We have been told by our scriptures that guru kripa is a wonderful, mysterious factor that will enable the aspirants to seek and to attain the summum bonum of life, Self-realisation, darshan of God, or moksha. Whether the disciple does sadhana or not, whether one is deserving or undeserving, guru kripa sets aside all normal laws that operate in the spiritual plane and takes one to transcendental bliss. If we are to believe the scriptures, we should say that there is nothing except guru kripa needed for us to attain perfection in life.
If it is also true that the Guru is an infinite ocean of mercy, that his kripa ever showers upon all seekers whether they are worthy or unworthy, whether they are qualified or not, then by this time we should all be apta-kamas, full of Bliss. Is that so? No. We find very much to our vexation that we are caught up; ignorance is there; illusion is there; we are deceived at every turn by our own lower self.
Wherein lies the defect? If both the above statements are true and yet disciples are still very much earthbound, something else must be wrong. What is that something else? We don’t have the temerity to say that the scriptures are untrue. At the same time, we do not assert that the Guru is not compassionate, that the Guru does not shower his kripa upon us.
If we reflect upon this, some factors come up before us which are worthy of serious consideration. Guru kripa is undeniably a divine force that can turn even a stone into the infinite satchidananda, let alone a conscious being. There is absolutely not the least bit of exaggeration in the statement and the fact that the Guru is always gracious. But then, guru kripa has not only to be bestowed, not only to be given, but it has also to be received. In receiving it, we immortalise ourselves, divinise ourselves.
Unlimited charity may be bestowed by a generous-hearted donor who calls upon all who are in need to come and take. But not all the wealth of the world will be of any avail to an indigent one if he will not avail himself of this great opportunity and become a receiver. And therefore it is that the great Lord Jesus said: “Seek and it shall be found; knock and it shall open unto you; ask and it shall be given.” It is not as though there is any dearth of divine munificence, divine grace or guru kripa. Light is not lacking, but then there is a Law that we have to ask, we have to seek and we have to knock, and having done it we must be ready to receive. If this is present, then guru kripa works all wonders; it will flow into us and raise us to the highest realm of immortality, eternal light and infinite bliss.
But then, how can we receive it? How should we conduct ourselves if we are to be ready to receive this grace? By discipleship. For, the question of Guru and guru kripa arises only for the disciple. For those who are not of the category named disciple, it is said that mercy, compassion, grace and ashirvad will be given, but not guru kripa. When I say guru kripa, it is something special, something mysterious, something that bestows not anything merely of this earth, but gives the highest thing which human life is here for. A devotee may get the blessings of a saint, the grace of a saint. He may also be blessed and partake of the power of his compassion; but, for the attainment of the gift of guru kripa, we have first to be disciples.
How is it that one may be a disciple? It is not the Guru that accepts the disciple, but the disciple has to first accept the Guru. The disciple first of all has to render himself a sishya. Then he becomes deserving of and a rightful claimant to guru kripa. It is immaterial whether the Guru says “Yes, you are my sishya” or not.
Inasmuch as guru kripa takes us to the highest state, discipleship is qualifying ourselves to attain that highest state or the realisation of ourselves as satchidananda. Therefore, first of all, we have to feel that our present state as jiva—spirit enmeshed in a very agonising cage of flesh and bone—is something which is not part of our real nature, is something undesirable, something which we have to get rid of so that then we shall have peace and happiness.
Let us reflect and analyse: how many of us have got this feeling? How many sincerely wish to break out of this cage? If we have this feeling, then we are trying to grow into discipleship. Then we can approach the Freed One, for the Guru is the Freed One and one capable of freeing also. Then we can approach this Freed One and pray to him: “Oh, free us from this body.” This prayer may not be expressed or articulated; but it must be recited from the innermost core of our being every moment of our life. Then alone can we expect guru kripa. If this pain and agony are not there, it is worthwhile trying to generate them. But such is the covering veil of dark maya that we are perfectly satisfied with our position.
To feel the necessity of mukti, Freedom, Divine Consciousness, of the higher Spiritual Life, we should resort to satsang, to study of scriptures; and we should paint vividly before our mental eye the wretchedness of human life on earth. These things will generate mumukshutva (desire for liberation). Mumukshutva is the first step if we have even to think of guru kripa.
Then we have to serve the Guru. Service is that mysterious something which pulls down the barrier that stands between us and the influence of guru kripa. Ego is the greatest barrier. Our old self-conceit and preconceived notions form a formidable second barrier. For all of this, service is the effective barrier-breaker.
