24 GURUs of an AVA-DHUTA — From the Bhagavata Purana Chapter XI

Hari Om


Brahmâ and other Devas went to Dvârakâ. Addressing Krishna; Brahmâ said: — “All that we prayed for has been done. One hundred and twenty-five years have passed away since thou didst appear in the line of Yadus. That line is also well nigh extinguished. Now go back to thy own abode, if it pleases thee.”

Sri Krishna replied: — “The extinction of the Yâdavas has been set on foot by the curse of the Rishis. I shall remain on Earth, till it is completely brought about.” There were unusual phenomena at Dvârakâ. The elders came to Krishna. He proposed a pilgrimage to Prabhâsa. So the Yâdavas made preparations for going to Prabhâsa. Uddhava saw the evil portents and he heard what Sri Krishna said. “I see, O Lord,” said he to Sri Krishna, “thou shalt leave this earth, as soon as the Yadus are destroyed. I can not miss thy feet even for half a moment. So take me to thy own abode.”

Sri Krishna replied: — “It is true as you say. My mission is fulfilled. The Devas ask me to go back. The Yâdavas shall be killed by mutual quarrel. On the seventh day from this, the sea shall swallow up this seat of Dvârakâ. As soon as I leave this earth, Kali shall overtake it and men shall grow unrighteous. It will not then be meet for you to remain here. Give up all and free yourself from all attachments and roam about over this earth, with your mind fixed on me, looking on all beings with equal eyes. Whatever is perceived by the senses and the mind, know all that to be of the mind, and so Mâyic and transitory. “This is this” and “this is that” this conception of difference is only a delusion of him whose mind is distracted (i.e. not united to Me). It is this delusion which causes experiences of right and wrong. It is for those that have got notions of right and wrong that (the Vedas speak) differently of the performance of prescribed work (Karma), the non-performance of prescribed work (Akarma), and the performance of prohibited work (Vikarma). (This has reference to Varna and Âsrama duties. As long as a man identifies himself with some Varna or Âsrama he looks upon others also as belonging to some Varna or Âsrama. He therefore makes a distinction between men and men. The Varnâsrama duties are prescribed by the Vedas for a man, so long as he entertains ideas of difference. When he looks equally upon a Brâhmana and a Chandâla, when he finds his Lord every where and finds all beings in the Lord within himself, he becomes a man of the Universe, a Bhâgavata. For him the Vedas do not make any rule. He is above all rules and restrictions. But the Varnâsrama duties are to be respected, so long as one makes any difference between man and man.) Control thy senses and control thy mind. See the wide-spread Universe in thyself and see thyself in Me, the Lord. Learn and digest all that is given in the scriptures. Contented with self perception, the very self of all other beings, you shall have no danger from others. You will do no wrong but not because it is prohibited by the Scriptures, and you will do what is prescribed but not because it is so prescribed (i.e. the sense of right and wrong will be natural in you, independently of Sastric teachings.) You will exceed the limits of both right and wrong and do things just like a child. The friend of all beings, calm and quiet at heart, fixed in wisdom and direct knowledge, you will see the Universe full of Me and you will not be drawn back to births.”

Uddhava said: —

“Lord of Yoga, what thou sayest for my final bliss is a complete renunciation of all worldly attachments. It seems to me however that the giving up of desires is not possible for those that have their mind filled with the object world, unless they are completely devoted to Thee.

“I have not yet got over the sense of ‘I’ and ‘Mine.’ Tell me how I can easily follow out Thy teachings.”

