Image Above: An Icon of Sant Surswami. Photo taken at the Sant Tulsi Sahib Mandir (Ashram) located in Hathras, India.
The Role of the Master is to Bring Us Into the Direct Experience of God
Those part of fundamentalist sects, competing new age and secularist/materialist ideologies, or those perhaps not fully acquainted with the nuances of Indian spirituality may have all sorts of misunderstandings about the role of the Living Master or Sant Satguru, imagining him or her to be seeking to divert attention away from God or eclipsing God by placing themselves between the soul and God. However, the reality is quite the opposite. The definition of the guru is “Light-giver”.
In the classic Sant Tradition of India, which is my spiritual path, the Sant Satguru guides souls into a direct and personal experience of the Divine here and now by teaching students to adopt the necessary methods of meditation practice, ethical values, and by cultivating a receptive attitude of God-bhakti (love and devotion).
The Sants of India have produced some of the most eloquent, ecstatic, God-devoted poetry, prayers and hymns the world has ever known. Below are selections from the Padavali of Namdev, the Adi Granth (Sikh scriptures), as well as the mystic-poetry of Sat Guru Kabir.
Namaste’, Jai Guru, Jai Sat Naam, Radhasoami,
Below is from, The Hindi Padavali of Sant Namdev, translated into English by Winand. M. Callewaert, published by Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi.
The name Ram [God]
has entered my heart
placing a golden scale
I worship only
Love of Ram
is hard, Father
till you see the self
Your fine exterior
cannot be washed
with water, idiot.
God is no idol
nor the proffered leaves.
Namdev does not worship
in this manner.
cannot please Ram.
It may fool
and the blind.
My eyes have turned
My heart clings
to the feet
Who can be tainted
once he says Ram?
Sinners become pure
when they cry Ram.
Those who live
in the truth of Ram
should they fast
or visit holy sites?
the right thing to do
They will surely
find moksha [liberation],
those who say Ram.
Narhari, Sri Banvari.
the feet of Murari.
The guru’s word
is a stairway to heaven.
The heart is Prayag
where sweet love flows.
through the cosmos
in search of the treasure
but found it within me.
Do not come or go
stay at home and
sing of your Ram
I have pleaded with Ram
I shall not ask another.
My life grows shorter
I cannot waste another birth.
I will not implore another god.
My tongue will taste only the elixir of Ram.
Ram is with everyone,
whether a worm
or a moth
Ram is my life
other gods are empty and useless
The Role of the Satguru According to the Adi Granth (Sikh Scriptures)
By the Guru’s instruction the mind of the disciple is rendered immaculate and she keeps God clasped to her heart. She keeps God enshrined in her mind, arranges her affairs, and by the Master’s instruction knows her Lord.
My Beloved has fascinated my soul
and I have obtained the Lord,
the scribe of destiny.
Serving the Satguru she attains eternal peace and God, the enemy of ego and pride, abides in her mind.
By the Master’s instruction the name of God is contemplated. By the guru’s grace, soul and body are saturated with the Lord and the Lord’s name seems sweet to the mortal. The Lord’s name seems sweet to them. He liberates all their families. With their mouths they utter the Lord’s name. Their comings and goings cease. They obtain bliss, and their attention remains absorbed the Home of Celestial Music.
The Lord’s name is the Song of Joy. It is by the Guru’s instruction that the name is contemplated.
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib, English and Punjabi Translation, Volume 5, Manmohan Singh, Publisher: Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar)
The Sat-Guru-given Gnosis [direct experience] is lit up in the heart, with whose Light is dispelled the darkness of spiritual ignorance.
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib, English and Punjabi Translation, Manmohan Singh, Volume 3, Publisher: Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar)
Kabir’s Ocean of God-Bhakti
Here the translator has preserved the numerous names for God that Kabir used in his mystic-verses. Guru Kabir:
The Remote, the Inaccessible
makes a fort for His dwelling,
which He illumines with His Light.
Lightning flashes — there is bliss
where the child Prabhu-Gobind plays.
My soul loves Ram’s name:
Old age, death, doubt flee. (Rest)
They who care about castes
are forever singing praises about themselves.
But sweet melodies play unstruck
where the Lord Prabhu-Gopal dwells.
The remote, unknowable One,
who established the earth, the spheres,
the three worlds, and the three virtues,
lives in every heart: None knows Dharnidhar’s secrets.
He reveals Himself in the blossom’s fragrance.
He dwells in the nectar of a mud-flower.
His mantra is in the twelve-petalled heart,
where the Lord Kamlakant dwells.
His Light is visible above and below;
He illumines the infinite sphere of silence:
Neither sun nor moon are found there;
the primal Niranjan enjoys Himself.
He knows the universe and each heart.
He bathes in Lake Mansarowar.
His mantra is, “I am He”;
He is not concerned with good deeds or bad.
He has no caste, nor is he casteless;
He knows neither pain nor solace. He is in
the guru’s house. He cannot be avoided.
He knows, not birth or death: He is infinite silence.
Those who search for Him in their hearts,
and speak His words, will become Him.
They who place His mantra of Light in their hearts,
Kabir, say, “Those mortals will certainly swim across.”
(Songs of Kabir from the Adi Granth, Nirmal Dass, SUNY Press, NY)
IT is the mercy of my true Guru that has made me to know the unknown;
I have learned from Him how to walk without feet, to see without eyes, to hear without ears, to drink without mouth, to fly without wings;
I have brought my love and my meditation into the land where there is no sun and moon, nor day and night.
Without eating, I have tasted of the sweetness of nectar; and without water, I have quenched my thirst.
Where there is the response of delight, there is the fullness of joy. Before whom can that joy be uttered?
Kabir says: “The Guru is great beyond words, and great is the good fortune of the disciple.”
To Thee Thou hast drawn my love, O Fakir!
I was sleeping in my own chamber, and Thou didst awaken me; striking me with Thy voice, O Fakir!
I was drowning in the deeps of the ocean of this world, and Thou didst save me: upholding me with Thine arm, O Fakir!
Only one word and no second—and Thou hast made me tear off all my bonds, O Fakir!
Kabir says, “Thou hast united Thy heart to my heart, O Fakir!”
MY Lord hides Himself, and my Lord wonderfully reveals Himself:
My Lord has encompassed me with hardness, and my Lord has cast down my limitations.
My Lord brings to me words of sorrow and words of joy, and He Himself heals their strife.
I will offer my body and mind to my Lord: I will give up my life, but never can I forget my Lord!
HOW could the love between Thee and me sever?
As the leaf of the lotus abides on the water: so thou art my Lord, and I am Thy servant.
As the night-bird Chakor gazes all night at the moon: so Thou art my Lord and I am Thy servant.
From the beginning until the ending of time, there is love between Thee and me; and how shall such love be extinguished?
Kabir says: ‘As the river enters into the ocean, so my heart touches Thee.’ (Songs of Satguru Kabir, Rabrinath Tagore translation)