Guru-Bhakti Yoga

by Swami Sivananda

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Book Code: ES53
175 pages
ISBN: 8170521688
Book Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.3 inches
Shipping Weight: 180 grams

Table of Contents

Publishers’ Note (5)
Swami Sivananda’s Letter (6)
Glory of Guru-Bhakti Yoga (7)
Epistles on Guru-Bhakti (8)
Introduction (10)
Guru Gita (17)
Wisdom Nectar (18)

Chapter I

The Limbs of Guru-Bhakti Yoga 23
The Aim of Guru-Bhakti Yoga 24
Principles of Guru-Bhakti Yoga 24
Guru-Bhakti Yoga As A Science 25
Fruits of Guru-Bhakti Yoga 25
Sadhana of Guru-Bhakti Yoga 26
Importance of Guru-Bhakti Yoga 26
Stumbling Blocks on The Path 27
Fundamentals of Guru-Bhakti Yoga 28
Cardinal Notes In Guru-Bhakti Yoga 29
Pathway To Immortal Bliss 29
Greatness of Guru-Bhakti Yoga 30
Instructions To The Student 31

Chapter II

Greatness of Guru 33
Devotion To Guru 33
Service To Guru 34
Qualifications of A Disciple 35
Principles of Discipleship 35
Meditation on Guru 36
Conquest of Happiness 37
Need For Guru’s Grace 38
Way To Peace And Strength 39
Preliminaries For Meditation 39

Chapter III

Purity: A Pre-Requisite 41
The Yogic Sadhana 41
Touch of The Guru 42
Methods of Mind-Control 43
Progress on The Path 44
The Transformation 45
Spiritual Attitude To Guru 47
The Obstinate Disciple 49
The Need For Guru 49
Benefits of Discipleship 50
Guru-Bhakti And Guru-Seva 51
Value of Obedience 52
Offerings To The Guru 53

Chapter IV

Articles of Worship 55
The Yoga of Guru-Seva 56
The Grace of The Guru 57
Meditation on Guru 58
Guru As The Great Guide 58
The Way of The Great 59
Our Relation To Guru 60
Indispensability of Guru’s Grace 61
Felicity From Guru’s Grace 62
Need For Preliminary Practice 63

Chapter V

Guru As Sole Refuge 66
Sacrifice For The Guru 67
Fitness For Guru Worship 68
Abide By The Light of Guru 69
Knowledge of Brahman Through Guru 70
Guru As God 71

Chapter VI

The Principle of Adaptability 73
Essentials of Discipleship 73
Self-Giving To Guru 74
The Ingredient of Discrimination 75
Complete Surrender 76
Enthronement of Guru 76
Humility Above Erudition 77
Meaning of Faith 77
Nature of Obedience 78
The Spiritual Etiquette 79
The Binding Force 79
Service of Guru 80

Chapter VII

Fundamentals of Discipleship 81
Dharma In Relation To Guru 82
The Three Modes of Nature 83
Total Avoidance of Sex 83
Guru—The Incarnate Divinity 84
God-Realisation Through The Grace of Guru 85
Praise of Guru In Scriptures 86
On Finding The Guru 87
Great Love of Guru 88
In Tune With The Guru 89
Guidance For The Disciple 90
The Secret of Realisation 90

Chapter VIII

The Content of Spiritual Teaching 92
Guru-Disciple Relationship 92
Source of Higher Knowledge 93
Principles of Action 94
Search For The Right Guru 95
In The Foot-Steps of The Guru 96
At The Feet of The Guru 97
The Worship of The Teacher 98
Impartment of Mystic Teaching 98
Weapon For Self-Conquest 100

Chapter IX

The Role of Faith 101
Aspects of Devotion 101
The Function of Grace 103
Spiritual Path And Life 104
The Spirit of Discipleship 105
The Easiest Path To God-Realisation 106
The Development of Universal Love 107
In Tune With Guru 108
The Bestower of All Boons 108
Need For Spiritual Preoccupation 110
Elevating Presence of Guru 111
Guru—The Benefactor of The World 112
The Need For Moral Perfection 113