Sri Krishna replied: —

“Generally those men that are skilful in discrimination rescue self from worldly desires by means of self, (i.e. they may do so, even without the help of a Guru, by means of self discrimination.) Self is the instructor of self, specially in man (Purusha.)” (Even in animals, preserving instincts proceed from self. So self is the instructor. Śridhara) “For it is self that finds out final bliss by direct perception and by inference. Wise men, well versed in Sânkhya and Yoga, look upon Me as Purusha pervading all beings, and possessing all powers. (This is according to Śridhara, the direct perception by which final bliss is attained. The word Purusha here has something like the sense of a Monad in Theosophical literature. The passage quoted by Śridhara from the Upanishads to illustrate the idea of Purusha also shews this.) There are many habitations created for life manifestation, some, with one, two, three or four feet, some with many feet and some with no foot. Of these, however, that of man (Pourushi) is dear to me. For in this form of Man those that are fixed in meditation truly find me out, the Lord, though beyond all objects of perception, by the indications of perceived attributes as well as by inferences from the same.” (Indications. Buddhi, Manas and others, the perceived attributes, are in their nature manifestless. The manifestation is not possible except through one that is self manifest. Therefore Buddhi and others point to Him.

Inferences. Whenever there is an instrument, there is some one to use it. Buddhi and others are instruments. There is therefore one who guides these. Śridhara.) In this matter of self instruction, hear the story of an Ava-dhuta (an ascetic who renounces all worldly attachments and connections.)



Yadu asked an Ava-dhûta how he could get that clear spiritual vision, by which he was able to give up all attachments, and roam like a child in perfect bliss.

The Ava-dhûta replied: —

I have many Gurus, O king — Earth, Air, Âkâsa, Water, Fire, the Moon, the Sun, the pigeon, the huge serpents, the ocean, the insect, the bee, the elephant, the collector of honey, the deer, the fish, Pingalâ, the osprey, the child, the maid, the maker of arrows, the serpent, the spider and the wasp. These are my twenty four Gurus.

Though oppressed by the elements, the Earth does not deviate from her path, as she knows that they are only guided by the divine law. This forbearance I have learned from the Earth. I have learned from the mountain (which is a part of the Earth) that all our desires should be for the good of others and that our very existence is for others and not for self. I have learned entire subordination to other’s interests from the trees (also part of the Earth).

I have learned from the vital air, that one should be content only with such things as keep up the life and should not care about the objects of the senses. (The sage should keep up his life so that his mind be not put out of order and his mental acquisitions lost; but at the same time he should not be attached to the objects of the senses, so that his speech and mind be not disturbed.)

Though placed in the midst of the objects with different attributes, the Yogi should not be attached to them. This I have learned from the outside air. The soul enters the body and the bodily attributes seem its own, but it is not so. The air is charged with smell, but the smell is no attribute of air.

Âtmâ is all pervading and it is not affected by the body and bodily attributes. This I have learned from Akâsa which, though all pervading, seems to be conditioned by clouds and other objects.

Transparency, agreeability and sweetness, I have learned from water. The sage purifies others like water.

Powerful in knowledge and glowing with asceticism, the sage receiving all things does not take their impurities even as fire.

Fire eats the sacrificial ghee when offered to it and consumes the sins of the offerer. The sage eats the food offered to him by others but he burns up their past and future impurities.

Fire is one though it enters fuels of various sorts.

One Âtmâ pervades all beings, however different they may appear by the action of Avidyâ.

Birth, death, and other affections are states of the body, not of Âtmâ. The moon looks full, diminished and gone, though it is the same in all these states.

The sun draws water by its rays and gives it all away in time. The sage takes in order to give, and not in order to add to his own possessions.

The sun reflected on different surfaces appears to the ignorant as many and various. The Âtmâ in different bodies, even appears as such.

Too much attachment is bad. This I have learned from a pair of pigeons. They lived in a forest. One day they left their young ones in the nest and went about in search of food for them. When they returned they found the young ones netted by a hunter. The mother had too much affection for the young ones. She fell into the net of her own accord. The father also followed suit and the hunter was pleased to have them all without any exertion of his own.

The huge Ajagara serpent remains where he is and is content with whatever food comes to him.

The sage is calm and deep, not to be fathomed or measured. He is limitless (as the unconditioned self is manifested in him). He is not to be disturbed even like the tranquil ocean. The ocean may receive volumes of water from the rivers at times or may receive no water at other times. But it remains the same, even as the sage at all times.

