Guru Bhakti – A Lesson in Love
The devotion to and the Love of the Master are synonymous terms. Love is all-comprehensive and it knows only service and sacrifice.
Guru Gobind Singh while speaking of His own descent on the earth plane says:
Having merged in the Lord, I did not like to come down again into this mundane world, but was prevailed upon by God to do so – for the Spiritual Welfare of humanity.
When loving devotion is at its highest, nothing remains of the individual self for it becomes universalised and all pervading.
My heart is so filled with the Love of the Lord, that I cannot think of myself apart from Him.
We have, therefore, to rid ourselves of the personal ego for it stands between us and God.
The True Lord is attained by Gurubhakti.
This is the way that He comes to dwell in us, absorbing the mind in Him. The main object of all Spiritual Practices and Disciplines is that we should develop Gurubhakti or devotion to the Guru which, of course, grows out of Love. This is why all Saints and Sages laid great stress on cultivating Love.
Guru Gobind Singh says:
What does it profit to close the eyes and sit stork-like with folded wings; and to take dips in the seas of the world, gaining nothing here and hereafter; and while travelling in a sense pleasures waste time in useless disputations. Verily, I tell thee, listen all if ye may, they alone get to the Lord who know how to love.
Similarly, John in His first Epistle says:
He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is Love.
Again, in the Holy Koran we have:
A loving man cannot do without a beloved.
It is in fact the beloved that teaches the lover the art of Love and enables him to progress steadily on the Path of Love. As God is Love so is the human soul a particle of Divine Love. The essence of Love is at the core of all creations and more so in man. Man is he who has in him feelings of loving sympathy. What is it that characterises a Sage or a Saint?
He is a cup bubbling over with the Love of God, His proximity quickens in us the life of Love.
As Light comes from Light and life from life, so does Love come from Love. Love does not grow in fields nor can it be had from a shop but we may catch its infection from the Love laden eyes of a lover of God. There are some people who are fondly in love with the pleasures of the world and care not for the next. Then there are others who are carried away by hopes of a paradisal bliss. But those who love the Lord share the things that in reality really matter far better than either of them. Love ignites in us the flame of the Living Light or the Light of Life.
What type of that Love is:
Meeting the God intoxicated soul I enquired about the nature of Divine Love, the only reply was that in its fullness it could not be described. The flaming Love of the Lord cannot be kept under a bushel, one may not open one’s mouth but tearful eyes belie and shed tears involuntarily. A heart devoid of Love is a charnel-house. An iron monger’s bellows which breathes without the breath of life.
Humility, simplicity, devotion and courtesy are great virtues, but he alone is great who observes decorum with all.
Decorum or propriety is the core of the True Living which ranks almost as high as Truth itself. We must love all, respect all and be courteous to all, which we seldom do. We generally play double-faced like Janus and apply double standards in all our dealings. Our head and heart do not work in unison nor do our acts and words exhibit the same pattern.
Guru Nanak says:
Humility tinged with sweetness, oh Nanak, is the essence of all virtues.
It is from the abundance of heart that tongue speaketh and unless there is a sweetness in the folds of our mind, we cannot speak sweetly. All the sages therefore speak of Love as the only way of salvation.
Guru Nanak pointedly tells us:
Beauty, lineage, prowess, learning and riches are of no avail, endowed with all these but devoid of Love of the Lord, one is as good as dead.
How can we get the wealth of Love? It comes to the elect of the Lord and He showers it in abundance on whomsoever He pleases. The worldly wise entombed in mind and matter can hardly aspire to it and do not get it.
Once princess Zaibul-Nisa went to Sarmad and requested him for the rare boon of God’s Love.
Oh Sarmad, the burning passion of Love is not granted to the avaricious, nor the moth’s Love for the flame, to flies that hover round filth. It takes ages to get revelation of the Lord in one’s mind, oh Sarmad, this wealth is not doled out to all and sundry.
Now the question of questions is: Whom should we love? As love is the law of life, we cannot do without loving one thing or the other. We bestow all our love on the world and all that is of the world, the wife and children, the riches and possessions. But all these objects of the world betray us at one stage or another and leave us rueful sooner or later. We must love something which may be eternal so that our Love is not falsified. The former is not Love in the strict sense of the word but blind infatuation commonly known as attachment. Why not then find something worthy of our Love and which can befriend us both here and hereafter? In this context, I place before you a small hymn of Kabir so that we may understand the subject better.
