About the Guru Shishya Tradition

Guru Parampara

(The Guru Tradition)

I bow to the fragrant feet of the guru
That spread the fragrance of wisdom light and love
The world is radiant due to his holy body
That radiates compassion and knowledge

He who permeates the whole world
The light that causes reflection of all objects in the world
And every living being is but a particle of his soul
To the guru I offer my heart and my tears of joy

Guru govind dono khade kAke lagun pAnv
BalihAri guru aphkI govind diyo batay
This popular couplet says that guru and god both are standing in front of me – whose feet should I touch? Magnificient is the guru (and therefore I bow to him) for he showed me the path to god.

Such is the importance of the guru in the bharatiya tradition that this couplet gives precedence to the guru even above god.
The guru can be looked upon as a person and at the same the guru is a tattva too. In the Shiva and Shakti schools God is said to have five functions. Creation (srishti), Maintenance (stithi), destruction (samhar), concealment and projection (tirodhan) and Grace (anugraha).
The aspect of god as anugraha shakti (power of grace) that helps every individual to walk on the spiritual path is called the guru tattva. At the level of the guru in the Guru Gita (GG) (shlok 86 says)

AdhikArinmAshAste phalsidhirvisheshtaH
Upaya deshkaladhyaH santyasminsahkarinaH (14) Vivekchoodamani
Ultimate success in spiritual endeavors depends entirely upon the degree of fundamental qualifications of the seeker. Other conveniences such as time and place are important too but they are quite secondary.

Whereas the method of making the pot is very important, yet the first qualification is that the mud must be of good quality. In the next shlok the Vivekchoodamani goes on to say that the Guru must be qualified too meaning the maker of the pot must be good too.

Vivekino viraktasya shamadigunshalinaH
Mumukshorev hi bhrmajigyasayogyata matah (17) Vivekchoodamani
In the opinion of qualified gurus only those students are qualified to learn the knowledge about supreme consciousness who are discriminative, have withdrawn themselves from social interactions, are detached, forgiving and kind.

Aadau nitya anitya vastu vivekaH pariganyate ehAmutraphalbhogviragstdanntram
shamAdishataksampattirmumukshatvmitI sphuTam. (19) Vivekchoodamani
The qualified student has the ability to distinguish the real from the unreal, detachment from the enjoyment of the fruits of actions, the six qualities of forgiveness, humility, kindness, truth, fairness and compassion; and a burning desire for liberation.

Few students come to a Guru with preparation. Without preparation we do not achieve success. All these qualities enumerated are essential to reach the final goal.
The student must be prepared. The student must be prepared. The student must be prepared.

dhyanamUlam gururmurtim pujamulam guruH padam
mantramulam gurorvakyam mokshmulam guruH kripA 86 (GG)
The base of meditation is the form of the guru
The base of prayer are the gurus feet
The base of mantra are the words of the guru
And the base for liberation is the grace of the guru

One of the most popular shlokas that gives importance to the worship of the guru because the guru diksha or initiation of spiritual practices and mantras are given by the guru. Thus the spiritual path becomes animated with the conscious force of the guru. Essentially this is the reason for such devotion to the guru.
Whereas Yogah is defined as the effort of the individual to attain superconsciouness.
The Guru may be defined as the force that graces one with superconscious energy. In short Yogah is effort, whereas the Guru is grace. In real life we need both, our effort so that we become capable to receive grace and to develop it.
There is a story about a saint who was travelling on his horse. At that time nearby one of the saint’s disciple was sitting in meditation. The disciple’s heart was yearning to see his Guru. As the saint tried to negotiate the horse it would not obey him. The saint was very surprised as his horse was sweet, gentle and always obeyed him. So he let the horse take his path thinking that let it take me where god wants me to go. The horse turned into the forest and in a little while reached the place where this disciple was meditating. On hearing the footsteps of the horse the disciple opened his eyes, seeing his Guru he was overjoyed and wished him. The Guru looked at him saying “What is all this? The disciple said to his Guru “Gurudev, I was thinking of you. I really wanted to see you”. That is the kind of love a disciple must have for his teacher.

