Can I have more than one Guru?

Genuine Gurus are rare these days, so this question shouldn’t arise, but for what its worth, these are some insights by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on the question of multiple Gurus.  The gist of the matter seems to be that as long as you don’t feel strongly drawn to any particular sage, it is permissible to draw inspiration (through reading and interaction) from multiple sages.  But once you get initiated by a particular Guru, you must stick to that Guru, otherwise the spiritual energies of different Gurus can interfere to create a frightful mess within your consciousness.  Furthermore, if you have reached the apex with one particular Guru, you can certainly look for another.  The cases of Kapali Sastry and M.P.Pandit can be cited in support of this clause; they were initially disciples of Ramana Maharshi but later choose Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as their Guru.

Note: These remarks apply only to Gurus who give personal initiation and individual guidance, as was typical in the past.  These days, we see Gurus who offer Yoga courses through a network of trained teachers.  My guess is that switching between  courses offered by different Gurus should not cause any problems.  It depends on the methods being practiced.

Dilipkumar Roy(1897-1980) was a talented musician who joined the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1928.  Like most over-eager neophytes, Dilip wanted others to accept his Guru as their own.  He sought to pressurize Sri Krishnaprem (Ronald Henry Nixon) who lived near Almora with his Guru, Yashoda Ma, to come to Pondicherry and meet Sri Aurobindo.  The following anecdote is from Dilip’s book “Sri Aurobindo came to me“:

Personally, I came to profit most from the mystic wisdom of two persons I had come to know intimately through the love and admiration they inspired in me from the first: to wit, Sri Aurobindo and Sri Krishnaprem. When I say this I do not, of course, include the great saints and sages of the past who had won me over to their light long before I met these two great personalities. I only stress hereby the sense of blessedness that accrues to us when we have actually communed with the spiritual figures we have adored. This was borne home to me more and more as I grew to love them more and more, because, among other things, each in turn buttressed as it were my love for the other. But that is not the whole story; for I must add here that I felt not only refreshed but fortified by Krishnaprem’s bowing down to Sri Aurobindo. Happily, I was instrumental in bringing them into direct contact again and again through the letters they went on writing to me which, by and large, served as the bridge between them ever since I had built it accidentally to draw them closer to each other, even though there could be no question of Krishnaprem’s accepting Sri Aurobindo as his Guru. In fact, once, from Almora, he wrote to me, years ago, in reply to my invitation, that although he had the deepest reverence for Sri Aurobindo, he did not feel like coming to Pondicherry since he could get all the inspiration he needed from his own Guru. A little hurt by this, I went to the Mother with his letter. To my surprise, she not only supported him but actually praised him to the skies and told me: “That is the ideal attitude for any aspirant who has already accepted a Guru: to wit, to stick to him, refusing to turn to any other Master for Guidance.”  Sri Aurobindo also wrote to me when Krishnaprem contended that all true Gurus were the same.

“All true Gurus are the same, the one Guru, all are the one Divine. That is a fundamental and universal Truth which justifies Krishnaprem’s statement. But there is also a truth of difference; the Divine dwells in different personalities with different minds, teachings and influences so that He may lead different disciples with their special need, character and destiny by different ways to the realisation: that justifies Krishnaprem’s own action. Because all Gurus are the same Divine, it does not follow that the disciple does well if he leaves the one meant for him to follow another. Fidelity to the Guru is demanded of every disciple, according to Indian tradition. Krishnaprem has that fidelity; he feels the spiritual tie holding him to his Guru in life and even after her departure; that is why he cannot think of going to someone else. ‘All are the same’ is a spiritual truth, but you cannot convert it indiscriminately into action; you cannot deal with all persons in the same way because they are the one Brahman: if one did, the result, pragmatically, would be an awful mess. You yourself have always in your heart laid stress on the principle of fidelity; Krishnaprem does the same so you ought to find it easy to understand his standpoint. It is a rigid mental logic that makes the difficulty, but in spiritual matters mental logic easily blunders; intuition, faith and a plastic spiritual reason are here the only guides.” [1]

These are two conversations on this topic.   They are self-explanatory.

Purani: Dr. Kantilal has two questions to ask. First, can one have more than one Guru? Dattatreya had about twenty Gurus, he says, and profited by each. From a bird he learnt something, from a butcher something else and so on.

Sri Aurobindo: Such Gurus one can have even twenty thousand of. Why only twenty?

Purani: His second question is: Can’t one make spiritual progress by seeing the Divine in the Gurus?

Sri Aurobindo: The Divine is in everybody. So he can see the Divine in all. Why only in the Gurus?

Nirodbaran: But in the spiritual teachers one can feel the Divine more easily because they have realised Him.

Sri Aurobindo: That does not mean that the Divine is not in everybody. If one actually sees the Divine, it is a different matter. But if it is a question of thinking, one can think as well that the Divine is in all.

Purani:  He asks if one can’t have more than one Guru and if it is disloyal to change one’s Guru.

Sri Aurobindo: If one wants to get somewhere, it is better to have one Guru and stick to him. Only under exceptional circumstances can the Guru be changed.

Purani: He says he has visited many Gurus but nobody has satisfied him.

Sri Aurobindo: That is not the fault of the Gurus. If he goes on changing like that, he will get nowhere. Moreover, there will be a play of contrary influences.

