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The Leading Ayurveda Medical College Hospital & Research Center

From Teacher to Guru

Today, in every college you can find lots of teachers. But we don’t find Great masters like P. J. Despande and K. N. Uduppaji. All of them belonged to another class whose attitude towards learning and teaching was unique. There were such Ācāryās even from our own Kerala, in and around our surroundings who were great Vaidyās too. Today, it is the need of the hour to start producing students of a higher calibre. Therefore it is all the more important to spend more and more time moulding teachers bringing forth such students.

What the teachers already know is more than enough; they already have plenty of wisdom. But the method of communication has to be really very powerful that even the students who are at an average level can comprehend. All teachers should elevate themselves from normal teachership and professorship into Gurūs.Here are few points to demonstrate the great difference between who is a teacher and who is a Guru?

  1. A teacher takes responsibility for your growth, but a Guru makes you responsible for your growth.

A teacher takes the students in their arms, teaches them the subjects, and gives them all the textbook knowledge and they keep growing from standard to standard, year after year. But a brilliant Guru makes the student responsible for his growth.

How does a Guru make them responsible? What are the essential tools that a Guru needs? Today in the scientific world, one has the most modern gadgets like spectrophotometer and atomic absorption metres and all those things. But to look inside the soul, what is the equipment that you require? Those same things are the ones a Guru needs for getting his students, sharpened through wisdom and guidance so that they become responsible for their growth, and for this Guru needs to have a sadhana.

In Ayurveda, we always say that “brahmē muhūrtē uttisthēt”; how many of our teachers follow it today? How many in the world are aware of this fact? Especially in the Ayurvedic community of students, it is never followed.

It is great that today so many students are requesting to guide them and to show them the right path.Starting a satsanga at five o’clock will help them get up in the morning, which means the students automatically wake up at four.It is to be noticed that the Guru has handed over many techniques for the disciples through his own example to be responsible for their own growth.

  1. A teacher gives the things a student doesn’t have and require, but a Guru takes away the things you have and you don’t require.

When somebody came to Ramana Maharshi, the Great Guru settled at Arunachala and told that he was coming from far away from Germany to learn many things. Maharsi replied-“Then you’ve come to the wrong place.If you want to learn, go to universities. This is a place where we unlearn you. You gathered so much knowledge, which is really not essential for the inner Journey”. And today in America, they have deschooling societies, where they realised that much of the knowledge that they gained does not help to achieve the highest of what is required in a life of peace and happiness. All of us are here on this Earth And what is it that we don’t have? We come across patients who are billionaires coming in their own aircraft for treatment. They have everything except peace and happiness. How do you make sense of that? It is obvious that the external material world doesn’t give one the necessary peace and happiness.

Then what is it that can give peace and happiness? It is the ‘ Atmasakshatkara ‘ (the self-realisation/ God-realisation). Of course, many youngsters may feel that all such things can be hunted for once they retire,but then they are late. If one can equip oneself to understand this early in their life,they get along in life to enjoy that blissful and beautiful journey. They can become a perfect version of themselves and become excellent teachers. They excel in whatever job they are doing and therefore the world starts appreciating them. But today almost everyone is either worried about the past or anxious about the future. Therefore what happens is that they miss the beautiful moments in the present.

And this is why the Guru has to remove all the ‘unwanted’ from the students. We have gathered so many unwanted things in life. For example; even cell phones. And today it is so unfortunate that even classes have started online.

  1. One needs to chip off all the unwanted things. 

There is a beautiful Zen story about a great carpenter. He was once asked by the king of China- “I hear that you create beautiful creations. Why don’t you make something for me? ”After a long time the king calls the carpenter and follows up on the request for making some beautiful art pieces. The carpenter replied, “Sir, I go to the forest and I ask every tree,are you prepared to come with me? I need to make an art piece for the king”.But they say “we are not prepared”. Those Zen Masters, whose profession may be carpentry, says “we are not creating it. The beauty is already there in the tree. But all the waste materials that we just chip and remove!”And this is what today’s Gurūs have got to do for the students who have so much unwanted material. They have the brilliance in them; already you just need to remove the dirt, so that they shine. A teacher answers your questions, but a Guru questions your answers.

Whatever you say the Guru keeps questioning. A great man, a great Vaidya used to come to Shornur Ayurveda College, and he was called “Bhrantan mūss”. Anything we say, he will start questioning it – Why did you say that? A Guru should be also able to make the students, question his answers.

  1. A teacher requires obedience and discipline from the pupil,but a Guru requires trust and humility from the pupil.

How does a Guru create humility? For that, the Guru should bea personification of humility. One may have the greatest knowledge, but one should be able to be humble.It should be just the language the Gurū speaks, the way they live their lives. They should become examples for the students to emulate and say “Oh this is the type of life we need to live”. So this is where the Guru requires, their trust and humility. Whatever the Guru says they should be prepared to accept it in total without any hesitation. But when teachers are the wrong models, the student will question “What is the type of life that you are living”? Fortunately today, among the teaching community, there are so many wonderful Gurūs.

  1. A teacher clothes you and prepares you for the outer journey, but a Guru strips you naked and prepares you for the inner journey.

Yes, the academies can give you Ph.D. and get you ready, forgetting a job in Infosys or TCS. All that dressing up is done by the teacher by giving the necessary qualifications. But the real Guru removes all the unwanted burdens. Swami Chinmayandaji used to say, “Strip and embrace”. The ego of the student has to be removed, and if the Guru needs to remove the ego of the student, he should be egoless too. In the  olden days, people remembered their Gurūs as long as they lived, but today they are just one among ‘300 students’. There is no connection between the teacher and the taught. For establishing such an individual relationship, one needs to have a love for the student. The teacher should make it a target to convert his students into one of the greatest Vaidyāson earth, who can take up future challenges.

