Sisya and Guru (A Pupil and a Master)
The Siva Samhita divides sadhakas (pupils or aspirants) into four classes. They are
1. Mrdu (feeble)
2. Madhyama (average)
3. Adhimatra (superior)
4. Adhimatratama (the supreme one)
The last, the highest, is alone able to cross beyond the ocean of the manifest world.
The feeble seekers are those who lack enthusiasm, criticize their teachers, are rapacious, inclined to bad action, eat much, are in the power of women, unstable, cowardly, ill, dependent, speak harshly, have weak characters and lack virility. The Guru (Teacher or Master) guides such seekers in the path of Mantra Yoga only. With much effort, the sadhaka can reach enlightenment in twelve years. (The word mantra is derived from the root 'man' meaning to think. Mantra thus means a sacred thought or prayer to be repeated with full understanding of its meaning. It takes a long time, perhaps years, for a mantra to take firm root in the mind of a feeble sadhaka and still longer for it to bear fruit}.
Of even mind, capable of bearing hardship, wishing to perfect the work, speaking gently, moderate in all circumstances, such is the average seeker. Recognizing these qualities, the Guru teaches him Laya Yoga, which gives liberation. (Laya means devotion, absorption or dissolution.)
Of stable mind, capable of Laya Yoga, virile, independent, noble, merciful, forgiving, truthful, brave, young, respectful, worshipping his teacher, intent on the practice of Yoga, such is a superior seeker. He can reach enlightenment after six years of practice. The Guru instructs this forceful man in Hatha Yoga.
Of great virility and enthusiasm, good looking, courageous, learned in scriptures, studious, sane of mind, not melancholy, keeping young, regular in food, with his sensed under control, free from fear, clean, skilful, generous, helpful to all, firm, intelligent, independent, forgiving, of good character, of gentle speech and worshipping his Gum, such is a supreme seeker, fit for all forms of Yoga. He can reach enlightenment in three years,
Although the Siva Samhita and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika mention the period of time within which success might be achieved, Patanjali nowhere lays down the time required to unite the individual soul with the Divine Universal Soul. According to him, abhyasa. (constant and determined practice) and vairagya (freedom from desires) make the mind calm and tranquil. He defines abhyasa as effort of long duration, without interruption, performed with devotion, which creates a firm foundation.
The study of Yoga is not like work for a diploma or a university degree by someone desiring favourable results in a stipulated time. The obstacles, trials and tribulations in the path of Yoga can be removed to a large extent with the help of a Guru. (The syllable gu means darkness and ru means light, He alone is a Guru who removes darkness and brings enlightenment.) The conception of a Guru is deep and significant. He is not an ordinary guide. He is a spiritual teacher who teaches a way of life, and not merely how to earn a livelihood. He transmits knowledge of the Spirit and one who receives such knowledge is a sisya, a disciple.
The relationship between a Guru and a Sisya is a very special one, transcending that between parent and child, husband and wife or friends. A Guru is free from egotism. He devotedly leads his sisya towards the ultimate goal without any attraction for fame or gain, He shows the path of God and watches the progress of his disciple, guiding him along that path. He inspires confidence, devotion, discipline, deep understanding and illumination through love. With faith in his pupil, the Guru strains hard to see that he absorbs the teaching. He encourages him to ask questions and to know the truth by question and analysis.
A Sisya should possess the necessary qualifications of higher realization and development. He must have confidence, devotion and love for his Guru. The perfect examples of the relationship between a Guru and a Sisya are those of Yama (the God of Death) and Nachiketa in the Kathopanisad and of Sri Krishna and Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. Nachiketa. and Arjuna obtained enlightenment through their one-pointed mind, their eagerness and questioning spirit. The sisya should hunger for knowledge and have the spirit of humility, perseverance and tenacity of purpose. He should not go to the Guru merely out of curiosity. He should possess Sraddha. (dynamic faith) and should not be discouraged if he cannot reach the goal in the time he had expected. It requires tremendous patience to calm the restless mind which is coloured by innumerable past experiences and samskara (the accumulated residue of past thoughts and actions).
Merely listening to the words of the Guru does not enable the sisya to absorb the teaching. This is borne out by the story of Indra and Virochana. Indra, the king of Gods and Virochana, a demon prince, went together to their spiritual preceptor Brahma, to obtain knowledge of the Supreme Self. Both stayed and listened to the same words of their Guru. Indra obtained enlightenment, whereas Virochana did not. Indra's memory was developed by his devotion to the subject taught and by the love and faith which he had for his teacher. He had a feeling of oneness with his Guru. These were the reasons for his success. Virochana's memory was developed only through his intellect. He had no devotion either for the subject taught or for his preceptor. He remained what he originally was, an intellectual giant. He returned a doubter. Indra had intellectual humility, while Virochana had intellectual pride and imagined that it was condescending on his part to go to Brahma. The approach of Indra was devotional while that of Virochana was practical. Virochana was motivated by curiosity and wanted the practical knowledge which he believed would be useful to him later to win power. The Sisya should above all treasure love, moderation and humility. Love begets courage, moderation creates abundance and humility generates power. Courage without love is brutish. Abundance without moderation leads to over indulgence and decay. Power without humility breeds arrogance and tyranny. The true Sisya learns from his Guru about a power which will never leave him as he returns to the Primeval One, the Source of His Being.