Swami Sivananda had two questions in his mind when he became a spiritual seeker. The first question was, "Who is going to be my guide? Who will lead me? Who will direct me? Who will initiate me on the path of spiritual awareness, the path of spiritual realization?" The second question was, "How can I alleviate the physical, mental, psychological and spiritual suffering of humankind?"
He received the answer to the first question in the form of his guru, Swami Vishwananda Saraswati, who initiated him into the path of sannyasa and ignited in him the flame of spiritual awareness. Although the meeting between guru and disciple lasted only about fifteen to twenty minutes and occurred only once in their entire lifetime, the connection was so deep and intense that the energy of the guru fused into Swami Sivananda and guided him continuously in the later years. Swami Vishwananda mentioned to Swami Sivananda that his mission in life was to give him sannyasa and after that he was free from his mission.
We read stories of gurus waiting for the right disciple to appear. There are many who appear, but it is only the right one who qualifies to carry on with the inspiration, the vision and the wisdom of the guru. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa waited for Swami Vivekananda and when Vivekananda came in front of him he said, "I have been waiting for you." Although Ramakrishna had many other disciples, he was waiting for one particular person capable enough to carry on his inspiration, vision and mission. It seems that God provides the environment and the people. If it is God's will, then God provides the right conditions and right persons to carry on with the divine work.
Who is the right disciple and who is the right guru? Think of a computer. In a computer, there is an installed software that manages its systems. Whenever you plug a device into the computer, the software reads this device. Without the software, the device will not be recognized. The appropriate operating system has to be there to begin with, which checks all the systems and knows that this is connected, this is not connected, this is unrecognised and this is recognized. Second, what is the capacity of the drive device plugged in? It can be small, say 50 MB, it can be 200 MB, it can be one gigabyte. Most people have a small capacity disk, maybe 50 MB to 100 MB, not even 500 MB. These people expect that the guru will give them all his power. How can the guru do that? It is physically and spiritually impossible. Your capacity, brain and mind can hold only 50 MB, and you want the whole ocean to fit into a small cup?
The guru cannot transfer his or her energy into a disciple who is unqualified no matter how much the disciple demands, rants, raves and abuses the guru. There are people and there are disciples who demand, and when they do not get what they demand, they abuse their guru. That this happens is a fact of life as it is the nature of the brain, mind, emotions, sentiments, character and personality. One cannot help it. Nevertheless, to transfer the guru's energy, certain qualifications, capacities and abilities have to exist.
The guru waits for the right person with the right capacity hard drive and recognizes this person. Twenty people can come and the guru will say, "You" to one of them, having recognized that this person has the right capacity. That happened when Ramakrishna recognized Vivekananda and when Swami Vishwananda recognized Swami Sivananda. Within fifteen minutes, the transfer of energy took place between guru and disciple. The device which was connected to the computer was identified as the appropriate hardware to which the information could be downloaded. The information was downloaded, and that was the initiation.
The relationship between guru and disciple is based on trust, not on intellect. It is based on faith and conviction, not on satisfaction of intellectual questions. You try to satisfy your intellectual questions in the presence of the guru and because of that, many times you miss the actual secret of connecting with that source of power and energy, which is cultivation of trust and faith. Even if you have a very close and intimate intellectual relationship with the guru, you cannot progress spiritually as the basic connection of trust and faith does not exist. When this trust and faith intensifies, then guru and disciple become one. That happened in the life of Swami Sivananda. It happened in the life of our guru, Sri Swami Satyananda.
—7 February 2011, Ganga Darshan