The Purpose of Guru Poornima

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

I have had the opportunity to live in close proximity to Swami Satyananda for fifty years of my life. As far as I can remember, he was present at every Guru Poornima. It is 2010. This is the first Guru Poornima in which he is not with us physically, but if we can tune ourselves to his spiritual energy field, then we shall be able to experience his grace in our own lives. Therefore, during this Guru Poornima, which is dedicated to Sri Swami Satyananda, we shall try to tune our mental, emotional and inner frequencies to the higher spiritual frequencies.

If you want to understand the real meaning of Guru Poornima, and if you want to receive the grace of the gurus during Guru Poornima, then you have to do one thing. For three days forget the family and the world. You are with them the whole year, looking after their needs, comforts and caring for them. You share their joy and happiness, pain and suffering. For three days, just be yourself as an individual spirit, longing for inner, spiritual awareness and realization. Try to connect your spirit with the spirit of the gurus. Instead of facing the world and the family, turn your face towards the guru for three days. Become a guru mukhi, keeping your face turned to the guru, like the sunflower, the surya mukhi, which always follows the path of the sun in the sky. Follow the inspiration of the guru in your heart with prayers for upliftment in life and you will be surprised that guru’s grace will descend in your life and uplift you. The only condition is that you are innocent and truthful to your connection and commitment.

The most important moment in life

When you dedicate yourself, head, heart and soul, either to God or to guru, that is the best moment in your life, because it is the only time when you are able to come out of your shell and connect with the spirit and energy of God or guru. It is the most precious moment in anyone’s life.

The kanyas have told you today that we are paying homage to the disciple of disciples, they did not say guru. They said, disciple of disciples. Sri Swamiji has always been a disciple in his life. He may have been a guru for you. That is your perception, vision and understanding, but he never identified with gurudom in his life. Rather he identified with discipleship and until the end he was a true disciple to his guru.

This is what is inspiring us and guiding us to realize the guru tattwa within us also. Sri Swamiji said, “The most important moment in my life has been the moment when I placed my head at the feet of my guru and surrendered my life to him. After that, everything changed. I was not the same anymore. My guru transformed me, shaped me, sculpted me and made me what I am today.” Therefore, in order to receive the grace in your lives, connect your time and spirit with the energy field of the guru and you will be uplifted.

The purpose of Guru Poornima

The purpose of Guru Poornima is to celebrate our link and association with our guru and master. The specific reason to celebrate Guru Poornima is the connection with the guru element, guru tattwa. This guru element is power, it is not a person. Guru is power. Sri Swamiji used to tell us many times that the electrical current flows in the wires and it illuminates the bulb. The capacity of the bulb decides how much light will be seen. In a zero watt bulb there will be minimum light, in a twenty watt bulb there will be more, in a forty watt, more, in a sixty watt, more, in a hundred watt bulb even more. The current is important, because it is the duty of the current to light the bulb. The bulb will only light when a current flows through it.

In the same manner, each one of us is a light bulb but the current is not flowing in our connection. There is a lot of carbon accumulated in the wire, which is called impurity, and it has to be cleaned. Once the impurity is cleaned, the current will flow into the bulb and the bulb will be illuminated. During Guru Poornima, we try to connect with the energy field of the guru, which is spiritual in nature. The word guru does not mean teacher or propagator. The word guru means ‘by whose grace we are able to remove the darkness from our life’. By the grace of shakti we can remove the darkness from our life, and that shakti is the guru tattwa. Not everybody can acquire this shakti.

Guru has a mission

Guru is the realization of an inner state of purity, harmony and oneness with the inner spirit. The outer person is the catalyst and guide who tells us how to come into contact with that source of inspiration and strength. That is how we have to understand the concept of guru. The energy of guru is eternal and permanent; it never dies, never decays and never changes. Those people become the real gurus who are born with a special destiny, mission and purpose in life. The first indication of a guru is a special mission which becomes evident when he is born. All of us present here came to spiritual life because we wanted to. We were attracted to spiritual life, a person, philosophy, belief or system. It was our choice that brought us here and we connected with it. I might spend forty years of my life as a sannyasin but I cannot be guru, because it was my choice to come here. Gurus have no choice, they are emissaries of the higher reality and higher consciousness. They are born with the destiny to uplift the spiritual consciousness.

