If Your Guru Cannot Even Save You From Pain and Diseases?

Since 1968, Swami Paramatmananda Puri has lived the life of a renunciate in India, moving there at the age of nineteen to imbibe the spiritual essence of this great and ancient culture. It has been his good fortune to have kept the company of many saints and sages over the years, culminating in his meeting with his Guru, Amma, in 1979.

As one of her senior disciples, he was eventually asked to return to the U.S. to serve as head of the first ashram in the West, the Mata Amritanandamayi Center in California, where he remained in residence from 1990 to 2001. Many residents and visitors to the Center have shared that one of the highlights of the programs has been Swamiji’s talks.

The Guru Paduka Stotram

Sri Sri Ravi Shanker: “The Guru Paduka Stotram is a hymn honoring the presence of a Guru in one’s life. This hymn describes the glories of the lotus feet of the Master and how a seeker’s life transforms with in the presence of the Master.

“Adi Shankaracharya was travelling across the country in search of his Master when he came upon a cave on the banks of River Narmada. He saw the padukas or sandals of Govind Bhagavatpada outside the cave and immediately recognized them as his master’s. Having found the master that he had been searching for, he was filled with abundant joy. Honoring the  paduka  has been a part of Indian tradition as a way of showing respect to the lineage of masters who have preserved the knowledge for us.”


Anantha samsara samudhra thara naukayithabhyam guru bhakthithabhyam,

Vairagya samrajyadha poojanabhyam, namo nama sri guru padukhabyam., 1

Translation: Salutations and Salutations to the sandals of my Guru,

Which is a boat, which helps me,cross the endless ocean of life,

Which endows me, with the sense of devotion to my Guru,

And by worship of which, I attain the dominion of renunciation


Kavithva varasini sagarabhyam, dourbhagya davambudha malikabhyam,

Dhoorikrutha namra vipathithabhyam,, namo nama sri guru padukhabyam., 2

Translation: Salutations and Salutations to the sandals of my Guru,

Which is the ocean of knowledge, resembling the full moon,

Which is the water, which puts out the fire of misfortunes,

And which removes distresses of those who prostrate before it.


Natha yayo sripatitam samiyu kadachidapyasu daridra varya,

Mookascha vachaspathitham hi thabhyam,namo nama sri guru padukhabyam.3

Translation: Salutations and Salutations to the sandals of my Guru,

Which make those who prostrate before it,

Possessors of great wealth, even if they are very poor,,

And which makes even dumb people in to great orators.


Naleeka neekasa pada hrithabhyam, nana vimohadhi nivarikabyam,

Nama janabheeshtathathi pradhabhyam namo nama sri guru padukhabyam., 4

Translation: Salutations and Salutations to the sandals of my Guru,

Which attracts us, to lotus like feet of our Guru,

Which cures us, of the unwanted desires,

And which helps fulfill the desires of those who salute.


Nrupali mouleebraja rathna kanthi sariddha raja jjashakanyakabhyam,

Nrupadvadhabhyam nathaloka pankhthe, namo nama sri guru padukhabyam., 5

Translation: Salutations and Salutations to the sandals of my Guru,

Which shine like gems on the crown of a king,

Which shine like a maid in the crocodile infested stream,

And which make the devotees attain the status of a king.


Papandhakara arka paramparabhyam, thapathryaheendra khageswarabhyam,

Jadyadhi samsoshana vadaveebhyam namo nama sri guru padukhabyam., 6

Translation: Salutations and Salutations to the sandals of my Guru,

Which is like a series of Suns, driving away the dark sins,

Which is like the king of eagles, driving away the cobra of miseries,

And which is like a terrific fire drying away the ocean of ignorance.


Shamadhi shatka pradha vaibhavabhyam,Samadhi dhana vratha deeksithabhyam,

Ramadhavadeegra sthirha bhakthidabhyam, namo nama sri guru padukhabyam.7

Translation: Salutations and Salutations to the sandals of my Guru,

Which endows us, with the glorious six qualities like sham,

Which gives the students ,the ability to go in to eternal trance,

And which helps to get perennial devotion to the feet of Vishnu.


Swarchaparana makhileshtathabhyam, swaha sahayaksha durndarabhyam,

Swanthachad bhava pradha poojanabhyam, namo nama sri guru padukhabyam., 8

Translation: Salutations and Salutations to the sandals of my Guru

Which bestows all desires of the serving disciples,

Who are ever involved in carrying the burden of service

And which helps the aspirants to the state of realization.


