“Thus I have explained to you the most confidential of all knowledge. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.63)
इति ते ज्ञानम् आख्यातं
गुह्याद् गुह्यतरं मया
यथेच्छसि तथा कुरु
iti te jñānam ākhyātaṁ
guhyād guhyataraṁ mayā
yathecchasi tathā kuru
For a teacher of genuine spirituality, the best person to emulate is Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Not that the ordinary person can display the virata-rupa, the universal form. Not that they can accurately claim to be the origin of everything, adi, and also of no origin, anadi. Not that they can say with a straight face that they will be around at the end, anta, and also beyond that time period, ananta.
The idea is to take the original teachings and then present them as they are, without adulteration. In the same way that Arjuna was helped on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, the struggling conditioned soul can find relief while on the battlefield known as material existence.
Even if not touching upon Krishna directly, the enlightened teacher should at least go beyond certain areas and practices in their teachings. This will show that they are serious about the end goal and that they wish the best for the students.
1. The way of life at present
You are approaching someone with higher knowledge for a reason. A university degree did not cut it. Landing a high paying job was not sufficient. Family life has brought its own problems, struggles, and daily pressures.
The one claiming to be a tattva-darshi, a seer of the truth, should know that the individual soul is meant for more. Simply accumulating and then trying to enjoy will bring little happiness. The same goes for the opposite direction of full renunciation.
2. Rigid ideology
“Follow this book. Pledge allegiance to this savior. Why? Because I say so. Otherwise, you are destined for hell. Condemned forever. You wouldn’t want to take that chance, would you? Better get on the good side of the man upstairs. Trust me, everything will work itself out in the afterlife. Don’t ask too many questions.”
The human being is rational for a reason. They have a leg up on the animal community, who cannot contemplate the meaning of life, of going beyond the basic animal instincts of eating, sleeping, mating and defending. If I have a brain, I might as well use it.
The spiritual guide should insist that I go beyond rigid demands for staying with a certain ideology that has many logical flaws. They should not scare me into submission; otherwise every person could bring their own agenda and demand the same.
3. Sentimental allegiance
Maybe you are not so much afraid, but there is some attachment to this book or that. At least some hint of religion exists, where there is a desire to think beyond the present lifetime. At the same time, the spiritual teacher should have knowledge as their foundation. They should provide a sufficient level of understanding wherein the sentiment gets supported by sound philosophy.
4. Blind faith
“Just go along because everyone else is doing it. The tradition in the family for generations has been to follow this particular way of life. Inherit from them. Don’t worry about anything else. No need to venture outside the comfort zone.”
Shri Krishna Himself was in the same family as the puzzled student. Arjuna and Krishna were related as cousins. They were also good friends, the corresponding behavior to which Arjuna later apologized.
सखेति मत्वा प्रसभं यद् उक्तं
हे कृष्ण हे यादव हे सखेति
अजानता महिमानं तवेदं
मया प्रमादात् प्रणयेन वापि
यच् चावहासार्थम् असत्-कृतो ऽसि
एको ऽथ वाप्य् अच्युत तत्-समक्षं
तत् क्षामये त्वाम् अहम् अप्रमेयम्
sakheti matvā prasabhaṁ yad uktaṁ
he kṛṣṇa he yādava he sakheti
ajānatā mahimānaṁ tavedaṁ
mayā pramādāt praṇayena vāpi
yac cāvahāsārtham asat-kṛto ‘si
eko ‘tha vāpy acyuta tat-samakṣaṁ
tat kṣāmaye tvām aham aprameyam
“I have in the past addressed You as ‘O Krishna,’ ‘O Yadava,’ ‘O my friend,’ without knowing Your glories. Please forgive whatever I may have done in madness or in love. I have dishonored You many times while relaxing or while lying on the same bed or eating together, sometimes alone and sometimes in front of many friends. Please excuse me for all my offenses.” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.41-42)
When it came time to learn, the roles changed. Bhagavan became the guru and Partha the disciple. As the Supreme Lord, Krishna could have demanded blind faith. He could have insisted on unflinching allegiance. He would have been justified through the display of the virata-rupa alone.
Yet at the end of their conversation we see the option placed before Arjuna. Had he heard everything properly? What was his decision? Did he have any more doubts? The choice was his for how to proceed.
In the same way, the bona fide guru presents the teachings in such a way that the sober-minded person makes the decision for dharma with confidence and a proper understanding. This way they are better situated for success; they are more likely to stay on the path. They remember their guru every time they chant the holy names with faith, attention and love: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
So important that teacher is he,
Necessary for higher life to see.
Should go beyond dogmatic insistence,
And indulge any logical resistance.
Laying out with option giving,
So that student with confidence living.
Bhagavad-gita the model ideal,
Where first guru the truth to reveal.
Categories: the four