In the lives of these people, the presence of spiritual consciousness is seen at the time of their birth. The presence of that spiritual consciousness is seen in their character, thinking and behaviour. Swami Sivananda, our paramguru, had a destiny which he came to fulfil. Our guru, Sri Swami Satyananda, had a destiny which he fulfilled. Reflecting on the lives of the luminaries of our tradition, we can see that in each state of their lives they were guided by divine providence and a higher force. We are experiencing the result of that guidance, namely, the completeness and wholeness in yoga and the completeness and wholeness in service. Gurus have a purpose, a mission and a direction which manifests or which is fulfilled naturally and spontaneously without any effort. The path becomes smooth. Sri Swamiji said, “In every state of my life, I’ve been guided by God and guru.”

Habits and skills

Gurus are those people who are emissaries of God. The spiritual effulgence of Ramana Maharishi was seen at a very early age. There are hundreds of luminaries who were born with a specific destiny, karma and samskara and they have lived according to that. What destiny and karma do we have? We say that we have become disciples just by taking initiation, but have we actually tried to do anything to change ourselves?

We still have the habits we had fifteen, ten or five years ago. We have not been able to change our thoughts, ideas and perceptions. We are buffeted by the situations and tensions of life. We have learnt nothing. We have enjoyed practicing yoga for one hour a day, practicing meditation, chanting and kirtan, but that enjoyment has only been mental and superficial. The substantial transformation we have experienced, which has changed our life, our attitude, our perception, which has made us better, indicates our depth, understanding and commitment to the spiritual process.

Habits can be changed or converted into skills and skills can be converted into habits. Overcome the habits and cultivate the skills in your life, and let the skills become your habit. If you can allow that to happen, then that is the beginning of your spiritual journey.

Faith and surrender

Asana, pranayama and meditation are not the beginning of the spiritual journey; they are practices to create a condition of body and mind which is conducive to spiritual awareness and the attainment of spiritual awareness. To cultivate spiritual awareness, two qualities are important – shraddha, faith, and samarpan, letting go of the hang ups, releasing the knots from life and surrendering oneself. Faith and surrender are the two major contributors in spiritual life. Meditation is not a contributor to spiritual life, it is a contributor to management of the mind. To hold the mind, to fix the mind is the purpose of meditation. Asana and pranayama are not contributors to spiritual life. Asana and pranayama fix the pranas, bodies, awareness and attention, so that dissipation and distraction can stop and awareness can expand. However, the contributors to spiritual life are faith and surrender.

In the lives of the luminaries of the world, you will discover that they became what they were because of the strength of their faith and surrender. Swami Satyananda became what he is because of the strength of faith and surrender. Swami Sivananda became what he is because of strength of faith and surrender. This spiritual process can be imbibed in an ashram environment, because the environment of the ashram comprises these two elements.

When you combine one part faith with one part surrender, then you get spiritual awareness. Faith and surrender are the elements that vibrate in an ashram environment. Sri Swamiji has created a spiritual epicentre in Rikhia, which is an ashram. Ganga Darshan is an institute. Right from day one of the establishment of the yoga movement in Munger, Swami Satyananda established the Bihar School of Yoga and not the Ashram of Yoga. The school is an institution, a university, a college, a place of education and learning, where one learns and imbibes the principles of yoga. Yoga stops the dissipation of the mind, but after the mind has been stilled, the next level is the experience of the inner spirit with the cultivation of faith and dedication. That is realized in Rikhiapeeth, which I call the spiritual epicentre, where faith and surrender are realized by a spiritual aspirant.

Dharma of a disciple

What is your dharma as a disciple? Your dharma as a yoga practitioner is to practice yoga in the morning and meditation in the evening or according to your routine. However, your dharma as a disciple of a guru is to cultivate strength of spirit. Strength of spirit is the cultivation of faith and surrender, and that is the beginning of spiritual life. To awaken the power of faith and surrender in one’s life, Rikhiapeeth came into existence. Here, Sri Swamiji has given aspirants the opportunity to come and live for one week, one month, one year, one lifetime. Painstakingly, through austerity, the vibration and energy field has been built up and your whims cannot alter that energy field.

During Guru Poornima, try to discover your dharma as a disciple. Try to improve yourself, to improve the quality of your life. The guru is always complete, but how can you progress, change and transform? Swami Sivananda used to say, “Kill this little ‘I’, die to live, lead the divine life.” How can I kill this little ‘I’, how can I die to live, how can I live that immortal life? Think about the dharma of a disciple.

Rikhiapeeth, Guru Poornima, 23 July 2010