By Vijay Krsna Kumar Das
It is difficult to progress in any field of life without having a guru or a teacher. Even when God descends to this world, He accepts a guru and also obeys and worships him. Lord Krsna accepted Sandipani Muni as His guru and Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted Isvara Puri as His guru. How then can ordinary people do away with the necessity of having a guru? The presence of a guru in one’s life is of paramount importance for one’s progress in any field, whether material or spiritual.
Guru is a very revered person. An ideal student accepts his guru as good as God and follows his instructions in toto. An ideal teacher or an acarya teaches by his own example and accepts the responsibility of the student’s progress.
Even after having ideal teachers, sometime one may not become a good student. What makes the student perfect is his devotion to the guru! If there is devotion, then one will follow the teacher’s words with humility.
Secret of success
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura points out that the order of the spiritual master is the life substance of the disciple. Srila Prabhupada also says, “The disciple should not consider whether he is going back home, back to Godhead; his first business should be to execute the order of his spiritual master. Thus a disciple should always meditate on the order of the spiritual master, and that is perfectional meditation. Not only should he meditate upon that order, but he should find out the means by which he can perfectly worship and execute it. This is the secret of success.” (SB 4.24.15 P)
The spiritual master is also called acarya. Acaryam mam vijaniyan: the Supreme Lord says that one should respect the spiritual master, accepting him as the Lord Himself. Navamanyeta karhicit: one should not disrespect the acarya at any time. Na martya-buddhyasuyeta: one should never think the acarya an ordinary person. (SB 11.17.27)
Disposition of Disciple
There are many instances in scriptures about people who have perfected their lives by their sincere devotion to their gurus. These examples teach us as to what is the nature and mood of a disciple. How does a disciple think of his spiritual master? One such example is that of Prahlada Maharaja. He was such a dear devotee of the Lord that by the strength of his devotional service, the Supreme Lord appeared as Nrsimha-deva to protect him. The Lord offered any benediction desirable to him. Prahlada however refused to accept any such offerings, and filled with gratitude, he could only remember his guru, Narada Muni. Prahlada said, “I have been fallen in the hole of samsara due to the worldly association. My guru Narada Muni accepted me as his own possession.
“Let this jiva be mine!” By force, he has taken me by the hand, brought me near to him and had me serve him! Only by his mercy, I have now become Your devotee. How can I give up service to my guru, your servant?” (7.9.28)
Thus, refusing to accept any benediction by the Lord, Prahlada only desired to engage in the service of his guru Narada Muni. He did not even propose to be engaged directly in the service of the Lord. Srila Prabhupada remarks that one should serve the spiritual master first. One cannot bypass the spiritual master and desire to serve the Supreme Lord directly.
A devotee and disciple never give up his sadhana or spiritual practices. On the path of bhakti, even when sadhana yields the result, devotees such as Prahlada who have attained the Lord never give up serving their spiritual masters.
Guru’s Pleasure and Displeasure
Only by pleasing guru can one please Krsna and when guru is dissatisfied, one cannot advance properly on the path of spiritual realization. Just like scriptures give instances of disciples who have achieved success by serving their gurus, they also give examples of those who have lost everything by displeasing their gurus.
Once upon a time, Indra was sitting along with his wife on his throne in the assembly of demigods. Being the king of the heavens, he was being served royally. Intoxicated by wealth, he did not rise from his seat and neglected to welcome his guru Brhaspati. Displeased, Brhaspati immediately left the place. This offense caused Indra to lose all his opulence. On the other hand, the demons worshiped their guru Sukracarya with devotion and acquired the strength to conquer the demigods. Thus the demigods lost to the demons.
The guru or an acarya is not an ordinary person and should not be disrespected at any time. Familiarity sometimes breeds contempt, and so the scriptures warns us to be very careful in dealings with the acarya. Serving the guru with devotion attracts the mercy of Krsna, whereas displeasing him causes great disaster.
Author: Vijay Krishna Kumar Das is alumni of the Bhaktivedanta Vidyapitha (www.vidyapitha.in). He also serves as an Editor for our a free monthly e-magazine called Bhagavata Pradipika.