Champaklal: But if one visits spiritual people one can get some help on the spiritual path. They say that Satsang (company of holy people) has a great value in life.

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, one can get some influence, but that is for ordinary people who want some good influence to help them in their lives, not for those who want to do Yoga. Besides, even then there may be a conflict of influences -different people’s good influences may also conflict.

Purani:  What one has gained from one may go counter to what one gets from another. Now I understand why you asked Dr. Kantilal to quiet his mind. His mind seems to be roaming about from place to place. (Sri Aurobindo was smiling at this. ) [2]

Another recorded conversation goes as follows:

Purani: There’s a lady who used to feel your presence in her own home, just as at Darshan; but last time on her way home from here saw Ramana Maharshi and then lost that feeling.

Sri Aurobindo: Naturally.

Purani: At first she couldn’t detect the reason why. Then she suspected the cause and I told her the Mother didn’t approve of mixing up things. Now she thinks it must have been due to that visit.

Sri Aurobindo: That was another influence. Besides, if Maharshi had been alone, it would have been different. But there are always other people around.

Nirodbaran: But the purpose is the same – seeking for spirituality—and it is in the same line.

Sri Aurobindo: That is not the question. (After some time) Purani received something from Lele.

Purani: Oh yes, I know to my cost. He gave me a terrible fever just when I was in the peak of health; the fever left me only after I received a letter from here. My encounter with another Yogi gave me vomiting, giddiness, etc. Otherwise I got nothing from them.

Sri Aurobindo (smiling): But Lele did give you something after all.

Purani: Yes-but I didn’t go to him again.  Another friend after coming here asked me if he should go to see some Yogi. I told him he should not. He replied, “What’s the harm? It is the same spirituality.” I explained, “Maybe, but there are different spiritual energies and one may oppose another.”

Sri Aurobindo: Quite so.

Purani: But the man didn’t believe me. And he has paid the penalty for five years. He still hasn’t come here again! [3].

Exceptions have to be made for exceptional souls, such as Vasistha Ganapati Muni (aka Nayana) (1878-1936) who was a disciple of Ramana Maharshi.  On the Mother’s invitation, he came and stayed in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram for a fortnight.  These are some brief details of his stay as recorded by an Ashram inmate:

Aug 13, 1928: Recently S. Doraiswamy gave a copy of Uma Sahasram (a composition by Ganapati Muni) for Sri Aurobindo’s perusal who seemed to have deeply appreciated it. And the Mother expressed on her own: “If Ganapati Sastri is inclined to come for the August 15th Darshan he is welcome.” It was communicated to Nayana at Tiruvanamalai.   Sri Ramana (Maharshi) seems to have said ‘When this suggestion by the Mother came unsought by Nayana, it must be a Daiva Sankalpam(Divine Will).’

Aug 15, 1928: Sri Aurobindo’s birthday celebration on the Ashram — and all of us had the privilege of Darshan of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Nayana, though pessimistic at first, after he had the actual Darshan, expressed “O, divya murtulu—O, Divine Personalities!” so much so, he stayed on till September 1st.

Aug 16, 1928: Nayana’s interview with the Mother for 30 minutes. They meditated together; Nayana felt spiritual current passing into him from all directions. Later on the Mother said to S. Doraiswamy: “He is the one man who immediately entered into my spiritual consciousness and stuck to it to the end.”

Aug 18, 1928: Nayana’s second interview with the Mother for 45 minutes. He recited verses composed on the Mother.  Talked of pre­sent Avatara.  The Mother got into trance. Nayana perceived light passing through her toe and then a glowing halo around her entire being, the whole atmosphere surcharged with divine current [4].

You can read more about Vasistha Ganapati Muni (Nayana) here

References

  1. Dilip Kumar Roy, Sri Aurobindo came to me, pp 320-321.
  2. Nirodbaran, Talks With Sri Aurobindo, Vol 1, p 432, 9 February 1940.
  3. Nirodbaran, Talks With Sri Aurobindo, Vol 1, p 272, 30 November 1939.
  4. K. Venkatraman.  My Diary-leaves, p 363.

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  2. How does a Guru act?
  3. Significance of places of worship, relics and prayer rooms
  4. Does dying in holy cities like Varanasi bring salvation?
  5. Why read Sri Aurobindo’s books?
  6. Why does Yoga give you a “high”?
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  8. The Mother Mirra Alfassa as a Guru
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34 thoughts on “Can I have more than one Guru?

  1. Sandeep Post author

    The following letter is an instance where Sri Aurobindo declined to be a Guru to someone who was practicing Yoga along the Tantric path:

    “Sri Aurobindo cannot undertake to guide you as your Guru, for the reason that he takes as disciples only those who follow his special path of yoga; your experiences follow a different line. In his yoga there may be an occasional current in the spine as in other nerve channels or different parts of the body, but no awakening of the Kundalini in this particular and powerful fashion. There is only a quiet uprising of the consciousness from the lower centres to join the spiritual consciousness above and a descent of the Divine Force from above which does its own work in the mind and body – the manner and stages varying in each sadhak. A perfect confidence in the Divine Mother and a vigilance to repel all wrong suggestions and influences is the main law of this yoga. Your opening having once been so powerful on the more usual Tantric lines (even without your own will intervening), it is hardly probable that it could now change easily to other lines – any such effort might create a serious disturbance. In speaking of a competent Guru Sri Aurobindo meant one who had himself practised this opening of the centres and become siddha in that line of yoga. It should not be impossible to find one – when one has the call for the Guru, the Guru sooner or later comes. Meanwhile to put away fear and have confidence in the Divine working is indispensable – but no effort should be made to force the pace by concentrated meditation unless you have a guide whom you can trust – a clear guidance from within or a guide from without. The inspiration about the Ida nadi and the subsequent working of the Shakti show that there was an intervention at a critical moment and that the call to it whenever needed is likely to be effective.”

