The following excerpt has been taken from the book Spiritual Teachings of Swami Brahmananda (Free). In it Swami Brahmananda explains the necessity of a God Realized guru for an aspirant pursuing the spiritual path. For those not familiar with Swami Brahmananda – he was a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, who under the able guidance of his guru had attained to the highest Nirvikalpa Samadhi, just like his brother-disciple Swami Vivekananda had.
Necessity of an Illumined Guru for Samadhi
Swami Brahmananda: Complete self-surrender to the Lord is not an easy matter. The mind always creates doubts and raises such questions as this – “I have neither seen nor known God. How is it possible for me to love and resign myself to Him?” The natural tendency of the mind is to drag us down from higher thoughts and ideals to the things of the world.
The Guru (spiritual teacher) shows the disciple the path to life eternal, and protects him from all troubles.
Sri Ramakrishna used to say “If the Guru is a perfect and illumined soul, the ego of the disciple is destroyed in no time. But if the Guru himself is unillumined, then both he and his disciple have to suffer a great deal. The disciple is not able to get rid of his ego or the fetters that bind him to the world.
It is not possible for an unillumined Guru to bring about the liberation of his disciple. How is it possible for an ordinary man to save another from the fetters of the world? The Lord alone, who is the author of this world-enchanting Maya, can free man from its meshes.
Only the knower of God can show the way of salvation to another. But how can he, who has not realised God, who has no commission from Him, who has not been strengthened by Divine strength, how can he free a soul from the bonds of the world? If the blind lead the blind, both are sure to come to grief. It is only after God-realisation that one gets the inner vision. Then only can one truly understand the difficulties of another and give him proper instruction.
If a person possesses sincere yearning for the Lord and is eager to follow the spiritual path, he is sure to find a real Guru through the grace of the Lord. Therefore a spiritual aspirant need not feel anxious about finding a Guru.
Furthermore, those who come under the guidance of a Guru who has attained realisation need have no anxiety about their spiritual progress. They have been put on the right way. Now their only task is to follow it. If they meet with any trouble or make any mistake, the Lord is sure to protect them and show them the right course. Having sincere faith in the words of the Guru let them walk along the path shown by him; that is enough.
Seek a God-Realized Guru and Not a Pandit Who Possesses Mere Intellectual Knowledge of the Scriptures
“What is a Guru? Let us go back to the Shrutis (Upanishads) — “He who knows the secret of the Vedas”, not bookworms, not grammarians, not Pandits in general, but he who knows the meaning.
An ass laden with a load of sandalwood knows only the weight of the wood, but not its precious qualities”; so are these Pandits. We do not want such. What can they teach if they have no realisation?
When I was a boy here, in this city of Calcutta, I used to go from place to place in search of religion, and everywhere I asked the lecturer after hearing very big lectures, “Have you seen God?” The man was taken aback at the idea of seeing God; and the only man who told me, “I have”, was Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, and not only so, but he said, “I will put you in the way of seeing Him too”.
Swami Vivekananda explaining verse 2.41 from the Uttara Gita, on the importance of seeking a God-realized Guru
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