Episode # 200 – Importance of “Experiential Learning” in Spirituality – Sage Parashara illustrates!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed the continuation of the discussion on how Sage Paraashara describes Bhagawan Bala-Krishna sitting on the banks of the river Yamuna, with His divine flute in His hands, with a yellow dress spread across His divine physical body which is black in color. For His black color, the yellow dress that He’s wearing, gives an appealing look. Along with the yellow dress, Bhagawan Bala-Krishna wears a set of divine ornaments around His neck and around His waist. This also adds to the beauty of Bhagawan as He sits blissfully over a tree trunk that kisses the gently-flowing waters of the River Yamuna. As Bhagawan Bala-Krishna sits thus and plays the flute, all the animals, birds and His friends flock around Him, enjoying the divine music that emulates from the divine flute. Meanwhile, we had also witnessed how the river water slowly caresses Bhagawan’s divine lotus feet and how the tree upon which He’s sitting is feeling ecstatic that Bhagawan is using the wood from it in the form of the flute. 

As Sage Paraashara imagines this form of Bhagawan Bala-Krishna, he’s moved into tears and for a moment, stops the narrative as Sage Maithreya looks on. We should remember that this entire “Shri Vishnu Puraana” is being narrated by Sage Paraashara, in response to the questions asked by his disciple, Sage Maithreya. As Sage Paraashara starts his discourse, we’ve witnessed in our earlier episodes of this project that he never stops in the middle for any form of break anywhere. However, at this juncture, Sage Paraashara stops his narrative for a few seconds to compose himself again, as he was totally engrossed into Bhagawan Bala-Krishna’s divine form. As he was getting into a “Trans” state, tears automatically started flowing through his eyes. Upon seeing this, Sage Maithreya was also moved to tears of joy and “Bhakti”. Here we are witnessing how a “Guru” teaches Bhakti (True devotion) to his disciple, along with the spiritual contextual knowledge. Sage Paraashara could have easily gone on narrating about Bhagawan Bala-Krishna without a gap like this. However, he made sure that he gave this gap, so that his disciple also gets an opportunity to imagine the divine form of Bhagawan Bala-Krishna and internalize it. This is yet another greatness of a “Guru”. 

Thus, through this narrative, we’re witnessing a very important point here about the significance of a “Guru” or a “Spiritual Master”. We’ve been talking about this for the past 2-3 episodes as well, and today, we’re witnessing one more important point in regards to this. One of the main responsibilities of a “Guru” is that, more than teaching the mere subject or bookish knowledge to the disciple, a “Guru” should also make sure that the disciple gets an “experiential learning”. In today’s context too we’re seeing this quite a lot in our normal education system, isn’t it? Especially in science and mathematics-related subjects, we have a separate component for theory and another component for laboratory practice (Practicals). This gives the students an opportunity to try out things that they learn in the classroom as theory. Similarly for management students, we have various components of practical learning such as internship projects, application-based assignments, case studies, etc. These methodologies ensure that the students get an overall understanding of the subject, including the theory and experiential learning. 

Similarly in spirituality too, the theory is all what we’re witnessing here in this blog, episode after episode – How was Bhagawan Bala-Krishna born, how He grew up in Gokula, how He killed Kamsa, how He relocated to Dwaraka, etc. This is the theory part. The role of the “Guru” shouldn’t stop at this point wherein the disciple only learns the bookish stuff. In fact, to learn the bookish stuff, we do not need a “Guru” at all. Anybody can read through and learn stuff quite easily. However, the real contribution of the “Guru” to the spiritual growth of his / her disciple comes in the experiential learning aspect. The moment a disciple learns how to “internalize” Bhagawan within himself / herself, is when the value-add of the “Guru” comes in. This is why we often keep saying that if we’ve to have this experiential learning part in spiritual education, we require the divine grace of the “Guru”. This is why we have the famous sloka thus: 

“Agnyaana thimiraandasya gnyaanaanjana shalaakayaa!

Chakshurunmeelitham yena tasmmaih shri gurave namah!!”

This sloka clearly explains that the “Guru” is the one who brings out the disciple from the state of darkness (“Agnyaana”) and transcends him / her to the state of complete knowledge (“Gnyaana”). Now let us relate our discussion with this sloka – How does a disciple transcend from the state of “Agnyaana” to “Gnyaana”? It can only be with the experiential learning component, isn’t it? As we begin to internalize Bhagawan more and more within ourselves, we slowly get transformed from darkness to brightness. This is exactly what Sage Paraashara is doing to Sage Maithreya. As he is explaining the Vishnu Puraana content, he is making sure that he’s making Sage Maithreya slowly internalize Bhagawan Bala-Krishna’s divine form into himself. 

So for today, let us understand this important point as the primary responsibility of a “Guru” or a “Spiritual Master” towards his / her disciples. We shall wait till the next episode to continue this discussion further! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Published by Dr. Jeayaram

Holds a PhD in Management Psychology from Universite Paris Saclay, Paris, France. Also an Asst. Professor of Human Resources management at International School of Business & Media, Pune, India. A professional South Indian classical musician (singer) performing concerts. Through this blog, I'm trying to bring out the richness of Indian culture & values and I request your support and feedbacks in making this humble effort a success!!

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