We must love One Who will not leave or forsake us till the end.
He alone is worthy to be loved who will stand by us in all the vicissitudes of life on the earth plane and lead us into the beyond before the judgement seat of God.
Oh Nanak! snap all ephemeral ties of worldly relations and find the company of True Saint, the former shall break away in this very life, while the latter shall abide with thee even after death.
The friends and relations in the world, howsoever near and dear they may be, do not stand by through thick and thin. Some of them leave off in poverty and indigence, some in prolonged illness and disease and some in adverse circumstances and misfortune. At the most, a few may help you to the funeral pyre and that is all. The friendship of a Saint is everlasting. He abides forever and forever and even stands by to help you before the judgement seat of God.
When in affluence all flock around thee and feed thy vanity, with the turn in fortune all fly away and none comes near.
Even the most sincere stand by helplessly when you are at death’s door and gasping for breath. When they see you fighting and losing the battle against death and helplessly struggling for life, all that they can do is to pray to God to relieve you from the tortuous agony of the last moments. What else can they possibly do?
Serve the True Master and develop the Holy Word. The Master receives at death those who have done their best to follow Him.
We should, therefore be the doer of the Word and practise It day and night. It is the comforter of which Christ spoke. It helps us in diverse ways when we are helpless in death’s trap or in treacherously odd situations. It materialises in the likeness of the Master to advise and encourage us, no matter where we may be, on the snowy mountain tops, in the burning desert sands, down in the ocean depths or high up in the sky. And again, when one is in the last moments of one’s life, It appears in the Radiant Form of the Master to escort the soul into the beyond, leads the spirit gradually from plane to plane, as and when He thinks fit, until He conducts you safely to the abode of God.
My Master used to say that a Satguru while revealing the Holy Word at the time of initiation, actually reveals His True Form – Shabd Swarup –, which always remain with the initiated soul till both merge in Sat Naam, the primal manifestation of God, Who then helps the soul to Agam – the incomprehensible –, Alakh – the ineffable – and Anaam – the Nameless, without form and attributes. It is because of this momentous and signal service and sacrifice of an Eternal Nature that we are advised to cultivate Love for One Who loves us eternally and befriends us both here and hereafter.
Maulana Rumi, speaking of this Love, tells us:
Love is different form sensuality in men for sense feed upon the objects of senses, and thrive upon the food we take.
Thus we see that Love is something sublime and sacred and should not be confused with lust which is the outcome of base desires and sensual appetites. It is Love of the soul for the Oversoul, or of the created being for the creator. How then can we come by Love is the next question.
Love neither grows in the field nor is sold in the market, even the high and the mighty who aspire for Love have to pay for it with their head.
Love is the zest of life for we live by the Love of the Lord.
Guru Amar Das has said:
Accursed is the man whose heart is bereft of Love.
Love is the Light of Life in which we live. What does it avail to have a human birth if we know not what Love is and make the most of it? We must taste the blessings of Love and be really blessed. That is the whole purpose of human existence. But what do we do? All the time we are busily engaged in doing things on the plane of duality and are lost not only to God but also to our own True Self forgetful of our essentially Divine Nature. Is there no remedy then? The reply is: Yes, there is a remedy:
The Love for a Godman inspires Love for God.
If you love One Who is Truth Personified, He will surely pass on His infection to you. This is the way to be inspired with the Love of the Divine. Live in the divinely awakened and you will live in the Divinity. Hence the supreme need for cultivating Love, the Life-Principle that will abide with you for ever and ever.
Without Love, the mercurial nature of man finds no rest.
Tossed in the seas of senseless pleasures, we have lost our mooring and are drifting rudderless along the stream of time. Until we find some safe anchorage, a haven of peace, we are ever a prey to chance winds and storms of life as it is. Every day we see strife and struggle everywhere, clashes in households, men set against men, tribe against tribe, and country against country. Why all this pother about? Because of the lack of loving understanding, of loving toleration for the views of others. In spite of our man made artificial barriers – national, linguistic, religious and political – are we not members of one great family of man. So long as we do not rise above these petty, racial and clannish prides and prejudices, which have bogged and clouded our vision, we cannot gain access to the bright sunshine of loving unity and have peace within and without. And this will be possible only when we rest our soul in the causeless cause.
