GURU SISHYA PARAMPARA - The Reservoir of Authentic Rishiculture Yoga

  • By Yogacharya Dr Ananda Balayogi
  • February 20 2020
  • Article tells you about how the Guru-Sishya tradition worked and how it has changed, not for the better.

Guru-Sishya Parampara is the abundant living reservoir of traditional wisdom of the timeless art and science of Yoga, one of the greatest treasures of our Indian culture. This unbroken lineage passed on the undiluted teachings from master to disciple, who then became a master to his disciples, thus safeguarding the wisdom of the lineage for generations to come.

As Swami Gitananda Giri would say, "The real Guru enables their disciple to manifest their potential thus becoming a Guru themselves. The goal is to empower them and NOT to keep them, limited and disempowered as a disciple forever"

Purity, fidelity and clarity of purpose were maintained by such a seamless transmission based on value, trust, love and reverence. The disciple had to first earn the trust of the Guru and prove to be worthy of the teachings before they were imparted the timeless wisdom with heartfelt blessings. Those on the side of the disciple were received with gratitude and transmitted to the next generation in a similar manner. Utopian ideals and a spirit of altruism were the cardinal principles guiding the uninterrupted transmission of universal wisdom.

This was the traditional system through which the highest quality of teaching was sustained. It was a strict quality control mechanism that ensured the highest understanding and practical applications of Yoga were neither diluted nor degenerated into a business model.

To strike water, one needs to dig deep in one place. Maharishi Patanjali in his timeless Yogasutra advises us to follow “Ekatatva abhyasa”, meaning thereby that one needs to go consistently and persistently as deep as possible on the singular path one has chosen towards transformation and liberation. This is the same with any living system of knowledge as the tendency to go hopping from one tradition to another only leads to one becoming a puddle digger. Such a person never gets to the source of water, nor the life enriching teachings.

The Guru-Sishya relationship is a “One-to-One” relationship that encompasses every human relationship under the sun. This is based on an intimate, dynamic, and experiential connection that ignites, sustains and drives one's Yogasadhana towards fruition. It is based on a sense of freedom and individual choice rather than dogma and bondage.

The space for such enfoldment is the Guru Kula, the womb of the Guru where the Sishya is nourished and inner growth facilitated in a loving, yet disciplined manner. Just as a mother enables her child to grow in her womb, the Guru enables their Sishya to grow spiritually in a safe and nourishing environment.

This inner growth is natural and adequate time is given for it to occur in a spontaneous and Sahaja manner. It is neither artificial, nor externally forced at any point of time. This facilitates the process of an individual’s growth into their Universal Nature.

The Guru never holds on to the Sishya nor lets them hold on to them. The Sishya is not meant to be a replica of the Guru. They are helped to become the "best" they that they can be. This is true freedom. This is true growth. This is true love. Without such a relationship, can true spiritual growth manifest?

However as with any other human hierarchical system, degeneration set in and the misuse and abuse of power by many ‘leaders’ led to a breakdown of this system with generalized distrust creeping into the sacred relationship.

Modern mega “Guru-s” are the antithesis of this concept as they lack an intimate direct connection with their followers who just put them on a pedestal and “hero worship” them. They have created "Brands" that lack substance and are more based on external packaging than content. This is just mass hysteria and "rock star" tendencies clothed in spiritual terms. They are basically just “Spiritual MBAs” and “Spiritual CEOs”. Disciples have become sheep to be counted and used to create empires.

The same can be said about the “Dead Guru” phenomenon where the follower can worship their dead guru and justify everything they think, say and do as being “Approved by the Guru”. This is nothing but an illusionary "Bhrantidarshan" that Maharishi Patanjali quotes as an obstacle to spiritual progress.

In modern times this has manifested in an Anti-Guru movement that tries to bypass this time-tested methodology and make it seem redundant. Terms like Post-Modern Yoga and Post-Lineage Yoga are brandied around as if no one needs guidance on the path anymore. This is the result of the glorification of the individual ego in recent times, and a tendency to think that we know what is best for us. This to me is no more than an excellent illustration of the saying, 'The blind trying to lead the blind'.

This lacks rationality as the very soul of the teachings is lost when the teachings are debased into mere techniques and theoretical concepts rather than being transformative tools of self-realization. This has resulted in people trying to ‘DO” Yoga rather than “BE” Yoga.

Yoga is a state of being and the attainment of this exalted “state of being” requires Guru Krupa.

Modern Yoga that bypasses the Guru-Sishya Parampara is NOT Yoga anymore but is just a cheap plastic imitation that lacks life, light and soul. It may "look" like Yoga, but is not the real deal anymore.

Author is Director CYTER and Professor Yoga Therapy, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, Pondicherry,


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