TODAY a person who
is ill cannot have the benefit of medical advice from Dhanwantri (the progenitor
of medical science), nor can a litigant ask Solomon to decide his case,
nor can a lady marry Adonis and bring forth children.
Similarly, Saints who appeared in the past from time to time and conferred spiritual benefit on those who came into contact with them, cannot do anything for the present generation. Each had his commission, and on completing it, entrusted the work of regeneration to his successor. Man can learn only from man, and God works His ways through living Saints.
Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret
unto his servants the prophets.
Some people think that
past Mahatmas continue to live in spiritual regions and can even now confer
spiritual benefit on the aspirants. Let us see how this holds good in the
light of reason:
1. Each Saint has his mission in life and comes with a definite instrument of instruction. As soon as he completes his job, he retires from this world (physical plane) and goes back into the Spiritual Ocean from which he sprang, leaving the work of further reorientation to his successor.
2. Again, in accordance with the Law of Nature, even if the predecessor has had to do something for his followers, he does it through the living successor to whom he entrusted the work on retirement; and only the latter as a brother-in-faith or Gur-bhai may help and guide his brethren on the physical plane.
3. It is only when we are able to leave the physical plane at will or at the time of death that we can contact the Master who initiated us if he has left the body. Even while living on this earth his resplendent and luminous form never comes down from the Gaggan (astral heaven), for he always awaits human spirits at the threshold of the materio-spiritual regions.
4. Again, in the hope and belief that the ancient Saints and sages can even now help us, we begin to attach great importance to ill-shaped and ill-formed currents and undercurrents of thought and feelings, and try to work on the suggestions of our own subconscious mind, little understanding its true import, and taking for granted that the impressions are from this or that past Master.
These manifestations may even have been stirred up by some agency other than that of our Isht Dev, or the past Master of our choice. This cannot be seen in its proper perspective unless one is first gifted with inner vision (Divya Drishti), which can successfully penetrate through the veil of mind and matter and see clearly and judge correctly the nature of the ill-conceived inner urges, as they swim up indistinctly to the mental surface.
5. Alongside the above, we cannot possibly understand the working of a prophet whom we have never met and seen with our eyes, nor have we the means to verify his modus operandi. In these circumstances, we can easily be deluded by any wandering spirit or will-of-the-wisp, or may even fall easy prey to the Negative Power, with its diverse ways of enticing untrained souls.
6. If, for instance, it may for the moment be admitted that the ancient sages can still lead us on the spiritual path and the present Master is not needed for spiritual instructions, then the very idea of having a Guru at any time in the past or present is at once eliminated, for God can directly teach man easily without any prophet or Messiah.
7. The very fact that a sage or seer appeared at one time or another and helped people Godward is in itself proof, conclusive and positive, even in this age, that there is need of such a Godman; for without him one cannot know of God or move Godward.
8. God by Himself can teach man only by becoming man, for man alone can teach man. He has perforce to put on the garb of man-call him what you will: a Sadh, Sant, prophet, Messiah or Rasul. Like attracts like is an incontrovertible dictum.
God appears as a Sadh.
God takes on the appellation of Sant.
This does not mean
at all that past Masters are dead and gone. Far from it; they have attained
Immortality. Having finally traversed the physical, the subtle, and the
causal planes, they are at One with the Cosmic Awareness. If with all their
devotion and spiritual advancement, they were still to wander under the
moon, they would have wasted all their endeavors.
It will not serve any useful purpose to enter into theoretical discussion and disputation. Everything will become clear if one searches for a real Master, well versed in the art and science of spirit, and learns from him an easy and natural way of approach to God.
There will be no need to wait for the result until death. If the seed is sown properly and watered, the fruit must appear quickly and in abundance in one's very lifetime.
A living Master can grant eternal beatitude in its fullness. A simple touch with the dynamic power of the higher consciousness in him is enough to charge one with the radiating waves of spirituality. The spirit is drawn inward and upward and riding the magnetic-like radiant strains, crosses from plane to plane. Blessed indeed is the spirit that contacts such a Master and comes under his protection.
