সার্থ গুর্বাষ্টকম্ Lyrics in Bengali:
Commentary by N. Balasubramanian
This work consisting of eight verses and one more known as ফলশ্রুতিঃ or a verse that gives the benefit of reciting the poem is attributed to Sri Sankaracharya. These verses are couched in simple language and are easy to read and understand. In these verses the poet stresses the need for devotion to one’s guru or spiritual preceptor. He states repeatedly that all the wealth, fame, knowledge
etc., one might have acquired will be of no avail if one does not have total devotion to his guru . Let us find out the raison d’etre for making such a statement.
Strange as it may sound, our shastras and the saints who have realised the truth stated therein tell that most of us do not know what is happiness, what is sorrow, what is good for us and what is
not good for us. Had we known all this we should all be living a life of utter bliss without a vestige of sorrow. But what do we find? Our lives are full of trials and tribulations. In between we come across spots of joy. This joy may be followed by grief or still worse may leave us hankering for more of the same thing, thus leading to avarice or frustration in case the desire is not fulfilled. This is
anything but joy. But the scriptures aver that our true nature is totally different. They stress that we are divine in nature and free from all forms of sorrow. But as of now we are not be able to digest
such a statement. Why is this so? If happiness be our true nature we should be only too willing to go to any extent to find it. What prevents us from doing so? These are vital questions that have been bugging people for a long time. These and related questions have been answered by our scriptures and also explained again and again by saints like Sri Sankaracharya in many of their works. Let us briefly review what our scriptures have to say on this important subject. The following abbreviations are used in the commentary:
(1) BG: Bhagavad Gita with Sri Sankara’s commentary. (2) BH: Srimad Bhagavatham. (3) KU: Kathopanishad. (4) MU: Mundakopanishad.(5) VC: Vivekachudamani.
When we say “I” they ask us what do we mean by “I”. This may startle us a bit, but then we will point to our body and say “I” means the body and includes the mind etc., that are at our disposal for use. The scriptures say this is a fundamental mistake and is the root cause for all our problems and misery. When we talk of the “body” as usual, they point out that it includes not only the physical body but there is an unseen entity called Self (or atma or jivatma as it is called). This is what lends sentience to the body. Krishna says that He is the Self seated in the heart of all beings. অহমাত্মা গুডাকেশ সর্বভূতাশয়স্থিতঃ । BG (10-20). This Self is behind our speech, actions, thinking etc. But because it is behind all these activities it itself is unseen and unknown. That means the eyes, for example, cannot see what enables them to see; the ears cannot hear what enables them to hear and so on. In other words, atma is beyond the reach of our senses. This is an important fact that requires to be chewed and digested.
শ্রোত্রস্য শ্রোত্রং মনসো মনো য়দ্বাচো হ বাচঁ স উ প্রাণস্য প্রাণঃ ।
চক্ষুষশ্চক্ষুরতিমুচ্য ধীরাঃ প্রেত্যাস্মাল্লোকাদমৃতাভবন্তি ॥
(Kena Upanishad. 1-2).
That who is the mind of the mind (cause); the vital essence of vital forces, speech of the speech; ear of the ears and eye of the eyes; (it is) He by knowing whom the wise ones become liberated,depart from the world and become immortal.
ন তত্র চক্ষুর্গচ্ছতি ন বাগ্গচ্ছতি নো মনো( ibid 1-3).
There neither the eye approaches nor the speech (includes other organs of action and perception) nor does the mind. Sage Yagnavalkya, while teaching this subject to his wife Maitreyi asks: য়েনেদঁ সর্বং বিজানাতি তং কেন বিজানীয়াত্, বিজ্ঞাতারমরে কেন বিজানীয়াত্ (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. 2-4-14) “By what can one know that by which all this comes to be known? By what you can know
Thus we have two entities, the body that by itself is inert and the atma that animates it. The body by its very nature is subject to growth, decay and finally death. But the atma who resides in the body is eternal and not subject to any change. Krishna points this out to Arjuna:
ন জায়তে ম্রিয়তে বা কদাচিন্নায়ং ভূত্বা ভবিতা বা ন ভূয়ঃ ।
অজো নিত্যঃ শাশ্বতোঽয়ং পুরাণো ন হন্যতে হন্যমানে শরীরে ॥
BG ( 2-20).
It is same as the Supreme Being itself. Krishna says this in Gita :
মমৈবাংশো জীবলোকে জীবভূতঃ সনাতনঃ । BG(15-7) The atma being same as the Supreme Being has the same attributes like the Supreme Being – it is eternal, of the form of bliss and wisdom.
সত্যং জ্ঞানমনন্তং ব্রহ্ম । (Taittiriyopanishad.2-1). Vedanta clearly states that we are that atma and not the body. Being atma we are eternal and the embodiment of bliss. But as pointed out earlier
everyone identifies himself with the body and consequently suffers. Thus when the body is sick one says he is sick,when it grows old he says he has become old and when it dies people say that particular person is dead. In addition one looks out for happiness and security. He gathers around him people (in the form of friends and relatives) to gain happiness and security. He imports their happinesses and sorrows also on to himself. Thus if a close relative is sick, he is worried. If a close friend dies he is very upset. All of us will be happy to have a fat bank balance as we know that a lot of money at our disposal gives a feeling of comfort and security. But vedanta thinks otherwise. What we think is good and contributory to our happiness and security may not be so at all times. On close examination we find that these things seem to give joy and security but not in the long run. In fact it may yield the contrary results. Too much money is a source of anxiety. A son or daughter may turn out to be a source of worry or disappointment in one’s old age. Wealth, health, familial bonds are all fragile. Our own body that we cherish, becomes a source of worry when it grows old and decripit. We all know this only too well. Still we tend to hold on to them. Why is this so? This is caused by wrong understanding of the truth, say our scriptures. The truth is that these things viz., our body, wealth, family etc., are themselves not long lasting. They will go sooner or later. They are not secure themselves. How can they confer security on others? Such being the case it is sheer folly to look to them for happiness and security. Attachment to them can only result in sorrow and misery. Recognising this fact – that is, that every thing in this universe is impermanent and Self alone is permanent is known as discrimination or বিবেকঃ -viveka. As we ponder over this fact again and again in our mind, the truth of the scriptural statements sinks in our mind. We realise that things we hang on to are finite and limited by time and so cannot give us lasting peace and security. Our mind starts turning away from these things and towards God who has no such limitations. This is the second stage in spiritual growth. This detachment from ephemeral things of this world is called vairagyam বৈরাগ্যম্. Next as the detachment takes root our search for God also becomes intense. Our mind wants to get away from things that are in the real sense a bondage and yearns to be liberated from them. This yearning for liberation is called মুমুক্ষুত্বম্. Coming up to this stage is a rare phenomenon says Krishna.মনুষ্যাণাং সহস্রেষু কশ্চিদ্যততি সিদ্ধয়ে । BG( 7-3). Yama the god of death, says that people are very much attracted by wealth and such mundane pleasures that they are unwilling to give this up and look beyond it. Such people are blinded by ignorance and come within his grip repeatedly.
