Guru Gita [Summary]

Guru Gita
Article & Translation by P. R. Kannan

Traditionally all dharmas are unveiled to us in Upanishads, Puranas and epics through the medium of teachings of Guru to Sishya. Sri Guru Gita is a blazing milestone in this tradition. It occurs in 274 slokas by way of Uma Maheswara Samvada in Skanda Puranam, Brahma Samhita, Uttara Khandam. Here Lord Siva himself rapturously enlightens Devi Parvati on the unique greatness of Guru. All our sacred texts unanimously proclaim that Guru embodies the Supreme Principle, he guides the disciple with love and discipline on the tortuous spiritual path, he recognises the varying equipment and requirements of every Adhikari (qualified) disciple, he identifies and removes the pitfalls accordingly and grants the ultimate fulfilment. In a famous verse Guru Gita states unequivocally that Guru is one embodiment in which Brahma, Vishna and Maheswara express themselves and the Supreme Brahman shines brilliantly. It emphasises that without serving at the feet of Guru and earning his grace, no spiritual advancement is possible. Even Sage Narada, though well-versed in all scriptures, needed the grace of Guru Sanatkumara for gaining real insight into Brahman, so says Chandogya Upanishad. All saints have also stressed this in their teachings. Upanishads and histories of great souls are replete with actual instances of Guru’s grace going beyond all imagination and achieving the impossible in a trice. Devotees of Kanchi Sankara Matham are only too familiar with such direct experiences with the Jagadgurus adorning the Peetham.

Guru Gita commences with the question of Parvati to Siva with reference to Guru Mahatmyam:
केन मार्गेण भो स्वामिन् देही ब्रह्ममयो भवेत् ।
तत्कृपां कुरु मे स्वामिन् नमामि चरणौ तव ॥ (१:६)
“O Swami (Lord)! Which is the path that leads the jiva imprisoned in body to the state of Brahman? Please be gracious enough to tell me about that. I prostrate at your feet.” (1:6)

Siva replies:
मम रूपासि देवि त्वं त्वद्-भक्त्यर्थं वदाम्यहम् ।
लोकोपकारकः प्रश्नो न केनापि कृतः पुरा ॥ (१:७)
“O Devi! You are of my form. In view of your devotion I shall tell you. The question you have asked is for the benefit of mankind and not asked by anyone before.” Siva now expounds on the greatness of Guru. (1:7)

Who is Guru?

गुकारश्चा-न्धकारस्तु रुकारस्-तन्-निरोध-कृत् ।
अन्धकार-विनाशित्वाद्-गुरुरित्य्-अभिधीयते ॥ (१:३३)
“The letter ‘Gu’ means darkness and ‘Ru’ stands for its remover. Guru is so called because he destroys darkness (of ignorance).” (1:33)

गुकारश्च गुणातीतो रूपातीतो रुकारकः ।
गुण-रूप-विहीनत्वाद्-गुरुरित्य्-अभिधीयते ॥ (१:३४)
“The letter ‘Gu’ refers to attaining the state beyond Gunas (the three Gunas of Satva, Rajas and Tamas). The letter ‘Ru’ denotes the state beyond forms (Rupa). Guru is so called because he is devoid of Gunas and Rupa (attributes and forms). (1:34)

गुकारः प्रथमो वर्णॊ मायादि-गुण-भासकः ।
रुकारोऽस्ति परं ब्रह्म माया-भ्रान्ति-विमोचकम् ॥ (१:३५)
“The first letter ‘Gu’ explains the attributes of Maya etc. The letter ‘Ru’ is the Supreme Brahman, which removes delusion of Maya.” (1:35)
The first of these three verses describes Guru as the Light dispelling the darkness of Agnana; the second refers to his guiding the disciple beyond the world of names, forms and attributes; the third praises Guru as the ultimate remover of the veil of Maya and its subtle effects.

करुणा खड्ग-पातेन छित्वा पाशाष्टकं शिशोः ।
सम्यग्-आनन्द-जनकः सद्गुरुः सोऽभिधीयते ॥ (२:२१)
“One who rends asunder the eightfold bond with the sword of compassion and delivers the baby of Supreme Bliss is called Sadguru.” (2:21)

Guru Mahima

गुरुर्-ब्रह्मा गुरुर्-विष्णुर्-गुरुर्-देवो महेश्वरः ।
गुरुः साक्षात् परं ब्रह्म तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥ (१:४६)
“Guru is Brahma; Guru is Vishnu; Guru is Siva Maheswara; Guru is indeed the Supreme Brahman. Obeisance to Guru.” (1:46)

