Under the Shelter of the Guru


By Shrii Shrii Anandamurti

Gurusakásha: gur + un + sa + kash + ghaiṋ.(1)

Gurusakásha means “near the Guru”, “under the Guru’s umbrella”, “under the Guru’s wings”, “under the Guru’s shelter”. The word Gurusakásha has two other yoga-related meanings: one of them is Guru dhyána [meditation on the Guru] in Guru cakra, the other is a particular kind of Gurusmarańa [Guru’s remembrance] or Gurusharańa [Guru’s shelter] after sleep.

There are nine cakras [plexi] in human organisms [múládhára, svádhiśt́hána, mańipura, anáhata, vishuddha, lalańa, ájiṋá, Guru, and sahasrára]. From the point of view of karma [action], three are most important: one, surrounding the navel region in the mańipura cakra, is situated in the gland of thunder-like hardness, Rudra Granthi, the agni cakra; another exists in the swaying of the solar plexus, or Viśńu Granthi, the anáhata cakra; and yet another is located in the upheavals of imagination in Brahma Granthi, the ájiṋá cakra.

The vishuddha cakra, situated in the kúrma nád́ii [sinusoid nerve] of the throat, is the centre of speech. The importance of this plexus is very great. It is helpful to the enlightening of intellect, and is also called the Brhaspati Granthi. In its neighbourhood exist the thyroid and parathyroid glands – the Brhaspati Granthi and the Brhaspati Upagranthi respectively.

There are, in human physiology, countless glands and sub-glands. Different and variegated are the causes of their actions. By their manifold interrelations with and interactions upon the lymph or shukra [which has three stages: lymph (práńarasa), spermatozoa and seminal fluid], they produce a variety of granthirasas (hormones). The multifarious hormones, getting into the important plexi, become consumed, and only a small amount of the hormones can reach the glands and sub-glands below them. Most of the hormones of the upper portion are consumed by the solar plexus, which is contiguous with the anáhata cakra. When the sudhárasa [bliss-causing hormones] emitted by the glands and sub-glands situated above the ájiṋá cakra are consumed in the ájiṋá cakra, the result is that the ájiṋá cakra is strongly affected by the high secretion of hormones brought about by sádhaná [spiritual practices] in that upper region, and consequently the irises of the eyes move upwards and a state of trance ensues. A pleasant drowsiness of tandrá [somnolence] mixed with nidrá [sleepiness] overcomes the eyes, and the person is immersed in a type of slumber of a subtle loka [realm]. This kind of yoga nidrá, bháva nidrá, adhyátma nidrá is known as hypnosis in English. Bear in mind that it has no connection with hypnotism or mesmerism. Hypnotism or mesmerism is outer-suggestion, while hypnosis is auto-suggestion.

The vishuddha cakra is bounded by the kúrma nád́ii [sinusoid nerve]. Some call it the Brhaspati cakra. A great many of the hormones secreted by the upper glands are metabolized in it and absorbed here, and very little of these hormones descend down. If one’s sádhaná is perfect then the sound of the voice becomes sonorous and pleasant for some time, to some extent a state of intoxication ensues, the sinusoid nerve throbs a little, the body turns motionless and stonelike, and the skin becomes thin and light to some degree.

Because of the type of environment existing in the solar plexus, or the anáhata cakra, the hormones of the upper region are almost entirely absorbed there, and very little of them remains. The entrancing action of the bliss-causing hormone of the upper region, which is designated sudhárasa in Sanskrit, when it reaches here leads to the greatest sensation in this spot, and the mind gets lost in the higher realm. The developed sádhaka [spiritual aspirant] remains submerged in this beatific condition of intoxication. It is said that Shiva remains overwhelmed under the spell of this very type of intoxication, with His eyes fixed upwards. This is not the intoxication produced by bhang [Indian hemp] or ganja [marijuana], or that of opium, nor that of wine, but is a sort of beatific intoxication brought about by sudhárasa.

Surápán karine ámi sudhá khái “Jay Kálii” bale,
Man-mátále mátál kare mad-mátále mátál bale.(2)

[I don’t drink wine, I take divine nectar, saying, “Victory to Kálii.”
My mind, intoxicated with bliss-causing hormones, makes me drunk. But those who are intoxicated with drink call me a drunkard.]

The cakra below the anáhata is the mańipura. The mańipura area is the primary location of dehágni [bodily fire], the main sphere of the existence of vitality. An unborn baby, through the medium of this mańipura cakra, remains joined with the mother’s body by means of the umbilical chord. And through this medium the lymph from the mother’s body penetrates into the body of the infant. That is why this part of the human organism is not incinerated by the normal temperatures of fire. After a cremation the descendants of the deceased carry this part away from the funeral pyre, along with the bone remnants, and ultimately throw it into the Ganges. This is known as asthivisarjana [immersion of the bone remnants].

