In the rich cultural legacy bequeathed to us by the seers and sages, the place of the guru is of paramount importance.
Generally the term `guru` is translated as `spiritual parent or preceptor` or a `venerable person`. In common parlance, guru is understood as a teacher, and shishya as a pupil or a disciple.
Like all Sanskrit terms, the meaning of `guru` is contained in the word itself. Gu means darkness, and ru denotes that which banishes it. The term `guru`, therefore, means someone who dispels darkness. It also connotes someone `weighty` or `big`, one who exudes greatness.
The guru imparts knowledge to the shishya, but is more than a teacher. A shishya learns from the guru, no doubt, but is more than a student. A guru is mentor, teacher and guide all rolled into one, and a shishya is student, seeker and explorer.
In a deeper sense, the real guru is the pure intellect within.
Our Three Gurus
Pandit Madhusudan Ojha
From his early days, Pandit Madhusudan Ojha revealed a sharp and intelligent mind. As a result of his hard work and natural brilliance, while he was still young he acquired authority in the complex subjects of vyakarana (grammar), nyaya (law), literature, Vedanta and philosophy.
At a young age, he became a Professor of Sanskrit at the Maharaja College, Jaipur and later Professor of Vedanta at the Sanskrit College. The then Maharaja of the princely state of Jaipur, Madhao Singh, came to know of his outstanding scholarship and appointed him as a member of his personal staff.
Ojhaji was entrusted with the responsibility of organising and overseeing the private library of the ruler of Jaipur, for he was not only accomplished in the Shastras (religious texts) but also endowed with great insights in administrative matters.
In a brief autobiographical note on Pandit ji published in 1942, mention is made of approximately 125 books authored by him, only few of which are available today. His insights left an indelible mark on all those who had an opportunity to listen or to interact with him.
Ojhaji lived with great simplicity in this world while remaining detached from it. His only commitment was to discover as much as possible about the Vedic sciences and he devoted all his energy in unravelling their mysteries. He continued his studies for 50 years with dedication and devotion, even when his health was declining. His 70th birthday was celebrated in 1937 (vikram samvat 1993). Three years later, after a brief illness, Pandit ji breathed his last. His death was mourned throughout India as the loss of one of her most respected and renowned scholars.
Pandit Motilal Shastri
Ojhaji had many students but only one who learnt "at his feet" in a manner according to the tradition of rishis (sages), which involved rigorous discipline. This was Pandit Motilal Shastri. Shortly before he passed away, Pandit Madhusudan Ojhaji told his disciple: "I regret that I could not see the flowering of my literature during my lifetime, because I still have lot of work to do. I am entrusting this responsibility to you."
Young Motilal honoured his guru's last request by devoting the remainder of his life to expanding and elaborating upon Ojhaji's historic contributions.
Pandit Motilal was born in 1908. He received his education in Sanskrit and displayed an extraordinary talent for learning from childhood. At the age of 12, he passed the Prathama examination from Kashi (also known as Benares and Varanasi) , a pre-eminent centre for Sanskrit learning in the country. He continued his studies at the Maharaja Sanskrit College of Jaipur.
At a conference in Varanasi, the young Motilal Shastri heard Pandit Madhusudan Ojhaji speak on the Vedic sciences and thus had the first exposure to the great scholar. The young man made a firm resolve to become a disciple of Ojha ji and pursue studies in Vedic science on his return to Jaipur. This marked his ``second birth``, as a student of Veda Shastras (Vedic science). Under the tutelage of Ojha ji, he began a rigorous study of the Vedas which continued till his last breath. It also ensured the continuation of a new tradition of dissemination of knowledge of Vedic science, which Pandit Madhusudan Ojha had rekindled after it had sunk into oblivion for several centuries.
Ojhaji's writings are mostly in the form of aphorisms and the subjects covered therein are intricate and complex. This makes it difficult for even accomplished Sanskrit scholars to fully decipher and comprehend his writings. Therefore, Shastriji opted to write in Hindi, although it is not an easy task to explain the meaning of the Vedas in Hindi. Shastriji invented his own unique adaptation of Hindi to explain Vedic science to the lay readers, and he wrote about 80,000 handwritten pages on Vedic themes. Thus he not only made a great contribution to the exposition of the Vedas but also to the evolution of Hindi itself, vesting remarkable richness to the great language.
In Jaipur, the main centre of his activities, Shastriji established an ashram in 1943 to continue his work. During the latter phase of his life, he devoted himself to self-study, writing, preserving and publishing his work. It was during this phase that Pandit Rishi Kumar Mishra had the great fortune of coming in contact with him which sparked a life-long passion for exploring the unprecedented richness of the Vedic wisdom.
Pandit Motilal Shastri passed away at the age of 52.
Pandit Rishi Kumar Mishra
Like his guru, and his guru's guru before him, Rishi Kumar Mishra belongs to the lineage of Rishi Bharadwaj, the renowned seer-scientist who unravelled several mysteries of the cosmos several thousands of years ago and is cited extensively in the Vedas.
An atheist and a Marxist, editor of a number of daily newspapers and magazines, and a former member of Rajya Sabha, Pandit Rishi Kumar Mishra was initiated into the mysteries of Vedic wisdom by Pandit Motilal Shastri. In a reversal of the traditional guru-shishya parampara, Shastriji chose him as his disciple, rather than the other way round. The result was an inner transformation and initiation into the scientific thought of the Vedas.
In the same way that Shastriji illuminated the Vedas in Hindi, he set his disciple the task of disseminating the Vedic knowledge in English. In fulfilment of his guru's desire, Mishraji has authored the following works:
- Before the Beginning and After the End: Rediscovering Ancient Insights
- The Cosmic Matrix: In the light of the Vedas
- The Realm of Supraphysics: Mind, Matter, Energy
- The Ultimate Dialogue: Fusion of Knowledge, Intelligence and Action
- The Whole Being: A Journey Towards Harmony and Happiness.