The Guru’s Love

Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Rama pleaded before his beloved guru, Swami Premananda. It was just a month since he had come to the ashram. “Master, however much I try to restrain it, my mind wanders towards the world. Often I think of leaving you, but my love for your lotus feet prevents me from taking such an ungrateful step. My lord, what must I do? Please guide me.”

“Child, I too have been watching your inner struggle. Deeply embedded desires are hard to conquer. Fear not. Go forth in the world. Lead the life of a householder for some time and satisfy your cravings. But all the time fix your mind on the Lord. Come back after ten years. Do not stay longer.”

Rama took leave of his guru. He went home, married and settled down to family life. He had served his guru well and earned his grace. Soon he was very prosperous.

Ten years rolled by. One day, a mendicant stood by Rama’s bungalow. He desired to see the master of the house. Rama recognized his master.

“Well, Rama, ten years are over. Have you been able to satisfy yourself yet?”

“I have enjoyed all that the world has to offer, Gurudev. But how can I leave these little children uncared for? Please allow me to stay for a few more years, to see that they are settled in life. Then I shall surely rejoin you.”

Ten more years rolled by. This time it was an aged Rama that greeted the sadhu. His wife had died. His sons were now young men with families of their own.

“My beloved guru,” Rama said, “I have fulfilled my duties of household life. But my children are irresponsible. Left to themselves, they will squander away all the hard-earned wealth of their father and then starve. I have to guide them. Please allow me to remain here for a few more years.”

Seven years rolled by. The sadhu came back. He found a big dog guarding the gate. It was Rama. The old Rama had passed away, but such was his attachment to the family that he took birth as a dog and guarded his house and children. Premananda entered the spirit of the dog.

“Well now, my child, are you ready to follow me?”

“Surely a couple of years hence, Gurudev,” replied the dog-Rama. “My children are at the peak of their prosperity and have many enemies.”

Ten more years elapsed. The sadhu returned. The dog too had died. He saw through his intuitive vision that Rama had assumed the form of a cobra and was guarding the iron safe in the house. Premananda made up his mind that the time had come to deliver his disciple from delusion.

He went to Rama’s grandson and said, “There is an enormous cobra in the cavity near the iron safe. Don’t kill it, but break its back and bring it to me.”

The young man was astonished to find that the sadhu’s words were true. As commanded, he did not kill the cobra but only injured it. The sadhu fondly caressed it and, throwing it around his shoulders, took leave of Rama’s grandchildren. They were happy to be rid of the snake.

On the way the sadhu spoke, “My beloved Rama, no one has been able to satisfy his senses and mind. Cravings are insatiable. Discrimination is your only refuge. Wake up! At least in your next birth you should attain the Supreme.”

“Gurudev!” Rama cried bitterly. “How gracious you are! Even though I was ungrateful to you, you always followed me and, never losing sight of me, guided me back to your lotus feet. Surely there is none in the whole world who could be so full of divine love as a guru. There is no selfless love in the world except between a true guru and his disciple.”