Guru: The Embodiment of Supreme Compassion:
परम करुणानुना गुरुणा

This is how Adi Shankara defines a teacher, a guru: That s/he is the very embodiment of supreme compassion. That is the only raison d’être that the teacher teaches. The teacher wants the shishya to become free, to become fulfilled.

It is perhaps the most special relationship. And it is very rare. I mean the coming together of a genuine teacher and a student. Very very rare. A teacher who knows what is what and has no hang-ups, no personal agenda. Lives the teachings! Has experienced the subject-matter, first-hand, and knows how to establish it in the experience of the student as student’s firsthand experience. Knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. Has realized the Self and can help the prepared, adhikāri (अधिकारी), student realize the Self as well.

A student who is discerning, has the one-pointed intellect (निश्चय आत्मिका बुद्धि), and is ready (साधन-चतुष्टय संपन्न अधिकारी)–and NOT the usual “swallow-follow” variety. The Bhagavad Gītā 4.34 provides the complete guidance on the qualities of a genuine student and the teacher:

तद् विद्धि प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया
उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं ज्ञानिनस् तत्त्वदर्शिनः ४.३४

tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā /
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṃ jñāninas tattvadarśinaḥ //4.34

Understand the true nature of that Knowledge by approaching the illumined, by humbly bowing to them, joyfully serving them, and respectfully asking them proper questions. The wise, who have realized the Truth, will teach you that Knowledge.

On the auspicious day of Vināyaka Chaturthi (which was yesterday, actually) I humbly bow down to all my teachers, both in life and spirit, who have illumined my path and have given me what cannot be taken.

Teachers who removed the blinders and cleared the vision to behold the Self, in its pure, pristine glory—यथार्थ and यथाभूतं …

May the Lord Ganesha transform the obstacles on the path into pilgrim’s joy!


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