  1. The teacher is a guide on the path, but a Guru is a pointer on the way.

He has to be able to point out which direction the disciple needs to go. What is it that he should do? In fact, the desire to choose Āyurveda itself should be initiated from schools. The teachers should elevate themselves to a level where they can show the students what they are brilliant for.

  1. A teacher sends you on the road to success, but a Guru sends you on the road to freedom.

Freedom or liberty or renunciation is separating from bondage and attachment. For that one needs to be a free bird. That doesn’t mean giving up the world and running away into the forest. One just needs to free himself from so many unwanted thoughts. Scientists have proved that about 22,500 thoughts pass through the human mind per day. With such a crowded brain can one ever concentrate on a science like Āyurveda? For most of the great Vaidyās, the secret was not the rational mind based on the knowledge that they gain but the intuitive knowledge and to shift from the right to left hemisphere, from the rational to intuitive, of the brain; one needs to know Tantra Shastra.

Success is defined in the modern era by all the money that one can make. But today the world has started realising money-making alone doesn’t make one successful. Why is Bill Gates (Microsoft) giving away all his money? Why are all the great billionaires in the U.S. giving away their money? It is due to a lack of peace and happiness. Sometimes success is getting freedom, happiness, living a life of blissfulness and God realisation. This is what real success is and what the students should be told. Find this is the freedom that they require.

  1. A teacher explains the world and its nature to you, a Guru explains yourself and your nature to you.

The teacher tells you what sort of the world they are going to face, what are the types of disease that is going to come,how one can tackle it, etc. Buta Guru makes one understand oneself.

These are the only questions India alone has asked. Who amI? Why am I here? What is my purpose in life? None of us have been born by accident; the Lord has created every one of us for a purpose. Getting a human birth is very rare.And what is special about human birth? Humans are the only creatures that have got the power of discrimination (Viveka buddhi). And today that Viveka buddhi is missing.Students say that they are confused about what they should select. This is where one needs a Guru. There should be somebody who can guide you. The Gurūs are the guides and guardians. In the field of Āyurveda,today there are lots of options available for everything. For example plant cultivation, literature survey and palm leaf manuscripts, etc. But today every student wants either a job in the government so that even without much work, they get their salary or they want a job in a company where they have job assurance or they put up a clinic. Other than that, they don’t know anything.A Guru should be able to tell them that, they could make a wonderful Guru, they could become a wonderful researcher and that Guidance should be given by a Guru where one can realise their own potential.

  1. A teacher gives you knowledge and boosts your ego,but a Guru takes away your knowledge and punctures your ego.

Knowledge, which is not essential for the disciples, should be removed. Most of the time, we find that all the great scientists, Thomas Edison or Newton,find answers not based on their rational studies or their knowledge, but from some outer world. If one is a chip of the whole, and if one can get himself connected with the whole, all the wisdom that is available will be open for him. We may see many examples, Swāmijīs who have studied only till the sixth standard, who did only cooking, have later become the president of Ramakrishna mission,guiding many eminent personalities all over the world.

There are several great texts of Āyurveda sāstra which are never referred to. It is certain that if one can elevate oneself to that level of consciousness, one can start tapping from all that great wisdom. This means that what one desires with intensity, comes to them. And if today’s Gurūs can be the real practitioners of this great school of science, they can transform today’s students and prepare them for the future world.

Many of the greatest scholars have already mentioned that the world is going to face many more critical conditions than Corona. Corona, in fact, is a ‘Kārunya’, because we have made a disaster in nature, and it needs to be undone. The duty of a Guru is to make the students capable enough to make it happen. Instead of just instructing, the Guru has to shape them, give them the beauty that they are meant to have. A Guru needs to be able to construct them. To reach that level one should own the essential yukti.

  1. A teacher sharpens your mind, but a Guruopens your mind.

Every great Master in India said that unless you go beyond the mind, the intellect will be used only for the wrong purposes. But if one can elevate oneself beyond the mind, then they go to that consciousness level that the Lord holds you and  it  takes you to the right path.

  1. A teacher instructs you on how to solve problems, but the Guru shows you how to resolve issues.

When a patient comes, it is better for a Vaidya to resolve his problems or issues than just treat his disease.

  1. A teacher is a systematic thinker, but a Guru is a lateral thinker.

Guru will always be thinking beyond frames.One can alwaysfind a teacher, but a Guru finds and accepts a student.

So it is for today’s Gurūs to find the rarest among the students. Take them into the hands and construct them, make them something unique.We need unique Vaidyās for the future,who need to take up the responsibility of building a totally new science of Āyurveda. Unfortunately In India today,we are following the IMC Act of 1970. If it is true then it is very sad that the same 1970 Act is going to be implemented in the new act also.If a Guru can equip the students with a great depth by which they can penetrate in a sharp sāstra like Āyurveda, then it can really make them take on the future challenges. For this,there are books that should be read by Gurūs like Tatvabōdha, Viveka Cudhamani. The right discrimination, vivēka buddhi, is very essential for a Vaidya which is unfortunately missing today.

One, as a teacher of a particular subject of Āyurveda, should be able to give the students a little bit of exposure through teaching. One must start living that type of life of an elevated soul to bestow Gurukrupa. Unfortunately, there are hardly any students who have any Gurukrupa or Daiva krupa.That is what we call ‘Kaipunyam’. Whatever medicine is given by that Vaidya, may not be connected with their rational thinking, but is sure to produce an effect.

 On elevating the consciousness to a greater height, a teacher becomes one of the rare gems of the Gurūs, whose name will go into history. Their students and the whole family would remember them as the teacher who moulded their sons to become great Vaidyās.

Article Prepared by

Vaidya Omprakash Narayan