ন সাংপরায়ঃ প্রতিভাতি বালং প্রমাদ্যন্তং বিত্তমোহেন মূঢম্ ।
অয়ং লোকো নাস্তি পর ইতি মানী পুনঃ পুনর্বশমাপদ্যতে মে ॥ KU(1-2-6)
The misplaced infatuation for wealth, health etc., is caused by ignorance that veils wisdom that is our true nature.
আবৃতং জ্ঞানমেতেন জ্ঞানিনো নিত্যবৈরিণা ।
কামরূপেণ কৌন্তেয় দুষ্পূরেণানলেন চ ॥ BG(3-39).
WISDOM. The question then is how to gain the wisdom. Scriptures say that since wisdom is inherent in us as our very nature we need not do anything to gain it. We only have to get rid of the ignorance that is covering the wisdom. The source of happiness and security, thus, does not lie outside in worldly things that are not permanent. The only permanent thing is within ourselves as atma or Self. Its very nature is supreme bliss. Any joy experienced by any being is just a droplet derived from this bliss that is Brahman, says Brihadaranyakopanishad. এতস্যৈবানন্দস্য অন্যানি ভূতানি মাত্রামুপজীবন্তি ।.(4-3-32). So if we want peace, security and happiness we should shift our focus from the body-mind complex to the Self that is inside us. This knowledge is known as brahma vidya, atma vidya and adhyatma vidya. Krishna calls it as sovereign science or raja vidya
রাজবিদ্যা. He says রাজ বিদ্যা রাজ গুহ্যং পবিত্রমিদমুত্তমম্ ।
প্রত্যক্ষাবগমং ধর্ম্যং সুসুখং কর্তুমব্যয়ম্ ॥ BG( 9-2).
It is the Sovereign Science, the Sovereign Secret, the Supreme Purifier. It is called Sovereign Science because it talks about the brahman. So also it is the king of secrets. Of all the purifiers, the
knowledge is the best purifier. The Mundaka Upanishad calls it as the higher vidya. It says that all other knowledge is inferior.
দ্বে বিদ্যে বেদিতব্যে ইতি হ স্ম য়দ্ব্রহ্মবিদো বদন্তি পরা চৈবাপরা
চ । তত্রাপর ঋগ্বেদো য়জুর্বেদঃ সামবেদোঽথর্ববেদঃ শিক্ষা কল্পো
ব্যাকরণং নিরুক্তং ছন্দো জ্যোতিষমিতি । অথ পরা য়য়া
তদক্ষরমধিগম্যতে ॥ MU(1-5).
“The knowers of Brahma say with a sense of certainty that there are two vidyas worth knowing: Para and Apara. Out of these two; the four vedas – Rik, Yajus, Sama and Atharva, the science of
pronunciation, Kalpa, grammar, Nirukta, Chanda and Jyotisha – all these are Apara Vidya; Para is that through which the imperishable Brahma is known.” Sri Sankaracharya in his commentary says:
অপরা হি অবিদ্যা সা নিরাকর্তব্যা ।
তদ্বিষয়ে হি বিদিতে ন কিংচিত্তত্ত্বতো বিদিতং স্যাদিতি ।
The Apara vidya constitutes only ignorance and so is to be rejected. By knowing it the truth does not become known. Krishna says that there is no gain that is equal to or superior to
this wisdom. Once established in the Self one is not moved by even by greatest of the sorrow.
য়ং লব্ধ্বা চাপরং লাভং মন্যতে নাধিকং ততঃ ।
য়স্মিন্স্থিতো ন দুঃখেন গুরুণাপি বিচাল্যতে ॥ BG(6-22).
Such is the glory of the wisdom about the Self that Krishna says He is this knowledge of the Self among all knowledges.
অধ্যাত্মবিদ্যা বিদ্যানাম্ । BG(10-32). It is the chief among all knowledges, because it leads to mokSha says Sri Sankaracharya in his commentary.অধ্যাত্মবিদ্যা বিদ্যানাং মোক্ষার্থত্বাত্ প্রধানং অস্মি ।
Because of its exalted nature it is identified with Godesses. Thus one of the names of Sri LakShmi and Lalitha is Vidya. It has been said that one cannot gain the wisdom by one’s own effort
by studying the books. It can create doubts or worse still misunderstanding. Our tradition says that one has to learn about it at the feet of a guru.আচার্যাদেব বিদ্যা বিদিতা সাধিষ্ঠং প্রাপয়তি । (Chandogyopanishad). Then only the learning will be fruitful. তদ্বিজ্ঞানার্থং স গুরুমেবাভিগচ্ছেত্ । MU (2-12). The striver should approach a guru. Sri Sankaracharya in explaining this statement says that the implication is that even one proficient in scriptural studies should not try to do the inquiry by himself:
শাস্ত্রজ্ঞোঽপি স্বাতংত্র্যেণ ব্রহ্মজ্ঞানান্বেষণং ন কুর্যদিত্যেতত্
THE GURU. The next question that arises as a corollary is who is a guru? What are his qualifications? Is it enough if he is a veritable scholar in scriptures? These questions have been answered in detail in the scriptures. These are important questions requiring an answer by an anxious seeker as if he falls in the wrong hands he may be mislead and would waste his time, effort and perhaps money also. Let us see a few descriptions of a guru as given in the scriptures and by our acharyas. The Prashnottararatnamalika of Sri Sankaracharya says:
ভগবন্ কিমুপাদেয়ম্? গুরুবচনম্ ।
Question: sir, what is to be accepted?
