By VS Krishnan
There was once a benevolent king, reigning supreme in his land. He was killed by the conspirators. And, his wife, who was pregnant at that time, had to escape to a forest. She took refuge in the house of a hunter where she delivered a boy and died. Raised by the hunters, the child also became a hunter. Years later, when the loyal minister happened to pass through the forest and saw the hunter boy, he was struck by his charm. The minister felt that there was a royal aura surrounding the boy. He then made discreet inquiries about his ancestors and found out that the boy was none other than the prince whose father, the king, was killed. The minister then helped the boy in mobilising an army and regaining his kingdom. In this story, illustrated by Dravidacharya in his commentary on the Upanishads, the prince symbolised the jiva who lived in the world of delusion without knowing his real identity. The minister came as a guru and revealed his true identity, the Self. With the guidance received, the prince overpowered the conspirators, senses, and ascended the throne of Self-realisation.
The guru does not come, as is normally perceived, to impart knowledge as everyone is blessed with knowledge. If one is not able to realise it, it is because, like the dark clouds that overshadow the sun, the individual’s vision is obscured by the mind. For one who refrains from pursuing the path shown by the mind and seeks real knowledge, the guru steps in at the right moment and leads him to the right path.
This life is like a vast river where there are strong under-currents, pulls and pressures and it is the guru who escorts us, like the boatman taking the traveller ashore safely through the storm. ‘Krishnashtakam’ says: ‘Krishnam Vande Jagatguru’ – I worship Krishn, the Lord who appeared as a teacher for the whole universe.
A young man came to see Ramana Maharshi and said that there are different paths towards spiritual fulfilment and asked what path he could choose. Maharshi replied: “When you speak of a path, first find out where you are now and where exactly you want to go? You are the Self and there is nothing to be reached. Though you are knowledge absolute, when you identify yourself with the mind and body, the delusion comes. What is needed is to receive the grace of a guru that removes ignorance.” Ramana Maharshi said that the guru is already shining as the Atman within. But since we are accustomed to having a guru in form, the Atman appears as an external guru and pushes the jnana inside the sadhak, while the Atman inside pulls it from within.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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