Seven Tests of the Guru
During the month of October 1971, Ananda Marga faced a crisis - both spiritual and organizational. A DMC was held in Calcutta. We were waiting for the evening General Darshan to begin. The procedure was that first Srimati Uma, the wife of Baba, would come out and give a spiritual talk. After that Baba would give His discourse. We used to call Baba's wife "Ma" gave her great respect.
That DMC night, Baba's Personal Assistant suddenly came with two or three other central workers and talked about the system of reporting. He started by talking about how Baba gave severe punishment to the workers. He severely criticized this as well as other aspects of Baba's organizational system. Then, he stunned all of us by announcing that Srimati Uma did not agree with Baba regarding several organizational issues, and that she and her son, Gautam, were leaving Him. After that startling announcement, Srimati Uma left with the dissenting group of dadas. This unbelievable drama happened right before us during that DMC night. We were shocked and speechless, thrown into utter confusion and did not know what to do.
As usual, Baba came for His general darshan after sometime. We were all very anxious to know directly from Baba what had happened. Baba was, however, completely calm, as if nothing had happened (the defection happened on DMC night itself). He gave His spiritual discourse and then left for His residence.
The next day, the DMC function passed peacefully without any incident. After the DMC, Baba remained in Calcutta for a few days. He then went to Patna, Bihar.
I was then a field worker of "Area East", which comprised the eastern part of India. In West Bengal and especially near Calcutta, there are many Ananda Marga units. All the Margiis of those units were very demoralized because of this incident, and especially because Baba's revered wife and son had left Him. They could not reconcile to this painfully unacceptable fact. It was very difficult for me to face the Margiis and to give a proper response to their numerous, disturbing questions. Nobody could or wanted to believe that the wife of our Guru, Lord Anandamurtiji, could have left Him and abandoned the organization. Personally, I also wondered how she could have left Baba. But the incident happened right in front of me. I had also seen Baba continue with His duties in a calm and serene manner, as if nothing had happened. Although I was hurt and confused I got some solace from the fact that the unfortunate incident did not affect Baba's composure in any way. It was, however, a very difficult time for me. Whenever I met the Margiis, they would ask me very penetrating questions about the incident which disturbed me, as I could not give adequate or convincing replies to them. I eventually became more and more agitated.
I could not take this anymore. The agony was unbearable. How could she have left Baba? Was she not God-realized? If she, as His wife, could not realize or understand His true nature, then how could we ever realize Him? Why was Baba not able to foresee this incident, and prevent it? If Baba is really Parama Purusa and knows everything, how could He have allowed this to happen?
These questions relentlessly swirled in my head. To make matters worse, the Margiis kept asking, "If Baba could not even control His own wife, then how can He control His disciples? How can He control the Universe? How can He create and establish a spiritual Mission? Were Srimati Uma and the others who left with her not doing their meditation regularly? And if they were, how could they have suffered this spiritual downfall, how could they have fallen from the spiritual path, and fallen so abysmally? If by doing sadhana there is no guarantee of remaining safely on the spiritual path, then why should we meditate?"
I became more and more perturbed, as I was unable to answer all those difficult, ruthlessly embarrassing questions. It was not only the Margiis who were seeking answers to those questions; I too was looking for appropriate answers to clear my confusion.
In this state of mental turmoil, a mysterious force somehow seemed to compel me to go to Patna to see Baba Himself, although my objective mind did not want to meet Him. In fact, I was rather angry with Baba for allowing these ugly circumstances to arise.
After arriving in Patna, I decided to eat a few hot puris and jalebi, which is a coiled orange-colored sweet, for breakfast. I thought I would first take some rest and a bath. Having completed these tasks, I would then meditate. This fact that I postponed my meditation until after all the other tasks, clearly indicated how confused I was. I did not inform anybody of my arrival, as I did not want to meet anyone at that time.