    (Sri Aurobindo. Letters on Yoga, SABCL vol. 24, p 1148)

    Reply
  2. mike

    Yeah, l think that letter might have been to Gopi Krishna who had a volcanic awaking of the kundalini. l believe Gopi Krishna had been meditating on a pink lotus at the the top of his head and SA told him this this was a sure invitation for kundalini to rise.
    l’ve been to other guru’s and l’ve also felt their influence, but ultimately l’m always dragged back to SA and Mother. l’ve never really found anyone who can compare with SA and Mother [not that l’m really qualified to know]. Even though l’m i’ve been in the west for most of my life, l’ve always felt their influence in my life more than any other guru. And if we believe [as l do] that the Supramental Yoga is the Highest why would we settle for anything less. Although, it looks like we have to be chosen for it [never liked that word much, but still…] – Probably done before we are born.
    l think the biggest danger might be in following certain guru’s who claim to be carrying on SA and Mother’s yoga, like M.Meera and even Sai Baba etc…

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Mike:Yeah, l think that letter might have been to Gopi Krishna who had a volcanic awaking of the kundalini. l believe Gopi Krishna had been meditating on a pink lotus at the the top of his head and SA told him this this was a sure invitation for kundalini to rise.

      I was thinking the same – it must be Gopi Krishna. In his book Living with Kundalini, he says that after a botched Kundalini awakening, he wrote a renowned Guru in India asking for advice.

      Reply
  3. Sandeep Post author

    Disciple: Last night, at three in the morning, sleepy, exasperated, I called you. A few seconds later, three times, I felt a strong force paralyzing me and trying to plunge me into unconsciousness. I struggled hard against it because I felt it as an adverse force which wanted to take away my subtle body. The third time, with one eye open I saw part of the dark blue robe of a tall person who was waiting to take me away; it seemed as if an emanation of X was at his side. How is it that after I had called you, Mother, I had this experience?

    Mother Mirra Alfassa: This is the disadvantage of placing oneself under the influence of several occult forces. In the past, one was recommended, not without reason, to choose one spiritual master and to take great care not to see any others, to avoid a mixture of influences, which has serious disadvantages. So-called modern wisdom, which springs from ignorance, is open to all kinds of influences which are sometimes contradictory, and the result is a great confusion. Now there is only one solution, to go beyond all human representations and approach the Supreme directly with the utmost sincerity you are capable of, and… await the result.

    (Collected Works of the Mother, vol. 15, p 26)

    Reply
  4. jyothi sanghvi

    Hello Sandeep,
    I am a shivyog sadhak got deeksha from my guru avdhoot baba shivanand and i have been practicing shivyog since last 1yr+. Later on i started watching vidoes of sadhguru jaggi vasudev and i liked his talks so much that i ended up watching all the videos on you tube. I also read most of the books of sadhguru.
    What i don’t understand is…i have my guru babaji then why do i burst into tears whenever i just see sadhguru’s photo or read something of him??? what is that pull towards him? I have not felt this kind for sri sri Ravi shankar guruji whom i have seen and touched his feet too nor did i feel for The mother and sri Aurobindo whose ashram i have visited so many times… so i was looking for something of having more than one guru! Here i read stick to one guru which i too strongly believe but i don’t understand the kind of experiences i have with sadhguru ? can u shed some light on this. thank you so much…jyothi…)))

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Hi Jyothi,

      First off, you should treat my answer purely as a suggestion, because I cannot discern the intricacies of your consciousness nor do I know the capabilities of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev or Avdhoot Baba Shivanand. In fact, this is the first time I have heard of the latter. India has seen a proliferation of Gurus in recent times and not all have the highest realization.

      why do i burst into tears whenever i just see sadhguru’s photo or read something of him

      Bursting into tears is not necessarily a sign of spiritual awakening. It can also be a sign of emotional weakness. There may be some vague characteristic in one particular Guru which heightens the emotional feeling. Its just like an irrational “crush” that people develop sometimes. Maybe he reminds you of your father or some other revered figure.

      A Guru should be able to kindle a diversity of other experiences : a feeling of wideness above the head, a radiating blissful warmth within the heart, a perception of heat throughout the body, etc. That is what you must look for in a Guru.

      In any case, as long as the Guru is not abusive or exploitative and the method that you are practicing works, you can defer the choice until you develop more insight into which Guru is right for you.

