The Master speaks: Guru Bhakti – A Lesson in Love
This day we have gathered together in the loving memory of the Godman, Hazur Sawan Singh Ji Maharaj, who revived the age-old perennial science which we had forgotten. The object of the celebrating the birth anniversary of a Master-Soul is to make a fresh appraisal of His teachings and by following His footsteps we keep His memory alive. Ordinarily, we are expected to live daily, nay hourly, in the loving presence of the Master and be ever thankful to Him for the indelible footprints left by Him on the sands of time. That, of course, is an individual affair. But we must, once a year at least hold a memorial service on the occasion of His advent into the world for the Spiritual Uplift of man. Whatever time we spend together in this congregational service to the memory of the Godman will be amply rewarded and should, therefore, be considered a great blessing.
What then are the lessons we can take from such a dedicated life of selfless service as that of Hazur, for it is by knowing them that we can strive to follow them as best we can and advance on the path of self-realisation and God-Realisation. It is to His great credit that He revived the most ancient science of Para Vidya – the knowledge of the beyond, the great unknown cause that lies beyond the senses, the mind and the intellect. In the modern age, the teachings originated with Kabir1 and Nanak2 and the torch of light was carried on by the successive nine Gurus and then Tulsi Sahib3, Swami Ji Maharaj4, and afterwards by Jaimal Singh Ji5 and then Hazur Sawan Singh Ji Maharaj by Whose Grace the Sacred Teachings are being imparted even now to the spiritually hungry souls. Fortunate indeed are those blessed souls who had the privilege to be initiated by Him. We must, therefore, make the best use of the short life-span allotted to us. The greatest purpose of the human birth is that it offers us an opportunity, rare as it is, to experience our own Self and God. None can help us to unite with God but one who is already united with him.
Some God man may link us with the Power of God.
That Divine Power is, of course, within each one of us for we live, move and have our very being in him.
My Lord consort pervades in all beings, but blessed is One in Whom He is manifest.
It is the God-manifested being or the Godman Who can guide us Godward. The question here is as why can we not unite with God by our own unaided efforts? It is because the soul is under the powerful sway of mind, which in its turn is being controlled by the senses, and these senses are running riot with the sense-objects. We are thus totally identified with mind and matter and have no independent existence of our own. So it is the God in man Who can link us with God. In other words One Who has established a contact with God can show us the way to effect this contact ourselves. Thus, God in the garb of man is the Guru of all.
When Guru Nanak was questioned on this subject, He replied:
Verily, it is the Holy Word, Shabd or the Sound, that is the Master and the soul in man, permeating through and through in the physical body, is the disciple.
Now what is meant by Shabd? The absolute God is Ashabd – wordless – but when He comes into expression He is known as Shabd – Word.
The Gurbani tells us:
With one Word, the whole creation came into being.
Again Gurbani says:
It is from Shabd that the whole creation comes into being and ultimately gets absorbed into it and it is through Shabd that regeneration takes place.
This manifested Power of God which is the substratum of the entire creation is called Shabd. This Shabd then is the Jagat-Guru or the Master-Power.
This very question was put to Kabir,
Oh Kabir, who is the Master and where does the disciple reside? How did the two get together in an indissoluble union?
My Master is in the beyond, while the disciple is in the body. Both of them got together by means of Shabd and now there is no fear of separation between the two.
So the Master of all the world is the Shabd-Power or the Holy Word.
Guru Gobind Singh has put it succinctly:
He who is one and the same in the beginning and the end is the manifested Power of God, the Shabd, and that is the Real Master.
Thus the physical body in which the Shabd-Power is manifestly working is worthy of all our adoration, for that Power alone can draw the soul to Himself. The Master is not the physical body but the Divine Power which is enlivening His body.
And the Gurbani clearly tells us:
God speaks through a human frame, as without it how can He speak to us?
The physical body is not the Master but blessed is that body in which that Power is manifest for Spiritual Guidance. This Power of God as manifested on the human plane helps in liberating all human souls entombed in the meshes of mind and matter.
Swami Ji says:
The Great Power of God in the Guru helps in disengaging the souls from the shackles of the body and in raising them upwards.
The Living Master is competent enough to unite with God such souls that seek His guidance. The prime job of a Master-Soul is to unite all the children of God under His saving protection.
Free from birth and death under the compulsive force of karmas comes the redeemer of souls, with a touch of His life breath He alchemises the human soul and connects it with the Holy Word.
Such Great Souls come into the world for the Spiritual Welfare of humanity. They are commissioned from above for this job. Now perhaps you may understand what is meant by a Living Master. He is in fact God manifest on earth or the Word made flesh to dwell among us as Christ puts it.
The Gurbani tells us,
Dwelling in the Guru, He doles out the Holy Word.
