On the auspicious occasion of Guru Poornima (July2, 2004): Meeting a Satguru: An act of divine grace Sages do not tire of singing the importance of Satguru (an enlightened spiritual teacher). Learned persons emphasize the need of Satguru for spiritual progress. Without this, the path towards self-upliftment does not open up; sadhana does not proceed swiftly towards siddhi. In our scriptures, mother, father and Guru have been considered equivalent to God (Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh).
Real Satguru is, infact, our own Indwelling Divinity- the individualized Self. Continuous guidance for soul upliftment is possible only when this Inner Divinity comes to the fore of our consciousness.
The Guru can know only partially the inner state of the disciple and hence his guidance too will be limited to that extent. Then, no external Guru can physically accompany the disciple all the time; when the latter may be facing innumerable problems at each and every step and at each and every moment. So how such problems may be solved? For this kind of guidance, it is not possible to entirely depend on any specific person, however enlightened he or she may be. Ultimately it is the awakened Divinity within, a sadhak can turn to for unerring guidance and help.
The true enlightened Guru is the one who puts the disciple in living communion with the Teacher within.
Guru Deeksha (initiation into spiritual sadhana) is the firm resolve" Now I will strictly follow the directions of the soul". A person who has taken such a vow cannot deviate from the noble path of righteousness even in the face of direst of consequences. Here it will be apt to share with our readers the definition and role of the Guru as elucidated by Mahayogi Sri Aurobindo in his masterly treatise - "Synthesis of Yoga":
"The supreme Guide and Teacher is the inner Guide, the World Teacher, jagad-guru, secret within us. It is He who destroys our darkness by the resplendent light of His knowledge; that light becomes within us the increasing glory of His own self-revelation. He discloses progressively in us His own nature of freedom, bliss, love, power, immortal being.
He sets above us His divine example as our ideal and transforms the lower existence into a reflection of that which it contemplates. By the inpouring of His own influence and presence into us; He enables the individual being to attain, to identify with, the universal and transcendent. Even then, human nature calls for a human intermediary so that he may feel the Divine indwelling entirely close to his own humanity and sensible in a human influence and example. For this need the Hindu discipline provides in the relation of the Guru and the disciple. The (external) Teacher will follow as far as he may the method of the Teacher within us. He will lead the disciple through the nature of the disciple.
Teaching, example, and influence these are the three instruments of the Guru. But the wise Teacher will not seek to impose himself or his opinions on the passive acceptance of the receptive mind; he will throw in only what is productive and sure as a seed, which will grow under the divine fostering within.
He will seek to awaken much more than to instruct; he will aim at the growth of the faculties and the experiences by a natural process and free expansion. He will give a method as an aid, as an utilizable device, not as an imperative formula or a fixed routine.
The example is more powerful than the instruction; but it is neither the example of the outward acts nor that of the personal character, which is of most importance. These have their place and their utility; but what will most stimulate aspiration in others is the central fact of the divine realization within him governing his whole life and inner state and all his activities.
This is the universal and essential element; the rest belongs to individual person and circumstance. It is this dynamic realization that the sadhak must feel and reproduce in himself according to his own nature; he need not strive after an imitation from outside which may well be sterilizing rather than productive of right and natural fruits.
Influence is more important than example.
Influence is not the outward authority of the Teacher over his disciple, but the power of his conduct, of his presence, of the nearness of his soul to the soul of another, infusing into it, even though in silence, that which he himself is and possesses. This is the supreme sign of the Master. For the greatest Master is much less a Teacher than a Presence pouring the divine consciousness and its light, power, purity and bliss into all who are receptive around him."
Therefore, in order to progress in the spiritual Sadhana, the assistance of an embodied Guru is very essential. It is the combination of Ram and Laxman that made possible the victory over Ravana.
The victory of Mahabharat war was made possible by the pairing up of Krishna and Arjun. However, diligent the student may be, he cannot acquire higher education without the assistance of a competent teacher. In important disciplines like engineering, medicine, architecture, etc, students are not only given theoretical lessons but they are also imparted practical education. Without this they cannot become experts in their disciplines.
Guru and the disciple together meet the similar need. Mere whispering of the mantra in the ear or telling the method of some ritual does not serve any purpose.
Guru also has to instill adequate operational zeal and energy into the disciple according to his worthiness to enable him to climb the steep path of spiritual sadhana. In order to climb the height of mountains one has to take the help of a stick. A support of the steps is required to climb up the roof.
The need of external Guru arises to fulfill this very purpose.
The life cycle of the foetus cannot proceed without the mother keeping him in her womb, without donating her blood and flesh, and without feeding him with her milk and nourishment. A child cannot earn food, clothing etc. For this purpose loving care of parents is necessary.