Chapter X

Essentials of Right Conduct 115
Above Life’s Turmoil 116
Classes of Disciples 117
Approach To Guru 118
Benefits of Guru-Bhakti 121
Source of True Happiness 123
The Meaning of Devotion 124


Guru Purnima Messages 128
    Know Thy Self And Be Free! 128
    The Wheel of Divine Life 130
Guru And Diksha (Initiation) 133
Limbs of Guru-Bhakti 134
Poems on Guru 135
    Guru is The Boat 135
    Blessed Guru’s Feet 135
    Guru’s Grace 136
    Guru’s Grace 136
    The Frog And Faithless Disciple 136
    Guru 137
Reflections on Guru-Bhakti 139
Guru-Bhakti In The Bhagavad Gita 142
Guru Tattva 146
Four Classes of Men 147
The Preceptor And The Disciple 148
How To Obtain Guru-Kripa 153
Worship of The Divine 161
Invitation 166
All About Guru 167
Mantras For Japa Or Meditation 175

Publishers’ Note

His Holiness Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj did not write text books as such. The books he wrote were the outpourings of wisdom from his own direct realisation of the Truth. 

From his books you will derive not only the benefit of his wisdom and knowledge of both practical and esoteric matters pertaining to Yoga, but also the power of his spiritual force. 

Sri Swami Sivanandaji had a unique style–simple, direct and compelling. His books are not dull treatises on Yoga and philosophy, rather his enthusiasm and eagerness to help all is evident in every page, lifting the reader to new heights of understanding. 

Sri Gurudev’s great utterances about the need for a Guru to lead the aspirant along the path to God-realisation, and of the devotion that the aspirant should have towards his Guru, are scattered over a number of his works. That great disciple of Sri Gurudev, Sri Swami Satchidanandaji (Private Secretary to H.H. Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj) felt the urge to compile Sri Swamiji’s “sayings” on Guru and Guru Bhakti Yoga into a single volume. Guru Bhakti Yoga is the result. 

May Sri Gurudev’s Grace lead you to the Highest Realms of Immortality, Eternal Bliss and Supreme Peace. 


1st November, 1942 

Dear Vivek, 

    Wisdom or Knowledge of the Self (Brahma-Jnana) never dawns upon the mind which is filled with greed, anger, lust and jealousy, which is under the control of desires and expectations and which is devoid of contentment. 

Wisdom dawns only in a pure and calm mind. 

Therefore purify your mind and develop serenity. 


Glory of Guru-Bhakti Yoga

Just as Kirtan-Sadhana has been made the special Kali-Yuga Sadhana for quick God-vision, even so herein you have the New Yoga, a Yoga most eminently suitable for this age of doubt and scepticism, pride and egoism. It is Guru-Bhakti Yoga. This Yoga is marvellous. Its power is tremendous. Its efficacy is most unfailing. The true glory of Guru-Bhakti is indescribable. It is the Yoga par excellence for this age, which makes God appear here before you in flesh and blood and move with you in this very life. The hard Rajasic ego is the arch enemy of the Sadhaka. Guru-Bhakti Yoga is the surest and best Sadhana to destroy arrogance and to dissolve the vicious ego. Just as a particular deadly germ can be annihilated only by a certain specific chemical germicide, even so, to destroy Avidya and Ahankara, this unique Guru Bhakti-Yoga is the peerless specific. They are the gravest ‘Mayacide’ and ‘egocide’. They become quite powerless and no longer afflict the fortunate soul who saturates himself with the spirit of Guru-Bhakti-Yoga. Blessed indeed is the man who earnestly takes to this Yoga; for he will obtain crowning success in all other Yogas. To him will accrue the choicest fruits of perfection in Karma, Bhakti, Dhyana and Jnana. 

The qualification for taking to this Yoga is the simple trio of sincerity, faith and obedience. Be sincere in your aspirations for Perfection. Be not vague or half-hearted. Then have perfect faith in the one you have accepted as your Guru. Do not allow even so much as a shadow of doubt to approach you. When once you have reposed absolute faith in him, then know that what he instructs you is indeed for your highest good. Therefore, obey his word implicitly. Follow his teachings to the letter. Be earnest in doing thus, and take my word: you will attain Perfection; I assure you emphatically. 


