Everyday Bhagavad-Gita: Guru.
Verse 2.7: Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of miserly weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me for certain what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me.
This is one of the most important verses in the Gita and it signifies a major turning point, not only in the nature of the conversation, but in the relationship between Krishna and Arjuna.
Up to this point in the Gita, Arjuna has been venting his confusion to Krishna as a friend. He hasn’t asked for answers, or reached out for guidance. But with this verse, all of that is about to change. Arjuna is asking for guidance and submitting to Krishna as a student.
Let’s explore the word “submit.”
One definition of the word means “to yield oneself to the authority or will of another.” That’s pretty strong stuff. However, this is what a real guru (spiritual teacher) and student relationship looks like. This type of relationship can only exist when there is strong faith and trust, on both sides. The student has faith and trust that this person can help him/her re-awaken his/her relationship with God and the guru has faith and trust that his/her student is genuine and sincere in his/her inquiry. How, and why else, would anyone want to “submit” oneself to another person?
Essential to submitting ourselves to a spiritual teacher is the acknowledgement that “We don’t know it all.”
Our material conditioning has brainwashed us into thinking that we can figure everything out. This is the influence of the ego.
However, to be an authentic student, we need to push that big, fat ego out of the way and face reality. The reality is that when it comes to spiritual life, we don’t know much. Why? Because real spiritual knowledge is not “book learned.”
Sure, understanding philosophical concepts is important, but more important is to realize that knowledge. We need someone who has faced the trials and tribulations that we will undoubtedly encounter on the path of bhakti, and hasn’t given up and has (as the Gita will describe in Chapter 4), seen the truth. One who has realized knowledge.
On the path of bhakti yoga, there are principles and details. Realized knowledge means being able to apply these principles and details according to time, place and circumstance. For example, one who is just learning how to cook is on the theoretical platform. Such a novice may think that certain spices are only used for certain dishes. But for one who has realized knowledge, they understand that spices not only accentuate dishes, they can be combined and even used medicinally.
Arjuna is realizing that he is a novice.
He knows a lot of theory, but he is having trouble applying it practically. He has also realized that this is leading him to only think in the short-term. Being intelligent, he understands that what is best may not be what feels good right away. So what does he say? He tells Krishna, “I am asking You to tell me for certain what is best for me.” He is asking his guru, Krishna, for help.
The word guru is tossed around quite flippantly these days. It’s become like the word mantra and entered the mainstream vernacular. The downside to this is the fact that many people don’t have a clue what guru means. Guru in Sanskrit translates not only to mean teacher, but also “heavy.”
This is because having a guru is not a fad and the guru is not there to make you feel better. A true guru, a genuine bhakti yogi, is there to help you on your spiritual journey to reconnect with God.
I remember when I was searching for my Guru in 2004-2005. I had met several authentic, powerful and realized bhakti yogis but I kept coming back to one person. I remember revealing my heart to this bhakti yogi and asking him, “What should I look for in a guru?”
I’ll never forget what he told me. He said, “You don’t need someone who’ll pat you on the back and say ‘Good job!’ all the time. You need someone who will ground you.” Eventually that is the person who so kindly agreed to guide me on the path of bhakti yoga and I’m still in the process of learning how to submit myself to his spiritual guidance.
This is a very important point. Not only is it important to realize the need to have a bona fide spiritual teacher to guide us in our lives, it’s also essential to understand what having a guru means. It is a great gift and one that should not be taken lightly.
In fact it is said: From Krishna we are given Guru, and it is Guru who can give us Krishna.
Vrindavan Rao was born into the bhakti tradition and grew up enveloped in it. However, her personal discovery of the bhakti path began in 2004 when she had the opportunity to go to a Vedic College in Belgium and since that time she has embraced it completely. Her love for travel has given her the opportunity to study Vedic texts, such as the Bhagavad-gita, in places such as India, Canada, Belgium, Ukraine and the United States under the guidance of several advanced practitioners.
She especially loves the Gita and refers to it as her “Guidebook for Life” since it contains practical answers for complicated questions and is currently writing a daily blog on every verse of the Gita. In addition, you can keep track of all the happenings of Everyday Bhagavad-Gita on Facebook and viaTwitter.
Her background is in science and she not only has a Bacherlor’s degree in Biochemistry, but also a Masters in Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology. In her free time she loves to write, read, give presentations, sing and work out.
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Editor: Thaddeus Haas