What Gurudev Is For Us
Sri Swami Chidananda
Adorable Presence Divine, worshipful homage unto Thee! We who are inseparable parts of Thy eternal, infinite existence, one with You in essential nature, have forgotten our eternal relationship with Thee who art our adi, madhya and anta (beginning, middle and end), who art our all in all. Through this forgetfulness we have alienated ourselves from Thee and thus find ourselves to be in a state deprived of the bliss, peace and light that is our birthright, that is what we are. We have deprived ourselves of this Self-experience, and we are living a spurious, false, counterfeit experience filled with love and hate, laughing and weeping, anxiety and tension, fear and bondage, fighting and quarrelling, self-centredness, selfishness, anger and jealousy. It is a kritrimavastha, a vishamavastha–an unnatural state, an abnormal state. It is not sahaja (natural) to us, but kritrima (unnatural).
At this moment, in the calm hours of this silent morning, in the spiritual presence of our beloved and worshipful Holy Master Guru Bhagavan Swami Sivanandaji, we offer adorations and homage to Your Feet. From the bottom of our hearts, human hearts, we pray that this separation, this alienation, this wandering away from Thee, may end. May this forgetfulness, this slumber of non-awareness of our own svarupa, of our eternal relationship with You–which is the root-cause of all pain, suffering, sorrow, misery, delusion and infatuation–come to an end by Thy grace.
May we be restored to our eternal, inner, divine oneness with Thee who art the only reality in the midst of countless billions of half-realities and appearances. Then alone will sorrow give place to joy, restlessness and agitation give place to peace, delusion give place to knowledge and wisdom, and an insufficient, partial existence give place to purnatva that is Brahmanhood.
In this morning hour we pray: “asato ma sadgamaya, tamaso ma jyotirgamaya, mrityorma amritam gamaya.” Put an end to this separation for Thou hast clearly stated: “tam vidyad-duhkha-samyoga-viyogam yoga-samjnitam–It is the cessation of union with pain that is yoga.” With yoga, all pain ceases, all suffering ceases, all taapatraya ceases. No longer is there weeping and wailing; there is bliss, there is joy. Grant us the gift of that yoga.
That is the call in the immortal wisdom teachings of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita, where among many messages, many teachings, many commandments, Thou who art Narayana hast also uttered the call to Nara, to Arjuna, the representative man: “tasmat yogi bhava’rjuna.” And as Swami Sivananda Thou hast repeated this call again: “Come, come, become a yogi. Why do you weep and wail? Why do you unnecessarily prolong this bondage? Come, come, become a yogi.” Thus in his call to modern mankind of this twentieth century, Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji has resounded that ancient call.
Worshipful spiritual presence, Gurudev, thou who art our light and guide in life, keep sounding that call again and again in our hearts. This is the supplication at thy feet of all the seeking souls who are gathered in your presence, drawn by your guru kripa, grace, morning after morning to this sacred Samadhi Hall of your Ashram.
Radiant Immortal Atman! We have been considering the heritage that Gurudev has left behind for us. We have mentioned this unique, most precious, invaluable facility of an Ashram on the banks of the Ganga. It is a fact,–a felt, solid, tangible, material fact. No one can deny it. It is a facility for bhakti, jnana, dhyana, karma yoga and paropakara seva. Then there is jnana ganga, a vast body of inspiring, soul-arousing, illuminating, instructing spiritual literature. And he also gave us a certain pattern of life, an ideal, which he called divine life, not merely the gross physical life or subtle psychological life, but the divine life, a life qualified by our svarupa, qualified by our innermost essential nature, a life that is not merely an expression of our nonessential upadhis, but a life that is the expression of the divinity which is the innermost reality of each and every one of us. He gave us the adesa and the sandesa: “Live your life divinely, for that is what you are. If you manifest your upadhis, you are not manifesting yourself.”