Another very interesting shloka from the guru gita says
Shivo rushto gurustrata gurau rushte na kashvana
labdhvA kulaguruM samyaggurumeva samashrayet          88(GG)

This very important shloka says that if Lord Shiv (god ) is angry then the guru can save you but if the guru is angry nobody can save you. Therefore having found the guru one should take refuge in the guru.

In the ramcharitra manas there occurs an incident in the uttarakhand (towards the end) of a devotee who was devoted to the God Shiv but not to the guru while practicing his devotion. Lord Shiv could not tolerate this attitude of the shisya to his guru and in anger Lord Shiv cursed the disciple. The guru intervened on behalf of the student and asked Lord Shiv to reduce the punishment of the student to a nominal one. This story illustrates the importance of the guru.
The most important aspect of the development of the spiritual aspirant is to continuously develop and add higher consciousness to one’s self. Since there is no end to superconsciousness hence one walks on the infinite path. On such a path one can use infinite help and grace always helps, actually it helps immeasurably.
For an aspirant it is always easy to be angry, to walk away but one must remember that there are very few people in the world who show the correct path. There are always many who are ready to help one make incorrect choices. The Guru helps one make good choices. As people we fail to see our own faults. The Guru must show these. If he is scared of showing you your faults or patronizes you, you will never be able to transform yourself. No one loves to be shown one’s faults, so the Guru’s task is not an easy one.
Most people have enormous ego’s especially those who are rich and successful. If you want grace, if you wish to walk on this path of fire, to become superconscious, learn to be humble.
The guru mercilessly beats your ego and your limited identity to transform you towards perfection.
Once we start on the spiritual path it becomes very difficult to hold on to it. The Guru is the force that helps you hold on to the path. If one stops listening to the Guru then the path is lost. We ourselves as the aspirant, do not have adequate strength to stay on that path. At some point in time our old mind patterns make us drift back towards the world, the only person who prevents us from drifting on the path is the Guru hence we must strive to please the guru so that we may attain superconsciousness.

gukAra shrch andhaharo hi rukarasteja uchyate
ajnanagrasakaM brahma gurureva na samshayaH             44 (GG)
The letter gu denotes darknes while the letter ru denotes brightness. The brahma who swallows up ignorance is the guru without doubt. Therefore the guru is one who takes the spiritual aspirant from the darkness of ignorance to the light of wisdom. That aspect of Brahma or God who takes one to enlightenment is the guru.
The Guru force has the task of transforming people towards a better tomorrow. What each of us carries with us over different lifetimes are our tendencies, habits, patterns of the mind. These tendencies or habits known as samskaras shape our future lives. There are four kinds of people. Those who move from darkness to darkness, those who move from darkness to light, those who move from light to darkness and those who move from light to light. The Guru takes us towards the light of wisdom and compassion.


gukaro bhavarogaH syat rukarastannirodhkrit
bhavarogaharatvAchcha gururityabhidhIyate                                  45 (GG)
The syllable gu indicates the trap of rebirths and deaths whereas the syllable ru has the power to stop this cycle of reincarnation. Since the teacher has the power to stop the cycle of repeated birth and deaths he is know as the Guru.
Our cycle of birth and death is connected to the Karma (or deeds) that we do. One of the aspects of studying under a guru is that he transforms your habits and the patterns of your mind. Without these we continue to repeat the old habits that keep us in bondage. Asana, Mantra, Kriya alone are not enough to ensure the development of consciousness. It is the guidance and effort of the Guru, his work on us that leads to our transformation.


