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Teacher and Disciple

The greatness of a spiritual teacher is enshrined in a verse on Indra’s good fortune.

इन्द्रो दीर्घाय चक्षस आ सूर्यं रोहयद्दिवि | वि गोभिरद्रिमैरयत् || (1.007.3)[1]

Indra’s long good fortune is due to his spiritual teacher/Brahaspati entirely (इन्द्रो दीर्घाय चक्षस आ); (just as) the day is due to the sun rising (सूर्यं रोहयद्दिवि); (just as) a mass of clouds do not attempt to move away from the mountain.

‘चक्षस्’ which means spiritual teacher, is also an epithet for Brihaspati. He is responsible entirely for Indra’s good fortune, just as the day is because the sun rises. He keeps his good fortune glued just as clouds are to a mountain peak.

Vaisvamitra advises all to have a spiritual teacher to regain consciousness of the self and knowledge from hearing:

आश्रुत्कर्ण श्रुधी हवं नूचिद्दधिष्व मे गिरः | (1.010.9.1)[2]

Listening attentively, being obedient to commands (आश्रुत्कर्ण श्रुधी हवं), henceforth to regain your consciousness (of self) have a spiritual teacher (नूचिद्दधिष्व), and in exchange – for speech (मे गिरः). The word गिरः comes from the root गिर्, which according to Apte also means knowledge from hearing.[3] Thus, the speech one gets in exchange could stand for knowledge from hearing.

In days where the wealthy and powerful became disciples of spiritual teachers, they must have found it irksome and unmanly to carry out the chores of the Ashram. Hence, the precept:

यस्मिन्विश्वानि पौंस्या || (1.005.9.1)[4]

To labour to honour a spiritual teacher is manly (पौंस्या).


[1] इन्द्रो दीर्घअय चक्षस आ सूर्यं रोह – यद् – दिवि | वि गोभिर् – अद्रिम् – ईर् – अयत् ||

Indra’s (इन्द्रो) long (दीर्घ) good fortune (अय) spiritual teacher/Brahaspati (चक्षस् = चक्षस) entirely (आ) sun (सूर्यं) rising (रोह) wherefore (यद्) day (दिवि) | Away from (वि) mountain (गोभृत् = गोभिर्) mass of clouds (अद्रिम् = अद्रि) to go (ईर्) not attempting (अयत्)

[2] आश्रुत्कर्ण श्रुधी हवं नूचित् – दध् – इष्व मे गिरः |

Listening attentively (आश्रुत्कर्ण) obedient (श्रुधी = श्रुधीयत्) command (हवं) henceforth (नू) to regain consciousness (चित्) have (दध्) a spiritual teacher (इष्वा = इष्व) in exchange (मे’) Knowledge from hearing (गिरा = गिर् = गिरः)

[3] Knowledge from hearing (श्रवणजज्ञान); प्रपूर्वगौ पूर्वजौ चित्रभानू गिरा वाऽऽशंसामि तपसा ह्यनन्तौ Mb.1. 3.57 com. -Comp

[4] यस् – मिन्व् – इष्वानि पौंस्या ||

To labour (यस्) honour (मिन्व्) spiritual teacher (इष्वः) manly (पौंस्य)

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