Sunday, June 21, 2009

Truth vs. Tradition

In any contest between truth and tradition, truth should prevail.

Credit: This is a note from a new translation of the Bhagavadgita; posted with permission of the author.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Credit: This article is based on an earlier posting by my Guru. With his permission, I am republishing it with some additional comments.

Guru has multiple meanings which include teacher, father, elder brother, heavy, big, strong, tough, famous, hard to digest etc. The one most relevant to this article is that derived from Gu and Ru; Gu means darkness or ignorance and ru means dispeller or remover. Thus Guru literally means remover of ignorance. Gurus can be male or female, old or young, and come from all backgrounds. The Guru can be an event, a book, an observation etc; an animate being, or an inanimate object that symbolizes a learning.

Do we absolutely need to have a Guru? It is possible to reach the goal in our spiritual journey without the aid of a Guru. However, it is a lot easier with the guidance of a Guru. Incidentally, when the student is ready, the Guru appears!

The Guru-disciple (Shishya) relationship is perhaps the most sacred relationship in the Hindu tradition. Right from the Vedas (Acharya Devo Bhava - Teacher is like God) to the colloquial way the youngsters address their friends across India (Khya Guru, Yenu Guru, Yenna Vaadhyare, etc.) imply how deeply the word Guru has percolated into contemporary times. A special day "Guru Poornima" is dedicated during July-August months to pay respect to Guru.

We may argue that in the ancient times there was no internet or press or phone or radio or television and the only means of communication was through word of mouth and thus the Guru-shishya tradition started. Why has it sustained right to this day?

The reason for this is that the role of Guru is more than just communication of information. The ten-fold qualities of a Guru are as follows:

1. Guru is true, simple, and direct.
2. Guru does not steal our money, instead steals only our ignorance and anxiety.
3. Guru can lead us to a spiritual path without severe asceticism.
4. Guru brings peace of a cave and the experience of solitude right to our houses.
5. Guru lets us see heights of the Himalayas and Kailash in meditation (metaphorically speaking).
6. Guru does not give us wrong advice to renounce our property and wealth of this world, instead makes us renounce our ego.
7. Guru breaths in a divine factor and help us to transform our mundane life into a sacred existence.
8. Guru bestows a new life in which we can face all sorrows cheerfully.
9. Guru strives to make us attain perfection in this very world.
10. With the guidance of a Guru, we will be able to see this world as heaven and not as a place of sorrow and suffering.

A Guru will wake us up and may even walk with us side by side, but no Guru will carry us and deliver us to the truth. That we have to do ourselves, as declared in the Bhagavadgita (Chapter 6, verse 5) thus:

BG 6.5 One should elevate oneself by one’s own efforts;
one should not degrade oneself;
indeed the self alone is one’s true friend or enemy.

Thus, the Guru is right within us as well! Patiently waiting for us to turn inward!

Guru Mantra from Guru Gita:
The Guru is Brahma; the Guru is Vishnu;
the Guru is the great God Shiva.
The Guru alone is the supreme Brahman, the absolute.
To the great Guru, I offer my salutations.

Another relevant verse from the Bhagavadgita (Chapter 4, Verse 34):

BG 4.34 You must learn that knowledge from those who have realized the truth.
You should approach them with humility, sincere enquiry, and willingness to serve.
They will impart that knowledge to you.

Friday, June 19, 2009


The light of knowledge is always present,
the individual has to just turn and look.

Monday, June 15, 2009


A joke and the truth should never be explained in too much detail!

Saturday, June 13, 2009


This story has been narrated before by many. Sometimes there is a need to remind ourselves, hence the desire to write it in a different way.

Four people were called upon to a test by a wise person. The rule of the test was that they will accept to be blindfolded and feel with their hands to make an assessment of what they feel. The four people felt this would be a good adventure and decided to embark on it.

One morning they assembled in the front door of a large hall to which they were called in after being blind folded. A guide walked them to a rather warm area.

"Welcome!", said the wise person. "You may move forward one by one now, when I call you to come forward. You will have one minute to feel what is in front of you, then you will tell me what you think this is."

He called them one by one forward, each were guided in a circumlocutory way by a guide to the spot where they were going to make an assessment.

"This is nothing but a warm, leathery rope!", said one; "I am sure of it!"
"This is a big tree trunk, may be covered with cloth", said the second; "I am pretty sure of this!"
"There is no doubt!", said the third; "This is a wall, more dome like. But a wall, solid wall!"
"No! This is a snake", said the fourth person; "I can feel it hissing and hot air coming here. I can feel it twisting!"

The wise person said, "Thanks to each of you for showing us all a good lesson!", and requested the guide to remove their blind folds.

The four people looked at in astonishment at the being in front of them. The wise person was sitting atop a beautiful elephant! With a leathery tail, tree trunk like legs, wall like body and an ever moving snaky trunk!

"The truth", concluded the wise person; "is probably like this!
Perceived in many ways by many, it has no solitary explanation.
Each sees their own side and each is right in their own way and assure it by their experience, indeed!  Is there any point in contesting over it?"

~ Story adapted and modified based on ancient Eastern fable
- Narayan Srinivasan, Saturday, June 13, 2009

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Just like the sun does not pick and choose who to shine on,
The truth is available for all to search for.


Just like many rivers and streams reach the ocean,
many paths are there to reach the same truth.