432/13: The Real Guru-Bhakti

Summary: Sadhaks for whom Guru-Bhakti is the main part of sadhana are plagued by various limitations. First, they may not be in physical proximity to their Guru. Secondly, only a few people can do physical seva to their guru at a given time. Thus, a single sadhak may not get an opportunity to serve his guru to his or her heart’s content. One way to overcome this lacuna in this path is to follow Guru’s instructions to the letter. However, even here, we may not get enough chance to talk to our Guru whenever we come across a difficulty or if we have another question in our mind. The only real way to serve one’s Guru is to make him our Sadguru and then the real bhakti becomes faithfully following the path shown by our Sadguru. This is the royal path of liberation.

Verse 432: Iye Shareereenchee Maatee, MeLaveen Tiye Kshitee, Jethe ShreecharaN Ubhe Thaatee, Aaraadhyaache.

Translation: The dust of this body, (I will) deposit at the place where stands the lotus feet of my aim (Sadguru).

In the Bhide’s Saarth Dnyaneshwari, the last word of this verse is ‘Shree-Guruche’. I usually read Bhide Dnyaneshwari since Dadasaheb told me to read this Dnyaneshwari. However, when I read this verse, the meaning that occurred to me did not fit with the word ‘Shree-Guruche’. However, I also have Mama Dandekar’s Sampradaayik Dnyaneshwari. In that version, this verse is numbered 431 and the last word is ‘Aaraadhyaache’. In the naath-sampradaya, the word ‘Shree-Guru’ is used for the guru who has initiated you (for example, Nivruttinaath was the Shree-Guru of Dnyaneshwar). Sadguru means his Nirgun form that resides in your heart, showing you the way of your personalized sadhana. (Ovi 22/1: Maj Hridayee Sadguru, JeNe Taarilo Haa Sansaarpuru, MhaNaoni Visheshe Atyaadaru, Vivekavari ) Now, understanding that your whole life is actually guided by this Sadguru and behaving accordingly is what I had previously called ‘sahaj sadhana’ and that is the main aim of our sadhana. Hence ‘Aaradhyaa’ (which means ‘the ultimate aim’) should mean Sadguru, not Shree-Guru. Therefore, I was very relieved to see that at least in one version of Dnyaneshwari, my understanding makes sense!!

This ovi is part of the description of how a real dnyani does guru-bhakti. Dnyaneshwar has written 91 verses (from verse 361 to 460) explaining Guru-bhakti showing his great liking to this aspect. Most of the description (up to verse 430) is about the bhakti of Shree-Guru. After that, he winds up by saying that once my body is gone, I will do bhakti in a totally different way (verse 431 Janv He Deha Asel, Tanv VoLagi Aisi Keejel, Mag Dehaanti Naval, Buddhi Aahe ). The summary of all the activity after the body is gone is the verse 432.

First of all, it does not make sense that we can do something after our body is gone! Usually, ‘Dehaant’ means death of a person. However, in verse 431, this word can be interpreted in a different way. Considering the context in which this word is used, it seems to me that this word only signifies a stage in our sadhana where our body consciousness is completely eliminated. Our sadhana is aimed at understanding our ‘Atmarupa’, the Nirgun form of our existence. Understanding it so well that we become continuously aware of the fact that Atmarupa is our real existence and all the rest (body, mind etc.) are all like shadows of this existence. The light of ‘Ahankaar’, the ego, causes this shadow. This light has been turned on just for fun or pure whim of our Atmarupa and it is our choice to switch it off if we had had enough of it. When we actually switch it off, we live in a way where we are aware of our body as if it is someone else’s body. We look at all the activities of our body and mind as if we are watching a cinema. At this point, we have lost the special bond that we currently have with our body and mind amongst all the bodies in this world. Our body and mind activities appear as important to us as the activities of strangers. We just let them happen without much interference. This stage of our sadhana can be likened to being in the Nirgun form. Thus it can be said that the body of such a sadhak has lost the special status for his body. This is the stage alluded to in the verse 431 and the present verse tells us how such a sadhak now does guru-bhakti.