      Reply
    2. Anmol Jain

      Hello Jyothi,

      You had addressed the question to Sandeep and you have already got a reply from him but since I have myself experienced Sadhguru somewhat I thought I will add my bit, I hope you don’t mind. I have not met or seen avdhoot baba shivanand but have seen him on TV and heard about his course from a friend who had attended it. I believe he is a shiv bhakta. Sadhguru is also a self-declared Shiv bhakta and it is possible that his realization of Shiva, whatever it is, may be more complete than that of your babaji and it is that which makes you get attracted towards him. Shiva, I have read in Mother and Sri Aurobindo, is a formidable formidable God and if one someone has truly realized him (as Sadhguru appears to have) then obviously when you come under his influence such a reaction is likely because to realize a God like Shiva is no mean achievement. Secondly, leaving the Shiva part aside, Sadhguru has a powerful consciousness. Though I am a disciple of Sri Aurobindo I attended one lecture of his in which he conducted a meditation and as I opened myself to him I found something vibrating in my spine in a way which was much more concrete than it normally is (I believe it is some movement of the Kundalini), it was extraordinary, it was so thick and concrete that I was taken aback. Again when I did his inner engineering course as I looked at him my eyes would get fixed at him and for the next half hour I would not see anything but light all around him. So what I am saying is that he is a luminous being with a very powerful consciousness and that might be the reason for your reactions to him. If you are really serious about the question then you can write to Sadhguru (I am sure there must be some channel) or if you can get the chance go and see him and ask him the question directly (because generally in his lectures some questions are allowed by the audience at the end), may be he can give you the absolutely accurate answer.

      Reply
      1. Anmol

        Jyothi,
        Also I might just add to the previous comment. On the last day of the Inner Engineering course, imitating Swami Vivekananda, I asked Sadhguru “Have you seen God?”. He said “Does it matter whether I have seen or not, do you want to see?”. I said “Yes”. He said “Okay, then come to Coimbatore and if you don’t have the money then I will give you the money for the travel.” He is a very direct sort of person. He doesn’t mess around. I didn’t go to him because I am Sri Aurobindo’s slave and becoming more so as days go by but if you have no such problem you can go to his Ashram and become his disciple. He was born in 1957 so is 54 now. That is relatively young. Nobody can predict death but I think he will be around for at least 20 more years. That much time in the physical presence of the Guru on Earth should be enough to get a firm grounding in his path.

      2. Sandeep Post author

        If you get a chance, you should also ask Jaggi Vasudev about his wife Vijji (Vijayalakshmi)’s premature death in 1997. He quickly cremated her without informing her father T. S. Ganganna and then claimed she had attained MahaSamadhi. The father-in-law filed a case against him. If you search the web, you will find references to an Indian Express newspaper article dated October 12, 1997.

    3. Sandeep 2

      Dear Jyothi,
      I am a Shivyog Sadhak also i have been initiated Shambhavi Maha mudra from Isha. Been practicing quiet some time.
      I look at experience that after attending Shivyog, there are many of your chakras that were opened up and in most probable case, the anahata chakra (Heart Chakra) would have opened up or in other words the blockages could have been released during the initiation in Shivir. For the reason of tears flowing, it is just that while getting a feel of higher energies the heart chakra gets activated (for that matter which ever chakra has completely opened will be activate), wherein an un-conditional love is getting through your divine soul which results in external tears or happiness.
      Now what i mentioned could be one of the reason. There are many other possibilities like you could ask why it did not happen when you met other gurus. For this we may have to look at the past karma and what is the relation which is being carried now, which a clairvoyant guru or a person who is able to see at a higher dimension will be able to give explanation.
      Now i would personally say, please DO NOT ANALYSE any state of spiritual experience through our Intellect mind, this will take one NOWHERE. This is not like H2O to know how many atoms of hydrogen and oxygen are there. What we are trying to know is who we are and how is that we form a part of this creation and how we create. PLEASE ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE WHEN TEARS ARE FLOWING AND ACCEPT THE GRACE THAT YOU ARE GETTING FROM GURU.
      Earlier i was doing this analysis and reached now where.
      I hope we do not want run an IB for which guru is right and wrong. In our small Intellect mind, we will have such 100’s of questions coming but we are too small to analyse such answers. Even certain gurus would have done something which we feel wrong we cannot understand the reason for it. Its like this, we are in class 1 STD and our teacher who is a Phd does write some arithmetic on board which is beyond our understanding and we term the teacher is wrong after the class.
      If we getting fascinated by such things, we remain where ever we are and our objective of Moksha will be a fantasy.

      Just look at what you want and take all good things that comes remain undisturbed by negative thoughts, which ever guru you are following, have 100% faith and devotion, merge with guru and things will happen of itself.

      If one have a strong desire of seeking god it will direct one to a correct path / guru. Its all upto our desire and intensity of urge. “Tum chahete kya ho”

      Om Nama Shivay

      This is Sandeep 2, “2” as i see there is already a Sandeep in the below resonses.

      Reply
    4. Sandeep Post author

      Jyothi : i have my guru babaji then why do i burst into tears whenever i just see sadhguru’s photo or read something of him?

      Found a corresponding dialogue in Sri Aurobindo’s conversations with disciples

      Nirodbaran: The Princess of Gauripur, whenever she looks at the Mother, finds tears flowing from her eyes. She can’t look at The Mother!

      Sri Aurobindo (smiling): She can look at her but can’t see her.

      Nirodbaran: She doesn’t know why the tears come. She can’t analyse her feelings.

      Sri Aurobindo: They are psychic tears. Her psychic being is behind the veil but sufficiently near the surface.

      Nirodbaran: She says she is seeking refuge, inner refuge.

      Sri Aurobindo: Of course.

