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.

sanātanā dharmā 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 – ‘jantūnāṃ narajanma durlabham’ – of all the creatures, human birth is the rarest. He goes on to say that rarer still is mumukṣutvaṃ, the  desire  to  realise  one’s  divinity,  and  rarest  is  to  find  the  company  of  a realised soul – mahāpuruṣa saṃśrayaḥ. 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 sanātanā dharmā 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 Bhagavad Gita 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.

sanātanā dharmā 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 sanātanā dharmā.

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 sanātanā dharmā?

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:

viveka

Discrimination between the temporary world and the permanent divine Self.

vairāgya

Detachment or dispassion towards the world and the worldly distractions.

shat sampat

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

mumukṣutvaṃ

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.