It is a matter of common experience that a person bound for any foreign country consults directories, collects data about shipping companies, the various boats scheduled by each, the facilities they offer, the ports of embarkation and call, the route that each boat would follow, and the time that each would take, the places of interest on the way, and ultimately where he would stay on reaching the destination.
After having laid his plans, he has to obtain a passport from his own government, without which he cannot leave his country; and he also has to arm himself with a landing permit from the government of the country to which he is bound.
In exactly the same way, a person who intends to leave the physical plane for any of the spiritual planes has to obtain a passport and a landing permit from some competent authority, some vice-regent of God (a Saint), who works on all the planes.
This is granted to him at the time of Initiation, when acquainting him with the various ports of call on the way, the different signs and signals wherewith to distinguish and recognize each place, the difficulties of the journey and the like. In this way, he grants the traveler the necessary passport, and a landing permit for disembarkation. Once the seed of Naam is sown in a jiva, it cannot but fructify, and he must one day reach the Kingdom of God, the Garden of Eden, from which he has been an exile from time immemorial. And no power here or beyond can stand in the way of his homecoming.
The next thing the Master does is lay down the correct path that leads to God. Like a veteran seaman, he plans the entire route for the traveler, as without it he cannot, with all of his sincere devotion and steadfast effort, reach the destination.
The correct lead Godward is the second preparatory stage for this venture on the unknown seas. The Master himself charters the boat and underwrites the disciple's safety en route, by telling him of the shoals and the submerged rocks in the way and other dangers besetting the journey, and how best to avoid them.
He does not stop here. Master of both Heaven and Earth, he every day traverses at will the various spiritual, regions. Sach Khand or Muqam-i-Haq is his perpetual abode from where he comes down every day to the earth plane, to discharge the lowliest duties cast on him.
Type of the wise, who soar, but never roam;
True to the kindred points of Heaven and Home.
Since he has a personal knowledge and actual experience of the journey which he performs so often every day, and is a resident of the highest plane, he gives a cheery call to the world-weary:
Come ye all, my unhappy brothers and sisters,
into the Kingdom of Heaven and into the Gracious Presence.
He not only gives
us first-hand knowledge of the Kingdom of God, plans our itinerary for
the journey and books our passage homeward, but also offers to accompany
us and be our guide. He may even pilot us, and does not rest content until
he escorts us to the mansions of the Lord.
We can verify for ourselves some salient features of the account given by him, by reference to the directories; and should the latter seem to support him in broad outline we take courage and depend on him and his competency with confidence.
The scriptures are nothing but directories which record the personal experiences of those sages and seers who in the past traveled on this path, and a living Master refers to them in his talks and discourses simply because we by nature have dogmatic faith in them, and he wants to take us up from the line of least resistance.
We may break the and ground by careful study of scriptures, but these per se cannot help in liberating the spirit from body and mind consciousness, and in leading her across to the spiritual regions. It is the strong and long arm of the living Master that can accomplish this Herculean task of cleansing the Augean stables, of carrying the spirit beyond all limitations and concepts, and steering her course safely and getting back for her the lost Kingdom.
It is the fundamental Law of God that no
one can think of Him
unless he is reminded of Him by some Master Soul.
Bhai Gurdas says:
Endless queries, without treading the Path,
cannot lead thee to thy Beloved.
One cannot understand God by means of intellect alone, however sharp and keen it may be. How can an instrument by nature limited in its scope measure the Limitless? Some higher consciousness can lead the little consciousness to the Great Consciousness, for he serves as link between the two:
If one could reach God alone, why then
the pangs of separation?
Meet Him through a Sadh, and have beatitude, O Nanak.
A quest in the wrong direction cannot lead to success. O Kabir,
take with thee a guide and find the great jewel. A sure guide will
help thee to reach the goal quickly, however distant it may seem to be.
