Updated: Jul 10
Guru (Sanskrit: गुरु) from gu (darkness), and ru (light), is the one who guides others from darkness to light.
India has been a land of knowledge seekers. These seekers have not been looking for knowledge about their livelihood but about the truth of life, other things being its byproducts. Once these seekers (yogis) understand the truth of life they understand the creator and its creation. And when that stage comes where they understand the creation these enlightened souls seize being a part of the creation but become the creator himself (Brahma). This is the path suggested by the Vedas. This is the path suggested by all the Yogis. This is the path suggested by Krishna and Shiva. And this is the path suggested by all the Gurus.
Who is a Guru?
Gurus have a status higher than even the gods, in our culture, for a reason that a god may fulfil your desire but what has to be desired is taught by a guru. A god can bless you with his divine presence but how to be worthy of that status is taught by a guru. A god can only grant but what to seek, how to attain what you seek, and how to sustain what you have attained are all taught by a guru.
A guru is not someone who always would only teach but he is someone who would make his disciples capable of learning on their own. He who helps in the liberation of his disciple is a guru. He who can take care of his disciple as a mother is a guru. He who can protect a disciple like a father is a guru.
Being a guru is not a mere ‘teaching job’ as is perceived in these modern days as it is a lifelong commitment to not only problem solving but also to being a guiding torch. A guru is not just a ‘subject expert’ as again (mis)understood these days, but he is a life coach capable of solving troubles of any nature. A guru is someone who can separate truth from the facts as he himself has seen the truth. Krishna in Geeta (4.34) says:
तद्विद्धि प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया | उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं ज्ञानिनस्तत्त्वदर्शिन: || 34||
tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśhnena sevayā upadekṣhyanti te jñānaṁ jñāninas tattva-darśhinaḥ
#Learn the Truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him with reverence and render service unto him. Such an enlightened Saint can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the Truth.#
Thus he who is a yogi can be a true guru.
Yogis of this Yug
Krishna had Rishi Sandipani as his guru who advised him to do Kriya Yog Sadhna. Rishi Vasistha was a guru to Ram who taught him many siddhis. Surya was a guru to Hanuman and Parshuram was a guru to Karna. Even Krishna became a guru to Arjun in the great war of Kurukshetra and Ram taught Nav-vidya bhakti to Shabri.
Ancient gurus including Vishwamitra, Ved Vyas, Valmiki and many others have been helping the mankind in their search for truth but they made their divine presence felt long ago and Kali Yug, including these modern times, looks devoid of any such beings that could be called as gurus. The great thinkers of the past carved a tough testing path for not only someone to be worthy enough being called as a guru but also for someone who wants to be a seeker, a student. And thus it requires a clear mind and a pure soul to identify a guru and get the blessings of a true one. However improbable it might look India has continued its run with great humans that have enlightened the worthy seekers with their divine grace and their presence can be felt till date.
Lahiri Mahasaya (1828 – 1895)
He was a direct disciple of the great Mahavatar Babaji and was initiated into Kriya Yog at the age of thirty-three. Lahiri Mahasaya was a different kind of yogi as he was married and had kids. Also, he worked as an accountant in the then British India Government. Yogananda Paramhansa in his book Autobiography of a Yogi has mentioned Lahiri Mahasaya as an ‘Ideal Yogi householder’ and also called him as a Yogavatar.
It is believed that it was Lahiri Mahasaya who got Sai Baba of Shirdi initiated into Kriya Yog. He had many disciples and some were quite advanced including Swami Yukteshwar Giri.
Lahiri Mahasaya was a Kriya Yog master and had taught the same to a many, irrespective of caste, creed, gender or religion. Yet he maintained a very individual and personal approach towards his disciples.
Being initiated into Kriya Yog by a Guru, Lahiri Mahasaya strongly believed in the ‘Guru-Shishya’ Parampara and he would advise people to completely surrender to their guru. He would say ‘Without surrender nothing can be derived from the guru’.
Neem Karoli Baba (1900 – 1973)
He was a great Himalayan saint who was also a devotee of Lord Hanuman. He was a mystic who could foresee happenings and also had many ‘siddhis’ (cosmic powers). There are numerous documented accounts of him curing people of dire ailments and protecting his followers of any impending trouble. He became popularly known as ‘Miracle Baba’.
There is an incident where Maharaj ji (a name with which he was called before becoming famous as Neem Karoli Baba) boarded a train to go to a nearby city to have food but as he did not have a ticket he was asked to get off. Maharaj ji went and sat under a tree nearby but it so happened that when the train was started to continue its journey it did not budge. Several attempts were made, even a new engine was attached to the train but nothing happened. A local magistrate who knew of Maharaj Ji suggested the railway officials to offer food to the saint and request him to board the train again. Quite reluctantly the officials did so and to everyone’s astonishment, the train restarted. The station where he was asked to get off was Neem Karoli and that’s how he got the name.
Many Americans travelled to India around the 60s and 70s to become his followers. This included Steve Jobs. Mark Zuckerberg also visited his ashram in Kanchi, Nainital.
Neem Karoli Baba followed Bhakti Yoga spreading the message of love and truth.
Shri M (1948 – present)
He is a living yogi of the Himalayan lineage. Born into a Muslim family Shri M had been having visions of his divine guru, Shri Maheshwarnath Ji since his childhood. Shri M mentioned his encounters with the divine soul Mahavatar Babaji in his books. Mahavatar Babaji is believed to be more than two thousand years old and he been mentioned by a few other Himalayan yogis including Paramhansa Yoganand. Shri M also mentioned meeting Neem Karoli Baba among few other Himalayan masters. In one of his books Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master, Shri M has also mentioned a detailed account of his meeting with Sai Baba of Shirdi where Sai Baba was in his physical form.
Shri M left his home on his quest for truth at a young age of 19 and during his entire journey through the Himalayas, he had many mystical experiences. He was initiated into the ‘Kriya Yoga’ and he belongs to the Nath sampradaya of Yogis.
In 2011 he was featured in a documentary called ‘The Modern Mystic’. He was advised by his Guru to come down to the plains and teach others the ‘Yogic’ Path. He continues teaching his yogic methods to the modern-day seekers.
About Kriya Yog
It is an ancient yogic method to attain self-realization with the help of advanced breathing techniques. However, it was well guarded by its masters for thousands of years until Mahavatar Babaji (a saint believed to be living for around two thousand years) chose Lahiri Mahasaya to restart the initiation process of Kriya Yog. Lord Krishna himself has mentioned Kriya Yog in his ‘Gita updesh’ to Arjun.
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