अज्ञान-तिमिरान्धस्य ज्ञाना-ञ्जन-शलाकया ।
चक्षुर्-उन्मीलितं येन तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥ (१:४७)
“Obeisance to Guru, by whom the eye of the one blinded in dense darkness is opened with the stick of collyrium of Gnana.” (1:47)

अखण्ड-मण्डला-कारं व्याप्तं येन चराचरम् ।
तत्पदं दर्शितं येन तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥ (१:४८)
“Obeisance to Guru, by whom the principle ‘Tat’ (That, denoting the Brahman) was shown; the universe of moving and stationery objects in unbroken cycle is permeated uniformly by ‘Tat’.” (1:48)

अनेक-जन्म-संप्राप्त-कर्म-बन्ध-विदाहिने ।
ज्ञानानल-प्रभावेन तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥ (१:६३)
“Obeisance to Guru, who burns away the bonds of karma acquired in many births with the power of the fire of knowledge.” (1:63)

न गुरोर्-अधिकं तत्वं न गुरोर्-अधिकं तपः ।
न गुरोर्-अधिकं ज्ञानं तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥ (१:६५)
“Obeisance to Guru, higher than whom there is no truth, no austerity nor knowledge.” (1:65)

मन्-नाथः श्रीजगन्नाथः मद्-गुरुः श्रीजगद्गुरुः ।
ममात्मा सर्व-भूतात्मा तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥ (१:६६)
“Obeisance to Guru, who bestows on me the experience that my lord is the Lord of the universe; my Guru is the Guru of the universe; and my own soul is indeed the soul in all beings.” (1:66)

ध्यान-मूलं गुरोर्-मूर्तिः पूजा-मूलं गुरोः पदम् ।
मन्त्र-मूलं गुरोर्-वाक्यं मुक्ति-मूलं गुरोः कृपा ॥ (१:७४)
“The form of Guru is the object of meditation; the feet of Guru are the object of worship; the instruction of Guru is mantra; the grace of Guru is the means of Liberation.” (1:74)

अत्रिनेत्रः शिवः साक्षात् द्विबाहुश्च हरिः स्मृतः ।
यो अचतुर्-वदनो ब्रह्मा श्रीगुरुः कथितः प्रिये ॥ (१:८०)
“Beloved! Guru is indeed said to be Siva without three eyes, Hari with two arms and Brahma without four faces.” (1:80)

कुलानां कुलकोटीनां तारकस्-तत्र तत्-क्षणात् ।
अतस्तं सद्-गुरुं ज्ञात्वा त्रिकालं-अभिवादयेत् ॥ (१:८३)
“Guru is the spiritual protector of lineages till their last end, whom he blesses in just a second. Hence one should respect that Sadguru and prostrate to him all three times (morning, noon and evening).” (1:83)

यस्य स्मरण-मात्रेण ज्ञानं-उत्पद्यते स्वयम् ।
स एव सर्व-संपत्तिस्-तस्मात्-संपूजयेद्-गुरुम् । (१:४३)
“Guru, by the very thought of whom, Gnana rises on its own (in the mind of the disciple), is alone all wealth. Hence one should worship Guru.” (1:43)

ज्ञानं विना मुक्तिपदं लभ्यते गुरु-भक्तितः ।
गुरो: समानतो नान्यत्-साधनं गुरु-मार्गिणाम् ॥ (१:८९)
“Through devotion to Guru the state of Liberation can be attained even without Gnana. For those on the path of devotion to Guru, there is no means equal to Guru.” (1:89)

ब्रह्मानन्दं परम-सुखदं केवलं ज्ञान-मूर्तिं द्वन्द्वातीतं गगन-सदृशं तत्वं-अस्यादि-लक्ष्यम् ।
एकं नित्यं विमलं-अचलं सर्वधी-साक्षि-भूतं भावातीतं त्रिगुण-रहितं सद्गुरुं तं नमामि ॥ (२:३)
“I prostrate to Sadguru, who is Bliss of Brahman incarnate, who bestows the highest bliss, whose form is just Gnana, who is beyond pairs of opposites, who is like sky (pure and all-pervasive), who is the goal of Mahavakyas like ‘Tat tvam asi’ (That thou art), who is unique, eternal, stainless, firm, who is witness of the intellects of all, who is beyond mental formulations and who is free from the three attributes (Satva, Rajas and Tamas).” (2:3)

ज्ञेयं सर्वं प्रतीतं च ज्ञानं च मन उच्यते ।
ज्ञानं ज्ञेयं समं कुर्यान्-नान्यः पन्था द्वितीयकः ॥ (२:१९)
“All perceived objects are to be known (as Brahman); mind is the knowledge. Knowledge and that which is to be known should be equated; there is no other way. (2:19)