gukarashrcha guNatIto rupatIto rukarakaH
guNarupavihIntvat gururityabhidhIyate                                             46 (GG)
Letter gu denotes a state above the three gunas that is sattva rajas and tamas and therefore denotes enlightment and liberation (kaivalyam) while the letter ru denotes the state beyond forms because the spiritual teacher is in a state of kaivalyam above the gunas and forms he is known as the guru.
This shloka refers to a state of perfection that is attained by the sages. It is extremely difficult to meet a teacher who has these qualities, who is liberated. Sages who reach this stage have no interest in the world and often hide away from the world in forests and mountains. A sage who has no duality, no choices, unattached, who is established in compassion, perfected, without any desires, beyond the mind, who at every moment is an embodiment of god. Ideally the stage each aspirant would want to attain.


vedashAstrapuraNAni chetihAsAdikAni cha                          
mantrayantradividyanAM mohanochvaTanadikam                        22 (GG)


shaivashAktAgamAdIni hmanyo cha bahavo matAH
apabhraMshAH samastAnAM jIvAnAM bhrAntachetasAm           23 (GG)


japastapo vratam tIrtham yojno dAnam tathaiva cha
gurutattvamavijnaya sarvam vyartham bhavetpriye                      24 (GG)

The Vedas (knowledge), Shastras (scriptures), puranas (set of scriptures thus known), itihahasas (history), science of mantra and yantra, japa, austerities, observances, pilgrimage, sacrifices(Yagyas), charity, as well as the cults like shaiv, shakt, agams and all the other cults (philosophies) existing in the world today become false theories that are corrupted and confuse the ignorant and deluded souls (jivas) without proper knowledge of the guru tattva.

These three shlokas indicate that one must have the highest consciousness, understanding of God and his power of grace to be able to lead others to an enlightened state. All these are received at the feet of the master from the guru lineage.
In other words the tradition gives enormous importance to the guru and guru diksha. In the tradition, we say “all knowledge is learned from the mouth (words) of the master and at the feet of the master" (gurumukhi and guru ke chranau mein).
One of the frequent mistakes that an spiritual aspirant makes is to imagine that he actually undersands the scriptures all by himself. One can learn up all the scriptures and recite them like a parrot, or even seem to be able to speak well on them. Whereas these are commendable however it does not mean that one has understood them properly. Most texts are revelations. They reveal only when the aspirant is ready. Conscious force can impart consciousness, the dull cannot impart consciousness. Therefore learning can only be through a qualified teacher(Guru).
Another very important point with regard to the scriptures is that each tradition gives a different interpretation of the same text so the Guru will give an interpretation according to the tradition one belongs to.


chaitanyaM shAshvataM shAntaM vyomatItaM niranjanam
nAdabindukalatItaM tasmai shriguruve namaH       64 (GG)

Highest consciousness, he who rules the world, peaceful, existing everywhere in space, he who is not attached to wordly delights, he who is beyond the state of naad, bindu and kala (the points where creation begins) – I prostrate to such a guru.
A very beautiful and moving shloka. This and the next shlokas indicate the state of Enlightenment and Liberation. This is the state we would like to be in. One does not reach any state all of a sudden. Systematic, regular and hard practice. Continuos pursuit of the spiritual goal. Devotion to the Guru, humility, service are the qualities that help one reach the final goal.

nirguNam nirmalam jangamam sthirameva cha
vyaptam yena jagatsarvam tasmai shrigurave namaH       65 (GG)

He who is beyond the gunas of sattva rajas and tamas, without any impurities, he who pervades the moving and the still world, he who occupies the space within entire world, I prostrate to such a guru.
Understanding that god and the Guru both are immanent as well as trancendental. Respecting others and oneself. Respect for elders, reducing one’s ego. Understanding and practicing that all who surround us are also divine. All these lead to the dawn of light on the smoke that surrounds our being.

vandeham sachchidAnandam bhAvAtItam jagadgurum
nityam pUrNam nirguNam svAtmasaMsthitam 157 (GG)

I bow to the guru of the whole world who is the form of absolute truth, pure consciousness and bliss, who is free from the cycle of rebirth and death, who is eternal, complete without form, above the three gunas of sattva, rajas and tamas, and who is always established in the self (selfrealized).
This is the state of Yogah chitta vrirti nirodah where one is established in the state of formless and seedless samadhi. Enlightened and Liberated from the bondage of Karma(deeds), from repeated birth and death. In the state of wisdom and infinite compassion.