Below the mańipura cakra there are also many glands and sub-glands. The hormones secreted by these are not metabolized by any of the plexi. They go out of the body, not getting absorbed to any appreciable extent. Through particular yoga-based actions, they can be retained in the body to a great extent. In Tantra Shástra, in Avidyá Tantra, this is called stambhana kriyá [a process to stop bodily functions]. Stool, urine, sweat and semen get excreted from the body because the concerned reflexes originate from under the navel. The influence exerted by the nerve cells of the brain controls lower nerve cells down as far as the anáhata cakra. The navel cakra, or mańipura cakra, the svádhiśt́hána cakra and the múládhára cakra are directly linked with the mundane faculties. For this reason, in the sphere of spiritual practices, the mańipura cakra and the one below it are generally not recognized as cakras for repeating the Iśt́a mantra [a personal mantra repeated in meditation]. The recognized cakras for japa [repetition of mantra] are the anáhata cakra, vishuddha cakra and ájiṋá cakra and a few other cakras and upacakras of the upper region. The Guru cakra is the highest cakra. The Guru cakra is used as the place of dhyána.

The hormones secreted by various glands and sub-glands are directly connected with the human body and mind. The nerve cells of the brain each regulate a particular kind of sentiment and thought. The glands and sub-glands of the lower regions maintain an organic link with the above-mentioned nerve cells of the brain. Particular courses of thought depend on the secretions of these hormones. Then again, while moving along mundane mental paths, the human mind is influenced by many kinds of susceptibilities which are based on mundane activities. Under these circumstances there is a need, on the one hand, for purity of thought, and on the other, for satsauṋga [associating with good people]. The same person who is elevated in the company of good people, gets degenerated in an evil environment. This is a tested truth. So in human life there is as much need of satsauṋga as there is the need to shun evil company. Therefore, it is necessary to look for satsauṋga and avoid asatsauṋga [associating with bad people].

Satsaungena bhavenmuktirasatsaungeśu bandhanam;
Asatsauṋgamudrańaḿ sá mudrá parikiirttitá.

[Keeping good company leads to liberation, whereas the company of bad people leads to greater bondage. The mudrańam – shunning – of bad company is called mudrá sádhaná.]

The glands and sub-glands are controlled by the brain. The susceptibility, the automatic response of those glands and sub-glands, is regulated by the nerve cells. There are numerous, countless cells in the brain. Some people say that there are one thousand cells [based on the thousand-petalled lotus of the scriptures] in the brain, but actually these are many, many more. Just as we use the expression “thousands” without actually counting, so we might also speak of “one thousand”.

The number of cells in a female body is a little smaller than the number in a male body. Again, from the viewpoint of sentimentality, the number of nerve cells in a woman’s body is a little greater than that in a man’s. That is why in areas needing intelligence, knowledge and rationality men progress rapidly, and in areas where success depends on sentimentality, women progress very swiftly. Through the dispensation of God, men’s deficiency is balanced by women’s sentimentality, and women’s deficiency is balanced by men’s resoluteness and subtle propensive propulsion. And this is why in the sphere of education, both men and women must be afforded equal opportunities. Otherwise society will become crippled, and its all-round well-being cannot be achieved.

Now, there is a regulating point or práńakendra for each of the innumerable nerve cells in the brain. Over and above these many práńakendras or regulating points of the brain, there is one regulating point which controls the many práńakendras. This point resembles, to some extent, the tip of a blade of kusha [a type of grass]. In this point is the Guru cakra. From this point human beings receive a thousand and one kinds of inspiration and propulsion. The humanity of human beings and the animality of lesser creatures all depend on this point. In this point is ensconced the Guru, Parama Guru, Parápara Guru, Paramesti Guru. It is the loftiest point for the purposes of meditation and contemplation. It is at this point that the meditation on Guru has to be undertaken. That which I call the sahasrára cakra is an ideational point – without any realistic existence based on the nerve cells – but this is not the case with the Guru cakra. So human beings must take recourse to the Guru Cakra – they must take shelter under it: Nányapanthá vidyate-ayanáyá [“There is no other way than this”].

In this Guru cakra, the aspirant meditates on the Guru – on that ennobling Entity – channelizing his or her mundane bondages into the non-mundane realm, and elevating his or her non-mundane psychic bondages to the realm of the supramental entity, the source of supra-cognitive power. Hence, dhyána yoga [meditational Yoga] is the best yoga for sádhaná. Dhyána yoga is acknowledged by hat́ha yoga, Rája Yoga and Rájádhirája Yoga; it is also acknowledged by Buddhist Tantra and Jain Tantra, and by Bhágavata dharma. Well, Guru dhyána in the Guru cakra is called Gurusakásha.

