The Guru is a Super-Person
by Swami Krishnananda

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(Spoken on Guru Purnima, July 26, 1991)

Guru Purnima, the holy, most blessed occasion of the year, is very much connected with the purnima or the fullness of the devotion of the aspiring soul to the Guru of this universe. We also call this most auspicious occasion Vyasa Purnima, dedicating our memories, our hearts, our feelings and our souls to the majestic power that has been planted on this Earth in the form of Sri Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa who, as tradition goes, is eternally present.

Bhagavan Sri Vyasa is one of the Chiranjivis, eternal existences who will continue to be with us as long as the world lasts. But the potency of this presence is far above the level of human understanding because human nature is never full, it is not purna, and Bhagavan Vyasa represents the purnatva of spiritual potency, spiritual power, and spiritual magnificence. We are accustomed to material magnificence—the magnificence of gadgets, the magnificence of physical comfort, the magnificence of everything that pleases the eyes and the ears and the sensations. But these are deceptive presentations that show us what is not there, and hide what is really there. This is the reason why people in the world who are able to think and perceive only in terms of sensations cannot even imagine the presence of such mighty existences as Bhagavan Vyasa.

Closely associated with this mighty power is the presence of Nara-Narayana in this world. These are the supreme potentates who are physically here in our own vicinity, we may say, if we go by the word of the scripture that these eternal radiances—Narayana and Nara, and also Bhagavan Sri Vyasa—are invisibly performing their austerity in the most sanctified shrine of holy Badrinath .

Guru Purnima, as I mentioned, is the fullness of our approach to the Guru. The great Guru is our goal. Anything that is transcendent to us, which propels us, which is our ideal, which keeps us restless because of its presence, which fulfils us and makes us complete, can be regarded as our Guru.

In the hierarchy of the Masters narrated in the verse Narayanam padmabhavam vasishtam…, etc., we are given a hierarchy of the Gurus before us, a degree of the manner in which we have to approach these Masters, because there are Masters above Masters, Gurus above Gurus. That seems to be the message behind these gradations mentioned in the verse Narayanam padmabhavam vasishtam…, etc.

The immediate Guru is our visible Master. To us, of course, it is Worshipful Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, and others may have devotion to their own Masters who are visible guides to them in this world. But behind the visibility of the Guru, there is an invisibility which is the real soul of the Guru. The Guru, the Master, the spiritual preceptor or the divine presence is not to be regarded as an external reality in front of us which we can photograph with a camera. We have to be a little cautious in our understanding of the meaning of the word ‘Guru’. It is a Master’s presence which overcomes us, overwhelms us, rises above us, transcends us, engulfs us, and includes us in its presence.

The higher is not merely the external. The Guru is a higher presence, and not an external schoolmaster whom we can see seated on a chair in an educational institution. He may be that also, but there is a difference between a Guru and a schoolmaster. The Guru is a spiritual presence. The spirituality implied in the presence of the Guru makes the Guru a presence that involves us in its total existence. The Guru is above us. The aboveness of the Guru, or the spiritual presence, is a proper explanation for why the Guru is not merely an external personality. In that sense, our Guru never dies. It is a perpetual presence. Vyasa, Nara-Narayana, and Worshipful Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj are presences. A spiritual presence cannot vanish. It has to be there in some degree. When it is physically invisible, it becomes more potent by the rarefied form it takes as a power and not merely as a visible object.

In our meditations and prayers we often find it difficult to conceive what this presence is, and on what we are contemplating. We have an inveterate habit of imagining that all things are outside us, even God Himself. Though we may accept that God Almighty is the Creator of the universe, the idea of an outsideness of His presence seeps into our consciousness, and we cannot easily accommodate ourselves to the requirement that all super-physical realities are also transcendent in their nature. The word ‘transcendence’ negates its externality.

Now, a Guru or a Master, a spiritual presence representative of God Almighty, being transcendent, involves us in its presence. When automatic shaktipada takes place, as it were, as put it in language, the Guru enters us. The external cannot enter us because externality keeps the two terms of relation apart from each other. But the Guru is not such a term of relation which is purely outside in space and time. Here is the essence of the spirituality behind the Guru, who does not exist merely as a person before us. The Guru is not a person, but a super-person. The super-personality of the Guru is the divinity thereof; so is Bhagavan Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa, so is Nara-Narayana, and so is every degree of manifestation before us of God Almighty Himself.

This feeling in us—the acceptance of the fact that our existence as aspiring souls or disciples is totally involved in the existence of the ideal which we adore, on which we contemplate—will make us purna, complete. Otherwise, we remain as fractions; we remain as individuals, parts of a whole but not capable of entertaining the wholeness of Reality in our own selves. We cannot even think God as a wholeness if we remain in our own egoistic affirmations as an isolated, finite person. The I-ness should participate in the presence of the divine existence before us, call it Guru or God, such that, for the time being, we flow into it, melt into it, become it, and it inundates us. At that time it is that we feel that power inside us. We feel as if some energy has entered us, and that we are more than a person.

This is our meditation, this prayer that Guru Purnima, the fullness of the moon, may also be the fullness of our mental structure, our understanding, our psychophysical makeup, and everything that we are. Let everyone find a few minutes to ponder over this matter as to what this purnatva is, what this fullness is, and how it is that we do not feel any indication of fullness in our personalities. We feel that we are small individuals, little persons, a drop in the sea of humanity. We are frightened by the world, afraid of people, afraid of nature, and afraid of everything because we are unable to feel a sense of communion with that which actually belongs to us and in which we are inextricably involved.

Spiritual contemplations, prayers, are not merely words that we utter, a ritual that we perform, or a routine with which we are accustomed. It is a total dedication of ourselves. The world ‘total’ has to be underlined. The totality of our existence has to be placed before the totality of the ideal. I have emphasised the word ‘purna’, fullness. The fullness is that which includes ourselves and our ideal in a greater fullness, if we can conceive what it could be, which rises higher and higher as it becomes more generalised until it becomes the final fullness. When the lower degrees of fullness are involved, subsumed and absorbed in such a way, there is only one fullness. This should be our meditation, and here in this holy shrine of Sri Gurudev may we feel the presence of Bhagavan Sri Vyasa.

We are told that Masters walk in front of us, though we may not be able to visualise their presence. Just now a great Master may be in front of us. In his compassion he may be here to bless us. Our physical eyes may not be able to notice his presence, but may we accept that great truth. There are many things in this world which our frail intellect cannot appreciate. Let us be humble; let us abolish ourselves and negate this individuality so that we may become full. May God bless you.