Understanding the guru-disciple relationship is critical to appreciating the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna.
- The role of guru
- Approaching a guru
- Responsibilities of the disciple
Additional topics include:
- Radha: the embodiment of devotion
- Krishna: the Source of all creation
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Read BG 4.34 verse and purport
Finish reading Gita Wisdom: An Introduction to India’s Essential Yoga Text.
Mentioned in this podcast
Abbreviations used in these notes: BG for Bhagavad Gita
- Bhagavad Gita As It Is
- Krishna’s Song: A New Look at the Bhagavad Gita by Steven J. Rosen (Satyaraja dasa)
tad viddhi praṇipātena
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ
Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.
Mundaka Upanisad 1.2.12
tad vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet
samit panih srotriyam brahma-nistham
If one is actually serious about understanding supernatural, transcendental subject matters, one must approach a bona fide spiritual master who is erudite and free from material desires.
“To understand these things properly, one must humbly approach, with firewood in hand, a spiritual master who is learned in the Vedas and firmly devoted to the Absolute Truth.”
pṛcchāmi tvāṁ dharma-sammūḍha-cetāḥ
yac chreyaḥ syān niścitaṁ brūhi tan me
śiṣyas te ’haṁ śādhi māṁ tvāṁ prapannam
Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of miserly weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me for certain what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me.
yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham
Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion – at that time I descend Myself.
Herbie Hancock and Trey Anastasio
Approaching a Guru
After we stopped the recording, there was another question about the guru-disciple relationship. Yogesvara told the story of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and his guru, Srila Gaura-kisora das Babaji. This story illustrates the seriousness and sincerity with which to approach a guru. Some background info: Joshua/Yogesvara’s guru is Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada’s guru is Srila Bhaktisiddhanta.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati wanted to take initiation and instruction from Gaura-kisora das Babaji. On several occasions, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta approached Gaura-kisora for initiation; he was always refused. One day, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta waited on a bridge for Gaura-kisora to come by. When Gaura-kisora arrived, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta threatened to throw himself off the bridge and end his life if Gaura-kisora would not accept him as a disciple. Finally, Gaura-kisora das Babaji agreed, making Srila Bhaktisiddhanta his only initiated disciple.
- Guru Gu-darkness, ru-dispeller. Guru is one is one who dispels the darkness of ignorance. Guru also means heavy (with knowledge).
- Sisya Disciple. One who voluntarily submits to discipline in spiritual life.
- Darshan Vision: both physical as well as metaphysical: “vision of truth”.
- Aroha pantha “Ascending” knowledge, knowledge arrived at through speculation and conjecture.
- Avaroha pantha descending knowledge, knowledge received through an approved lineage.
- Sruti “that which is heard”, directly enunciated by the Supreme Being.
- Smriti “that which is remembered”, commentaries.
- Sat-cit-ananda The inviolable qualities of all souls: eternity, self-awareness, bliss.
- Acarya Teacher-by-example, authorized by an established disciplic line (sampradaya).