Kaamadhi sarpa vraja garudabhyam, viveka vairagya nidhi pradhabhyam,

Bhodha pradhabhyam drutha mokshathabhyam, namo nama sri guru padukhabyam., 9

Translation: Salutations and Salutations to the sandals of my Guru

Which is the Garuda,which drives away the serpent of passion,

Which provides one, with the treasure of wisdom and renunciation,

Which blesses one,with enlightened knowledge,

And blesses the aspirant with speedy salvation.


Questions Concerning Guru Paduka Stotram

Q1: What is the Guru Paduka Stotram?

Sri Sri Ravi Skanker: The Guru Paduka Stotram is a hymn that honours the presence of a Guru in one’s life. This hymn praises the many qualities of a learned master and how a seeker’s life transforms under a master’s guidance.

Q2: What are the benefits of chanting the Guru Paduka Stotram?

Sri Sri Ravi Shanker: Chanting the Guru Paduka Stotram helps one invoke the Guru principle and imbibe the qualities of the learned masters.

Q3: Do I need to know Sanskrit to learn to chant?

Sri Sri Ravi Shanker: No, it is not necessary.

Q4: Who can chant this stotram?

Sri Sri Ravi Shanker: Anybody can chant the Guru Paduka Stotram.

Q5: How often should I chant the Guru Paduka Stotram?

Sri Sri Ravi Shanker: You can chant the stotram along with your morning or evening prayers.

Q6: Do I have to chant the stotram silently or can I chant it out loud?

Sri Sri Ravi Shanker: You can chant it silently or even aloud.




How Do We Benefit from Our Guru?

In the following satsang, the following questions have been addressed:

1. When does God come to us in the form of a Guru?

2. What should our attitude be towards our Guru?

3. When and how we get self-realisation?

4. What are the importance and meaning of Guru-Seva?

5. Do you know God is actually talking to us every moment?

6. How Guru-disciple relationship exemplified in the life of Arjuna?

7. When do we actually benefit from our Guru?

Note: Please turn on the subtitles by clicking the CC icon at the bottom of the video. Choose English.

What Happens If Your Guru is Imperfect?

Looking for a Suitable Guru

There was once a man of good spiritual impressions who used to attend Satsang classes where he heard that the Guru’s Grace was indispensably necessary for God-realisation. From that very moment he began to search for a Guru to receive instructions and practise Sadhana. He came across many Sadhus and saints but found some fault or other with every one of them. He had a perverted intellect and a narrow-minded; fault-finding nature. Therefore, he was not able to find a Guru. As long as one does not crush one’s pride of intellect and learning and become like a child with intense faith, one cannot find a suitable Guru.

One day while sitting in his house in a sorrowful mood, his wife asked him the reason for his lamentation. He replied that he could not find a Guru who would show him the way to God. His wife suggested that they should both go to the forest at night and sit on the wayside, and the man who happened to pass that way first should be taken as their Guru. The husband agreed.

The next day they went to the jungle and sat on the side of a pathway. It so happened that a thief with some stolen ornaments was hurrying that way. The couple at once caught hold of his feet and took him as their Guru They begged him to teach them, the Guru Mantra.

A Thief for a Guru?

The thief was very surprised and also frightened. They narrated the whole story to him. He was moved by their faith and expressed the truth that he was a thief. The couple, however, would not allow him to go further and insisted that he teach them the Guru Mantra. The thief was alarmed that if he tarried any longer he would be caught. In order to get away somehow, he asked them to bend down, close their eyes and catch hold of their ears. He asked them to remain in that posture until he again ordered them to stand. They obeyed him and assumed the position. They remained like that throughout the night and the next day also. The couple did not take any food or water. In the meantime, the thief was caught and put into prison.

Waited for their (Thief) Guru

Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi were very much moved by their faith. Lakshmi became restless and prayed to the Lord to give them Darshan. Lord Vishnu appeared before them. On seeing the Lord, the couple were pleased but did not open their eyes or stand up. The Lord requested them to stand up but they replied that they would not do so without the permission of their Guru.

Thereupon the Lord appeared before the ruler of the country in a dream and asked him to release the thief from prison. The Rajah thought that the dream was false, but when it was repeated thrice, he at once released the thief. The same night the Lord appeared in the dream of the thief and told him to go to the place where the couple still remained in the same posture as he had ordered, and ask them to open their eyes.

Upon his release the thief immediately proceeded to the jungle and asked the couple to open their eyes and stand up. They did so and explained how the Lord had given them Darshan. The thief too revealed to them his dream and about his release.

A voice from heaven was heard: “I am very much pleased with the intense faith you have in your Guru. Do Bhajan, Japa and meditation regularly. I will give you Darshan and liberate you from the cycle of births and deaths.”

From that day onward the thief also left his habit of stealing and became a devotee of Lord Vishnu. The couple commenced regular Sadhana and Bhajan and became liberated souls while living.

