“The literal meaning of the word guru is ‘heavy’ – heavy with knowledge and authority, because his knowledge and authority come from Krishna. You cannot utilize the guru for satisfying your whims.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Journey of Self-Discovery, Ch 2.2)
“I really can’t make up my mind. I need to get a new phone. At least I think I do. I have one right now that is issued by my employer. It works fine. The service is good. Everything is paid for. I don’t have to worry about going over the allotted monthly data usage; not that I hog up that much data. I checked the usage stats recently, and in the few years I’ve had that phone I’ve used about two months worth of data allotted to the standard monthly plans. I don’t talk much on there either; though the voice quality is very good.
“Recently a defect arose in the phone. Therefore for some vital functions now, I have to use a menu on the touchscreen. The physical button that is supposed to perform these functions no longer works. Apparently this has happened to a lot of people with the same phone. I asked my employer to see what they could do, and they said I could get the same phone as a free replacement. The problem is the manufacturer no longer makes the same version of the phone. The free replacement would be a downgrade. This doesn’t seem right to me. Why can’t I get an upgrade? What will happen when the same defect occurs in the future?
“I have the option of getting my own phone and using that. I already have a personal cellphone. I pay a monthly fee for it, though I hardly use it. I can upgrade that phone and keep the same phone number. Ah, but which plan should I get? These phone plans are very expensive. Some are cheaper, but the service isn’t as good. I do a lot of reading on my phone. I know this sounds odd, but the screen size is perfect. I’ve read books that were thousands of pages long without a problem. While reading if I see something I like, I quickly take a screenshot and then save it. This way all the passages I find to be important are saved with convenience.
“I could purchase a tablet computer. That is one option. Of course I already have one, but it is certainly outdated by now. The newer models are smaller in size. I can also get a relatively inexpensive data plan with that. With this option, I can continue to use my work phone and then carry around the tablet to do my reading. The tablet is too big to fit in a pocket, though, so I will have to make sure to take it with me in my hand. I will have to make sure not to leave it behind anywhere.
“I can’t decide what to do. This is starting to bug me now. I don’t want to make the wrong decision. It’s all I think about. The conundrum is very heavy in my brain; it is weighing me down. I’d rather a decision just be made so that I can continue with my life. In an objective analysis, right now everything is okay, and I generally don’t buy a lot of things. Thus when I do buy something that will replace my existing setup, I don’t want to make the wrong decision.”
In a scenario such as this, the individual thinks that their problem is more important than it really is. That such an issue would weigh down a person’s mind seems silly to most, but the individual here is completely focused on their problem. They can’t go outside of themselves to realize that what they think to be heavy is actually very light. On the occasion of Vyasa Puja, we celebrate the person who tackles the actual heavy issues in life. Since he addresses and solves these issues without fail, he is known as the guru. His weight in knowledge, composure, and strength of conviction in the right activity is then passed on to the disciples, those who learn through service to him.
“Guru” is a colloquial term as well. You can have a romance guru, a computer guru, and a yoga guru. In each realm, the guru refers to a teacher who is an expert. They give guidance to those who request it. The real guru, in the classical Sanskrit definition, is a spiritual master. The spiritual trumps everything else. The spiritual is superior to the material. Actually, if you understand the spiritual you will understand the material also. It doesn’t work the other way around. Thus the various gurus mentioned here aren’t really masters of a whole lot. That which they are purportedly expert in isn’t very heavy in the grand scheme of things.
Life and death – you can’t get much heavier than that. The bona fide guru knows that life exists forever. It never came into being, and so it can never be destroyed. Death seems to say otherwise. It tells us that whoever you are, you will eventually leave. Everything that you have will be destroyed as well. That cherished automobile that sits in your garage – one day that will be gone. When you leave, you won’t be able to take it with you. You won’t be able to bring your friends and family along, either. What you can and will bring is your consciousness.
