Guru Kripa

The following talk was given by Srimati Mangalam Kalyanam at the December 21st Sri Ramana Jayanti program in New York City. Srimati Mangalam conducts Ramana Satsangs in the Atlanta, Georgia area.

Guru is Brahma, Guru is Vishnu, Guru is Deva Maheshvara, Guru is the Supreme Brahman, salutations to the Guru.

I would like to thank all of you for giving me this opportunity to share a few thoughts. A renowned Tamil saint, Manikkavasagar once said: "It is by His Grace ONLY that I am able to pray to Him."

It is our Guru's Grace that has enabled me to be with all of you and partake in this celebration. My topic of choice is "Guru Kripa" or "Grace of Guru". Over the years this word "Grace" has become a very special word to me. Let me start by quoting Thirumular, a great Tamil saint and scholar of old:

Wisdom is seeing Guru's Holy Form
Wisdom is chanting Guru's Holy Name
Wisdom is listening to Guru's Holy Words
Wisdom is meditating on Guru's Holy Presence
These lines express the importance of Guru and also clearly explain the ways to attain Jnana, or Self-knowledge. Guru's Kripa is omniscient, ever-present. What blinds us from this fact is our own ignorance through ego or 'ahankara'. Ego sustains the "I am the body idea." Happiness, sorrow, fame, infamy, wealth, and poverty are all attributes of the body that functions according to the previous and present karmas. At times of ecstasy, the ego in us gloats in its glory, and at times of despair it ridicules the body.

With a little effort, and of course Guru's Grace, we all may have moments of clarity and intellectually accept the "I am not the body idea." But to sustain these moments in our day to day life, the abounding Grace of the Guru is important.

Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi always stressed that salvation is for the soul and not for the body. At each point of our wavering life, if we question who is feeling, who is suffering, etc., we can steep our soul in non-duality and lead a life like water on a lotus leaf, or like the very best non-stick pan.
Next comes the question, "Who gets the Guru's Kripa?" It's an ironical question, having said already that the Guru's Grace is always present. Let me illustrate from Bhagavan's life to answer this question. Bhagavan treated all beings equally. He could (would?) not see the physical forms. The cows, the birds, the barber, the priest, the scholar, the child, the woman - everyone had His Grace. The form we have now taken was determined by our prarabdha karma. Bhagavan's Grace-abounding presence is in the formless, limitless Self, which is inside all of us. Understanding this is fairly easy, but to hold onto it is very difficult. Again, only the Guru's Grace can help us stay focused.

How do we realize the Guru's Grace? By unconditional surrender and unwavering faith. Unwavering faith is beautifully explained in the grand epic Ramayana. Adhyatma Ramayana is a fresh perspective on a philosophic approach to the Ramayana. In this story, Rama is portrayed as jivatma (individual). Kama (desire), krodha (anger), etc. are the demons that kidnap Sita, who personifies shanti (peace). The demons hide her in the middle of the ocean of maya.
Rama pines for Sita, which parallels the struggles of the jivatma when separated from the Paramatma (Supreme Self). Just like a Sadguru who points to the source of peace, Hanuman pointed out Sita to Rama. Rama, the jivatma, sustained the Lord's Grace through his unwavering faith. He builds a bridge of penance -through sravanam and mananam, hearing and meditating on the Truth - across the ocean of maya. He fights and roots out all the demons (kama, krodha, moha, madha) through Atma-Vichara (Self-enquiry) and unites with Sita (peace).

Such is the power of unwavering faith. Faith begets bhakti, bhakti begets surrender and unconditional surrender effaces the ego. Effacement of the ego is union with the Supreme Self. What we were, what we are, and what we become is all Guru's Kripa. Acceptance of the Divine Will in all matters leads to peace, and then there will be no questions or complaints.

A fine poet named Sadhu Om has beautifully put it in these words:

"What I need and what I don't need is better judged by my Guru. Is it fair to ask for something specific once you have surrendered? Having surrendered to the Guru, he will do what is best for you."

I would like to share an experience in my own life when I felt the Guru's Grace-abounding presence. This took place in 1979 when I was living with my husband and three children in Asansol, a city near Calcutta. My husband was working for Indian Oxygen. Bhagavan's centenary was coming up and Ramanasramam was gearing up for this big event and also the Kumbhabhishekam. The whole year was going to be filled with lots of events and celebrations. I longed to be there, but what could we do? We were living far away and the children were in school. Well, just when we reconciled to this sad reality my husband got an unexpected phone call from the managing director. He informed my husband that there was a labor dispute going on in the Madras factory and that we were going to be transferred to Madras immediately. We were amazed by His Grace!

While in Madras we enjoyed all the celebrations. It so happened that the labor dispute took a full year to resolve, and as if we were posted close to the Ahsrama only for the Centenary events, we were transferred back to Calcutta the very next year!

To conclude, I would like to quote from a well known piece titled "Footprints." For those who are unfamiliar with this passage, it is about a conversation taking place between man and God, looking back on the journey of life. Metaphorically, the man notices two sets of footprints throughout his life, one his, the other God's. However, at times of great despair there were only one set of footprints and he asks God why He deserted him? The reply that God gives aptly describes Guru-Kripa.

"My dear child" says God, " I would never desert you. During your times of trial and suffering when you see only one set of footprints, it was then, that I carried you."