Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Knowing and correcting

I feel it is one thing to know about something and a totally another thing to correct mistakes about something. The former is probably easier to acquire. But the latter requires ability to actually see the thought process of the person committing the error in perception. Seeing the error and not going by it is really something.

This can be especially challenging if the person who has arrived at a correct solution is not convinced about it completely. Basically, the solution has been arrived at by following a set of logical steps. In that case, even though there is faith in the process itself, there is not much conviction in the solution. This is even more difficult if the solution to the problem is not verifiable or not verifiable easily.

Coming to Vedanta, there are several people who achieve mokSha. But there are only a very few who actually are capable of guiding other seekers. This is a special ability and therefore such people are called Gurus. Gu - signifies darkness and ru signifies its removal. The entire word Guru means the remover of darkness. But what is darkness ? Darkness is nothing but the absence of light. It is not a separate thing by itself. In Vedanta, ignorance is equated to darkness as it is the absence of correct knowledge. When there is correct knowledge, there is no scope for misunderstanding or non-perception. Since ignorance (avidyA) is at the root of all misery, removing ignorance is tantamount to giving correct knowledge, thereby freeing the seeker from all forms of misery. Since the Guru removes this darkness of ignorance, and confers Infinite Bliss on the seeker, the Guru or the Expert Teacher or the Master is worshipped very highly in Eastern Spiritual traditions.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa used to say - 'When even such a low and mundane thing such as thievery requires a teacher, what can one say about the necessity of a Guru to acquire the Highest Knowledge ?".

In several upanishads, tantras and purANas, the Guru is revered as a personal form of the Almighty. He is rightly praised in several shlokas.

'gururbrahmA gururviShNuH gururdevo maheshvaraH |
gurussAkShAt parambrahmA tasmai shrIgurave namaH ||'

The Guru is indeed the Holy Trinity and is even the highest Brahman. Salutations to the Guru.

From an Absolute viewpoint - Our Guru is in us and is our very being. Since Brahman is everything, this establishes a connection between the inside and outside worlds.

A story I like immensely is the story of the AvadhUta and his twenty four Gurus. This story appears in the 12th canto of the shrImad-bhAgavata-mahApurANa in the conversation betweem Uddhava and Lord Srikrishna. I will write more about that story in my next post.

I will conclude this with a praise of the Guru again.

'gurave sarvalokAnAM bhiShaje bhavarogiNAm
nidhaye sarvavidyanAM dakShniNAmUrtaye namaH'

I salute Lord Dakshinamurti who embodies the Supreme aspect of the Guru. He is the Teacher of all the worlds and is the divine Physician who cures all our samsAric ailments. We salute Him, who is the repository of all the knowledge.

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