During my Satsang tour to Connecticut, New Jersey and New York last week, I had the opportunity to listen to a young devotee who very nicely explained how to recognize the True Guru and his true nature. I found it fascinating and requested him to write it down and share with those who were not present there.
The nature of the True Guru
During the 1700s, there was a scripture written in northern India (Punjab) by an anonymous author and it is called the Prem Sumaarg Granth. This scripture literally translates to English as ‘the scripture of the path of love’. Within the Granth (scripture), there is a short section, which discusses how people can recognize the True Satguru. It lists a number of signs to identify the True Guru.
The first sign listed in this Granth is ‘the guru’s body has no shadow’. The second sign is that the Guru is always fasting; the guru neither eats nor drinks. The third sign is that it is impossible to grasp the body of the guru with one's hand. If one attempts to touch the guru, it is as if you are touching air, or it feels as if you are touching nothing. The fourth sign is the guru has no parents.
I’ve attempted to apply these signs to our Satguru to see if he is really the True Guru.
The first sign listed above is that the Guru has no shadow. Does my Satguru have a shadow? Recently during a Samagam in North America, I had seen Baba Ji step out from a building. It was a sunny day, and the sunlight struck Baba ji’s body and on the ground I saw his shadow. Baba ji indeed has a shadow. Thereupon, he did not pass the first sign, so I moved on to the next sign.
The second sign is ‘the Guru is always fasting’; the guru neither eats nor drinks. Does my Satguru not eat and drink? Many of us have seen Baba ji eat and drink. Although he may not eat and drink as much as an average person, nonetheless, he still eats and drinks. Therefore, Baba ji did not pass the second sign either.
The third sign is that it is impossible to grasp the Guru with one's hand. If one attempts to touch the guru, it feels as if you are touching nothing. But when we do Namaskar to Baba ji, we all touch his feet and we feel them as being solid and graspable and his body does not feel like air. Hence, he did not pass the third sign.
The fourth sign is that Guru has no parents. Does Baba Hardev Singh ji have parents? Yes, he does indeed, and on that account, Baba Ji did not pass the fourth sign either.
My Guru Baba Hardev Singh Ji did not pass a single sign mentioned above. What do we make of this? Does it mean he is not the True Satguru?
The key here is to realize what the ‘Guru’ truly is.
The Guru is not the Shreer (body), the Guru is the Gyana.
The True Satguru fails all the signs listed above if he is conceived to be the physical body but when it is realized that Satguru is not the body, but this Formless Absolute (Nirankar), and then he passes all the signs.
Baba Avtar Singh Ji asserts, “Bachan Guru da hai rab aape, bar bar Avtar kahe.” (Avtar Bani, Verse 259)
The Gyan or the Word is Guru and it is the Formless Nirankar. The Guru is body-less, the Guru is formless, and the Guru’s features are featureless.
Now let’s reexamine the signs with the understanding that Guru Hardev is not the form, but the formless. The formless, which is the true Guru, has no shadow. All physical objects have a shadow but no matter how much light you shine on Guru's real body (the Formless), it does not cast a shadow. Moreover, the True Guru; the Formless does not eat or drink. The formless is self-sustaining and self-sufficient; it does not require external objects for sustenance.
Thirdly, it is impossible to touch Guru's body (Formless body), when we attempt to touch it or grasp it, it is as if we are moving our hand through empty space.
Lastly, Baba Hardev, as the Formless Guru, has no parents. The formless does not beget nor is it begotten. Hence, the devotee always lives with the conviction that the Satguru is not the physical body but the Formless.
We might have heard that Satguru Baba Hardev Singh Ji will be soon blessing us with a North American Spiritual Tour. With that news, I got very excited thinking it would be an opportunity for me to be close and near to my Guru. But I soon realized that nearness to Satguru is not attained physically. Though the True Master is the Formless Absolute personified in physical form, but true liberation/salvation (mukti) and true bliss (Aanand) is not obtained by physical proximity to the Satguru. One may stand next to the Guru and watch the Guru for the rest of their life, one may do Namaskar (prostrations) to the Guru’s feet a thousand times, and one may follow the Guru wherever he goes, but that will not provide one with true liberation or true Bliss.
As it is stated in the Gurbani,
“Satgur nu sabh ko vekhada jetaa jagat sansaar.
Dithai mukat na hovaee, jichar shabad na kare vichaar”.
SGGS page 594
“One is not liberated by merely physically seeing the Satguru (or being physically near to the Satguru); unless one contemplates on his Shabad”.
Shabad means Gyan (God-knowledge) and Vichar means to contemplate or investigate. When we investigate and contemplate the Gyan, then only true liberation and true bliss is achieved.
Nearness to the Satguru is obtained by nearness to Gyana (Enlightenment), because the Satguru himself is the Gyan, and the Gyan is the Formless, and the Formless is always with us.
Undoubtedly, there is great bliss and happiness when Satguru (the Formless God) comes in physical form and provides his darshan (divine glimpse) and blessings to his beloved devotees, but that bliss and joy does not have to leave when the Guru leaves. That bliss can be maintained eternally by realizing that Satguru exists within us. A saint once said, “The guru never comes, the guru never goes. Fortunate are those, who find the guru within their souls!”
The Sufi mystic saint, Jalaluddin Rumi, states: “Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes, because for those who love with their heart and soul there is no such thing as separation.”
We are never without the Satguru, for he is always present within our hearts. And to find the Satguru within oneself, within the soul, requires contemplating and investigating the Gyana.
Investigating the Gyana means to find out ‘Who am I?’ Who and ‘What is Real Guru?’ and when we find the answer to these questions, we will come to realize a deep secret, that the Guru, Nirankar, and the Self are absolutely one and that I can never be separated from the Satguru, whether I am physically close to him or not.
As most of us know, Lord Shri Ram had a beloved devotee by the name of Hanumaan. In many television series, Hanuman Ji is often depicted as a monkey. When Shri Ram Ji met Hanuman for the very first time, Shri Ram ji asked, "What are you, are you a monkey or a man?" Hanuman bowed his head before Shri Ram and with folded hands he said, "Shri Ram, my Lord, when I do not know who I am, I serve You, I do your seva and when I do know who I am, You and I are One."
Hence, Hardev is not the body, Hardev is the Formless.
By: Anik Paul, New York