Man alone can be teacher of man. It is with the help of some human instrument that God works for mankind. God does, from time to time, descend in a human garb for the uplift of the people stuck fast in the mire of the world and all that is worldly. A Saint has a two-fold mission: to awaken people from a long drawn dream of the material world and to reveal to them the saving lifelines within. Like a radiant pole star, He guides the erring humanity. When it rains, every place, high or low, equally gets the blessing of the life giving showers. Hazur’s name was Sawan and significantly enough like Sawan-rains, He blessed the people with Spiritual Showers and everyone – Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christian – benefited from His teachings.
Now we revert to our original question as to whom should one love in the world? If we look critically, we find that love is an innate quality in man and everyone is devoted to one thing or another: may be service to one’s family, community, nation or the country or it may be to the development of some art or craft or any other such thing. And yet there are some who love themselves above all else and self-indulgence is with them the be-all and the end-all of life.
Once there was in our country a ruler named Mohammad Shah Rangila. He was given over to bouts of drinking. When Delhi was in the throes of a wholesale massacre, the people petitioned the king to intervene. The king was so busy in drinking that he had neither the time nor the heart to attend to this appeal for mercy and exclaimed:
Let these papers of no importance be drowned in the wine.
Similarly, it is said of Nero, a Roman emperor that he fiddled while Rome was burning. There is no dearth of such people in the world. He who worships his family is far better than the one who worships himself and lives for self-gratification only. So also he who loves and serves his society, religion or country is still better progressively. But all these varying types of love and devotion are more or less characterised by a sense of ego and smack of pride, as such, more often than not, the result is a clash between family and family, class and class or country and country.
We have had what are euphemistically called crusades or holy wars fought in the blessed name of religion but born out of misguided religious zeal and to speak plainly out of sheer religious ignorance, bigotry and intolerance. But on the contrary, the Love of God far transcends all these petty adorations as it consists in total self-abnegation and selfless sacrifice because of the knowledge that God resides in all heart and he is the substratum of the entire creation. God is an unchangeable permanence and everlasting. But we have not yet seen him, and without seeing Him how can we love Him and inculcate devotion for Him. So we have, of necessity, to bestow our loving devotion on the Human Pole where the Power of God is manifest.
Guru Amar Das Ji7 says:
If you want to worship God, worship the Satguru, who is God Personified or the Word made flesh.
He then grants contact with the Holy Naam and helps us to crossing over into the beyond. The worship of Satguru is really the worship of God. The easiest way of developing the worship of God is to develop Gurubhakti – Love of Master.
In Gurbani we have:
The loving devotion to the Master is above everything also and I love His feet with all my strength.
Now what is Bhakti – loving devotion? It is the Love of God. God is Love and Love is God. The way back to God is also through Love. Love knows naught but service and sacrifices. What is it that distinguishes Love? He who loves, desires to sacrifice all and does not look for any reward in return.
God Himself bespeaks thus:
If you desire to join Me in the game of Love, come unto Me with your head on your palm as an offering. If you want to treat the Path of Love, never for a moment hesitate to offer your life.
This is the type of sacrifice that Love demands and in doing so never think that you have done any favour. You should rather feel grateful that you have won Love so easily.
Amir Khusro8 was a Great Devotee of his Master. One day he exclaimed with delight that he had received happy tidings from his beloved. What is this? The people asked. My beloved has ordered that I be decapitated tomorrow in the open market, he said. Has your beloved given you any assurance to see you and cast His loving glance on you?, enquired the people. None whatsoever, was the reply.
This is what Love demands from the lover and complete submission to the will of the beloved without any rhyme or reason. Love is just a one-way traffic so far as the lover is concerned. It knows no bargaining. All it connotes is implicit obedience.
Not my will, but Thine,
cries the True Lover.
A Persian poet has defined Love thus:
What is Love? It is to be a bondsman of the beloved. And to go wandering and offering one’s heart.
Love then means to dedicate yourself – body and soul – to someone and to wander the earth over in His search.
A Real Devotee dedicates his very life to the service of his Master and dissolves His will in that of his. It is a life of complete surrender with no mental reservations.
Sarmad a Great Gurubhakta said:
I have given away my heart, my life and my very soul; having passed on all my burdens I know no greater gain than this.
All the ills of the world originate with mental activity. We are stuck fast in the heart focus from where the rays of the mind start and passing from the sense organs envelop the sense objects and we get attached to the world around us. How little do we realise the great motor power of the soul behind, enlivening the mind and the intellect. If we could divest ourselves of these adjuncts and dedicate our very life to the service of a Godman, we would at once become a freed soul ready to go Godward. Can there be any greater gain than to escape from all the trials and turmoils of the earthly life? This is what we gain by practising the presence of the personified God in our midst. He is a living embodiment of the God-into-expression-Power and helps us to reveal and develop it the same way as He has done.
