Guru Means Heavy….hmmm

So today my friend Kimberly said something about people calling themselves Guru, and the number of people she’s come across recently, who call themselves “Guru”. She went on to opine that something wasn’t quite right about that. People calling themselves, Guru.

Kimberly then, is this Gori Chori, interpreted as “fair skinned foreigner). American India. Not to be mistaken with Red Indian. She just chooses to live, learn and teach in India. Kimmy is a teacher in her own right, so when she says something isn’t quite right with people calling themselves Guru, then we take notice.

So her post or rather comment on said topic, resulted in a flurry of comments, suggestions, opinions from the cognoscenti (self excluded from cognoscenti), about what Guru means. Self is included in one of the people responding to said comment from Kimmy. Being a response on FB, I had to keep it brief, though I had been set off! To summarise, someone said, Guru is within you, and someone else said, self-styled Gurus are just that, self-styled, or even worse, self-appointed, blah blah….

There are some things that just set me off, one of them is misinterpretation of age-old Indian traditions, culture and doctrine handed down through generations from Father to Son, from Guru to Disciple, from Mother to Daughter. So when people start banding the institution of Guru, I get set off.

One other thing makes me even more ballistic is the modern-day interpretations and indeed practice of “Yoga”. Just because they teach you to say the Gayatri Mantra at Yoga class, don’t mean you are learning Yoga! Yoga for weight loss? It will work, but if all we are learning is a form of exercise, and some really limited breathing exercises, then should be really say we are learning Yoga?

Let’s save my rant on misinterpretation of Yoga and all the malpractices surrounding it for another occasion, and in its stead PLEASE let me rant about misuse, misinterpretation and abuse of the word “Guru”.

I did say PLEASE, didn’t I?

For the ignorant…yes, this is a strong word (but then I do intend it to sting), Guru is limited to “teacher”, or let’s just say that this is the basic level of understanding most will have. I really don’t accept this, as Teacher is Acharya. Guru is so much more!

It’s really quite simple, learn from an authority before you seek to teach. And who exactly authorizes one to teach? Do we authorize ourselves? Does someone who exists at a higher plane authorize one to spread the good word? Clearly this is common sense! So what gives and where do people sum up the courage and gumption to appoint themselves as Gurus?

Guru is “Eternal Father”, and finding a Guru is the single most significant event in life. Finding your Guru, begging to be taken on as student and disciple, serving your Guru, the process of observation and learning, and this whole thing of the Guru and Disciple accepting each other is a process in itself. Both, the Guru and Disciple test each other and it is only then, that a formal association takes place.

So apart from being set off, and in addition to this rant, let me humbly submit that we be careful when us use the word Guru, and when we accept people to be Gurus.

Whereas Indian tradition describes this in great detail, if I were to allow some degree of latitude, then I would say that at the very least, let us agree to accept that the process of transmission of knowledge HAS TO BE from an authority on a particular subject, to a student, at the very least, worthy and capable of absorbing that body of knowledge and practice, let alone transmitting lessons learnt down the line.

Not meaning to get too technical, and in the interest of keeping this brief and (not necessarily light), I will merely touch upon the origins of Guru as per Indian thought and culture.

There are four Sampradayas or orders qualified and authorized to disseminate Sanatana Dharma, not to be confused with Hinduism. Sanatana is “a way of life”, based on higher principles of existence, Hindu is merely a geographical derivation to describe people south of the Hindukush mountains.

It is possible to have more than one teacher or Guru, but it is possible to have just one Spiritual Master or Guru in the truest sense of the word. Lot’s more to be said on subject, but I would relegate that to your desire to know more, and leave you with a simple way of looking at it….

Take Skydiving…serious business this….do we just jump out of an airplane at the very first instance? Do we not do tandem jumps first? Don’t we investigate that the chappie inducing us to jump out of an airplane from a considerable height….that exhilarating first jump, is properly qualified and indeed certified? Don’t we take driving lessons, get a drivers licence and only then go on to teach our kids? Get the ratio?

Self styled Gurus, modern-day Gurus, just set me off! The relationship with Guru in the parampara or tradition of Guru-Shishya is deep and profound, and having experienced this, it’s just difficult to let people off the hook when they go around concocting their own agendas and meanings.

End of Guru rant, you can wait for the next rant, till someone sets me off again 🙂

Originally published at sumirnagar.com on June 20, 2017.