That consciousness accompanied you into this life. The “life” here thus means the present manifestation of your spirit soul combined with a collection of matter. “Life” is a basic measurement of time, for your existence will continue infinitely into the future. Just as we don’t lose our identity from minute to minute, day to day, or year to year, we don’t change when death occurs. If there is a change at all, it is merely external, like a changing of clothes.
Birth and death are much more important issues than which smartphone to get. They are more important than figuring out how to drive a car, fix a software bug, or prepare dinner tonight. Birth and death are the most important issues for the individual in their present state. Since the guru is intimately familiar with the nature of birth and death, his knowledge is most important. His words thus deal with the heaviest issues.
The guru knows that birth in the present land takes place due to forgetfulness of God. God is defined as the Supreme Spirit, the chief living entity maintaining all other living entities. His body and spirit are the same; that is His unique feature. His spiritual form never decays. He does not enter into it and then leave it at some point. His consciousness is the same in quality as His hand and His leg. For us this is not the case, and so we are always inferior to the Supreme Lord.
“It is a false claim that after the annihilation of this body everything is finished. The individual soul is transmigrating from one body to another, and his present body and present activities are the background of his next body. One gets a different body according to karma, and he has to quit this body in due course.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 15.8 Purport)
Death is automatic for one who has taken birth. The guru knows this as well. Why should we fret over something that is destined to happen? Why not worry over where the next birth will be? We worry about if we will be happy or not purchasing a specific phone, but in either case we will continue on. What about the next life in general? Why not worry over finding the best place to spend the next lifetime?
The guru takes care of these issues. He says that if you are devoted to God, you will go to Him. The guru does not make this up. This isn’t a pipe dream, a shot in the dark hope for a better life. The guru believes in what he says because he lives it. He lives with God all the time, though he may not be physically in the company of the Supreme Lord. The consciousness is what is linked to the Supreme. That is real yoga, something the guru never breaks out of. If you are always connected, nobody can do anything to break you away from God. As such, how will your association not be beneficial to all?
Birth, death, old age, disease, the changing of bodies, the future residence of the spirit soul, the nature of God, the ways to address Him, how to maintain His association – these issues are very heavy and impossible to grasp for the individual who is limited by their own life experiences. Only in ignorance would one think that the smartphone purchase warrants so much mental strain. Due to the unwarranted mental taxation, the more important issues are too heavy to grasp; their weight is so great that immediately the individual drops the information when it is presented to them.
The guru keeps all of this information with him all the time. Since he carries this strength of knowledge he is the heaviest. The spiritual master is so kind that they will gladly train others in how to accept this knowledge so that they can become heavy themselves. In cases of exalted devotees like Shri Hanuman, the strength is there immediately. One time Hanuman was able to pick up an injured Lakshmana from the battlefield, while the fiendish Ravana could not. Lakshmana is the younger brother of Lord Rama, an incarnation of God. Lakshmana is non-different from the origin of the spiritual master. Though Ravana had tremendous physical strength, he could not support the incredible weight of Lakshmana. As a devoted servant of Rama, Hanuman had no trouble carrying the beloved Lakshmana.
The guru plays no favorites; they hope that everyone becomes God conscious and thus makes their life fruitful. His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was known as the “ever well-wisher.” Through his presence, which extends to his books and recorded lectures, he wishes well for everyone. He begs all to chant the holy names of the Lord, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” so that they too can become heavy in their fight against the illusory material nature, which tricks the mind into assigning the wrong priority to matters of trivial importance. On the occasion of Vyasa Puja, we honor Shrila Prabhupada and his attempt to rescue countless souls, work which continues to pay dividends to this day.
How a cell phone solution to find,
This issue weighs heavily on mind.
Of anything else cannot think,
Into pool of uncertainty to sink.
Since perpetually in yoga state,
Spiritual master of heaviest weight.
His association all others to surpass,
His strength to disciples kindly to pass.