The duty of a Shishya towards her/his Guru – a few verses from the Shankara Dig Vijaya

adishankara-and-four-disciples

श्री गुरुभ्यो नमः

Sri Gurubhyo Namaha

 

The following verses in this post are taken from the Shankara Dig Vijaya authored by Sri Madhava-Vidyaranya Swamin, the 12th Peethadhipati of the Sringeri Sharada Peetham. The Shankara Dig Vijaya gives the divya charitra, the divine biography, of Shankaracharya.

In this instance, Shankaracharya speaks these verses as a teaching to Mandana Mishra, who has just now taken Sanyaasa and would be known as Sureshwaracharya. It is a wonderful set of verses for all prospective serious Vedanta saadhakas that want to know what the responsibilities of a Shishya should be, what should be the attitude towards the Guru, etc.

Therefore I am recording it here, for my own sake and for those who may be interested. The translation is based on Swami Tapasyananda’s translation (published as “Sankara Dig Vijaya : The traditional life of Sri Sankaracharya”).

The verses culminate with Sri Sureshwaracharya submitting to Shankaracharya that he has been fulfilled by the instructions and teachings of the Guru (prior to these verses, Shankaracharya graces Sureshwaracharya with the teaching of Vedanta).

In the modern days it is consciously or unconsciously assumed that Advaita jnana or Atma jnaana can be attained by attending public lectures or discourses by popular Advaita teachers (sampradaayic or otherwise), by reading books on Advaita, by discussions with friends, by pursuing it as a hobby (i.e., amidst other responsibilities and diversions), meditative practices done in isolation, etc.

However the Shastra (Upanishad, the Bhagavad Gita, Brahma Sutra and all other Vedantic treatises) prescribes only one way for Advaita jnaana – renunciation of all other responsibilities and desires except that of jnaana, and surrender to a Guru.

Who is the “Guru” here?

The Shastras tell us that the Guru is one who is knowledgeable of the Shastras, the teaching method, and their import, and thus is fulfilled emotionally and has no desires for his own self. And further, a Guru is one whose interactions with the shishya is on the basis of  boundless and expectation-less compassion towards the shishya, reflected in His/Her desire  – “Let the shishya be happy always” (अधिगततत्त्वः शिष्यहिताय उद्यतः सततं , श्रोत्रियं ब्रह्मनिष्ठं).

The Shastra tells that a single-pointed physical and mental effort is necessary for achieving the goal of Atma jnana. To this end it prescribes sanyaasa or renunciation and surrender to Guru.

There are a number of verses in the Shastras that tell us how to approach a Guru, how to surrender, how to request the Guru for guidance, how to request the Guru for answers to one’s questions, etc. The following verses form part of that canon.

Sadgurosharanam,
Prasad.

___________

 

परिपक्वमतेः सकृच्छ्रुतम् जनयेदात्मधियं श्रुतेर्वचः।

परिमन्दमतेः शनैः शनैः गुरुपादाब्जनिषेवणादिना॥ १०-९५

paripakvamateḥ sakṛcchrutam janayedātmadhiyaṁ śrutervacaḥ|
parimandamateḥ śanaiḥ śanaiḥ gurupādābjaniṣevaṇādinā|| (10-95)

प्रणवाभ्यसनोक्तकर्मणोः करणेनापि गुरोर्निषेवणात्।

अपगच्छति मानसं मलं क्षमते तत्त्वमुदीरितं ततः॥ ९६

praṇavābhyasanoktakarmaṇoḥ karaṇenāpi gurorniṣevaṇāt |

apagacchati mānasaṁ malaṁ kṣamate tattvamudīritaṁ tataḥ || (96)

In a mind that has reached the perfection of purity, this truth dawns on the very first
hearing of the Vedic sentences relating to it.

But in those in whom ignorance is thick, it dawns only gradually through a series of preparatory disciplines like the service of the Guru, meditation on the Pranava, and the performance of duties laid down for the Sannyasin. 

These will remove the impurities of the mind, and then will take place the
awakening into the consciousness of Non-duality. 

मनोऽनुवर्तेत दिवानिशं गुरौ गुरुर्हि साक्षाच्छिव एव तत्त्ववित्।

निजानुवृत्त्या परितोषितो गुरुर्विनेयवक्त्रं कृपया हि वीक्षते॥ ९७

mano’nuvarteta divāniśaṁ gurau gururhi sākṣācchiva eva tattvavit|

nijānuvṛttyā paritoṣito gururvineyavaktraṁ kṛpayā hi vīkṣate|| (97)

The Guru is verily Siva. Throughout your day and night, act according to His mind. When he is pleased with the disciple who follows His instructions, He will bestow his grace on him.

