न शक्यसे वारयितुं गच्छेदानीं रघूत्तम।
शीघ्रं च विनिवर्तस्व वर्तस्व च सतां क्रमे॥ २-२५-२॥
–श्रीमद्वाल्मीकिरामायणे अयोध्याकाण्डे पञ्चविंशतितमे सर्गे
na śakyase vārayituṁ gacchedānīṁ raghūttama |
śīghraṁ ca vinivartasva vartasva ca satāṁ krame || 2-25-2||
–śrīmadvālmīkirāmāyaṇe ayodhyākāṇḍe pañcaviṁśatitame sarge
It is not possible to restrain your departure [any longer]. Depart now, Oh best amongst the Raghus!
Return soon, and tread in the footsteps of the righteous!”
Amazing! The first advice the great Kausalya gave Her Son, is to tread in the footsteps of the righteous! Surely, Lord Rama didn’t need that advice (of course, it’s for us), but Kausalya just underlines the importance of that. No wonder, this is also one of the most fundamental cornerstones of Sanatana Dharma (and the need for a Guru!). It’s also worth quoting another fantastic conversation in Mahabharata (thanks to the eloquent Vasu Srinivasan):
कः पन्थाः ? asks yakSha. “What is the road?” I would have just asked back “To where?”.
तर्क: अप्रतिष्ट: श्रुतयो विभिन्ना: न एको ऋषि: यस्य मतम् प्रमाणम् ।
धर्मस्य तत्त्वं निहितम् गुहायाम् महाजनो येन गतः स पन्थाः ॥
Yudhishtra’s first utterance is “tarkaH apratiShTaH”. A quote on which vyAkhyAna can be done for hours I guess. “Logic is baseless”. Logic has been the considered the greatest employment of human intellect since Aristotle, Plato down to the European philosophers, who have spent their lifetime only in logic. But Yudhishtra dismisses it curtly – Logic is limited, baseless and cannot be relied upon.
“srutayo vibhinnAH” – vedA-s say different things! “na eko rShiH yasya matam pramANam” – There is not a single rishi whose word is an authority! Its just a poetic way of expressing that vedA-s are interpreted differently and every rishi worth his beard has an opinion. “dharmasya tattvam nihitam guhAyAm”. The truth about dharma is hidden in a deep cave! What the Huh? Where did dharma come from? What does it have to do with logic or vedas or roads? Each rishi is attempting to explain what is “dharma”, but nobody has a single opinion about it and nobody really knows what dharma is. And then he finally ties them all beautifully – “mahAjano yena gataH saH panThaH” – the road travelled by great people is the one to follow (for mokSha)! The great ones have already figured it out, you just follow the road paved by them. yakSha was not even asking about a physical road! That is the fault of translation or misunderstanding of contexts.
गुरुर्न स स्यात् स्वजनो न स स्यात्
पिता न स स्याज्जननी न सा स्यात्।
दैवन्न तत् स्यात् न पतिश्च स स्यान्-
न मोचयेद्यः समुपेत-मृत्युम्॥५-५-१८॥
—श्रीमद्भागवते पञ्चमे स्कन्दे पञ्चमोऽध्यायः
gururna sa syāt svajano na sa syāt
pitā na sa syājjananī na sā syāt|
daivanna tat syāt na patiśca sa syān-
na mocayedyaḥ samupeta-mṛtyum||5-5-18||
—śrīmadbhāgavate pañcame skande pañcamo’dhyāyaḥ
One is not a guru (worthy of being a guru); one is not a relative
One is not father; one is not a mother;
One is not a deity; one is not a husband;
If they cannot guide those dependent from [the cycle of birth and] death.
Basically, the one who cannot guide their dependents in the path toward moksha, is not worthy of being a guru/relative or well-wisher/father/mother/deity or husband!
माता पिता गुरुश्चेति त्रयो वन्द्या नृणां सदा।
आयुर्यशो बलं चेति त्रीण्याप्नोति तदाशिषा॥
He who always (shows) respects (bows to) mother, father and guru,
receives long life, fame and strength (these three) by their blessings.
[Thanks to Shri Srikanth Srinivasan]
चक्षुरून्मीलितं येन तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः॥
ajñāna-timirāndhasya jñānāñjana-śalākayā |
cakṣurūnmīlitaṁ yena tasmai śrīgurave namaḥ||
Prostration to that Guru, who, through the collyrium of Knowledge, opens the eye of those blinded by the gloom of ignorance.
रविसन्निधिमात्रेण सूर्यकान्ता प्रकाशयेत्।
गुरुसन्निधिमात्रेण शिष्यज्ञानं प्रकाशयेत्॥
ravisannidhimātreṇa sūryakāntā prakāśayet|
gurusannidhimātreṇa śiṣyajñānaṁ prakāśayet||
Only in the presence of the sun, does the sunflower bloom.
[In the same way], only in the presence of the preceptor, does a student’s knowledge shine!
एकस्यैव गुरोर्दृष्ट्या द्वाभ्यां वापि लभेत यत्।
न तत् तिसृभिरष्टाभिः सहस्रेणापि कस्यचित्॥
ekasyaiva gurordṛṣṭyā dvābhyāṁ vāpi labheta yat|
na tat tisṛbhiraṣṭābhiḥ sahasreṇāpi kasyacit||
What one obtains with one glance (careful attention) or two bestowed by a guru (preceptor).
The same is not obtained with the assistance of three, eight or even a thousand (teachers).
इमं लोकं मातृभक्त्या पितृभक्त्या तु मध्यमम्।
गुरुशुश्रूषया त्वेव ब्रह्मलोकं समश्नुते॥
imaṁ lokaṁ mātṛbhaktyā pitṛbhaktyā tu madhyamam|
guruśuśrūṣayā tveva brahmalokaṁ samaśnute||
By honouring/worshipping (one’s) mother he gains this world, by honouring one’s father the middle sphere, but by obedience to his Teacher, the World of Brahman.
गुरुः पिता च माता च सर्वेषां न्यायवर्तिनां॥
gururbandhurabandhūnāṁ guruścakṣuracakṣuṣāṁ |
guruḥ pitā ca mātā ca sarveṣāṁ nyāyavartināṁ ||
"The teacher is kin to those who dont have any relatives; the teacher is an eye for the blind.
The teacher is father and mother to everyone who lives on the path of justice."
आचार्य देवो भव।
ācārya devo bhava|
गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णुर्गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः।
गुरुस्साक्षात् परम् ब्रह्म तस्मै श्री गुरवे नमः॥
gururbrahmā gururviṣṇurgururdevo maheśvaraḥ|
gurussākṣāt param brahma tasmai śrī gurave namaḥ||
ओम् श्री गुरुभ्यो नमः।
om śrī gurubhyo namaḥ|
It is customary to start any work with an invocation of all the gurus!