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To know God, approach a Spiritual Master Swami Mukundananda

April 10
21:20 2013

mukuThere are some very important facts of the Absolute Truth which are reiterated time and again by saints and scriptures. We also discuss these eternal elements of spiritual science in our everyday life. For instance, we all know that the God is seated in our hearts.

But then what is it that is separating us from Him? If we know we are the soul and not this body, why are we still mortified of death? We do perceive the existence of defects such as anger, greed, lust, envy and hatred; and we wish to get rid of them, but are unable to.

We are separated from God not because of physical distance but because of the ignorance within us, which has existed since infinite lifetimes. Thus to overcome miseries and to reach God we need knowledge. But knowledge cannot be attained simply by the thinking power of our intellect because the intellect itself is where the ignorance resides. So its own thinking capacity is inherently incapable of destroying its ignorance.

There is an immense treasure-house of knowledge in the Vedic scriptures but they are again impossible to understand merely by the analysis of our intellect. Just as God is Divine, the scriptures too are Divine. If on our own we attempt to comprehend them, we end up confused, for there are so many apparent contradictions in them.

However, there is a reason for us to rejoice because in the Vedas, God Himself has taught the easiest way to dispel the ignorance of our hearts.
Tadvigyanartham sa gurumevabhigachchhet… (Mundakopanishad 1.2.12)
He says, “To know God, approach a Spiritual Master, who is both well-versed in the knowledge of the scriptures and also God-realized. Serve him with faith and humility.”

Here are answers to some important questions on finding a true Guru and progressing in our spiritual life:
Question: In the Indian culture, we all have heard hundreds of times since childhood that we need a Guru. But is there any definition of who a true Guru is?

Swami Mukundanand: The word “Guru” has now been adopted by the English language as well, and so we hear terms such as Marketing guru, Economics guru, Finance guru, etc. However, when you refer to the true Guru, you are enquiring about the spiritual connotation of the word as described in the scriptures. The meaning of the word “Guru” is:
Gu shabdastvandhakarasyat ru… (Advaya Tarakopanishad 16)

“The syllable “gu” means “darkness,” and “ru” means “to destroy.” Hence, one who dispels the darkness of our nescience, and brings us to the light of true wisdom, is the Guru.

The true Guru must have two qualifications. Firstly, he or she should possess theoretical knowledge of the scriptures – this is called shrotriya. Secondly, he or she should have realized that knowledge and be seated in the Truth – this is called brahm nishth. Hence, a true Guru is one who is both Shrotriya and Brahm Nishth.

In these, the second criterion is most important, i.e. the Guru must be God-realized. Only one who has attained God can help others attain Him. If one is a beggar himself, how can he give money to others; if one has no knowledge himself, how can he teach others. If one has not attained the Bliss of Divine love, he cannot give it to others.

Q: There are so many Gurus from different religious sects that it becomes confusing to choose one Guru. What is the process of finding a Guru?
SM: There is a saying in Hindi:

Pani piyo chhanake, guru banao janake

“Drink water only after filtering it; make a Guru only after carefully knowing him.” We must not accept anyone as our Guru, merely because of a friend’s suggestion; we must ourselves recognize someone as a true Guru, and only then should we surrender to him.

However, just as it is not possible for a Grade One student to evaluate the capability of a college teacher, similarly, it is not easy to recognize a Guru, who is a Divine personality, while we are only at the beginning of the path of spirituality. Yet, there are certain characteristics that provide helpful indications:

1. The true Guru’s words are very impacting. Although we may have heard and read the same knowledge many times without being moved, when we hear it from the mouth of a God-realized Saint, the words change us from within. The reason for this is that the Sadguru does not merely elucidate what he has read in books; he explains from the depths of personal realization.

2. Whatever doubts we have on the spiritual path, if we place them before the Guru, he or she can easily dispel our confusions. A mere theoretical scholar of the scriptures cannot do this. However, the Sadguru possesses realized knowledge, for he or she has seen the Truth, and is able to reveal it with the benefit of experience to sincere seekers.

3. A true Guru does not give his or her disciple material allurements. Rather, he teaches his followers that the world is not the goal. Nowadays, many so-called saints claim to have a magic formula for removing all the material miseries and bestowing money, wealth, prestige, etc. Allured by such false statements, people flock to them in thousands. We must beware of such imposters who have not yet even understood that detachment from the world, and not material attainments, is the goal of spiritual life.

4. If we associate with a true Guru, we will naturally find ourselves getting attached to God and detached from the world.

