Giri gmadras at ENGR.UCDAVIS.EDU
Sun Aug 10 19:25:00 CDT 1997


On Fri, 8 Aug 1997, Gummuluru Murthy wrote:

The characteristics of a Guru can also be found in the Bhagavad Gita

The role of the Guru is simple : 'remove' the avidya.
In the Yoga sutras, Patanjali says
anityashuchi duHkhaana-atmasu nitya shuchi sukha-atma khyaatir avidya

Avidya is identifying with a self which is not Self, with happiness in
what is really suffering, purity in what is impure, and permanence in
what is impure.

        Unable to 'see' lasting unhappiness in my own Self, I look for it
on the outside with futility (like doing research in USA :-)
        So long as there is even a trace of deha-atma buddhi, then a
physical Guru is necessary to remove it. As long we think we have a body,
we will continue to think that Guru and Ishvara also have bodies. And the
'job' of the Guru and Ishvara is to remove this false identification.

> knowledgeable in the vedanta and should be willing to transmit
> his/her knowledge and wisdom to the disciple. Is there such a
> person at all nowadays ?

        yes, they are. In fact, it is my humble opinion, you do see such
people in certain places if you are earnest yourself. They, however, are
not "visible" to the normal crowd. Many people who visit such places are
"tourists" or looking for an easy way to liberation. One Swamiji in
Shivananda Ashram told me that he has received several letters from people
who ask whether they can achieve mukti in 30 days. This is like
'Nirvikalpa Samadhi in 10 days or your money back.' :-)

> the "testing", I am afraid it is the other way round. Many disciples
> seeking that rare entity, the genuine guru. [Of course, when the

        As Nisargadatta and Ramana say, the Guru is looking for the rare
entity, an earnest disciple, with even more vigor. There are very very few
earnest disciples.

>acaarya sees non-duality, there is only ONE. How can a disciple be
>there ?]

        This does not mean that the Guru does not understand the
"progress" of the "others."  For example, see pages 157-8 (I think) of
Talks with Ramana Maharshi. To a person who claimed to have attained
transcendental consciousness, and says that everything is spontaneous, he
has no free will etc., RM cautions that such pretentions are harmful for
a begineer. Thus, it is apparent that He knew that the person was just
pretending to be a jnani. Of course, RM saw only Brahman in that person too !

> If we cannot get a genuine guru in the modern day world, can we,
> with a pure heart {here, I mean pure buddhi), invoke one of the
> great acaaryaas of the past [like Shri Shankara], accept Him as
> our guru and learn through the books ? This requires a REAL saadhaka,

        Shri Shankara Himself has said that one can take Ishvara or Ista
devata as his/her Guru. And it is not whether we choose a Guru, the Guru
has to choose you. I can call myself the disciple of Shankara, but first I
should evaluate whether I am worthy of becoming one. Shankara has given
the requirements of the disciples, in upadeshasahasri, atma bodha etc.

> not one who sits at the meditation seat for half an hour and then
> indulges in all worldly, materialistic endeavours.

        Exactly, one should "seek" the Self exclusively and earnestly.
Shankara emphasizes that one should "seek" the Self exclusively in His
commentary on upanishhads. And without earnestness, success in anything is
impossible. In atma bodha, Shankara repeatedly says that a guru is
absolutely necessary.

Normally, people say Ramana Maharshi attained jnana without a Guru.
But even Ramana Maharshi emphasizes the need for a Guru,

Q:  If it be true that the Guru is one's own Self (atman), what is the
principle underlying the doctrine which says that however learned a
disciple may be or whatever occult powers he may possess, he cannot attain
self-realization (atma-siddhi) without the grace of the Guru? "

M:  Although in absolute truth the state of the Guru is that of oneself it
is very hard for the Self which has become the individual soul (jiva)
through ignorance to realise its true state or nature without the grace of
the Guru. All mental concepts are controlled by the mere presence of the
real Guru.  If he were to say to one who arrogantly claims that he has
seen the further shore of the ocean of learning or one who claims
arrogantly than he can perform deeds which are well-nigh impossible, 'Yes,
you learnt all that is to be learnt, but have you learnt (to know)
yourself? And you who are capable of performing deeds which are almost
impossible, have you seen yourself?', they will bow their heads (in shame)
and remain silent.  Thus it is evident that only by the grace of the Guru
and by no other accomplishment is it possible to know oneself. "

        And the trend of the modern gurus is the claim that everything
that happens is spontaneous. If one admits something is happening, it is
only due to the will of Ishvara, not spontaneously. The right stance to
take is nothing is "happening."

        "Everything is a concoction of time, space and energy only and all else
is an illusion is the trite talk of people who dislike the effort of sadhana
which takes them to the Self. This talk is based on their dense ignorance
of the Self. Only by the persistent practice [of dharma] and experience
of sadhana can one arrive at the truth that all concepts of souls, world
and the cause thereof are just evanescent shadows in the screen of Siva
-Self -Brahman." Ribhu Gita 24.31.

        The Guru is as much within as outside. Hence, we should practice
meditation etc., "cultivate" dispassion, detachment, conquer the six
enemies and reach a level where we would be eligible to be taught by a
Guru. And when we are ready, the Self (Guru within) will appear in a
bodily form to instruct us. This has been emphasized by many sages. It is
like any other thing in life. Until we graduate from kindergarden, high
school and university, we can not be taught by a doctorate to obtain a
doctorate. The only difference is that a Guru teaches you to *unlearn* our
imaginations that we have a body, a form, a name etc.

        And without a Guru, and strict adherence to dharma, liberation is
not possible. As His Holiness periyava of Kanchi Math says in his book
'Hindu Dharma,' (a partial copy is available at In olden days, people
used to stick to dharma and not acknowledge the path of knowledge, but
nowadays, people want to embark on the path of jnana (jnana kanda) without
following dharma i.e., karma kanda and HH condemns this as a grevious error.
No progress is possible without strict adherence to dharma, as He
explains. Whatever may be the differences, His Holiness of Sringeri Math,
echoes the same sentiment regarding adherence to dharma.

        So, it is very clear that one need not go "looking" for a Guru. If
we are earnest, do our dharma to our best of ability, cultivate the
requirements of a disciple outlined by Shankara and numerous others, a
Guru will "appear" to us in bodily form to take us across the ocean of


        In a separate thread, the statement 'Everything is Brahman'
was being interpreted.

By the absence of all sankalpas, by the elimination of all forms, by the
conviction of there being only Brahman, be of the certitude that there is
not anything that is non- Self. (which is why everything is Brahman)
                                                        Ribhu 1.12
I am devoid of all names and such. I am devoid of all
forms. I am devoid of all attachments. I am Brahman alone.      Ribhu

        One can not say that something with a form is Brahman, unless the
reference is to the substratum of the form. Otherwise, the form will
undergo change, and this would imply Brahman will undergo change. This is
impossible since anything real can not undergo change ! One can say that
the form is created by Ishvara, if one is interested to say so, but
Ishvara is also only due to maya.
        So, when one says jiva and Ishvara are Brahman, it is meant that
they are the same only after the upadhis are removed. And when all upadhis
are removed, all that exists is only Brahman. But not when upadhis
(limiting adjuncts) are present. That's why a sadhaka is requested to
look beyond names and forms and see that the essence (substratum) is same
in all jivas and Ishvara.

AUM shaantiH

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