We feel the need
of a teacher at every step. A student in cookery, for instance, has to
learn it from one expert in the culinary art. A student in medicine has
to seek the aid of a professor of medicine. A novice in surgery has to
master the art from some reputed surgeon, and so also a pupil
in engineering, painting, and so forth. Books and learned treatises on
these various subjects cannot by themselves make a student expert in the
It is the practical demonstration, the experiment at the table, and the actual operation in the theater under the guidance of an adept in the profession that matters.
If all of these physical sciences that belong to the realm of Apara Vidya and are studied and mastered on the plane of the senses require the help of a teacher, the need of a teacher is still greater for spiritual science (Para Vidya), which is an inner process far beyond the ken of the senses, to be studied in the depths of the mind and experimented with in the laboratory of the soul.
It has been locked up for ages upon ages and is enshrouded in stark darkness and there is no visible approach to it. The fact is that a person who denies and derides the necessity of a Master in Truth and yet wants to learn Truth all by himself does not in fact want it.
His case is just like that of a man who prefers to dig a well for himself rather than quench his thirst at a spring of cool and refreshing water nearby, with a waterman ready to serve him.
Bhai Nandlal says in this context:
None but a lover of rubies can understand the value of a ruby.
It is only the jeweler's eyes that can at a glance give value to it.
The need of a
Guru or Master is absolute, and there can be no exception to the rule.
Suppose, for instance, a person wants to have a joy-ride in the air. No
one will allow him to enter a plane by himself. Even if he enters it surreptitiously,
he will find the machinery locked. If somehow or other he overcomes this
obstacle, he will not know how to handle the various parts of the machine.
Should he dabble with it and the plane starts, he cannot take it up for
want of necessary training, nor can he bring it down, nor steer it correctly.
The result, sooner or later, will be a crash and loss of life. The mechanism
of the human body is much more complicated and delicate than that of any
machine; therefore the need of a spiritual adept is all the greater, both
for success in the practical process of self-analysis and also for the
approach to God Himself and the understanding of the working of the divine
The spirit imprisoned in the body cannot per se separate itself from it. With its seat above the focus of the eyes, it permeates the entire system, and the two are indissolubly intertwined with each other. Should it somehow or other find itself freed momentarily and collected and gathered up at its center, it cannot enter the airliner of Shabd. If it may find a way in, it does not know where to go, how to go, and how to return.
But if the master pilot (the Sant Satguru) could be there to take the spirit along with him, and the two could enter the plane and take a few joyful rides together in the spiritual realm, the spirit could also learn how to handle the heavenly liner, and to repeat the spiritual, experiments.
One well-versed in the mechanism of the human body (which is composed of three coverings: physical, mental, and causal, plus the living sentient entity underneath), a habitual traveler to the heavenly regions, day in and day out, can initiate a spirit into the mysteries of spiritual knowledge, and by a practical demonstration show her a "Way Out."
By actual guidance and help, the Master himself steers her safely from plane to plane, and explains on the way the dangerous signals and points, sharp turns and twists, and the dangers of the unknown and untrodden spiritual realms. Blessed indeed is the spirit that comes across such an adept in the science and art of Spirituality.
Nothing but ill luck would dog a spirit's footsteps if she were to spurn his offer and attempt the divine journey by herself, unattended and unaided by a Master soul.
Maulana Rumi, therefore, in no ambiguous terms warns against such a course:
Find a Master Spirit, for without his active
help and guidance
this journey is beset with untold fears, perils, and dangers.
In essence, Naam or Dhun Atmic Shabd (Word) is an unwritten law in an unspoken language, and, hence, It cannot be had from scriptures and other holy books. This wealth can be obtained only from some adept in Naam, for he is Word personified. He alone is competent to make It manifest to the spirit, and no one else can.
It is a fundamental Law of God that none
can manifest Naam
except Satguru (Master of Truth).
The Shabd of a Master Soul can be heard only through His Grace,
and no one else can even make It manifest.
A Master of Truth is fully conversant with all the mysteries of spirituality; hence his testimony carries weight and his charged words drive home and prove effective.
Listen to the true and infallible testimony of Saints,
for they have a first-hand experience of what they say.