I bought the food and reached the building where the dadas stayed in Patna. For some reason, however, the moment I arrived there, I felt so uneasy that I had to take a bath. After the cold but refreshing bath I began to shiver. It was the month of November and winter had just arrived with its steely, cold wings. I tried to put my turban on, just to avoid the cold air.
While I was putting on the turban, the PA dada suddenly burst into the room and told me, "Baba is calling you right now." He simply pulled me into his jeep without giving me a chance to get ready.
On the way, while sitting in the jeep, I thought to myself how Baba knew that I had arrived in Patna only 40 minutes earlier? Who informed Baba of my arrival? In a short while we arrived at Baba's residence.
The moment we arrived, I heard Baba's bell ringing. PA dada immediately ran towards His room. As he opened the door, I saw Baba coming out with an extraordinarily beautiful, smiling and enchanting face. I prostrated before Him. Baba told me in a sweet voice, "Let's go for a walk."
Baba then entered the car. I followed shortly. I did not say anything but just sat in stoic silence next to Him. Although the physical distance between us was hardly a few inches, internally I felt a very great chasm between us. This was due to the endless questions which would not leave my mind, and which had in fact destroyed my peace of mind. I was afraid to look at Him. Baba was also silent during the journey. After sometime, the car came to an open road. The driver pulled over and stopped the car. Baba's bodyguard then opened the door. Baba got out and I followed suit.
We silently walked down the road, led by two volunteers. Baba's bodyguard walked next to Him, holding an umbrella over Him. I walked a little behind Baba. As we were walking, Baba suddenly turned His head and looked at me with a mysterious smile playing on His lips. Somehow, I internally felt Baba was very happy with me. That smile made me feel that, just like an X-ray, He was seeing everything in my mind. He looked so sweet, inexpressibly sweet. I felt slightly hopeful that He would answer all my burning questions. There is a rule that on any field walk with Baba, one should not ask Baba any question but only respond to His questions. At that time, I simply could not control myself and threw those rules to the wind. I burst out, saying, "Baba, those who left You, can they not come back?"
Baba did not answer my question. Instead, He replied by asking me a question, "Can you tell me what sadhana is?"
I replied, "It is a scientific process by which the unit mind can merge with the Cosmic Mind and finally with the Supreme Consciousness."
Baba nodded His head and said, "It is not like 2+2=4." I thought to myself, "I am an acarya and avadhuta. I have initiated so many people. I have always told people that sadhana is a spiritual science, just like 2+2=4. But now, Baba is telling something completely different."
Baba continued, "Suppose you climb a hill and fall down after a short distance. Nothing serious may happen. Perhaps, you will feel some pain or get a cut on some part of your body. But, if you climb a little higher and then fall down, then for sure you will incur a bigger injury. You may even break a bone in your arm or leg. Now, if you are at the top of the hill, very high up, and you fall down, you will certainly be seriously injured. You could even die."
Baba continued, "If you go for a walk, and fall down, you would just get up, brush off the dust and dirt from your clothes, and continue to walk. But if you ride a bicycle and fall, you are likely to get more hurt. If you fall from a motorcycle, you would incur more extensive injuries, even severe injuries. If you fall off a moving train, the injuries would be still worse. If you fall from a plane, you will surely die. But, if you fall from a rocket, it is possible that your body would not even land on this earth."
As I listened, the thought crossed my mind that Srimati Uma and the group of dadas who had defected may not even return as human beings, as the higher one goes in spirituality, the harder one falls. And it will take them a very, very long time to regain human status, so that they could continue on their spiritual journey. Their downfall is equivalent to falling from a rocket. Baba further explained that when one falls down spiritually, one might not know the actual cause. One might say this happened by chance or by accident. But everything that happens in this universe is incidental, not accidental. It is only due to our ignorance, our lack of knowledge and our lack of understanding that we do not know the cause of an event and, hence, refer to it as an accident.