      (Nirodbaran, Talks with Sri Aurobindo, vol 1, p 492, 26 FEBRUARY 1940)

      Reply
  5. Mike

    “Bursting into tears is not necessarily a sign of spiritual awakening. It can also be a sign of emotional weakness. There may be some vague characteristic in one particular Guru which heightens the emotional feeling. Its just like an irrational “crush” that people develop sometimes. Maybe he reminds you of your father or some other revered figure”

    Yes, l found out myself that there is a great difference between emotionalweeping and Psychic weeping.
    Jyothi, there could be many reasons you burst into tears, though l’m certainly no expert. Perhaps it’s a past-life connection with this Sadguru. Perhaps he has a strong vital influence on people. A guru from the lntermediate zone level would still be more powerful then the ordinary man or woman and might have many occult powers or occult helpers. I remember a clairvoyant going to see sai baba once. She was seated in the crowd and suddenly saw two little beings perched on his shoulders. They saw her and she was knocked back by some force, because they weren’t too pleased at being spotted. Anyway, it reminds me of a remark by Mother about miracles. She said you don’t need Divine Power to create a miracle – makes me wonder if She was referring to sai baba, in fact.
    Anmol, if your a disciple of SA l think it might be unhealthy to have anything to do with this sadguru if he’s arousing your kundalini. As you probably know, Sri Aurobindo uses a totally different Kundalini method.

    Reply
    1. Anmol

      Thanks Mike. Yeah, I did do the IE course and had that experience of the kundalini being aroused but as I mentioned in my post since I felt there was too much difference between the atmospheres of sjv and Sri Aurobindo I completely cut off from sjv. Inspite of spending rupees 5500 (which in India is not cheap by any means) to do the course of just 2 days and 3 hours and learning the technique I didn’t do it more than just a couple of times as I thought opening to sjv will lead me away from Sri Aurobindo. My soul knows that Sri Aurobindo and Mother are the Supreme and his Shakti (pardon this devotional outpouring on a blog like this) and therefore to it there is no question of accepting someone else as Guru. It is probably the physical mind which hunts after a Guru in a physical body.

      Also I want to add that it is interesting for me to read your experience of IY. I was quite involved in Art of Living at one time and I read similar things about that movement on a blog. Of course I had felt and experienced those things to a certain degree myself. It is interesting to note the similarities between the two organisations:
      1) A celebrity guru who is an excellent speaker 2) A breathing technique (I don’t know if shambhavi mudra is patented or not but I heard sudarshan kriya is) 3) Weekly/Monthly Satsangs to keep you “in” 4) Several levels of courses 5) Teacher training courses 6) Systematic brainwashing

      Since Sri Sri started earlier I am inclined to think SJV got the cue of the great business opportunity from him :-).

      Reply
      1. Anmol

        I suppose I gave a rather negative impression of SJV in the previous post so just want to add something. Inspite of all I said and my decision to keep away from him, I do believe that he has some yogic power. I kept away from him because I found the spiritual energies of him and Sri Aurobindo completely different and I did not want to get into a mess in my conciousness. But I do believe that if someone accepts him as his Guru he can progress as he has some power. Sri Aurobindo has said that a disciple can receive from a Guru inspite of the human limitations of the Guru and by surrendering and opening to the Guru it is to the Divine in him that one opens and even that sometimes the disciples can receive more than the Guru intended to give. I quote from two letters of Sri Aurobindo:

        “It is not the human defects of the Guru that can stand in the way
        when there is the psychic opening, confidence and surrender.
        The Guru is the channel or the representative or the manifestation
        of the Divine, according to the measure of his personality
        or his attainment; but whatever he is, it is to the Divine that one
        opens in opening to him; and if something is determined by the
        power of the channel, more is determined by the inherent and
        intrinsic attitude of the receiving consciousness, an element that
        comes out in the surface mind as simple trust or direct unconditional
        self-giving, and once that is there, the essential things can
        be gained even from one who seems to others than the disciple
        an inferior spiritual source, and the rest will grow up in the sadhak
        of itself by the Grace of the Divine, even if the human being
        in the Guru cannot give it.”

        “One can have a Guru inferior in spiritual capacity (to oneself
        or to other Gurus) carrying in him many human imperfections
        and yet, if you have the faith, the bhakti, the right spiritual stuff,
        you can contact the Divine through him, attain to spiritual experiences,
        to spiritual realisation, even before the Guru himself.
        Mark the “If”, for that proviso is necessary; it is not every disciple
        who can do that with every Guru. From a humbug you can
        acquire nothing but his humbuggery. The Guru must have something
        in him which makes the contact with the Divine possible,
        something which works even if he is not in his outer mind quite
        conscious of its action. If there is nothing at all spiritual in him,
        he is not a Guru, only a pseudo. Undoubtedly, there can be considerable
        differences of spiritual realisation between one Guru
        and another; but much depends on the inner relation between
        Guru and Shishya. One can go to a very great spiritual man and
        get nothing or only a little from him; one can go to a man of
        less spiritual capacity and get all he has to give – and more.
        The causes of this disparity are various and subtle; I need not
        expand on them here. It differs with each man. I believe the
        Guru is always ready to give what can be given, if the disciple
        can receive, or it may be, when he is ready to receive. If
        he refuses to receive or behaves inwardly or outwardly in such a
        way as to make reception impossible or if he is not sincere or
        takes up the wrong attitude, then things become difficult. But if
        one is sincere and faithful and has the right attitude and if the
        Guru is a true Guru, then, after whatever time, it will come.”

