Guru Gita – Part 1 of 4

 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.

♦ ♦ ♦

In the next installment of the Guru Gita, we will hear Shiva’s response to Parvati.

Durga Ma

Guru Gita – Part 4 of 4

Concerning Discipleship, Practices, Actions and Benefits, and the Characteristics of a Liberated Person

From another version with a few footnotes.

Great Goddess, listen to the way of meditation on the Guru, which grants all joys, always brings all happiness, and gives worldly fulfillment as well as liberation:

I remember
venerable Guru as Parabrahman*, I speak about venerable Guru as Parabrahman, I bow to venerable Guru as Parabrahman, I revere venerable Guru as Parabrahman.

*The Absolute, God’s superior nature as opposed to God’s inferior, or secondary, nature, mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita.

I bow to the Truth-Guru, blissful God, bestower of the highest joy, the Absolute in the form of knowledge beyond duality, all-pervasive like the sky, the object of “Thou art That” and others. One, eternal, pure, unchanging witness of all thought*, beyond all modifications, and free of the three gunas**.

* Thought, meditation, reflection.
** Qualities of nature: sattva (smooth-flowing), rajas (passionate or intense activity), tamas (very slow moving or fixed).

I bow to the Guru as Brahman*, eternal and pure, beyond perception, without manifest form, and without impurity, eternal Truth, consciousness and bliss.

* God. God’s secondary, or relative nature. Brahman – “growth, expansion, evolution.”

One should meditate on the divine form of the Guru seated on the throne situated in the lotus in the center of the heart, shining like the crescent moon, holding the book of knowledge and bestowing the desired boon . . .


Who is clad in white garments, anointed with white paste and flowers, with the appearance of pearl, joyous, with two eyes and a gentle smile, treasure house of abundant grace, with divine Shakti on the left.

I bow always to venerable Guru, who is cheerful, who is bliss, who exudes bliss, whose nature is knowledge, who has awareness of the Self, who is the Lord of Yogis*, adorable, and who is the remedy for the disease of worldly existence.

* Shiva

I bow to that Guru in whom five natural, fundamental actions are constantly revealed: creating, sustaining, transforming, retaining, and the bestowing of boons.

Alternate translation of the five actions: creation, sustenance, dissolution, concealment, and bestowal of grace.

In the morning, recite the divine name while thinking of the two-eyed, two-armed, peaceful Guru in the white lotus in the head, fearless and endowed with boons [grace].

There is nothing greater than the Guru. [This is repeated four times.] This is according to the teaching of Shiva [“Highest of Yogis”]. [This is repeated four times.]

This is also indeed Shiva. [This is repeated four times.] This is according to my teaching. [This is repeated four times.]

If the Guru is meditated upon in this way, knowledge arises by itself. Having done so, one feels/experiences thus: “I am liberated by the grace of the Truth-Guru.”

Even so, one should purify the mind by following the path shown by the Guru, so that whatever transient things that have been ascribed to the Self, may all be released.

By this, the essential nature of everything may be known. Knowledge is said to be of the mind. One should consider that knowledge is identical with the object of knowledge. There is no other way.

Great Goddess, once having heard all of this, one who speaks ill of the Guru falls into the most dreadful state as long as there is a sun and a moon*.

* So long as sun and moon—prana and apana—have not cancelled each other out as such, through union, yoga.

As long as there is a body, and even to the end of a kalpa,* one should never forsake the Guru, even if he behaves in a manner beyond one’s understanding.

* Kalpa – A time period, i.e., the period of a yuga, an age.

Before the Guru, wise disciples do not speak in any way that suggests doership on their part, nor do they not speak the truth.

Having spoken rudely before the Guru in this manner, or having arguments or confrontations with the Guru, one would be born as a brahmarakshasa* in a region of a waterless wilderness.

* Brahmarakshasa – One born with the tendency to be ruled by desires of the body, such as thirst, literally and figuratively; hence the metaphor a waterless wilderness.

Parvati, the Guru protects one if he is cursed by sages, snake demons, or even gods, and also from the fear of the time of death.