A student can study but he has to get the expenses for this from his parents and the cooperation of a teacher in learning. Without this, his education cannot proceed by his lone efforts. Parents bring up their children and when the latter themselves grow up they in turn take the responsibility of bringing up their own children.
This tradition goes on. The process of progress in the field of spirituality too follows the same pattern. Guru transfers his wealth of Tapa to his disciple. Later on the disciple too continues the tradition by sharing his spiritual attainments with his own deserving disciples.
Through following prescribed precepts of religion and disciplines of Yoga, a person can achieve the noble goal of life. In this neither a Guru nor a disciple is needed.
An able-bodied person walking along a highway can reach the decided destination by simply observing the signposts and counting the milestones. But if one desires to see the wonderful places enroute and enjoy their scenic beauty, then the help of a person who is well acquainted with that region and who himself has experienced such a joy will be needed. If that opportunity is not made available, then the journey will continue but that will merely be an activity that is dry and without the additional benefits. While proceeding on the path of spiritual journey, if one aspires to experience the joy of the journey, and make it an enjoyable venture, then the help of an expert guide becomes essential.
The Guru also fulfils this need.
A sadhak desirous of safely moving on this path has to search for an experienced and true guide. But he has to be alert and wise in this search.
The world is full of cheats and buffoons masquerading as yogic adepts and gurus. Credulous and over-sentimental persons fall into the trap of such imposters and land themselves in deep disappointment and disillusion. A sincere seeker has to cultivate wise discernment to distinguish between the genuine and the counterfeit. Getting refuge under the guidance of an enlightened teacher on the path of sadhana is a divine boon of invaluable significance and a sure indication of reaching the goal. Such adepts not only provide the guidance for sadhana but they also transfer the requisite spiritual powers to the sadhak to enable him to fulfill the purpose of his life.
Description of such incidents of transfer of spiritual power by the Guru to the shishya (disciple) through shaktipat is found in many yogic texts.
Therefore, there is a natural curiosity to know the veracity or otherwise of such a phenomenon. Here let us mention two instances of recent past.
It has been mentioned in the book titled "Vivekanand Sanchayan" that Vivekanand vividly experienced the transference of immense spiritual energy into his being by his Divine Teacher, Paramhansa Sri Ramakrishna. Vivekanand has himself described this experience eloquently and it is this supreme energy, which enabled him to carry the message of his Master around the world. Swami Yoganand has also described in his book "Autobiography of a Yogi" a number of such phenomena.
There are many other authentic recorded instances of this nature in occult and mystic literature of India and the world. Genuinely interested readers are advised to study such works to understand the process of this occult science.
There is no doubt about the truth of shaktipat in the tradition of Guru - shishya. With the help and blessing of a Satguru coupled with his own sincere sadhana even an ordinary looking person can reach the acme of mystic experiences. The pages of ancient history are full of such instances, but the present-day self-appointed pseudo-gurus have made shaktipat a cheap feat of jugglery and created confusion about this occult phenomenon in rational minds.
Therefore, it is essential to understand its true nature.
A person desirous of doing sadhana has to choose a Guru. Gu" means darkness and ru means light. The one who leads a person from darkness into light is called Guru. We have two Gurus. The real, eternal Guru is everlastingly with us as our Soul. The other one is that whom we have chosen in the form of an enlightened person. Both of them are essential.
The human sight can see only physical appearance. That is why it cannot understand the subtle formless inner soul. The adoption of a spiritually awakened person as Guru is meant for this purpose. Thus the awakening of the Inner Guru (Soul) is helped by the external Guru. Through his teachings, example and influence he imparts inspiration to the disciple on the path of his spiritual quest.
The disciple receives the blessing and boons of the Guru according to his inner faith and worthiness. Every disciple gets in the measure of his shraddha (Faith). This is the philosophy behind shaktipat. This is a process, which requires time and effort and which is completed by the dedicated sadhana of sadhak under the guidance of a genuine Guru. This is not a sudden process, which gives instant miraculous results. Rather, it is a long-term mode of sadhana with the aid of which the disciple develops his own dormant powers and potentialities.
The boon of shaktipat is not accessible to everyone. Only those seekers get this precious gift who can tranquilly retain and assimilate the descent of this immense occult power. The glorious lives of Vivekanand and Yoganand, after such a shaktipat by their gurus, are eloquent examples of the radical spiritual transformation. But such transformations occur generally in the case of chosen souls who come to earth with specially assigned tasks. There is no relevance of questions like what was realized at the time of shaktipat or what visions were revealed? What is significant is what was the outcome of this massive transference of spiritual force? It radically transforms the recipient. But the latter has to be pure, strong and worthy enough to receive, assimilate and hold the energy so transferred and selflessly and wisely utilize it for the noble purpose for which it has been gifted to him.