KATHMANDU: The human mind is inquisitive and curious. Nothing attracts and excites it like knowledge. Even a small child is curious. It begins the journey of life trying to explore nature. This shows that knowledge is the primary food of our mind and the most
important propeller of our growth on earth. This search for something new never ends until death.
This quest for know-ledge is best reflected in the relationship between the guru (teacher) and the shishya (disciple) in
spiritual traditions. Guru purnima is a day when we pay obeisance to the lifeline of all civilisations. Human beings achieved excellence in every field of endeavour because spirituality — the science of self-management — was kept alive by generations of great visionaries. The word ‘guru’ means someone who leads you from darkness to light.
Spiritual aspirants attach paramount importance on their gurus. Gurus are often equated with god and regarded as a link between the individual (self) and the god (supreme self). Just as the moon shines by reflecting the light of the sun, all disciples can dazzle by learning from their gurus. The teacher-student relationship is accorded paramount importance in spiritual traditions. Spiritual growth is impossible without a guru’s help, who is Brahmagyani, meaning one established in state of god realisation and has the authority and skills to impart subtle spiritual concepts to his disciples.
According to the Hindus, guru purnima is the day when Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa — author of the Mahabharata — was born to sage Parashara and a fisherman’s daughter, Satyavati. Thus, this day is also celebrated as Vyasa purnima. Veda Vyasa gathered all the Vedic hymns during his time, divided them into four parts based on their use and taught them to his four chief disciples — Paila, Vaisampayana,
Jaimini and Sumantu. It was this dividing and editing that earned him the title ‘Vyasa’, meaning to edit or divide. He
divided the Veda into four parts — Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva. The histories and the puranas are said to be the fifth Veda.
The combination of the teacher’s compassion and wisdom, and the inquisitive energy of the student go towards making a vibrant, progressive society. A sportsperson’s natural gift acquires direction under the expertise of the coach. A musician’s talent is honed by the dedication of the mentor. In the spiritual path, it is the enlightenment of the guru that removes the ignorance in the seeker’s mind.
Studies in psychology and neuroscience today assert that a person’s brain works at the optimum capacity when he is in a state of total trust. When the person is not feeling any threat or challenged and totally surrenders to the guru, he starts opening himself up to spiritual realities that are not perceptible to general people whose brains are closed. Trust and surrender do not imply blind following. The seeker must question, probe and analyse the truths taught to understand, absorb and transform his personality to the higher realms.
(The author is the president of Jeevan Vigyan Kendra, a modern spiritual organisation and principal of Apex College. He can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org)