St Augustine tells us:
Thou hast created my soul, oh God, after Thee and it is restless until it rests in Thee.
During my second world tour I had an opportunity of meeting national, religious and political leaders in various countries and I placed before them the principle of live and let others live, and it had a chastening effect on them. I told them that God had put under their care and protection millions of His children and if they could not, for one reason or another, take proper and adequate interest in them, they should pass over a part of their burden to others. This line of thought appealed to them and at one or two places where relations had almost reached the breaking point better counsels prevailed by Divine Grace.
Love works as a great healing balm in the affairs of the world. In our households if we could make use of a sweet tongue we would have paradise on earth. A sword-cut may get well in a few days but the wound caused by a sharp tongue festers all the while like a running sore. The more one ruminates on the bitter words, the more do they rankle in the mind.
The great epic of Mahabharatha war was the outcome of just a few bitter words uttered inadvertently by Draupadi10. When the Kauravas visited the queen’s palace, at one place the glittering surface of the courtyard looked like ripples of water. Naturally, they pulled up their nether clothes. Thereupon, Draupadi facetiously remarked that the children of a blind progenitor could not but see things blindly. The result was a great homicidal war in which the most ancient culture and civilisation of Bharat came virtually to an end.
This weakness for faultfinding and sarcasm has unfortunately become a common feature of the present day society. We are keenly alive to a mole in others eyes, but cannot see a beam in our own eyes. We try to be clever in making allusions and speaking in oblique terms. This in fact is a very nasty habit for it deeply hurts others feelings.
I would suggest you all – old and new initiates – to maintain introspection diaries and at the close of each day make a note of all your failings during the day from the path of rectitude, viz., truthfulness, purity, straight-forwardness, non-injury, selfless service and the like. In this way you will know your faults easily and try to eradicate them one by one. It will also enable you unwittingly to cultivate corresponding virtues on all levels – in thought word and deed. Ahimsa parmo dharma or non-injury is the highest of all virtues. If you have Love in your heart for all, you will not then try to deceive any person for in doing so you will in the first instance be deceiving yourself. Far from this you will try to be of service to others. Service you know, comes before self and becomes sanctified by being selfless. All these are aids in purifying the mind and the more the mind gets purified, the more it is fitted to receive the Light of Truth and the more you will be able to radiate It in your acts and deeds. I have always insisted on keeping such a diary.
A seer of Truth can lead you to Truth, and from death can take you to Life Eternal.
This then is the purpose of the prayer that the ancients were never tired of repeating time and again:
Oh God, lead me from darkness to Light, from untruth to Truth and from death to immortality.
And now we have seen how we can make this time-hallowed and time-honoured prayer fruitful.
He who links you with the Power of God take Him verily to be God.
For who else but God can lead you to God? That is profound Truth and you can verify it for yourself when by mighty good fortune you find a Godman or a Godman picks you up, for we all are engaged in the game of blindman’s buff:
Satguru Himself is doubtlessly the immaculate One, despite the human garb in which He appears.
Godman is but Godlike in spite of the human cloak He wears.
In crystal clear words Maulana Rumi declares:
When you approach a Godman, you approach God and when you move away from Him you are farther from God.
Why? Because Godman is a deputy of God Himself on the earth plane. When we sit near a Living Master with a vacant mind, we are filled with His Divine Vibrations which penetrate through the very pores of our body. This is the sign of His greatness and goodness. It is very rarely that we get a Real Satsang, i.e., by a really God-intoxicated person. If we do get an opportunity, we hardly take full advantage of it. Unless we go to Satsang with faith and receptivity, we do not feel the effect of the radioactive rays that emanate from His person. When even a stone lying in water gets the cooling effect of water, there is no reason why a person, howsoever ignorant he may be, should not get intoxicated in the presence of a Divine Being. He will surely breathe the exhilarating fragrance of the Satguru provided his mind is blank – free from worldly preoccupations. A Living Master is Word made flesh and the atmosphere around Him is highly charged with Spiritual Vibrations with the result that one begins to feel their effect and experience blissful calm within. Once one tastes this, one grows indifferent to all the pleasures of the world.
