Followers have a blind spot regarding their gurus that they need to overcome

A very important message from Rajiv in the background of discussions in the forum on some of the stands taken/policies followed by some present day gurus or their lineages.

He says:

There is a serious mix up here [in the forum] that is a common occurrence among Hindus everywhere. It has to do with the notion that to be a good guru he/she must be enlightened, a term which is further assumed to mean perfection in every domain of activity. Therefore, if someone challenges that guru's position on something, it is seen as an insult to the guru's integrity. This starts a fight in which the guru's character/legitimacy become the topic of contention.

I have tried numerous times to explain that one must compartmentalize domains of knowledge and expertise. Being enlightened is one domain, but there are also many others. Can your guru (and the same applies to mine) run as fast as the Olympic champion? Or match Tendulkar's record of 100 centuries?

The point being there are many domains out there and just because a given guru is enlightened to teach us Vedanta does not imply infallibility. Even Avatara takes form within maryada, and hence is bound by the limits of the body, i.e. disease, old age, death, etc.

It is foolish escapism to imagine some infallible, perfect state in all domains achieved by any human in our times. I would like to put to test any claims of infallibility - our tradition DOES ask us to test the guru.

The false notion on this leads to chauvinism about one's guru, his/her being beyond all criticisms, etc. When I have spoken privately to gurus on this, they say they are ordinary humans who have achieved insights and abilities to teach that require long term tapasya, but they never say they are perfect/infallible in every domain of activity.

So it is perfectly fine to question a guru on his/her policy on other religions, knowledge on how digestion works, pro's and cons on building hybrid systems, etc.

My UTurn Theory case studies are full of instances where gurus were simply foolish in the way they got deceived by Judeo-Christian followers, and this is a big reason for our failure today. The same also applies to the arrogance of many Hindu political leaders who go on promoting policies that are simply retrograde. The long term implications of some well intended policies are often not appreciated by gurus who have not acquired sufficient knowledge outside their own domain of expertise.

This problem is illustrated by what has happened at one of the foremost Bhagavad-gita teaching movements. 
  • Their acharyas at one point did not want to let me speak at their gatherings, citing the reason that by policy they limit their discussions to the works of their organization's founder. 
  • But then a large number of parents and teachers of their bal-vihara made a list of questions to be answered. These questions are faced by the children in their daily lives and are not adequately addressed in the organization's teachings. They asked this guru to please address these issues. Many of the parents/teachers of this organization are members of our egroup here. So they are well informed about such matters. 
  • The good news is that their acharya personally called me to invite me to address all his students. We are good friends now. I see this as a sign of maturity. He accepts the limits of their internal teachings, and what I will present is not a threat of any kind, and complements their own knowledge.
So in this way I have developed good relations with many other gurus as well. Swami Dayananda Saraswati never hesitated to bring in outside subject-matter experts to teach in his ashrams those topics that were outside his core topic of Vedanta. This shows maturity, not deficiency of any kind.

Bottom line: A guru is not being undermined if we disagree with his policy on yoga's relationship to other religions, and if we claim that he lacks adequate knowledge of other religions. Nor are we insulting a guru when we disagree with his policy to include Jesus on the altar, and when we state that he is not an expert on Christian theology or its present socio-political strategies.

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