Be a Disciple

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Only those people who are insecure in life, who desire respect, who crave control and power, project themselves as gurus. Guruship cannot be a position, a label or a status. The guru nature evolves spontaneously in those people who are true disciples, who don't care for what the world says and who try to develop simplicity, naturalness and service as much as possible in their lives.

Generally, people generally think of gurus as being very high up. They feed the guru's ego by saying things like: “Oh, you are divine, you are sublime, turn my water into wine.” Paramahamsaji has been very clear in his statements that he does not want people to think of him as a guru. When someone came to him in the Akhara and wanted to touch his feet, Paramahamsaji said, “Don't break the discipline here.” The person replied, “But you are a guru.” Paramahamsaji said, “I didn't tell you I'm your guru.” He did not say, “I'm your guru.” He said, “You imagine that I am the guru.” This is one quality that has always shown itself in Paramahamsaji's life.

People may have seen him as an enlightened being, and there is no question that he is. I call him “the god who hides himself”. People have seen him as a master and there is no doubt that he is a master. People have recognized him as a siddha and there is no doubt that he is also a siddha. But deep inside he identifies not with the labels that people put on him, but with the label he has given himself, which is that of a disciple.

In the life of any individual, especially in the life of devoted and dedicated sannyasins, it is the moment of dedication, the moment of surrender which has to be the inspiration to guide them through their lives. During the 1993 Tyag Convention, Paramahamsaji sent us the following message: “I send my good wishes for the convention. You call it Tyag Jayanti. I call it Samarpan Muhurat, the moment of dedication. It was that time, an auspicious moment in my life, which I experienced fifty years ago in the presence of my guru, Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj.”

To this day Paramahamsaji always remembers it as a great moment of dedication. The memory of surrendering in front of his guru is still as fresh as ever, and it is that memory which has sustained him throughout his life, nothing else. If there is anything which he has cherished deeply in his life till the present and will continue to cherish in the future, it is the moment of dedication.

Other things are added later on. They are not personal additions, not personal feelings, but the feelings of other people. If one gets swayed by other people's feelings then where is one's uniqueness? In our lives we are always being swayed by what other people say about us. Somebody says, “You are a dog.” That simple statement affects us so deeply that we are unable to sleep. For nights we think, “Why did that person call me a dog? What have I done?” We try to justify ourselves. We try to build up our self-image. It is useless. The moment we become a bit stable, somebody says, “You are a donkey,” and again we go back into the same trauma.

Happiness and suffering are both traumas. Ego satisfaction is a trauma, of course, where the ego expands and you feel on top of the world. Conflict is a trauma, ego deflation is a trauma. You don't know where you are. There is no recognition, there is no stability of status, mind, emotions and feelings. A person who becomes swayed by such things is not a guru, a sadhaka or an aspirant; he is just a very ordinary person.

So, there is no question of whether to be the guru or the disciple. Guruship is a label which other people put on you, and for a devoted, dedicated person that label has no meaning. You are what you are. Discipleship is the label which you put on yourself, and that should have a meaning because it is your innermost feeling, based on respect, faith, devotion, dedication and surrender. So, there is no guruship, only discipleship.

I have seen this to be true in the life of Paramahamsaji. I have felt it to be true in my thinking and analysis of different natures and people. I believe it to be true because it is this belief which brings me closer to my guru, Paramahamsaji, every moment.

—Ganga Darshan, 6 December 1997