Bhakti Sandarbha 206 : The śravaṇa- and bhajana-śikṣā-gurus are usually the same person


This is an important section, with an extensive and solid commentary by Babaji Maharaj. 

The guru-disciple relation is one the most important and unique aspects of Indian society. Indeed, this one relation makes the Indian society distinct in the whole world. Although at present there is little or no training in this principle, it still goes very deep in the Indian psyche, as if it is in their genes. Its importance can be understood only by experiencing it. For the modern mind, it appears as if the disciple has sacrificed his independence to become a slave of the guru. The modern mind cannot understand how the only way that transcendental knowledge can be transmitted is from the heart of the guru into that of the disciple. It is not simply a matter of attending a lecture in the classroom where a teacher speaks and then goes away. The disciple and teacher remain bound to each other. When the relation is pure then the teaching is transmitted even without words. It is as if their hearts get linked up and the knowledge is transferred through this bond.

This section on guru-tattva continues on to Anuccheda 213.



Anuccheda 206

The śravaṇa- and bhajana-śikṣā-gurus are usually the same person

अथ श्रवणगुरुभजनशिक्षागुर्वोः प्रायिकमेकत्वमिति तथैवेत्याह (भा. ११.३.२२) —

तत्र भागवतान् धर्मान् शिक्षेद्गुर्वात्मदैवतः।
अमाययानुवृत्त्या यैस्तुष्येदात्मात्मदो हरिः॥

The śravaṇa-guru and the bhajana śikṣā guru are generally the same person, as sage Prabuddha told King Nimi:
Making the guru one’s personal deity, one should learn from him the principles of devotion to Bhagavān. By sincerely enacting those principles, Bhagavān Hari, the Self [of the Universe] who gives Himself [to His devotees], will be pleased. (SB 11.3.22)
"तस्माद्गुरुं प्रपद्येत" (भा. ११.३.२१) इति पूर्वोक्तेस्तत्र श्रवणगुरौ। गुरुरेव आत्मा जीवनं दैवतं निजेष्टदैवततयाभिमतश्च यस्य, तथाभूतः सन्। अमायया निर्दम्भया, अनुवृत्त्या तदनुगत्या शिक्षेत्। यैर्धर्मैः। आत्मा परमात्मा। भक्तेभ्य आत्मप्रदः श्रीबलिप्रभृतिभ्य इव। अस्य शिक्षागुरोर्बहुत्वमपि प्राग्वज्ज्ञेयम्॥

The śravaṇa guru was defined earlier [in Anuccheda 202] in the verse, "Therefore, one should approach a preceptor" (SB 11.3.21). Here, "making the guru one’s personal deity" (gurv-ātma-daivataḥ) means that the guru alone is one's self, i.e., one’s very life; "personal deity" (daivatam) means that one should consider the guru as the cherished form of Bhagavān whom one desires to serve. One should learn by "sincerely" (amāyayā), meaning without arrogance, "enacting those principles" (anuvṛttyā), i.e., following obediently.

[There are two adjectives in this verse describing Bhagavān, ātmā and ātmada:] The word Self (ātmā) means the Supreme Self [who dwells in the hearts of all living beings]. The word ātmādaḥ means He gives Himself to His devotees like Bali and others. As mentioned previously, one can have numerous such śikṣā-gurus.

॥११.३॥ श्रीप्रबुद्धो निमिम्॥२०६॥


Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaja

The śravaṇa-guru is the teacher from whom one learns the śāstra, and the bhajana-śikṣā-guru is the one who teaches practical aspects of sādhana-bhakti. Usually these two will be the same because the person from whom one begins to study will naturally become one’s guide for spiritual practice. It is best that they be the same person, otherwise there can be confusion in the mind of the student. If the student hears different opinions from two different teachers, he or she will be in trouble because he or she has to disregard the words of one of them, which could lead to offense. If both these gurus come in the same spiritual family then there may not be any great difference in their teachings, otherwise there is bound to be some difference.

One sometimes hears of Vaiṣṇavas in Vrindavan who had respected seniors or gurus on both sides of a controversy and who then went and hid so that they would not have to take sides, fearing that to do so would offend one of them.

The guru-disciple relation is one the most important and unique aspects of Indian society. Indeed, this one relation makes the Indian society distinct in the whole world. Although at present there is little or no training in this principle, it still goes very deep in the Indian psyche, as if it is in their genes. Its importance can be understood only by experiencing it. For the modern mind, it appears as if the disciple has sacrificed his independence to become a slave of the guru. The modern mind cannot understand how the only way that transcendental knowledge can be transmitted is from the heart of the guru into that of the disciple. It is not simply a matter of attending a lecture in the classroom where a teacher speaks and then goes away. The disciple and teacher remain bound to each other. When the relation is pure then the teaching is transmitted even without words. It is as if their hearts get linked up and the knowledge is transferred through this bond.