Some of us may not believe the existence of such a state. Let me now describe some of the consequences of such a state. It is not hard to come to the conclusion that we are not our body. After all, our body has undergone so many changes since our birth that it would be foolish to hold onto its current form as our existence. However, even after this knowledge, there is still a special bond attached to our body. That bond is due to the fact that we seem to know what is happening to our body in intimate detail. Such a knowledge is not available to us about anyone else’s body or mind. Therefore, to severe this bond to our body, we must first reach a stage where we can ‘feel’ what others feel about their body and world exactly like what we feel about our own environment. A true yogi therefore first reaches a stage where he can ‘understand’ what is going on in someone else’s mind just like he can see into his own. When this happens, the special bond to our own mind and body gets severed. The numerous examples from the lives of most of the great sages showing their understanding of other’s minds precisely tells us that they have reached this stage of sadhana (and much more!). We may find it amazing but Ramakrishna Paramhans used to give the following example about such a person. Imagine a forest full of trees and suddenly a monkey arrives in it. All the trees would be amazed to see him going from one place to another. All through their lives they have seen only trees who cannot move from one place to another. We are all like those trees and the true yogi is like the monkey who (if he cares) can know all the details about our lives in an instant! Such a person is a different life-form so to speak. Just like the monkey is a totally different life form than a tree. Therefore, we should all believe that such a state do exist and it is very much attainable. This state, where we can move freely amongst the minds of all people is the stage where our own body has completely lost its special place in our life. In this sense our ‘dehaant’ has happened.

This verse is saying that even when the body loses its importance to us, we should use it to carry out the orders of Sadguru. Whatever the Sadguru is trying to tell us (in the form of inspired thoughts) will be carried out by us in total earnest. Our efforts may or may not fructify. We do not particularly care either way. His wish becomes our command. Actually if we think about it, at this stage, the sadhak himself or herself is very advanced in spiritual practices. He/She has almost attained Moksha, the freedom from the dominance of his mind and body over him. Even then, he behaves with utmost humility. He does not think that ‘now I fully know that I am not the body, I can do whatever with my body’. He behaves according to the wishes of his Sadguru, who is Krupa-Sindhu, the ocean of mercy. Therefore, even after realizing that the whole world is a maya (in the sense that everything in it has same importance and everything has no existence outside his mind), such a sadhak will still behave like a person who is keen to improve things around him. All his behaviour is towards the real good of people. This way, without any motive, he is serving his Guru. This is the real bhakti to his guru. First of all, he has made his Shree-Guru into a Sadguru. Then he has become one with his Sadguru and is continuously behaving according to its wishes. This is the different bhakti (… ‘Naval’ Aahe) that is alluded to in the verse 431.

Seen in this context, this verse also tells us, those who think Guru-Bhakti is their path of sadhana, the ultimate aim of sadhana. As long as we are aware of our body, we should try and please Shree-Guru in different ways. However, we should all remember that this bhakti is not complete unless we convert our body to dust (in our lifetime!) and offer the dust of our body at the lotus feet of our Sadguru. At that stage Shree-Guru has no meaning for the sadhak. He is perpetually immersed in the Nirgun form of Shree-Guru, the Sadguru. This is the only way to do purely Saatvik bhakti of our Guru. This bhakti does not infringe on any other sadhak’s right to perform seva to our common Guru. If you think that you can help Guru in taking bath, eating food or massage his feet or whatever other forms of help that you can think of, you are at the same time denying the opportunity to another like-minded sadhak who wants to do the same thing. For, only one person can perform each and every one of these things at a time! Thus, this Saatvik deed of yours is not completely saatvik, it is based on someone else’s frustration. Therefore, even if we only want to do true seva to our Guru and do nothing else, this ovi’s stage should be our only aim. It is only at such a stage that we are doing seva to our guru in the truest sense.

Such a lofty aim also has the capacity to lift our sadhana to a different level. Our effort is entirely dependent on our goals. This we can see in everyday life too. If we want to come first in an examination, our studies will be that much harder than when we only want to pass. Just like that, this aim of converting our own body into dust and offering that to our guru has a tremendous effect on our sadhana, as compared to being physically close to our Shree-Guru and doing all kinds of services for his physical well-being. This aim frees you from all the limitations imposed on you by the later aim. For those who value Guru-Bhakti over everything else in sadhana, this verse shows an ideal way to live life.

(This is an abridged form of the ‘pravachan’ given in Bangalore on October 28, 2006)

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