Shelter of the Guru
To take shelter with the Master means to subordinate one's will to the will of the Guru and unreservedly surrender oneself to him. This is an easy means of gaining release from the cycle of birth and death. The disciple should implicitly rely on the Master and should give himself up to him in the same way as one confides in a surgeon and trusts his life in his hands. Similarly, one follows the instructions of a guide when one is lost in a jungle and is sick and tired, and cannot himself find the way.
The Master's task is not only to teach, but to help the disciple in overcoming his difficulties. He alone is a true friend who not only advises us regarding what to do in difficulties, but also helps us in freeing ourselves from them.
Let us suppose that one wants to go to a foreign country. He makes enquiries about travel by air or by sea. When he sets out on his journey, he takes his place on a specific ship or plane. He completely assigns himself to the care of the captain or the pilot and has no further worries. In actual fact, he has to depend on the captain or the pilot. If the passenger should happen to fall into the sea, the captain, without any payment, would try to save him. The case of those travelling in the spiritual regions is the same. In order to understand spiritual matters and the teachings of a Master, one should use one's intellect and discrimination; but after one takes shelter with a Master, he should surrender to him unconditionally. One should follow the path indicated by the Master. He knows the path we have to tread, while we are ignorant of it. We have to rely on his help, and by doing so we can fulfil our ideal of progress in the spiritual regions.
To take shelter means to have full confidence in the Master and to be guided by him. One should follow his orders without considering their so-called propriety. Whatever the Master directs us to do is for our good, although at the time it may not appear to be proper or beneficial for us. The disciple should obey him in word, deed and spirit.
When the disciple surrenders himself to the Master for good, the Master looks after him in every way. Just as a mother brings up her child, so the Master looks after his disciple. As the disciple becomes purified, the Master gives him spiritual wealth. The child who sits in the lap of his mother need not worry, because all his worries are hers. He is care-free and happy. Similarly, the disciple, after taking shelter with the Master, becomes care-free and happy. The Gurus call out with raised hands, "Friends! if you wish to enjoy spiritual bliss, take shelter with the Master!"
The Master gives the clarion call: He who wants constant spiritual bliss, let him take shelter with the Master.
Kalyan M4, 1326-15
In chapter 18, shloka 66 of the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna, as a teacher, gives the following advice to his disciples:
Do thou, renouncing all religious rites, take refuge unto me alone, and I will free thee evermore from all thy sins. So do not grieve.
It is easier to practise meditation than to surrender unconditionally to the Master. When one takes shelter with the Master, one must be like a child. He must give up his own. will and conform to the will of the Master. He must surrender himself to the Master in word, deed and spirit. This is difficult, but if owing to good fortune one gets shelter, then all his desires will be fulfilled. He will merge in the form of the Guru.
The shelter of the Master is gained only as the result of great good fortune. To take shelter with the Master is to take shelter with the Lord. The Master is the Lord.
I have no friend but Thee, oh Lord; I take refuge with the Master. I find the Lord there; oh fellow travelling merchant of small worldly wares, come, seek a Master and gather the everlasting wealth.
Sri Rag M4, 81-18
He who is so destined by the Lord, oh Nanak, takes shelter with a Saint.
Gauri M5, 296-5
When the Lord is kind, a devotee reaches this stage.
Blessed are they who find shelter with Him, all glory to the true court of the Lord; come, come to this place of eternal calm. Oh Nanak, when He is kind, the devotees meet the Master.
Sri Rag M2, 31-7
The Gurus have described the various benefits that result from taking shelter with the Master. The mind is controlled; one is freed from all grieves, sufferings, pains and pleasures, and the three modes of feeling. One is freed from the burden of karmas.
I took shelter with the Master, and the Lord put His seal of approval on my mind.
Ramkali M5, 879-17
I met a perfect Master, and I took refuge with him. Then all my grieves and troubles were removed.
Asa M5, 395-16
This body is the city of pleasure and pain; he alone is saved who takes shelter with the Master. He remains detached from the three modes; such a devotee is really blessed.
Mara M5, 1075-17
The mind becomes pure. All desires are fulfilled, and one gets happiness.
He who takes shelter with the Master is purified. But if the proud person repeats the Name of the Lord, he cannot wash off the dirt.
Sri Rag M3, 38-7
The Masters have come to redeem the world, and the world thirsts for their sight; he who takes shelter with them Crosses over; blessed is the company of the Saints.
Gauri M5, 207-7
The Master is the bestower of all happiness; take shelter with him. On seeing him, one gets joy. Praised be the Lord, all sufferings depart.
Gauri M5, 207-17
Egotism and darkness are banished, and light appears.
Egotism and 'otherness' consume the world. Oh Nanak, contemplate on the Shabd and take shelter with the Master.
Sorath Var M3, 651-11
I took shelter with the Creator and the Cause, and then I reached my home easily through the Master's Grace. The darkness disappeared and the moon rose.
Asa M5, 393-18
The gift of spiritual life is obtained and Nam manifests itself.
The Master gave the incomparable gift; He made the Name of the Lord dwell in my heart, when the merciful One is kind, He gives us shelter with the Master.
Asa M4, 443-6
In the Kali Yug, Iron Age, the Name is hidden, even though the Lord fills every heart. The jewel of the Name shines in the sky of the hearts of those who have taken shelter with the Master.
Prabhati M3, 1334-15
The fear of death is removed. One does not have to go to hell. The cycle of birth and death comes to an end and one crosses the ocean of worldly existence.
He is freed from the fear of death and Kal, and does not go to hell. Oh Nanak, taking shelter with the Master redeems the devotee; the Lord and the Master protect him.
Sarang M4, 1248-18
All the Master's actions are pure; He protects us. Oh Nanak, a devout disciple never goes to hell. He is under the protection of the Lord.
Asa M5, 464-10
He who is fortunate contemplates on the Name; oh Nanak, one who has this shelter does not come and go.
Sri Rag M5, 53-5
Oh blissful Lord, the destroyer of pain; he who takes shelter with the Saints crosses this ocean of existence, which is full of sufferings.
Dhanasri M5, 691-7
The Lord forgives the sins of one who takes shelter with the Master. He becomes fearless and balanced, and attains the highest abode. He is honoured in the Court of the Lord and is united with Him. By taking shelter with the Master, the devotee gets shelter with the Lord. One who is separated from his mother suffers a great deal. One who has not taken shelter with the Master is like a child who is separated from his mother.
The Gurus therefore emphasize the point that one should take shelter with the Master.