“O Lakshmana, do you rule this earth with Me. You are like My second self, so this glorious opportunity has been presented to you as well. O Saumitra, do you enjoy all the pleasures you desire and the fruits of the regal life. My life and this kingdom I covet for your sake alone.” (Lord Rama speaking to Lakshmana, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 4.43-44)
लक्ष्मणेमां मया सार्धं प्रशाधि त्वं वसुन्धराम्।
द्वितीयं मेऽन्तरात्मानं त्वामियं श्रीरुपस्थिता।।
सौमित्रे भुङ्क्ष्व भोगांत्स्वमिष्टान्राज्यफलानि च।
जीवितं च हि राज्यं च त्वदर्थमभिकामये।।
lakṣmaṇemāṃ mayā sārdhaṃ praśādhi tvaṃ vasundharām।
dvitīyaṃ me’ntarātmānaṃ tvāmiyaṃ śrīrupasthitā।।
saumitre bhuṅkṣva bhogāṃtsvamiṣṭānrājyaphalāni ca।
jīvitaṃ ca hi rājyaṃ ca tvadarthamabhikāmaye।।
“I know that in the Sanskrit tradition of spiritual culture there is tremendous significance placed on the guru. The word has multiple meanings. The root definition is something heavy. Such as when a presidential candidate chooses a running mate with lengthy experience in contrast to their own, the news media across the spectrum keeps using the word ‘gravitas.’
“The guru carries weight. Their word has meaning. The person of heavy influence can also be a parent or a guardian. My first guru is mother and father. They are the initial protectors, upon whom I fully relied for everything. There is no proper way to repay this favor, as without such assistance I would not be where I am today.
“In the context of spiritual advancement and following dharma, guru refers to the spiritual master. This person gives the second and more important birth. Those who take initiation from the guru, either formally or informally, are known as twice-born, dvija. Only the human being has this opportunity, and it should not be wasted.
“The brain should never be turned off out of fear or through laziness in accepting what the pack has to say. Critical thinking is a gift from nature provided for a reason. Use the ability to question the way of life, to search for a better and more efficient passage of time, for not spoiling moments of contemplation on petty issues, which change by the day.
“The guru is my ideal companion, in this regard. They have already seen the truth, tattva, from interaction with their own guru. This is also the test for authenticity. The guru who proclaims himself as self-made, who never had to read a book or listen to anyone, is obviously not telling the full truth.
“I can direct my questions to the tattva-darshi within the disciplic succession and receive satisfactory answers; at least to the point that I will be able to think for myself and possibly validate at a further date through applied practice and dedication.
“For these reasons and more it is obvious why the guru carries so much weight, but I am wondering if there is a danger in worshiping such a person as heavy or Divine. Is that not a shortcut way to rise to power? Instead of swaying public opinion in an upcoming election for world leader, just become a guru and demand obedience from a loyal flock.
“How do we reconcile the two sides? We are supposed to use intelligence to discern the cheaters from the genuine, but at the same time we should inquire submissively, and not in a challenging spirit.”
From Vedic literature we learn that the origin of the guru is a direct expansion of the Supreme Lord. Something like the first replica, but an individual separate from God. Both are the Divine, but facilitating a different interaction. Vishnu is God accepting service and the representative is God offering service.
The relationship is always close. Vishnu is everything to the guru, and Vishnu never forgets the service rendered by His representative. We see evidence of this in the interactions between Shri Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana.
The two brothers are avataras, or living incarnations, of the same personalities with a fixed residence in the spiritual realm. In one moment of Rama’s pastimes on this earth, He gets news of an upcoming transfer of power. Rama will be made the next king, aligning both with proper succession protocol and the desires of the people.
Rama immediately goes to Lakshmana and asks for the honor to be shared. He lovingly refers to Lakshmana as His second self, antaratmanam. This means that there is no difference. If I offer service to Lakshmana, the embodiment of the guru, then it is just like worshiping God. The Supreme Lord is more than pleased.
For this reason, it is not uncommon to find the devotee having a higher reverence for the guru than the Supreme Lord. This is mentioned by Maharishi Valmiki one time while speaking to Rama. The genuine guru is worthy of such honor, and more important to them than allegiance is continued dedication in the path of yoga, which yields ever-lasting benefits.
Not just allegiance blind,
When genuine guru to find.
So much to the heart pleased,
When steadiness in yoga sees.
That worshiping Sita and Rama,
And overcoming force of kama.
Disciple then never to forget,
The one who properly set.