I thought to myself, why is Baba telling me all these things? I only asked Him a simple question: would they return? But Baba's reply was completely off tangent. What was the connection between these persons who left the organization, and sadhana, climbing up hills, and falling from trains and planes? I was trying to understand the connection between these points and make sense of it.
As I was thinking these thoughts, Baba suddenly looked at me and signaled me to come beside Him. I moved up from behind Him to His left. Baba was in the middle. His bodyguard walked on His right side. Baba said, "I want to explain what sadhana is." He explained that there are two types of sadhana: one the vaedik system and the other the tantrik system. The vaedik system of sadhana does not mean any spiritual practice based on the Vedas. It refers to the systems of sadhana based on prayer. There is no practical process of meditation or other spiritual practices. There is no realization of the importance of Guru, there is no abhisheka, and no guarantee of liberation. Often, the goal of the vaedik system of spiritual practice is materialistic. Tantrik sadhana, on the other hand, is based on a practical system of meditation and spiritual realization. The Guru is of utmost importance. Abhisheka is an integral part of this system, and there is also a guarantee of salvation or liberation.
As Baba spoke, I became more confused. How did they experience a downfall from the spiritual path if the tantrik system guarantees liberation and salvation? I also did not know what "abhisheka" was. I had never heard this word before.
At that moment, Baba asked me, "Do you understand?" I wondered what to reply. Then, Baba said, "Look, when you get initiation, you are to take an oath first. Abhisheka means oath. You know, Lord Krsna took an oath from Yudhisthira. At the end of the Mahabharata war, Krsna requested Yudhisthira to vow, 'From this very moment, I take an oath that as king I will look upon all my subjects as my sons and daughters. I will take full responsibility for their all-round development'. Yudhisthira took this oath before Lord Krsna, sitting on a six-pointed star called the Bhaeravi cakra, which is now part of our pratik. This mystic symbol was carved in stone. This stone where they sat lies buried near what is now the Red Fort in New Delhi. If archaeologists were to explore the area, they would find that very stone. This is abhisheka. Without taking an oath sadhana is not possible. The moment you take an oath, the Guru immediately holds your hand."
Baba then demonstrated this to me by holding His left wrist in His right hand.
He continued, "The second part of a Tantrik oath is Guru daksina - the mental offering to Guru that is made at the end of initiation. And the moment you give Guru daksina, you catch the hand of your Guru."
Then, still holding His left wrist in His right hand, Baba caught hold of His right wrist with His left hand. "This creates a chain, " he said.
In this way, Baba demonstrated to me that when your hand catches the Guru, He simultaneously catches your hand, locking both hands in a loving bond. This is the starting point of sadhana.
Baba elaborated this point further. He said, "To do anything successfully, you need three things: confidence; utilizing material objects; and His grace. If you do any physical work such as cutting wood, you may or may not have faith in Him. It does not affect the outcome of your physical work. But the first two points must be very clear in your mind in order to be successful in that task. Suppose you want to drive a car. If you do not have confidence and if you do not know how to drive a car, then you cannot drive it. You may or may not have faith in Him. You may or may not have any special feeling for the Guru. It does not matter. But on the spiritual path, self-confidence and material objects are not very important. Guru krpa, the grace of the Guru, is the only thing spiritual aspirants need. Their path, from initiation to nirvikalpa samadhi, is called sadhana. For ordinary tasks, one must be confident of oneself and take the help of material objects. But in spirituality only one quality is needed - complete surrender to the Guru. One may know very detailed and difficult techniques of sadhana. One may have deep knowledge of the science of meditation. But this does not necessarily mean one will get any progress on the spiritual path. However, on the spiritual path, if one just surrenders to the Guru, one can get everything."
Baba continued, "This is the reason why the spiritual path is at once very simple and also very hard. This is the path of synthesis, not analysis. If you simply surrender to Him, He will take complete responsibility for you - be it at the mundane, physical, mental or spiritual level."