Epistles on Guru-Bhakti

1st May, 1942 

Blessed aspirants, 

Do not argue. You will not gain anything. Sit before your spiritual preceptor or any Mahatma quietly and meditate. Let the soul speak to the soul. All your doubts will be cleared by themselves. You will have good spiritual experiences. You will experience ineffable Peace and a thrill of joy in your heart. This is the real way for attaining the goal of life. 

Become a practical Yogi. 




1st December, 1942 

Maharani Swarnalata, 

From a doctor you get a prescription. From two doctors you get consultation. From three doctors you get your own cremation. 

Even so, if you have many Gurus you will be bewildered. You will be at a loss to know what to do. One Guru will tell you: “Do Soham Japa”. Another will tell you “Do Japa of Sri Ram.” A third Guru will tell you “Hear Anahata Sounds”. You will be puzzled. Stick to one Guru and follow his instructions. 




1st May, 1943 

Beloved Mahadev, 

Realisation cannot come to you as a miracle done by your Guru. 

Lord Buddha, Lord Jesus, Rama Tirtha have all done Sadhana. Lord Krishna asks Arjuna to develop Vairagya and do Abhyasa. He did not say to him “I will give you Mukti now”. 

Therefore abandon the wrong notion that your Guru will give you Samadhi and Mukti. Strive, purify, meditate and realise. 



Knowledge is subject-object relation. It is a process, and not being. All processes are movements brought about by an interaction of external stimuli and internal condition. The rise of knowledge in an individual is a mysterious process effected through such an interaction. No doubt, knowledge in its essential nature is universal and does not admit of any process. But by the rise of knowledge what is meant is not the existence of this transcendent awareness, but the process of the manifestation of it in the relative individual the highest knowledge is called Swaroopa-Jnana, knowledge of being as such. But the rise of knowledge in the Jiva is a relative act of the expression of this Swaroopa-Jnana through the Vritti of the Manas. Hence during the process of the rise knowledge takes the form of what is termed Vritti Jnana. Ana Vritti-Jnana is definitely a spatio-temporal condition of consciousness. 

Vritti-Jnana is the same as psychological consciousness, whatever be the degree of its intensity, depth and expansiveness. Vritti-Jnana therefore cannot appear without the relation of the subject to an object. This relation is the coming together of the subjective and the objective processes in the universe. Every event is a commingling of two events or conditions, one acting as the subject and the other as the object. The spiritual aspirant may be considered from his point of view a subjective entity in which spiritual knowledge manifests itself by degrees. Now this manifestation of knowledge is really the reflection of the Transcendental Consciousness through the mind which gradually increases its transparency by the process of self discipline and concentration. It is the difference in the degree of transparency in the mind that is responsible for the difference that we notice in the degree of intensity of the manifestation of knowledge. As every event, in order to take place, requires an external agency, the aspirant is in need of a Guru to enable the manifestation of the knowledge within him. The disciple and the Guru are two complementary entities or bits of universal process acting on each other in a reciprocal manner. The factors that bring about the rise of knowledge in the disciple are the receptive capacity of the disciple and the consciousness-force of the Guru. There cannot be such a knowledge-interaction if the psychic condition of the disciple is not well-prepared and made ready to fit in with the nature of the entry of the consciousness of the Guru into it. This condition has to be fulfilled when any event in this universe takes place. No interaction of any kind can take place anywhere unless two complementary phases of universal process came together. 

That knowledge can rise of its own accord from within by self-analysis and that an external Guru is not necessary at all is not a universally acceptable tenet. History has shown that the educational process is in great need of the intense activity of teachers in any branch of learning. If knowledge can naturally rise in everyone without any aid whatsoever there would be no need for schools, colleges and universities in the world. Even those who try to propound this misleading theory of the self-competency of the individual who can act independent of teachers are persons who have been trained by teachers. Yes; the effort on the part of the disciple or student is not, in any way, a small factor in the revelation of knowledge; it is as important as the need for instruction by a teacher. In this universe the subject and the object stand on the same level of reality, which fact is proved by the possibility of a mutual interaction of the two. There is no reaction between forces of different planes of consciousness, though in the case of the action of the Guru it is possible that he may focus his higher consciousness through the medium of a lesser plane in which the disciple is placed, in order to bring about the required transformation in the mind of the latter. This process of the action of the Guru’s consciousness is called Shakti-Sanchara or the descent of movement of the power of the Guru in the disciple. There are cases where Gurus have even done Sadhana for the evolution of the disciples by bringing about the purification of the mind of the disciples through direct intervention of a higher consciousness. 