Answer: guru’s teachings.
কো গুরুঃ? অধিগততত্ত্বঃ, শিষ্যহিতায়োদ্যতঃ সততম্ ॥
Question: who is guru?
Answer: one who has learned the truth. One who constantly strives for the upliftment of the disciples who have approached him. The Mundaka Upanishad says briefly that the guru should be well
versed in the secrets of vedas and established in Brahman. শ্রোত্রিয়ং ব্রহ্মনিষ্ঠম্ । The teacher should have learned at the feet of his guru in the traditional way and had all his doubts claeared and then got firmly established in Brahman. His knowledge is not shaky and so he can convey it with the same clarity to his disciple. Yama says that any one who is not so qualified is inferior and his teaching will not be effective.
ন নরেণাবরেণ প্রোক্ত এষ সুবিজ্ঞেয়ো বহুধা চিন্ত্যমনঃ ।
অনন্যপ্রোক্তে গতিরত্র নাস্তি অণীয়ান্ হ্যতর্ক্যমণুপ্রমাণাত্ ॥ KU(1-2-8).
The knowledge is very subtle. It has to be taught by a wise person who is established in Brahman. Sri Sankaracharya talks about the qualifications of a guru in two places in his Vivekachudamani. First he briefly says সন্তং মহান্তং সমুপেত্য দেসিকং।
The guru should be established in Brahman and exalted”. VC (8). What is meant by মহান্ or exalted”? Lord Rishabha Deva defines an exalted soul or মহান্ in the advice He gave to His sons before
He renounced and left the kingdom.
মহান্তস্তে সমচিত্তাঃ প্রশান্তা বিমন্যবঃ সুহৃদঃ সাধবো য়ে ।
য়ে বা ময়ীশে কৃত সৌহৃদার্থা জনেষু দেহম্ভরবার্তিকেষু ।
গৃহেষু জায়াত্মজরাতিমত্সু ন প্রীতিয়ুক্তা য়াবদর্থাশ্চ লোকে ॥
They alone are great who are even minded, exceptionally calm and composed, (and as a result) are free from anger, (and so are) kind-hearted and pious or again they who regard love offered to Me as the (only) object of human pursuit, who take no delight in (the company of) men (solely) engaged in pursuits (merely) calculated to nourish their body.
In the above He used the word সাধবঃ or pious or saintly persons. Lord Kapila gives in detail the qualities of a sadhu in His advice to His mother Devahuti.
তিতিক্ষবঃ কারুণিকাঃ সুহৃদঃ সর্বদেহিনাম্ ।
অজাতশত্রবঃ শান্তাঃ সাধবঃ সাধুভূষণাঃ ॥
ময়্যনন্যেন ভাবেন ভক্তিং কুর্বন্তি য়ে দৃঢাম্ ।
মত্কৃতে ত্যক্তকর্মাণস্ত্যক্তস্বজনবান্ধবাঃ ॥
মদাশ্রয়াঃ কথা মৃষ্টাঃ শৃণ্বন্তি কথয়ন্তি চ ।
তপন্তি বিবিধাস্তাপা নৈতান্মদ্গতচেতসঃ ॥
ত এতে সাধবঃ সাধ্বি সর্বসঙ্গবিবর্জিতাঃ ।
সঙ্গস্তেষ্বথ তে প্রার্থ্যঃ সঙ্গদোষহরা হি তে ॥
BH(3-25-21 to 24).
Saints are forbearing, compassionate and composed: they are friendly to all living beings and inimical to none and follow the injunctions of the scriptures. Their good disposition itself serves as an
ornament to them.(21) With an undivided heart they practise unflinching devotion to Me; and for My sake they abandon even their obligatory duties and forsake their kinsmen and relatives. (22) They listen to and narrate delightful stories relating to Me, their minds ever set on Me. Afflictions of various kinds, therefore, never torment such people. (23) Such are holy men, free from all
attachments, O virtuous lady! Attachment to such holy men must be sought for by you, for they destroy the pernicious effects of attachment.”
Then later, Sri Sankaracharya gives in greater detail the qualities of the guru.
উপসীদেদ্গুরুং প্রাজ্ঞং য়স্মাদ্বন্ধবিমোক্ষণম্ ।
শ্রোত্রিয়োঽবৃজিনোঽকামহতো য়ো ব্রহ্মবিত্তমঃ ।
ব্রহ্মণ্যুপরতঃ শান্তঃ নিরিন্ধন ইবানলঃ ।
অহেতুকদয়াসিন্ধুর্বন্ধুরানমতাং সতাম্ ॥ VC (32, 33).
The inquirer of truth should approach a wise preceptor, who confers emancipation from bondage; one who is versed in the Vedas, sinless, unsmitten by desire and a knower of brahman par excellence, who has withdrawn himself into brahman; who is calm, like the fire that has consumed its fuel, who is a boundless reservoir of mercy that knows no reason, and a friend of all good people who prostrate themselves before him.
Sri Vedanta Desika similarly gives a detailed description of the qualities of a guru in his Nyasa Vimsati. He says:
সিদ্ধং সত্সংপ্রদায়ে স্থিরধিয়মনঘং শ্রোত্রিয়ং ব্রহ্মনিষ্ঠং
সত্ত্বস্থং সত্যবাচং সময়নিয়তয়া সাধুবৃত্ত্যা সমেতম্ ।
দম্ভাসূয়াদিমুক্তং জিতবিষয়গণং দীর্গবন্ধুং দয়ালুং
স্খালিত্যে শাসিতারং স্ব-পর-হিতপরং দেশিকং ভূষ্ণুমীপ্সেত্ ॥
“One who desires to attain liberation should strive to have a spiritual teacher possessing the following qualities. He must be well versed in established tradition, should have a strong mind, flawless, well versed in the vedas, full of devotion to the Lord and full of sattva guna. He must be truthful, conduct himself in accordance with the prescribed codes of the given system, should be free from arrogance and jealousy, should have control over his senses and should be one of enduring relationship. He must be full of compassion, should correct the errors, and should be a well-wisher of himself and others.”