        (Sandeep: This passage is from Letters on Yoga, SABCL vol. 23, p 618)

  6. Mike

    I have seen some criticisms of Jaggi Vasudev Like the one below:

    “By enrolling in the Inner Engineering program, you ARE getting involved with the organization. Isha is not a simple yoga class down the street that one learns in an hour and leaves. It’s a complete takeover- mind, body and soul. In the IE program, you will not learn yoga asanas, you will learn the Shambhavi Mahamudra. This meditation takes 20 minutes and could be taught in less time.  Then why is the IE program 6 days long? Because it takes that long to break a person down and ‘convert’ them. Even Jaggi says that he makes the program long so he can “break down the concrete and till the soil of your mind” so he can plant the seed. He says Isha means seed, but I have not been able to confirm that with research. But either way, what seed is he planting?

    Keep in mind that the logical mind that agrees with sjv is also considered to be the obstacle to one’s spiritual freedom. He doesn’t want you to keep a skeptical mind. He will make an example of you if you question his comments in public. I’ve seen many people embarrassed in front of hundreds of others when they had a ‘skeptical’ question.  Yes, like now-or-never says, keep an open mind. But they don’t want you to have a mind in Isha. They want you to close it down (except when you use it to listen to his eloquent speeches) and accept Jaggi as your sadhguru.

    As far as brainwashing, I was IN. Even with my non-dogmatic, logical mind, I was a ‘believer.’ Over the years, I’ve seen many brilliant people easily turned into followers. And just in case you start to fall away from the indoctrination, they have monthly satsangs to keep you in the group. They obviously don’t give you the tools to be independent.

    Isha does have a Hatha Yoga class, but I believe it is mainly offered in Tennessee. At the ashram (of course). They don’t want ‘outsiders’ coming in to just learn Hatha Yoga and leave. No, Isha hatha Yoga is for the Isha devotees. They do allow outsiders into the Hatha program, of course, but the opportunity to recruit the outsiders into Isha is not wasted in that weekend program. Btw, sjv wholeheartedly discourages anyone teaching or learning yoga outside of his empire. Many yoga teachers go to his program hoping to learn some new yoga techniques, but instead, are told they are destroying their clients’ lives.

    So, in response to your question, I wouldn’t advise Isha Yoga.

    So what to do? I’m not one to make recommendations on what people should do. But a little something that I’ve realized…any kind of body energy work done consciously and with awareness will have dramatic effects on your physical and emotional health. examples: Tai chi, yoga asanas, pilates, stretching, exercise, etc. These, if done properly, can be a form of meditation as well.

    For a structured meditation practice, try something simple first. Again, not to tell people what to do, but maybe read about different techniques and try a few, especially the ones with little physical action. But ultimately, find your own practice by listening to your inner guidance.

    Otherwise, if you don’t mind paying the 300 dollars and listening to sjv telling you how unhappy you are….if you think you can keep a skeptical mind while being told that its a bad thing to have…if you don’t get caught up in Isha fever…if you can keep your open mind before, during and after the programs…if you want to experience shiva worship under the guise of spirituality….then go to Isha.”

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      As far as brainwashing, I was IN. Even with my non-dogmatic, logical mind, I was a ‘believer.’ Over the years, I’ve seen many brilliant people easily turned into followers. And just in case you start to fall away from the indoctrination, they have monthly satsangs to keep you in the group. They obviously don’t give you the tools to be independent.

      That’s distressing and funny at the same time! It reminds me of this tweet: “Gurus always want you to drop your “ego” so you can be easy prey for theirs!” that I saw on Diamond Sutra Zen feed.

      I think there is something about meditation in a group atmosphere which makes people drop their rationality. Maybe it is the wafting fumes of incense, the sense of security in being part of a group, etc.

      Sri Aurobindo has said, “The first thing people seem to surrender is their common sense!!” 🙂

      Reply
  7. Pingback: Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on Anandamayi Ma | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  8. Latha

    HI TO ALL, NOW I HAVE REACHED A STATE FROM WHERE LIFE HAS BECOME VERY CLEAR TO ME , LET ME TELL EVERY ONE IN THIS PATH OF SELF REALIZATION THERE IS NO PHYSICAL GURU AND WE OUR SELVES ARE OUR OWN GURUS AND WHAT THIS PHYSICAL GURU CAN DO IS GIVE GURU MANTRA AND GUIDE US WHENEVER ADVERSE SITUATIONS ARISE BECAUSE THIS PATH IS REALLY NOT VERY EASY, IT AT TIMES CAN ALSO BE LIFE THREATENING. if you are strictly attracted towards some one because of music and chantings and his blessings then he is truly not a guru but he is fulfilling his own desires and really not bothered about you. There will be many self realized people around the world but they don’t proclaim to be the guru etc. I am also enlightened to some extent to help you in this path you can feel free to call me on my no in Bangalore India 8050077773 or write to me on latasubu@yahoo.com

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Thank you Latha. I pray that millions of people call you to take advantage of your generous offer.

      Reply
  9. mike

    LOL.

    “I am also enlightened to some extent to help you in this path you can feel free to call me on my no in Bangalore India 8050077773 or write to me on”

    Should l send my credit card details too.

