Our real guru

According to a narrative in the Mahabharata (Aashwamedhik Parva), the gods, rishis, serpents, and asuras — all visited Lord Brahma some time ago and asked, “Lord, how can we attain our wellbeing?” After listening to their request, Brahma uttered out a single word “Om” from his mouth as his response. The four groups of students accepted this answer to their question, returned to their abodes, and started contemplating on the “lecture.” When the serpents analyzed Brahma’s response, they developed the instinct to bite others. Similarly, when the asuras took their notes out and studied what “Om” conveyed, they developed arrogance. In contrast, the gods interpreted “Om” from Brahma’s mouth as “generosity,” and the rishis recognized the same word as “self-control.”

Though all the four groups of students — serpents, asuras, gods, and rishis — went to the same guru and received exactly the same lesson, they did not learn the same stuff. Differences in their interpretations created different tendencies (and behaviors) in their minds. What does the story teach us? “For a student asking a question, no one is a greater guru than the Supreme Being (antaryami).” As the epic further states, a jiva gets inclined towards each karma only after the Supreme Soul, who resides in his or her heart, approves it.

Even today, whether in the classroom or outside it, we do not learn what our teacher or colleague communicates, but we learn what we want to learn (under the supervision of the guru inside our heart). No matter how much we enjoy chatting with other beings, useful communication in the world hardly occurs between two jivas. It occurs between us (the jiva) and Paramatma, who continuously oversees what we actually grasp from the tons of data that we receive every second and starts personally guiding us as soon as we start looking for him.

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