A guru who is a realised being and totally selfless, an ocean of compassion and ever ready to help the seeker realise the truth, is placed even above Gods is what we learnt in the last article. However, a good teacher without a good student would not be of much consequence. A guru’s wisdom finds fulfilment when it meets with the untiring efforts of an earnest seeker. Who is an earnest seeker? Who is eligible to know his divinity and how? This is the subject of discussion in this article.

sanātana dharma proclaims that of all the species born on earth, human birth is the rarest and the most sacred as it is only through a human birth that one can realise one’s divinity. Sri Adi Shankaracharya in his work vivekacūḍāmaṇi, the highest treatise on discrimination, begins his discourse by saying – ‘jantūnāṁ narajanma durlabham’ – of all the creatures, human birth is the rarest. He goes on to say that rarer still is mumukṣutva, the  desire  to  realise  one’s  divinity,  and  rarest  is  to  find  the  company  of  a realised soul – mahāpuruṣa-saṁśraya. While it may not be a surprise that human birth is one of the best births that one can have on this earth, as compared to the plant or animal species, most would imagine that it is so due to the several abilities that distinguish humans from other species. For instance, the ability to walk on two legs, speak several languages, have a very developed intellect, being able to invent and innovate and so on. But our scriptures call it the rarest and most difficult to receive, not because of the physical, mental or intellectual capacities, but the spiritual potential hidden in every human to be able to realise his or her divine nature.

We know by now that the fundamental tenet in sanātana dharma is that ‘all is divine’, animate and inanimate. However, the ability and opportunity to realise one’s divinity is given only to humans and not to other species. Yogically it is due to the ‘erect spine’ that humans are  endowed with, which is a must to perform yogic practises to experience the higher truth of divinity, but more importantly it is due to the inherent potential in terms of ‘self-enquiry’ and thereafter ‘directed efforts’ to realise one’s divinity which makes homosapiens special. One may argue that on this planet, inhabited by over 7.8 billion humans who seem to grow in numbers year after year, human birth does not seem to be a rare phenomenon or difficult to have. But one must understand that it’s not just about getting an erect spine, but more importantly developing the desire to realise divinity which is rarer to come by. A human who is only concerned about eating, sleeping, securing and procreating, is no better than an animal and our scriptures call such a human as narapaśu or a ‘human equal to animal’. Therefore, humans desirous of divinity are truly rare. Sri Krishna says in the bhagavadgītā that out of thousands of humans only a few develop the desire to know the truth and plod efforts towards that. And out of thousands of those who exert themselves, very few realise the truth. So, to be born a human may not be as rare as to be the seeker of truth, and the rarest would be to realise the truth.

A gurukula was a place where a realised Master lived and taught students, both the knowledge of this world (aparā vidyā) and that of the spiritual world and beyond – (parā vidyā), and thus prepared them for their societal lives which were founded on strong spiritual values.

In today’s world driven by materialistic and pleasure-seeking societies, such a seeker is truly rare to find. However, the situation was not so abysmal a few millennia ago when everyone was taught these basics of spiritual life in a well organised system of education called gurukula. A gurukula was a place where a realised Master lived and taught students, both the knowledge of this world – aparā vidyā and that of the spiritual world and beyond – parā vidyā, and thus prepared them for their societal lives which were founded on strong spiritual values. A child was sent off to a gurukula at the age of seven for a good 10-14 years of education, which meant that the child would have to stay away from the biological parents for the stipulated period of time. This ensured that the guru had total freedom in training the pupil according to his or her inclinations and abilities. And since there was no education fee then, unlike modern times, this completely residential system of education of gurukula was available to one and all. Unfortunately, over a period of time this culture dwindled with the onslaught of materialistic and selfish societies. The mighty and divided, deprived the weak of this wonderful opportunity to learn both spiritual and material knowledge for free which was the basis for an equitable and egalitarian society.

sanātana dharma which believes that all are divine and therefore equal in the eyes of God, is the only permanent solution to all the problems of the world today. Peace in the world can be established only when all humans live in harmony. This harmonious society is possible when all humans lead a spiritual and divine life where they respect all creation as divine, leaving no scope for disparities and differences. Human birth can truly be sanctified only if all make efforts to seek the divine within and without, and abide by the principles of sanātana dharma.

Why is that all humans don’t develop this earnestness to seek the truth and thereby lead happy and contented lives? What stops them from accepting and following such lofty principles of sanātana dharma?

Let’s discuss in the next article.

The qualities of a true seeker

Sri Adi Shankara says that a true seeker must have these four qualities:


Discrimination between the temporary world and the permanent divine Self.


Detachment or dispassion towards the world and the worldly distractions.


Six possessions which are śama (Control of mind), dama (Control of senses), uparati (Withdrawal of senses and the mind from the external to within), titikṣā (Forbearance), śraddhā (Sincere faith in the words of the guru and the scriptures), and samādhāna (Equanimity).


Intense desire to attain mokṣa or freedom. Only those possessed with these four qualities could qualify to earn the grace of the guru and attain the ultimate realisation of one’s divinity.