Three Criteria

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Many years ago I asked Sri Swamiji, “What is the actual meaning of the last verse of the Guru Stotra?

Dhyanamulam gurormurttih, pujamulam gurorpadam, Mantramulam gurorvakyam, mokshamulam gurorkripa.

He said that these four sentences are indicators of the journey in the life of a disciple. They are the milestones, yet only few people follow the route prescribed. Sri Swamiji gave a beautiful example: a disciple is the person who has put aside the intellect, the intelligence; a disciple is a person who has cut the head of his or her own ego; and a disciple is a person who uses the abilities to live and propagate the teachings which uplift in life. These are the three conditions and qualities to become a true disciple. People believe that after being initiated into mantra or sannyasa, “I become a disciple.” Sri Swamiji said that this is a wrong notion. By wearing good clothes, one does not become a millionaire. By wearing torn clothes, one does not become a beggar – you remain who you are. A beggar can wear a millionaire’s clothes, yet in reality he is still a beggar.

He does not have the money, resources and financesto live like the dress he is wearing. That is only a dress rented from a shop to show, “I am a millionaire.” Similarly, a millionaire who can wear ragged, torn clothes does not become a beggar.

One is who one is always. The external trappings do not change the individual, and you are well aware of it. Have you changed? You have changed your external trappings, but have you changed your internal trappings? Are you able to confront you own anger, frustration, anxiety, depressions, fears and insecurities? No.

So you cannot be a disciple from the perspective of Swami Satyananda, for he is very clear. Three things are important: letting go of the intellect; letting go of the ego, the self-projection; and using your abilities to enhance the teachings. If these three qualities become the main-stay in life, then you become a disciple, and only that person is able to follow one hundred percent the instructions and teachings of the masters. Even in the ashram, people live only fivepercent or three percent of the actual teaching. In all my years in the ashram, I haven’t seen a single person progress spiritually or mentally, because they are unable to come out of the tamasic trapping. Nobody realizes that, everybody expects miracles to happen, to become a saint overnight. Remember that if there is no bhava, if there is no sentiment, there can’t be bhakti. If there is no understanding, there can’t be jnana. If there are no senses, there can’t be action. And if there is no belief and conviction, there is no perfection.

People want to be perfect without belief and conviction and that is the folly of every disciple, the low category of disciple. The high category disciple is the one who does not use the intellect, who has surrendered the ego and who applies his abilities to live, experience, deepen and expand that knowledge.

—5 May 2018, Ganga Darshan, Munger