It is clear that a person possessing such exceptional qualifications will indeed be a rare phenomenon.
IMPORTANCE OF THE GURU. The summum bonum of human life is liberation. This is got by removal of wrong understanding about ourselves (known as ajnanam). When tha ajnanam is removed our Self shines in all its glory. The knower goes beyond sorrow, repeated birth and death cycle. We saw that a guru’s guidance is required in this learning process. Thus the role of the guru is important and cannot be described adequately in words. Our scriptures say that one is not easily blessed with a guru in his life time. They say that the human birth is rare and very valuable as only humans are endowed with discrimination to set their goals and the intelligence to work towards achieving them. Animals are driven by instinct. They cannot set any goal for themselves. Thus only a human being can understand the value of his life and work to reach the ultimate goal. It will indeed the height of folly if this important point is not understood, but the life is allowed to drift or spent simply in pursuit of material pleasures (which we saw earlier are only ephemeral). Such pleasures that gratify the senses are sought by even animals. So if one keeps himself busy working for them he degrades himself and wastes his precious life. Lord Rishabha Deva stresses this point in His advice to His sons.
নায়ং দেহো দেহভাজাং নৃলোকে কষ্টান্ কমানর্হতে বিড্ভুজাং য়ে ।
তপো দিব্যং পুত্রকা য়েন সত্বং শুদ্ধ্যেত্ য়স্মাত্ ব্রহ্মসৌখ্যং ত্বনন্তম্ ॥
This human body does not deserve to be given up to (the pursuit of) sensuous pleasures, which are (really) a source of misery and are enjoyed even by swine, dogs and other animals (that feed on ordure). It is worthy of being devoted to sublime austerities (pursuit of knowledge) whereby the mind is purified; and from the purity of mind follows the unending bliss of absorption into the Absolute. Thus getting a human birth is difficult, thereto yearning for liberation and most difficult is getting a qualified guru to guide one. These are got by divine grace only. Sri Sankaracharya points this out. VC(3).
দুর্লভং ত্রয়মেতদ্দেবনুগ্রহহেতুকম্ ।
মনুষ্যত্বং মুমুক্ষুত্বং মহাপুরুষসংশ্রয়ঃ ॥
Yama, the god of death tells the same thing to his disciple Nachiketa.KU(1-2-7).
শ্রবণায়াপি বহুভির্যো ন লভ্যঃ শৃণ্বন্তোঽপি বহবো য়ং ন বিদ্যুঃ ।
আশ্চর্যো বক্তা কুশলোঽস্য লব্ধাঽঽশ্চর্যো জ্ঞাতা কুশলানুশিষ্টঃ ॥
That which many people do not have the opportunity to hear; that which many people do not understand even after hearing; the teacher of such a subject is indeed rare; the gainer of this is rare; and well versed; that who is taught by a realised great soul and thus the knower of this subject is also very rare. Therefore, if anyone, who has got all the three gifts of god, fails to take full advantage of them, such a one is indeed the most ignorant and unfortunate. Krishna states this clearly in His advice to Uddhava. BH(11-20-17).
নৃদেহমাদ্যং সুলভং সুদুর্লভং প্লবং সুকল্পং গুরুকর্ণধারম্ ।
ময়ানুকূলেন নভস্বতেরিতং পুমান্ভবাব্ধিং ন তরেত্স আত্মহা ॥
Getting the first and foremost requisite, a human body which is like a strong boat – so difficult to secure, with the guru as the helmsman, and propelled by Me as a favourable wind – with such means as these, the man who does not strive to cross the ocean of samsara, is verily a suicide. It is the guru who has to help the disciple to get rid of his ignorance.The Guru Gita defines the word guru thus:
গুকারশ্চান্ধকারো হি রুকারস্তেজ উচ্যতে । অজ্ঞনগ্রাসকং ব্রহ্ম
গুরুরেব ন সংশয়ঃ ॥(1-32)
The letter “gu” denotes darkness. The letter “ru” denotes light. There is no doubt that guru is the very same brahman that dispels ignorance.
গুকারশ্চান্ধকারস্তু রুকারস্তন্নিরোধকৃত্ ।
অন্ধকারবিনাশিত্বাত্ গুরুরিত্যভিধীয়তে ॥ (1-33)
The letter “gu” denotes darkness. The letter “ru” dispels it. Since the guru dispels darkness (ignorance) he got the name. Our scriptures accord a very high place to the guru and emphatically
state he is Brahman Itself. The Taittiriya Upanishad commands that one should venrate the teacher as God.আচার্য দেবো ভব । The popular verse given below confirms this notion.
গুরুর্ব্রহ্মা গুরুর্বিষ্ণুঃ গুরুর্দেবো মহেশ্বরঃ ।
গুরুরেব পরং ব্রহ্ম তস্মৈ শ্রী গুরবে নমঃ ॥
“My guru is Brahma, my guru is Vishnu, my guru is Maheswara – the god of gods. My guru is verily the Supreme Brahman. Salutations to that guru.”
The guru invests the disciple with knowledge about himself: thus creates a new person out of him and in this process he is like Brahma the creator. The guru holds the disciple’s hand during the learning process and watches over his progress and nurtures him with tender care like a mother bird would its chicks. In this way he takes on the role of Vishnu the sustainer. The guru destroys the disciple’s ignorance and along with it his imagined limitations and misery. In this way the guru is like Siva. By taking on all the three roles the guru is verily the Brahman itself.