What is the service of the Guru? Service of the Guru is to try our level best to carry out his upadesh, carry out the teachings of the Guru. Upon his sublime instructions we have to mould our life. We should also try to mould ourselves into that pattern of which he himself is a visible ideal. The secret of carrying out the instructions of the Guru to our humble best is a willing obedience in spirit. That is the most important thing. Readiness to bow completely down to the earth. Accept him as the leader and obey him. This obedience should be assiduously cultivated, for every aspect of our old nature, of our lower nature, our mental part, our indriyas, antahkarana, tries to see that we are prevented from developing this obedience in spirit; every time we move towards this attitude of obedience, the prompting will come from our old habit, from our preconceived notions: “Let us go the way in which we have been accustomed.” This instinct of ages has to be overcome and broken down.
There must be joy in obedience to the Guru; and there should be a real craving in the spirit that “I should obey.” To be a disciple you should obey even in dream; the idea of doing anything which is contrary to the spirit of the Guru’s instructions should never arise in our consciousness. Day and night our sadhana should be to cultivate this attitude to perfection. If this is done, we are sufficiently on the way to qualify ourselves to receive guru kripa. This is the external part of the sadhana.
Inwardly we have also to break down the old set of ideas which somehow or other has crept into us regarding the Guru, his grace and its functions. It is a hard task, but it has to be done. Because, to the disciple, the nature of the Guru is not human. We should be completely blind to the human side of the Guru, and we should be conscious only of the divinity that he is. Then alone will we be able to partake of this kripa which will transform us from the lower human into the transcendental divine. Our relationship with the Guru is purely divine, purely spiritual, and as long as we have not completely rubbed out the last vestige of human relationship with the Guru, we shall not be able to enter into the divine spiritual relationship with the Guru.
Being our Guru we expect that he should relieve us of small troubles, bodily ills, financial difficulties, domestic problems, little paltry matters of this earthly life. We will get all that if we pray to the Guru, but that is all that we will get. That mysterious lofty thing called guru kripa will not flow into us. Therefore, first of all we should try to efface all human relationships with the Guru. For that, subjectively we have to work out an inner transformation; until that is done, his divine nature will not become fully revealed to us. As long as we consider ourselves to be human beings, earthly beings, with all the wants, limitations and weaknesses of earthly beings, we cannot fully enter into the awareness of the Guru in his absolute, divine essence. Therefore, our sadhana should be to generate divine consciousness and shed our human consciousness. If we begin to live here as divine beings with a divine destiny, then gradually the guru kripa and the divine aspect of the Guru will begin to manifest, and we shall begin to partake of the guru kripa.
We have to make the start. From the very beginning to the very climax, all has to be got from the divine source. Until we make ourselves fit and generate the divine consciousness that we are not human beings, but we are souls in bondage—who only need a little transforming touch of guru kripa—we will not be able to fully make use of the Guru as the divine being.
To illustrate this point: A prince, who has lost his heritage and does not know that he is a prince, happens, in his wanderings, to stand before his father’s palace, being cowed down in the consciousness of a beggar. What is the maximum he will ask? He will ask: “Give me shelter for the night; give me food for the day.” And that is what he will get. Supposing this very prince is made to realise: you are the heir to the kingdom. Then he will demand the whole kingdom. He will not demand food and shelter only.
Similarly, we have first of all to develop in us the consciousness that we are immortal beings, we are in essence satchidananda. Then we can demand that satchidananda consciousness from the Guru and the Guru will be able to give.
Finally, we have to take into consideration one more factor. Even if someone were to tell the prince that he is a prince, and he is to go to his father and demand the heritage, perhaps he is a minor. The king may say: “All right, give him a palace, and he will become entitled to his heritage, the kingdom, when he attains majority.” Even so, there may be certain inner qualifications which are necessary for the full and effective reception of divine grace; until they are attained by the disciple, he will have to wait. Therefore, even after having seemingly attained all the qualifications of the ideal disciple, we have to wait in humility and in patience. We cannot arrogate to ourselves a perfection which is only visible to the discerning vision of a divine sight. Patience and humility in the spiritual realm may have to extend over a period of decades. We have to wait like a dog at the doorstep of the Guru for a whole lifetime if need be. There is no loss here, for the goal is immortal life, freedom.
If we have become willing servants and willing, obedient disciples, then it is the natural law that guru kripa will flow into us unasked. But, let us not commit the mistake of dictating to the Guru how his kripa should flow into us. For we have within ourselves desires, our own ideas of what is good and bad, what is pleasant and unpleasant, desirable and undesirable; and we want guru kripa to conveniently adjust and adapt itself to our needs and fancies. Guru kripa may come in an unpleasant form. It may come in the form of a series of disappointments. We may think that the Guru has not bestowed his kripa upon us; but that disappointment itself will be his kripa. Many things may be seemingly good and pleasant, but it may be hurtful to our spirit, and that the Guru alone can perceive and judge. As a fond, careful mother, he may deny us that desire. But it will be the greatest manifestation of guru kripa, meant to remove all the obstacles and dangers that are in our path, and to take us nearer and nearer to the consciousness of satchidananda. We are not fit to judge whether we are ready to receive guru kripa or not and what form it should take.