Devotion and obedience to the Guru can achieve anything. Guru Bhakti is the supreme purifier and illuminator. It is devotion to the Guru alone that makes the life of the aspirant blessed and fruitful.

Source: 120-122, Inspiring Stories by Swami Sivananda

Bhakta Pipa

When once you have taken a man as your Guru, you should never change even if you get a man with greater developments or Siddhis. Then only will you have faith. Through strong faith, you will then and there, realise Brahman, the God in that Guru. You must become like the famous Bhakta Pipa of the well-known Bhaktamala, who took a rogue Nata as his Guru and when he saw his Nata Guru dancing on the bamboos in the open market, he took him as Guru, the Brahman incarnate, prostrated before him and thus eventually had his Self-realisation through the form of the rogue-Guru, the Nata.

Source: pg.275, Yoga Samhita by Swami Sivananda

Hypocrite Who Pretends to Follow His Guru: குரு துரோகி

“Self-assertive nature is a great obstacle in the spiritual path. This is an evil quality born of Rajas. This is accompanied by vanity and arrogance.

“The self-assertive aspirant does not pay attention to the instructions of his Guru. He has his own ways. He pretends to be obedient to his Guru. At every step his little ego asserts. He is disobedient and breaks discipline. He creates party spirit, revolt, chaos and disorder. He forms parties. He criticises Mahatmas, Sannyasins, Yogins and Bhaktas. He has no faith in the scriptures and the words of sages. He insults his own Guru even. He conceals facts and tells deliberate lies to keep up his position or to cover up his wrong actions. He tells several lies to cover up one lie. He twists and tortures real facts.” (pg. 368, How to Cultivate Virtues and Eradicates Vices by Swami Sivananda)

Fate of Insincere Disciples

the-guru-disciple-dynamic-2019-04-21“(Many) disciples who get initiation from their preceptors become insincere and faithless and ungrateful. An insincere disciple betrayed Lord Jesus. Some of the disciples of Lord Buddha became his traitors and enemies. They left their Guru and did much harm and mischief. Even now there are plenty of insincere disciples who cheat even their Guru. What a shame! What a sad state! Their lot is highly deplorable! Such disciples will meet with miserable death. They will be tortured in the Maharaorava hell. They will be thrown in lower wombs in the next birth and suffer from incurable diseases.” (pg. 196, How to Cultivate Virtues and Eradicate Vices by Swami Sivananda).

“An insincere man cannot make even an iota of spiritual progress…. Sincerity is one of the important qualifications in the path of spirituality. Throughout the Gita, the one ringing note is that the aspirant in the path of Self-realisation should possess the important virtue, sincerity. The Sanskrit term for sincerity is Arjava. Look at the sincerity of Lakshmana and Bharata  and their unflinching  devotion  to Lord Rama. Wherever  there  is sincerity there is devotion  also. Savitri was very sincere to her husband Satyavan.  Maitreyi was very sincere to her husband Yajnavalkya. So she received  the Atma-Vidya from him. Mira was very sincere towards her beloved Lord Krishna. She had the good fortune  to have Darshan  of Giridhar Gopal. A sincere friend, a sincere  devotee,  a sincere husband,  a sincere wife, a sincere son and a sincere  servant are gods on earth. There is no virtue greater than sincerity. It should be developed at all costs by one and all.

“(An insincere man engages in) double-dealing… cunningness, crookedness, petty-mindedness… He tries to pose for a sincere man by trying to please his friends in a variety of ways, by gifts, artificial sweet and nice speech born of cunningness and other cunning methods. But he does not know that there are better intelligent people to detect the crow which shines in borrowed feathers. He is soon found out.

“O friend…! You have become insincere on account of intoxication from selfishness and greed. You do not know what you are exactly doing. You have a clouded understanding. Your conscience will prick you severely at one time. Your heart will bleed when you come to your senses. Your heart must bleed through repentance with a contrite heart. Then only can you purify yourself. Do Japa. Sing Lord’s Name. Fast on Ekadasi. Do not take even a drop of water. You will develop sincerity and through sincerity you will achieve freedom, peace and perfection.

“Hypocrisy, arrogance, conceit, wrath, harshness, unwisdom, deceitfulness, falsehood…cunningness, crookedness, petty-mindedness are connected with insincerity.”

(pgs. 191, 192, 194, 195, How to Cultivate Virtues and Eradicate Vices by Swami Sivananda)

Is There a Need for a Human Guru?

Question: What is this Guru?

Bhagavan Sri Ramanamaharishi: From the standpoint of the path of Knowledge, it is the supreme state of the Self. It is different from the ego which you call yourself.

Question: Can’t one approach God without the Grace of (a human) Guru?