Baba further emphasized this point, "From the starting point of sadhana to the final destination, you will have to pass so many tests, so many examinations. On the spiritual path, there are seven types of tests for the disciple that will come at different points of their lives. Sometimes, spiritual aspirants may be aware of these tests. At other times, they may be totally unaware of them. These tests vary from person to person according to their samskaras, their state of mind, and their level of surrender. These tests may be mundane, physical, psychic, or spiritual tests. For this very reason, right after initiation a person may fall sick, incur financial losses, develop great clash with family members, or suffer other types of mental torture."
Baba said, "Suppose you are going to Delhi from Calcutta. He may put you in an ordinary train or He may put you in an air-conditioned coach. If it is air-conditioned, you may not be aware of the various stations as you pass by them. You may not realize the enchanting panorama of external phenomena, which may tempt spiritual aspirants. But, if it is an ordinary train, you will pass and see Patna, Varanasi, Allahabad, and so forth. Suppose the train arrives at Allahabad. You may decide to get off the train and buy some good-quality sweets and ripe guava. But the danger is the train may go on without you. So, the tests may come in a very ordinary way or in a very difficult way. It depends on the Guru which type of train He puts you on, according to your samskaras. Most sadhakas will face many problems, such as financial and health problems, loss of prestige, and opposition from friends and relatives."
Baba continued, "Normally, there are seven stages or types of tests." He used a particular word "nivedita prana", which means living only for Him. He said, nivedita prana means that not only have the disciples surrendered internally, they have also surrendered externally. They have surrendered to such an extent that even their breath and their very life force are controlled by the Supreme Lord. For those who have 'surrendered life and soul, ' the Guru decides everything in their life."
Then, Baba continued, "But, you know, the final test I will give Myself personally." He explained, "Do you know what the final test is? I will create doubt and confusion in the minds of disciples regarding the Guru. I will create such an atmosphere, such an environment, that the disciple loses all faith in the Guru."
When I heard this awesome proclamation I thought to myself what would be the capacity of a disciple to overcome such a difficult test. He may not have the capacity to understand or to realize it.
I became rather upset. I asked, "Baba, if You give this sort of test, how can a disciple possibly pass? I thought that as Sadguru, You guaranteed the success of those who follow You. The unit mind is very limited. Your test is so difficult that disciples may easily lose faith. They may be lost. They may fall down. This means that there is really no guarantee of salvation."
Baba immediately replied, "Don't worry. When I give this test, I also create an atmosphere that allows the disciple to pass. I will provide sufficient hints so as to protect the disciple. Both things I do simultaneously. The Guru cakra is only for the Guru. If anybody keeps Guru in the Guru cakra, the Guru will definitely protect that person." Baba said, "The persons who left, they were keeping another person in their Guru cakra in place of the Guru. That is why any type of Guru ninda or criticism or any betrayal of His commands is very dangerous for a sadhaka." Baba emphasized this point to me, "If anyone keeps Me in his Guru cakra, he will be protected by Me."
He then asked me, "Do you remember before this incident I gave so many DMCs in different places? Do you remember what I told the Margiis in all the DMCs? Although I talked on different topics, I basically repeated and explained one sloka everywhere:
Shriina'the ja'nakiina'the ca bheda Parama'tmanih
Tatha'pi mamah sarvashva srii Ra'ma kamalalocana."
Baba explained, "Narada and Hanuman were both devotees of God. One day Narada asked Hanuman, "Oh, Hanuman, why don't you take the name of Narayana?" Hanuman replied, "I know there is no difference between Rama and Narayana. Both are the names of Parama Purusa. But my Ista mantra is Rama. So I will only take the name of Rama." Baba said, "I said at all the DMC functions that your Ista is one, your Adarsha is one and the same. You are to move towards that One Entity alone."
