Guru Seva


Sri Swami Chidananda

This article is a chapter from the book Swami Sivananda, Our Loving Awakener.

The glorious promise given by the Lord in the Gita Sloka:

यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत।
अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम्॥

yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānirbhavati bhārata |
abhyutthānamadharmasya tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmyaham ||

4-7. Whenever there is a decline of righteousness, O Arjuna, and rise of unrighteousness, then I manifest Myself!

is once again being fulfilled right before our eyes. This promise was given by the Lord at the end of Dwapara Yuga when Kali was about to come.

As Divine Knowledge was being lost, God has come to give it to man again. He has come to us in His aspect of Vidya Shakti. This is the Vibhuti of Gurudev who has made Jnana Yajna the lofty spiritual mission of his life. But for Gurudev, it is difficult to imagine where Viveka, Vedanta and spirituality would be in this fearful age of Adharma. Through the instrumentality of Gurudev, God is not only protecting our spirituality, but positively building up our spirituality. I may say that all those with Gurudev’s grace are not in Kali Yuga. The power of the various modes of Sadhana which he has opened up for us enables us to overcome the power of Samsara to drown us. Gurudev is thus creating and keeping alive a current of Satya Yuga in Kali Yuga. In this atomic age, he is radiating Divine Light far and wide.

How can we repay him? Will it ever be possible for us to repay him for the great service he has rendered to us and is continuing to render? What is the Guru-Seva which we can do to please Him? In this case, the greatest Guru-Seva would be in the form of Jnana Yajna.

The glorious culture of Bharatavarsha has taught us to deify everything. The Srutis repeatedly proclaim this eternal truth: ‘Isavasyam idam sarvam!’ — ‘Sarvam khalvidam Brahma!’ This is the glorious discovery of our ancients, this unique conception of seeing God in everything, in the speck of dust, in the insect, in the sky, in everything. We particularly adore anything wherein Divinity is especially manifest, wherein there is an exceptionally dense manifestation of any aspect of Divinity. The Vibhuti Yoga of Lord Krishna enumerates these manifestations in detail. The Lord is also manifest in an exceptionally dense form in the Guru, in the Spiritual Preceptor who enlightens the disciple. That is why we are asked to worship the Guru as visible God. In Swami Sivananda, we have a universal Guru, a person who deserves to be worshipped by the entire universe.

Practice of Jnana Yajna as Guru-Seva to such a universal preceptor implies two things: (i) the dissemination of the universal teachings of Gurudev as far and wide as possible and (ii) the practice of those teachings in our daily lives. For both these purposes, we must know what the main tenets of Gurudev’s Gospel are. The fundamental points that Gurudev is trying to propagate may be summed up as:

– There is a higher and nobler purpose in life than mere eating and drinking.

– That higher purpose is Self-realisation.

– Self-realisation can come about only through renunciation.

– Renunciation does not mean going away from home or taking Sannyasa. Real renunciation consists in renunciation of Ahamkara (Ego) and Trishna (craving for objects of sense enjoyment).

– Real renunciation as explained above is possible for everyone and must be practised by everyone.

The second aspect of Jnana Yajna, viz. the practice in one’s life of Gurudev’s teachings is really the more important. Knowing the teachings of Gurudev thoroughly and putting them to practice is the practical way of doing Jnana Yajna. Towards this end, I would suggest that everyone should get by heart Gurudev’s Universal Prayer, Twenty Spiritual Instructions and Sadhana Tattwa. Everyone should know at least the bare outlines of the four principal Yogas. I would particularly recommend the book Essence of Yoga by Gurudev. It contains all his teachings in a nut-shell. Every disciple of Gurudev should also know the important Asanas and some essential Kirtans and Bhajans.

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