In fact “guru” is one of the names of the Lord.গুরুঃ – সর্ববিদ্যানাং উপদেষ্টৃত্বাত্ গুরুঃ । Vishnu Sahasranama.(209). It is also one of the names of Siva. Navaratnamala says that Devi Herself appears as the guru and shows the way to attain the goal.
দেশিকরূপেণ দর্শিতাভ্যুদয়াম্ । One of Sri Lalitha’s names is গুরুমূর্তিঃ । গুরুরেব মূর্তিঃ শরীরং য়স্যাঃ ।
তামিচ্ছাবিগ্রহাং দেবীং গুরুরূপাং বিভাবয়ে দিতি নিত্যাহৃদয়েপি ।
Lalitha Sahasranama (603).
Because of these reasons our tradition insists that one should show utmost respect to his guru; treat him on a par with God Himself and never show disrespect to him. In the Taittiriyopanishad we saw the teacher admonishing the student আচর্যদেবো ভব । Venerate your acharya as a deity. Krishna teaches this to His disciple Uddhava in His last message.
আচার্যং মাং বিজানীয়ান্নাবমন্যেত কর্হিচিত্ ।
ন মর্ত্যবুদ্ধ্যাসূয়েত সর্বদেবময়ো গুরুঃ ॥ BH (11-17-27).
One should know the teacher to be My own self and never disregard or look down upon him as a man; for the teacher is the personification of all gods. He advices Arjuna also the same thing. BG(4-34).
তদ্বিদ্ধি প্রণিপাতেন পরিপ্রশ্নেন সেবয়া ।
উপদেক্ষ্যন্তি তে জ্ঞানং জ্ঞানিনস্তত্ত্বদর্সিনঃ ॥
“Know it (superior wisdom) by means of obeisance, exhaustive questionings and service to the teacher. Knowers who have realised the truth will impart to you that knowledge.”
One can never repay the debt one owes to the guru. The kindly guru also does not expect anything from the disciple. The only way in which the latter can show his gratitude to his guru is by serving him with dedication. Krishna says this in His advice to Uddhava.
শুশ্রূষমাণ আচার্যং সদোপাসীত নীচবত্ । BH (11-17-29).The disciple should always worship the teacher and serve him as a dedicated servant. The guru is won over by his humility and teaches the supreme vidya. Sri Sankaracharya advises us to have devotion to the guru and free ourselves from the grip of this world. (Bhaja Govindam). (18). গুরুচরণাংবুজ-নির্ভরভক্তঃ সংসার-দচিরাদ্ভব মুক্তঃ ।
One can also think of another reason for offering worship and service to the guru. Prahlada talks of nine features that mark devotion to the Lord. These are:
শ্রবণং কীর্তনং বিষ্ণোঃ স্মরণং পাদসেবনম্ ।
অর্চনং বন্দনং দাস্যং সখ্যমাত্মনিবেদনম্ ॥ BH(7-5-23).
(1)To hear the names, praises and stories of the Lord,
(2) chanting them,
(3) to remember Him as well as His names and stories,
(4) to wait upon Him,
(5) to offer worship,
(6) offering service to Him,
(7) to dedicate one’s actions to Him,
(8) to cultivate friendship with Him, and
(9) total surrender (of body and belongings) to Him.
It is clear that till one gains knowledge of Self and as a result the term “worship” takes on a different colour, one has to continue the worship of the Lord using some representation like an icon or a picture as most of the people do. In such a case how can one practise some of the forms listed above such as (1) waiting upon Him, (2) offering service to Him, (3) to cultivate friendship with Him and (4) total surrender to Him? The answer is, that with one’s guru being there as the personification of the Lord one can meaningfully wait upon him, offer service to him, cultivate friendship and also totally surrender to him. Arjuna was lucky in that he could have friendship with Krishna and also surrender to Him at the time of the KurukShetra war. But one need not consider oneself less lucky as he has his guru whom he can serve and worship. It is, in all respects same as serving the Lord Himself.
Sri Sankaracharya says that there is nothing in the three worlds that can be compared with the guru.
Can one compare one’s guru with the fabled philosopher’s stone that is said to be capable of converting base metals into gold? No, says he; because a piece of gold thus obtained by convertion cannot convert another piece of iron into gold. But the guru blesses the disciple who had taken refuge in his feet with his own natural state. In other words the guru not only transforms his disciple into a knower but also confers on him the capabilty to transform another into a knower.
দৃষ্টান্তো নৈব দৃষ্টস্ত্রিভুবনজঠরে সদ্গুরোর্জ্ঞানদাতুঃ
স্পর্শশ্চেত্তত্র কল্প্যঃ স নয়তি য়দহো স্বর্ণতামশ্মসারম্ ।
ন স্পর্শত্বং তথাপি শ্রিতচরণয়ুগে সদ্গুরোস্স্বীয়শিষ্যে
স্বীয়ং সাম্যং বিধত্তে ভবতি নিরুপমস্তেন বা লৌকিকোঽপি ॥
It is like the case of a lamp lit from another lamp. What would be the difference between the two? The second lamp also can light other lamps; thus there is no difference at all between them. Kalidasa says this: প্রবর্তিতো দীপ ইব প্রদীপাত্. (Raghuvamsam. 5-37).
