Why do we gravitate towards “Gurus” ?


Guru can be spiritual, educational, vocational, career guide etc.
Why do we, as humans gravitate towards Gurus ?

We, as humans, want to play it safe.   Risk avoidance is the name of the game.   We dislike taking risks, least it hurts us.   Yet, as humans, we like to explore and want to expand our horizons.  The twin aims our lives seem at odds with each other.

To reconcile them, we find experts who have been down that path before to guide us.  That way, we get to safely explore an idea / object / career / place / philosophy without taking any undue risk.   If we are hurt during the exploration, we than have a convenient person to blame – the guide / guru !!

Eg – if the latest gadget we purchased with the “expert” advice of the salesman doesn’t do what we want it to, we have a convenient scapegoat for our own lack of research – the salesman !  We are happy to blame our parents, peers and teachers for getting us into careers / jobs we hate.  We blame everyone but ourselves for marrying the wrong person. 

Spiritual Guru

Similarly, we blame the spiritual guide, Guru, for (lack of) our own spiritual progress.
A few incense sticks, a dozen bananas, a garland from a roadside shack and a 100 Rs bill is suppose to secure our entrance into heaven ! 

How ?

By the grace of our Guruji ofcourse ! 

We don’t want the hassle of reading books – they are too difficult.  Besides, they are all in Sanskrit and we can’t possible be expected to read that !  

We don’t want the hassle of “doing” anything as complicated as “yoga”.  Besides an impossibly   flexible body, it requires time, an ultra elusive commodity in our modern lives.

We don’t want the hassle of being “responsible” for our karmas, past or present and definitely not the past !   Who knows what we did when !  And, if anyone brings previous life into the picture, we want a signed receipt to authenticate our karma balance, so let’s not even go there ! 

What we do want is someone to take care of all the karma, yoga, philosophy and all attendant fuzz factor for a few rupees. 

We don’t want to go to Gurus for knowledge – it’s too hard.   We can’t possibly be expected to absorb it all !  We live in the great metropolises of the world !  Too much pollution (atmospheric and ideological) and a hectic life means we can’t do it – so we find a convenient “Guru” to do it for us.  Surely, our unquestioning obedience – with plenty of fine print – should be enough !

We don’t want the Gurus to tell us how to reform ourselves !  Surely, the very fact that we came to them in the first place shows how wonderfully reformed we are !  Having given up our precious holiday to sit on the dirt floor in front of them is worth a few hundred hours of meditation for sure ! 

Karma theory is too complicated.   As long as I don’t cut anyone up on the rush home, and give my seat to the old lady on the subway, surely my karmas are good to go !  Such arguments are used ad-nauseum by us.  Such is our moral bankruptcy !  We expect so much for so little !


What are we ready to do ?

We can’t be asked to do anything for ourselves, and hence look for someone else to do it for us. 

Gurus are good for that ! 
Most of them love the money, attention and fawning adulation from their coteries.  Without any expenditure, they get people to dump their virtual karmas in his virtual lap and with a little virtual recitation or meditation, they can virtually relieve their little followers of their karmic stress.  Gurus, giving out karmic blank cheques, to be encashed in the here-after, is a good way to make a living in the here-and-now.  All gurus are guilty of this in someway or other.  Even the Christian and muslim mullas do this, as do the sadhus and saints of all shades - even new-age shamans !   

In the “secular” world, politicians do this regularly, getting us to vote for them on promises that are rarely realised.
Managers get us to work our butts off for that all elusive “promotion”.  Someone always beats us to it – through “even harder work” or by the good graces of the manager’s manager. 
Parents do this to get the kids to do all sorts of things, from cleaning their room to doing homework to being nice to their cousins !  All in the vain hope of having unquestioning parental love !

When both parties are guilty of abdicating their responsibilities, what can the result be but a disaster !

We rely too much on our gurus and not enough on our own endeavours to get us where we want – in spiritual and secular life.

It’s about time we gave up the comfort blanket and grew up !  
Give up reliance on Gurus and do the work ourselves. 
Remember, Gurus are guides, they are not you. 
You have to do the work, guru only has to show you the where and how. 
They can’t do it for you ! 
Anyone who says they can, are just fooling you !

What is / isn’t a Guru

i) Guru is a guide, nothing more, nothing less.

ii) Guru is not God !

This is the most common mistake in India.  We often mis-interpret the oft repeated saying,
“Guru Govind dono khade, kis ko lagu paay ?
Balihari Guru apaki, jine Govind diyo batai.”

The actual translation is –
“Guru and God are standing side by side.  Who should I bow to ?
Thank you Guruji for pointing out God to me.”

i.e. – Guruji is pointing out that you should bow to God, not to him. 
Yet, most people, well taught by gurus, interpret this as
“we should bow to the Guru, because he / she showed us who God is!”  

More often than not, we, the adoring masses of India, make the average Guru’s head swell with our over-the-top praise.   We have to give them their due, and no more.   Too much praise and adulation feeds the ego and does not let the Guru “grow” in themselves.  We have to remember to treat them as teachers and not God incarnate.

If we are on a quest, we thank the guide for pointing out the way, but we don’t abandon the goal for the guide, do we ?  So why should we do that in spiritual quest ?  Having pointed out the way, and having helped us get there, the true Guru would step away and let the soul and God communicate freely.  “Dulha dulhan mil gaye, fiki padi barat !” (Once the bride and groom are wed, guests at the marriage have no further role to play at the wedding !)


What do “we” need to do ?

As long as we recognise that we have to do whatever has to be done for our own spiritual progress, and live by that, Gurus will be a benefit in our lives.   We have to take responsibility for our lives, spiritual and material. 

The poor, illiterate mass, living in abject poverty across our vast nation, may not have the benefit of education and information to decipher what to expect from Gurus.  But, we, the educated mass, living and breathing information technology, surely we know what Gurus can / can't do for us !  Let us not use ignorance or lack of info, or "that's the way its always been" as an excuse for blindly following Gurus.  Blindness is no good - in temporal or spiritual realm.  Ignorance of law is no defence in the court of law - secular or spiritual.  We, with our access to knowledge need to make sure we don't misunderstand and misinterpret the relationship between Guru and disciple. 

Scriptures, long held in dark rooms are now available on the net.  
Information, long held to be too sacred to be muttered even in solitude, is now in the public domain.  
Everything is translated, explained, expressed and commented upon by scholars and lay people. 
There is no excuse for "not knowing" any more.  
We now need Gurus (tech savy ones at that !) just to guide us through this jungle of information !! 

We will always need Gurus. 
But, if we try to project something else into that relationship, and expect the Guru to do our work for us, we will fail – not because “they have failed”, but because we forgot to take responsibility for our own lives.

So get up and grow up !
Let's Give up our reliance on Gurus if we want to get the maximum out of our Gurus !!

There are two other articles in this relation to this -
Lessons from the tale of Ambrish and Durvasa muni
Dangers of being a "Guru"


© Bhagwat    [email protected]


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