After all there must be some specific Spiritual Gain in the company of a Saint that all the scriptures of the world have spoken so highly of the value of Satsang and its necessity for progress on the Spiritual Path. But a Guru must be a Perfect Guru and not a half prophet laying claim to the whole Truth. It is not a matter of acting or posing but one of revelation of the Life-Principle within. The bitter experience of fake masters compel the people to disown even the greatness of the Real Teachers and they prefer scriptures to direct experience. Once bitten, twice shy. But without the aid of a really Perfect Master, there is no way out for a soul to escape form the shackles of mind and matter in order to enter into Spiritual Realms beyond, to regain the Kingdom of God now and to enjoy Life Eternal. Love of, and obedience to such a Master unlocks the portals of Heaven and the soul is lead by the ever-loving spouse and Radiant Guru Dev safely from plane to plane and becomes eternally united with the Satguru – Sat Naam or Sat Purush, the True One:
As the water of a river in spite of the enclosing banks remains water, so does the power of God manifests at a Human Pole as Truth itself.
Guru and Satguru are but synonymous terms being just two phases of reality. Outwardly, He is a Guru for imparting Spiritual Instructions to the disciples, but inwardly He is a Satguru for in Him is working manifestly the power of Sat or Truth. He is in brief Word made flesh and dwells among us for revealing to man the lifelines within each individual:
Oh Lalo! I speak nothing on my own, I open my mouth only at His bidding.
A Guru is One Who has become the mouthpiece of God. The devotion to the Guru then is the first stage in Spirituality and it consists in implicit acceptance of His commandments.
If you love me follow my commandments,
was the exhortation of Christ to His followers.
When you come across a Real Guru forget everything else and listen attentively to what He says and even if you do not fully understand His language, it does not matter much. His radiations will of itself have a soothing effect on you. His magnetic rays have an unimaginably long range. If you sit quietly and listen, it will be to your benefit. Try to live up to what you hear, your life will take a change for the better.
The sage Lukman used to say:
When you go to a Saint sit quietly before Him and listen attentively to what He says on His own.
But do we do so? We keep talking either with others or keep interrupting the Saint by useless questions, with the result that we return empty handed.
Today we are celebrating the birth anniversary of Hazur (Sawan Singh Ji Maharaj). It would, therefore, be a befitting tribute to His memory if you resolve to make your life a continuous saga of Love and service – Love of the Lord and service of His creation. As you have not yet come face to face with the God, then for the time being you try to develop Love for One in Whom the Power of God is working for the good of humanity. The first step in this direction is to do what He directs you to do:
There is no difference between the Satguru and His words.
We must learn to believe and have faith in what He says. Now that we are sitting in the sweet remembrances of Hazur, it will be a great day for us, if we resolve to turn over a new leaf in our lives. For this purpose we must maintain a Spiritual Diary. It will enable us to introspect. At present we are unable to see the foibles lying hidden in the depths of our minds. But when you try to plumb the unconscious you will gradually be able to see them on the surface, at first in trickles and then in torrents.
Oh mind, learn to love the Lord and love Him yet more.
This is what Kabir has said. In the same vein we have the words of Jesus:
Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy soul and with all thy strength.
Love thy neighbour as thyself.
Asked as to what should be the Christian attitude towards wrongdoers, He declared:
Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you; that you may be the children of your Father in Heaven.
[St Matthew 5:44-45
St Luke 6:27,35]
Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father Which is in Heaven is perfect.
[St Matthew 5:48]
This then constitutes the Love in the teachings of all the Great Sages from time immemorial and it shall eternally remain the same. They all exhort us to mould our life on these lines. Courtesy does not cost you anything. All the time we are malevolently concerned with what others say and do. The world would be much better if we could stop involving ourselves in the saying and doings of others. Again, we do not confine our mistakes to ourselves, but all the time busily sprinkle folly among our neighbours with the result that we get from them hundred-fold in return. What good does it bring after all?
On a day like this, I repeat with all the emphasis at my command that Hazur was a veritable Ocean of Love; and we should and must, if we love Him, learn afresh our lesson in Love, by following in His footsteps by diligently working at the Spiritual Practices that He gave out for our uplift. By withdrawing Himself from the physical plane He has not forsaken us for His godly Power in its full radiance still sustains within and He is, more keenly than ever before, waiting at the focus of our being to help and guide us.
