“Manasa Bhajore Guru Charanam, Dustara Bhavasagara Taranam.”
Oh mankind, worship and install in the mind the feet of the Guru; it is very difficult to cross the ocean of life and death, but the Guru can safely carry you to the shore of divinity. This was the first bhajan sung by Baba himself. Baba was calling all those suffering in the endless rounds of births and deaths to worship the feet of the Guru, who was announcing Himself, and who had come again for taking upon Himself the burden of those who sought refuge in Him. (Vijayadashmi Discourse, 1953).
Once, Emperor Shivaji and his minister were going on an evening stroll. On the way, they came across a Buddhist monk. Immediately, Shivaji removed his crown and prostrated at the monk’s feet. The minister thought Shivaji demeaned his stature by this act. The righteous emperor at once sensed these feelings and wanted to teach the minister a lesson.
One day, he asked the minister to bring the head of a goat, a sheep, and a human being. The minister collected the goat and sheep heads. He went to a burial ground and cut the head of a dead person.
Shivaji commanded him to sell them in the market. The heads of the sheep and goat were sold in no time, but none came forward to buy the human head. When the emperor was informed, he ordered the human head to be given at no cost. The minister took the human head to the market and waited there for a couple of days. Despite his best efforts, nobody was willing to accept it. When this was conveyed to the emperor, he said, “Oh minister, you felt sad when I placed my head at the feet of a monk. Do you realize that the same would be the fate of our heads too, when we leave our mortal coils? Hence, we should sanctify our lives by serving noble souls.î Material wealth is momentary. Only truth and right conduct will remain with man and redeem his life. (Guru Poornima Discourse, 2002).
What is the significance of Guru Poornima? “Gu” means darkness and “ru” means light [the dispeller of darkness]. Guru is thus the one who illumines the path to divinity. Poornima stands for the cool full moon light. Full moon symbolizes a mind with total illumination. It is spotless. (Guru Poornima Discourse, 2002).
Shankarcharya had five disciples. One of them, Padmapada, was pure-hearted and always engaged in the service of his Guru. He considered himself as a Dasa [servant] of the Guru. While others would be engaged in studying scriptures and other sacred texts, Padmapada would busy himself in serving the Guru. No task in his Guru’s service was menial to him. He would regularly wash the Guruís clothes and attend to his every need.
Once, on his way back from the other bank of the river, he did not realize that the Ganga was in spate.
As he was crossing the river, it rose up to the level of his neck. He looked around, but had no fear whether he would be washed away by the swelling waters.
His only worry was how to take the clothes to the Guru even at the cost of his life. Placing the clothes on his head and chanting the word, “Guruji, Guruji,” he continued wading through the river. Because of his intense devotion, at every step he took there was a lotus-shaped stone on which he could place his foot. He thereby earned the appellation “Padmapada.”
Shankaracharya called him and imparted his teachings to him. He told Padmapada: “Service to the Guru is a great virtue. You have adored the Guru as God. Guru represents the Divine Trinity and is the Supreme Self.” Then, he imparted to Padmapada the sacred truth. The other four disciples used to treat Padmapada previously as an ignoramus. After receiving the teachings from Sankaracharya, Padmapada could repeat the entire Vedic texts at one stroke. He became a good exponent of Vedanta. (Guru Poornima Discourse, 1998).
This story illustrates the power of a real Guru. Although a true Guru can lead the disciple to enlightenment, in modern times there is a scarcity of such perfected beings.
In today’s time, God alone is the real Guru.
What greater proof of this than the fact that Baba himself has come as the world’s divine teacher and is imparting his teachings to one and all. One only needs to look inside and the inner Guru will safely lead us to the shore of divinity.