From the above facts we derive that if one is blessed with the guru’s grace, then ipso facto the Lord’s grace follows. Great acharyas like Sri Vedanta Desika and Sri Sankaracharya who knew this truth have said that it is enough that they have got their guru’s grace and so do not worry about getting the Lord’s grace. Tamil saints like Tirumular have spoken at length on the greatness of the guru and the need to worship him. Let us see an example of what wise men have to say about the glory of the teachings of the guru. The sage minister Shukanasa said this in his advice to the prince Chandrapida. (Kadambari). There is delightful punning on words in this passage which one with knowledge of sanskrit will be able to enjoy. হরতি চ সকলং অতিমলিনমপ্যন্ধকারমিব দোষজাতং
প্রদোষসময়নিশাকর ইব । গুরূপদেশঃ প্রশমহেতুর্বয়ঃ পরিণাম
ইব পলিতরূপেণ শিরসিজজালমমলীকুর্বন্
পরিণময়তি । গুরূপদেশশ্চ নাম
অনারোপিত-মেদোদোষং গুরুকরণম্, অসুবর্ণবিরচনমগ্রাম্যং
কর্ণাভরণম্, অতীতজ্যোতিরালোকঃ, নোদ্বেগকরঃ প্রজাগরঃ ।
The teachings of the guru dispel even the densest of darkness (ignorance) just as the rising moon. Just like the onset of old age (maturity) converts the darkness of the hair white (whiteness stands
for purity), so also the teachings make the turbulent sense organs pure by making them calm. They constitute a bath sans water that washes away all the (internal) impurities; they confer maturity
(respectfulness) without the grey hair and other such disfigurements that mark onset of the old age; they make one weighty without the defect of obesity; they are adornments to the ears not made of artificial golden ornaments; they illumine without light; they awaken without disturbing or upsetting one.
Now let us study the verses proper.
॥ গুর্বষ্টকম্ ॥
শরীরং সুরূপং তথা বা কলত্রং য়শশ্চারু চিত্রং ধনং মেরুতুল্যং ।
মনশ্চেন্ন লগ্নং গুরোরঙ্ঘ্রিপদ্মে ততঃ কিং ততঃ কিং ততঃ কিং ততঃ কিম্ ॥ ১॥
শরীরম্ = the body. সুরূপম্ = handsome. তথা বা = as also. কলত্রম্ = the wife (beautiful).য়শঃ = fame. চারু চিত্রং = agreeable and pleasing.ধনং = wealth. মেরুতুল্যম্ comparable to Meru the golden mountain . গুরোঃ = guru’s.অঙ্গ্রিপদ্মে = lotus like foot. মনঃ = the mind. ন লগ্নম্ চেদ্ = if not attached. ততঃ কিম্? = then what is the use? ততঃ কিম্? = then what is the use? ততঃ কিম্? = then what is the use? ততঃ কিম্? = then what is the use?
Meaning of the verse. One may be blessed with a handsome body, beautiful wife, great fame and immense wealth. But what is the use of these things if one’s mind is not attached to the lotus like foot of the guru?
The implication is that they are of no use. The repetion of the question “what is the use?” four times stresses the point. The second line is the same in all the eight verses.
কলত্রং ধনং পুত্রপৌত্রাদি সর্বং গৃহং বান্ধবাঃ সর্বমেতদ্ধি জাতম্ ।
মনশ্চেন্ন লগ্নং গুরোরঙ্ঘ্রিপদ্মে ততঃ কিং ততঃ কিং ততঃ কিং ততঃ কিম্ ॥ ২॥
কলত্রং = wife. ধনং = wealth. পুত্রপৌত্রাদি সর্বং = son, grandson and all that. গৃহং = house.
বান্ধবাঃ = relatives.সর্বং এতদ্ধি জাতং all these that are available. Second line is same as in verse No. 1.
Meaning of the verse. One may be having wife, wealth, son, grandson, relatives etc. But what is the use of these things if one’s mind is not attached to the lotus like foot of the guru?
In the above two verses wife (husband included), children and money have been mentioned twice. This is because one is strongly attached to them. Attachment follows desire. Desire is for something one does not have. One desires to have something because one feels that thing will give happiness, comfort or security. Such things include wealth, family, friends, house etc. Having got them one holds on to them. This is called attachment. The utmost attachment is, of course for one’s body. Every one wants the body to remain ever young and to last for ever – knowing very well that this wish is unnatural and so can never be had. Scriptures talk of three attachments; one towards the husband/wife, one towards the children and lastly the one towards wealth. The attachment, when it grows strong and becomes intense clouds one’s judgement and makes one to act in unpredictable ways. Prahlada had talked about attachment. He said that it is impossible
for a person who has not got control over his senses to free himself from the attachment to his home. BH(7-6-9).
কো গৃহেষু পুমান্ সক্তমাত্মানমজিতেন্দ্রিয়ঃ ।
স্নেহপাশৈর্দৃঢৈর্বদ্ধমুত্সহেত বিমোচিতুম্ ॥
The attachment to money, for example, can make one to sacrifice even one’s life for it. He had given three examples – of a thief, a soldier and a merchant.
কো ন্বর্থতৃষ্ণাং বিসৃজেত্ প্রাণেভ্যোঽপি য় ঈপ্সিতঃ । য়ং
প্রীণাত্যসুভিঃ প্রেষ্ঠৈস্তস্করঃ সেবকো বণিক্ ॥ BH(7-6 10).
A thief will not hesitate to commit a murder or risk his own life to get at money. He may try to snatch a gold chain from the neck of a child and if necessary be ready to strangle the child to take the
chain. For him a golden chain is more valuable than the life of a child. Next, a solder goes to the battle and stakes his life – only to earn some money in return. Lastly, a merchant will take many risks and go to strange and far off places to earn money.
ষডঙ্গাদিবেদো মুখে শাস্ত্রবিদ্যা কবিত্বাদি গদ্যং সুপদ্যং করোতি ।
মনশ্চেন্ন লগ্নং গুরোরঙ্ঘ্রিপদ্মে ততঃ কিং ততঃ কিং ততঃ কিং ততঃ কিম্ ॥ ৩॥
ষডঙ্গাদিবেদঃ = veda with its six limbs.মুখে = in the mouth. শাশ্ত্রবিদ্যা as also the scriptural learning.
কবিত্বাদি = intelligence and other qualitite. গদ্যং = prose composition. সুপদ্যং well structured. করোতি = makes. Second line is same as in verse No. 1. The vedas have six members.that help in the correct pronunciation and interpretation of the text. They are:শিক্ষা = the science of proper articulation and pronunciation; ছংদস্ = the science of prosody; ব্যাকরণং = grammar; নিরুক্তং = etymological explanation of difficult vedic words; জ্যোতিষং = astronomy and; কল্পং = ritual or ceremonial.