Contemplate thou on the form of the Master; besides it there is no other way of escape from bondage.
The term dhyan, contemplation, is derived from the root dhi which means to fix the attention on the Living Master. I may illustrate my point by taking the analogy of a newly wedded girl coming back to her parents’ home. However busy she may appear to be in household chores, all the time she thinks of her husband. In exactly the same way, the attention of the disciple should always be grounded in the Master – the Word made flesh. Guru is Godman i.e. man plus God. Those who get attached to man only remain entangled in the body, while those who see the God manifest in the man the links of Him are revealed to the disciple. He learns quickly how to rise above the body. As you think so you become. It is He who loves us first, and our Love is simply reciprocal. Mother loves the newly born child first and the child loves the mother in return. Our Love is but a kind of reaction of the Love of the Master Who has drawn us to Him.
The Master loves the disciple with all His life.
This is known as Gurubhakti. When you think of the Master with all your heart and soul, you cannot but obey Him implicitly.
If you love me, keep my commandments.
Love calls for direct and immediate obedience and not merely lip service. In this respect there is a general weakness in all of us and we fail miserably. We must learn to understand Him and be able to do what He bids us to do even though, at moments what He says may not appear sound to us. He speaks from a higher level and sees things from afar to which we have yet no access. So if all the time we think of Him, no matter while we are engaged in worldly pursuits, we will gradually imbibe His spirit. Our outer entanglements shall not then bind us. In this way we will get off from outer attachments, the more His Divine Power will enter into us and transform us into His likeness.
Christ has said:
I am the vine, ye are the branches, so long thou will remain embedded in me, you will bear ample fruit. So you cannot do without me.
St John 15:1-5
All this may be likened to a grafting process. When we engraft the twig of one tree in the body of another tree, then the fruit of the second tree will be of the quality and taste of the tree from which it got the graft. Similarly, if the disciple reasonably develops his receptivity by constant devotion, loving faith and implicit obedience, he will when asked, give you the same reply to a question as you would get from the Master Himself. When two hearts work in unison they operate with the same vibrations as in telepathy. Such a disciple naturally gets from the Master His own impulses. So Gurubhakti is the sine qua non on the Path of the Masters.
Swami Ji has rightly said:
Those who engage in the practice of listening to the Sound Current without Gurubhakti or devotion to the Master are but fools.
The essence of Gurubhakti is that our thoughts and feelings be detached from all else and be centred at one focal point, the eye-focus.
Our Hazur used to illustrate this sublime truth thus:
Suppose there is a pipe with many holes or small openings in it from which the water is trickling drop by drop. If we were to close down all these holes save one, then the water will gush forth from the one hole left open in a strong current and to a great height. Exactly in the same way if we cut off all our worldly connections, then the sensory currents will get collected at one point and then shoot forth from the tenth opening at the eye-focus.
Hazur used to say that the Guru does not need our devotions but if we adore him and offer our unstinted Love to Him, it is helpful for our Inner Spiritual Progress. The principle of as you think so you become works all this.
Swami Ji says:
The Holy Word or the Shabd is revealed just by the Grace of the Guru and then the long and strong arm of the Master pulls the spirit currents out from the body below.
Now you will understand the basic need of Gurubhakti. It does not mean dancing around the Guru or shouting this way or that. If you do not care to listen to what the Guru says or to understand and follow His behests, it is not Gurubhakti at all. Such persons cannot get any Spiritual Benefit even if they live with the Master for ages upon ages. On the contrary, those who turn their back upon the world and are wholly engrossed in the Love of the Master and make loving devotion as their ruling passion, they easily and quickly get transformed into the likeness of the Master. Just take a worldly example of a person full of lust and see how he lovingly dotes upon the form of his beloved and in her presence feels inebriated.
Guru Ram Das says:
I feel highly elated with joy by looking at the physical form of my beloved Satguru.
If one could, from afar, just get a glimpse of the glorious turban of Hazur while standing in the midst of thousands of persons, a thrill of joy would run through the head to toe.
Maulana Rumi says:
Even if I were to behold the face of my Beloved, hundreds of times with hundreds of eyes, I would still like to see him again and again for each time one gets a novel experience from such blessed sight.
He goes on to say:
Just as a drunkard feels restlessly agitated by looking at a vintage splashing in a goblet of wine, similarly by looking into the cups of the deeply set eyes of the Master, the souls of the devotee soar high in Ecstasy Divine.
