The Glory of The Preceptor


Sri Swami Sivananda

Salutations to Lord Narayana, the Adi Guru! Salutations to the Brahmavid Gurus of ancient Bharatavarsha! Salutations to the illumined sages and seers of modern India, the living Gurus who are inspiring, guiding and enlightening the sincere seekers and struggling souls of the Samsarik world!

The age of the Upanishads was an age of intuitional perception. It was an age when intuitional experience was the guarantee of Truth. But the modern age is an age of questioning and criticism. Today the guarantee of truth is in the test of sensual perception. What man can perceive through his sense-organs he accepts as the reality. That which the senses cannot perceive he rejects as unreliable. Thus, many a precious factor in our ancient cultural heritage has been rejected and set aside as superstition. The hoary and the most precious spiritual conception of the Guru is one such factor that has come to be misunderstood and misinterpreted in the present age.

The traditional concept of the Guru is a unique and wonderful gem in the cultural treasury of Bharatavarsha. It is our most precious possession. For, it is this conception that is to a large extent responsible for the safe and unbroken perpetuation of some of the most precious aspects of this great nation’s grand spiritual heritage. It is the institution of Guruparampara that has, from generation to generation, down the centuries, closely safeguarded the living experiences of the Seers of the Upanishadic age and handed them down to succeeding ages. This sacred task it has performed in spite of many a violent vicissitude in our nation’s history.

But now! The modern man thinks the concept of Guru has outlived its day. There is much free-thinking and free-reasoning. This is because he lacks a knowledge of what Life means, what its purpose is. It is because he is ignorant of what a significant role the Guru has in helping to work out life’s supreme purpose. The ignorance of the ordinary man is truly appalling. The vital importance and the deep inner significance of the Guru-Tattwa is completely lost to him. This is indeed a great loss. It has to be remedied. Mankind must reflect and try to understand the role of a preceptor in working out the individual’s spiritual evolution.

Man on earth is but a puny creature struggling under a host of severe limitations. Everywhere he experiences pain, frustration, misery and wretchedness. On the other hand, he knows that there is the grand Cosmic Experience that is full of perfection, infinite knowledge and light transcendental. The mortal individual is really the rightful heir to this grand Cosmic Experience. But how to attain it, tied up as he is by countless bonds, defects and imperfections? The Guru provides the answer to this.

It is through the medium of the preceptor that the individual can raise himself to the Cosmic Consciousness. It is through that medium that the imperfect can become perfect, the finite can become infinite and from death and sorrow you can pass into an eternal life of blessedness. The Guru is verily a link between the individual and the Immortal. He is a being who has raised himself from this into That and thus has a free and unhampered access to both the realms. He stands, as it were, upon the threshold of immortality, and bending down, he raises he struggling individuals with his one hand and with the other lifts them up into the Empyrean of everlasting joy and infinite Truth-consciousness.

Realise now the sacred significance and the supreme importance of the Guru’s role in the evolution of mankind. Thus it was not without reason that India of the past carefully tended and kept alive the lamp of the Guru-Tattwa. It was not without reason that India, year after year, commemorates anew this ancient concept of the Guru, adores it and pays homage to it again and again and reaffirms its firm belief and allegiance to it. For, the true Indian knows that Guru is the guarantee for the bound individual to transcend the bondage of sorrow and death and experience the Consciousness of the Reality.

Give up the delusive notion that to submit to the preceptor, to obey him and to carry out his instructions, is slavish mentality. The ignorant man thinks that it is beneath his dignity and against his freedom to submit to another man’s command. This is a grave blunder. If you reflect carefully, you will see that your individual freedom is in reality an absolutely abject slavery to your own ego and vanity. It is the vagaries of the sensual mind. He who attains victory over the mind and the ego is the truly free man. He is the hero. It is to attain this victory that man submits to the higher spiritualised personality of the Guru. By this submission he vanquishes his lower ego and realises the bliss of Infinite Consciousness.

To strengthen and make firm the faith of the wavering man and to guarantee the Bhava that is necessary for the fruition of all worship, the ancients have deified the personality of the Guru. To adore the Guru is indeed to adore the Supreme. In this world of mortality, the Guru is verily like an ambassador in an alien court. Just as an ambassador represents fully the nation to which he belongs, even so theGuru is one who is the representative of the sublime transcendental state which he has attained. Just as to honour the ambassador is honouring the nation that is his, even so, to worship and to offer adoration to the visible Guru is verily the direct worship and adoration of the Supreme Reality. Even as a distant tree cannot be seen but its fully bloomed flowers waft their fragrance far and wide and unmistakably proclaim the presence of the tree to all, so also, theGuru is the divine flower who disseminates the Atmic Aroma of divinity in this world, and thus proclaims the Immortal Lord that is invisible to the physical eye. He is the standing witness to the Supreme Self, the counter-part of the Lord on earth, and through worship of him one attains the Self.

May the Supreme Lord, the Guru within you, lift the veil of ignorance and bestow upon you all the Light, of Knowledge-Transcendental. May the blessings of Sri Vyasa and other Brahmavidya-Gurus be your support and inspiration in the quest for Truth.

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