Gurbani also in unambiguous terms emphatically declares the imperative necessity of a Master Soul. The embodied spirits for ages upon ages have been leading a life of the senses, and have never known that there is another side of the picture as well. Truth can neither be known nor experienced except through the grace of a Master of Truth.
Without a Master no one ever found Truth in the past nor in the present.
The Crest Jewel of Naam has been kept in the hands of a Master,
and He is competent to manifest the same in the jivas.
It is through God's Grace that one comes across a Master of Truth.
After a spirit has passed through cycles of births, then the Master
makes her hear the Sound Current.
Listen ye all with attention and learn that there is none so great
a philanthropist as a Satguru; for he bestows upon jivas the gift
of precious Naam. Those who are prepared to lose their lives
(i.e., come above the physical life of the senses), shall find Truth
on contacting a Master Soul.
All Saints with one accord declare that without a Godman, one cannot reach God and attain Godhead. Go Himself made this abundantly clear:
It is a cardinal principle of God that one cannot even think of Him
without the Grace of a Satguru.
Nanak has learned from God that one cannot gain salvation
without the active aid of a Master.
Satguru is a great ophthalmologist and an expert eye surgeon. We are all stark blind. God is within us, and darkly we grope for Him without. But a contact with a Satguru restores to us the lost vision and we begin to realize and experience God in the laboratory of the human mind:
The entire mankind is blind and is blindly engaged in deeds of darkness,
and finds not a Way out. O Nanak! when a spirit meets a Master of
Truth, she begins to see with her own eyes (inner, of course) and she
realizes the Truth in the depths of the soul.
We are nothing short of truly blind, for we see not, regardless of physical eyes. Blindness consists not in the loss of eyes, but in keeping away from God. Nanak says:
Call them not blind who have no eyes, O Nanak!
Such in fact are blind who see not the Light of God.
Guru Arjan tells us that even a person with eyes may yet be blind, if he sees not God Who is the very soul of his soul, and thus he commits sins:
A person in full possession of his senses may yet be blind; if he
considers that God, the very Soul of his soul, is far removed
from him, and thereby he shamelessly engages in evil.
With physical eyes we witness the physical world around us. But the Shiv Netra or Third Eye in each of us is closed. When this eye opens, we can see the wonders of the subtle and causal worlds, and even those of the purely spiritual world beyond these:
Blind is one who performs deeds of blindness, because
his inner eye is closed.
All of us are concerned with matter, and know not there is anything else.
Ever engaged in mind and matter, he does not even think of God;
Bound for Hades, he is ever in perpetual misery;
Blind and deaf, he does not see beyond;
A slave of the mind, he is immersed in sins.
It is impossible for anyone to enter the higher regions by his individual efforts. It is imperative for an aspirant of these to take with him an adept who daily treads the sun and moon in his heavenly journeys.
Maulana Rumi says:
A person desirous of making a pilgrimage should take with him an
experienced pilgrim for the purpose - no matter whether that
pilgrim be a Hindu, a Turk, or an Arab.
The Satguru, like a master surgeon, can restore vision to the inner eye.
Shamas-i-Tabrez tells us:
Should you like to see God, apply the dust of a Godman's feet to thine
for he can give sight even to the born blind.
Naam or Shabd is the collyrium that makes a person capable of seeing heavenly visions. Without Its use one forever remains blind, and human birth avails him not:
Without contact with Shabd, a person is both blind and deaf,
and gains naught from human birth.
The greatest asset is the blessed Bani, which restores the sight
that can apprehend God.
God is permeating through and through, but we do not see Him, as we suffer from myopic vision:
Accursed is the person who sees him not, though He is within;
All persons, O Tulsi, suffer from cataract over their eyes.
Eyes are a great blessing. Without them a person gropes in the dark. The whole physical world is just a blank sheet to a blind person. But how grateful would he feel if some expert surgeon were to restore his sight by means of an operation.