Bhagavan Sri Ramanamaharishi: The ego is the individuality and is not the same as the Lord at all. When it approaches the Lord with sincere devotion, He graciously assumes name and form and takes it to Himself. Therefore, they say that the Guru is none other than the Lord. He is a human embodiment of Divine Grace.

Question: But there are some who seem to have had no human Guru at all?

Bhagavan Sri Ramanamaharishi: True. In the case of certain great souls, God reveals Himself as the light of the Light from within.

Question: Some people report that (you) deny the need of a Guru. Others say the reverse. What have you to say about this?

Bhagavan Sri Ramanamaharishi: I have never said that there is no need for a Guru.

Question: Okay, is there a need for a human Guru?

Bhagavan Sri Ramanamaharishi: What is a Guru? Guru is God or the Self. First a man prays to God to fulfil his desires, then, a time comes when he does not preay for the fulfilment of a desire but for God Himself. So, God appears to him in some form or other, human or non-human, to guide him as a Guru in answer to his prayer.

Question: what are the characteristics of a Guru by which one can recognise him?

Bhagavan Sri Ramanamaharishi: The Guru is one who at all times abides in the profound depths of the Self. He never sees any difference between himself and others and is quite free from the idea that he is the Enlightened or the liberated One, while those around him are in bondage or the darkness of ignorance. His self-possession can never be shaken under any circumstances and he is never perturbed.

Source: pgs. 94, 95, 96, 97, The teachings of Ramana Maharshi

Question: Who is capable of giving me the Divine wisdom, that which gives me Self-realisation?

Swami Sivananda: Divine wisdom, according to Sri Krishna, should be sought at the feet of a liberated Guru, one who has realised the Truth.

Question: How should one approach such a Guru?

Swami Sivananda: The aspirant should approach such a sage in a spirit of humility and devotion. God Himself manifests in the heart of the Guru and instructs the disciple. Having understood the Truth from the Guru by direct intuitive experience the aspirant is no longer deluded by ignorance.(Summary of Gita’s Fourth Discourse)

Question: Can’t I study the scriptures like the Gita on my own and understand what God wants me to understand? Do I need a Guru even for that?

Swami Sivananda: “…without the help of a Guru, you will not be able to understand the proper meaning of the verses of the Gita. You will be like the man who brought a horse to one who asked for saindava while taking food. The word saindava means salt as well as horse!” (pg. 9, Bhagavad Gita [Divine Life soceity, South African Edition]

Question: Is there any reference in the scriptures that say the greatness of the truly enlightened Guru?

If (God) becomes angry, the Guru can save (the individual who has been the subject of God’s anger), but when the Guru gets angry (with an individual), even (God) cannot save him. So, the Guru should be served with the utmost care.” [pg. 727, Canto 7, Chap. 36, verse 26, Srimad Devi Bhagavatam]   

How to Relate to a Master by Swami Kriyananda

A master is not what he appears to human eyes. Yet his human appearance is, for all that, an aspect of what he is. The distinction lies in the fact that he is infinitely more than what he appears. Thus, for those who see in him a great and wise teacher, he is that. For those who see him as a dear friend, he is also that. He appears differently to every person: as a gracious and charming individual; as a wonderful raconteur of wise stories; a delightful humorist; an inspired lecturer; an invincible opponent; a powerful crusader; a guileless child; a stern disciplinarian; the truest friend one could ever have. He is infinitely morethan every possible definition of him, and more than the sum of all concepts of him—more even than people’s capacity to understand.A master is like a mirror: Whatever qualities we present to him, he reflects back to us: not our errors, needless to say, but what our own souls perceive in us from their level of deeper wisdom. To each of us he represents the reactions of the eternal Self. Thus, even if people view him as the personification of kindness, he never fails to correct them, even sternly, if that is what they need at the moment. At the same time, behind each of those reflections he remains ever the same: wise, kind, all-forgiving, humble, firmly resolute, and forever incapable of compromising the truth. He is whatever each of us, in his soul, wants him to be; at the same time, he is beyond our mental concepts, unshakably centered in infinite consciousness.

The author recalls once addressing a saint in India lovingly, “How tirelessly and selflessly you have given of yourself to others all your life!”

The saint, gazing at him with calm eyes, replied, “Is that how you see it?”

Whatever else a master is, he is also a person of extraordinary magnetism. Thus—inevitably so—he attracts people to him though his one desire is to draw them to God, not to his humanity. Devotees who love God one-pointedly enjoy more than others do the charm and inspiration of a master’s nature. Nor is it wrong for anyone to do so. Indeed, it is his magnetism that carries the soul on a “magic carpet” up to the Infinite Light. The devotion a master receives is directed by him to God alone. And he patiently teaches others to direct their love to God also, viewing him as but a window onto infinity.

