(Talk given on Guru Purnima in 1987)
On this holy Sri Vyasa Purnima observed in this ashram, devotees have come from far and wide with their heartfelt devotion to the great Master Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. In Gurudev we all visualise the presence of this great Guru of all Gurus, the greatest Guru, Bhagavan Sri Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa, in whose name and memory this particular full moon day is celebrated as Guru Purnima, the blessed occasion when the master Sage Vyasa is seen by everyone in one’s own Guru and adored through this medium of one’s own Guru, master, guide, friend, philosopher. The great Vyasa is adored in many a way on this Guru Purnima.
To bring to our hearts, our memories, our feelings, to implant in our own selves this great gigantic power called Vyasa is, to say the least, a herculean task. The worship of the Guru, the adoration of the greatest Guru, Bhagavan Vyasa, is done through one’s own soul inasmuch as the Guru is the veritable soul of every follower, disciple or devotee as a presence surrounding, enveloping and inferring everything and everyone who adores it from his own, her own or its own heart. The adoration, the worship, the surrender that is involved in this process is indeed very hard since this principle of the Guru – consider him as Vyasa – involves great austerity of one’s own self. Mahatapasvi has been Vyasa.
Great tapasvins adorned this land, this Earth. Many a great master lived in this world, and in our tradition Vyasa is considered as the pinnacle of this concept of austerity, tapas and power. In this great master in whom every Guru is embedded, who is inclusive of every conceivable Guru everywhere, in this great Guru of Gurus is the seed of omniscience. Unbroken by the process of time, unaffected by the vicissitudes of human history, the great master rules the destinies of people.
Vyasa is considered as one of the immortals among several others who, we are told, are stationed on this Earth as something like a vice regal force instituted by the Almighty Lord for the benefit of everyone. The holy shrine of Badri, Badarikashrama, is generally believed to be the location of the concentrated presence of Bhagavan Vyasa, though masters like this have no particular location. They pervade everywhere. They are there at that place where they are remembered. Where they are invoked, they are present there. They have no geometrical location; they have no geographical point or habitat. They have embodied in their supernatural personality the soul of the highest Creator.
This purnima, known as Vyasa Purnima or Guru Purnima, is a tradition instituted by our ancients to bring to our memories certain ancient occurrences such as the work of Bhagavan Vyasa himself. We are told by our elders that on this day, Bhagavan Vyasa Badarayana commenced a writing of the great aphorism on the Vedanta Shastra known as Brahma Sutras. So this is an annual remembrance of the birth of the sutras known as Vedanta Sutras, Sharika Mimamsa or Brahma Sutras. This is one aspect of the importance of this day, as we have heard from mahatmas.
This is also a special occasion where saints and sages, parivrajakas, tapasvins, mahatmas, sannyasins gather together by bring bringing to a halt their parivrajaka vritti and deciding to stay for what is known as chaturmasya, the four months settlement at one particular place for meditation, svadhaya and upadesa. The travels of the itinerary sadhus cease, either for the recognition of the blessed occasion of the commencement of the Badarayana Sutras on this day, or a necessity that arises for another reason also, namely the commencement of the rainy season which makes travel inconvenient. Moving from place to place is a hard job during the monsoons. That is one side of the issue. But the spiritual aspect of it is the adherence to a vrata or a vow of staying only in one place for four months and devoting all the time for study, especially the Brahma Sutras, and teaching the very same thing to their followers, their disciples or devotees.
As I mentioned a few minutes before, we will find it hard to invoke into our own selves a master like Vyasa. We cannot even think a person like Swami Sivananda adequately in our own minds because the dimension of their being is so vast and intense that with difficulty can we accommodate them in our own selves, limited as we are in many respects. We are limited physically, mentally, volitionally, and in every way. But with this harassing limitation that is subjecting us to difficulties galore, we have also a potential within us which can come up to the surface of a face-to-face confrontation with these great masters. The greatest limitation has also the seed of an unlimited potentiality. The atmatva in us is the symbol of the paramatma tattva that decides our creation. As the masters Vyasa or sages of that kind are representatives of paramatma tattva, we shall somehow, at some time or the other, be able to feel ourselves friendly with their natures by shedding all the encrustations that seem to have grown over our own atmatva. The surrender of the student to the master or the Guru is just the representation of the opening of oneself to the inflow of this wider expansiveness of guru-tattva.
The Guru is thus not to be limited to a personality like our own selves. The Guru, as mentioned, represents the highest of forces of knowledge and tapas, which is another way of describing the inclusiveness, the perfection and the wholeness of their beings. Thus, the vastness which is the coverage of their existence should naturally include the dominions of the little individualities of other people. As God is at the root of all things, so Guru also pervades every disciple.