Also, the quintessence of all the scriptures, the direction towards Divinity, was given a systematic shape. Gurudev said: “Its foundation is truth, purity and compassion, universal love. And the structure is ceaseless selfless service, devotional worship, discipline, concentration and meditation, ceaseless enquiry, aspiration, jijnasa, mumukshutva, vichara, viveka, investigation into the nature of the Reality behind and beyond appearances, sublating the nama and rupa which are ever-changing, never real, only appearance, and going beyond them into the satchidananda tattva, that which exists eternally, that which shines with luminous Self-consciousness, knowledge, light, and that which is very dear indeed for it is full of bliss.”
So the superstructure he has given us is seva, bhakti, dhyana and atma-jnana, upon the foundation of ahimsa, satyam and brahmacharya. But his unique bestowal to us is that he has given us a new identity. He said: “You are not here merely to wander about like a wayfarer, to get ditched somewhere, waylaid and stripped of everything by the dacoits of the five senses. Rather, you are here to attain union with the Supreme Being. You are engaged in that. This is the innermost meaning of life. It is a journey to put an end to the separation and once again attain union with the Divine. Then alone sorrow gives place to joy, putting an end to samyoga (contact) with duhkha (pain). Therefore become a yogi.”
Thus, he gave us an identity: “You are all yogis; you must live as yogis. Life is yoga. Life is a process of regaining that oneness, that connection, that inner relationship, that lost link with the divine source of your being. Therefore live as yogis. Be aware of yourselves as yogis.”
And this new identity was to be based upon a matter-of-fact pragmatic life. Merely imagining ourselves to be yogis is not enough. Be practical yogis. Practise yoga sadhana. Be a sadhaka. More than anything else, be a sadhaka. Whether you are a lawyer, engineer, doctor, professor, teacher, taxi-driver, businessman or a shopkeeper, no matter what you are, be a sadhaka. “Do real sadhana my dear children. Do real sadhana.” Do sadhana. Be a real sadhaka. Engage yourself in spiritual sadhana. Let it become an inseparable part of your day-to-day life. Let the day start with sadhana. Let the day end with sadhana. Let the day and all its activities be infilled with the spirit of sadhana–yadyat karma karomi tattadakhilam sambho tavaradhanam (Whatsoever work I do, O Lord, I offer all that unto Thee as worship).
This is the unique bestowal of Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji to the fortunate global humanity of the twentieth century. And, most fortunate of all are each of you who have come into direct contact with this bestowal, and who have decided to adopt that type of life as a sadhaka. You are a sadhaka and you are a yogi. That is a new birth he gave to you. That is a new identity he imparted to you, taking away the wrong identity: “I am so and so, I am such and such; I am a male, I am a female; I am a brahmin, sudra, kshatriya, vaisya; I am a brahmacharin, sannyasin, vanaprastha.” Above all of these, he gave the identity: “I am a yogi wanting to attain union with the Divine. I am a sadhaka; my life means for me sadhana. My life should be infilled with sadhana. If sadhana is taken away, I am a cipher; my life has ceased to be. There is no more life in me; I am a dead being, sava.” Like that he gave us this new identity of a sadhaka and of a yogi, of a bhakta and paropakari, of a dhyani and a Vedantin. “Be a Vedantin! Roar Om, Om, Om! Come out of this cage of flesh and bones!” That is what he wanted.
So, he gave us a new consciousness, a new awareness of ourselves, a new identity purely in relation to God, connected with God directly, connected with Brahman directly. But above all he gave us the identity: “Live as a yogi. Live as a sadhaka.” This is what you have inherited. This is what he left behind, a priceless treasure, a priceless heritage which cannot be evaluated or estimated in terms of gold and silver and precious gems, and which is atulya (incomparable), amulya (invaluable).
With this sharing, let us offer our worshipful adorations at the feet of Guru Bhagavan and offer our loving homage to that Being whom he represented, whose ancient call, which was sounded in the Gita jnana upadesa, he once again revived and gave voice to in this twentieth century: “Come, come, become a yogi, attain Self realisation, God-realisation, in this very life.”
That is Gurudev for us. That is what he shall ever be for those who have sincerely tried to ponder and tried to find out what we are to him, in what way we are related to him and what he has been to us–his life, his teachings.