    “There will be many self realized people around the world but they don’t proclaim to be the guru etc”

    You could have fooled me lol. l must have missed them last time l looked.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      When she has thousands of people hounding her day and night without respite, asking for better health, more money, and what not, she might reconsider her desire to enlighten others.

      The novelist R.K. Narayan wrote a novel “The Guide” in which a corrupt tour guide who has taken shelter in an abandoned temple is mistaken by the credulous villagers to be a holy man. Initially, all goes well as the “holy man” gets free food from the grateful villagers, but later there is a famine in the village and due to some miscommunication, the villagers stop feeding the “holy man” because they assume he is fasting to bring rain to the village. The media picks up the story and descends on the village creating a huge spectacle. The emaciated tour guide, denied any food, eventually dies while standing in the river one morning. The last line of the novel uttered in a fit of delusion by him is: “Its raining up the hills, I can feel it under my feet!”

      Reply
  10. mike

    “Purani: Yes-but I didn’t go to him again. Another friend after coming here asked me if he should go to see some Yogi. I told him he should not. He replied, “What’s the harm? It is the same spirituality.” I explained, “Maybe, but there are different spiritual energies and one may oppose another.”

    Sri Aurobindo: Quite so.

    Purani: But the man didn’t believe me. And he has paid the penalty for five years. He still hasn’t come here again! [3].”

    lt would seem that this doesn’t apply to Sri Krishna, though. l remember a letter from SA too – l think it was Dilip Kumar Roy – telling him that there was no harm in his devotion to Sri Krishna because of the major influence Krishna had on SA’s sadhana and the Yoga in general.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Yes, that was ok because there was some influence of Krishna on SA. As SA wrote in the Letters on Yoga, “The lights indicate the action of certain forces, usually indicated by the colour of the light. Whitish blue is known as Sri Aurobindo’s light or sometimes Sri Krishna’s light.” (SABCL, Letters On Yoga Volume-23, Visions And Symbols)

      Reply
  11. Sandeep Post author

    Aug 13, 1928: Recently S. Doraiswamy gave a copy of Uma Sahasram (a composition by Ganapati Muni) for Sri Aurobindo’s perusal who seemed to have deeply appreciated it. And the Mother expressed on her own: “If Ganapati Sastri is inclined to come for the August 15th Darshan he is welcome.”

    See a blog dedicated to the works of Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni

    http://kavyakantha.blogspot.in/

    Reply
  12. Kai

    Dear Sandeep,
    I think I missed to post the comment after typing and hence re updating the same.

    //Purani: Yes-but I didn’t go to him again. Another friend after coming here asked me if he should go to see some Yogi. I told him he should not. He replied, “What’s the harm? It is the same spirituality.” I explained, “Maybe, but there are different spiritual energies and one may oppose another.”

    Sri Aurobindo: Quite so.//

    Will this be the case for Deities also?.The Deities have unique Forces, spiritual Energies and belong to different levels of the Cosmos. If one worships multiple Deities, will their influences and Forces conflict with each other or will it be complementary in benefiting the worshiper.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Thats a tough question.

      This is just my guess, but I don’t think the influence of multiple Deities creates the same problems as the influence of multiple Gurus. The Rig Veda, if we go by Sri Aurobindo’s interpretation, does talk of multiple Gods (indra, varuna, mitra, maruts) manifesting in different parts of the human consciousness.

      The problem of mixing multiple Gurus arises because the Guru’s consciousness is tied to the disciple in a much more personal and intimate manner. There exists an emanation of the Guru within the disciple’s inner being which allows the Guru to maintain constant contact and influence the disciple as and when needed. Read this Undated 1957 Agenda entry where the Mother once answered a disciple’s question: “What does it mean when you say you are with us all the time?”

      In particular, she says:

      “…there is a special personal bond of affection between you and me, between all who have turned towards Sri Aurobindo’s teaching and me – and of course, distance does not count; you may be in France, at the other end of the world, or in Pondicherry, but this bond remains just as real and as living. Each time there is a call, each time I need to know something to send out a force, an inspiration, a protection or whatever else, a sort of message suddenly comes to me, and I do what is needed. Obviously, these communications come to me at any moment whatsoever, and you may have seen me more than once suddenly stop in the middle of a sentence or some work: it means something, some communication is coming, so I concentrate.

      There is more than a bond with those whom I have accepted as disciples, those to whom I have said ‘yes’ – there is an emanation of myself. Whenever necessary, this emanation notifies me as to what is happening. In fact, I know constantly, but all these things are not registered in my active memory, otherwise I would be flooded – the physical consciousness acts as a filter: things are recorded on a subtle plane and remain there in the latent state, rather like music that is silently recorded, and when I need to know something with my physical consciousness, I plug into this subtle plane and the tape starts playing. Then I can see things, their evolution and the present result.

      And if, for some reason or other, you write asking for my help, and I answer, ‘I am with you,’ this means that the communication with you becomes active, that you are even in my active consciousness for some time – the time needed.

