*परम करुणानुना गुरुणा*

This is how Ādi Śaṅkara defines a teacher, a Guru: परम करुणानुना गुरुणा That s/he is the very embodiment of supreme compassion. That is the only raison d’être that a teacher teaches. The teacher wants the student to become free, to become fulfilled.

The Sanskrit word ‘guru’ is formed by conjoining two words: gu + ru [gu = darkness; ru = remover]. So, the literal meaning of the word guru is, one who removes the darkness of [self-] ignorance with the light of [Self-] knowledge.

It is perhaps the most special relationship. And it is very rare; that is, the coming together of a genuine teacher and a qualified student. 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 own first-hand experience. Knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way, to adopt John Maxwell’s definition of a leader. Has realized the true 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 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

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 Vinayaka 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 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 ….

अखण्डमण्डलाकारं व्याप्तं येन चराचरम् ।
तत्पदं दर्शितं येन तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥

अज्ञानतिमिरान्धस्य ज्ञानाञ्जनशलाकया ।
चक्षुरुन्मीलितं येन तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥

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


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