One of the chief signs of a true master, indeed, is the impersonality of his love: impersonal where he himself is concerned, but not where others’ needs are concerned. He knows, however, and others know also, whose perception is intuitive, that without the inspiration they receive from him their very devotion would become only a sputtering flame.

Thus, disciples often focus their devotion on the master as a catalyst for their love for God. By devotion to him as a conscious instrument of the Divine, they open themselves to the flow of divine love. The magnetic presence of a true master, far from impeding their spiritual progress, greatly accelerates it.

In like manner, people in general are lifted to higher levels of consciousness by associating respectfully with people who live more in wisdom than they themselves do. The young, therefore, are well instructed to show deference to the old, whose longer experience in life has (or should have) given them greater wisdom. It is good, indeed, to serve any human being whose magnetic influence can raise one to higher levels of awareness. To work even as a servant in the home of people who are socially above oneself can be a karmic boon for someone whose family background is coarse and uneducated, for it can help him to become more refined. Even pets who are loved by their owners receive an impetus through that association in their own spiritual evolution.

Thus, association with a great master, even for those with only dim awareness of what he is, can bring priceless spiritual benefits. Of course, the more aware one is, the greater the blessings he attracts.

Much grace comes through association with a great master, even for people who are only vaguely aware of the gifts they are receiving. The benefits vary, depending on the disciples’ understanding and receptivity. Few disciples are as intuitively attuned to their master as Peter showed himself in the above story to be. Most are content to enjoy the master’s personality. Thus, they follow him about eagerly, gaze at him avidly, and try mentally to absorb his expressions and gestures as indicative of the consciousness he emanates. His least remark is reported eagerly, and every tidbit of news concerning him is circulated widely: to whom he has spoken, whom he has favored especially, the time he has given to this person or to that. The disciples’ attention, in other words, is often directed so much outwardly that they neglect to develop inward communion with him, and think by physical association alone to receive his blessings.

Much of this sort of energy may be seen around the kings and queens in the royal courts of this world. We see it displayed also in this Bible passage in people’s fascination with such superficial questions as who Jesus was in other incarnations. It isn’t that such questions ought never to be asked, but only that too much of this kind of interest becomes mere gossip, and prevents one from absorbing the master’s vibrations and magnetism.

(pgs. 187-190, The Promise of Immortality)

Swami Sivananda on Guru Purnima

THE FULL moon day in the month of Ashad (July-August) is an extremely auspicious and holy day of Guru Purnima. On this day, sacred to the memory of the great sage, Bhagavan Sri Vyasa, Sannyasins settle at some place to study and discourse on the thrice-blessed Brahma Sutras composed by Maharishi Vyasa, and engage themselves in Vedantic, philosophical investigation.

Sri Vyasa has done unforgettable service to humanity for all times by editing the four Vedas, writing the eighteen Puranas, the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavata. We can only repay the deep debt of gratitude we owe him, by constant study of his works and practice of his teachings imparted for the regeneration of humanity in this iron age. In honour of this divine personage, all spiritual aspirants and devotees perform Vyasa Puja on this day, and disciples worship their spiritual preceptor. Saints, monks and men of God are honoured and entertained with acts of charity by all the householders with deep faith and sincerity. The period Chaturmas (the “four months”) begins from this day; Sannyasins stay at one place during the ensuing four rainy months, engaging in the study of the Brahma Sutras and the practice of meditation.

Mark fully the deep significance of this great day. It heralds the setting in of the eagerly awaited rains. The water drawn up and stored as clouds in the hot summer now manifests in plentiful showers that usher in the advent of fresh life everywhere. Even so, all begin seriously to put into actual practice all the theory and philosophy that have been stored up in them through patient study. Aspirants commence or resolve to intensify with all earnestness, their practical spiritual Sadhana right from this day.

Generate fresh waves of spirituality. Let all that you have read, heard, seen and learnt become transformed, through Sadhana, into a continuous outpouring of universal love, ceaseless loving service, and continuous prayer and worship of the Lord seated in all beings.

Live on milk and fruit on this day and practise rigorous Japa and meditation. Study the Brahma Sutras and do Japa of your Guru Mantra, during the four months following the Guru Purnima. You will be highly benefited.

The day of worship of one’s preceptor, is a day of pure joy to the sincere spiritual aspirant. Thrilled by the expectation of offering his reverent homage to the beloved Guru, aspirants await this occasion with eagerness and devotion. It is the Guru alone that breaks the binding cords of attachment and releases the aspirant from the trammels of earthly existence.

