After a brief hiatus, here I am, back to writing the alphabetical series. G is a significant letter to me. Because G implies a lot of important names and relations in my life. And I am going to capture the most revered and less understood, and least explored relationship – Guru.
The word ‘Guru’ is originally a Sanskrit word that stands for a multitude of meanings. Yes, not just multiple meanings but a multitude of meanings. Every meaning draws a parallel with its counterpart and these parallels draw parallel universes of perspectives and implications. A Guru is a living example of several layers of traits and emotions. There is a constant thirst for knowledge and drive in a Guru. This undying passion with impeccable compassion, is just one of several feathers of blissful layers entrapped. Now why this hype for a simple word? Let’s unravel the pearls of wisdom one after another.
A Guru has been a student, a pupil, a teacher, a parent, a mentor and even God. So the perspectives should not surprise us. Rather, it is humbling.
The definition –
Guru = ‘Gu’ (Darkness, ignorance, inner demons) + ‘Ru’ (Energy that enlightens)
Reference – Sundara Kandam Chapter# 1 in Ramayana.
A Guru plays several roles in the life of a pupil.
Guru, the mentor
Guru, third parent
Guru as a friend
Guru, a step ahead of God
By basic definition, Guru enlightens the pupil. Guru acts as a mentor when the pupil is already exposed to the subject and a mentor (read a good mentor) is usually straight forward and a bit strict. The pupil would never get the answer to the questions. Rather they would be asked another question that would take them to the answer. Such mentors see a future self in the pupil and hence use the stick approach for the best of minds to thrive.
When the pupil struggles, a Guru’s heart goes out to do anything to restore a student’s welfare – much more than a parent sometimes. If a pupil had genuine passion and drive, they wouldn’t really need to meet their (maanaseega) Guru. A maanaseega Guru is closely translated as an inspiration. Seeing their Guru’s shine from a distance, and watching their glory would quench a sincere pupil’s quest. Sachin Tendulkar, Michael Jackson, and a plethora of other celebrities are the maanaseega gurus of at least billions to be pessimistic.
In Sanskrit, “Maathaa”(Mother), “Pithaa”(Father), “Guru”, “Dheivam”(God) is the hierarchy. That’s right. God comes only next to Guru. It is a fair place to that person who showers unconditional knowledge and expertise. In fact, it is considered impossible to level a Guru’s contribution in a pupil’s life. And now I am coming to my favorite parallel of a Guru – the teacher.
Guru, the teacher
If mentoring is a Guru’s vision, teaching would be their blood group. The role of a Guru as a teacher is to expose the child to this bountiful world and beyond. The teacher confidently holds the pupil’s hand and open their minds to see and think through their own minds. In the process of learning and teaching, there is a bit of nervousness with the teacher about the pupils’ attention span. So they come up with creative ways to keep the student engaged. All this, is just until their passion picks up. During the course of teaching, the teacher and the passionate pupils identify each other and the joy of learning elevates.
An interesting example of teacher – student (‘Gurukul‘) relationship is shown in Mahabharata. Drona was the greatest of warriors and was destined to teach archery to Arjun and his brothers (about a hundred of them). To prove his instinct to himself, he lines up the pupils and ask them to focus on a target. From the bark of the tree, to the tiniest leaf to the sky and a parrot, all the pupils maneuver while Arjun redefines focus like a stoic wick of a lamp, and spots the parrot’s eye without a blink. The lesson was done. Yes. The idea was not to arrow the target, but to spot it without getting distracted. It was a Eureka moment for the teacher. He had discovered his favorite student for archery. No one else understood what led Drona to decide on Arjun, not even Arjun fathomed his teacher’s attention. Drona was judged by the other students, for being hasty and was suspected of nepotism to Arjun over Ekalavya. But Drona did not give in. His joy and passion reached the climax only after it cost Ekalavya his thumb to prove his loyalty. The takeaway that I wish to bring to light is Drona’s vision for Arjun. He did not see an archer better than Ekalavya in Arjun. But he saw burning ambition, devotion and most of all, he saw his instinct come alive. He could compromise no more.
What does a Guru see in a student? It is an inexplicable rush. Mounting orgasm of knowledge that overtakes rest of the choices given to them. The idea is not to judge their rush, rather understand the latent ability and the love of a teacher to foresee and identify talent, irrespective of any reservations. This is not just an instinct. This is more than a skill. This is vision. This defines a Guru.
This post is 7/26 of AtoZChallenge.
This post is also a submission to ‘The Daily Post’s ‘ daily prompt.