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The Guru Disciple Relationship


Swami Muktananda

Debt to the Guru

Question: You once said that it is impossible to ever repay the debt to the Guru. Is there no way for the disciple to repay the Guru for his divine grace?

Baba Muktananda: If you could tell me how to get free from this debt I would welcome your suggestion. Then I too would be able to free myself from this debt to my Guru, along with you.

Being fully aware that I can never repay that debt, I am honoring him here so much: I am holding arati [sacred ceremony of waving of lights] to him three times a day. I am following his teaching. Whatever I am doing is exactly what he wanted me to do.

What could a disciple possibly give to repay the debt to the Guru? We had only one thing and that was bondage, and the Guru took that away.

The Guru has awakened our inner Shakti; he has transformed our inner being and has made us like himself. How can we ever repay the Guru for this?

What do we have which could clear the debt? Nobody should think that the Guru's debt can be repaid by offering so many acres of land, which belong to the Lord in any case, or by offering him a few bundles of cloth. The Guru has transmitted his own power into us and has brought about a radical change in us.

Jnaneshwar Maharaj writes eloquently on this theme in his poetry. He says, "I am trying to find out how I can repay the debt to You, O Lord, but I have not succeeded. I could not repay this debt with anything of this world, so finally I have decided to give myself to You—the whole of myself—and I will no longer remain me.

Take my sense of separateness away from me forever so that even the question of repaying your debt may vanish from my mind." A disciple should therefore give himself to the Guru. He has nothing else by which he can repay the Guru.

- Swami Muktananda

Swami Sivananda

The Guru Disciple Relationship

Swami Sivananda once wrote that no person should think he is so great that he does not need the help and guidance of a superior person. There are so many things that the aspirant cannot see at the outset, and as he continues along the path of spiritual practice he will encounter difficulties that might otherwise overwhelm him. For these reasons the instruction and support of a guru are essential.

At the same time, it is probably not the verbal instruction from the guru that is the most important gift from him - rather it is his own life and shining example. Swami Sivananda did not spend much time giving lectures to his disciples; they all learned from him by watching the example he set. "My life is my teaching," he once said. Merely being with him, in his presence and under his protection could transform a person. One need only look at the truly great ones who Gurudev brought forth into the spiritual world: Swami Chidanandaji, Swami Krishnanandaji, Swami Venkatesanandaji, and Swami Satchidandandaji among so many others.

However, in this modern world, one must be extremely careful when choosing a guru. There are many persons who have crowned themselves "gurus" who abuse the authority of that trusted position. Until an aspirant has been able to observe a teacher over time, form a clear opinion of him and his character and trustworthiness, only then should the seeker commit himself heart and soul to that guru.

This guru-disciple bond is the most important relationship in a human life. It is in actual fact not a relationship between two human beings, but is the divine reaching out to the divine. This association is therefore not limited by time and space, but is an expression of the infinite.

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