The Srutis say: “To that high-souled aspirant, whose devotion to the Lord is great and whose devotion to his Guru is as great as that to the Lord, the secrets explained herein become illuminated”. Guru is Brahman, the Absolute, or God Himself. He guides and inspires you from the innermost core of your being. He is everywhere.

Have a new angle of vision. Behold the entire universe as the form of the Guru. See the guiding hand, the awakening voice, the illuminating touch of the Guru in every object in this creation. The whole world will now stand transformed before your changed vision. The world as Guru will reveal all the precious secrets of life to you, and bestow wisdom upon you. The supreme Guru, as manifested in visible nature, will teach you the most valuable lessons of life.

Worship daily this Guru of Gurus, the Guru who taught even the Avadhuta Dattatreya. Dattatreya, regarded as God and the Guru of Gurus, considered Nature Herself as His Guru, and learnt a number of lessons from Her twenty-four creatures, and hence he is said to have had twenty-four Gurus. The silent, all-enduring earth with its lofty forbearance, the shady fruit-bearing tree with its willing self-sacrifice, the mighty banyan tree reposing with patience in the tiny seed, the drops of rain whose persistence wears away even the rocks, the planets and the seasons with their orderly punctuality and regularity were all divine Gurus to him. They who will look and listen, will learn.

Become a personification of receptivity. Empty yourself of your petty ego. All the treasures locked up in the bosom of Nature will become yours. You will progress and attain perfection in an amazingly short time. Become pure and unattached as the mountain breeze. As the river flows continuously, steadily and constantly towards its goal, the ocean, so also let your life flow ceaselessly towards the supreme state of absolute Existence-Knowledge-Bliss, by letting all your thoughts, all your words and all your actions be directed only towards the goal.

The moon shines by reflecting the dazzling light of the sun. It is the full moon on the Purnima day that reflects in full splendour the glorious light of the sun. It glorifies the sun. Purify yourself through the fire of selfless service and Sadhana, and like the full moon, reflect the glorious light of the Self. Become the full reflectors of Brahmic splendour, the light of lights. Make this your goal: “I will be a living witness to divinity, the brilliant Sun of suns!”

The Supreme Self alone is real. He is the Soul of all. He is all-in-all. He is the essence of this universe. He is the unity that never admits of a duality under all the varieties and diversities of nature. Thou art this immortal, all-pervading, all-blissful Self. Thou art That! Realise this and be free.

Remember these four important lines of the Brahma Sutras:
1. Athatho brahma jijnasaa—Now, therefore, the enquiry of Brahman.
2. Janmasya yathah—From which proceed the origin, etc.
3. Sastra yonitwat—The scriptures are the means of right knowledge.
4. Tat tu samanvayat—For, That is the main support (of the universe).
Jaya Guru Shiva Guru Hari Guru Ram;
Jagad Guru Param Guru Sat Guru Shyam.

It is through the medium of the preceptor that the individual can raise himself to Cosmic-Consciousness. It is through that medium that the imperfect can become perfect, the finite can become infinite and the mortal can pass into the 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 to That and thus has a free and unhampered access to both realms. He stands, as it were, upon the threshold of immortality, and, bending down, he raises the struggling individuals with his one hand, and with the other, lifts them up into the kingdom of everlasting joy and infinite Truth-Consciousness.

Do you realise now the sacred significance and the supreme importance of the Guru’s role in the evolution of man? It was not without reason that the India of the past carefully tended and kept alive the lamp of Guru-Tattva. It is therefore not without reason that India, year after year, age after age, commemorates anew this ancient concept of the Guru, adores it and pays homage to it again and again, and thereby re-affirms its belief and allegiance to it. For, the true Indian knows that the Guru is the only guarantee for the 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. Only 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 absolute abject slavery to your own ego and vanity. It is the vagary 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 a man submits to the higher, spiritualised personality of the Guru. By this submission he vanquishes his lower ego and realises the bliss and freedom of the infinite Consciousness.

 To strengthen and affirm the faith of the wavering man and to guarantee the attitude 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, the Guru is one who is the representative of the sublime transcendental state which he has attained. Just as to honour the ambassador is to honour the nation that he hails from, 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 though it cannot be seen is nevertheless known by the fragrance its fully-bloomed flowers waft far and wide, so also, the Guru is the divine flower who disseminates the Atmic aroma of divinity in this world, and thus proclaims the immortal Lord who is invisible to the physical eye. He is the standing witness to the Supreme Self, the counterpart of the Lord on earth, and through worship of him one attains the Self.

Remember and adore Sri Vyasa and the Gurus who are fully established in knowledge of the Self. May their blessings be upon you! May you cut asunder the knot of ignorance and shine as blessed sages shedding peace, joy and light everywhere!