सा कल्पवल्लीव निजेष्टमर्थं फलत्यवश्यं किमकार्यमस्याः।

आज्ञा गुरोस्तत्परिपालनीया सामोदमानीय विधातुमिष्टा॥ ९८

sā kalpavallīva nijeṣṭamarthaṁ phalatyavaśyaṁ kimakāryamasyāḥ|

ājñā gurostatparipālanīyā sāmodamānīya vidhātumiṣṭā|| (98)

The instructions of the Guru, when followed, bestows all the fruits that one truly desires for. There is no worthwhile achievement that is not guaranteed by the following of the Guru’s words. [Therefore], follow the instructions of the Guru. What is utmost desirable for one is obtained by this. 

गुरूपदिष्टा निजदेवता चेत्कुप्येत्तदा पालयिता गुरुः स्यात्।

रुष्टे गुरौ पालयिता न कस्चिद् गुरौ न तस्माज्जनयेत कोपम्॥ ९९

gurūpadiṣṭā nijadevatā cetkupyettadā pālayitā guruḥ syāt|

ruṣṭe gurau pālayitā na kaścidgurau na tasmājjanayeta kopam|| (99)

Even if the Deity whom you adore is angry with you, the Guru can save you, but if the Guru is angered, there is none who can. Therefore, do not act in such a way as to invoke anger in the Guru.

पुमान्पुमर्थं लभतेऽपि चोदितं भजन्निवृत्तः प्रतिषिद्धसेवनात्।

विधिं निषेधं च निवेदयेत्यसौ गुरोरनिष्टच्युतिरिष्टसम्भवः॥  (१००)

pumānpumarthaṁ labhate’pi coditaṁ bhajannivṛttaḥ pratiṣiddhasevanāt|

vidhiṁ niṣedhaṁ ca nivedayetyasau guroraniṣṭacyutiriṣṭasambhavaḥ || (100)

Man seeks the Supreme ends of life-Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. He is to seek this, avoiding the forbidden acts (nishedha) and observing the commandments (vidhi). It is the Guru who gives these prohibitions and commandments, and it is he who removes
the undesirable and evil, and bestows that which is good and desirable.

आराधितं दैवमिष्टमर्थं ददाति तस्याधिगमो गुरोः स्यात्।

नो चेत्कथं वेदितुमीश्वरोऽयमतीन्द्रियं दैवतमिष्टदं नः॥ (१०१)

ārādhitaṁ daivamiṣṭamarthaṁ dadāti tasyādhigamo guroḥ syāt|

no cetkathaṁ veditumīśvaro’yamatīndriyaṁ daivatamiṣṭadaṁ naḥ|| (101)

Through adoration [to Dharma and to the Lord], the Lord bestows blessings on the votary. It is the Guru who enlightens one as to how this adoration is to be done. Otherwise, how can man come to know the Deity who transcends the senses?

तुष्टे गुरौ तुष्यति देवतागणो रुष्टे गुरौ रुष्यति देवतागणः।

सदाऽऽत्मभावेन सदात्मदेवताः पश्यन्नसौ विश्वमयो हि देशिकः॥ (१०२)

tuṣṭe gurau tuṣyati devatāgaṇo ruṣṭe gurau ruṣyati devatāgaṇaḥ|

sadā”tmabhāvena sadātmadevatāḥ paśyannasau viśvamayo hi deśikaḥ|| (102)

If the Guru is pleased, all the deities are pleased. So also, if the Guru is displeased,
all deities are displeased. For, the Guru is all encompassing, and thus encompasses the deities also, since He is one with all of them in the light of the nature of the Atman which enlivens all. 

एवं पुराणगुरुणा परमात्मतत्त्वं शिष्टो गुरोश्चरणयोर्निपपात तस्य।

धन्योऽस्म्यहं तव गुरो करुणकटाक्षपातेन पातिततमा इति भाषमाणः ||

evaṁ purāṇaguruṇā paramātmatattvaṁ śiṣṭo guroścaraṇayornipapāta tasya|

dhanyo’smyahaṁ tava guro karuṇakaṭākṣapātena pātitatamā iti bhāṣamāṇaḥ ||

Having thus received instruction on the nature of the Atman, the disciple [Sureshwaracharya] prostrated himself before Sankara and said, “O great teacher! By your grace, ignorance has been dispelled, and I have become blessed.”

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