in the teachings of Guru has immeasurable power to transform our barren
hearts into fertile grounds of devotion. The world can be won with
great intellectual capabilities; however, the grace of Guru is received
only by practicing devotion with humility. Even if one were illiterate
and cannot comprehend the divine teachings of the Guru, but reposes
faith in him, one will benefit immensely.
one of the four disciples of Ādi Śaṅkarāchārya, attained divine
knowledge through the grace of his Guru alone. Totakāchārya was a boy
named Giri when Ādi Śaṅkarāchārya came into his life and accepted him as
his disciple. Giri was not as bright as the other disciples -
Sureshwara, Padmapāda, Hastamālaka - were, but he was devoted to his
Guru and served his Guru with utmost love and dedication. Although he
could not comprehend his Guru's teachings as the other disciples could,
he would listen with rapt attention and in great faith. The other
disciples had the misconception that Giri was less intellectual than
they were, that he failed to grasp the subtle significances of the Vedic
verses, and therefore they discounted him.
day, while Giri had gone to the river to wash the Guru's clothes, Ādi
Śaṅkarāchārya waited for Giri to return before he could start his
exposition. Watching this, one of the disciples questioned impatiently,
"Guru ji, why should we wait for one who he is no better than a wall?"
To prove Giri's faith and devotion, and to quell the pride of his other
disciples, Ādi Śaṅkarāchārya in an instant illuminated Giri and called
out to him.
by his Guru's grace, Giri returned from the river in a blissful state.
Right at the moment, he composed extemporaneous Toṭakāṣṭakam in praise
of his Guru Ādiśaṅkarāchārya. From then on, the humble Giri went on to
become Totakāchārya, one of the foremost disciples of Ādi Śaṅkarāchārya.
is the grace of a true Guru! Now, the question of paramount importance
is - who is a true Guru? The meaning of the word 'Guru' is:
गु शब्दस्त्वन्धकारस्यात् रू शब्दस्तन्निरोधक: ।
अन्धकार निरोधित्वात् गुरुरित्यभिधीयते ।।
gu śhabdastvandhakārasyāt ru śhabdastannirodhakaḥ
andhakāra nirodhavāt guurityabhidhiyate
(Advaya Tārakopanishad 16)
syllable 'gu' means darkness, and 'ru' means to destroy." Hence, one
who dispels our nescience and brings to us the light of true wisdom is
the Guru. A true Guru has two qualifications - Śhrortirya and Brahm Niṣhth. Śhrortirya means one who possess theoretical knowledge of the scriptures. Brahm Niṣhth means one who has realized that knowledge and is seated in the Truth. Of the two, the second criterion is the most important
one, that is the Guru must be God-realized. And our scriptures have
extolled the position of such true Guru to God. Shree Krishna himself