What is the Guru?
(page 3)

When he went back to the assembly of the gods, the gods were able to know that Narada had received a mantra from a guru. They put his seat very high. Then the Great Father Brahma said, "Narada, sit down on this high seat!"

Narada asked him, "Why is my seat so high today?"

"Ah! Today you have taken a guru and received initiation, haven't you? For that reason your seat is so high. And we shall all pay homage to your guru. Please request your guru to come. We should all like to see him who is the guru of Narada Rishi!"

Narada then thought to himself, "This is distressing! A dreadful problem!" Narada knew that he had taken initiation from a mere fisherman. "I promised," he thought, "that he whose face I would see first this morning, him I would take for my guru."

All the thirty-three crores of gods said with one voice, "Please, you must bring your guru. We all wish to see him, and together to bow at his feet."

What could Narada do? A difficult situation! He went running back to the old fisherman. Bowing at his feet he said, "You must go with me to the assembly of the gods! Please, climb on my back! Without beast or cart we shall travel across the three worlds!"

The guru fisherman said, "Narada! What an astonishing thing to say! Hari Baba! You are the great Rishi Narada! You are God's devotee! You are going to carry me piggyback?"

The old fisherman was somewhat lame and didn't want to go, but Narada would not release him. As Narada took him on his shoulders to the assembly of the gods, the ancient fisherman kept hold of his net. And the stick, with which he weaved his net, he held on to that as well. Taking these belongings he went with Narada to the kingdom of heaven.

The gods were waiting. When they saw, they were all astounded. "What is this? Narada Rishi's guru is an old fisherman?" They all rose in amazement. They asked Narada "Is this the guru you said you had accepted?"

Narada then revealed the truth to them. "Yesterday I promised this assembly of gods that he whose face I would see when I rose this morning, him I would graciously accept as my guru. So when I opened the door and saw this fisherman walking along, I said, ‘This is no fisherman,' and I accepted him as my guru. So you please bow down at his feet."

Then Narada Rishi lay in a full shastanga pranam before his guru. The guru pranam is shastanga pranam:

holding the two feet of the guru in the hands, the head goes down on top of the feet, lying completely prostrate. In this shastanga position, Narada bowed to his guru.

All the thirty-three crores of gods moved to bow down to Narada Rishi's guru. And when they came to pranam, what did they see? That old fisherman was no fisherman! This was all God's test. All of a sudden instead of the form of the fisherman there appeared Shiva himself! He whom we call Shankar.

Triumbakam Yajamahe Sugandhim Pushtivardhanam
Urvar Ukamiva Bandhanan Mrityro Mukshiya Mamritat
Om Namah Shivaya.

Shiva! Narada Rishi's guru was Shiva! That which was the form of the fisherman, that which was the net, this was all the casting of the net of maya's illusion.

Samsat Jalrupen Min Rupen Manava
Janjalo Jal Rupen Kal Rupen Dhivara.

Shiva is the god of destruction. In the large pond of this world he throws the net of illusion and catches his fish. For that reason the old fisherman had a net on his shoulder. What he was weaving was not the net, it was:

Mahamaya Prabhavena Samsar Sristi Karini
Mahamaya Prabhavena Mahagotta Nipatita.

As the spider makes its own web from its own saliva, and binds it together, in the same way, in this illusion, this maya, we say "I", "I". This is my room, this is my son, this is my grandson, this is my wife, this is my father, this is my house, this is my country. This that is "mine"—Thakur Ramakrishna has said: "When will I be free? When ‘I' ceases to be." This word "I" is the weaving of the net of illusion. This second guru-story I have given to my American disciple, Premananda.

The significance of the word "guru" is inexpressible. What the guru is cannot be understood by words or explanations. Therefore in our guru pranam we say:

Akhanda Mandalakaram Vyaptam Yena Chraracharam
Tatpadam Darsitam Yena Tasmai Shri Guruve Namah.

What is the word guru? The word guru means he who in the midst of great darkness shows us light; he who removes the darkness; he who lights the lamp of wisdom in us; he who makes us see within ourselves the light of Parabrahma, Paramatma; he is the guru.

Today we have spoken of the place of the guru, the meaning of the guru. He who gives the mantra in our ear, and becomes our guru, and takes a fee, and by tradition takes his fee every year, this is not the real thing. The real thing is that "guru" means showing one, making one feel that ineffable truth. He who does that is the real guru.