      And this bond between you and me is never cut. There are people who left the Ashram a long time ago, in a state of revolt, and yet I continue to know them and to take care of them. You are never abandoned. ”

      Incidentally, the Mother’s remarks are in accord with verses on the Guru-disciple relationship in the ancient Kularnava Tantra. In chapter 10, the Kularnava Tantra talks of vedhaka diksha(initiation by subtle impact) by which the Guru influences the disciple:

      “The wise shall effect the vedha (subtle impact) following the method received from the Guru. In a moment will the disciple in bonds get freed from them. This is intense, tivra, initiation yielding liberation. Merely by remembrance on the part of the Guru, proficient in the vedha, the disciple has his sin severed; this is the highly intense, tivratara diksha. Released from external activity he falls on the ground instantly; a godly state arises in him and he comes to know everything….Difficult to get is such a Guru who can initiate thus by subtle impact; difficult also is the disciple fit for it; it is only by happy conjunction of merit that he is obtained. But this initiation shall not be given to anybody and everybody; such is the Command.” (Kularnava Tantra translated by M.P. Pandit, Motilal Banarsidass, 2010, page 106)

      Reply
  13. Pingback: Practicing Yoga without a Guru | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  14. nizken

    Posting further reply here as I felt this was the appropriate thread for this topic of differentiating fake gurus…
    So is there any objective empirical evidence for how a guru must be like? Any ‘scientific’ empirical-based criterion at all? Or we all choose our gurus mostly in an entirely subjective ‘inner’ manner? For instance the Buddha was endowed with all the “holy marks” like long ears, handsome body yadda yadda….. u get the picture :p

    I’m a total novice and easily impressionable with a very teenage mind hence I’m always worried about my choices (since I’ve always made lots of mistakes in my amateur mind which is still at a teenage level, raging hormones and what not!) 😦 I’ve come to SA&M in very weird and peculiar circumstances but I’m still worried if I’ve made the right choice since it’s mostly an intellectual predilection and understanding which draws me to SA&M (and perhaps nostalgia for the Indian culture?)
    I had been searching for a perfect teacher or mentor in the real world especially among older people, professors and business ‘gurus’ in NYC etc but have mostly been disillusioned by what I’ve witnessed out there.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      The criteria is that the Guru must bestow an unmistakable spiritual experience on you, but in practice this does not work because immature people have delusions and claim to have received the same experience from a charlatan. As a result, it is difficult to decide who is right and who is wrong. Nobody can tell. There is no objective criteria.

      Nizken:I had been searching for a perfect teacher or mentor in the real world especially among older people, professors and business ‘gurus’ in NYC etc but have mostly been disillusioned by what I’ve witnessed out there.

      The perfect Guru will come when you have ripened and gained some spiritual maturity, as Mike already said. That will require some independent effort – some contemplation, philosophical development on your part, a longing for Divine, and a desire to see the reality behind the appearances. In this process, you may have to go through multiple teachers anyway, so why not learn from whoever is offering some wisdom ?

      There could even be times when you will get bored or disillusioned by all the “spiritual rhetoric” and turn your back on whatever you are learning right now. But that doesn’t matter because the seed has been planted and it will take a few seasons for the fruit to appear.

      Reply
  15. mike

    Yeah, nizken, l know what you mean. l started out with a sikh guru but then SA’s ‘letters on Yoga’ fell into my hands and when l saw His picture l believe there was some kind of ‘inner recognition’ and an immediate attraction or knowing – like l’d come home.
    A lot of experiences started after that that coincided with His teachings – like the Descent of Force etc…
    lt might be an idea if you ask SA and Mother to give you some experience or vision to confirm they are your Guru’s.
    l’m not in lndia so l’m not sure about the Guru situation there at the moment – sandeep and others here would know about that… l know there is M.MEERA in germany who a lot flock to, but l’m dubious about her.
    Of course, there is the Dalai Lama if you choose to go down that road.
    l still firmly believe, however, that when ‘the disciple is ready the Master will appear’ – no doubts about that.

    Reply
  16. Pingback: Energy but it is not my energy | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  17. Surya

    Avadhoot Shivanand Babaji never asked to treat Him as one’s Guru. In our sadhana also we can focus our own Guru, with whom we are connected (as we think) in our Agna chakra and do the sadhana. So there is no need to feel that you are having two Gurus. Once you are settled and calm inside and start craving for the higher level inside, if you are ready inside, your Guru will come to you by HIS own. You no need to worry about. So many enlightened masters are there in our country. You can gain knowledge and spiritual awakening from any of them you contact. It is always there in our country since ages. Paramhamsa Yogananda met Mahavatar Babaji in Kumbhmela at first. Obviously he might have enlightened and blessed him. His own family Guru was Lahiri Mahashaya, who save him from his almost death, when he was a child. They all Siddhas. But his Guru was (is) Sri Yuketswara Giri. What we say for this. He felt bliss in front of all the above three, when they gave him darshan. So, it is not a sin if you have So many Spirtual Guides, they might not be your Gurus. Your one and only Guru will come to you, when the time comes. Till then we can drink the nectar, cry with bliss, and truthfully go ahead with our sadhana. Namah Shivay.

    Reply
  18. mike

    “Paramhamsa Yogananda met Mahavatar Babaji in Kumbhmela at first. Obviously he might have enlightened and blessed him. His own family Guru was Lahiri Mahashaya, who save him from his almost death, when he was a child. They all Siddhas. But his Guru was (is) Sri Yuketswara Giri. What we say for this. He felt bliss in front of all the above three, when they gave him darshan. So, it is not a sin if you have So many Spirtual Guides, they might not be your Gurus”

    Surya, that’s different. All Yogananda’s gurus were of the same Kriya Yoga Lineage, so there was no problem. Not all Yoga’s or Paths are the same.

    Reply

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