By Nipun A Jacob July 2012 The rich pageantry of Guru Purnima, a day for honouring the spiritual preceptor, will unfold across the country this month as disciples pay homage to the most special relationship of their lives. Nipun Augustine Jacob reports on the activities of some of our leading ashrams Seek and you shall findFour aspirants muse on the guru-shishya relationship Nandini Sarkar: Answer to a prayer A follower in the Kriya Yoga tradition, as a teenager Nandini Sarkar was impatient for answers: Who am I? Who made God? How can I talk to God and how fast? Her life seemed mechanical and directionless. At this critical juncture, she read The Life of Sri Ramakrishna, and found that Sri Ramakrishna was guided by a guru at each stage of his peerless sadhana. She remembers praying to Sri Ramakrishna for a guru. Shortly thereafter, a teacher gifted her Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. She says, “I was ecstatic that someone was finally saying things that resonated in my being. Paramahansa Yogananda spoke of Kriya Yoga as the “airplane” route to God; about how we can talk to God and elicit his reply. He also spoke about the origin of God and the universe and his “fights” with God over what ails the world. Through his Home Study Lessons, which are sent out to students each month, Yoganandaji talked of practical day-to-day challenges and how to face them, such as, how to choose your business associates, how to choose your life partner, how to attract prosperity and so on. The Hong Sau and Om techniques he taught transformed a restless person like me, who couldn’t sit still for two minutes and who did not know what to do after closing the eyes in meditation. On reading Yoganadaji’s powerful lecture, on how to develop Dynamic Will, I was instantly cured of a bad habit that had not left me for 18 long years.”She adds, “When I felt ready for marriage, I followed Yoganandaji’s lesson on how to attract a true life partner. I can truthfully say that in my husband, to whom I have been married for 17 years, I have found my soul-mate. When founding my company, C-Quel, I felt Yoganandaji’s subtle presence. Each day at C-Quel, over the past 11 years, has been a miracle of guru’s unconditional love and support, despite the odds. I seem to have a fire karma and have been at the centre of several fire incidents; each time, I was saved providentially, with not so much as a scratch, whereas those who were near me, suffered injuries. Guru’s invisible hand of protection! My guru came to me in this life when I was 17 and, at 43, I can sincerely echo Swami Rama’s tribute to his guru: at thy lotus feet, my heart’s eternal gratitude.” Chitra Jha: personal avatar gurus For a long time, Chitra Jha, author of Achieve your Highest Potential, had an unexplained resistance to the word guru. She says, “Perhaps I still harbour this resistance to some extent. For me the guru has been the God within. There have been teachers on my path; in fact everyone who has crossed my path has taught me something; some more than others and with some, I haven’t been very open to learning! But last year, while reading the description of ‘two personal avatar gurus’ that everyone is given by the Universe, in Linda Goodman’s Star Signs, I realised that my personal avatar gurus are Dr. Newton Kondaveti and my husband, Som. The first guru is teaching me by his personal example, while the second guru is creating the conditions to cleanse me thoroughly as though preparing a dog for the show!! I am extremely grateful to both my gurus. My relationship with them is that of an equal; a friend, an evolved friend, a master. I do not feel the reverence of a disciple; just the love of a friend.” Divyaa Kummar: Internal awakening For Divyaa Kumar, a mystic based in Mumbai, a guru must have the ability to take you beyond the intellectual debates of the mind, ponderous understandings and complex ideas. She says, “I realise my guru was supposed to be an internal awakening. Guru Purnima at its deepest is our homage to guru consciousness itself, comprising your special guru, the many gods, masters, guides and teachers, your friends, family, colleagues seeming strangers and foes visible and invisible, sacred texts, books, emails, movies, nature, life and its many events you have mingled with in the physical or inner dimensions, but also its many different faces known and unknown. So on Guru Purnima, be in homage and thankfulness to guru consciousness in its largest sense. Renu Aggarwal: the healing guru Renu Aggarwal, a theta healer practitioner based in Delhi, has dedicated her organisation, Pravaaha, Centre for Healing and Learning, to her guru, Vianna Stibal, the founder of ThetaHealing. She shares her experience of how ThetaHealing changed her life. “I came across ThetaHealing in February 2009 when my health issues had hit rockbottom. After doing my share of research, convinced and subsequently inspired by Mrs. Vianna Stibal’s recovery from cancer, Vianna Stibal (left) with Renu Aggarwal I decided to learn this profound meditative technique. Battling health issues for almost 14 years had left me totally disheartened but one month into ThetaHealing changed my perception about life. I just could not believe that something so simple could have had such instant results.