There is a saying, "There are gurus by the thousands, but a real disciple is rare." To Thakur Sri Ramakrishna, when he was calling out to our holy land of India at Dakshineswar, Naren used to come. His original name was "Naren." But how many times Naren would slap Thakur, how much abuse and reproach he used to give. How he would ridicule Thakur. And even so, if Naren would not show up even for a single day, Thakur would fret and worry about him. That Naren, who did so much to proclaim the universal religion in America, his name was Swami Vivekananda. Only one disciple. Thakur made many disciples, but who among them was ripe? Naren. As in our ancient dice game "pasha," if you are "it" (ripe), no one can beat you, so if the disciple is ripe, he has nothing to fear.

Today I have given this spiritual instruction to Premananda. It is in Bengali, but he will translate it into English.

The guru is indescribable. What will you give the guru? When the student first enters into discipleship, from that moment on the gift to the guru is finished. After that, what is more money, gold, silver? Maya!

Then what is the true gift to the guru, do you know? The gift to the guru is this: that truth which the guru has given, to wake up that truth, to exalt it. Repeating the mantra (and in that word mantra is the word "heart" or "mind"), elevating the mind, removing the impurities of the heart, making the heart and mind pure, keeping one's faith in the practice which has been handed down by the guru—in all this is the gift the disciple gives. If one attains to that truth, no need for any other thing on this earth will remain. If you see that truth, there is no more desire to see any other thing. If you hear that truth in your ear, then there is no more desire to hear anything else.

That is ineffable! Parabrahma, or Satchidananda, Ananda mayi Purush. Om Shanti, Om Shanti, Om Shanti.

We are sitting here at our Ramanathpur Ananda Ashram, near the feet of the Blissful Mother. At this ghat are Premananda, Yogananda, Nityananda, Gyanananda, four boys who have come running from America for the purpose of attaining God.

But getting God will not be so easy. Yes, if day by day their eagerness and earnestness grow very great, then of course they will find God, will realize Bhagavan. But here they must have faith. Here I shall tell just one more little story.

Once there was a thief, a robber. He used to work always at his banditry. And he would drink wine. And whatever unholy and indecent acts he felt the urge to do, he would do. But one day, taking the mantra from his guru, he asked his guru, "When will I attain to God?"

"That day that you take a bath in the Ganges," said his guru, "on that day you will get the vision of God, you will have liberation."

The robber would daily go about his stealing. How many unholy murders he would commit, how many robberies! One day he suddenly remembered, "My guru said that if I take a bath in the Ganges, I will gain liberation, I will get the vision of God! This very day I am going for a bath in the Ganges."

He called all his relatives and neighbors and the villagers around to watch and he went for a bath in the Ganges. He dived into the water, and coming up he said, "My guru told me that if I bathe in the Ganges I will get the vision of Bhagavan, I will have liberation." But taking his bath in the Ganges, he did not have liberation, he didn't get the vision of God. But this thief, this murderer, did not lose faith in his guru's word.

He said, "What my guru said, that is certainly the truth. Therefore this river is not the Ganges! So be it.

The Lord and creator of the Ganges is Narayan. So I will go and ask Narayan."

All of his friends and family laughed at him and clapped their hands: "How ridiculous!"

But the thief said, "No! My guru said it. My guru's word can never be a lie! My guru said that if a take a bath in the Ganges, I will get the vision of God, I will have liberation. So look! This is not the Ganges! The creator of the Ganges is Narayan, so I am going off to ask Narayan!" And off he went, traveling without food, going without sleep.

But Narayan could not wait for him. He came on ahead. Standing before that killer, that robber, Narayan inquired, "Baba, where are you going?"

"I am going to Vaikunta. I am going to ask Narayan, ‘Is this the Ganges or not?' My guru's word cannot possibly be a lie."

Then Narayan said, "Baba, you don't have to go to Vaikunta. This is the Ganges!"

"Then why am I not liberated?"

"You are liberated, Baba!"

Then what? All of a sudden, in front of the thief, instead of an old man he saw:

Shangkha chakra, gada pane
Dvarika Nilayachito
Govinda Pundarikka
Rakkamang sharanagoto.

"Oh thief, you have kept faith in your guru's word! Look! God with conch, wheel, mace and lotus! These four things in four hands. White color, yellow dress, flower garland around the neck!"Narayan thus gave him darshan, and immediately the thief attained liberation.

Here I have finished. Om Shanti, Om Shanti, Om Shanti. Today, near the feet of the Blissful Mother, sitting near her feet, I have given this little speech for the American disciples.