Faith

Reverence for Acharyas

A spiritual teacher is to be revered more than one’s own parents. There is a slight difference between a guru and an Acharya. A guru is a teacher who dispels ignorance, but in the case of an Acharya there is a further qualification. He is the one who practises what he preaches. The Gautamadharma Sutra says that among gurus, an Acharya is preeminent. Acharyas thus enjoy an elevated status, said M.K. Srinivasan in a discourse.

The Upanishadic period was a golden period of learning. During this age, we find the broadmindedness of preceptors. Disciples sometimes learnt from more than one preceptor and this was not considered wrong by the main preceptor. In the case of Satyakama, for example, he was instructed by a bull, a swan, fire and a diver bird and yet his preceptor — sage Gautama — did not object. Upakosala learnt from the fires and then completed his learning from his preceptor Satyakama. Svetaketu learnt from his father and also from another teacher. Suka learnt from his father Vyasa and also from King Janaka. This practice of learning from many continued to be followed later too. Ramanujacharya, for example, was instructed by five of Alavandar’s disciples. Kooratazhvan sent his sons Parasara Bhatta and Vedavyasa Bhatta to study under Embar; similarly, Devaraja asked his son Vatsyavaradacharya to study under Engalazhvan.

Vedanta Desika says that all teachers who add to a student’s knowledge are to be equally revered. He says that the duty of the teacher is to teach the means to liberation; the Lord must then bless the disciple and the student must be ever grateful to the teacher who instructed him. The Supreme One assumes the form of man, to impart knowledge to us. Lord Krishna taught Arjuna through Bhagavad Gita.


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Printable version | Sep 16, 2021 8:21:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/religion/Reverence-for-Acharyas/article14620156.ece

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