By Dada Gavand October 2004 Step by step the guru leads, guarding the disciple against pitfalls, training him in a life of purity and prayer, meditation and detachment, simplicity and selfless service, humility and self-surrender. a master reminisces about his own guru I have often been asked: “Is it necessary to have a guru?” My simple answer is: “To me the guru is as necessary as breath is to the body.” Without the guru I am no better than a dead soul. Out of the very depths of my yearning heart hath come this aspiration, again and again: “Where would I be without thee, beloved?”We should feel indebted to our parents for giving us the gift of life and having sowed in us the seeds of character. But howsoever noble be our character, we continue to be children of darkness. Who but the guru will take us out of darkness into the Light? The guru is the great dispeller of darkness. The guru is the giver of enlightenment. All glory to the guru!I was fortunate to find my Guru (Sadhu Vaswani) when I was still a college-student. I should say, when the Guru found me. We cannot find the guru. We can only yearn for the guru. The Upanishads say: “When the disciple is ready, the guru appears!” I think it is the guru who comes and makes us ready. Without his grace, we cannot receive the treasure which all the wealth of the world cannot buy.The guru is our visible God. Sometimes, as I drew close to my own Guru, I felt that to touch the hem of his garment was to commune with God. The light of God shone in his eyes. The smile of God was on his face. A wonder of the Infinite was in his faraway gaze. A fragrance, as of the spring breeze, was in the wondrous words he spoke.Sadhu Vaswani carried with himself a tremendous power of the Spirit. He was a man of spiritual magnetism. His was an electric personality. Around him was an atmosphere of light—a mark of servants of God and humanity. People heard him, saw him, and exclaimed: “What a giant of a man! What strength! What an impressive personality. Everyone near him looked so insignificant in comparison.”Yet he was so simple, so humble. His devotees called him their guru, but he said: “I am a guru of none: I am a disciple of all!” Crowds followed him wherever he went—eager to listen to his words more precious than pearls. But he gave himself no supernatural airs. He was one of the humblest of men who ever trod the earth.Sadhu Vaswani was an ocean of love. Love flowed out of him in an endless, ceaseless stream. His eyes were radiant with love. His words were vibrant with love. The very tips of his fingers thrilled with love. He did not claim to have supernatural powers. But there is a Power above all other powers—of love. If there is one force that can bring about transformation in the life of another, it is love. He worked this miracle of transformation in many lives.Sadhu Vaswani was a spiritual communist. He believed in the religion of love that teaches us to share all we have with the poor and needy, the unwanted and the unloved. Religions, he said, are worth no more than a straw if they do not teach man how to love God and serve the God-in-man. Service, to him, was higher than mukti, liberation from the cycle of birth and death. “I do not aspire to mukti,” he said. “I do not want the joys of the heaven-world. I fain would come, again and again, to this world, if only that I might be of some service to those who suffer and are in pain.” Once, pointing to a street dog he said: “I would not mind being reborn as a dog if thereby I can give help to some in need.”Many of us felt drawn to him as irresistibly as iron filings to a magnet. Some, indeed, left their well-paid jobs to follow him. What is there that we would not have done for him? All he asked of us was: “Shed your ‘I’ and ‘me’ and ‘mine’, then come to me, and you will be with me forever and forever more!”Sadhu Vaswani was not a teacher of the ascetic way. He taught that man need not run away from the world. He must live in the world and fulfil his duties. His ideal was to be in the world but not of the world. He repeatedly asked us never to forget that we are here as pilgrims, that our stay on this isle of enchantment—the earth—is brief, and that we must retrace our steps to our Homeland which, alas, we have forgotten in the noise of empirical existence.We are here to fulfil God’s plan for us. So the most important thing for us is to constantly remember Him and aspire to do His will. God above everything, God first and foremost. Until the longing for God wakes up within our hearts, we are not truly awake. As Sadhu Vaswani said in words of lyrical beauty:The waking ones, alas! are not awake:And the sleepers sleep—Until Thy Light on them doth shine!Awake are many called:But they are not the waking ones.Nor do the sleepers truly wakeUntil they learn in silence and in loveTo sing the Name Divine!Most of us need someone to awaken us, an evolved soul, an awakened one—the guru. The guru is the Great Awakener. “The Guru,” Sadhu Vaswani says, “is the lift to raise us to the heights, the lift which may take little ones to the Kingdom of God.”According to Sadhu Vaswani, one essential mark of the true disciple is implicit obedience to the guru. “Not my will but the Guru’s will be done,” says the true disciple at every step. The more he gets in tune with the Guru’s will, the more does he grow into the likeness of the guru, until one day, the disciple becomes part of the guru’s being. The twain are one, one in the One who is Peace, Joy and Bliss!Lehna was a rich silk merchant. One day, he saw Guru Nanak and came under his magnetic spell. He stayed with Guru Nanak and served him, walking the way of obedience. The day came when Lehna’s bonds were broken, and he was born anew into the freedom of the sons of God. Embracing him, the Guru said: “From today, you are Angad, a limb of my body, a breath of my being, one with me in Spirit, blended with my soul.”Thus does it happen in the case of every disciple who walks the way of implicit obedience and loving devotion. Step by step, does the guru lead him, guarding him against pitfalls, training him in a life of purity and prayer, of meditation and detachment, of simplicity and selfless service, of humility and self-surrender, pouring upon him benedictions of the Spirit.Homage to the Guru!
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