[Advaita-l] Importance of faith and need for a Guru

Sriram Krishnamurthy asksriramjobs at gmail.com
Sat Sep 1 01:07:45 CDT 2007

*What is Faith?

Shankara defines faith as firm belief in the words of the Guru and Sastras
and it is the means to realize the Truth. This has been highly eulogized in
the scriptures. For instance, in the Gita it is said, "Man is what his faith

Who is a Guru?

Who is the Guru in whom we are supposed to have intense faith? The Upanishad
declares that he indeed is fit to be a Guru who is the Knower of the Truth
and who is well versed in the scriptures. It is obvious that if the Guru be
one who is not a knower of the Truth then his guiding of the disciple will
be like that of a blind man leading another blind man.


*Hallmark of the Guru and the Disciple

Further, the Guru must have only the interest of the disciple in mind and
not have any selfish motive. Such a Guru is indeed the boat to cross the
ocean of transmigratory existence. The disciple for his part must approach
the Guru in all sincerity without the feeling that he himself is competent
to attain the state of perfect bliss. If one does not seek guidance in the
spiritual path, one would be in jeopardy as the path is subtle and fraught
with many obstacles.

Sometime ago a person came to Acharyal (Sri Abhinava Vidyatheertha
Mahaswamigal) and said that he was suffering from intense body pain.
Acharyal immediately recognized it as due to improper practice of spiritual
disciplines and suggested the appropriate remedy. The result was that in a
couple of days the pain vanished. Had the person sought advice earlier, he
would not have had to suffer. The Guru can and does, by his blessings, bring
about great spiritual progress in the disciple. Obstacles that seem
insurmountable just vanish by the Guru's grace.

This is indeed in accordance with the Upanishadic teaching that what the
Knower of the Truth wills, must come to pass. We have the example of
Shankara conferring knowledge on His dull disciple Giri by mentally blessing
him thereby transforming him into the great Totakacharya. We need not even
go that far. We have seen many cases of people getting excellent meditation
and peace after receiving the instructions and blessings of Acharyal.

Guru is impartial

At this stage it may seem that the Guru, who is a veritable ocean of
compassion whom the scriptures declare to be non-different from God, has
likes and dislikes. Just as fire, without discrimination, gives warmth to
those who approach it, so too does the Guru compassionately confer his
blessings on those who seek refuge in him with faith and on those who have
acquired much merit in the previous births. The Knower of the Truth has
nothing to achieve and so his care of the disciple is even more unselfish
and purer than even that of a mother.

Guru's advice essential even for the worldly

The need for faith in the words of the Guru and the consequent obedience is
applicable not merely to the one who strongly aspires for liberation but
also to a worldly person. The Guru not only grants spiritual prosperity but
is also competent to destroy all worldly problems. Have we not seen ever so
many people getting freedom from even incurable diseases like cancer by the
blessings of Acharyal?

This does not mean, however, that the Guru is a miracle-monger. Far from it
– His body and mind are the perfect instruments in the hands of God to carry
out His will. Some people complain that their prayers are not being
answered. Let them analyze their own minds and they will see that they are
wanting in faith as they have some lurking doubt regarding the certainty of
the prayer being heard.

It is easy to talk about philosophy but it is of no avail if one does not
practice. For this one must go to a Guru. When Acharyal is there where is
the need for any search (to find a Guru)?

*Source : Dakshnimnaya Sringeri Sri Sharada Peetam Shankaracharya His
Holiness Sri Bharathi Theertha Maha Swamigal*

*Om Tat Sat,*


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