Vivekananda’s Dilemma: Mother or Guru

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Great Masters / Storytelling / Wisdom For Seekers


You have told us a beautiful story of Swami Vivekananda and Ramakrishna Paramahansa. Swami Vivekananda's mother was seriously ill and Ramakrishna told him that had Vivekananda prayed to Kali for his mother's health, Ramakrishna would never see him again. Sadhguru, what is so wrong about praying for one's mother's health that a guru would never see his disciple again?


Duration: 16 min


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Vivekananda’s Dilemma: Mother or Guru

The following is an unedited transcript of Sadhguru's video. For better readability, breaks and highlights have been added by the editors.

Questioner: Namaskaram Sadhguru. You have told us a beautiful story of Swami Vivekananda and Ramakrishna Paramahansa. Swami Vivekananda’s mother was seriously ill and Ramakrishna told him that had Vivekananda prayed to Kali for his mother’s health, Ramakrishna would never see him again. Sadhguru, what is so wrong about praying for one’s mother’s health that a guru would never see his disciple again?

Sadhguru: Now you’re exposing how horrible the gurus are. See there are many aspects to our life. Of these many aspects, a guru means – I know that word ‘guru’ is being used loosely today – management guru, marketing guru and whatever, whatever. We are not using the word in that context. When we say ‘a guru,’ we’re talking about someone who is committed to the ultimate nature of who you are.

Well, Ramakrishna is saying what he said. He wouldn’t have said it to all the other hundreds of devotees who are hanging around. He says this only to Vivekananda, you must understand. Because he wouldn’t talk about taking your emotions for your mother or your health or seeking divine help for your mother’s health – for other people he would have said, “Okay go and pray.” But for Vivekananda he has set different standards, because he’s expecting this man to do something much more than what others will do. If he has to do those things, he should not be an asking fool, that he’s not somebody who stands in front of the Devi and asks, “I want this, I want that.”

So for your mother’s health, right now what he [at] that moment needed was money. So he wants to go and ask for money. If money doesn’t work, what’s the next thing? You ask for a miracle. If miracle doesn’t work, what is the next thing? You will ask him to raise the dead. Well, Ramakrishna knows the progression of human mind. Initially, you will say, “My mother should be healthy,” but she fell ill. Then you will say, “I should have the money to get her treated.” It didn’t work. Then you want a miracle – simply like that she became well. Didn’t work, she died. Then you want to raise the dead.

So Ramakrishna in one moment he is seeing through this nature. And above all, he’s preparing Vivekananda to be his instrument, and he wants a fine instrument, not a crusty one. So preparing his instrument – is it more important than Vivekananda’s mother? This is not one against the other. But see, today even you, here in United States know who was Ramakrishna’s guru. Do you know his father’s name? Do you know his mother’s name? Do you know his uncle? His brother? You know only his guru’s name, because for Vivekananda, Ramakrishna has become his dharma. He breathes him. But now, social pressure, he’s falling back. Should the guru allow him to fall back or push him forward? This is the question you’re asking.

Well, I, if I was Vivekananda, I want to be pushed forward, not fall back upon my emotions. And anyway, if money could save her life, I’m sure Ramakrishna would have provided something. But you’re seeking divine help? No, no, no. This is something all of you must understand.

This has happened a few times around me also, that you initiate somebody into a powerful process, next thing is they want to help their mother or their uncle or their close cousin, little. They want to make him pass examination because the fool has not studied properly, or they want him to get a lottery, or they want him to get miraculously sit up in the bed, where he is dying. The moment they do that, they will shatter everything within themselves. If, if, I’m saying, this is a conjecture – if Vivekananda had prayed for what he thought he wanted, well he would’ve become a psychological wreck, absolutely. So it’s guru’s business to see that that doesn’t happen.

But twenty-first century, very hard to make them listen. Vivekananda, twentieth century, nineteenth. Nineteenth century only there was so much trouble. You can imagine my troubles. People will go, sit in front of Devi and ask all kinds of things. Because they were doing it with Dhyanalinga, I put her up and say, “Okay, you have another counter to ask all these things,” because wherever there is a phenomenal sense of energy, which is propelling you forward at a certain space, then when you’re moving at that speed, because you’re concerned about the tree, you held the tree, your arm will go. You will lose something. It will shatter you, it will break you.

So Ramakrishna is wanting him to be a rocket, and the rocket wants to do this. No, rocket trajectory is already set. You don’t try to do this and that. That will be a disastrous rocket. So in that context he is saying that if you had done this, it was finished between you and me, because you’re anyway a broken failure rocket. A failed rocket – does anybody go and pick it up? You may be thinking it’ll go to the moon and you fired it, but it booff, went into the ocean. Does anybody go looking for it? No. It’s finished. It’s over, it’s burnt up. So in that context Ramakrishna is saying, “Today, if you had done that, it was over, because it would be not worth seeing you because you would be broken and you’re gone. What do I do with a broken instrument?”