Those who have attained the climax of Love like this for the Master, they feel Divinity surging in the fibres of their being. It was a matter of common experience to see people standing statue like for hours on end with their eyes intently fixed on the radiant face of the Hazur. The sweet and loving remembrance of the Master, the contemplation of His form and carefully attending to His discourses are some of the tried methods for the purification of the mind. If the Master is full of piety, you will automatically become pious. After all what is there in Him which attract us so much? He is charged with the Spiritual Glow and Divine Glory which attracts one and all alike.
An Urdu poet says:
Where there is no beauty, Love cannot evolve, and a nightingale finds no delights in flowers painted on the walls.
It is the Glory of the Living God in Him which attracts them. The radioactive race emanating from His person sinks deep into the hearts of the devotees. So long as there is no Inner Charm, no one can charm the people around him:
A soul entombed in the body cannot possibly do Gurubhakti; when even the God themselves are ignorant of His greatness, how can the Incomprehensible Satguru be comprehended? He may be known as much as He may in His Grace reveal Himself.
Guru Nanak was considered as a worldly people as one who perverted the intellect of others. He was not allowed to enter the town of Qasur – now in Pakistan – lest He should misguide people. But there were others who recognised in Him a Living God in the garb of man. So it all depends on how much He may choose to reveal Himself to each individual. Similarly, Hazur was looked upon by many as a very pious old man, whereas those who had good fortune to go near Him they would see something higher in Him. And still fewer who had developed some Inner Receptivity and devotion found Him a veritable Godman.
Hazur used to explain the matter:
A highly qualified teacher attending to boys in a primary class would reveal as much of his knowledge as it may be possible for the novices to grasp. But the same teacher when teaching middle classes would impart higher knowledge to his students befitting their capacity to learn and when he will go to the higher secondary, he will show more of his learning, till in a college he will be at his best.
In other words, as a student advances from class to class and his understanding ripens with the passage of time and experience, he imbibes more and more of his teachers learning and the teacher too tries to impart greater knowledge which may be commensurate with the capacity to understand and to assimilate. The time factor then is important in any type of development.
The more a person attends upon his Guru and diligently follows His instructions, the more he develops his receptivity and in the same proportion, the Guru reveals to him more and more Spiritual Experience. It all depends on Upasna which means proximity to the Spiritual Preceptor. If you sit near the Master with heart and soul attuned, you are sure to be benefited a lot by His Divine Radiation and that in turn will develop your Inner Receptivity or power of assimilation. The easiest, the shortest and the simplest way to get greater benefits to lose yourself completely in the Holy Presence of Sant Satguru. This in fact is the significance of Satsang.
Swami Ji says:
Oh soul, be fully absorbed in Satsang at least this day.
What then is full or complete absorption, is the question. It means that while in the company of a Saint listening to Him or otherwise one should forget not only the place where He is sitting but become wholly oblivious of the very surrounding in which He is and dissolve His very being, losing all consciousness except of the Holy Presence of the Master. This blanking of one’s self is called absorption. The more one empties himself of the worldliness and pettiness, the more he will be filled by the Divine Grace emanating from the Divine Presence before him. This is the secret of a successful Satsang.
Excuse me, when I say that it is seldom that we get a Satsang or company of a truly Perfect Master for such highly advanced souls – souls One with the Lord – are very rare indeed. They are not easily available and recognisable and if by some mighty good luck we do come across a Godman, we do not know to derive the fullest benefit from His company or Satsang. The way to make the most of such a rare opportunity and derive the maximum benefit is that one should try to come to the place of Satsang as early as possible and sit silently in a prayerful mood, blanking the mind of all the worldly thoughts in the august presence of the Master, inwardly absorbing His words of wisdom. If by sitting close to fire we feel warmth and the proximity of a glacier gives a cold shiver, there is no reason why one should not be affected by the Divine Aura of a Master-Saint Whose radiation has an unimaginably long range.
1) Kabir : (1440 - 1518 A.D.) : A well known Indian Saint Who practiced and preached Surat Shabd Yoga.
2) Nanak : (1469 – 1539 A.D.) : Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion.;
3) Tulsi Sahib : (1763 – 1843 A.D.) : The Saint of Hathras. Original name : Sham Rao Hulkar, Crown Prince of Gwalior. He spurned the throne to practice meditation.
4) Swami Ji : (1818 – 1878 A.D.) : Swami Shiv Dayal Singh, the Great Saint of Agra. He revived the teachings of the Masters like Kabir and Nanak.
5) Baba Jaimal Singh : (1838 - 1903 A.D.) : The Master of Hazur Sawan Singh Ji Maharaj. He was a disciple of Swami Ji Maharaj.
6) [Gurbani : The sacred writings of the Sikh Masters.]
7) Guru Amar Das : (1479 - 1594 A.D.) : The third Sikh Guru.
8) Amir Khusro : (1255 - 1327 A D .) : A great mystic poet of India.
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