“Today, my parents, my husband, daughter and my father-in-law, along with a number of other family members, have learnt this technique and are seeing its positive effects in their lives.“I am utterly grateful to my guru for moulding this age-old modality into its current form which teaches one how to feel one’s own self as part of God, the Creator of All That Is; how to talk to Him and get all your questions answered; how to identify the root cause of the issue and resolve it thereby bringing about healing in the now; how to be interdependent and have honour, gratitude and forgiveness for everyone and for self especially; and above all, how to operate through love which enables us to love everyone despite seeing their limitations. My husband Kailash and I dedicate ourselves to ThetaHealing and taking it forward in the way intended by her and the Creator.” If there is one date that separates the seeker from his materialistic counterpart, it is Guru Purnima, held on the full moon day of the Hindu month of ‘Ashadh’. Before one enters this path, the day has no significance whatsoever. Indeed, it passes one by, just as other full-moon days do. But after one has been initiated into the path through a guru, the day scintillates with a lustre unrivalled by any other significant day, including one’s own or the birthdays of one’s spouse or kids. For the guru looms large in the life of the disciple. More than father and mother, it is the guru who unfolds the disciple’s purpose for living and his true nature. It is the guru who inspires and supports the disciple to discover the happiness embedded deep within him and which is his birthright. Our parents give us the great gift of life, but it is the guru who teaches us how to live it. All disciples know that no matter how much they may love and rever their guru, it is never enough in the light of the guru’s service to them as a direct emissary of God. No wonder then that Guru Purnima is celebrated by all spiritual and religious organisations with a rare depth and feeling. In this Guru Purnima special, we present the activities of most of India’s major organisations, presented in alphetical order, and speak to seekers on the significance of the guru-shisyha relationship, Art of Living: Full-throated celebration At the Art of Living Foundation headquartered in Bangalore and founded by the charismatic Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, devotees will perform Guru Puja and come together to sing, dance and meditate at satsangs across the cities and towns. Various service activities like blood donation camps, free medical check-ups, environment cleanliness drives, and distribution of food and clothes in the rural sections of society will be conducted. Ami Patel, faculty at Art of Living, says about the guru-shishya relationship: “In Indian culture, having a guru was not just a matter of pride, it was mandatory. Not having a master was considered the equivalent of being an orphan. The word ‘anatha’ in Sanskrit means one without a master. The guru principle pervades our life. Our mother is our first guru. There is a guru for every discipline – a dharma guru (religious), a kula guru (family), a raj guru (guru for the kingdom), a vidya guru (guru for a particular discipline) and a sadguru (spiritual guru). On Guru Purnima, we express our gratitude to all the masters, past and present.”Sri Sri Ravi Shankar adds, “Guru Purnima is the day when the devotee arises in full gratitude. It is the day to feel grateful for the great knowledge you have received from your master. It is time to review how much knowledge you have ingrained in your life and how you are growing in knowledge. This may bring about a realisation of how much more you need to improve, which, in turn, will bring humility in you.”Disciple Sangeeta G Anand waxes eloquent. “My experience with the master is that Guruji is my mother and father all rolled into one. He protects, guides and takes me through life’s stressful situations by giving me amazing strength to face them. I don’t have to worry about things that come because I know he’s constantly with me. He has imparted ancient knowledge quietly and simply so that without being aware, I have imbibed inner calm and peace and tapped into the storehouse of happiness that lies within all of us. One rises above the mundane an
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