From Darkness to Light
The Guru Gita:
The Song of the Guru
Guru Gita reveals the inner workings of spiritual apprenticeship. It presents the guru/disciple relationship as a dynamic path that leads to a fulfilling life as well as Self-realization.
This unique text presents us with life’s most fundamental paradox, the riddle we must solve if our goal is to realize the unshakable peace of our True Self:
How can Infinite Spirit and finite matter fully exist in the same space and time, in the same individual? How can we be fully human and fully divine?
Guru Gita stands firmly at the crossroads of the Infinite and finite and speaks to us from that point of intersection. It invites us to pause and reflect at the core of a riddle that can’t be solved by the mind. It opens the heart and stills the restless chatter of the mind through soaring poetic language, imagery, and striking symbolism. We come to realize that the answer to the riddle, and the peace we seek, doesn’t come through philosophizing, but through dedication, selfless love, and meditation.
At first glance, this seems to summarize the Gita’s content. In reality, it goes far beyond this. The Guru Gita pays homage to the spiritual potential in us all. Yes, the Guru Gita says, the guru is God . . . but the same text also declares that, you too, are Divine. The transformative power of these teachings – that which gives it extraordinary vibrancy – is not that the guru has attained an enlightened state unreachable by us. The teachings of the Guru Gita have the power to inspire and transform precisely because the guru is a human being like us, and because we all have the same spiritual potential within, waiting to unfold. It is the guru within us that recognizes the guru without. In fact, the guru within and the guru without, are one.
From time immemorial, the path to enlightenment has essentially been the same: Those that have experienced the Truth, the enlightened, are lit candles that show the way. Seekers of light, not yet realizing that what they seek is within, find a lit candle that stirs buried memories of their own Inner Light. The powerful devotional aspect of the Guru Gita is the unlit candle snuggling up close to the lit one to learn its secrets to success, to emulate it, form a relationship to it, and to serve and revere it. Most importantly, the unlit candle strives to catch a spark of light from its fully lit master, to become enlightened by a flame that has passed from master to disciple from time immemorial. The guru/disciple relationship is really between a seeker and the Divine Light.
Guru Gita: BackgroundThe Guru Gita is a part of a larger text, the Skanda Purana, compiled between the 6th and 15th centuries. It takes the form of a dialogue between Lord Siva, Lord of the Universe and His Royal Consort, the Goddess Parvati. It begins with Parvati observing Siva expounding the Supreme Truth to the sages. She is astonished when she sees that while the sages were bowing to her husband, He in turn was reverently bowing to someone else.
“O, My Lord, You are the teacher of the entire world, the one Supreme Being. You are fit above all to receive prostrations. To whom do You bow? I am amazed at this. Please, enlighten me!”
The great Lord’s response was simple, direct, and startling:
“It is to the Guru I bow.”
Hearing this, Parvati asked Siva to explain the nature of the guru, and for the sake of humanity, to reveal the path by which seekers can unite with the Absolute. In response to Her request, Lord Siva sang the Guru Gita.