When and how does someone who seemed like an ordinary person only the other day suddenly become a gnani?
Some people evolve in time. Some people suddenly have a flash of inspiration and shed worldly preoccupations and take to a life steeped in worship and meditation, said Suki Sivam.
It may be a personal misfortune that triggers the enlightenment. It may be just a trivial incident. For example, a story is told of a woman, who used to carry pots of water suspended from both ends of a bamboo stick, becoming an enlightened person all of a sudden.
One day, as she made her way from the river, one of the pots broke, spilling out the water. Immediately, she flung the other pot down and cried out that she had been liberated! She had seen the futility of worldly pleasures. “Just as the pot broke, my worldly ties too have been broken,” she cried. All it took was a pot breaking to take her to a higher plane of thought.
Not everyone becomes realised in this way. So we have to seek a guru for spiritual instruction.
An enlightened person should be sought by us, for us to be liberated from our lives of bondage. It is not just the guru who has to be a worthy one. The disciple who seeks knowledge from him must also be worthy of receiving the knowledge. If milk is poured in a vessel that has not been properly cleaned, the milk will get spoilt.
In the same way, the person seeking knowledge must have pure thoughts; otherwise, no amount of instruction from the guru will help him.
There is a story of a man who told a king about his guru. The king asked him whether his guru could perform magical deeds. The disciple replied that while his guru could do anything and perform any miracle, he also knew when not to perform miracles.
To have the power to perform supernatural acts is one thing, but not to exercise that power takes yet another kind of power. A true guru has that power of discretion. He knows when to perform miracles and when not to. He may have the power to perform supernatural feats, but he has the power to keep his supernatural powers under check too.