ज्ञानं वैराग्यं-ऐश्वर्यं यशः श्रीस्वं-उदाहृतम् ।
षड्गुण्-ऐश्वर्य-युक्तश्च भगवान् श्रीगुरुः प्रिये ॥ (२:६०)
“Beloved! Sri Guru is Bhagavan, who possesses the six lordly bhagas (glories): Gnana, dispassion, lordship, fame, wealth and power. (2:60)

गूढो दृढश्च प्रीतश्च मौनेन सुसमाहितः ।
सकृत्-काम-गतो वापि पंचधा गुरुरीरितः ॥ (२:८७)
“Guru is said to be of five types: secretive, firm, loving, well-established in silence, appearing on his own (to bless the disciple) even once.” (2:87)

लौकिकाद्-धर्मतो याति ज्ञान-हीनो भवार्णवे ।
ज्ञान-भावे च यत्-सर्वं कर्म निष्कर्म शा्म्यति ॥ (२:९२)
“One, who is devoid of Gnana, enters into the ocean of births by doing worldly activities. All karma performed with Gnana leads to the peace of actionlessness.” (2:92)

गुरवो निर्मलाः शान्ताः साधवो मितभाषिणः ।
काम-क्रोध-विनिर्मुक्ताः सदाचारा जितेन्द्रियाः ॥ (३:३६)
“Gurus are free from all impurities, full of peace, virtuous, economical in speech, totally free from desire and anger, of upright conduct and have sense organs under control.” (3:36)

सप्त-कोटि-महामन्त्राश्-चित्त-विभ्रंश-कारकाः ।
एक एव महामन्त्रो गुरुरित्य्-अक्षर-द्वयम् ॥ (३:६३)
“The seven crores of Mahamantras act to delude the mind. This two-lettered mantra ‘Guru’ is the only Mahamantra.” (3:63)
We may recall in this context what Adi Sankaracharya had to say about the greatness of Guru in his very first verse in the Vedantic text ‘Satasloki’.

दृष्टान्तो नैव दृष्टः त्रिभुवन-जठरे सद्गुरोर्-ज्ञान-दातुः
स्पर्शश्चेत्-तत्र कल्प्यः स नयति यदहो स्वर्णतां अश्मसारम् ।
न स्पर्शत्वं तथापि श्रित-चरण-युगे सद्गुरुः स्वीय-शिष्ये
स्वीयं साम्यं विधत्ते भवति निरुपमस्-तेन वाऽलौकिकॊऽपि ॥ (१)
“There is nothing in all the three worlds that can be compared to the Sadguru, who imparts Gnana. The philosopher’s stone may be considered for comparison, as it transforms a piece of iron into gold (in the same way in which Guru transforms an ordinary disciple into Gnani). But this comparison is not apt because while the Sadguru bestows equality with himself on his disciple, who has taken refuge in his twin feet (the disciple turns into Sadguru himself), the philosopher’s stone cannot render a piece of iron into another philosopher’s stone. Hence Sadguru is beyond comparison and out-of -the-world in glory.”

Devotion of Disciple

यस्य देवे परा भक्तिर्-यथा देवे तथा गुरौ ।
तस्यैते कथिताह्य्-अर्थाः प्रकाशन्ते महात्मनः ॥ (१:८)
“To that great soul, who has the greatest devotion to Iswara and has the same level of devotion to Guru, the import of all my teachings will be revealed.” (1:8)
This is also the last mantra of Svetasvatara Upanishad.

यो गुरुः स शिवः प्रोक्तो यः शिवः स गुरुः स्मृतः ।
विकल्पं यस्तु कुर्वीत स नरो गुरु-तल्पगः ॥ (१:९)
“The one who is Guru is indeed Siva; the one who is Siva is indeed Guru. One who makes distinction between these two is like the violator of Guru’s wife.” (1:9)

जपस्-तपो व्रतं तीर्थं यज्ञो दानं तथैव च ।
गुरु-तत्वं-अविज्ञाय सर्वं व्यर्थं भवेत् प्रिये ॥ (१:१३)
“Beloved! Japa (chanting of mantra), tapas (penance), vrata (ceremonial vow), tirtha (pilgrimage to holy places), yagna, danam (ceremonial gift) etc. are all useless without comprehending the principle of Guru.” (1:13)

गुरु-पादोदकं पानं गुरोर्-उच्छिष्ट- भोजनम् ।
गुरु-मूर्तेः सदा ध्यानं गुरोर्-नाम सदा जपः ॥ (१:२१)
“One should drink the water washed off the feet of Guru, eat the remnants of Guru’s food, meditate always on the form of Guru and chant always the name of Guru.” (1:21)

