Moving from Ignorance to Wisdom

Have you experienced any of the following?

  • You have to take a difficult decision. You are unsure, and suddenly a voice speaks from within and you get your answer.
  • You found yourself saying, “My gut feeling is that I should go for this opportunity.”
  • You feel the presence of some divine energy guiding and protecting you through some of the most challenging and difficult situations.

If you are reading this blog, the chances are that you did experience at least one of the above. It is commonly said that ‘we are not human beings having spiritual experience, but we are spiritual having human experience.’

We come on this earth as a part of the super divine source to gain human experience; with the ultimate aim of evolving and going back to that source. While in human life we are faced with challenges that provide lessons for our growth and develop ourselves spiritually.

However, after we are born, we get so caught up with what the world offers us, that we start identifying with our human-ness more than our spiritual-ness (which is our true nature). Thus we get drifted from our real path and grope in the darkness. At such times we need to be reminded about our true purpose, we need to be shown light in order to get back on our path. This job can be done either internally or externally. Our internal being, our higher-self guides us through the internal voices or the gut feeling, or the awareness of the presence of an energy. Whereas externally, we are guided by the things and people around us. In a nutshell, whoever dispels this darkness and ignorance in us is called our Guru.

Guru Purnima - 1

There is a wonderful story of Lord Dattatreya and his twenty-four Gurus that is narrated by Lord Krishna in Srimad Bhagavatam., in His final teaching to his dear friend Uddhava.

Once King Yadu saw Lord Dattatreya happily wandering in a forest. The king was surprised and asked the sage with humbleness, about the secret of his happiness and the name of his Guru, “You look capable and wise, why do you live in the forest. Even though you have no family, nor any loved one, how could you be so blissful and self-contented?”

To this, the Lord Dattatreya replied, “My bliss and contentment are the fruits of self-realization. Soul alone is my Guru, yet I have gained the necessary wisdom from the whole creation, via twenty-four individuals who were therefore my Gurus. I have taken shelter of twenty-four Gurus, who are, the earth, air, sky, water, fire, moon, sun, pigeon and python; the sea, moth, honeybee, elephant and honey thief; the deer, the fish, the dancing girl Pingala, the kurari bird and the child; the young girl, arrow maker, serpent, spider and wasp…”.

How beautifully Lord Dattatreya has defined a Guru. By this definition, each and every person, animal, or thing that we encounter becomes our Guru – anything that takes us from darkness to light and from ignorance to wisdom.

After we are born, our mother teaches us everything necessary for our survival and growth, our teacher imparts us knowledge, every person who comes in our life and teaches us something. We also learn a lot of things from the nature around us – the trees, animals, earth, water sky – each one of them is our Guru. Since our very purpose of this life evolution, there is everything and everyone around us offering us lessons that we need to recognize. Above all we have a Guru residing within us – our soul – our higher self who is always guiding us. I call this as our Inner Guru. The inner voice that we hear, the feeling that there is somebody always guiding and protecting us is none other than our Inner Guru who can manifest in various forms externally.

There is a famous story in Mahabharata of Eklayva who aspired to learn archery. He went to Dronacharya who was the Guru of Kauravas and Pandavas, but was refused to be accepted as his student. Though he was deeply hurt by the rejection, Eklavya didn’t give up on his resolute will to master archery. He collected the mud where Dronacharya walked, as a symbolic gesture, and made a statue of him. By invoking the Guru within and in front of a mud statue of his Guru, he began to learn archery and mastered the skill after many years of practice.

Eventually, Eklavya gained mastery at archery and became greater than Dronacharya’s best student, Arjuna, simply by accepting the statue as his Guru and practicing in front of it every single day.

On the auspicious occasion of Guru Poornima, let us bow down to this divine energy within us and in others. This will be the true respect to the Guru within.