The inner eye
is a thousand times more useful than the outer one, as without it one cannot
see anything beyond the physical plane, and for ages upon ages he
has been blindly staggering, ever since the dawn of creation. The Master
of Truth bestows vision to this third eye that has long been lying sealed
as it were by constant disuse. Is it not a pity that such a valuable organ
should be rendered useless, and that we have not taken the time even to
think of the helpless state in which we are? Such indeed is the overpowering
influence of mind and matter upon the embodied spirit.
It is not only human beings, but also the gods that stand in need of Light for the third eye, for without It they, too, cannot see anything beyond themselves and their surroundings. Located as they are in the descending order, one below the other, they cannot even see their own Mother-Shakti (Energy) - from which each of them has sprung.
The entire creation is born of Shakti (Energy), which works through
three distinct agencies: Brahma (Creator); Vishnu (Sustainer);
and Shiva (Destroyer). Though all three are under her direction
and control, yet strange as it may seem, they know her not.
Tulsi Sahib also tells us that none can safely cross the sea of life except through the Grace of a Guru:
None has ever crossed the fearful stream of life except with the aid
of a Guru, no matter if he may have been an intellectual giant,
When great personages like these stand in need of guidance and help of a Guru, the puny child of clay simply cannot do without a Master Soul.
Without a beneficent Guru no one finds a way out, although he may
perform myriads of charitable works and deeds of merit.
Again, Tulsi Sahib says:
Tulsi, without the aid of some Murshid-i-Kamil (perfect Master),
you cannot have salvation nor can you see the way thereto.
In Gurbani we find emphatic reference to the need for a Guru:
Let there not be the least doubt in the mind of any, for none has
ever crossed the tempestuous and fretful seas of life without a Guru.
The world is a fearful ocean. The Word of the Guru is the boat, and he is the captain thereof. It is with his grace that one can reach God, and there is no other way.
Guru is at once the barque and the captain, and without him none
can cross. God is the veritable gift of Guru, and the way to salvation
lies through Him.
In the scriptures
of the Hindus also, we find many references. In Katha Upanishad I:ii,
Very few indeed are the persons who have the good fortune to hear
of God, and fewer still who can know of Him. Blessed is the high
souled one who talks of Him, and blessed are they who have access
to such a personage, and truly blessed is he who with his help
and guidance finds God within him.
Mere thinking and contemplation are of no avail. Without Initiation
one cannot know of God. Unless you learn of God from some
Master Soul, you shall not experience Him.
He is so subtle that thoughts fail to reach Him and intellect
cannot apprehend Him.
In Chandogya Upanishad IV:ix-3, we have:
From the pious and the holy who are just like Gurus, we have heard
that without a Master Soul we can neither know nor experience
the true nature of the Self.
In Mandukya Upanishad (I Mandukya, Khand 2, Shalok 7:12), we read:
It behooves a Brahmin to disengage himself from the desires for the fruits
of Karmas and acquire a spirit of detachment, for God is self-existent
and cannot be attracted by deeds of merit. To know Him, he must, like
a true seeker and disciple, go to a Guru who is adept in the knowledge
of Brahma and is fully embedded in Brahma.
Without a Guru one cannot even have true import of the scriptures. In Svetasvatara Upanishad VI:23, it is recorded:
He who is extremely devoted to God and has the same amount of devotion
for his Guru, he alone can understand the significance of the text herein.
Let us now turn to Manusmriti, Chapter II:
A disciple must stand before his Guru in perfect equipoise, with full control
over his body and bodily organs.
A disciple must everyday before the commencement of his daily lessons
and after completion of the same do obeisance at the feet of his Guru
and act according to his instructions.
Those who try to follow the Vedas on hearsay
authority only, do a great
disservice to the Vedas - for none can truly learn the Vedas without a
Guru - and such go to hell.
Whosoever imparts to you knowledge either
exoteric or esoteric
is worthy of your respect.
In Bhagavad Gita IV: 34, we have:
The practice (of spirituality) can best be done at the feet of a Master
fully conversant with the Reality, for such alone can guide properly.