At the Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh, the Guru Purnima is celebrated every year on a grand scale. Many devotees and aspirants come from all parts of the country.

1. All aspirants awake at Brahmamuhurta, at 4 o’clock. They meditate on the Guru and chant his prayers.

2. Later in the day, the sacred worship of the Guru’s Feet is performed. Of this worship it is said in the Guru Gita:
Dhyaana moolam guror murtih;
Pooja moolam guror padam;
Mantra moolam guror vakyam;
Moksha moolam guror kripa

“The Guru’s form should be meditated upon; the feet of the Guru should be worshipped; his words are to be treated as a sacred Mantra; his Grace ensures final liberation”.

3. Sadhus and Sannyasins are then worshipped and fed at noon.

4. There is continuous Satsang during which discourses are held on the glory of devotion to the Guru in particular, and on spiritual topics in general.

5. Deserving aspirants are initiated into the Holy Order of Sannyas, as this is a highly auspicious occasion.

6. Devout disciples fast and spend the whole day in prayer. They also take fresh resolves for spiritual progress.

Wake up at Brahmamuhurta (at 4 a.m.) on this most holy day. Meditate on the lotus feet of your Guru. Mentally pray to him for his Grace, through which alone you can attain Self-realisation. Do vigorous Japa and meditate in the early morning hours.

After bath, worship the lotus feet of your Guru, or his image or picture with flowers, fruits, incense and camphor.

Fast or take only milk and fruits the whole day.

In the afternoon, sit with other devotees of your Guru and discuss with them the glories and teachings of your Guru.

Alternatively, you may observe the vow of silence and study the books or writings of your Guru, or mentally reflect upon his teachings.

Take fresh resolves on this holy day, to tread the spiritual path in accordance with the precepts of your Guru.
At night, assemble again with other devotees, and sing the Names of the Lord and the glories of your Guru.
The best form of worship of the Guru is to follow his teachings, to shine as the very embodiment of his teachings, and to propagate his glory and his message.

Source: pgs. 28-37, Hindu Fasts & Festivals

"Guru and Disciple" By Sri Swami Venkatesananda

It was the end of May, 1924, when Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj reached Rishikesh. His joy knew no bounds. The perennial river Ganga, the majestic hills clad in green forest—they whom Gurudev calls his divine parents, greeted him.

On the night of his arrival at Rishikesh, he slept on the verandah of Charan Das Dharmasala near the Rishikesh Post Office. There were other Sadhus, among them was Swami Visvananda Sarasvati, an aged man of wisdom, ochre-robed, with nothing but a staff and a Kamandalu as his possessions. His face was aglow with the fire of Knowledge. It captivated Sri Gurudev’s heart the moment he had the old Sannyasin’s Darshan early in the morning. Gurudev fell prostrate at his feet. Fondly, the saint—Swami Visvanandaji—raised him and embraced him with all love and affection and said:

“My dear child! I see something on your forehead which tells me that you are a wonderful instrument in the hands of God for conveying His Message to the world. I have been watching you for the past nearly half an hour. Am I right in assuming that you have renounced the world and desire to lead the life of a monk?

“Most Holy Sire! Yes, you are right. Oh, how fortunate I am to have the Darshan of a divine sage! Blessed I am this day; blessed I am indeed. Shower your Grace on this poor humble seeker. For, it is only through thee that I can attain my goal.

“Well said, my child. I should myself feel it the greatest privilege to initiate you into Sannyasa.”

A torrent of tears from his eyes was all that Gurudev could offer in reply. He was ready and Swami Visvananda was eager.

Gurudev’s dispassion was of the highest type. Prosperity did not affect him at all; he saw in it always, the hand of God. He offered everything to God without any reservation. Swami Visvananda Saraswati now gave him the chance to make the final offering of himself to the Lord, in return for the love that had been shown on him.

Gurudev was initiated into the glorious Order of Sannyasa on the 1st June, 1924, by the saintly Swami Visvananda Sarasvati. From that day on he became known as Swami Sivananda Sarasvati.

He who has supreme devotion to God and equal devotion to his Guru, unto him the truths of the Upanishads are revealed.

—Svetasvatara Upanishad

Thus Sri Gurudev proclaimed, by his own conduct, the absolute necessity for a Guru, and for Sannyasa. He says in his ‘Autobiography’:

The spiritual path is beset with many obstacles. The Guru will guide the aspirants safely and remove all sorts of difficulties they have to face. He will inspire the students and give them spiritual powers through his blessings. Guru, Isvara, Truth and Mantra are one. There is no other way of overcoming the vicious worldly Samskaras of the passionate nature of raw, worldly-minded persons than by personal contact with and service to the Guru.”

