by Acarya Krpasundarananda Avadhuta.
I was surprised to hear that some margiis do not know or didn't have clear concept of Guru Daksina. As it's such an essential part of initiation I though I should write about it.
The prerequisites for learning spiritual practices are a human body, a sincere desire to learn and being ready to work on oneself.
Before the Acarya can teach the process, he or she will ask the aspirant to repeat three oaths or promises. These will protect you and others from the increased mental strength one acquires by doing regular Sadhana (meditation). It's like by taking the oath and sincerely trying to follow them, you take the hand of the Guru, and as long as you are holding His hand, you are safe as He will protect you.
Although most people feel they are already following these basic oaths, like with the other guidelines for our conduct, it is very helpful to state these things explicitly so we hear them and remember them very clearly. (To this effect you will be asked to remember them every morning just when you wake up, as in this way it will be a guide for your day.) After taking these oaths, the Acarya will guide you through the process of Sadhana. He or she will teach you either a preliminary lesson called Nama Mantra or the first lesson where you receive your Ista mantra and Ista chakra, your personal mantra and the psychic centre which is best for you to concentrate your mind.
After receiving the instructions, you will be asked to give Guru Daksina. So now what is it? It is an offering to the spiritual Master, the Guru, who is teaching you through His representative, the Acarya. As it is an offering, there is no obligation to do so. The instructions are free and no strings are attached. So it is completely voluntary and you have to feel ready in your heart. For most it comes quite naturally, because when we receive something so deep and profound, something which can help us to grow beyond our bondages and limitations, it's quite natural to feel like giving something.
If you want, you can still practice what you learned without doing this and make the offering at a later point. But actually it is something so significant that initiation is only complete after it is done. And as I know and feel the significance, I am of course very happy when you take it; however I realise that on the spiritual path everything comes at it's own time. So I always make very clear when giving initiation that it's not for me or anyone else. Guru Daksina is really for you and you alone, but the fact that I am there physically, as your teacher, to witness you offering, helps to give it more force.
OK, so what is it more specifically? In the olden days after the disciple received initiation she or he offered some food or money to the Acarya for his or her maintenance. This seems fair enough, as the Acarya has to survive somehow. Guru Daksina was thus a expression of appreciation for the service received, and still today most teachers take it like this. Unfortunately it sometimes degenerates into an ordinary business transaction. Not only can the teacher think like that, but also the disciple may feel that now that I have paid for it, it's mine and I can practice it if I like.
Now when our master, Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, or Baba as I will call him, gave initiation to his first disciple He decided that Guru Daksina would never involve any physical gift, He would only accept it mentally. And when Acaryas started to give initiations on His behalf, He created a strict rule that none is allowed to take any gift from an aspirant on that day that he or she is initiated.
(The whole story of the first initiation is in many more ways very significant and enlightening; the day is celebrated every year. The complete story you can hear that day or read in one of Baba's books.)
So I think you understand that this Guru Daksina is much much deeper than a simple appreciation or payment in some form or other. Now if nothing mundane can be given what to give? We also have to ask the questions, what is Guru and what is the nature of what we have received? Is Guru the physical teacher, or something more?
According to our philosophy, the true Guru is that Supreme Entity which is beyond form, colour, etc. It is the very Entity we want to realise through our practices! The problem is that this formless Infinite Entity cannot give any teachings... A medium is needed. Only someone who has realised and is established in that oneness can be Guru in physical form. It must be someone who not only teaches great things but actually lives those teachings in every moment of life. So our offering is really to that Supreme Entity that is beyond but expressed through the Master.
Now as this Entity is the source of all creation, what can we possibly give? We are such minute parts of this vast, mind-boggling creation, what can we possible give which is of any significance? Rather, reflecting deeply, what do we actually own? What is really ours to give? If that entity created everything, who is the real owner?
So this offering is truly the realisation that nothing is really mine in this world, neither my body, mind or soul. All belongs to the Creator! But, the fact is that we do feel the sense of individual self, we do feel the sense of ownership over our body, mind and soul. And as long as we feel separate from the Creator, we cannot be one with that Supreme Entity!
This is the whole purpose of learning spiritual practices in the first place, to feel that oneness. We want to feel that infinite happiness. So we don't really offer... we realise who is the true owner and give it back. We offer our whole body, mind and soul back to our Guru Shrii Shrii Anandamurti and trust He will do the right thing, do whatever is best for us. In the same way, a child doesn't really know what it needs and what in does not; it is the responsibility of the parents take care of everything.
Why do we offer to the Master and not directly to the Infinite Entity? Because as human beings, we need a personal relation, we need to be able to direct our emotions, our longings, to someone tangible. As the Master has realised and is established in the Supreme, we can safely direct everything to Him. And through the form of the Master, the Supreme Entity can help us.
First by taking the oaths we took the hand of the Guru, and now by offering ourselves to Him, we allow the Guru to take our hand. You can see how much safer this is. Our grip is not so strong, we may forget our oaths and even Guru. But He can never forget us! So even if we go astray, He is holding us and will gently lead us back to our path.
This relation with Guru is one of Love and respect. If we ever reject Him or say we refuse His help, He will set us free to go our 'own' way.
When I said we allow the Guru to take our hand, I compared us with children, but we are not really children anymore (at least we think we aren't!). So the Guru gives everything that we offer back to us with the request to use it in the best possible way, for the benefit of all creation. Isn't that beautiful?
We have established a very sweet and personal link with the Supreme through the form of Guru. We have someone who is always looking over us with love and compassion. We can directly express our feelings and everything to Him. As Baba told us, this is a family relation. It is not like with the president of the country or the controller of the universe. They have too much to do to give you personal attention! No, it's a family relationship, and He always has time for you, to listen, to console, to give love and... to scold you, too, when you are naughty, doing things which may harm you or others! He is always there to help you, just ask.
But remember, He has already given already so many qualities to you, you have to use those before asking for more! You'll see, when you give your everything, He will give the rest. For me I try to remember this every day and mentally offer myself again and again as I forget so quickly.
Oh, and when you talk with Guru, do it internally, otherwise others may think you are mad!
I hope this gives you some more insight into the significance of Guru Daksina and that you may enjoy this sweet relation with Guru. If you have any doubt or wonder if you gave Guru Daksina, don't wait, ask your Acarya and do it without delay. Do it with full consciousness and surrender. You may have done it already at the time of initiation but forgotten, but you can do it again, it won't harm. Rather the more you are aware of this relation, the sweeter it becomes and your life will become saturated with this feeling. You'll see Guru in everyone and everything. Once your surrender has become complete, when there is no more holding back even the smallest part, you have achieved your very goal, you'll be one with the Supreme.
Baba Nam Kevalam!
* In this article I refer to the Guru, Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, as Baba. Because of the greatest love and respect I have for Him, I also capitalize pronouns referring to the Guru or to that Supreme Entity