Monday, October 02, 2006

Guru Bhakti – 01

Hare Krishna Friends,

In the last few emails, we have seen the brief Biography of Sri Chandrashekara Bharathi Mahasvami. In the next few emails, we will see some of his teachings.

The following incidents have been drawn from the book “Sparks from a Divine Anvil”. The Divine Anvil of the book being Sri Chandrashekara Bharathi Mahasvami. The narration is by Sri Jnanananda Bharathi (Sri R. Krishnaswamy Iyer in his purva-ashrama, an ardent disciple of Mahasvami), the author of the book.

His Holiness was ever reveling in a plane far away from that of ordinary man so much so that, even when he was engaged in a simple matter-of-fact conversation with any visitor, he found it possible to raise the tone of it to that of a lesson in life and that he was able to convert a most ordinary incident into an occasion to learn something very valuable and useful. Before I give instances of the same, I think it will be proper to give some idea of the devotion that he had towards Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada and his own predecessor, Sri Sacchidananda Siva Abhinava Narasimha Bharathi. He did not look upon them as mere saintly personages but as God himself in their form. He often repeated the sloka:

Guru Brahma Gurur Vishnu Gurur Devo Maheswaraha
Guru saakshat Para Brahma Tasmai Sri Gurave Namaha

This was not a mere sloka extolling the Guru as equal to Brahma, Vishnu, Maheswara and the Para Brahman, but was in his view, a statement of the fact of their identity. He would never allow us to forget this.

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A gentleman high-placed in life once expressed to His Holiness his delight at seeing Sringeri.

G. What a glorious sight! Such a nice spot nestling in the heart of woods and hills! How pure and sparkling are the waters of River Tunga! In these days of railways and motor cars, we somehow manage to come here to enjoy the beauty of this lovely spot. In the days of Sri Sankaracharya, there were no such facilities. He walked throughout the country only on foot. How did he find out that such a beautiful spot was just here? When I think of it, I am lost in wonder and admiration to him.

H.H. Does the Creator of the world need any process of searching for finding out the objects of his own creation? Does he not know as a matter of course where everything is, for he himself placed it there? There is nothing at all, therefore, to be wondered at in the great Acharya choosing this place as an ideal one, unless you forget that he was the Lord himself incarnate and unless you consider him just such a human being as we ourselves are. It is only in the latter view that any wonder or admiration can arise at any of his actions.

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In a large gathering of Pandits assembled on the occasion of a Sri Sankara Jayanthi celebration, His Holiness asked one of them to expound a particular topic in the Brahma Sutras. The Pandit did it admirably but in the course of his exposition he added an argument of his own to substantiate the proposition sought to be established in that context.

H.H. Is that argument found in the Bhashya of our Acharya?

P. No.

H.H. Then why do you advance it?

P. It is only an additional argument which will support and strengthen the case.

H.H. Evidently you think that our Acharya has failed to state it.

P. He might have included this also.

H.H. Is it not really, “He ought to have included this”?

P. I do not say so.

H.H. Certainly not in so many words; but certainly you think that the Bhashya will have looked better and been more complete if this argument had been included.

P. I thought so.

H.H. That is, by advancing this argument you sought to improve the Bhashya?

P. No, No. It would have been impertinent on my part if I had sought to do any thing of that sort.

H.H. All the same, the idea was at the back of your mind quite unconsciously; otherwise you would not have advanced a fresh argument.

P. I am sorry, if it gives rise to such an impression.

Sorry or not, you have put forward that argument. We shall see how far it is tenable.

His Holiness in a few minutes analyzed that argument and demonstrated that it was not only irrelevant and fallacious but was itself destructive of the proposition to be laid down in the context. The Pandit realized his mistake keenly.

P. I am very sorry that I advanced that argument. I see now that it is quite untenable.

H.H. Please do not think that my demonstration was intended to extract from you an expression of regret or show off my own dialectical skill. My only object was to eradicate from your mind the slightest suspicion that the All-Knowing incarnate as our Acharya could have erred in any particular or omitted to mention any relevant matter. When we forget who he really was, there is naturally a temptation to “improve” on him, for in our view he was just a learned Pandit like ourselves. You must give up that idea altogether.

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