By Amodini October 2004 Gurus resort to trickery and tomfoolery at times to shock the disciples’’ minds into transcending their conventional limitations so that they can explore deeper realms of consciousness When gurus resort to trickery, the disciple must abandon judgement and move towards the wholeness of being where gurus operate from It is barely nine in the morning. I am lost in the art of writing while immersed deep into a sushumna trance, words emerging at the speed of thought on the computer screen. Bhaja Govindam plays in the background, and it helps me achieve that rare meditative consciousness which makes writing such a deeply creative and satisfying endeavour. Suddenly, the rude sound of the doorbell yanks me back into present awareness, as I stomp to the door with an impatient frown. He stands there patiently, modesty written clearly across his youthful mien, just a slip of a boy with a glowing, dusky complexion. A cheap nylon carry-bag slips out of his hands to the floor as though it is empty, soon as I open the door. He gives a gasp as he catches sight of me, a beatific smile spreading across his face, even as he joins his hands in a modest namaskar. “Too early, and also too young for a salesman,” I think to myself as I continue to observe him speechlessly as he stands there in great anticipation. He has that cheeky look with an ordinary baseball cap slung casually on his head. There are thoughts whizzing through my head in utter confusion, as I glare at him in a long frown, shake my head to indicate that I don’t wish to buy anything from him, and firmly shut the door to return to my chair, placing my hands on the keyboard once again. Imagine, what a smile of joy to have at last caught sight of me, as though someone separated from his mother in the melee of the village fair had just found his way back home after many years! Without admitting to myself how touched I am in reality, I know that if I had taken him in and offered him a chair, I would have ended up buying all his wares. But then, suddenly, the trance breaks, and it is I who breathe in sharply, staring rigidly at the glowing monitor, tears beginning to rain down unchecked. The name of my trickster guru starts resonating inside a pounding heart. I sit immobile for a few long minutes, before I can gather myself sufficiently and rush to the door, hoping he’s still there. But he’s gone. I dissolve in a heap on the floor, berating him for being such a crooked guru. I visualise how I could have washed his feet, worshipped him with adoration, and then talked to him to my heart’s content. I mentally scold him for such a cruel trick. I cry for two whole days after that, and the memory of the visit is such a wrench even now. I continue to scold him in my prayers: “Come and sit in front of me like a man! I want to talk to you of many things. You broke my heart that day.” All this goes on in futile litany, even as I know that he has made an utter fool of me and will not yield to my childish demands too soon. I know he is smug and self-satisfied about that sneaky trick. And inside, I am grateful to him, although unwilling to acknowledge it to myself. Behind seeming playfulness and trickery, I know that he is an implacable teacher. It is he who decides the time and nature of each encounter, non-verbally flinging challenges and setting unforgettable lessons as a tough taskmaster along the course of serious discipleship. What could be the lesson in this incident of trickery, one might wonder. The guru’s darshan is meant to accelerate the evolutionary process in the disciple, like a quantum leap. The communication is non-verbal, completely bypassing the mind of the disciple. Although my mind was put in a limbo at that point, my inner, total reality was aware of the importance of the darshan. The exalted guru seeks to move the disciple towards becoming Whole, way beyond the capacity of the mind. The mind is up to its own games, as to how it would snare the attention of the guru with an outward show of piety and devotion, but that is immaterial to the guru. A darshan like that also helps the disciple to recognise the limitations of the puny mind, and that for real spiritual growth to occur, one must learn to live in the Whole consciousness, aware of all that is happening at a given time in one’s environment. The exalted gurus don’t preach, don’t engage you in verbal gymnastics, because that is again giving additional power to the mind. Just a single look from the guru is sufficient to move you beyond several lifetimes of spiritual struggle. The guru, at that level, doesn’t expect anything of you, nor does he demand anything. He doesn’t want you to become dependent on him, nor should you resort to ego embellishment based on your relationship with him. It is better if the disciple gets on with the hard work through personal