শিক্ষাকল্পো ব্যাকরণং নিরুক্তং ছ,ন্দসাং চয়ঃ ।
জ্যোতিষাময়নং চৈব বেদাঙ্গানি ষডেব তু ॥
One may have thoroughly studied the vedas and its six branches; be able to reel off words of learned length and thundering sound from them and quote from the scriptures extensively. This may greatly impress an innocent audience and earn him accolades besides money. Similarly one may be able to compose great literary pieces – prose or poetry. But these achievements will not help in gaining knowledge about the Self. The upanishads very emphatic about this.
নায়মাত্মা প্রবচনেন লভ্যো ন মেধয়া ন বহুনা শ্রুতেন । MU (3-2-3).
The knowledge about the Self can be had only at the feet of the guru. Till it is got all the learning one carries in his head can only be termed a burden. Sri Sankaracharya says this clearly.
বাগ্বৈখরী শব্দভরী শাস্ত্রব্যাখ্যানকৌশলম্ ।
বৈদুষ্যং বিদুষাং তদ্বদ্ভুক্তয়ে ন তু মুক্তয়ে ॥
Loud speech consisting of a shower of words, the skill in expounding the scriptures, and likewise erudition – these may bring in some money or fame and as a result some joy to the scholar; but they are of no use in gaining liberation. VC(69).
Bhartruhari also says this in his Vairagaya Satakam. He asks what is the use of studying vedas, smritis, puranas, extensive shastras or the maze of ceremonials? They may take us to heaven. One may stay there for a long time ; but the stay is not permanent . As soon as one’s stock of merit that has taken him to the place is exhausted he is flung back to earth to take birth again. MokSha or liberation is the only thing that will guarantee escape from rebirth.
কিং বেদৈঃ স্মৃতিভিঃ পুরাণপঠনৈঃ শাস্ত্রঈর্মহাবিস্তরৈঃ
স্বর্গগ্রামকুটীনিবাসফলদৈঃ কর্মক্রিয়াবিভ্রমৈঃ ।
স্বাত্মানন্দপদপ্রবেশকলনং শেষৈর্বণিগ্বৃত্তিভিঃ ॥
Meaning of the verse. One might have thoroughly studied the vedas with its six limbs, mastered the scriptures and be able to compose wonderful poetry and prose pieces. But what is the use of these things if one’s mind is not attached to the lotus like foot of the guru?
বিদেশেষু মান্যঃ স্বদেশেষু ধন্যঃ সদাচারবৃত্তেষু মত্তো ন চান্যঃ ।
মনশ্চেন্ন লগ্নং গুরোরঙ্ঘ্রিপদ্মে ততঃ কিং ততঃ কিং ততঃ কিং ততঃ কিম্ ॥ ৪॥
বিদেশেষু = in the foreign countries. মান্যঃ = respected. স্বদেশেষু = in his own country. ধন্যঃ = wealthy, fortunate. সদাচারবৃত্তেষু = in the virtual or moral conducts or in observing traditional observances. মত্তঃ = proud or arrogant. ন চ অন্যঃ = none like him. Second line is same as in verse No. 1.
One may be honoured in other countries and also be respected in his own country. He may be virtuous and follow the prescribed duties as per custom. But they cannot help in gaining the knowledge of the Self. Works prescribed by the scriptures when properly done lead to the purification of the mind. Knowledge can be had only by enquiry under the guidance of the guru. Sri Sankaracharya says: VC(11)
চিত্তস্য শুদ্ধয়ে কর্ম ন বস্তূপলব্ধয়ে ।
বস্তুসিদ্ধির্বিচারেণ ন কিংচিত্কর্মকোটিভিঃ ॥
Meaning of the verse. One may be respected in his own country as well as in other countries. He may also be known to be a follower of duties as prescribed by tradition. But what is the use of these
things if one’s mind is not attached to the lotus like foot of the guru?
ক্ষমামণ্ডলে ভূপভূপালবৃন্দৈঃ সদা সেবিতং য়স্য পাদারবিন্দম্ ।
মনশ্চেন্ন লগ্নং গুরোরঙ্ঘ্রিপদ্মে ততঃ কিং ততঃ কিং ততঃ কিং ততঃ কিম্ ॥ ৫॥
ক্ষমামণ্ডলে = in this great globe/earth. ভূপভূপালবৃন্দৈঃ = by many kings and rulers. সদা সেবিতং = always served, attended. য়স্য পাদারবিন্দম্ = whose lotus like foot. Second line same as in verse No.1.
One may be very great and exalted. Kings may wait at his feet. But wise men do not attach any importance to such a person if he carries only a crown and not knowledge of Self on his head. Sri Vedanta Desika refers to kings who are puffed up with pride with contempt in his Vairagya panchakam. He says a king never rules over the entire world but only a small portion of it. But even this is enough to make him proud. Sri Desika says he does not care for them but is determined to worship the Lord who, in return for a handful of pounded rice, made Kuchela rich as Kubera himself.
ক্ষুভ্যত্ক্ষুদ্রনরেন্দ্র চাটুরচনা ধন্যান্ ন মন্যামহে ।
দেবং সেবিতুমেব নিশ্চিনুমহে য়োঽসৌ দয়ালুঃ পুরা
দানামুষ্টিমুচে কুচেলমুনয়ে দত্তে স্ম বিত্তেশতাম্ ॥
Bhartruhari says the same thing in his Vairagya Satakam. This verse is addressed by a yati or sanyasi (one who has renounced the world) to a king. The yati speaks of the vanity of the king’s possessions, and declares that a yati is greater than a king. The reason is that a king may be rich in wealth but the yati is rich in wisdom aquired at the feet of his preceptor.
ত্বং রাজা বয়মপ্যুপাসিতগুরুপ্রজ্ঞাভিমানোন্নতাঃ
খ্যাতস্ত্বং বিভবৈর্যশাংসি কবয়ো দিক্ষু প্রতন্বন্তি নঃ ।
য়দ্যস্মাসু পরাঙ্মুখোঽসি বয়মপ্যেকান্ততো নিঃস্পৃহাঃ ॥
The yati says that if the king chooses to be cold towards him, he too is perfectly indifferent towards the king! Meaning of the verse. One may be very powerful and kings may wait at his feet. But what is the use of these things if one’s mind is not attached to the lotus like foot of the guru?
