By Suma Varughese
By interviewing 17 of the most eminent spiritual luminaries of our times, our anniversary issue offers a tribute to the guru tatva, the enlightening principle, that alone can lead us from darkness to light, says Suma Varughese
What can you say of those rare beings who, enlightened themselves, refrain from sinking into celestial stillness, and instead, come forward to aid suffering humanity?
To the extent that man has raised himself from the primal swamp of selfishness, and imbibed the civilizing effect of love, forgiveness, generosity, kindness, and compassion, to that extent it is these masters we have to thank for it. Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Mahavir, Guru Nanak, Lao Tse, Thiruvalavur, Shankaracharya, Jnaneshwar, Ramana Maharshi, Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Vivekananda… For centuries, these great ones have walked with humanity, patiently freeing us of our illusions, ripping through the veil of maya, endorsing us, believing in us, exhorting us, and never, ever writing us off. Seeing in us what we cannot see, the shining image of Godliness.
“Paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya cha dushkritam; Dharma-samthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge.” said Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita 4:8.
(For the protection of those who are in harmony, and the rectification of everything disharmonious, I incarnate Myself at every juncture of time.)
And so they come, the masters, era after era, striving to set right the balance of good and evil, striving to draw each of us to their own exalted heights.
Of course, it is another thing that most of us say no to the honor, and shield ourselves from the weighty burden of potential divinity by worshipping the teacher, instead of practicing the teaching. We raise them to impossible heights, embroider superhuman tales about them, and delude ourselves with the reasoning that as mere mortals we cannot hope to rise to the level of these gods. Most belief systems even consider the very thought blasphemy.
But this land alone thought otherwise. In this land alone, prophet after prophet, teacher after teacher, from the time of the Vedas and beyond, proclaimed the provocative truth: Man was potentially God. And the purpose of human existence was to realise that possibility. Perhaps that is why spiritual teachers continue to proliferate in this land. Osho once said that India, poor and destitute in other areas, was resplendently rich in mystics. Today, mystics have spread all over the world – awakening
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