[Advaita-l] Guru Worship

Lakshmi Muthuswamy lakmuthu at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 28 14:14:51 CDT 2006

K Kathirasan   NCS <kkathir at ncs.com.sg> wrote: Namaste,

The last statement by Sastrigal has prompted me to ask the following

Today we have a few rituals such as Guru Pada puja, Guru Puja etc... 


My question is "Why praise a human being by performing guru puja?" This is being asked by very many youngsters today. 

Getting up in the morning and doing a namaskara to the altar and parents was a must in our homes. This was inculcated at a very young age so that the reverence to the parents and elders continue to be imbibed in their system as they grow up. Sadly this has disappeared from our culture in our homes and so such questions arise.

I am  reproducing some parts of the Book "Prayer Guide" by Swami Dayanda Sarasvati of Arsha VIdya Gurukulam as an answer to my own question.

"The Lord himself is teh Guru. Why don't we go diriectly to the Lord? Suppose you perform penance and get to see God and ask him for self-knowledge. God will aks you to go to the teacher. He  cannot improve upon his own words that you are the whole. That is the only knowledge."

"A guru teaches the spiritual knowledge. the word guru has a number of meanings. the one who teaches is a guru; the one who helps somebody out of a trouble is also a guru. These days the word guru is used in the english language. American press, we find 'guru' being used very widely by journalists. they say for instance 'he is an auto mobile gurur" He is a stock market Guru".

When a person thinks himself as a guru, the one who lkearns from him also feels that is true - he evokes in you the feeling of a disciple. In addition to martial arts teachers, classical dance masters and musicians also insist on being called a guru. Many teachers of art forms that must be taught directly are considered gurus.

While I have nothing against such usage, the word 'guru' really can be used only for a person who imparts spiritual knowledge. A guru is one who unfolds the knowledge that you are the whole, non seperate from the Lord. A guru is the upadesha karta -the one who is the teacher of the mahAvAkya, the equation revealing that you are the whole.

 The wholeness, which you are seeking, is not separate from you. The very fact that you are seeking that is because it is yoou - you want to be yourself. The one who teaches that is called a guru.That is the final definition. He is the mahAvakya upadesha karta, the one who teaches the statement revealing the identity of the individual in realtion to the lord, the whole.

We invoke the lord in the guru. The guru is a human being. When the guru is praised, however as in the following verse, the human element is not taken ointo account.

gurur brahmA gurur vishNuh gurur devo mahesvarah

gurureva param brahma tasmai srI gurave namah

the guru is Brahma, the guru is Vishnuh, the guru is Mahesvara(Shiva), the guru is the immediate limitless Brahman. Salutations to that revered guru.

Only the truth element is taken into account because the guru teaches that you are Brahman, you are limitless.

When he teaches that you are limitless, he doesnot mean, "I am limited; you are limitless." In fact you are limitless and he is limitless.

The limitless is Brahma, the limitless is Vishnuh, the limitless is Rudra or Shiva, and the limitless is you. Everything is this limitlessness.

So when we praise the guru, the human element is absorbed into the total element. you either relegate the human element into the background or absorb it into the total.It is the total that is worshipped. In that way, the guru, the person with a human body who teaches, becomes a kind of altar of worship, but what is being invoked is the Lord.

When you worship the form, murti of Sri Dakshinamurti in the temple, it is not the murti you are worshipping but the Lord. You invoke and worship the Lord ina particular form.

Similarly, when youm praise the person who teaches you and for whom you have shraddhA, it is not the individual person you praise, but the teaching itself, for what he teaches is not separate from him."

om nnamo narayanaya
Lakshmi Muthuswamy

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