The Offering That Will Delight The Guru
Sri Swami Chidananda
Worshipful homage unto that supreme Divine Presence, the eternal, all-pervading, immanent Reality, that is the one unchanging, immutable and imperishable Being behind and beyond this everchanging, temporary and perishable phenomenal flux, this universe that we regard as real but that is a fleeting phenomenon of vanishing names and forms.
We salute that Reality which is hidden behind outer appearance and supports it, even as the screen in a cinema theatre supports the fleeting shadows projected upon it. These shadows may seem to be very real, and they grip the audience who pay money to be deluded. But this fleeting shadow play has a beginning and an end and is ever changing while the screen forever remains the same. It was in the beginning, it is at the end and it continues to be the same, even when it is not seen by the audience who is lost in the projected shadows. To that great, immanent, all-pervading, ever-present Reality, worshipful homage!
Loving adorations to the spiritual presence of Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj who makes us aware of our non-perception, who opens our inner eyes and makes us perceive the Reality. For that indeed is the great grace of the guru–to wake us from the slumber of ignorance and make us perceive the hidden Reality in the midst of changing appearances. The guru is one who intensely desires the highest welfare, the supreme good of the sincere sadhaka, jijnasu, mumukshu, yogi.
Guru Purnima is the sacred full moon day in the year when all over India disciples tend to travel to be present at the place of their guru, gurusthan. They fulfil their desire to sit before the guru, to offer their reverence and to receive from him a quickening impulse that will give them a fresh impetus in their journey beyond sorrow to the realm of eternal bliss, the realm of light beyond all darkness.
They also desire to show their reverence in a tangible manner, by making an offering as a symbol of their gratitude, their appreciation for what they have received from the guru. They call it guru dakshina, a special offering that they make to the guru. Now, what is the guru dakshina that is especially pleasing to the guru?
Being sincere and earnest in sadhana, rededicating themselves to the great ideals of spirituality–renunciation, dispassion, discrimination, abhyasa, spiritual sadhana–that indeed would be the guru dakshina desired by the guru. That each disciple shines as a centre of fiery aspiration, intense fervour and total dedication to the ideal, and has a resolute determination to follow the path, to pursue the ideal come what may, to adhere to the guru’s instructions, and to live by the lofty ideals placed before us by the ancient seers and sages of whom we are descendants–that would be the dakshina desired by the guru.
In this context we remember the ancient saying, “Physician, heal thyself.” First and foremost start with your own good work. Where you are, within yourself, work for the emergence of a new being within you–a new mind, a new heart, a new person within.
Guru Purnima, therefore, has this significance: it is an occasion for a renewal. There is a fabled bird, known as the phoenix, connected with the worship of the sun especially in ancient Egypt. It is reputed that there is only one phoenix at a time and that it lives for at least five hundred years. To perpetuate itself, it does not build a nest to hatch an egg, but rather a nest made of aromic boughs and spices as a funeral pyre. It then sets the nest on fire and is consumed in the flames. It ceases to be, but lo! out of those ashes a shining new phoenix miraculously emerges.
This ancient belief about this bird is of deep significance to each and every spiritual aspirant. From out of the ashes of your old self–the unspiritual self, the self that is wedded to ignorance, to attachment to sense objects and their indulgence, which is also desire-ridden and thinking of itself as an embodied physical personality with physical features and impulses–emerge as a shiny new being. Having annihilated the previous personality, destroying it totally, ceasing to be, recreate yourself and begin your work here. Gurudev used to say: “Kill this little ‘I’. Die to live. Lead the divine life.” That indeed is the great guru dakshina, more precious than the nine gems, more precious than silver and gold. The guru would rejoice in such a guru dakshina.
Therefore deeply reflect upon this. Ponder this vital, very significant and important idea. Start with yourself. Become a new being, even as the phoenix. Shine with this renewal, and may that be your guru dakshina. God will be pleased; the guru will be delighted, and the whole brotherhood will be benefited. And you, above all, will be most benefited by your offering.
May God and guru inspire you to contemplate this in all seriousness and sincerity. In all earnestness ponder this, and do it! God bless you!