5. The above points are all helpful in recognizing a Saint, but the strongest indication will come from God Himself. The Lord is seated in our hearts, and when He sees that we have a sincere desire to meet Him, He will guide us to a true Guru and create faith in Him. And when the inspiration comes from God, we will know it by its intensity; our heart will urge us that we have found the Guru we were looking for.

Q: There is an age old saying: “When you are ready the teacher will appear.” What is that “readiness” required for the Guru to appear?
SM: The Vedic scriptures have repeatedly instructed the need to surrender to a Guru, for attaining God. However, the question that stumps a seeker is how to find a true Guru.

Fortunately, God helps the sincere seeker in this task. He is seated in everyone’s heart, and so when He sees that we are ready, He not only brings us in contact with a genuine Guru, but also creates our faith towards the Guru by inspiring us with the feeling, “Yes! This is the personality whom I was searching for.”

Without this inspiration that comes so strongly from within, we may stand before the Guru, and yet not recognize him as a true Saint. Or we may recognize his Divinity, but feel no motivation to surrender to him. But when God bestows His Grace, He inspires us and creates strong faith in the Guru. Hence, it is said that when God sees we are ready, we find our Spiritual Master.

Here, readiness means a sincere aspiration to attain God. We must firmly decide that our goal is God-realization, and we must desire it intensely. When God sees this readiness in any soul, He creates our connection with the Guru.

Often people search for spiritual teachers but their desire for God is mixed with material aspirations. In accordance with their motive, their faith is created in unauthentic spiritual teachers who pander to their material desires. After many years, such seekers realize that their guru was not perfect, and they feel they have been cheated. But it was their own insincere aspiration that was to blame for their developing faith in a wrong personality.

Hence, the best way to find a genuine Spiritual Master is to develop an intense yearning for God. When He sees this “readiness” in our heart, He will arrange for us to meet our teacher.

Q: What is the special power in the Guru mantra that is given in the ear of the disciple at the time of deeksha (initiation)? Is it compulsory to receive a mantra for our devotion? Why are we told to keep it a secret and what will happen if we tell our Guru mantra to friends?
SM: True deeksha is not merely the giving of a mantra in the ear of the disciple. True deeksha means to give the Divine power of God to the disciple. It should result in liberation from Maya, attainment of Divine Knowledge, Love and Bliss, and initiation into the eternal pastimes of God. Such deeksha is given by the Guru only when the disciple has totally cleansed his or her mind through the practice of Sadhan Bhakti, or preparatory devotion.

The problem arises when people do not want to purify their hearts. They look for shortcuts whereby they can retain all their worldly desires, and yet attain God. Therefore, claims of magic mantras, tantras and yantras are very appealing to them. And Gurus who offer such allurements become very popular. But we must remember that until the heart is totally cleansed, we will not receive the divine grace which is necessary for God-realization. And to cleanse the heart, we can chant any name of God; there is no need of a special mantra.

Guru mantras are Sanskrit words that usually mean things like: “O Shree Krishna, I surrender to you,” “O Shree Ram, I offer my obeisance to you,” However, if we were to say the same thing in another language, would God not listen? God is the knower of the hearts. If we do not utter even a single word, but simply think of Him, God will understand and reciprocate our sentiments.

So there is no need of receiving a mantra in the ear. God has unlimited Divine Names, and the He is seated in all of them. So we can chant any of His Names, such as: Krishna, Govind, Damodar, Gopal, Ram, Shiv, Narayan, etc.

Even if the Guru gives the disciple a mantra in the ear, keeping it secret serves no purpose. Jagadguru Ramanujacharya’s guru gave him a guru mantra and asked him not to reveal it to anyone. But Ramanujacharya went to the crossroads, and shouted out the mantra before the crowd. He said, “If it is beneficial, then why keep it secret. Let others also know it and benefit from it.”

Swami Mukundananda is a world renowned spiritual teacher from India, and is the senior disciple of Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj and founder of JK Yog. He has received his degrees in engineering from world renowned institutes in India, IIT and IIM. He has inspired people all over the world on the path of spirituality, holistic health, yoga, meditation, service to society and God realization. This year, Swamiji will be conducting weeklong programs in 30+ cities of USA from April onwards. For more information visit: http://www.jkyog.org/ or contact: [email protected]
To attend Swamiji’s Yoga, Meditation and Spiritual Discourses in USA, see the schedule for your city: www.jkyog.org/2013

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