Guravo nirmalaH shAntaH sadhavo mitabhAshiNaH
kAmakrodhavinirmukta sadAchAraH jitendriyaH 271 (GG)
The guru is free from impurities (that is, he is pure), peaceful and calm, who devotes time to spiritual practices, who speaks measured words, who is free from lust and anger. He behaves himself correctly and controls his senses.

It is very important to associate oneself with a teacher who actually regularly practices spiritual techniques. “abhyasa vairagyabhyAm tan nirodhah”(Y.S.12). Practice and lack of attraction to the world lead to the state of cessation(of the modifications of the mind). Some the best siddhas or perfected beings that I have personally met are those who have enormous spiritual energy but yet they are regularly engaged in the devotion to god.
A person who speaks too much will often speak nonsense. When we speak we also lose a lot of energy in speech. The practice of silence helps one in quieting the mind. A person is angry when he has unfulfilled desires or is full of fear. Such a person cannot take one to the house of light and wisdom. For learning one must have a calm guru who will help one to achieve levels of higher consciousness despite all our faults and mistakes. At the same time we must be prepared to devote serious time and effort to achieve the grace of the Guru. A student who comes unprepared to the guru will rarely benefit straight away. One cannot expect to receive a master’s degree if one has not even finished studying in the 10th class. Therefore preparation is a must to receive grace.
The Yog Sutras give the first stage of spiritual development as Yam or the controls. The fourth yam is brahmcharya. Brahmcharya means the cessation of the drive to acquire wealth, fame, good food and wine, status, position, office, popularity, children, attraction to the opposite sex and thus the planning to acquire a partner. He is who is free from the desire to constantly multiply these is a brahmchari.
The Bhagvat Gita says “Apuryamanam achala pratishTham samudram apah pravishAnti yadvat. tadvat kama yampravishAnti sarve sa shAntim apnoti na kamakamI”. 2.70
“He unto whom all objects of desire enter (unsought,without causing disturbances, without perturbation(sattva)) like an ocean in which all rivers fall without causing any disturbance, remaining steady such a person achieves quietude of the mind and not a person who runs after desires.
If one has possessions they must be treated with an attitude of vairagya or non-attachment. When one practices brahmcharya the behavior of an aspirant becomes correct and the senses come under one’s control. Lack of control on the senses leads to a mind running astray. Such a mind is not ready for higher goals. Yogah can be achieved with a well controlled mind.

Yah tan vish ki beladi, guru amrit ki khAn
Shish diye jo guru mile, to bhI sastA jAn
This body is a vessel full of poison whereas the guru is a mine of divine nectar. Even if one has to give one's head to be the disciple of the guru it is still a very cheap bargain.
An ordinary person spends a lot of time and energy in material pursuits. To be able to change the tendencies of the mind to enable us to pursue our spiritual goals is a very difficult process. The mind with its constant habit of wandering into the world seeking objects to entertain itself becomes a vessel full of poison. The guru on the other hand is an enlightened being who continuosly strives to make all his shishyas reach the stage of enlightenment.
What drives all of us is our hunger, to direct that hunger to enlightenment. To be willing to give up all that we have to be enlightened. One can strive to be enlightened but the journey may take several lifetimes. To give one’s life, one’s head to such a goal if one has to be enlightened is a very cheap price.
There is a little story about a Guru who had a few disciples. One day he asked all of them what they possessed. By turn each student started counting his possessions. One disciple Somnath took a lot of time in describing his possessions. He counted his lands, horses, houses, money, gold, jewellery and so on. In his turn another disciple Raghunath looked at the Guru and said “Gurudev my only possessions are god, you and the sacred word (mantra) that you gave me”.
Such should be the devotion to the Guru and God that one considers only these as his true possessions. Attachment to material possessions only leads to sorrow. The process of repeated birth and death makes us leave behind all our worldly possessions. All that goes along is our samaskaras (patterns of the mind). We must strive for enlightenment and liberation ensuring that these are the main samskaras we carry with us. 

