Self-effort, Surrender and Grace

From the teachings of Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Guru in the physical form is the main source and embodiment of all good and happiness that can accrue to the disciple. It is the duty of the guru to set each of his disciples upon that path of spiritual development which is best suited to the disciple, one on one path, one on another, according to the guru’s insight into the innate tendency of each.

A guru is able to transmit his spiritual power to his disciples. A certain spiritual vibration is actually transferred to the mind of the disciple. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa transmitted his spiritual power to Swami Vivekananda. Lord Jesus did the same to his disciples. This is the master’s spiritual touch.


However, realization cannot come as a miracle done by the guru. Lord Buddha, Lord Jesus and Rama Tirtha all did sadhana. Lord Krishna asked Arjuna to develop vairagya, dispassion, and abhyasa, constant practice. He did not say to him, “I will give you moksha, liberation, now.” Therefore, aspirants should abandon the wrong notion that the guru will give samadhi and moksha. Instead, they should strive, purify, meditate and realize.

Guru kripa, grace of the guru, is necessary but it does not mean that the disciple should sit idle. He must do rigid purushartha, human effort. Everything must be done by the student. Nowadays people are not prepared to undergo any sadhana for purification and self-realization. They want a magic pill to push them into samadhi. If you have such delusion, give it up immediately.

Guru and shastras can show you the path and remove your doubts. Direct intuitive knowledge is left for your own experience. A hungry man will have to eat for himself. He who has a severe itching will have to scratch for himself. No doubt, guru’s blessings can do everything, but how can one have his blessings? By pleasing the guru, and the guru can be pleased with his disciple only if he carries out his spiritual instructions implicitly. Carefully follow the instructions of the guru. Then only will you deserve his blessings, and then alone his blessings can do everything.

The guru can guide the aspirant, pave the way, remove snares, pitfalls and obstacles and throw light on the path. The disciple has to place each footstep on the spiritual path and on each rung of the ladder of yoga.


In spite of much that has been written on the concept of a spiritual guru, there is still a good deal of confusion, misunderstanding and scepticism in the public mind on this vital matter.

The lower nature of the mind must be thoroughly regenerated. The aspirant says to his preceptor, “I want to practise yoga. I want to enter into samadhi. I want to sit at your feet. I have surrendered myself to you.” But, he does not want to change his lower nature and habits, old character, behaviour and conduct. The individual ego, preconceived notions, pet ideas and prejudices, and selfish interests should be given up. All these stand in the way of carrying out the teachings and instructions of the guru.

Lay bare to your guru the secrets of your heart. The more you do so, the more he will help you in the struggle against sin and temptation. The aspirant, before he desires the grace of the master, should deserve it. The supply of divine grace comes only when he is fit to receive it. Guru’s grace descends upon those who feel utterly humble and faithful to him. The aspirant has to be an embodiment of humility and meekness.

Faith is confidence and trust in guru. Faith is firm conviction of the truth of what is declared by the preceptor by way either of testimony or authority, without any other evidence or proof. The disciple who has faith in the guru argues not, thinks not, reasons not and cogitates not. He simply obeys, obeys and obeys.