(Dhaumya Rishi (Sage) and his three disciples)
The Guru is the form of the trinity gods – Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh (Sri Shiva). If one has a Guru, then one must serve him or her ungrudgingly, selflessly and lovingly. Guru is the abode of all knowledge and wisdom and blesses his disciples with the same. Here is an anecdote from the Mahabharata which illustrates this truth.
Long time ago there was a Guru named Dhaumya Rishi. He had three disciples who came to him to learn the Vedas. They were Aruni Panchal, Baid and Upamanyu. One day Aruni was asked by the Guru to water his field so that the cereal crop would grow well. The water had to be brought into the field through a canal from a tank which was a little far away. The tank was shallow. Aruni dug the canal, and water started flowing into the field. Then unfortunately, a breach developed in one of the bunds of the canal and the water started draining out and escaping away through the breach, thus stopping the flow of water into the field. Aruni tried his best to fill up the breach by piling up stones and filling it with sand, but he could not succeed. The water was going waste and he was worried as to how to get the field filled with water. Then, he had an idea. He laid down at the side of the breach, thus blocking it. The water thereby, started flowing into the field. He remained there in the same position so that the field would get water fully.
It was quite late in the night and as the boy did not return home, the Guru was worried as to what would have happened to him, and he went to the field searching for him. He was surprised and felt glad to find the field full of water, which had never happened before, but at the same time, he was worried as Aruni was nowhere in sight. He called out loudly, “Aruni! Aruni!”. From the waters of the canal Aruni replied in a feeble voice, “Gurudeo! I am here.” The Guru reached to him and pulled him out.Aruni fell prostrate at the Guru’s feet and offered his obeisance to him. The Guru was touched by the boy’s unselfish devotion to him and placing his hand on the boy’s head, blessed him saying, “May you become proficient and gain mastery in all Vedas and the Shastra.” No sooner than the Guru said this, Aruni became fully enlightened and all knowledge dawned on him in a flash.
Guru asked Baid to till the land, sow the seeds, raise the crop and take all care till harvesting was complete and the grains were safely brought home. Baid worked hard on the field, day in and day out, without wasting a single moment, and sparing no pains. Due to his relentless efforts, the crop came out very well and yielded a very rich harvest. Baid loaded the grains on the cart and started to drive the cart to the Guru’s house. The load was too heavy and the bullock was unable to draw the cart. Baid was also trying to pull the cart along with the bullock. Unfortunately, the bullock got stuck up in the mire and the cart’s wheels also sank deep down in the mud. Baid let the bullock free and started with all his strength to push the cartwheels and make the cart move. In the process, he almost lost his breath and was about to collapse. Dhaumya Rishi was coming to see how Baid was faring with the collection of the harvest. On the way, he saw the heavily loaded cart and Baid. But alas he found Baid tottering on his feet and collapsing almost on the verge of death. The Guru was very much moved with his selfless and steadfast devotion. He pulled Baid out of the mire and placed his right hand on his head, which immediately revived him. Not only that, Baid also received total enlightenment and knowledge with the blessed touch of the Guru.
Here’s the account of Upamanyu’s Guru Seva & Bhakti. Upamanyu was also a very devoted disciple, but he had an habit of over eating. The Guru wanted to curb this habit of his of over indulgence with food. The Guru gave Upamanyu the task of looking after his herd of cattle.
The grazing grounds were far away. Upamanyu used to leave home early in the morning along with the herd and used to come back late evening. During this time, he was supposed to eat a very little food that the Guru used to give him. However, being unable to control his hunger, he used to beg alms from the nearby houses. The Guru finding the boy still fat, asked him what he was eating in the afternoons. Upamanyu told him that he was begging alms and eat it. The Guru said he should not eat it, but bring it to him and eat only whatever he (the Guru) gave him. Upamanyu started doing what the Guru said. But, as he was feeling very hungry in the afternoon, he started drinking the remnants of the milk from the cows’ udders. The Guru prohibited that too.
Upamanyu became very much emaciated for the lack of food. Unable to bear the hunger, one day, seeing some milk-like sap exude from the plant, he drank it. It was poisonous and it affected his eye nerves and made him blind. While driving the cattle home in the evening, he couldn’t find the way due to his lost eyesight and he fell into a well. As he did not reach home, Dhaumya rishi went searching for him calling out his name. When Upamanyu answered the Guru saw his disciple fallen into the well. He pulled him out. After hearing the entire story, the Guru moved by his truthful and implicit obedience. He asked him to chant the invocation-mantra to the Ashwini Devatas. After chanting the mantra, Upamanyu instantly regained his sight. He also received scriptural knowledge and wisdom with Guru’s blessings. Later, he became a most renowned Rishi. He became guru to great shishya like Udanka who presided over the Great Serpent Sacrifice of King Janamejaya, which brought even Indra down from the Heaven, along with his throne towards the sacrificial fire. It is also said that Udanka, soon after completing his discipleship, obtained from Adisesha in Patala, the latter’s ear kundalas, and brought and offered them as the Guru Dakshina to his Guru Upamanyu.
The three disciples in the above illustration represent the three graded Gunas- Tamas, Rajas and Satva. Devotion to Guru will unfailingly take us beyond the Gunas. Gunas transcended, Atma Jnana will shine forth in us. While the Guru’s Grace helps us in finally transcending the Gunas, transcending of each one of the three Gunas will take time. Each aspirant progresses at his own pace, which is largely dependent upon the characteristics of nature of his predominant Guna. Upamanyu symbolises Tamo-guna predominantly, and the latter takes longer duration of time to get transcended and sublimated. Baid symbolises Rajo-guna, which could be transcended in a lesser time. Aruni symbolises Satva Guna and it could be transcended but in one day. With devotion, dedication and surrender to the Guru, one becomes Gunatheeta, i.e., one goes beyond the trammels of Maya which alone will enable him to experience his true inner Self.