काशीक्षेत्रं निवासश्च जाह्नवी चरणोदकम् ।
गुरुर्-विश्वेश्वरः साक्षात्-तारकं ब्रह्म निश्चयः ॥ (१:२५)
“The place where Guru lives is the holy Kashi; the water washed off his feet is Ganga; Guru is none other than Visveswara himself; he is certainly the Brahman, who enables one to cross the Samsara.” (1:25)

गुरुदेवार्पणं वस्तु तेन तुष्टोऽस्मि सुव्रते ।
श्रीगुरोः पादुकां मुद्रां मूलमन्त्रं च गोपयेत् ॥ (२:८९)
“Woman of good resolve! I am pleased with anything offered with devotion to Gurudeva. One should maintain Sri Guru’s sandals, mudra and moolamantra with secrecy.” (2:89)

गुरु-कार्यं न लंघेत नापृष्ट्वा कार्यं-आचरेत् ।
न ह्युत्तिष्ठेद्-दिशे अनध्वा गुरु-सद्भाव-शोभितः ॥ (२:२६)
“One should not transgress the instructions of Guru; he should not act without Guru’s approval. He should not proceed in a direction or path not lighted by Guru’s approval.” (2:26)

न गुरोर्-आश्रमे कुर्याद्-दुष्पानं परिसर्पणम् ।
दीक्षा व्याख्या प्रभुत्वादि गुरोर्-आज्ञां न कारयेत् ॥ (२:२७)
“In Guru’s ashram one should not indulge in drinking prohibited drinks, unnecessary roaming around and activities normally undertaken by Guru himself, like giving diksha, explanatory discourse, ordering others etc.” (2:27)

गुरूणां सद्-असद्वापि यदुक्तं न लंघयेत् ।
कुर्वन्न्-आज्ञां दिवा-रात्रौ दासवन्-निवसेद्-गुरौ ॥ (२:२९)
“One should not transgress the verbal instructions of Gurus, whether they appear good or bad. One should live with Guru like a slave, acting on his orders day and night.” (2:29)

गच्छतः पृष्ठतो गच्छेद्-गुरुच्-छायां न लंघयेत् ।
नोल्बणं धारयेद्-वेषं नालंकारांस्-तदोल्बणान् ॥ (२:३२)
“One should walk behind the Guru; he should not cross the shadow of Guru. He should not wear glossy dress, or glossy decorations.” (2:32)

गुरु-निन्दा-करं दृष्ट्वा धावयेद्-अथ वासयेत् ।
स्थानं वा तत्-परित्याज्यं जिह्वाच्-छेदाक्षमो यदि ॥ (२:३३)
“On seeing a person who slanders the Guru, one should run away from that place. If he is capable of cutting off the tongue of the slanderer, he can stay there; if not he should leave that place hastily.” (2:33)

मन्द-भाग्याह्य्-अशक्ताश्च ये जना नानुमन्यते ।
गुरुसेवासु विमुखाः पच्यन्ते नरकेऽशुचौ ॥ (३:२६)
“Those unfortunate and incapable persons, who do not believe in Guru and turn away from service of Guru, are roasted in impure hell.” (3:26)

गुरवो बहवः सन्ति शिष्य-वित्ता-पहारकाः ।
तमेकं दुर्लभं मन्ये शिष्य-हृत्-ताप-हारकम् ॥ (३:३४)
“There are many Gurus, who knock off the wealth of disciples. I am of the opinion that that Guru, who removes the misery in the heart of the disciple, is unique and rare indeed.” (3:34)

गुरु-त्यागाद्-भवेन्-मृत्युर्-मन्त्र-त्यागाद्-दरिद्रता ।
गुरु-मन्त्र-परित्यागी रौरवं नरकं व्रजेत् ॥ (३:६०)
“Desertion of Guru will lead to death; desertion of mantra (taught by Guru), to poverty. One who deserts both Guru and the mantra will fall into the hell of Rourava.” (3:60)

शिव-क्रोधाद्-गुरुस्-त्राता गुरुक्रोधाच्-छिवो न हि ।
तस्मात्-सर्व-प्रयत्नेन गुरोर्-आज्ञां न लंघयेत् ॥ (३:६१)
“Guru can protect the disciple from the wrath of Siva; Siva will not protect him from the wrath of Guru. Hence one should make all efforts to avoid transgression of Guru’s orders.” (3:61)

