The "Guru Gita" or "Sri Guru Gita" is a collection of songs and chants sung to Lord Shiva from his disciple, Goddess Parvati. From Sanskrit, gu means "darkness," while ru means "light." The "Guru Gita" urges us to find our guru, as it is through following them that their force may bring us from darkness to find our gate into light and liberation.
The "Guru Gita" begins with the Goddess Parvati asking Lord Shiva which path a soul must take to become one with Brahman. The verses of the "Guru Gita" share the wisdom of ancient saints and articulates the power of connecting with a guru as the path towards the Absolute. Each person can sing to their own personal guru with these mantras, honoring the channel they can create to the supreme Source.
Here we'll explore the importance of studying and chanting the Guru Gita, as well as examining some of my favorite verses that have come to me as I have studied this ancient text.
Studying the Guru Gita
Comprising the latter portion of the "Skanda Purana," many believe that this scripture reveals profound explanations about the nature of being, offering any yogi or seeker a guide for meditation and a basis for how self-realization can manifest through a relationship with a guru.
(More about the seeker in Seek and Ye Shall Find: The Genuine Seeker's Experience on the Spiritual Path.)
Studying the meaning within the verses can be a powerful way for one to better know the true self. Many say that this text can be studied for a lifetime and that, compared to other yogic texts, the "Guru Gita" may be the most imperative for study. The student should study the translations of the verses, but also ensure they focus on studying pronunciation of the Sanskrit verse to more precisely produce the important sacred sounds.
Chanting as Sadhana
As a yogic seeker begins to study the "Guru Gita," they may want to start by memorizing one verse in Sanskrit that calls to them. When the verse is memorized it allows the yogi to better cease thoughts and focus their mind on receiving the vibrations of the words’ sounds.
Within Siddha centers and ashrams where seekers chant the 90-minute practice that Swami Muktananda (the founder of Siddha yoga) developed, the sound created from chanting this ongoing flow of mantras is said to engulf you like the rushing waters of the Ganga river in India.
When chanting independently, many say they do not find the need to chant the entire "Guru Gita" as a single verse can come that creates a shift within. It is an interesting practice for me to stop when I feel a shift and meditate on the verse I was chanting. This is a great opportunity to check the translation, and to contemplate the meaning and its application to your stream of thoughts or relationship with your guru. If you have not actualized a guru, you may be able to meditate on these verses and receive divine direction toward the guru you need in this life’s incarnation.
(To help with your search, read The Guru Guide: What to Watch Out for When Seeking Your Spiritual Master.)
Many aspirants study and chant this text for decades and find themselves favoring certain verses during certain phases of life. So far, I have found some of my favorite verses in the early portion of the text based on the way the Sanskrit resonated with me and how the English translations spoke to me.
Durlabham trishu lokeshu, tach chrnushva vadaamyaham; Gurum vinaa Brahma naanyat,
satyam satyam varaanane.
Here is the secret knowledge that is difficult to attain in the three worlds. Listen to it carefully as I reveal it to you now. The Absolute is the same as the Guru.
This is the truth, O beautiful One, this is the truth.
Guru buddhyaat mano naanyat, satyam satyam na samshayaha; Tallaa bhaartham prayat nastu,
kartavyo hi manishibhihi.
The Guru is the same as the Self,
the same as Consciousness itself.
This is the truth. This is the absolute truth.
Those who seek wisdom should make every effort to find their Guru.
These verses speak to me as a yogini longing for her guru and as a student of the "Guru Gita." Chanting these verses feels like a very powerful way to call in a manifestation of a personal guru. I feel these verses implore the seeker to find their guru, while retaining the wisdom of the Oneness of us all. This is incredibly helpful to those who may experience feelings of inadequacy in their guru-disciple relationship or within their life in any context.
Om Guru Om
The "Guru Gita" text can be studied in the ashram setting or in your own meditative space. It can be a tool on the path toward humbling yourself before a guru and strengthening your channel to Brahman, the Absolute. There are many audio resources to chant along with for the new aspirant. If seeking a guru, I invite you to consider posting a favorite verse somewhere you can see it regularly, or including the chant as part of your daily yoga practice to see how the mantras may positively impact your pursuit.