Guru som gnan jo lIjiye, shish dIjiye dAn
Bahute bhoNdU beh gaye, rakh jIv abhimAn
When one receives knowledge (peace) from a guru, one should give ones head (ego) as an offering. Many dullards have become enlightened by letting go the individual pride.

Perhaps one of the most difficult tasks for a Guru is to down size the aspirant’s ego. It is difficult because the aspirant is not ready to accept the beating handed down by the Guru. There exists a deep bond of love between the Guru and the Shishya, when the Guru starts beating the ego of the shishya he rebels and often fails to understand how a person who he loves so much and who seemed to love him/her has suddenly become so cruel. The shishya has to realize and firmly believe in the teacher. Like a good boxer who has to learn to take a good beating to survive in the ring, the shishya too has to hold on with all his strength and faith. At some point the shishya has to himself come upto the level that the Guru expects from him/her or else everything is lost.
We say in bharat “Khud ko kar itna buland, ki Khuda bande se pooche, bata teri raza kya hai”. You must make yourself so capable that god has to ask you, tell me what you want”. Spiritual knowledge is earned through devotion. One must devote oneself to the extent that the Guru cannot refuse you what you ask for. This devotion must be sattvic not rajasic. You cannot chase it and get it, so one has to enter the subtle levels of the mind. To be able to treat your Guru like a living god, this enables one to receive all the good qualities of the guru force.
There is a story about a Guru and his disciples. Once in the middle of the night the Guru looked to all his disciples and said “Look what a beautiful sun is shining”. Almost all except one student thought the Guru has become senile and lost his mind. The lone student said “Yes, Gurudev”. Then the Guru said “Wash these clothes dry them in the sun and bring them back”. In India during the day especially in the summers the sun is so strong that the clothes dry up within one hour. The disciple promptly washed the clothes and put them to dry. Within an hour they dried and he brought them back. Such is the power in the words of an enlightened being. Later the same disciple was made the successor. The disciple should have the ability to allow the power of god that flows in the Guru to flow through him by forming a perfect connection.

nigurA mauko nA mile, pApI mile hajAr
ika nigure ke shish pe, lakh pApI kA bhAr
It is difficult to meet enlightened people but one can meet thousands of sinners. One enlightened person has the capacity to help remove the sins of 100,000 sinners.

When we look at society as a whole we find that most people chase their desires. The problem with that is selfishness. Each person looks to what he wants often at the cost of others. Whereas it is accurate to say that competition is the base of development yet one has to draw boundaries. One of the frequent problems with desire is that not all can be fulfilled. Aristotle says “When we run after desires, some are fulfilled others are not. When our desires are not fulfilled we are pained. But it is absurd to be pained for the sake of pleasure”. The average person fails to realize this and is constantly involved in activity to satiate his/her desires.
Sin in the context of spirituality is defined as all acts that take one away from god and enlightenment. It is probably fair to say that most of mankind moves away from god as all activity is directed to individual desires. In each society we look for leaders who will change the way people think and better others lives. The Guru is that force. It/He changes people’s lives and their attitudes.  The Guru is an agent for transformation.

Guru agya mAne nahI, chale aTpaTI chAl
lok ved dono gaye, aaye sir par kAl
The person who doesn’t listen to the gurus orders and walks on an improper path, such a person looses both, in the material world, as well as divine knowledge and leads oneself to destruction.

