Guru Tattwa

Swami Satyasangananda Saraswati

The guru tattwa signifies the guru element. This element exists in each one of us and is known as the inner guru. This inner guru is the witness of all that you do in your life, silently guiding you on the path to knowledge of the higher self. Sometimes you are distracted and obstinate and pay no heed to this guidance. Nevertheless, the guru element waits patiently for the day when you will turn inwards and reflect on the deep significance it has on your life.

The guru tattwa is the highest and purest element that exists within you. It is timeless, ageless and indestructible. It does not decay with death, but is carried on from life to life. As it is not limited by time and space, this inner guru is a rather abstract phenomenon, having no form, colour or sound, and is perceivable only to those who have developed their inner vision. For those of us who live in the world of the senses, this inner guru might as well be a myth.

Therefore, in order to familiarize ourselves with this element which exists in each one of us, we have to find someone who is a direct representation or replica of that inner guru. The preservation of the guru-disciple tradition has been maintained simply for this purpose. The living guru symbolizes the guru tattwa in the disciple. The disciple offers himself to the guru and serves him selflessly in the manner the guru wishes because it is only through humble devotion to the guru that one can realize the guru tattwa in oneself.

The modern system of teaching cannot be compared to the guru-disciple relationship because it lacks one element – the guru tattwa. In India, the guru is considered far superior to a teacher. When any Indian comes into contact with the guru, he is full of respect and devotion. He accepts the guru in a physical form because he understands that the physical body is only the outer shell of an inner enlightened consciousness.

It is very important to develop a link with your inner guru, which is the centre you have been searching for. All the happiness, joy and pleasures you crave in the external world are only illusions in contrast to the infinite bliss that is contained within your inner guru. In fact, it is your unconscious search for the inner guru that compels you to hunt for pleasures in your worldly life. You are subconsciously aware of the experience that can be had by this contact, but due to your ignorance and due to the veil of maya, or illusion, you search for it elsewhere in the external world.

When you look at a flower, or a painting, or a beautiful person, you experience a certain pleasure. You think that the object is the source of your happiness, but in fact the experience is taking place within you. It is not the object that is the source of happiness. It is your level of perception and awareness which determines the degree of happiness you are able to experience.

Where does this perception take place? Certainly not outside. It takes place inside you. In that moment you have had just a fleeting glance of that infinite source within you, and that is the cause of your joy. However, you relate it to the object and therefore chase the object in order to have that experience again. But this time there is an expectation. Therefore, your perception is conditioned, so the experience is not as acutely joyful and you are disappointed. So you begin your search again.

When you meet the guru, a similar process takes place. However, because the guru is a true replica of your inner guru, the experience is a more permanent one. Your external perception of the guru is directly related to your perception of the inner guru. If your link with guru is heightened and total, then you are simultaneously able to develop a deep link with the guru tattwa in you. Both experiences are parallel and co-exist side by side. As you develop the ties with the living guru, your contact with the inner guru becomes clearer, more vivid and tangible. And, in this way, the guru tattwa begins to manifest.

In the physical body, the guru tattwa is represented by ajna chakra, or the mid-eyebrow centre. It is at this point that you receive the instructions from your inner guru. It is also at this point that your outer guru commands and transmits wisdom. As you become more proficient in hearing your outer guru at ajna chakra, you will be able to discern the subtle and causal form of your inner guru or the guru tattwa. And in time it becomes a living reality. It is then that the true experiences begin in your life.

Published in Light on the Guru and Disciple Relationship