Swami Chinmayanandaji was a world famous Guru. His divine aura, majestic personality, his magnetic teachings of Vedanta attracted people in hordes, purging their souls of all sorrow and enveloping them in silent bliss. A true guru, he was very particular that a guru-cult should not mushroom around him. He took great care to guide his disciples not to cling on to the form of the guru. Even if they took him as their Ishta (devotional altar) he insisted that they should not worship his form, but what the guru symbolised. He once wrote, “I wanted devotees not to mistake the container for the contained, the body for the self: Narayana. This mistake…is ignorance.” Once this was understood, then guru puja performed by any devotee would become an “alamban” (mental support). He cautioned the disciples about the pitfalls of clinging to the form. “Instead of falling for the guru-form fall for his ideas and ideals”, he said. “Seek the perfect who is Narayana.” No man is perfect.
Devotion to a teacher is advised to be practised diligently, but he said, “Let not the seekers hold on to the glittering outer flesh-cover of the teacher, but unwrap him and enjoy the ‘sweet’ core of his spiritual beauty and love”. Guru Bhakti must see the “mahatmya” in the mahatma (the pure consciousness that radiates from his form). “I am not one of those gurus who need their disciples ever to remain disciples. I want my early groups to learn now to stand independent of me…start detaching yourself from the Swami-support…else I will see you falling.” He always set his disciples free. Taoism believes “when the disciple is ready, the teacher appears, and when the disciple is absolutely ready, the teacher disappears.”
Prarthna Saran, President Chinmaya Mission Delhi can be contacted at prarthnasaran@ gmail.com