What is the Guru?
(Page 2)

In the presence of those sixty-thousand rishis King Janak promptly and ungrudgingly gave these gifts. First he gave his body, meaning the physical body. Secondly he gave his mind. And thirdly, he gave all his wealth. By wealth we do not mean gold, pearls, or gems. Our real wealth is our eyes, our ears, our tongue, our nose. Within this body there are great riches. These riches King Janak gave ungrudgingly.

After taking the gifts, Ashtavakra Rishi, sitting on the guru seat said, "Tell me now, King Janak, just who will take this knowledge of Brahma? Who will receive this knowledge of God"?

Then Janak said, "What? "I!" And again he exclaimed, "I!"

Ashtavakra said, "What does 'I' mean? All that you gave me: your body, your mind, your riches, if this is not 'I' then where else is 'I'?" King Janak became very thoughtful.

Then Ashtavakra Rishi said, "Maharaj, that knowledge of God, which you are getting in the wink of an eye, we chant everyday, like this:

Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu,
Guru Deva Maheshvara,
Guru Sakshat, Param Brahma,
Tasmai Sri Guruve Namah.

If the guru gives his grace, of course we will attain to God! Here the need arises for complete and total faith. In this way we must have faith: a faith in which there are no faults or failings what so ever. No error at all. There is a saying, 'Faith will get you the truth but debate takes for ever.' What is the meaning of guru? He in whom there is no ignorance.

Agyana Timirandhasha, gyananjano sholokoya
Chokkumilitong Jeno, Tasmai Shri Guruve Namah.

Then King Janak had the knowledge of Brahma in the wink of an eye. What was it? Guru God! Guru Bhagavan! You cannot get that knowledge of Brahma without the Guru's Blessing and the Guru's Grace.

In the same way, we cannot see our own face. We need a mirror. We see our face in a mirror. We shave the beard, we can see the face, or we put on the tilak, or we can just get a very good look at the whole face. We can see it very well. This looking-glass or mirror is the guru's blessing. We cannot see our own face by ourselves. We can see the face of another, but we cannot see our own face. With the help of the mirror, we can see. This first story is from the "Guru Gita."

The second story today is: you must take a guru. Why must one take a guru?

When we sit for worship in our eternal Hindu religion, and in all religions, there is this obeisance to the guru, or Guruve Namah. Who? Father. Param Guruve Namah. Who is that? Mother. Parapar Guruve Namah. Who is he? He who gives the mantra in our ear. Paramesti Guruve namah. Who? That is Brahma, Atma. These are four gurus.

One day Narada Rishi went to the assembly of the gods. Thirty-three crores of gods were sitting there. That Narada Rishi, what a devotee of God he was! Always drunk with God's name, he traveled on foot, without beast or cart, throughout the three worlds.

When he went to the assembly of gods, he was given a small seat below everyone else. Narada Rishi sat down before them. All of the Gods were there: Indra, Vayu, Varuna, Yama, Dijopal, the Nine Planets, thirty-three crores of them sitting in splendor offering oblations of wheat into the sacred fire. Narada Rishi, with a touch of sadness stirring in his heart, questioned the Great Father Brahma. "Oh Great Father Brahma, I am your own child! Why do I have such a low seat today?"

Brahma replied, laughing, "Narada, you are God's great devotee! You are always singing God's name, but you have never taken a guru. For that reason your seat is so low."

Then Narada thought to himself, "It's true. I have no guru-mantra. In accordance with Mother's order I practice repeating the name of God, but I have never taken a mantra from a guru." Then Narada Rishi vowed to all the gods: "He whose face I see first at dawn, him shall I graciously accept as my guru. I will take initiation from him and return to this assembly of gods." This was great faith and trust in God! This was the practice of spontaneous devotion.

That night Narada slept soundly.

In the early morning he opened the door and saw an old fisherman with a net on his shoulder and the pole of the net in his hand. As he was walking along on his way to catch fish, he was weaving his net.

Before he had even see the face of the fisherman, Narada ran to him. Bowing at his feet he said, "Old fisherman! You must give me initiation! You are my guru! I have vowed that he whose face I see at daybreak, him shall I graciously accept as my guru."

The old fisherman said, "What this? Oh Thakur! You are a rishi, the greatest of them all, Narada Rishi! The Lord's great devotee! I am only a low-caste fisherman. I catch fish, I throw the net. I will be your guru? Don't make a mistake. Let go of my feet!"

But Narada would not let go of his feet. He said to the fisherman, "Look, please give me initiation."

The fisherman said, "But I don't know even a single mantra! I have never taken initiation myself! What mantra could I give you?"

"That which is in your mind, give me that." The meaning of the word mantra is "mon-tor," "mon-tor" (Your-mind). Whatever word the guru speaks, if there is complete faith in that word, then that word is verily the best mantra.

The fisherman thought to himself and then said, "But I don't know anything else. I just throw the nets at the pond, swinging them around my head, singing, 'Oh, Hari Bol, Oh Hari Bol!' This is what we fishermen sing when we throw the nets to catch fish."

Narada Rishi said calmly, "Okay, give me that very one," and he leaned forward to receive the mantra.

Then the fisherman said, "Oh, Hari Bol! Oh, Hari Bol! Oh, Hari Bol!" He said it three times and then left. Narada bowed to his guru.