Baba continued, "You see, so many devotees were there but only a few were affected. The Guru tells you that your Ista and Adarsha are one. Sometimes, doubts and confusion may arise in the minds of disciples. A disciple may think, "The Guru told us to open a new school, but I encountered so many obstacles and the school closed. Why? He told us to run for election, but we lost. Why is the organization struggling so much for lack of money?" If one tries to analyze such things intellectually, one will become completely frustrated. The Guru's advice, though, is always the same, "Be one with your Ista. Be one with your Ideology."
"If such doubts and frustrations arise in your mind, if you become mentally exhausted, then you may lose your grip on the hand of the Guru. But, the Guru will not let go of you. He will continue to carry you towards your goal. However, if the disciple says, "I don't believe in You any longer. You are not my Guru", only then will the Guru let go of the disciple's hand, and he will surely fall. So, whatever happens, don't ever leave your Guru. Do not foolishly try to use your limited mind to analyze the unlimited qualities of the Guru. He knows what is best for you, and He is always doing what is best for you. He will never let go of you if you believe in Him."
Baba explained that the tests He gives the Margiis are not too difficult. He said that if we were to study the history of tantra and realize the tests tantrik gurus gave to their disciples in the past, we would better understand this statement.
Then, Baba asked me, "Do you know how Krsna tested the pandavas? You just cannot imagine. He killed Barbarik, the grandson of Bhima (the second pandava), just before the war. Barbarik had boasted to Krsna, "I can finish the whole war in the twinkle of an eye." He even proved that he had the capacity to do this. Krsna, however, killed him due to his extreme arrogance. This was a terrible test for Bhima."
Baba said that Barbarik and many others whom Krsna killed before or during the Mahabharata war were powerful avidya tantriks who utilized their spiritual powers for their personal gain. They injected a fear complex in the society and oppressed the innocent people. Krsna, being the embodiment of Parama Purusa, was obliged to destroy them for the benefit of society and for the restoration of dharma.
I thought to myself how great Bhima's devotion was, that he survived this difficult test. Krsna was Dharma Guru - the Guru of Dharma, or righteousness. He was an ideal example for all humanity. Baba further said, "Krsna then got Bhisma killed (the grandfather of the pandavas and kaoravas) in a manner that was against the rules of war at that time. He killed Drona (the teacher of martial arts) in a deceitful way."
Baba explained how Lord Krsna tested Arjuna. When Karna's chariot wheel was stuck in the mud on the battlefield and he got down to lift it out of the mud, Krsna ordered Arjuna to kill Karna with his arrow at that very moment. Arjuna became terribly upset at this unjust instruction, and shouted at Krsna, "You are not my real friend and Guru. As my friend, You should not tell me to do the wrong thing. Yet, you told me to kill my grandfather, Bhisma, in a wrong manner, and my teacher, Dronacarya, also in a manner against the rules of war. I am a ksattriya, a warrior, and You are now instigating me to kill Karna in such a manner that violates the rules of war. This is against the dharma of a ksattriya."
Krsna calmly responded to this emotional outburst, "Am I to listen to philosophy from you on the battlefield? Here you should only fight. When you were young and the house prepared for you and your brothers caught fire, who saved you? When Bhima was poisoned and thrown in the river, who saved him? Who arranged your marriage to Draopadii? Who saved your wife, Draopadii, when she was humiliated and tortured, and Dushasan (one of the kaoravas) wanted to strip her naked in front of all the so-called religious, dharmic, moralist and senior persons - who saved her? Was all that in your capacity as a ksattriya? Can you remember a few days ago when the seven generals of the kaoravas killed your son, Abhimanyu? Was that according to the rules of war?"
Arjuna immediately realized his mistake, his error of judgement. Krsna's forceful arguments convinced Arjuna of His greatness. He subsequently regained full faith in Krsna and passed His test.
Baba stressed, "Krsna gave the pandavas so much torture, confusion, humiliation and suffering that you just cannot imagine!"
Then, Baba told another parable to further illustrate the tests of tantrik gurus and mentioned the names of three tantrik disciples - Upamanyu, Utanka and Aruni.
