Jan 23, 2023

Worried about the greying of gurudom?

Narayani Ganesh
Speaking Tree Speaking Tree
January 22, 2023

The greying of Indic gurudom is a matter of concern for some. The names most of us are familiar with are legion, including global celebrity-gurus like the hugging mother, Mata Amritanandamayi; Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness The Dalai Lama; the Art of Living founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar; Parmarth Niketan’s Swami Chidanand Saraswati; Prasanna Trust founder, Swami Sukhabodhananda; Isha Foundation head, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev; Satsang Foundation head, Sri M, and more. They are all in the league of senior citizens. Then, there are those who are close to 60, like the 57-year-old Baba Ramdev,  the 56-year-old Anandmurti Gurumaa of Rishi Chaitanya Ashram and others.

Is the ageing of Indic gurus something to worry about? Won’t their teachings live on even after their physical body dissolves? Paramhansa Yogananda, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Sivananda, Swami Chinmayananda, Osho, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Kanchi Shankaracharya, Neem Karoli Baba and so many others, too numerous to list here including Buddhist and Jain masters, Christian and Muslim leaders, who led illustrious lives, dedicating themselves to spiritual quest and guiding seekers to find their paths, are no longer here, in their physical body. Yet their presence is felt in their organisations, ashrams, institutions and their disciples, in their discourses, anecdotes and teachings that inform, guide and bring succour to millions.

These thoughts got triggered by a little communication that informed of a video message from HH The Dalai Lama on ‘The Art of Hope’, to promote the sense of oneness of eight billion human beings who live together on Planet Earth. His four life commitments that he often shares with audiences are: kindness and compassion; religious harmony; preservation of Tibetan culture and environment; and the revival of ancient Indic wisdom. The last is tribute to all the knowledge, carried forward by Buddhists, that transformed the way the people of Tibet view life and living, and which continues to give them the strength, courage and hope to carry on, despite all the onerous challenges that they have been facing since long. And Tibetan spiritual leaders are returning the favour, re-introducing Indic philosophy to Indians and people of the rest of the world.

Tibetan spiritual tradition has held up the theory of rebirth and reincarnation, thereby somewhat providing solace to those who pine for the guru’s presence long after he has left his mortal coils.

The proliferation and penetration of digital technology has enabled spreading messages — of gurus who have passed on — far and wide, ensuring that every corner of the world becomes aware of their priceless teachings and anecdotes.

For those who yearn for the physical presence of these gurus, technology could help create holograms so that each time you listen to a discourse or talk, you can also ‘feel’ the presence of the guru in the room.

Interestingly, there is another dimension to the guru’s presence, such as the belief that sages like Mahavatar Baba get sighted in the Himalayan region and in other places. Now, that is an entirely different aspect to the subjects of mortality and immortality, presence and absence, the here and the hereafter. The truth is that in whatsoever form one envisions one’s guru, realised mentors are like GPS for the soul, directing seekers on the path of liberation that leads to the ultimate destination, of ecstasy.


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