Concerning the Nature and Importance of Guru
About the Guru Gita
The Song (Gita) of the Teacher (Guru)
- The Guru Gita explains the guru-disciple relationship as the real sadhana of Shaivism.
- It presents what is considered to be the greatest sadhana because it is fundamental to all forms of sadhana, and because it is a stand-alone sadhana as well (for some people, this is their only practice).
- The universality of the Guru Gita: It is from the Vedas, from which a large portion is lost, Vedanta, Kashmiri Shaivism, and Tantra.
- It addresses three subjects: (1) It extolls the greatness and nature of Guru, (2) gives the spiritual practices of the disciple that cultivate and constitute devotion to Guru, and (3) gives the benefits of singing the Guru Gita daily.
You will be getting this AMW in parts. As it is a very long text, I am extracting portions from different versions.
I have begun this series of entries with verse 9 in order to get straight to the point, and added very few commentaries. I have taken some from an edition that I like for the brevity and conciseness of the comments (Swami Narayananda), and I have added some of my own.
The Guru Gita
9 – 10
Seated on a tiger skin surrounded by saints, on one occasion when Shiva was expounding teachings on Truth, Parvati (Shiva’s consort, or “significant other”), with her face full of devotion, and seeing Shiva bowing down to someone with great reverence, was surprised to see this and said to Shiva:
You are the Guru of all the world. You are Supreme. You teach the knowledge of the Supreme. Gods, demons and people worship you with great devotion.
Brahma, Vishnu, Indra and others are constantly bowing down to You. So who is it that You could possibly bow down to? Is there anyone superior to You to whom You should prostrate yourself? Are you not the one Supreme Being, the sole abode and refuge of all prostrations?
Noticing this action of Yours, I am struck with wonder. I am unable to understand this. Please enlighten me.
You are the knower of all the Dharmas. Please tell me of the glory of Guru that is the best for all Vratas.*
* Vratas: Students, householders, forest dwellers, renunciates, women, Brahmins (God-people), Kshatriyas (rulers, barons, warriors), Vaishyas (artisans, craftspersons, businesspersons), Sudras (service providers).
What is the best way for an individual soul to attain the supreme state of Godhood? I bow down to You. I worship Your holy feet. Kindly explain this to me.
Commentary, Durga Ma:
The worship of the feet of the Guru is called Guru Padapuja. It is considered an act of humility and receptivity on the part of the student. It is said that the entire universe is but one foot of God, and if you worship the feet of Guru, you worship the feet of God and all of humanity. The significance of this is shows up in various verses of the Guru Gita text.
Being thus repeatedly addressed by Parvati, Maheshvara (Shiva), the great God of gods, spoke these words, His heart overflowing with abundant joy:
Commentary, Swami Narayananda:
Teachers (gurus) derive the maximum joy and happiness when eager seekers ask pertinent questions. The heart of the Guru always seeks for sincere students. This is the reason for their joy. It is but natural that one gets joy when he gets what he wants. A thirsty man is satisfied with water, the hungry man with food. But teachers are satisfied when they get suitable and deserving students to whom they can unburden their knowledge. Without a deserving student the teacher feels the burden of his knowledge, and considers his efforts fruitful when the students eagerly question and eagerly practice the teachings.
Mahadeva (Shiva) said: O Devi (Goddess), this is the Secret of all secrets. This is not to be revealed to anyone. I have never divulged this to anyone thus far, but I will tell you because of your great devotion to me.
Commentary, Durga Ma and Swami Narayananda:
Great truths are not revealed to everyone at large. Only to qualified disciples will the guru reveal such secrets out of overflowing love. Disciples serve their teachers who, in turn, reveal these secrets. Never to anyone who is not a such a devoted disciple, are such secrets revealed. At this point, the text has shown us some of the characteristics of such a disciple.
There are some secrets which may be revealed to select persons but there are certain secrets which can only be revealed to the dearest person, the qualified disciple and loyal devotee. One such secret is the secret that Shiva is going to reveal to Parvati. As long as teachers do not get such exceptionally qualified aspirants they do not divulge these teachings. They remain hidden, always as secrets only.
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In the next installment of the Guru Gita, we will hear Shiva’s response to Parvati.