Upamanyu was ordered by his guru to take care of his cows. One day, the guru demanded that he stop drinking the milk from the cows, as he had not given him permission to do so. Following this instruction, Upamanyu drank only the foam of the milk at the top of the pot. His guru then ordered him to even stop taking the foam of the milk. He obeyed this instruction. To survive, he had to beg for food. After sometime, his guru ordered him not to beg for food from others. As he had full faith in his guru, Upamanyu obeyed this instruction as well. After sometime, as he could not bear his hunger, he ate some leaves, which caused him to go blind. As he walked about in this state of blindness, he accidentally stumbled and fell into an empty well.
Meanwhile, when the cows returned without Upamanyu, his guru went in search of him, and finally found him in a bad condition at the bottom of the well. His guru took pity on him, and from the top of the well, taught Upamanyu a special mantra that immediately cured his blindness. Upamanyu climbed out of the well and was immediately given initiation and spiritual realization by his guru. He had passed all the tests of his guru with flying colors.
Utanka was sent to live with his guru at the age of five years. He had to serve his guru until he was totally satisfied. In this way, he passed many years serving his guru. One day, Utanka accidentally tripped while carrying a load of wood. He fell near a stream. As he got up, he saw his reflection in the water and was shocked to see that his hair had turned grey with age. He then felt that he had wasted his entire life in manual service without any spiritual realization, and became deeply saddened. Immediately upon his return to the ashram, his guru initiated him and also gave him the divine experience of samadhi.
The guru of Aruni, meanwhile, ordered him to tend his fields. When a dike bordering the field burst open, Aruni blocked the gaping hole with his body. Remaining in that position to prevent the water from coming in, he finally lost consciousness. He lay there in the mud and water the whole night. In the morning, his guru went in search of him. After some time, he found him in that pitiable condition and nursed him until he recovered. When he recovered, he declared that Aruni had passed his test and that he was now ready for initiation into spiritual practice.
Baba explained that Ananda Marga's tantrik cult also included tests, which were administered in a different way. He explained that the most important elements of the tantrik cult were the tests prescribed by the Guru for the disciples, and the complete satisfaction of the Guru. He clarified that He too maintained these elements but had modified them in Ananda Marga's system of spiritual practice to suit the present conditions. In Ananda Marga it is very easy to get initiation. The tests only come later in life when various clashes and problems confront the spiritual aspirant to distract him from his practice. If he maintains the steadfastness of his spiritual practices after going through the grinding mill of life's crunching problems, the spiritual aspirant is finally graced with spiritual realization.
Baba elaborated, "When I catch your hand, it is My responsibility to take you to your final destination. If you do not follow My directives, it means that you have already removed your hand from Mine. However, I cannot remove My hand from yours. I have accepted you and will take you to your final destination, whether you follow my instructions or not. Whether you do or do not do sadhana, it doesn't matter. But the moment you say, 'I do not believe in You. I do not accept You as my Guru, ' then I will have to leave you."
Baba then posed two questions to me and answered them Himself: "What is the real meaning of sadhana? To satisfy the Guru is your sadhana. What is Guru puja? To carry out the Guru's orders is Guru puja."
Baba's lengthy and detailed explanations were very meaningful for me. All the questions that had previously confused and troubled me had now vanished like smoke. Baba's words were now very clear to me. I intuitively understood why He gave me the example of the hill and dropping from different heights and from different objects like the bicycle, motorcycle, train, plane and rocket. I also clearly understood why those people left Baba and what their fate would be. I now understood what the real meaning of my sadhana was. We may forget our allotted duties, but Parama Purusa never forgets His duty and responsibility towards us.
Walking next to Baba in that cold Patna morning, I cried blissful tears. I realized His intense love for me, how He removed the dark cobwebs of confusion from my mind and how He gently gave me a new insight into sadhana, emphasizing total surrender and dependence on the Guru.