Let us examine the process of change. For example we have a piece of land and we wish to transform this into an institution. We need to have buildings, gardens, roads, parking etc. Once we start the process of construction we have to work systematically. If one has bought the bricks but not the cement then one cannot construct or suppose one starts construction and does not phase the work as required nothing will be accomplished. Also if we started with a construction plan and stopped half way through for whatever reasons, we are neither left with a piece of land, nor with a building. It is neither here nor there. We have wasted money, time and also altered the land to a situation where it cannot be used properly. If that building is left unfinished then over period it will decay. If one loses the original plan and the engineer who planned it, then it will never be the institute we wanted it to be.
This is what happens with each process. The mind is like a piece of land. (One of the names of Shiv is Vibhu meaning special soil or conscious soil). If we start a process of transformation we have to go on with it. It is very difficult to direct the mind to the higher whereas to direct it downwards is no effort. The Guru is the engineer who designs the new mind and executes the process of change and transformation or one could even liken the Guru to a potter who moulds the disciple as a potter would clay. If one does not listen to the words of the Guru then one will end up with a mind that is not entirely moulded. It is neither clay nor a finished pot but a strange piece of workmanship that has dried up in between and lost all use to everybody. Neither here nor there.
One of the typical problems encountered by spiritual aspirants is the difficult outward behavior of the guru. At times the Guru is strict, tough, harsh, rude and seems even cruel. This behavior very often by the guru is to teach the shishya various different lessons. One of the biggest mistakes an aspirant can commit is to consider oneself equal to the guru. One must remember that water flows from a higher level to a lower level. One has to be small, to lower one’s ego to receive knowledge. One typical technique used by the Guru is to hurt the student with some statement and then to pat him on the back. The objective of the guru in using such a technique is to make the student see his/her mistakes and to improve upon oneself. Then the guru pat’s on the back because he understands the emotions the student goes through and does not want him to run away. Sometimes this is called the kick technique. It does leave the student shaking.
There is a folk song in which the singer asks “What is heavier than the earth” and then he replies “Sin is heavier than the earth”. From amongst all the sins, possibly the heaviest sin is opposing one’s Guru. When one goes to a Guru the idea is to learn and receive their blessings. Any opposition to a Guru means to collect negative energy instead of good wishes. But we had set out to collect blessings. If for some reason one feels that the Guru or the teacher has been unfair, it is simply best to quietly walk away. Usually it is our own emotional state that leads us away. Most times the teacher is faultless. 
When I look at my teachers even if a human part of me starts to look at any faults that I may seem to observe in them I have to remind myself that they are not what they seem. That they are truly divine, that with as much spiritual practice that I have done, still in no measure am I close enough to the level they are at. That no matter what I may seem to attain yet for me they will always be at a level where I will worship them. And no other attitude is true or correct. This is the only attitude that befits a disciple.
Whereas one has to have a degree of stubbornness to stay on the path but one must be humble. The branches of a tree that has lots of fruit will always bend to the ground.



There are many different shlokas on the meditation of the guru. This is one of the meditation's that is very effective.

parAtparataraM dhyAyennityamAnandakArakam
hridayAkAshamadhyasthaM shuddhasphaTikasannibham 158 (GG)

sphATike sphATikaM rupaM darpaNe darpaNo yathA
tathAtmani chidAkAramAnandaM sohamityuta 159 (GG)

One is eternally established in joy by regular meditation on the form of the guru. Meditate on him as seated within the center in the space of the heart and radiating light like a pure quartz.

Just as a quartz reflects itself in another quartz and a mirror in another mirror exactly in the same way the atma (the self) is a reflection of supreme consciousness and bliss beyond doubt, that I am like him (supreme consciousness, God, guru).