In ancient times, Maharshi Vishvamitra, as well as the virtuous Yudhisthira, the son of Yama, the dispenser of dharma, used to say that much time is wasted by human beings in sleep. Yet it is essential to give the brain rest; that is to say that sleep is needed for physical health. If a man lives for sixty years, he spends twenty years out of these in sleep. If a person constantly chants his or her japa mantra or meditates ceaselessly, then the rhythm of this japa, the rhythm that adores the Guru during dhyána, will act as auto-suggestion during the time of sleep, although the person will not remember it. After waking up, the person may wonder what the state of his or her mind was while he or she was asleep. He or she will feel that the state of sleep is the lack of any idea or thing – a sense of vacuum.

Each propensity in human beings thrives on a particular idea. If the propensity is to be kept alive, then it must take recourse to some particular idea. The condition of sleep is the absence of idea – emptiness. That is to say, when one wakes up after sleeping one feels that for so long one was in the midst of some sort of idleness, in the midst of the propensity of “nothing whatsoever”. If, while remaining in the midst of a feeling of “nothing whatsoever”, any pulsation reaches the nerve cells – generally owing to the upward movement of wind or to indigestion, or from the positive viewpoint, owing to much chanting and meditation – a shiver will be caused in the nerve cells, and the picture of this pulsation is called a “dream”.

The pulsation that is caused by the action of japa or dhyána links the jiiva [unit being] with the higher realms, and establishes it in the cognitive properties for the time being. The pulsation that is caused by some physical condition is an unreal dream and connected with the mundane realm, and has no value. So when, through the symphony of meditation and japa, the rhythm of life persists, it is called dharmamegha samádhi. Moreover, if the symphony of meditation or japa persists for some time, and if in the natural course of events the jiiva does not forsake the meditation or japa, then loss of memory does not occur. This state is called dhruvásmrti, or “infallible, eternal memory”. A sádhaka with this capacity continues his or her dhyána and japa even in sleep. This kind of japa is called ajapá japa – which is to say, without one actually performing japa, japa is going on – or adhyáná dhyána – which is to say, without one actually meditating, meditation is going on.

Maharshi Vishvamitra, Dharmarája Yudhisthira, Rájádhirája Yogii Vashiśt́a, Maharshi Astavakra, Vibhandaka and Kalahana have all said that those who waste time because of their susceptibilities (the time of one who does adhyáná dhyána or ajapá japa is not wasted), should remember the Guru in the Guru cakra. This they should do sitting in siddhásana [perfect posture] or any other convenient ásana [posture], on the same blanket, skin, seat or bed as they had used for sleeping, immediately after waking up and before doing any other work or before having any other thought – even before performing their morning duties or any other task. This will be a high category of Gurusakásha. If it cannot always be done immediately after sleep, it is essential to remember the Guru early in the morning after overcoming sleepiness. If this is done, they will meet with success or illumination in each and every subtle and spiritual task that they perform in the course of the whole day. It is said:

Prátah shirasi shukle’bje dvinetraḿ dvibhujaḿ gurum;
Varábhayakrtahastaḿ smarettaḿ námapúrvakam.

[Early in the morning one should meditate on the Guru in varábhaya mudrá with two hands and two eyes seated on a white lotus in Guru cakra, and remember Him by chanting His holy name (through a mantra).]

Prátah means “in the morning”. Understand that prátah is indeclinable. So the first, second, fourth, fifth and all other case endings are not needed – there is no inflection or declension. Prátah, prátam, prátena, prátáya, prátát, prátasya and similar forms of declension will be out of place, since with an indeclinable word no suffix is added. Shirasi means “at the topmost point” – that is to say, in the Guru cakra. Shukle means “in a white”; abje means “in the lotus”; shuklébje means “in or on a white lotus”. And you have to meditate on the Guru who is dvinetra [endowed with two eyes] and dvibhuja [endowed with two hands]. In what posture is this Guru endowed with two eyes and two hands? In varábhaya mudrá [the gesture imparting fearlessness and bestowing grace]. He is your well-wisher and your benefactor.

Whatever words you use mentally to address the Guru at the time of dhyána or Guru dhyána, should also be used at the time of this Guru dhyána. You should always address the Guru for an extended period. This is Gurusakásha.


(1) Guru in the Vedic language is derived gur + un; in later Sanskrit as gu + ru. The contents of this chapter consists of an elaboration on the word Gurusakásha. The author’s discourse on that day entailed linguistic discussion of a number of Sanskrit terms; the discussion of each term became an entry in the author’s linguistic encyclopedia Shabda Cayaniká (“Collection of Words”). –Eds.

(2) Ramprasad. –Eds.

10 June 1990, Calcutta