Life is a teacher. Every moment, every experience, every person teaches us something. But how many of those teachings gives us a hard knock on the head and change the course of our lives? It depends on us, it depends on how open we are to learning. It is one hundred percent our responsibility. That’s HUGE.
We are responsible for our LIVES the way it is. We are the creators of this Universe as we see it. If we learn to listen to our inner teacher- which often gets categorized as our very own “intuition”- a lot of the unknown becomes self explanatory. To find our inner teacher, we may have many external teachers. But eventually they should all lead us back to our inner wisdom. On the occasion of Guru Purnima, as I acknowledge every single teacher of mine-both people in the form of family and friends as well as life experiences- I would like to bring to your attention The Bhagavad Gita, one of the oldest Yoga philosophies where the narrator Sanjaya describes the student- teacher relationship explicitly in the last stanza. For Pranakriya’s Teachers Magazine this summer, I attempted to describe this verse in detail as it is one of my all time favorite parts in The Gita, one I have chanted most of my life. On this beautiful day, I think it is appropriate to share it here.
To all my teachers, past and present, Happy Guru Purnima – I offer you my gratitude and gift you “The Eternal Dialogue”.
“Wherever there is Krishna, Lord of Yoga,
Wherever there is Arjuna, the archer,
There will surely be Splendor, victory, wealth, and righteousness;
this is my conviction.” —Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 18, Verse 78
The Bhagavad Gita, known as one of the oldest texts on yoga, ends with the above verse. Many consider this a significant verse for a seeker on the path to spiritual freedom. It sums up the Gita’s message in a nutshell. The Gita revolves around two archetypes* – Arjuna, the ideal student and Krishna, the supreme teacher. The conversation that ensues between these two archetypes can be puzzling and complex. Yet depending on the age and experience of a practitioner, this insightful dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna can be read, understood and practiced differently in various stages of a person’s life. There lies the beauty and magic of the Gita.
Who is a student? One who has a willingness to learn. One who has the need to know. One who is curious enough to look beyond the obvious. One who thinks outsides the box. One who is not reluctant to ask the questions. One who can surrender all of one self to make the journey to true knowledge. Who is a teacher? One who knows. One who has had direct experience of the knowledge to be imparted. One who encourages curiosity. One who gives multiple solutions to the same question. One whose expertise leaves no doubts or questions unanswered.
Using these two roles, the Gita maps a path that leads us, the practitioners, to Bliss. No matter what stage of life we are in, there is an entry point into the journey. Through questions and answers the Gita puts us in the path where we can comfortably follow the footsteps of a teacher till we arrive at the next stage of our lives. Here we will encounter a new teacher who can answer our questions so we can make the onward journey. At times we meet other seekers along the way and we are prompted to pass on our wisdom so they can make progress. Thus, as life advances from young life to adulthood to old age, this journey continues. The roles of these archetypes, the questions raised, the answers received will differ and change. Every teacher like a milestone on a map, guides us to the next milestone or teacher. At times the student becomes the teacher and other times the teacher becomes the student. Sometimes, there is no differentiation between the student and the teacher, they become one. Such occurrences can be momentary and magical, giving the practitioner glimpses of the destination. It also encourages the committed seeker to forge ahead, making the path accessible.
A teacher can be anyone – a family member, a friend, a peer, a book and ultimately one’s own inner self. As long as there is a willing student, there will be a teacher for guidance. One can also say that the external teachers lead us to our inner wisdom. When these ‘student-teacher’ roles permanently merge and dissolve, the Gita teaches us that there will be no room for words but blissful experience. Both questions and answers dissipate in this ultimate knowledge of one without another. This knowing is yoga.
1. a very typical example of a certain person or thing
2. an original that has been imitated
3. a recurrent symbol or motif in literature, art, or mythology.
Usage of archetypes in specific pieces of writing is a holistic approach, which can help the writing win universal acceptance. This is because readers can relate to and identify with the characters and the situation, both socially and culturally. By deploying common archetypes contextually, a writer aims to impart realism to his work. According to many literary critics, archetypes have a standard and recurring depiction in a particular human culture and/or the whole human race that ultimately lays concrete pillars and can shape the whole structure in a literary work.
quintessence, essence, representative, model, embodiment, prototype, stereotype; original, pattern, standard, paradigm
“Yatra Yogeshwaro Krishna
Yatra Partho Dhanurdhara
Tatra Shreer Vijayo Bhutir
Dhruva Nitir Matir Mamaha”
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti