tena navarandhrarūpo dehaḥ तेन नवरन्ध्ररूपो देहः(2) (Bhāvanopaniṣad)

Navarandhra means nine apertures. This verse says that a human body with nine apertures is the form of his or her Guru. This verse compares the nine triangles of Śri Cakra to the nine apertures of human body. When a human body with nine apertures is the body of Guru, logically Guru represents Śri Cakra. Thus there is no difference between Guru and Śri Cakra. Nine apertures of a human body are two opening of eyes, two openings of ears, two nostrils, mouth, and organs of procreation and excretion. When the soul leaves the body, it generally leaves through one of these apertures. In the case of yogis, however, their souls generally leave through brahmarandhra, an orifice located on the vertex, the topmost point of the skull. This is known as adhipati, a marma point. This aperture controls two major psychic chakras, sahasrāra (taken as chakra only for the purpose of this discussion) and ājñācakra.

But, this concept does not apply to all Gurus. There are several references that speak about Guru lakṣaṇa, which means that there are several references which discuss about the qualities of a Guru who is worthy of worship. Almost, all the Tantric Scriptures talk about this subject. The foremost among all the qualities is that he should have realized the Self and should be in a position to help his disciples to attain liberation. Kulārṇava Tantra (chapters 12 and 13) discusses not only about Guru lakṣaṇa, but also about Guru-disciple relationship.  Some of the qualities of Guru are mentioned here. Wearing clean dress; charming; knowledge about mantras; easily accessible; ability to clear doubts; equal minded to Śiva  and Viṣṇu; devoid of desire, anger, greed, ego, delusion and jealousy; complete control over his senses; endowed with powers of mantras; merciful, etc. The list is a long one.   

What is the main quality of a Self realized person? He would have realized Śiva, Self-illuminating form of Brahman. Śiva alone is Self-illuminating and when the Guru has realized the Prakāśa form of Śiva (Śiva alone is known as Prakāśa, meaning Divine Light), this Guru is worshipped on par with Śiva Himself.  In Kulārṇava Tantra, Śiva says, “Out of compassion for creatures, Śiva takes the form of Guru....Guru is none other than Śiva, Viṣṇu and Brahmā..... There is no difference between Śiva and Guru. Devatā, mantra and Guru ae one and the same. Therefore Pārvatī, I accept the worship assuming the form of Guru and annihilate transmigration.”

Śiva alone cannot manifest the world and therefore, He needs Śakti to make all the objects known or visible. Suppose there is a powerful light in a huge ground, what is the use of that light? There has to be some objects around that light in order to realize that light. Similarly, Śiva, as Prakāśa cannot create the universe and He needs Śakti in order to manifest Himself in different shapes and forms. It is important to remember that Śiva is within the individual soul as the Self. Therefore, Śakti is known as Vimarśa, who brings about the world process. It is not enough for a Guru to become a Self realized personality; he should have the ability to explain and teach the methods through which he has attained Śiva. As Śiva, he cannot be inert and as Śakti, he cannot be active in the material world by imparting spiritual knowledge. If every Self-realized person shuns the material world and resorts to penance, who will liberate paśu-s like us? Paśu can be explained as those who are not initiated by a Guru or the individual souls devoid of any thought about the Self within or devoid of any spiritual thoughts. Mundane existence without any connection to Brahman is known as paśu.  By remaining as a paśu, liberation can never be thought of. These explanations are necessary as to why this verse says that a body with nine openings represents Guru. These discussions drive home the point that Guru is like a God with a shape and form and who is also capable of offering liberation.

What we have discussed above is nine gross apertures, which forma a human body. Instead of saying that there is no difference between the Guru and his disciple’s body, this verse said that Guru represents nine apertures of the body. While dwelling on the sensory organs, Guru teaches his disciples with the help of Upaniṣad-s, quoting references and examples. Understanding Brahman is a tough subject as it dwells only on subtleties and can be understood only by the subtle body, the mind. By quoting such references, the disciple’s mind is purified by the Guru. The next step is kindling his dormant spiritual energy.  