The best thing is to humbly leave everything to the Guru: “I do not know whether I am a disciple or not. Therefore, O Ocean of Mercy and Compassion, pray make me a proper disciple. Generate in me that mumukshutva that makes me a disciple, and give me the spirit of willing obedience. Help me in trying to follow thy instructions. Help me in trying to mould myself upon the pattern set up by thee.” This must be our constant prayer. And by this alone shall we be able to draw the kripa of our Guru and make our life fruitful. And the perfect way of praying is trying our best to be a real disciple. (By Sri Swami Sivananda)
Bhagawan Ramana Maharshi on Grace and Guru
I have not said that a Guru is not necessary. But a Guru need not always be in human form. First a person thinks that he is inferior and that there is a superior, all-knowing, all powerful God who controls his own and the world’s destiny and worships him or does bhakti. When he reaches a certain stage and becomes fit for enlightenment, the same God whom he was worshipping comes as Guru and leads him onward. That Guru comes only to tell him, ‘That God is within yourself. Dive within and realize’. God, Guru and the Self are the same.
Realization is the result of the Master’s (Guru’s) grace, more than teachings, lectures, meditations, etc. They are only secondary aids, whereas the former is the primary and essential cause. Guru’s grace is always there. You imagine it to be something somewhere high up in the sky, far away and which has to descend. It is really inside you in your Heart, and the moment, by any of the methods, you effect subsidence or merger of the mind into its source, the grace rushes forth, spouting as from a spring from within you. Contact with jnanis is good. They will work through silence. A Guru is not the physical form. Hence His contact remains even after the physical form of the Guru vanishes. After your bhakti to God has matured you, God comes in the shape of a Guru and from outside pushes your mind inside, while being inside as Self, He draws you there from within. Such a Guru is needed generally, though not for very rare and advanced souls.
One can go to a different Guru after one’s Guru has passed away. But after all, Gurus are one, as none of them are the form. Mental contact is always the best. Satsang means association with Sat or absolute Reality. One who knows or has realized Sat is also regarded as Sat.
Such association is absolutely necessary for all. Adi Sankara has said,
“In all the three worlds there is no boat like satsang to carry one safely across the ocean of births and deaths.”
￼Guru being actually formless, His contact will continue after His physical form vanishes. If one Jnani exists in the world, His influence will be felt by or benefit all people in the world, and not simply His immediate disciples. As described in Vedanta Chudamani, all the people in the world can be put under four categories: The Guru’s disciples, bhaktas, those who are indifferent to Him and those who are hostile to Him. All these will be benefited by the existence of the Jnani —each in his own way and to various degrees.
From the book, Divine Grace Through Total Self-Surrender, by D.C. Desai, Bhagawan, read out the following quotations by Paul Brunton (source:awakeningtimes.com):
“Divine Grace is a manifestation of the cosmic free will in operation. It can alter the course of events in a mysterious manner through its own unknown laws, which are superior to all natural laws, and can modify the latter by interaction. It is the most powerful force in the universe. It descends and acts only when it is invoked by total self-surrender. It acts from within, because God resides in the Heart of all beings. Its whisper can be heard only in a mind purified by self-surrender and prayer. Rationalists laugh at it, and atheists scorn it, but it exists. It is a descent of God into the soul’s zone of awareness.
It is a visitation of force unexpected and unpredictable. It is a voice spoken out of cosmic silence – It is ‘Cosmic Will which can perform authentic miracles under its own laws’. In truth, God and the Guru are not different. Just as the prey which has fallen into the jaws of a tiger has no escape, so those who have come within the ambit of the Guru’s gracious look will be saved by the Guru and will not get lost; yet, each one should by his own effort pursue the path shown by God or Guru and gain release.
Each seeker after God should be allowed to go his own way, the way for which he alone may be built (meant). It will not do to convert him to another path by violence. The Guru will go with the disciple in his own path and then gradually turn him onto the Supreme path at the ripe moment. Suppose a car is going at top speed. To stop it at once or to turn it at once would be attended with disastrous.”
We may read a lot of scriptures and practice meditation for many years. Still we may or may not succeed. However, if we win the grace of the Guru, everything will happen in a second.