Lord Dattatreya spoke about 24 Gurus from whom he learnt, but then, he did not mention them as beings from whom he learnt only. He said: “Because of having learnt these things from all these Gurus, I am what I am today. What you see of me, O King of the Yadu Race, you are marvelling at because I lived What I learnt. What I grasped and understood from these Gurus, I assimilated into my life, I became what I saw and learnt. From the earth, air, ether, water, fire, the moon, the sun, the pigeon, the python, the sea, the moth, the elephant, the bee, the honey-gatherer, the deer, the fish, the courtesan Pingala, the osprey, the child, the maiden, the arrow-maker, the snake, the spider, and a particular insect known as Bhramarakita, everything that I encountered and which had a message, I learnt, assimilated and acted upon. I am the product of my practice.” This, the Avadhuta Dattatreya made clear to the King of the Yadu Race.
So it is practice that brings about ultimate perfection and not a great amount of knowledge of the way of attaining perfection. A little knowledge accompanied by a great deal of practice, may perhaps achieve far more. A low caste person like Kabir from the weaver caste, was not able to get any instructions. He did not know the way. Somehow or the other, he managed to get one word, that too by a subterfuge, and a word uttered in a moment of sudden surprise by Guru Ramananda. It is the practice of the word, Rama, that made him a great Vedantin and a devotee in one. He became Kabirdas, whose bhajans have been translated into many languages today. The practice of the little knowledge he had gained, gave him that great experience and filled him with jnana (wisdom). He got paravidya (highest knowledge). Therefore his bhajans are full of that great jnana (wisdom).
Abhyasa (practice)—this is the key-word given by the world teacher, Lord Krishna, in His Gita Jnana Upadesh for success in overcoming all the adverse circumstances and temptations that surround you in this world and achieving the goal. Abhyasa—that is the key-word. He said: “Nothing is impossible. It is possible where there is abhyasa.” And where there is no abhyasa, maybe everything is difficult, maybe everything is impossible. I recommend that you thus adopt this new feeling, and approach the 20 Important Spiritual Instructions and see what it has to offer you.
[TWENTY IMPORTANT SPIRITUAL INSTRUCTIONS, A Series of talks on Swami Sivananda’s Twenty Important Spiritual Instructions.]