But there are nine subtle apertures, through which a Guru kindles the dormant spiritual energy of his disciple at the time of initiation. The dormant spiritual energy lies at the bottom of the spinal cord (mūlādhāra cakra; practically speaking dormant spiritual energy lies in perineum in the form of kuṇḍalinī). According to ancient Scriptures, a Guru is worshiped as suṣumna nāḍi (a think tubular vessel inside the spinal cord). A Guru not only represents himself, but also represents the Guru lineage. Guru, Paramaguru and Parameṣṭhiguru originated from the word “ogha” which literally means uninterrupted tradition. This tradition is remembered as Divyaguru-s, Siddhaguru-s and Mānavaguru-s. These three types Gurus represent three types of Divine vibrations Divyaugha, Siddhaugha and Mānavaugha. Divyaugha is Śiva Himself. The Gurus who come under this category are liberated souls and Śiva has not merged their souls unto Him as He has to send them back to resurrect the world in different places. They are born as great sages and saints, who exist even today. Their job is only to liberate spiritually advanced people, who are ready for liberation. Second type of Gurus are in the mid state. They are neither liberated nor suffer from saṁsāra (transmigration). This is the state of jīvanmukta-s. Third is Mānavaguru-s and they are in human forms and generally known as Śrīguru or Svaguru. In exceptional circumstances, one could be lucky to get a jīvanmukta as his or her Guru. But for this, Divine Grace is a must. These Gurus are worshipped in Śri Cakra at Gurumaṇḍala, which has already been discussed in the series Journey to Śri Cakra – Part 16

What is the need to worship three types of Gurus viz. Śrīguru, Paramaguru and Parameṣṭhiguru can be understood while understanding the nine subtle openings in the body. Parameṣṭhiguru. This aspect can be best understood by marginally dwelling on Trika philosophy. Parameṣṭhiguru represents three subtleties of the highest order viz. Śiva, Śakti and Parāsaṁvid. Śiva is Cit or Supreme Consciousness or Prakāśa. Śakti is Ānanda, the Bliss and She is Vimarśa, who diffuses the Power of Śiva to create. The third one is known as parāsaṁvid, which manifests as four forms – the subject, the means, the object and knowledge. These four put together is known as awareness, the awareness of Śakti and Śiva. Parāsaṁvid is the state of union of Prakāśa, Vimarśa, jñānaśakti and Svātantrya śakti (Independent and absolute will of Śiva).

Paramaguru represents three subtleties of the middle order of spiritual elevation – knowledge (suddhavidyā), truth and fulfilment. Śrīguru represents the last of three subtleties viz. inherent nature of the disciple, niyati, (can be explained in two ways. One is the karmic account of the disciple and two religious duties of the disciple. This is the reason for saying that the moment one gets initiation from a true Śrīguru, all his sins are burnt); Vidyā, spiritual knowledge (when all sins are burnt, spiritual knowledge is infused by Śrīguru into the disciple’s subtle body, the mind); the third is subhaga, where the initiated disciple transforms into a blessed soul endowed with good fortunes. Out of all the three Gurus, Śrīguru is very important as he prepares the mind, body and the soul of the aspirant to attain higher spiritual levels. After refining, reforming and purifying the disciple, he is handed over to the Paramaguru, who takes him to higher spiritual levels by imparting the highest level of spiritual knowledge, where Tat tvamasi or you are That) is taught. The disciple understands this Truth and at the end of Paramaguru’s teachings, the disciple transforms into a soul that is ready for merger into Paramaśiva (Brahman) and the disciple’s spiritual journey is now consummated. At the end, the disciple confidently affirms “ahaṁ brahmāsmi” (I am That or I am Brahman). At this stage, the disciple is handed over to Parameṣṭhiguru for ultimate merger with Paramaśiva through Śakti.

This explains the need for Śrīguru and his lineage. Śrīguru is the one who teaches only spiritual knowledge to attain ultimate realization. These nine subtle apertures correspond to the nine gross apertures in the body. Both ears and the mouth correspond to three subtle apertures (Śiva, Śakti and Parāsaṁvid) belonging to Parameṣṭhiguru. Both eyes and organ of procreation correspond to three subtle apertures of Paramaguru (highest level of spiritual knowledge, Truth and fulfilment). Two nostrils and the organ of excretion correspond to the three subtle apertures of Śrīguru (inherent nature of the disciple, annihilating all the sins of the disciple and imparting spiritual knowledge).

All the gross apertures are in the physical body and all the subtle apertures are in the subtle body viz. in the suṣumna (spinal cord). A Guru should have the ability to penetrate into the energy body of the disciple at the time of initiation. During the time of initiation, Śrīguru plants the seed of liberation and it is for the aspirant to make this seed to sprout and grow.

This concludes discussions about Guru in Bhāvanopaniṣad.