There are people who carp and say: “We can find out good and evil, right and wrong, truth and falsehood, by consulting our conscience. There is no need for an external Guru.” It should be remembered that the conscience will not help a person in attaining to correct understanding unless he has reached the height of purity and desirelessness. The impure conscience cannot give right suggestion. The animal conscience cannot direct a person to spiritual knowledge. One’s reason and intellectual convictions are tremendously influenced by one’s subconscious and unconscious mind. The intellect, in most cases, acts as a mere tool in the hands of buried instincts and desires. The conscience of the individual speaks in accordance with his tendencies, proclivities, inclinations, education, habits, passions and the society in which he is placed. The conscience of a savage speaks a language entirely different from that of a civilised European. The Conscience of an African Negro speaks in a manner quite different from the one in which the conscience of an ethically developed Yogi of India does. The sense of duty ingrained in a clerk, a car-driver, a scavenger, a collector and a king is not the same. There are ten different consciences in ten different persons brought up in ten different conditions. Virochana thought for himself, took guidance from his conscience, enquired for himself and came to the conclusion that body is the ultimate self. It should be remembered that the human consciousness is entangled in animal instincts, emotions and gross desires. The tendency of the mind of man is to move in this direction of sense and ego, and not towards higher knowledge. A complete surrender of personality to the Guru who is endowed with the highest realisation avoids such pitfalls on the path of Sadhana and takes the aspirant safely to the light that shines beyond the darkness of Samsara. Human reason and human conscience act in the manner in which they are trained, and as ordinarily they are accustomed to function in accordance with the laws of the appearance of the world and the objects of sense and of the cravings and the ambitions of the ego, they cannot be expected to take one spontaneously to the higher realms of spiritual knowledge. 

Those who teach the theory that a Guru is not necessary and that each one should follow one’s own reason and conscience forget the ostensible fact that they themselves take on themselves the role of the Gurus to those whom they teach the doctrine. They begin to command respect, adoration and worship as great teachers, though they teach that there is no need for a teacher. We know how the Buddha, for example, asked his disciples to think for themselves rationally and convince themselves for themselves in regard to the validity of the doctrine which he preached and not to accept anything by mere authority of his word. He did not propound the worship of any god, too. However, the result has been that he is being worshipped as a Great Guru and even a God. The teaching in regard to thinking for oneself and the denial of the need for a Guru naturally implies the acceptance, on the part of the taught, of the person who teaches as a Guru. It is found that the need for a Guru cannot be overcome in any walk of life. It is the nature of human experience to get effected by a process of subject-object interaction. 

There is a feeling among some people in the West that the ‘dependence’ of the disciple on the Guru is a psychological bondage which according to the theory of psycho-analysis has to be got over. In this connection it has to be noted however that the relation of the disciple to the Guru is not the psychological dependence which psycho-analysis is familiar with but the surrender of personality to the care of a higher consciousness which includes and transcends the limited individualistic consciousness of the disciple. Further, the disciple’s dependence on the Guru takes the form of a personal relationship only in the beginning, but in the end it becomes a veritable surrender of the individual to the universal. The Guru becomes a symbol of the Eternal. The patient’s dependence on the psycho analyst will not doubt a relationship from which the patient has to break himself away, for this dependence is brought about temporarily for the sake of bringing about a relief of tension in the mind of the patient. When the task is done, the dependence is broken and overcome and the patient becomes free and independent as before. But neither in the beginning nor in the end the relationship of the disciple to the Guru takes the shape of an undesirable dependence. It is dependence on the universal through and through. The Guru is taken not as a body or even as a personality but as a representation of the highest spiritual reality. Thus the dependence of the disciple on the Guru is a gradual process of self-purification on the part of the disciple and of his final attainment of the supreme Godhead. 