“There are many egoistic students who say: ‘I do not need a Guru. God is my Guru.’ They change their own robes and live independently. When difficulties confront them, they are bewildered. I do not like the rules and regulations of the scriptures, sages and saints to be violated. When there is a change of heart, there should be a change in the external form also. The glory and the liberty of a Sannyasin can hardly be imagined by the timid and the weak.”

Explaining the glory of the ochre-coloured robe, Gurudev says:

“Wearing the ochre-coloured cloth, the orange robe, is very necessary for one who has a changed mind. Due to the force of Maya or habit, when the senses move among the sense-objects, the moment you look at the coloured cloth that you wear, it will remind you that you are a Sannyasin. It will give you a kick and save you from vicious actions. It has its own glory and advantages. A real Sannyasin only can cut off all connections. His friends and relatives will not trouble him. The robe is of great service when one appears on the platform for preaching. It has its own sanctity in the minds of Hindus. Common people will easily receive the ideas from a Sannyasin. Some hypocrites say: “We have given colouring to our minds. We need not change the clothes.” I do not believe these men. Even the famous Mandana Misra who fought with Sri Sankara, became a Sannyasin. He was known as Suresvaracharya. The great Rishi Yajnavalkya became a Sannyasin. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa removed his hair and became a Sannyasin. He was initiated into the Order of Sannyasa by Swami Totapuri. It is only those who have cravings, passions, attachments, and who are timid, that dread to change the cloth; they bring forth false, ingenious, unsound arguments. It is a pity that even some great persons of the present day, who are treading the spiritual path, have not recognised the glory and importance of changing the robe.”

The great ones act in this wise, not because they need to, but to set an example for others to follow—Lokasangraha, as the Lord says in the Gita. By their own conduct they bring out the imperative necessity of having a Guru to guide one in the acquisition of knowledge. Gurudev has often said: “For learning even the simple art of cooking, you need a teacher. Nothing has been possible for man to achieve without being instructed by one who knows. How much more Herculean would be the task of reaching the Life’s Destination without a guide!”

On the 11th of March, 1949, while instructing some disciples on Guru-Bhakti, Sri Gurudev said: “You should revere the Guru who teaches you the knowledge. Only then will the learning be fruitful.” And he cited his own example in this regard, and said: “See, I had Swami Visvanandaji’s company only for a couple of hours. Yet, daily I remember him in my hymns in the morning. I include Swami Vishnudevanandaji’s name also, as it was he who performed the Viraja Homa for me. It is very necessary; only then will the spark of Mumukshutva burn bright in us.

Incidentally, he also revealed another interesting anecdote of his life in Malaya. He said: “In Malaya, there were several adept Tantriks. It was the time the Spanish Flu took a heavy toll of life in Malaya. I, too, had an attack, but somehow escaped. The Tantrik had several Mantras and Yantras. That was a wonderful Vidya (science). A special unguent is applied on the thumb-nail of the adept of the Mantra; through this unguent, the adept would be able to see and know about distant happenings. He can tell you what is going on in such and such a place in Mysore; or, what a particular person is doing, where he is and so on. I even now remember the Mantra. I had great reverence for the man who taught me the Mantra. I used to prostrate myself before him and entertain him nicely, serve him whenever the occasion arose. Later, I gave up the Tantrik practice as I did not like the idea of subjugating Devatas and getting things done through them.”

Sri Gurudev had dispassion, born of a knowledge of the permanent and the transient, which is the basis for higher knowledge of the Self. In and through the world, Gurudev had acquired a glimpse of this higher knowledge, too. He has trained himself to hear the shrill Inner Voice of God, the Indweller of all hearts. It was thus quite unnecessary for him to seek the aid of Guru, when he could more easily depend on the Prompter within.

Yet he laid his head low at the feet of Swami Visvananda and received the Mahavakyas (great sacred utterances) from his preceptor’s powerful heart.

Gurudev’s Guru-Bhakti is evident from his words quoted above. To him, the preceptor—even the one who taught him fencing and the one that taught him the Tantrik Kriya—was the Lord Himself, come upon this earth to enlighten him. As the Svetasvatara Upanishad says, in the concluding Mantra, the Truths taught in the Upanishads are apparent to one who has supreme devotion to God and equal devotion to the Guru. Truly, indeed! And Gurudev is a good example to illustrate this truth. Gurudev shampooed his preceptor’s legs and thus attracted to himself the current of spiritual knowledge which brought him nearer the Goal. Swami Visvanandaji understood the worth of his divine pupil immediately, and came to the conclusion that he no longer needed his personal help. With tears of love and regard they parted from each other, as Swami Visvanandaji took leave to return to Benares.

Source: http://www.dlshq.org/discourse/jul2008.htm