The most important text on Guru is the Guru Gita which is a dialogue between Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva forms a part of Sanatkumar Samhita in the Uttarkhand of the Skandapuran. Many scholars believe that the authenticity of the Guru Gita is not one hundred percent. Some changes may have taken place in certain periods however the Guru Gita remains a very widely read scripture and is looked upon with great reverence. There are other stotras and texts such as the Guruashtakam, Gurupaduka stotram, Guruvarprarthanapanchratnastotram, Gururaj Stavah, Guru Stuti, Guru Tattva Vivechanam, Dakshinamurtistotram, Dakshinamurtiashtakam, Rishi Stuti, Rajrishi Stuti, Sapt Rishi Smaranam, Narad Stuti, Bhrigu Stuti, Vyas Stuti, Vedvyasashtakam, Shuk Stuti, Brhaspati stotram, Brhaspati mangal stotram, certain shlokas from Bhagavad Gita, Ramcharitra manas, certain parts of writings of Saint Kabir, etc. Almost major texts essentially have a section devoted to the guru.



Guru pooja should be done every day. In all ashrams as a rule all residents of the ashrams bow to their Guru atleast once in the morning. Every day when we start performing our spiritual practices we must first bow to the Guru mentally then start with our practices. Thursday is considered as the main day when the guru pooja is done since Brahaspati is considered the guru of the devas. Interestingly many astrologers consider that worship of the Guru gives one wealth and social status. It is also considered that worship to Brahaspati helps men find themselves a mate. The main festival of the Guru is the Guru Purnima which is the full moon night of the Ashadh month and this year falls on the 18th of July(2008).



India is a warm country and people would walk wearing open sandals. Saints, sages, monks would often wear open wooden footwear known as Khadaun. Since ancient times we have a beautiful tradition known as Padyo. When any spiritual person would arrive on a visit the king of the land would welcome him into his palace by bowing to him and touching his feet. Then he would wash the feet of the Sage. Usually a tray is placed under the feet if the sage is sitting and then the feet are washed.  Then dry the feet with a towel. This has an effect of cooling the feet. This is known as Padyo. The reason we bow to our elders and sages is not only as a mark of respect but also to acknowledge that the level of consciousness that pervades in the feet (at his lowest level) of the Guru is higher than the level (that is at our highest level) of our heads. It is also a mark of surrender to the Guru as an acceptance of his teachings to us.
Usually the garland of flowers is offered, then one may place leaves of Bilva, flowers, or a few blades of Durva grass on the head of the Guru and immediately after touching the feet again place them at his feet.
The next step is to light a lamp and some dhoop (some incense), offer some flowers, some fruits (usually five types), some sweets, a coconut, depending on the occasion one may offer clothes, as well as a donation.
A tilak is a sacred mark put on the forehead. Usually it could be of Red or Yellow Sandal, vermilion, or a red powder known as roli that is mixed with a little water to form a paste and applied. One has then add a little rice on to the paste so that it sticks to it. When one prays to a god or goddess the tilak should be applied on the forehead of the statue however when one prays to the Guru then the tilak is applied on the large toe of the right foot.
Usually an aarati is done. An aarati is a prayer where it is sung along with a lighted lamp, camphor and incense. Usually there are many prayers that are written in Hindi and other local languages that may be sung however popularly a part of the Guru Gita called the Shri Guru stotram may also be recited. Some of the other stotras mentioned above may also be recited.
Here we give a very short prayer which has to be recited known as the Guru Stuti that is a part of the Guru Gita.



akhand mandalAkaram vyaptam yena charAcharam,
tadpadam darshItam yena tasmai shri gurve namah. 1.
akhandanand bodhAy shishya santAphariNe
sacchidanand rupay tasmai shri gurve namah. 2.
Agyan timirAndhasya gyan anjan shalAkyA,
chakshroonmIlitam yena tasmai shri gurve namah. 3.
gurur brahma gurur vishnur gurur devo maheshwarah,
guruh sAkshAt parabrahma tasmai shri gurve namah. 4.

Om Shantih Shantih Shantihih.

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