The gods, sages and others also, are surely powerless against the enmity of the Guru, by which they are soon destroyed. About this there is no doubt.

Goddess, the word “Guru,” composed of the two letters*, “gu” and “ru” is the greatest mantra which, according to their meaning as taught by ancient scriptures, Guru is actually the highest state.

* In Sanskrit, a letter is a syllable.

Indeed, only those who serve the Guru are true sannyasis [renunciants], whether they know the Vedas and Smritis or not. Other devotees are merely wearing the right clothes [uniform, i.e., traditional white or colors worn by aspirants of different ashramas].

Just as one lamp lights another, the Guru may impart knowledge that all is Brahman [God], imperceptible, eternal, highest, without form, and without the three qualities of nature [the three gunas mentioned above: ragas, tamas, sattvas].

By the path of the Guru, knowledge of one’s joyous Self arises spontaneously. By the gift of the Guru’s grace It is perceived directly.

I bow to this highest being whose own form is this world, from God to a blade of grass, and everything animate and inanimate.

I always bow to the Guru, who is the bliss of consciousness of Truth, who transcends all differences, is eternal, perfect, without form and without gunas, and who is established in the Self.

The Guru, who is higher than the highest, always bestows bliss, seated in the center of the space of the heart like a pure crystal, should be meditated upon.

Just as an image of a crystal may be seen in a mirror, bliss is reflected in the Self as consciousness. So, “I am That” indeed.

Listen as I speak of the feeling which arises as one meditates on the tiny person in the heart in the form of consciousness.

One should know that which is beyond perception and understanding, without name, form and sound. Parvati, that is God’s own nature.

Just as there is fragrance in flowers and camphor and other things by their own nature, and as heat and cold are what they are by their own nature, so also is God eternal by Its own nature.

Once aware that one’s Self is like That [God], one may dwell anywhere [or be everywhere, all-pervasive]. One’s meditation on the Guru becomes like that of a larva becoming a bee.

Practicing meditation on the Guru in that manner, one becomes one with God. There is no doubt that one is liberated as to pinda, pada and rupa.

Venerable Parvati said:

Mahadeva, what is pinda? What is pada? What is rupa and what is rupatita? Shankara [Shiva], please explain.

Venerable Mahadeva [Shiva] said:

Pinda is kundalini-shakti, pada is hamsa*, rupa is bindu,° and rupatita is that which is beyond rupa.

* Hamsa – The sound of the outgoing and ingoing breath. Esoterically, apana and prana, moon and sun, cool and warm, etc.

° Bindu – Seed. The seed, or potentiality, of manifestation, i.e., rupa, form or outward appearance(s).

With liberation* of pinda, liberation of pada and liberation of rupa, there is rupatita, liberation beyond form.

* In shaktipat kundalini yoga, sahaja yoga, Surrender Meditation, the liberation of pinda, pada and rupa would refer to releasing one’s control over them to God, thus making one free, liberated, at least in meditation, and ultimately, fully and finally liberated. When rupa is tita, one is free of outward appearances in every sense of the word. Tita means ‘gone beyond’; rupa-tita then, means gone beyond, or surpassed, form and outward appearances.

Oneself becoming one with everything, the highest Truth is perceived. This is  the Highest and nothing else. So all this is not anywhere [this world is not located any where].

Having perceived this by the grace of Guru, one can remain solitary, tranquil, desireless and unattached.

Whether one attains this completely or not, and whether attainment is great or small, there is delight indeed, for without desire, there is contentment.

Thus, the all-knowing state is that in which the embodied one is one with everything, so say the wise. Ever blissful and tranquil, one rejoices everywhere.

Wherever one lives, that place becomes an abode of merit. O Goddess, I have described to you, the characteristics of a liberated person.

♦ ♦ ♦

There you have it — the last of the four parts of Guru Gita installments. This one is a little long, but I didn’t get anything up last week, so I hope I’ve made up for that. I was upside down and going round and round. I believe I’m coming up for a landing soon and should be able to check out recent comments and make replies soon.

Love you all,
Durga Ma