effort, towards cultivating independence from any external agency and become Whole—the ultimate aim of spirituality and discipleship. It doesn’t matter to the guru how long you take to achieve this, whether a single lifetime, or several more. A disciple’s taleRoshan (name changed to protect privacy) is a Punjabi businessman with a colourful personal history. His life’s trajectory would have been different were it not for an exalted Yogi who took him under his wings at a relatively young age. Roshan lived a tempestuous life, suffering great inner turmoil and frustration, in what was a seemingly blessed birth as the scion of a wealthy family. As an impetuous youngster with debonair looks, he would pass time frequenting the by-lanes near a convent school, ogling at pretty schoolgirls. “You may not believe it,” he says, “but I used to carry a Rampuri (switchblade) in my pocket in those days. Members of my extended family would cross the street when they saw me approaching.” He had run away from home thrice because of a strong yearning to become a sadhu. Then a wandering yogi arrived in his house to pick up the reins of Roshan’s life. “Don’t worry,” he’d declare nonchalantly to the distraught family, “He’ll return on his own next week. He’ll be okay.” Today, Roshan is a handsome pater familias with silvering hair, mature, dignified and courteous to the core. Even then, if you ask him about his departed guru, he turns into a fulminating adolescent. This despite the fact that the guru has come so close to him after taking samadhi, that he’s practically merged with Roshan, often prompting clear instructions in his ears about how to conduct his work and relationships, and admonishing him occasionally to give up smoking! “Baba is ruining my life,” said Roshan one day. “You know how I loved to dance? I was a great social animal. He’s left me with the bare bones of living, and all I am is just a trustee of all this wealth on behalf of other people. People see me as mister so-and-so, but that’s not who I am. I don’t know when I will be called by the Guru to discharge my higher role in life. I’m pining, waiting for him to come to me in a more up-front way. He predicted so many things to me, what is to happen two years from now, and what will happen ten years later, how the great guru will himself appear before all the world.” In the meantime, Roshan meticulously functions as businessman, head of a large family, a philanthropist and a deeply spiritual man. “It is not a joke when the gurus guide you on the spiritual path. They pound your ego into dust. They wring you like a cloth washed clean. They test you, and you can never relax, never be casual about things again. They will say one thing and do another. All you can do is be happy and consider yourself blessed that the great ones at all consider you worthy of all this perverse attention,” he continues to growl in a low voice, until I burst out laughing, and he has to join in perforce, at the absurdity of railing at the trickster who has transformed his life in such a major way. I have experienced similar frustrations in spiritual life, but the way Roshan describes it, with a typical northern lilt, it sounds as if he’s loosening a string of the most colourful Punjabi words at the perfidy of exalted gurus. Recently a north Indian Sufi master insisted that Roshan occupy a special gaddi next to his own, as spiritual adviser for just one day. He returned to call me immediately to relate the amusing story of what a magnet he was for all the devout ladies who thronged over to him for blessings. The amazing part was when he visited the Sufi master the next time around, he told Roshan how people had reportedly received great solace through his blessings. At the time Roshan’s old Guru had whispered in his ears: “Saale ja, ek din ke liye baithke to dekh; main hoon na?” (Oh go on and occupy the master’s seat for a day, I’ll take care of everything). Roshan slyly admitted that he was happy in his current mundane role, and didn’t think that he was cut out for such exalted trickery! But an old desire must have been laid to permanent rest at the time, through the connivance between the two masters. Vishnu and KrishnaThe lineage of trickster gurus extends far into the legends, back to the divine trickery of Vishnu and his great avatar Krishna, who is famous for his playful lila amidst the gopis of Brindavan. It is thought that when Vishnu sleeps, the world of illusion or maya reigns supreme. The forces of egoism, selfishness, greed and darkness begin to disrupt the harmonious balance of the universe. Even the gods are befuddled in their purity and goodness about tackling the might of evil. At such times, it is essential to wake up the Supreme Godhead Vishnu, as he alone can cut through the fog of i
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