We cannot know the spiritual path without the help of a Godman and our search should, therefore, begin with the latter. In the Holy Gospel, it is said:
No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
No man knoweth ... who the Father is, but the Son and he to whom
the Son will reveal him.
No man can come to me except the Father
which hath sent me draw him.
He that receiveth you receiveth me, and
he that receiveth me
receiveth him that sent me.
In short, the
sacred books of all religions repeat the same thing; to wit, that man cannot
gain salvation except through a Master of Truth.
The Shastras, the Vedas and the Smritis all converge at one point: no one can have salvation except through grace. Right contemplation will bring home this universal Truth to you as well.
The easiest and the quickest way to reach God is through devotion to some Master Soul. The Prophet of Arabia, while exhorting Ali, said:
O Ali! thou art a lion in the cause of Truth, brave and steadfast, but
not on thy prowess and strength. Far better it would be for thee to take
shelter under a tree laden with flowers and fruits.
O Ali! of all the ways leading to God, choose one that is of the Beloved
God, for long and strong is his arm and he can easily take the seekers
after Truth into His Holy Presence.
Maulana Rumi also exhorts in the same fashion:
The ever oscillating mind cannot be stilled unless it comes under the
overpowering influence of some Saint. Should you come across one,
take hold of him with a firm grasp. Take rest under the shelter of an
accepted one, for the proximity of a liberated Soul shall liberate thee
Dove-like sigh thou night and day and search for the hidden treasure
from some darvesh (man of God).
There is no Friend greater than Satguru; He is the protector here
Search for such a one right and left, high and low, and never rest
until he is found.
Never turn away from the holy and pious, but diligently try to understand
them and their real greatness.
The path of spirituality
is strewn with dangers and difficulties and cannot be safely trod except
with the help and guidance of a Master.
Every soul is clothed in three distinct sheaths; the physical, the astral, and the causal. It is through each of these that she can operate in the three corresponding planes. Her native plane, however, lies beyond the three.
The physical plane itself is beset with terrible snares and difficulties. The astral or subtle plane is full of inconceivable temptations from which it is impossible for a jiva to escape unscathed.
Similarly, still greater glamor awaits a jiva in the causal plane. Again, it is no small adventure to enter spiritual planes by oneself alone. This path is strewn with thorns and is sharp as a razor's edge.
Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life,
and few there be that find it.
It is, therefore, all the more necessary that a seeker after ruth must first find an adept in Truth, fully conversant with the spiritual path leading to Reality, and obtain his lessons from him, and practice them under his direct supervision, guidance, and control. Without these prerequisites there cannot be a ghost of a chance for success. In Katha Upanishad, we come across a dictum:
Awake, arise, and stop not until the Goal is reached.
The knowledge of God can be had from a man of God. At every step an aspirant feels the need of the Master's strong and long arm, which alone can reach him, save him, and keep him on the path and lead him correctly. Maulana Rumi says:
First find a Pir (adept in the line) for without a Pir the way is beset
with dangers, difficulties and tribulations.
Whoever attempts to walk on this path by himself is sure to be led astray
by Satan and thrown down the precipice.
Without the overpowering influence of a Godman you are bound
to become bewildered by the howling cries of ghouls.
Many a wise and intelligent person attempted this path alone but by the
wiles of the negative powers came to a sad end. Many a time the ghouls
imitate the sounds of the Master, and these may drag thee to perdition.
It is through the loving grace of the Master that a spirit can get out of the prison-house of the body. From here the Luminous Form of the Master directly takes charge of the spirit, and protects her at every step with his loving grace.
The intricate and bewildering turns and twists of the path are easily
passed through with the help of the Satguru.
The subtle and causal planes are a vast wilderness for the soul, and it is unsafe for her to traverse them by herself. Maulana Rumi tells us in this context:
Take a fellow traveler with thee and travel not alone on this path.
Do not venture in this wilderness by thyself alone.
Hafiz Sahib also gives the same advice:
Do not attempt
these stages alone. In the bewildering darkness,
you are sure to lose your way.