ACHARYA SHUNYA'S GURUKULAM
"True education not only informs but also enlightens."
- Acharya Shunya
A True Student is a Future Caretaker of Great Knowledge Traditions
My Guru Baba once said, “it is one thing to receive knowledge from a teacher to simply benefit personally from the wisdom. It is another thing to become a teacher and preserver of knowledge, because the trustee-teacher does not have the karmic luxury of merely being a consumer of the knowledge alone, for personal benefit. They are also caretakers of a one-of-a kind wisdom tradition, and this demands a whole new set of expectations and obligations.”
I learned from Baba that a true student has the responsibly to grow into a becoming a conscientious guardian of the knowledge. They must necessarily preserve, teach and embody the original wisdom, in all its depth, without shortcuts or worldly distractions.
And most importantly, before discarding the mortal body, the sacred knowledge (orally received from one’s teacher, and hitherto stored in the bosom of one's heart as an inner blessing and guidance) has to be carefully transmitted systematically to a new generation of sincere seekers with great discrimination.
As these sincere seekers are going be the bearers of a great knowledge tradition, verily, the teachers and guardians of tomorrow.
Thus, an educational lineage, which consists of a succession of teachers and students, known as Guru - Shishya Parampara, is the optimum way to guarantee the survival of what is truly venerable, subtle and powerful, in a mainly oral, sacred and timeless knowledge tradition. This is how the Veda and its sciences of Ayurveda, Yoga and Vedanta were passed on exactly in India, for thousands of years before the present time.
Did you know that modern colleges of Ayurveda, Yoga, etc. are a relatively recent phenomenon of only the last 60-100 years?
In India, thankfully, this unbroken chain continued since “the beginning of time,” but the exact historical origins are unknown. And the traditional “seminary like” school that ensures this beautiful education process and association between master and disciple, in an atmosphere of trust, dedication and compassion, is known as a “Gurukulam”. In fact, this term literally means, the teacher’s learning family.
Who is a Guru?
In ancient India, at a certain stage in their development, students spent a few years residing with or near a special teacher called Guru, for the time-honored purpose of studying the essential, life-cherishing, truth-revealing spirituality contained in the Vedas, including Ayurveda, Yoga and Vedanta.
The word Guru refers to a teacher of any subject in general, but it is used in this context mainly for a spiritual teacher who provides knowledge of the spiritual Self and God, which in the Vedic worldview, are one.
One meaning of the word 'Guru' derives from the root words ‘gu,’ which refers to (internal) darkness in the form of spiritual ignorance (ajnanam), which can be driven away only by internal light, ‘ru’, or inner spiritual radiance in the form of spiritual knowledge (jnanam). External light has no role to play here. Thus, the Guru is the one who dispels the darkness of ignorance by igniting an inner light of knowledge in us.
Inside a Gurukulam, the Guru mentors and guides the Shishya step by step till the goal of Vedic education is fulfilled. Then the Guru blesses the Shishya and bids farewell. The Shishya moves on in his or her life journey, accomplished, improved and charged – deeply changed for the better – and grateful to the teacher while living the teachings of the Guru in the world. A sincere Shishya, through devotion to Guru, almost always transforms into a Guru in due time and process.
Repaying my Debt to my Guru by establishing my Gurukulam
I am one of the rare teachers born into a family of teachers with an uninterrupted lineage that has transmitted ancient Vedic wisdom for thousands of years in the plains of northern India. I have not only mastered the knowledge academically under my Guru. I have lived it. I have been ordained by my Guru to protect the knowledge that was endowed upon me, and transmit it further to the next generation, with due process.
This is why I undertook the revival of the ‘Gurukulam’ myself at Vedika’s inception in 2007. Besides, I believe that we have significant lessons to learn from Gurukulam, the world’s oldest surviving educational system. I deem that the direct teacher-student relationship is special and potentially superior to any academic, test and degree-based system for spiritualized sciences like Ayurveda, Yoga and Vedanta. This personalized process of training apprentices creates the meticulous transfer of knowledge, experience and expertise—the central matters upon which wisdom is founded—that cannot be imparted except through a kind of personalized apprenticeship, face-to-face, knee to knee, as has been impressed upon my soul by decades of learning from my guru, Baba.
Teaching at my Gurukulam to my students is only a small way I can repay my debt to my Guru Baba, whose teachings have offered me freedom from my own mind’s limitations, and freed me up to recognize a higher principle that dwells within me, and with this inner blessing, render service to all who are suffering.
My Vision for My Gurukulam Students
"A collective spiritual awakening will be accomplished by each of my dedicated students, from the flame of knowledge that is lit within their own spiritual selves. These students are like points of light making up the fiery circle of wisdom. By applying the knowledge from the Vidyas – Ayurveda, Yoga and Vedanta, they will serve humanity in the real setting of day to day life, selflessly, in the arena of personal community, awakening health and consciousness.
Transformed from within through inspired Vedic education, my students are evolving into natural and powerful agents of community upliftment, awakening hope and health in suffering humanity. Their attitude in everything they do will be one of humanitarian service, since selfless service is the first and final teaching of the Vedic spiritual tradition."
- Acharya Shunya
Seeds Become Forests: Leadership in Humanitarian Service
“Spiritual enlightenment is all about raising consciousness from a lower to a higher level. Through this, understand that when you will strive to become better than you are, everything around you becomes better, too. So do not waste precious time finding fault in the world. Work on yourself and yourself alone. Master it, chisel away for perfection…and see the change by being the change yourself. Try it. It is magical.” – a quote from my Guru Baba Ayodhya Nath from my upcoming work “In Conversations with my teacher Baba.”
Selfless service offered to suffering humanity and all beings in whom dwells the same one truth of consciousness, is the natural outgrowth of receiving spiritual knowledge and applying the knowledge in your life.
When carefully nurtured, once tiny seeds develop into fully branched trees, capable of producing and nurturing new generations of seeds. These seeds have the opportunity to grow into forests with the systematic, step by step support they receive from my Gurukulam to mature emotionally and spiritually and become trees that are ready and empowered to give back to society.
An Invitation-Only Study Opportunity
Being a student in my Gurukulam is a privilege that I extend to only a rare few, who appear ripe and ready to move forward with the responsibility that comes with bearing great knowledge. Study in this program is free, but admission is by invitation only. I consider the students who apply themselves sincerely at the various courses of study offered at Vedika and who simultaneously shine in their selfless service to Vedika and my spiritual mission. I may invite them to join my Gurukulam, and the rest is history.
When I set the foundation for Vedika in 2007, not surprisingly, I also...
A gurukulam—a traditional, guru-led school and learning community...
The Vedic tradition and texts from ancient times have laid down...