Diksha and Japa

दुस्संगं च परित्यज्य पापकर्म परित्यजेत् ।
चित्त-चिह्नं-इदं यस्य तस्य दीक्षा विधीयते ॥ (३:३८)
“Diksha (initiation of disciple by Guru in mantra) is prescribed for one, whose mind bears the impress of having abandoned association with evil and sinful actions.” (3:38)

चित्त-त्याग-नियुक्तश्च क्रोध-गर्व-विवर्जितः ।
द्वैत-भाव-परित्यागी तस्य दीक्षा विधीयते ॥ (३:३९)
“Diksha is prescribed for one, whose mind has abandoned the above, is free from anger and ego and has discarded dualism.” (3:39)

पवित्रे निर्मले देशे नित्या-नुष्ठानतोऽपि वा ।
निर्वेदनेन मौनेन जपं-एतत् समारभेत् ॥ (३:३)
“Japa (chanting) of this (Guru Gita or mantra) should be commenced after completing prescribed daily karmas (Nitya Anushthana) and sitting in a pure and clean place, with mental peace and silence.” (3:3)

जाप्येन जयं-आप्नोति जप-सिद्धिं फलं तथा ।
हीनं कर्म त्यजेत् सर्वं गर्हित-स्थानमेव च ॥ (३:४)
“Through Japa one attains victory, efficaciousness of mantra and desired fruit. One should discard all despicable deeds and contemptible places.” (3:4)

कृष्णाजिने ध्यान-सिद्धिर्-मोक्षश्रीर्-व्याघ्र-चर्मणि ।
कुशासने ज्ञान-सिद्धिः सर्व-सिद्धिस्तु कम्बले ॥ (२:१०३)
“Sitting on seat of skin of black antelope for japa will enable meditation; seat of tiger skin, glory of Liberation; seat of darbha grass, attainment of Gnana; and, seat of wool, all attainments.” (2:103)

Siva’s Reverence of Guru

As has already been seen in the excerpts quoted above, Siva consistently pays his own homage to Guru as a lesson for us to learn. Some more verses are given below.
यद्-अंघ्रि-कमल-द्वन्द्वं द्वन्द्व-ताप-निवारकम् ।
तारकं भव-सिंधोश्च श्रीगुरुं प्रणमाम्यहम् ॥ (१:१६)
“I prostrate to Sri Guru, whose twin lotus feet remove the misery born of pairs of opposites and enable one to cross the ocean of samsara.” (1:16)

श्रीगुरुं परमानन्दं वन्दे आनन्द-विग्रहम् ।
यस्य सन्निधि-मात्रेण चिद्-आनन्दायते मनः ॥ (३:५२)
“I worship Sri Guru, who is Supreme Bliss incarnate, whose form is only bliss and just in whose presence one’s mind becomes conscious bliss.” (3:52)

यस्य प्रसादाद्-अहमेव सर्वं मय्येव सर्वं परिकल्पितं च ।
इत्थं विजानामि सद्-आत्म-रूपं तस्यांघ्रि-पद्मं प्रणतोऽस्मि नित्यम् ॥ (३:६४)
“I always worship at the lotus feet of that Sri Guru, by whose grace I realize my eternal Self, perceiving that I am everything and that everything is indeed superimposed on me.” (3:64)

Guru Gita Mahima

अनन्त-फलं-आप्नोति गुरुगीता-जपेन तु ।
सर्वपाप-हरा देवि सर्वदारिद्र्य-नाशिनी ॥ (२:९६)
“Devi! By chanting Guru Gita, one reaps infinite benefits. This removes all sins and destroys all poverty.” (2:96)

अकाल-मृत्यु-हरा चैव सर्वसंकट-नाशिनी ।
यक्ष-राक्षस-भूतादि-चोर-व्याघ्र-विघातिनी ॥ (२:९७)
“This Guru Gita prevents untimely death, removes all obstacles and the fear of Yakshas, Rakshasas, bhutas, robbers, tiger etc.” (2:97)

सर्वो-पद्रव-कुष्टादि-दुष्टदोष-निवारिणी ।
यत्फलं गुरु-सान्निध्यात्-तत्फलं पठनाद्-भवेत् ।। (२:९८)
“This Guru Gita relieves of all miseries like leprosy etc. and cruel sins. By reading Guru Gita one reaps the same benefit which is obtained in Guru’s immediate presence.” (2:98)

सत्यं सत्यं पुनः सत्यं धर्म-सांख्यं मयोदितम् ।
गुरुगीता-समं स्तोत्रं नास्ति तत्वं गुरोः परम् ॥ (३:२१)
“There is no stotram equal to Guru Gita; there is no principle higher than Guru. This is truth, truth and truth again. What I have said is the ultimate principle of dharma.” (3:21)

ॐ तत् सत्