Imagine you are in a prison; you don’t want to stay there, you want to be free. There are a few ways for you to be free. You can plan an escape, which is risky; if you are caught escaping, your sentence may be increased. If caught after you escaped, you be brought back to prison and may face harsher treatment. Your next option: you can wait for your time to be up and then get released. In this case, if your behaviour is good or very good, you may even be released earlier. Otherwise, you must just wait until you’ve served your sentence to be free. What happens after you are released from prison? If you learnt your lesson, you will not want to go to prison again.
Our time on this planet is not different from being imprisoned. Since we are born we are in bondage. The soul is not free as it would want to be. Escaping is not the option to be freed from bondage. Because if we escape, we will be caught again. What about staying in the prison but not feeling imprisoned? We are in bondage because of Maayaa (Illusion) and because of our minds, which uncontrollably attach to things to which it should not attach to. Our bondage is more so because of the nature of the world and all that the world has to offer to us. We are easily tempted by material things (Vishay) which cannot bring us the freedom we are looking for. If we do not allow ourselves to be attached to those things which bind us and hinder our liberation, then we can live our life in the ‘prison’ and be released in a way that we do not have to come again to that ‘prison’. But for this we require a Satguru. By the grace of a Satguru, we can be liberated. Satguru Kabir Saheb says:
“So Guru Nisadin Bandiye, Jaason Paayaa Raam; Naam Binaa Ghat Andh Hai, Jyon Deepak Bin Dhaam.”
(see transliteration and pronunciation guide here)
Satguru Kabir Saheb teaches us to focus on that which will lead us to self-realisation. What is the point in focusing on that which will bring us to more bondage? Worshiping a Satguru who is a self-realised soul will bring us closer to God. He who has realised God can lead us on that path. Satguru Kabir Saheb says that, just like a house without light remains dark, where no one can live, a heart without the name of God cannot find its way to its destination (liberation).
In the following story, the importance of the Satguru, as the releaser from bondage, is highlighted:
The once was a King who had, as his principal adviser, a scholar. The scholar was very well versed in the scriptures; however, he was not himself practising what the scriptures taught. The King sought advice from the scholar whenever he needed and trusted that the scholar would advise him correctly. The scholar also had a son; the son spent almost all his time with a holy man in a nearby forest, and so, was hardly ever at home. He was attracted by God and wanted to learn more; he wanted to realise God. He would come home only for his meals.
One day, the King summoned the scholar and gave him a strict order: “I give you one month’s time to free me from all bondage so that I can attain salvation. If you cannot do this, I will forfeit all your wealth and sentence you and your family to death!” The scholar became very worried. He could neither eat, nor drink, nor sleep, and his tension was going up day by day. One day, when his son came home for dinner, he found that his father was very worried. He asked his father what was bothering him; but the father, who always thought that his son was a good-for-nothing, did not bother to tell him his concerns. His wife, however, told the son what challenge her husband was facing. After listening to the story, the son, unaffected by the challenge made a proposal to his father. He told his father to have the King accept him as his Guru and follow all his instructions, that way his father’s problem will be solved. The father, who was very helpless thought that his son might have had a trick which would save them all; he therefore agreed to talk to the King. The next day, the scholar asked the King to accept his son as his Guru and told him to follow all his instructions to obtain salvation. The King readily agreed. The next day, the scholar brought his son to the royal court, and in front of everyone, the King accepted the son as his Guru. He sat at his young Guru’s feet waiting for instructions. The son ordered the King to get two pieces of strong rope. The father was perplexed, thinking his son may want to hang the King. The King obeyed and came back with two pieces of ropes. The son then ordered that the King be tied to a pillar. The father’s anxiety was growing. After that the son ordered his father to be tied to another pillar. Reluctantly the father agreed to be tied. After that, the son turned to his father and said : “Father, now you untie the King”. The father became very furious and said : “You fool! Can’t you see I am myself tied? How can I untie the King? This task is impossible!” Seeing all this, the King realised what was happening; he looked at his young Guru and smiled. He said: “I now understand, oh Master. When one is himself bound by worldly affairs, bound by ‘Maayaa’, how can he possibly free another person who is similarly tied and bound? Only those who have gone beyond ‘Maayaa’, who have given up worldliness, who have themselves attained freedom can release others. Only they can break others’ bondage”.
Satguru Kabir Saheb says :
“Bandhe Ko Bandhaa Milaa, Chhoote Kaun Upaay; Kar Sevaa Nirbandh Kee, Pal Men Let Chhudaay.”
(see transliteration and pronunciation guide here)
How can they who are themselves bound release others? One must resort to those who have been liberated, who are free from the clutches of ‘Maayaa’; they will release you in no time.
Such is the greatness of a Satguru, to whom we must pay our obeisance. The Satguru is the Saviour, the Releaser. Unless we surrender ourselves to His feet, we cannot be liberated.