To the disciple, therefore, this is not very easy, human being as he is with the restrictions of bodily encasement, psychological vacillations, and the continuous hammering into one’s mind the feeling that we are just this little body. Great sacrifice of our personal whims and fancies and even ideologies may be required if we are to be face to face with Bhagavan Vyasa or those who represent him in this world. Only a tapasvin can envisage a tapasvin, only a tapasvin can benefit by the presence and the blessings of a tapasvin because the aura of this great master of tapas, austerity, is totally the opposite of the affirmations of the human ego, the self-assertive principle in us which prevents the entry of anything blessed, good or beneficial.
Thus, may we not go with the times by passing the day in the ritual of the usual worship through abhisheka, archana and the recitation of mantras, all which are indeed wonderful and very good. The masters are spiritual flames who light up the visage of our path in this life. We are not just performances, doings, as you all know very well. We have our inward joys and sorrows when we are alone in our own selves, and all our deeds get set at naught, as it were, when we feel alone to ourselves. The true ‘ourselves’ is that which is to be placed within the aura of the great masters. Our worships, which are of an external nature, of a ritualistic type, of a recitation of Veda mantra, etc., will assume significance only when our Atman is present, when our soul is there, when the performer himself is present in the performance. When the performer of the worship is outside the performance, it becomes a mechanised movement, a soulless performance, and the atmatva is severed from the deed which ceases to be any more the movement of the feeling of the performer of the worship. The whole world is divinity incarnate. The whole thing that we call creation, the whole process of natural history is indeed a daily worship of God Almighty. Nature worships God. The sun and the moon and the stars, the galaxies, the great activity of creation are a perpetual adoration of this central nucleus of all life, which is the Supreme Being.
In this great worship that is taking place throughout the world, in all creation, we are participants. We are not independent, doing a little worship to some god in our own little room. It is a great, mighty cyclic movement taking place in all the levels of creation, through all the lokas – fourteen in number, we are told – every atom and nucleus, and everything that we can conceive everywhere. There is a shibboleth in a well-known analogy: a rasa dance is taking place. The great God of the cosmos is attracting everyone and compelling everything that is created to circle around Him and dance in an anguish of desire to commune with that great central nucleus of creation. This is the real inner spiritual worship, without whose impact the outer actions cease to be worships which can summon the presence of this inwardness.
God is inwardness supreme, not externality. That is why we call God the ultimate Atman, the Paramatman. The word Atman is significant of a non-objectivity that is present in us. We are never other than what we are. We can never become something else. I am I, you are you, and everything is what it is. This assertion of everything to be what it is and never other than what it is, this impulsion from within is the act of the Atman. An act of the Atman is not a work like we do in daily life in factories and shops. It is an inward affirmation of itself, and a tendency to maintain its integrality, to maintain itself in the position in which it is and to not allow itself to become anything other than what it is. Such is the Atman. This is also the Paramatman, who maintains himself as a single person, ekam sat, as one cannot become other than what he is. God cannot become non-God. He can become nothing else other than what He is. This is why they say God loves Himself only; and when He loves himself, He loves everything together as in the dance, the rasa, Krishna is present everywhere, in and out of every action of the Gopis who represent the multitudinous particles of the creation of God Himself.
In this great worship eternally taking place permanently, unceasingly, timelessly, we are to be participants. Then it is that we are actually receivers of the blessing of the masters who are just fingers of God Himself operating – Krishna Dvaipanaya Vyasa, Swami Sivananda, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, whoever it is. The fingers of God operate through all these activities and in every performance, every deed, every work, every aspiration that gravitates towards this fulfilment that is complete in itself.
This is the aspect that we can see in the full moon of Guru Purnima. The fullness of the mind is the fullness of the moon; and vice versa, the fullness of the moon is the fullness of the mind. We become complete in our thoughts, feelings, and in a way the various functions of the psyche become centralised in a single affirmation of our inward affirmation. Sometimes we understand, sometimes we think, sometimes we feel, sometimes we arrogate. These are the diversified, distracted aspects of the centrality that we otherwise are.
The full-moon-ness of this occasion is also to be considered as the full-moon-ness of our mind. The moon is supposed to be presiding over the minds of all people. Thus in the full-moon-ness of this mind, may we not be distracted in our perceptions, cognitions, but centrally focus ourselves as a whole in the direction of this whole worship that God attracts towards Himself and compels on the part of everyone. May this Guru Purnima be, therefore, a whole-souled dedication of ourselves to this great master of all creation, God Almighty, who has incarnated Himself through all these Avataras, the great masters, yogis, saints, sages such as Krishna Dvaipanaya Vyasa and Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. May their blessings be upon us all.