This whole Guru Gita is the king of mantras, because without devotion to the Guru you will never learn any other mantra. This is primary education. We want to fall in love with our teachers so we soak up their knowledge like a sponge.
We want to become worthy of their knowledge. And we want to demonstrate our appreciation by using that knowledge and practicing that knowledge. And take their inspiration and employing it in our lives.
I want to tell you a story, I hope you don’t mind. Shankaracharya had four disciples. Three of them were extremely jnani type people: Sureshvarananda, Padmapada, and Hastamalaka).
The fourth disciple Trotakananda was a village boy who had no schooling and no knowledge at all. And one day Shankaracharya was teaching the three wise disciples, and Trotak took all the cloth down to the river. Remember at Joshi Math, how far it was from the cave where Shankara lived down to the river at the bottom of the valley?
And Trotak used to take all the cloth every day from all the disciples. And he said, “Hey, I have nothing to do with wisdom, I don’t know Sanskrit, I don’t know all this Jnan stuff, let me just have the privilege of serving you all. I want to serve the Guru, and I want to serve my Guru brothers, and I want to let everyone be free to spend the whole day in learning and practicing, and becoming filled with the bhava of our Guru. Just allow me the privilege to serve.”
Trotak took all the cloth down to the river and washed all the cloth. And then he was carrying the cloth back, he folded it, he dried it in the sun on the bank of the river, and then he took buckets of water, and all the cloth on his head.
Shankaracharya was explaining to the other three disciples some very, very sophisticated aspect of Sanskrit grammar. And the other disciples said, “Guruji, we cannot understand you, can you please give us an illustration of how this principle is used?” And he said to them in answer, “Please wait for your brother disciple Trotak to come back, he will give us the answer.”
And the disciple said, “What, what do you mean, he’s the sevak of the organization. All he does is chop wood and carry water and do the seva. He never sits in the class, how would he give us the answer? We studied Sanskrit all these years, some of us are renowned pundits.”
Shankaracharya went in to meditation and said, “Wait.” And they all waited.
Trotak came marching up the mountain. It’s a few miles straight up, and he’s carrying the bucket of water, a harness over his shoulder, with two buckets of water and all the clothes on his head. And he’s marching up the mountain singing in Sanskrit the answer and illustration to the proposition that the others couldn’t understand.
All those extended practices, pranayam, they’re difficult and you can’t understand it. But all of that good result can be attained in a moment through the selfless service of ones Guru as an actual expression of love. I love you so much I’m want to show it. And I’m going to demonstrate it by washing your clothes, I’m going carry the water, and I’m going to chop the wood.