য়শো মে গতং দিক্ষু দানপ্রতাপাজ্জগদ্বস্তু সর্বং করে য়ত্প্রসাদাত্ ।
মনশ্চেন্ন লগ্নং গুরোরঙ্ঘ্রিপদ্মে ততঃ কিং ততঃ কিং ততঃ কিং ততঃ কিম্ ॥ ৬॥
মে য়শঃ = my fame. দানপ্রতাপাত্ = by the glory of the gifts. দিক্ষু = in all directions. গতং = gone or is spread. য়ত্ প্রসাদাত্ = by whose favour or condescension.সর্বং জগত্বস্তু = all the things in this world.করে = in hand. Second line as in verse No. 1.
The same idea as in the previous couple of verses is restated for emphasis. Meaning of the verse. One may claim that by his charities and gifts his fame has spread in all directions and nothing in this world is not obtainable by him. But what is the use of these things if one’s mind is not attached to the lotus like foot of the guru? So far the poet has been talking of a person who has attachment to wealth, home, family, fame etc. In the next two verses he says that what is said is equally applicable to one who claims to have shed such attachments.
ন ভোগে ন য়োগে ন বা বাজিরাজৌ ন কান্তামুখে নৈব বিত্তেষু চিত্তম্ ।
মনশ্চেন্ন লগ্নং গুরোরঙ্ঘ্রিপদ্মে ততঃ কিং ততঃ কিং ততঃ কিং ততঃ কিম্ ॥ ৭॥
চিত্তং = (my) mind (is) ন ভোগে = is not in enjoying sensuory pleasures.ন বা বাজিরাজৌ =not in either horses or in being a king. ন কান্তামুখে = not in (looking at) my wife’s face; (ie)., not having attachment to wife, child, and other members of the family. নৈব বিত্তেষু = never in wealth. Even if one makes such a claim; which implies that he has got detachment, what is the use of this if one’s mind is not attached to the lotus like foot of the guru?
Meaning of the verse. Even if one has developed intense aversion to worldly possessions and relations, such a detachment is of no use if one’s mind is not attached to the lotus like foot of the guru?
অরণ্যে ন বা স্বস্য গেহে ন কার্যে ন দেহে মনো বর্ততে মে ত্বনর্ঘ্যে ।
মনশ্চেন্ন লগ্নং গুরোরঙ্ঘ্রিপদ্মে ততঃ কিং ততঃ কিং ততঃ কিং ততঃ কিম্ ॥ ৮॥
মে মনঃ = my mind. ন বর্ততে = does not dwell on. অরণ্যে = (living in the) forest or বা স্বস্য গেহে = (living in) my own house. ন কার্যে = not in indulging in prescribed activities.ন দেহে = or my body. তু অনর্ঘ্যে = not to invaluable or priceless things. Second line as in verse No.1. Meaning of the verse. Even if one claims that his mind is not attached to forests, or house, or his own body or even wealth such a detachment is of no use if one’s mind is not attached to the lotus like foot of the guru?
Now the poet concludes after mentioning the ফলশ্রুতিঃ or benefit of reciting the poem. They are stated so that one will develop deep interest in studying the poem, mull over the contents
and in due course accept and act on them (ie.) develop devotion to his guru. This devotion will, in due course bear fruit. গুরোরষ্টকং য়ঃ পঠেত্পুণ্যদেহী য়তির্ভূপতির্ব্রহ্মচারী চ গেহী ।
লভেদ্বাঞ্চিতার্থং পদং ব্রহ্মসংজ্ঞং গুরোরুক্তবাক্যে মনো য়স্য লগ্নম্ ॥ ৯॥
গুরোঃ অষ্টকং = the composition consisting of eight verses on the guru. পুণ্যদেহী = one who has done meritotious deeds. য়ঃ পঠেত্ = if he reads. য়তিঃ be he a sanyasi (ascetic). ভূপতিঃ = a king. ব্রহ্মচারী = a student studying under a teacher. চ গেহী = or a householder. He will লভেত্ = get. বাঞ্চিতার্থং = desired goal. ব্রহ্মসংজ্ঞং পদং = the status known as brahman. গুরুরুক্তবাক্যে = in the teachings of the guru. য়স্য = whose.মনঃ = mind. লগ্নং = is attached.
Meaning of the verse. Any one whose mind dwells on the teaching’s of his guru, be he a king or an ascetic or a bachelor who is studying or a householder reads these verses regularly he will, by the grace of his guru, get his wishes fulfilled in this world and also attain the highest goal known as mokSha.
CONCLUSION. The human birth is rare. One gets it after many inferior births as birds, animals, insects etc. Such inferior births are meant solely for reaping the consequence of their past deeds. One who has got such a birth cannot make any conscious effort to gain spiritual progress. Only the one who has been blessed with a human birth has the discrimination to distinguish between what is good for him and what is not; what is temporary and what is permanent. Having found this, he alone (not the animals, insects or birds) can set his goal and make efforts to get at it. In this the Lord has been very kind to give us scriptures that discuss about the goals. He has also sent us many acharyas who, out of immense mercy, talked at great length on this subject and answered every possible question one may have. It is up to us to study them and make the best of the precious human life. If we were to miss the chance we cannot say with certainty what our next birth will be. The Kenopanishad (2-5) says that if one fails to make a sincere attempt to attain the goal of life he makes a grave error. The loss is inestimable.
ইহ চেদবেদীদথ সত্যমস্তি ন চেদিহাবেদীন্মহতী বিনষ্টিঃ ।
Thus the only way to make our life meaningful (that is to avoid sorrow and miseries) is to pursue the spiritual path in this life itself with the guidance of a guru. One has to hold on to his
teachings with absolute faith and serve him sincerely knowing he is the very personification of the Lord.
॥ ওঁ তত্সত্ ॥