There are some who often cite the instance of Yajnavalkya’s dissociation of himself from his Guru Vaishampayana as an indication even in ancient times of the possibility of one’s leading an independent spiritual life unrelated to any Guru other than oneself. It is true that Yajnavalkya disconnected himself from Vaishampayana, but this was not because he was not loyal to his Guru but because the Guru was enraged at him and asked him to quit his Ashrama after returning to him whatever knowledge he had imparted. This, of course, created in Yajnavalkya a distrust towards all human Gurus, but he did not give up his search for a Guru. Instead of feeling that there is no need for having a Guru and that one can proceed for oneself independently along the spiritual path, he resorted to a superior Guru, the Sun-God Himself. There is no argument whatsoever in the behaviour of Yajnavalkya which can establish or demonstrate the undesirability of dedicating oneself to a Guru. And when Yajnavalkya acquired a fresh knowledge from the Sun-God, he was ready to impart it to the other disciples of his previous Guru at the request of the latter who is said to have been highly pleased later on at the tremendous strength and aspiration and courage which Yajnavalkya revealed in propitiating the Sun-God. 

The highest Guru is God Himself Who reveals Himself in manifold forms through Nature. The universe in which we live is a great teacher of the lessons of life. Every event that occurs before our eyes presents itself before us as a deep lesson with deep significance in it, if only we would be alive to the manner in which Nature works. The universe is the body of God, and it operates in a very mysterious way embracing within its processes the whole gamut of experience, internal as well as external, subjective as well as objective. All that we sense, feel or understand is meant to bring about in us the necessary transformation required in our evolution towards the Supreme Being. 

When the process of universal evolution is cut off from our individual consciousness, it goes by the name of mechanistic evolution which seems to drag all individuals with it by force and over which no individual seems to have any control. But when this evolution becomes a part and parcel of one’s consciousness and is assimilated into one’s consciousness it is called the process of Yoga. Yoga is really the cosmic evolution envisaged by the human consciousness in its own Self and with which it has identified its own being. It may also be said to be a compression as it were of the whole scheme of a cosmic process in the human consciousness. When this is done, the surrender of the individual to the Will of God or the Law of the Supreme becomes so complete that all apparent conflict that is seen to exist between the operations of Nature and the ambitions of man vanishes altogether, and human aspiration becomes inseparable from Divine Will and the processes of the universe. This is the highest concept of the Guru, to which every aspirant has to rise, ultimately. The acceptance of a personal Guru is a preparation for and is one of the steps leading to the final absorption of the individual in the Universal. There are various stages in the development of the concept of the Guru and in the manner in which one surrenders oneself to the Guru. But in no stage of spiritual Sadhana can the need for the Guru be overlooked, for the Guru is a name applied to the different degrees in which the Absolute manifests Itself in relation to the aspirant endeavouring to realise it in his Self. 

Guru Gita

    Salutations, adorations, prostrations to Guru, 
    Guru is Brahma, Guru is Siva, Guru is Vishnu, 
    Guru is father, Guru is mother, Guru is real friend. 
    Serve him with all Bhava, wet with Bhakti. 
    He will teach you Brahma Vidya, show the divine path. 
    Service of Guru is a great purifier. 

Wisdom Nectar

1. Remember God at all times. 

2. Enquire ‘Who am I?’ and realise the Self. 

3. Make friendship with any one after studying him very carefully. 

4. Do always virtuous actions. 

5. Hear the wise words of great souls and follow them. 

6. Do those actions that are pronounced to be right by the Shastras. 

7. Don’t make friendship with childish persons. 

8. Move with the world tactfully. Adapt. 

9. Give up bad company. 

10. Don’t talk much before great souls. 

11. Avoid unnecessary discussions. 

12. Don’t exaggerate or concoct or twist when you talk. 

13. Develop mercy and cosmic love. 

14. Share what you have with others. 

15. Good and bad, friend and enemy, pleasure and pain, virtue and sin are in the mind only. 

16. Mind when purified by the removal of six passions becomes your Guru. 

17. Patience, perseverance and vital will are indispensable for reaching the goal. 

18. Purity of food leads to purity of mind. 

19. Don’t do any action harmful to anyone. 

20. Guru is necessary to show you the path to peace. 

–Swami Sivananda

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