Yoga Retreat
Mother As First Guru ( By Swami Gurupremananda Saraswati
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~What is a Guru?~

   I know that for many people, the term guru is a real turn-off. They immediately think of bearded old Hindu men in orange robes or else their understanding of gurus has come from cult movements which have gone off the rails under the guidance of a fanatical, brainwashing, power hungry, money hungry, religious hypocrite. But please, for now, just put aside any such concerns and let me explain from the very beginning some of the real meaning and purpose behind the guru concept and its true historical, as well as contemporary, significance.
I wanted to deal right up front with this topic to get rid of any pre-conceptions and fears you may have when you bought this book. I wanted to set the scene, to get straight to the heart of the matter, as it were.
   From the traditionalist yoga point of view, the term guru is frequently misunderstood and misused in present day language. Today there are so many different perspectives on what is, what isn't, who is and who isn't a guru. There are real gurus, bogus gurus; rich gurus, poor gurus; gurus with one follower, gurus with millions; Himalayan gurus, Californian gurus; city gurus, rural gurus; living gurus, passed on gurus. In addition, one often hears mention of economic gurus, computer gurus, celebrity gurus, sports gurus, as well as all the wayward gurus of religious cults and sects.
   However, the term guru should not be confused with mundane titles such as teacher, expert, pandit, mentor, professor or even genius. A guru may well be one of these things, but that is not their primary qualification. They may just as well be a complete nobody, a lay person, someone of a lower class, or someone completely uneducated.
   To properly understand the meaning of the term guru it is necessary to delve into its origins, the ancient Sanscrit language, known to be over 6,000 years old.
   Sanscrit is a language which addresses the deepest philosophical and spiritual concepts known to humanity. It has survived to this day through the preservation of scriptural texts and the initiatory oral traditions of yoga and other connected Eastern philosophies. Its syllables and words are said to be derived from primal sounds, which some scholars believe are the very archetypes of human speech patterns. Many of the profound spiritual concepts commonly

direct translation into other languages.
   In Sanscrit "gu" means dark or darkness and "ru" means light, therefore the most literal meaning of guru is: from darkness to light.
   So in the broadest sense and the most impersonal interpretation of the word, guru can mean any person, animal, thing or even situation which leads a person to greater insight, knowledge, understanding or meaning in their life.
   The Sanscrit language however discriminates between a meta-physical guru and a physical guru. The term Satguru defines the ultimate guru of gurus. Sat means truth, so Satguru means the true guru, guru of the truth, the supreme guru, in short, what is commonly called God. At this level, the enlightener, that is the one who leads us from darkness to light, is completely beyond earthly   form.
   Worldly gurus on the other hand, Jagatgurus, are like God's helpers, manifest beings who are doorways through which a spiritual seeker can come to know the ultimate, formless guru. As Jesus Christ said: "No-one comes to the Father but by Me". Here he was openly declaring his status as a worldly guru through which his followers could reach God, his non-worldly father, the ultimate guru.
   So in a practical and personal sense, the term guru most accurately applies to a living person (who may be either male or female) who (i) is a realised spiritual being or knower of God (ii) actually understands and experiences the deep mysteries of life (iii) has transcended the normal daily limits of consciousness and (iv) is qualified to lead another person towards these same states of experience. The closest terms in the English language would be saint or son of God.
   Whilst religious devotees of many creeds believe that their God is the one and only guru, and that such a state must not be, in fact cannot be, attained by mere mortals, on the other hand, yoga philosophy allows the possibility of attainment of guruhood by any human. Furthermore, some atheists and independent thinkers believe that every person is in fact their own guru and that we need no-one other than our own selves to enlighten us. Alternatively, the animists, naturalists and evolutionists believe that it is mother nature in all her aspects who is really the true guru whilst traditionalist yogis (like myself) believe in attaching to a living person to gain guidance along the way to self realisation and the experience of one's own Godliness.

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Please Note:
The complete ‘Mother As First Guru’ Set also contains Book 2 + 2 audio cds. Book 2 relating to comprehensive Yoga Practices as well as the Audio Instructional practices (2 cd set) are only available with your purchase and is NOT available on the Reading Room.

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