Guru is Self-Effulgent
Posted January 12, 2004
A very interesting exchange has taken place between Subhadra Mayi and Rasi Priya Prabhus in which the essence of guru tattva and our possible misapplication of it, is being brought to the forefront.
It actually began with Alice Ahola who expressed that we shouldn't approach the guru with our problems. He is very busy taking three showers a day and so forth, and after all there are many other devotees who can help us. Subhadra Mayi responded that while it is true that guru should not be viewed as a superguru who can (with his danda/wand) make our problems vanish, and so we should learn to rely on our own resourcefulness, still guru should not be just there to accept daksine and service and give nothing back. He is after all, a spiritual guide to teach us the art of distinguishing reality from illusion. Rasi Priya responded that this is a business relationship -- the mood of doing service for something in return. We should always feel we haven't served gurudeva enough.
Who's right? Let's refer to an authority we all accept -- Krishna. In Bhagavad Gita 4.34, He says that there is indeed a reciprocal relationship between the guru and disciple, in which transcendental knowledge is imparted to the disciple. And yes, it is a business deal, based on the need of the disciple -- the guru's business is to open the disciples eyes so that he can, like the guru, distinguish truth from illusion. This is the process by which Arjuna became a disciple. Gradually he put all his doubts and misconceptions on the table, through a whole barrell load of questions, and Krishna's answers enlightened him, and made him see things from a completely different perspective, which had a wholly transforming and empowering effect on Arjuna. This is the guru-disciple dynamic -- to empower the disciple by ridding him of ignorance. The guru has nothing to gain from it -- whatsoever -- except that the questions the disciple gives may sometimes help him in his own realizations -- as evidenced in Srimad Bhagavatam. But primarily it is the disciple who gains, whereupon he appreciates the selfless service rendered by his guru and the priceless gift of transcendental vision. If his heart has been truly softened and he appreciates that most essential of all teaching -- the service attitude -- he feels he can never repay his guru with sufficient service. Service and surrender are the natural result of having one's eyes opened.
Subhadra Mayi is right -- whosoever does this should be regarded as guru.
For this reason, guru is described as self-effulgent. No genuine
relationship can be impaired by a GBC ruling that this person who has
enlightened me is not a guru, or initiated by the fact that they have
declared that he is. It is simply the experience of the disciple that is
the only testimony required. Nothing is required for one to be aware of
the self-effulgent sun, only the sun itself, and the receptive eye...