Today you have heard of Ramakrishna Paramahansa because of Vivekananda. If that instrument was broken on that day, well, Ramakrishna’s offering to the world would’ve gone completely waste.

Well, I’m glad you didn’t pick up Krishna. Because Krishna said, when Arjuna said, “I don’t want to kill all these people,” – 100,000 men they’re talking about – Krishna said, “You must kill them, then you will realize.” That is even a worse example, but that’s the way it is, because when you seek ultimate nature, when you seek the source of your existence – small things, arrangements in your existence doesn’t mean anything.

If it means something – you do something to somebody not because it means something to me. Let me tell you this. Today is Guru Pournima, I’ll tell you, don’t tell anybody, okay? Whatever I’m doing, serving food to people who are starving, free education that’s going on to thousands of children, health support, the health initiatives that are going on for people who’re deprived of that, and planting trees, Cauvery – all this I’m doing because it means a lot to them, not because it means anything to me. If I close my eyes, I am done with the world, with everybody. I’m talking not just about you or somebody – everybody. Everybody, that means everybody. If I close my eyes, they’re all gone, they’re dead. But I do these things, because it means so much to them.

Without fulfilling those things, they will never even aspire for anything bigger. Right now somebody is hungry, are you going to talk to him about enlightenment? That’ll be cruel. So we feed him, not because I get some great satisfaction in feeding him, no. I’ve always been saying, I’ve no satisfaction in anything that I do, including spiritual work. Whenever people ask me, “Sadhguru you must be having so much fulfillment seeing all these people, joyful, blissful.” What is my problem? They are joyful, blissful, miserable – what’s my problem? I have no problem. Because they have a problem, I reach out. Because I didn’t see them anything other than as myself, I reached out, that’s all. But if I shut my eyes, I’m done. I’m done with the world. I’m done with everybody and everything.

Oh, so much work has happened. People are saying, ” How will you, who is your, who will carry your legacy, Sadhguru? Who will you appoint next?” Nobody. If they’re interested, they’ll carry it on. If they don’t think it’s valuable, they’ll drop it. It’s up to them. I’ll leave it to them. If they have not seen the value, if people have not seen the value of what’s being done, let them drop it, and convert this into a hospital or a school or something. Because that is how most spiritual organizations end up.

I don’t believe Isha Yoga Center will end up that way, because many people have seen the value of it – even though I constantly nag them, trouble them, create impediments to their work, make their work more and more difficult. This is not for any sadistic satisfaction, just to see how much it means to them. They have proven that it means a lot to them. Life or death they will do that. Whether I am there or not, they will do that. So, maybe not everybody, but a whole lot of them will do that. So it will continue because of that. Because it means a lot to them, not necessarily because it means a lot to them because it will add to their life – it doesn’t. All this work doesn’t add a thing to my life. But it means so much to every other life, so you do it. If you choose not to do – many yogis, fantastic yogis, they do nothing. They just withdraw. Nothing wrong with them being like that.

So Ramakrishna is setting up a trajectory for a projectile that he’s shooting. Now this projectile is having a mind of its own, emotions of its own – now this is dangerous. If you’re shooting a rocket to the Moon or Mars, if it thinks of Hawaii, Hawaii will be destroyed for sure. So this is a different dimension. It should never be judged by your understanding, by your emotions, by your values. This is why I said when you come in touch with a guru, you can either – if you’re using him as an inspiration, this will keep happening because somebody will keep dragging you this way, that way.

See many young boys in the yoga center, they all came determined, but then you know, the girls were pretty. They got married. Nothing wrong. But I’m saying, like this if you keep going and whatever small needs are taken care of, no problem. But if you change trajectory because small thoughts and emotions change, best we don’t empower you.

So, as I said, I’m not yet in the sunset stage. I will become far more colorful as I go, watch it. But right now heading that way, it’s four o’clock in the evening right now, in terms of the day for me. So it is summer time, summer is here, sun is setting at almost 8:45 – nine o’clock in the night. So there’s still hours left. But when it’s four o’clock in the evening, the intensity of the sun is not like noon time. It’s becoming prettier actually. It’s becoming nicer. But at the same time, it becomes selective.

See when the sun is up at twelve o’clock it shines on everybody – everybody, because it’s up there. Four o’clock, unless you stick your neck out, it won’t shine on you. That’s where it’s going right now. So you must decide whether I’m an inspiration for you or I am a – friend, philosopher, guide for you. Or I am a doorway for you that you got stuck in, or I’m a destination for you, or I have become your dharma. Time to decide, because this is not noon time where sun shines on everybody. You need to stick out, for it to shine on you.

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