Indian history is filled with stories of this pristine relation from the age of the Upaniṣads through to modern times. In this regard Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (6.23) says,

yasya deve parā bhaktir yathā deve tathā gurau
tasyaite kathitā hy arthāḥ prakāśante mahātmanaḥ

To one who has the same kind of supreme devotion for the guru as he has for his worshippable deity, the meaning of all these statements that have been spoken are revealed.

The verse cited here is spoken by sage Prabuddha is the most important instruction for a sincere disciple. In the earlier verse, cited in Anuccheda 202 he gave the characteristics of a qualified guru. In this verse he gives those of the sincere disciple. The first thing mentioned is that the student should study the bhāgavata-dharma or bhakti from the guru. Bhakti is not to be understood by reading books or articles on the internet. One must study it from the guru. This is an injunction, śikṣet. There is no alternative option. The second part is that one must render service to the guru (anuvttyā). The service must be done without any duplicity or deceptive mentality (amāyayā). Kṛṣṇa says,

nāham ijyā-prajātibhyāṁ tapasopaśamena ca
tuṣyeyaṁ sarva-bhūtātmā guru-śuśrūṣayā yathā

I, the self of all beings, am not as pleased with daily sacrifice, study of the Vedas, austerities or renunciation as I am by service to the guru. (10.80.34)

Nārada says that one can attain perfection simply by service to a qualified guru. (7.15.25). On the other hand if one disrespects the guru then one cannot achieve anything spiritually (7.15.26). The guru is the key, the doorway to the spiritual world, as well as the companion in the spiritual world. Therefore, one must treat the guru with respect and love. The word gurv-ātma-daivatah is very important. We saw a similar expression in the very first anuccheda of this book. It means that one must treat the guru as one’s own ātmā and as devatā. Ātmā means the object of pure, unconditional love. One should love the guru as one would love God or Kṛṣṇa. Nothing can remain hidden from one’s ātmā, and there is a sense of unity. There should be a oneness of heart between the guru and the disciple. The disciple needs to match his or her heart with the heart of the guru, as it is said, samānam vā ākūtiḥ samānaṁ vā manāṁsi. This is the significance of the word ātmā.

It also means that one should be like an open book in front of the guru.

The second word is daivatam, the guru is one’s worshippable. If there is only love then one may not take instructions from the guru. One may become too familiar with him. Therefore, the sage says daivatam, one must honor the guru like one’s worshippable deity. Never should one think of the guru as an ordinary person, guruṣu nara-matiḥ, In other words the disciple has to have both moods with guru, aiśvarya and mādhurya, reverential and intimate. When one serves the guru in this way, Kṛṣṇa is pleased. He is here called ātmātmadaḥ, "one who gives himself to His devotees." When Kṛṣṇa was pleased with Bali’s surrender, He gave Himself to Bali and became his doorkeeper. The meaning is that when the guru is pleased, then Kṛṣṇa is pleased.



Bhakti Sandarbha 204-5: Proper Deliberation on Śāstra Brings About Śraddhā in Bhajana
Bhakti Sandarbha 203: The Guru Should not be Greedy
Bhakti Sandarbha 202 : The Necessity of Guru : Different Types of Sadhus Give Different Types of Bhakti
Bhakti Sandarbha 202: The two devotional proclivities and taking a Guru
Bhakti Sandarbha 201 : The Ananya Bhakta is Superior to the Jñānī Bhakta
Bhakti Sandarbha 200 : The Intermediate Devotee Renounces Karma
Bhakti Sandarbha 199 : Divisions of Devotees on the Basis of their Spiritual Practice
Bhakti Sandarbha 198 : Bhagavān is Bound to the Heart of an Uttama Bhāgavata
Bhakti Sandarbha 191-197 : More Characteristics of the Uttama Bhagavata

Comments

Anonymous said…

Again, a play on the words म (ma) + ह (ha) + आत्मन् (ātmán) + अह् (ah)

म (ma) see 4:

http://www.sanskrita.org/scans/visor.html?scan=771.gif

ह (ha) See 2, 3, 4, 5:

http://www.sanskrita.org/scans/visor.html?scan=1286.gif

हा (hā) See 1, 2 & 3:

http://www.sanskrita.org/scans/visor.html?scan=1296.gif

आत्मन् (ātmán):

http://www.sanskrita.org/scans/visor.html?scan=135.gif

अह् (ah) see 1 and N.B.* 2 (ahnoti, “to pervade”):

http://www.sanskrita.org/scans/visor.html?scan=124.gif

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