God is not sitting on some throne in Heaven. He is enthroned in the heart of each one of us. We must, therefore, learn to love and serve our fellow beings in distress and suffering.
God Himself has declared:
I love him who loves My created beings.
This is the great lesson that Hazur taught us in the first instance and if we put it into practice in our every day life, His Grace shall most surely descend and help us in our Spiritual Progress.
Let us see what Kabir says:
Poor Kabir, from his life-long experience cannot help reflecting again and again, self-effacement is the only way that will take you to God and to your Eternal Home in Heaven.
Kabir says that the only way to salvation lies through Love. It is by Love that you rise above self and become selfless. Without transcendence of the self – the ego – in us, the Light of God does not dawn. When you are charged with the Love, Love of God in man, you cross over from stage of duality to oneness. How can we go to the fount of Divine Love? Love can be imbibed from the love-laden heart of some God-inspired soul.
In a few words, Kabir has provided us with the Master-key that unlocks the doors of Heaven, find out a Godman and learn from Him the secret of Love. Try to understand what He says and then diligently practise His teachings. He commands you to be chaste and clean in thought, word and deed and to cultivate Love for all that exists by that Love of God. As God is not separate from His creation, you will see the spirit of God enlivening the entire universe. You will not then feel isolated from the world. Your little self, now cramped within the human mind, will expand, become universalised and embrace the totality of all beings.
This is the secret of success on God’s Path. There is no other short-cut to it. Try to be true to your own self and then you will not be untrue to anyone. Alongside do Bhajan and Simran – sit in sweet remembrance of the Lord with rapt attention –, make it a point to give daily nourishment to the soul as you do to the body. This is the Love of which Kabir has given us a description in a few words. Mere lip-service and acrobatic feats will not do.
I would explain my point by means of a parable of two gardeners.
A king had a fine orchard which was entrusted to the care of two gardeners. One of them was hard-working and would silently go about his job tending to the trees and flowers with due care and attention, keeping them in proper trim. The other was lazy but had a glib tongue and strong lungs. Whenever the king would visit the garden, the former would just pick up a few flowers and humbly present them to his royal Master, while the other who did nothing would jump about and dance before the Master and sing of the Master’s virtues, deportment and clothes.
Now whom would the king like? You can give the answer yourself. Certainly, the one who applied himself to his work diligently and honestly without making any fuss. Similarly, the all-knowing Master looks to your inner most intentions, the sincerity of purpose in you and honesty of efforts you make in following His commandments and bestows on you the gift of His Spiritual Wealth according to your merits.
Kabir concludes His hymn with teaching following memorable words:
He who gives precedence to the Guru over everything else and religiously follows His teachings, oh Kabir, such a person has nothing to fear in all the three regions.
There are three mind zones or mental regions in which the embodied soul moves up and down in the giant wheel of life propelled by the compulsive karmic force: the physical, the subtle and the causal, with no easy way of escape therefrom.
Kabir tells us of a way-out through the kindly Grace of some Master-Soul that can lead a Jiva unscathed from these into the beyond, the purely Spiritual Realm – Sach Khand or Muqam-i-Haq of the Muslim or the Garden of Eden – New Jerusalem – of the Christians. The Master is the Greatest Gift of God to mankind.
Hazur used to tell us that we refrain from any evil act in the presence of a child of even five years. But, strange as it may seem, we have not even as much regard for the King of Kings – the all-knowing Master Who knows even the innermost latencies of our mind. We shamelessly indulge in things which no sane person would do in the false belief that no one is looking at us. We must at all times remember that the Master in His subtle form is ever with us and watching all our deeds. Be careful to avoid misdeeds and misdemeanours at all costs. And last but not the least we should in no wise transgress the limitations imposed by Him and pledge on this blessed day positively to follow His instructions with a rededicated zeal. Please make a careful not of all these things so that you may live in peace and be really blessed.
9) Hafiz : Hafiz Shirazi : A well-known mystic poet of Persia.
10) Draupadi : Wife of Pandava prince Arjun of the Mahabharata epic.
The texts hosted under the Button ‚Sat Sandesh‘ are transcripts of the texts published in the original, official Sat Sandesh booklets.
These texts – as they are, for example, Satsangs published also in books or otherwise – can diverge from the versions published elsewhere.