He who is tempted by woman is destroyed like an insect falling into fire.

The bee takes a little from every flower. The Sanyâsî should take only a little from each Grihasthâ, so that the Grihasthâ may not suffer.

The bee extracts honey from all flowers big or small. The Sage should extract wisdom from all Sâstras big or small. Do not store anything for the evening or for the morrow. Have only so much for your bhikshâ (alms given to a Sanyâsî) as may suffice for one meal. The bee is killed for his storing.

The Bhikshu shall not touch a woman though made of wood, even with his feet. The elephant is shewn a female and is drawn into a trap. The woman is the death of the sage. He should never approach her. The elephant seeking a female is killed by stronger elephants.

The miser neither gives nor enjoys his riches. What ever he collects with difficulty is carried away by some one else. The collector of honey carries away the honey collected by others. He does not make it by his own effort. The Sanyâsî without any effort of his own gets food from the Grihasthâs, as it is their duty to feed him.

Do not hear vulgar songs. The deer is attracted by songs and is entrapped.

The love of taste is to be conquered above all, for it is most difficult to conquer. When the sense of taste is controlled, all other senses are controlled. The fish is killed when tempted by the bait.

Pinglâ, a courtesan of Videha waited the whole day for some lover who might come and make presents to her, with breathless expectation. The night approached and she grew restless She then thought within herself: — “For what a trifle, am I so uneasy. Why not seek Íshvara, the eternal giver of all pleasures and all desires.” She gave up all hopes and expectations that troubled her ere long and became happy. She had good sleep in the night. It is hope that gives us trouble. Without hope we are happy.

When the bird kurara (osprey) gets some flesh to eat, the stronger birds kill him. He is happy when he renounces the flesh. Renunciation of dear objects is good for the sage.

The child has no sense of honor or dis-honor. It has not the thoughts of a man of the world. It is self content and it plays with self. I roam about like the child. The child is however ignorant, but the sage crosses the limits of the Gunas.

Some people came to select a bride. The maid was alone in the house. She received the men who came. She went to a solilary place to beat off the impurities of the rice for their meal. She had shell-made bracelets on her wrists. These made a great noise. She felt disgust and broke the bracelets one by one, till only one remained on each hand. When there are two or more at one place, they cause a jarring sound, and they quarrel. I have therefore earned solitariness from the maid.

I have learned concentration of mind from the maker of arrows.

The serpent has no home. It roams in solitude. So do I.

Nârâyana draws in the whole creation at the end of the Kalpa and becomes one, the resort of all.

By Kâla Śakti, the thread, Mahat, first comes out and the universe is again brought into manifestation. The spider brings the thread out of himself, spreads out the web and devours it himself.

(There is a kind of wasp, which catches a particular insect and carries it into a hole. It is supposed that the insect assumes the form of the wasp through fear.) When either through affection, hatred, or fear, a man throws his whole heart upon some object and the mind holds it fast, he attains the form of that object. I have learned this from the wasp.

Thus I have learned from my Gurus, My own body is also my Guru. I have learned from it dispassion and discrimination. The body is born only to die. Constant misery is its lot. I know the truths, by a discriminative study of the body. Still I regard it as not mine and so I feel no attachment for it (The body belongs to the dogs and jackals who devour it after death. Śridhara.)

What does not a man do for the enjoyment of the body — but it comes to an end after all, having created the germs of another body.

The possessor of the body is now drawn away by this sense, now by that sense, now by this action now by that action. The senses suck his very life blood, even as the many wives of one husband.

The Lord created vegetable and animal bodies. But he was not satisfied with them. For the human body only has the power to perceive Brahmân.

Therefore after many births, when the human body is once attained, one should strive promptly for his supreme bliss.

Yadu heard these words of wisdom, and he gave up all attachments.

GF’ Blessings.