In the previous episode we had witnessed the continuation of the discussion on why “Anna Dhaanam” or sharing of food among other living beings is very important and is a prime tradition of our “Bhaarata Desha”. Especially during the need of this hour of crisis, we witnessed during yesterday’s episode as to what are some possible roles that we as responsible citizens can play to combat the situation. With regards to this aspect of “Dharma” which Sage Sukhaachaarya is narrating, we should be prepared to serve as many poor people as we can at this juncture. Similarly, we should also be compassionate towards animals too, as threat of hunger and lack of food loom large. If we see dogs or cats on the road, or birds coming in search of food and water, we should readily offer them whatever we can. Similarly, if we have pet animals at home, or if we’re maintaining cow sheds, etc. we should make sure that we feed all our animal friends according to their needs, so that they feel contented and satisfied. This is how we should strive to serve the world at this critical hour of crisis and we human beings from various walks of life should come together, join hands and play a part in tiding up this crisis. In a way, we should consider this as a golden opportunity given by Bhagawan to render our selfless service to the world. Let us think about this and thus do the needful as part of our contribution.
Moving on thus, Sage Sukhaachaarya narrates the next important aspect of “Dharma” wherein he explains that we should learn to respect “Bhaagawathas” or “Gurus” or “Spiritual Masters” as that of Bhagawan Himself. This simply implies that we should learn to give respect to those ardent devotees of Bhagawan, and treat them as Bhagawan’s equivalent. This is a very important point for all of us to note. We might even respect Bhagawan very highly, offer prayers every day, perform spiritual practices, etc. in the name of Bhagawan. However, in our due course of daily life, we might fail to give respect to other people around us who are “Bhaagawathaas” or “Ardent devotees of Bhagawan”. This is a wrong thing to do and we should avoid such things. This is why we have the famous saying in Sanskrit that says “Maathru Devo Bhava! Putru Devo Bhava! Aachaarya Devo Bhava! Athithi Devo Bhava!”. This means that we should give our first respect to our parents – Both mother and father. Next to fall in line is the “Guru” (our teachers, Spiritual Masters, etc.) who shows us the light of knowledge. Finally comes Bhagawan.
Thus, we should realize that it is not enough if we respect Bhagawan alone and eventually disrespect everybody around. This is not the right way to do things. Although we might have high respect and devotion to Bhagawan, if we do not show the same devotion towards His devotees or Spiritual Masters or whoever it is, Bhagawan’s heart pains a lot. This is where, the above mentioned saying occupies a prime place in our rich tradition. Our first respect should always go towards our parents, without whom we would never had an opportunity to take birth in this world at all! Without taking this wonderful human birth, how on earth are we going to think of Bhagawan and perform spiritual practices, etc.? Hence, our first and foremost respect should always be for our parents. Second comes the “Guru”.
Now who is a “Guru”? There is a famous sloka that illustrates the role of a “Guru” in shaping up our life.
“Agnyaana thimiraandhasya gnyaanaanjana shalaakaya!
Chakshurunmeelitham yena tasmai shri gurave namah!!”
This sloka explains that the important role of a “Guru” in a person’s life is to bring us our of the “Darkness” (Agnyaana) and shed the light of knowledge (“Gnyaana”). It is the “Guru” who shows us the path to attain Moksha. If such is the role of a “Guru”, He / She should be considered equivalent to Bhagawan Himself. If we look at the composition of the phrase “Guru”, it implies that a “Guru” is a person who acts as a “bridge between the Jeevaatma and the Paramaatma”. We shall find this illustration in various sections of our scriptural texts.
Readers might remember, when we were amidst our first Ramayana project, the role of Hanuman in the entire Ramayana text totally justifies all the roles and responsibilities of a “Guru”. Some of the typical characteristics of a Guru are: He / She should be a highly learned scholar and well-versed in all the scriptural texts and the messages that they convey to mankind. Hanuman was an exemplary scholar and is nick-named as “Nava-Vyaakarna Panditha”. This means, Hanuman is probably the only person in this world, who has gained mastery and expertise over the nine different “Vyaakarnas” of the Sanskrit language. In today’s scenario, many of us struggle to gain mastery over just one “Vyaakarna” and it is that tough! But however, Hanuman has gained mastery over all the nine! Isn’t this phenomenal? Secondly, a “Guru” should be an ardent devotee of Bhagawan and His / Her heart should immediately melt when they hear Bhagawan’s divine names and Bhagawan’s divine stories. Hanuman was into this as well – The moment He hears Bhagawan Rama’s name, He would melt down into tears of devotion! His sole purpose of life was to serve Bhagawan Rama in whatever way possible. Thirdly, a “Guru” should be a person who can guide “Jeevatmas” like us into the path of “Moksha” to attain the Paramaatma (Bhagawan). Hanuman was prolific in this as well. When Mother Sita was suffering from being separated from Bhagawan Rama, who was Her dear husband, it was Hanuman who went all the way to Lanka where She was imprisoned by Ravana. Hanuman slowly educated Mother Sita about the whereabouts of Bhagawan Rama and how is He suffering from Her separation as well. Hanuman also elucidated all the steps taken by Bhagawan Rama to re-attain Mother Sita and to put an end to this horrible separation between them. This is the primary role of the “Guru” or the “Spiritual Master”. Just like Hanuman made sure that he united Mother Sita and Bhagawan Rama together, the Spiritual Master’s role is to unite us with Bhagawan.
Given such important roles and responsibilities that a Guru or the Spiritual Master fulfills in our lives, our respect towards them should be equivalent to that of Bhagawan! This is an important aspect of our “Dharma”. Finally, we should also respect our “Athithi” or “Guest” who comes in search of us. We should make sure that our guests are received properly, given due respects, served food and made comfortable. This is also part of our “Dharma” and we should follow this.
Hence for today, let us ponder over this important aspect of “Dharma” that we should give the highest level of respect to all people around us who are devotees of Bhagawan in their own ways, along with our parents too, because all of them are equivalent to Bhagawan Himself. We shall wait till the next episode to witness a continued explanation pertaining this “Dharma” as we move forward. Stay tuned! 😊