Over the years I notice that I have pondered much on the subject of the Guru/shishya, Master/disciple principle; though not premeditated I see in myself a fascination with this phenomenal bond in the spiritual arena. Of course this bond exists in normal teacher/student relationships too. Even those who are not actively on the path of spiritual discovery might see in themselves an influence by a teacher or professor, a mentor whose guidance has brought them to the present stage of life.
An example of my predisposition with this topic is the title of my book One Master one disciple which chronicles my journey in the Presence of my Guru, a journey that began with a mystical meeting in 1998; four years ago I wrote a blog on Gurus, shishyas and the Satguru and now here I am once again on a topic that is as intricate as it is mystical, fraught with strong opinions, understandings and misunderstandings bordering on the vacuous or intellectual. Yet, I am compelled to continue after my usual reiteration that the realisations here are mine alone and opposing views and realisations are equally valid- for those who have them, as these are for me. As noted earlier, my blogs are a way of light conversation, a time out from sadhana, in fact the topic is often the result of the sadhana- inner introspection.
The Principle Guru
I now realise that as my sadhana takes roots, my understanding of this Guru principle is deepening. It takes me towards a state of clarity unclouded by external factors or inner turmoil, I acknowledge this inner presence that reflects the outer presence of the Guru. This learning is for me, a great step towards true discipleship. Yogiraj in his book Babaji, the lightning Standing Still has included a chart with two headings, World Teacher and World King. In my humorous way I have always imagined a third column in this chart, that of ‘world disciples’ for those who would like to come in every lifetime to accompany these Teachers and Kings and are happy in that role and content to fill that column in every life! Ah a whimsical thought accompanied by a humble pranam 🙏🏽.
Very early on I had understood that one of the foremost accomplishment of the external Satguru is to turn the disciple inwards towards the inner guru. In fact, by their very nature Guru’s perform this act of revelation; stopping and reversing the flow of attention from the external to the inner Guru. Of course each disciple makes this journey at their own pace. This process of reversal and inner wisdom is a part of the yogic path, as layers of the koshas, from gross to subtle are purified through the given practice, the inner guide starts to shine forth. As the veil dissolves the disciple realises the externally present and their inner Guru to be of the same essence.
The Flux Motion
As the yogi practitioners apply themselves to the practice given by their Satguru, a process is put into motion similar to the process of the germination of a seed. As the disciple is saturated with the Satgurus grace the dormant and or latent seed of the Vivek Buddhi in the disciple awakens and begins to expresses itself. The practice and the presence of the living master works like the water and sun helping the disciple to realise their full potential. There are of course many permutations and combinations to this development, the fertility of the soil, the receptivity of the seed itself, the surrounding environment and climate of the society in which the disciple interacts. But I have realised that when the seed is ready to sprout the water and the sun- the Satguru will find them to start the process of awakening.
As the seed sprouts it not only germinates and moves up towards the sun but also puts down roots to harness nourishment from the soil. Ditto with the disciple encouraged and nourished by the grace and loving guidance of the master and the rooting into the practice of the given technique of inner understanding, the disciple expresses the spiritual radiance in all their actions, manifested and unmanifested. This is a great learning experience and many years and lifetimes may go in this process, as one lifetime may not be enough to accomplish the required level of inner wisdom to finally let go, the ego of it all.
The Veil of the Panchakoshas
Often I hear people referring to how they listen to their inner guide for all matters spiritual and that they don’t need an external Guru or a practice for guidance. But, according to me, it’s not an easy matter to be able to connect to this inner guide, or to be sure the guidance that is coming is not dictated by one’s own desires or wants.
The body is made up of 5 layers or koshas, the annamaya physical body of food, the pranamaya body of breath/pran, the manomaya the body of mind and emotion, the vignyanamaya body of intellect and the anandamaya body of intuition, each contributing to refraction of information received and executed, all influencing one another and the five senses that collect information. Beyond these is the soul, also covered with its samskars and past karmas. Within this multilayered shell is the hidden spark of the inner guru.
For the inner Guru to shine forth unhindered the external layers have to reach a state of clarity and stillness unhindered by turbulence. To accomplish this, many tools are used by those on this path- various pranayam techniques, mantra frequencies, chakra sadhana etc. For practicing yogis a natural adherence to the 8 limbs of yog sadhana. In some cases sitting in the Presence of a master aids in accomplishing this state, depending upon the stature of the Master and readiness of the disciple this can be speedy or slow. Only conscious effort brings the disciple to this stage of unperturbed equilibrium is my realisation.
The wonder is that as the outer Satguru’s grace and our own effort with the practice builds the bridge from out to in, the already present inner Guru expresses in to out completing the formation of the bridge. On a lighter note my mind conjures up the building of the Eurotunnel, where work began on both ends and the Chunnel then met perfectly in the middle. Of course no spiritual pun intended…about France and UK, about who is Master and who disciple, lets leave it to the football teams to decide that 😂
The Final Turnabout
In the end we return to the seed that has sprouted and grown roots and shoots akin to the disciple fully nurtured with all the inner wisdom, expressing it in all facets of their lives. The final service the Satguru does is to now reverse the process to a withdrawal where the seed pulls back into itself its outer manifestations and the disciple moving inwards rests in the inner Nothingness, knowing that it is of the same essence as the essence of the external Satguru and Master. The disciple during practice may have already become aware of this similarity of essence, of the clear stream of consciousness that connects the innermost core of the Satguru with their own innermost core, devoid of all external paraphernalia. Nay the disciple may have already learnt to ‘listen’ internally to this essence of the Satguru, the true gnosis. But in the final retracing and resting in this state is the purpose of the yog sadhana accomplished.
This seems to be the primary function of the Satguru, to assist in forming the bridge that transports the disciple to the inner guru and rest in THAT.
For this great service a disciple can never repay the SatGuru.
Note* This germinating seed is just one of my analogies, there are and can be many as this whole process of the Guru/disciple phenomena is very fascinating and has as many permutations combinations as there are Gurus and shishyas. My realisation of the Outer & Inner Guru, however remains constant.
December 14, 2021 at 8:19 am
Thank you Jyoti ji, for such a wonderful article about Guru-Disciple relationship🙏🌷🌷🙏
December 15, 2021 at 9:45 pm
Great article in line with many others published before. It made me introspect my own spiritual journey and although i am still a pilgrim with a long journey ahead but i tend to agree to authors opinion on the matter as i progress further along.
December 15, 2021 at 10:34 pm
Even Rama, Krishna and others had Gurus. We can even learn from the crows in sharing food
December 16, 2021 at 6:50 am
Lovely article and relationship of Guru-sishya is explained in such a simple , easy way yet has the details. Jyoti akka, Like your previous articles this article is also a wonderful read and really gives me the opportunity to introspect my own spiritual journey.