Guru, a Hindi term loosely translated as teacher, because Guru is more than a teacher, has a special place in our Vaidik culture. Now-a-days, those Guru have vanished and they have been replaced by modern teachers (Adhyaapak in Hindi). What is the difference between a Guru and a teacher?
1. The very first difference is that before Guru used to be only one, but today the teachers are many.
2. Guru's students were called disciples, while teachers' students are called students
3. Disciples were very much dedicated to their Guru, but today students have no responsibility towards their teachers
4. Guru and his wife were like parents to the disciple, while teachers are just teachers for the student. Today they are teaching them, and when they are not teaching them, they are nothing to them.
5. In olden days a person was identified by his Guru for his whole life, but today by the time a person has finished his education, he forgets his old teachers.
6. In those days disciple went to Guru's house to study, lived there until their education was finished. It was called Gurukul and Guru's wife used to take care of them there. They lived there with certain discipline. This was their Brahmcharya Aashram
7. They did not pay fees like today, monthly or whatever. They paid it only when they had finished their education and that also whatever Guru asked them to pay. Only disciple had to pay it, not his parents.
We have a few notable disciples whose dedication to their Guru is very well known --
There was a Rishi named Dhaumya who had three disciples in his Gurukul - Aaruni from Paanchaal country, Upamanyu, and Ved. All these three disciples were very faithfully dedicated to their Guru. Once a wall broke and water started coming in the farm. If it was not stopped soon it could have spoiled the crop. So Guru Jee asked Aaruni to go there and stop that water from coming in the field. So Aaruni went there and tried his best to stop the water, but he did not succeed in stopping the water anyhow. He found only one way to stop it that he himself should lie down against the wall from where the water was breaking in. So he himself lay down there and he succeeded in stopping it. After a while he tried to get up from there, but the water again broke it up, so he lay down there only.
When Guru Jee didn't see Aaruni for some time, he remembered him and asked his other disciples where was Aaruni. They said - "Guru Jee, You yourself have sent him to stop the water in the field." Guru Jee remembered it and said - "Yes, I sent him there. But he should have come back by now. Where is he?" Everybody showed his ignorance about him. Since it was evening now, he himself went to that field with his other disciples and called him in a loud voice - "Aaruni, Where are you?" Aaruni also spoke loudly - "Guru Jee, I am here, lying here to stop the water." Guru Jee reached there and saw Aaruni lying there along the wall - and the water was stopped. Aaruni further spoke - "I could not stop it by any other means so I myself lay down here to stop it. It is only after hearing your voice that I stood up. Now tell me what should I do?" Guru Jee said - "Since by getting up you have opened the water course, you will now be known as Uddaalak and since you have obeyed me, you will get a good fortune. All Ved and Dharm Shaastra will automatically shine in your heart." Aaruni went away from there and became a very learned Maharshi. He is the same Uddaalak who had two sons - Shwetketu and Nachiketaa. His sons' names come in several Upanishad.
Dhaumya Rishi's another disciple was Ved. When Ved completed his studies, he wanted to lead domestic life, so he asked his Guru's permission to leave the Gurukul. His Guru said - "Son, Serve your Guru for some more time, it will be good for you." Ved stayed back without any argument and served his Guru tolerating everything without a murmur.
One day he was rolling his fingers in his hair that a hair got plucked and came out in his hand. He saw it was gray. Then he knew that he had become old serving his Guru. He went to Guru and again asked his permission to go home saying - "I have grown old now, who is going to marry me?" Guru consoled him and made him young. Thus after a long time Guru was satisfied. As a result of this satisfaction he also got a good fortune and universal knowledge. This was Ved's trial. He then came back to his home and started leading his family life. While living in family, he also had three disciples. He never told them to do any work for him because he himself suffered a lot in his Guru's house.
Dhaumya Rishi's third disciple was Upamanyu. Once Guru Jee called Upamanyu and assigned him some cows to take care of. He started taking them to graze in the morning and bring them back in the evening. After a while, Muni asked - "How do you support yourself? You look quite healthy." Upamanyu said politely - "Guru Jee, I live upon the milk of these cows." Guru Jee said - "Son, It is not appropriate to drink milk of these cows without my permission." "Yes Guru Jee." and he went away to tend the cows.
After a while, Guru Jee again called him and when he came back and stood before his Guru Jee, Guru Jee observed that he was still healthy. He again asked him - "Upamanyu, You don't eat anything from alms, nor you go for alms second time, nor you are drinking milk of these cows, still you are healthy. How do you support yourself now?" Upamanyu said - "I sip the froth these calves throw out of their mouth while sucking their mother's teats." Guru Jee said - "These calves must be throwing much froth for you out of generosity. Don't you think that by doing this you should be sharing their full meal? It is unlawful for you to drink the froth like this." And Upamanyu accepting his mistake again went away to tend the cows.
Now he didn't have anything to eat - no alms, no milk, no froth. Once, out of hunger, Upamanyu ate Aak leaves (by eating these leaves one becomes blind) and became blind. As he was walking around, he fell into a pit, thus could not return home that evening. When Guru Jee did not see him in the evening, he got worried about him. He had restrained him from eating everything, so he didn't know how he would be. Thinking thus, he himself went in search of him. He called out in the forest - "O Upamanyu, Where are you?" Upamanyu replied - "I am here in this well. I ate Aak leaves, so I became blind and fell in this well." Guru Jee said - "Pray Ashwinee Kumaar, they will restore your sight."
And Upamanyu prayed them. Ashwinee Kumaar appeared before him and gave him a cake to eat. Upamanyu said - "You have said correctly, but I cannot take this cake without first offering to my Guru Jee." Ashwinee Kumaar said to him - "Once before your Guru invoked us and we gave a cake to him too, but he had eaten it without offering to his Guru. You also do the same what your Guru did." Upamanyu said - "I beg your pardon, but I cannot take this cake without offering to him first." Ashwinee Kumaar got very pleased with him and said to him - "We are very pleased with you. Your Guru's teeth are of black iron, but your teeth will be of gold. Your eyes will be all right and you will have good fortune." He got his sight back, came out of the well, and greeted Guru Jee. Guru Jee also blessed him with the knowledge of Ved and all Dharm Shaastra.
Continued... Guru Dakshinaa