termed as God realization, self-realization, attaining the knowledge of Brahman, attaining birthlessness/deathlessness (“Moksha” “Mukthi” “samadhi” “nirvana” “sakshatkar,” etc. in Sanskrit).

Hinduism emphatically states that a guru is a must for learning and experiencing spirituals truths.

The following points will help you to understand the role of a guru in Hinduism.

“Satguru” – The guru of the highest order

Purely from the spiritual point of view, worldly knowledge is considered a lower level of knowledge and even such a “lower” knowledge requires teachers to make students comprehend the subjects clearly. Obviously, the ultimate spiritual knowledge, which is the very goal of life to be attained, requires qualified spiritual masters to teach and guide the earnest spiritual seekers.

Ideally, only a God-realized (or self-realized) soul, who is truly a knower by personal experience, could be the perfect guru. Such a guru is called a “Satguru.” A Satguru is none other than God himself descended in human form or a human who has attained the highest level of spiritual knowledge – who has “obtained” the divine authority to transmit his knowledge to the earnest seekers who surrender to him. According to Sri Ramakrishna, a great religious master, a Satguru is like a huge steamer that can safely carry a lot of people across a turbulent river.

Hinduism advocates the concept of “Avatar” – God descending to earth in human form from time to time to establish righteousness in the world, to satisfy the longing of earnest worshipers and to provide appropriate spiritual guidance to people in a way most suited to the period and circumstances of the descent.

The Avatar and his immediate and handpicked lieutenants who fully imbibe his teachings, who are empowered to carry forward his teachings function as Satgurus. However, it need not be interpreted to mean that Satgurus are always associated with the arrival of avatars.

Multiple gurus may also guide at different levels

But practically, not all spiritual seekers are really keen enough to reach the ultimate goal or fit enough to reach it. But spiritual attainment being the goal of human life, people at different levels of spiritual inclination have to be guided to the path at varying degrees of “capacity of intake” and “capacity of assimilation.”

Reincarnation (rebirth after death) is one of the fundamental concepts of faith in Hinduism. Accordingly, Hinduism recognizes that it may take several births for a seeker to attain the ultimate goal. Bhagavat Gita, one of the greatest books of essential Hindu spiritual knowledge recognizes this fact by stating that hardly one in a thousand strives to attain the highest and even among such earnest seekers, hardly a few are capable of reaching the goal.

It also leads to the fact that availability of Satgurus at all points of time and at all approachable geographic locations may not be practical. Naturally, people need to be guided by “less than perfect” masters who are quite good enough to guide the majority.

Hinduism is a very vast religion with scope for worshiping innumerable God-forms (who represent the ONE ultimate truth). There exist several major schools of philosophies, several sects and sub-sects that are suited to various tastes, traditions and preferences of religious followers. This naturally leads to a multifaceted system of availability of gurus.

The best starting point for seeking the guidance of a guru is to follow the culture and tradition of the family and in Hinduism, the traditional “family guru” serves this purpose. Generally, a “family guru” is a guru, most normally (but not too strictly) a “Sanyasi” (a monk who has relinquished worldly life) who comes in the Master-disciple lineage of a Satguru or a great spiritual master of yesteryears. These gurus are adept in the particular God they worship and the particular school of philosophy they profess. They initiate the seeker in the worship of the specific “personal God” of their sect and guide him in the fundamentals of religious disciplines to follow.

To avoid distraction and to ensure a better focus for an orderly religious progress, it is normally recommended that the seeker remains steadfast in his trust towards his guru, to the chosen personal God and to the school of philosophy he is instructed about.

But for a more curious and capable seeker, such guidelines are not too binding. Hinduism allows the freedom for one to choose his guru based on his temperament, taste and inclination. Hinduism also permits an earnest seeker to seek “higher guidance” from more than one guru based on his true progress. All the same, it is also emphasized that one should not be running behind one guru after another just because of one’s egotism that refuses to surrender to any form of discipline.

While it is important that one remains ever-devoted to his main guru, one can approach other gurus (called ‘upa gurus’ – i.e. supportive gurus) with due reverence and get specific guidance in some specific techniques of spiritual practice, to learn about alternative schools of philosophies or religious scriptures, to get doubts clarified and get advice on any hurdles faced in the path of progress.

At an exalted level, for the most avid seeker, even animals, birds and inanimate objects can teach a lesson or two in his spiritual quest (which he grasps by keen observation) and all of them are virtually his upa-gurus.

Faith and surrender to the guru are essential

Surrendering unquestioningly to one guru and attaining progress based on this very surrender and trust – this is on one side. Questioning and evaluating a guru and then surrendering to him and, at the same time, providing room for the guru to evaluate him so as to accept or reject him – this is on another side. Both are acceptable in Hinduism.

However, where the disciple is lucky enough (or destined) to end up or surrender at the feet of a Satguru, the Satguru, who transcends names, forms and schools of philosophies, will guide the disciple to the most appropriate “personal god” and school of philosophy best suited to him. What the disciple needs to do afterwards is to surrender his ego at the feet of his guru and remain steadfast in his faith, goal and commitment. It is also said that, in reality, it is the guru who seeks and gets the disciple. An earnest seeker may ultimately end up with a Satguru, though he may have had his initiation earlier from another guru.

Understanding initiation (“Diksha”) by a guru

Getting initiation (“Diksha”) from the guru is an essential element of the guru-disciple relationship. In general, “Diksha” is done by the guru by giving a mantra (a sacred phrase containing the name of a specific God beginning with “seed sounds” like “Om” and ending with “namah”). Gurus of a specific sect give a mantra suited to the specific sect.

For example, worshipers of Lord Shiva generally give a mantra associated with Lord Shiva. A worshiper of Vishnu will normally get initiated with Narayana mantra (or Krishna / Rama mantras).

Even though we are familiar with several mantras like Om Namah Shivaya or Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya etc, Mantras are normally communicated in secrecy by the Guru to the disciple. A disciple is expected to keep his mantra a secret and not to reveal it to any other person.

According to Satguru Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma), a sadguru while initiating a disciple with a mantra, transmits a little of his Prana shakti (vital force). It is like adding a little butter milk to milk to create curd. Chanting of mantra subsequently by the disciple is like churning the curd to obtain butter (realizing God).

A mantra is like a seed sown by the guru into the disciple. It is up to the disciple to nurture the seed to get the sapling, water it and protect it as it grows to a tree till it bears fruits. Likewise, it is the sacred duty of the disciple to repeat the mantra with devotion as many times as possible, follow the disciplines and practices specified by the guru, meditate on the God of the mantra and reap the spiritual benefits.

As for Satgurus, their way of initiation (by giving ‘diksha’ to someone) may take place in several forms. A Satguru is capable of gauging the spiritual capacity, taste and capability of a person and make an initiation best suited to the person. The initiation could be done by a Satguru by a mere touch of hand (“Hasta Diksha”); he may give the mantra in the disciple’s dreams (“Swapna Diksha”); he may initiate the disciple by a mere eye-to-eye contact (“Nayana Diksha”); he may initiate by an embrace (“Alingana Diksha”).

A Satguru is capable of judging which God form is best suited or best liked by the disciple and initiate him with the mantra of that God. He may initiate the disciple in worship of God with form or without form; he may simply initiate a capable follower in the path of self-inquiry.

A Satguru bears the burden of a disciple

Unlike a guru whose responsibility ends with initiating the disciple in the religious path, a Satguru bears the responsibility of the disciple who surrenders to him wholeheartedly. It is said that at the time of giving Diksha, a Satguru transmits a small portion of his vital energy (“Prana”) into the disciple. It is also said that the Satguru absorbs the accumulated karmas (good and bad effects of the disciples’ actions in the past) and makes him a “clean slate” to start his religious quest with full vigor. While the need for “self-effort” to be done by the disciple to attain the ultimate goal can’t be wished away, the Satguru makes the path much easier for the disciple to tread, by removing the obstacles coming out of his past deeds.

It is also said that a Satguru never forsakes his disciple, even if he tends to slacken his spiritual efforts or gets distracted away from his ideal; Satguru’s watchful eyes are always on him to goad him back to his track at the appropriate time.

The guidance from the “inner Guru”

Any religious discipline done by an earnest seeker is to realize God or Atman or Brahman who essentially dwells in the heart of every being. In the point of view of “Gyana marga” (path of Knowledge in Hinduism), everyone is essentially God and what the guru does is to remove the false coverings and sheaths that make one wrongly identify oneself with the body, mind intellect, etc. and ultimately to make one understand “you are that” (“Tatwamasi”).

It may not be practical for everyone to be physically with the guru always, take regular instructions from him and keep getting doubts cleared. It is said that an earnest disciple who lives away from a guru/Satguru, depending on his steadfastness and sincerity in his spiritual efforts, gets his guidance and course-correction right from his inner heart/sub-conscience. This inner voice or guidance is called the Inner Guru (“Anthra Guru”).

Sri Ramana Maharishi, the great sage of Tiruvennamalai used to say that the external guru pushes the disciple’s mental leanings (which tend to wander outwards) towards inside and the Indwelling Guru drags them inwards. It is ultimately the one and the same “Sachidananda” (Existence-knowledge-bliss i.e. Godliness) that works through both as the external guru and the internal guru.

What Swami Sivananda says about the need of a Guru

(Source: Autobiography of Swami Sivananda)

“The spiritual path is beset with many obstacles. The Guru will guide the aspirants safely and remove all sorts of difficulties they have to face. He will inspire the students and give them spiritual powers through his blessings. Guru, Isvara, Truth and Mantra are one. There is no other way of overcoming the vicious worldly Samskaras of the passionate nature of raw, worldly-minded persons than personal contact with and service to the Guru.

A personal Guru is necessary in the beginning. He alone can show you the path to attain God, who is the Guru of Gurus, and obviate the snares and pitfalls on your path. Guru’s Grace is needed by the disciple. This does not mean that the disciple should sit idle and expect a miracle from the Guru to push him directly into Samadhi. The Guru cannot do Sadhana for the student. It is foolish to expect spiritual attainments from a drop of Kamandalu water from the Guru. The Guru can guide the student, clear his doubts, pave the way, remove the snares, pitfalls and obstacles and throw light on the path. But it is the disciple himself who has to walk every step in the spiritual path.”