Sai Ram. "Why should we read Sri Guru Charitra, Sri Sai Satcharitra and Sri Guru Gita etc.?" One well wisher has asked me this question. I thought that I will try to answer this question through this page. Of course, what is written here need not be accepted by anyone in toto. Please feel free to differ and offer your perception. I am probably one of the several blind men trying to describe an elephant.
I believe that, as long as one lives, one learns. In fact, I feel that the very purpose of being born on this earth plane is to learn and that too to learn pretty fast. The lessons to be learnt are very hard, but one has had a lot of preparation. Just like no student is admitted in a degree program, unless he meets the minimum qualification prescribed, one is allowed to take birth in a particular family or environment because he or she has, in the previous birth, learnt the lessons, to a minimum standard. This accumulated experience in fact is what constitutes one's Sanchita karma, which by the way includes Poorva Janma Punyam and Papam. So the very fact that one has taken birth, especially in the human form on the earth means one has come a long way in his spiritual evolution and that he has now qualified to progress further. Out of that accumulated karma, a small amount, called Prarabdha is brought to this earth plane in this janma to be resolved, just as a student takes up some subjects of speacialisation in a class.
Taking the analogy of this earth being a spiritual class room a step further, we all know that, when one joins an University or college, one has to register for a particular programme, containing some specific subjects and has to study under qualified lecturers, readers or professors. Suppose the candidate has finished his M.Sc or M.Phil and now wants to do Ph.D. He will now be required to register himself with a Guide, who himself is a Ph.D. He now concentrates all his intellectual and practical experimental (call it experiential) faculties in studying the intricacies of a specific problem and if his work is of sufficiently good standard, he will be given his Ph.D, after he satisfies his own guide and a body of other highly qualified professionals.
Guru is like a Professor who takes a handful of Ph.D. Scholars and guides them. 'Sri Guru Charita' is one of the very few treatises which extol the need for a Guru. Sri Sai Satcharitra and Sri Guru Gita are the other important books for a Sishya, Sadhaka. Every one needs a Guru, especially when one has reached a fairly advanced state of spiritual growth. In fact, when the disciple is ready, the Guru comes forward to meet the sishya, just as a professor invites a brilliant student to work with him!
In the lower levels of education , one learns from many and one can even pass the examinations by mugging up, through study guides or even by guessing the correct answer in an objective examination. But no one can do his Ph.D. by such methods, especially if the University has any reputation worth its name. One of course need not bother about the institutions and the Gurus who dish out Ph.D degrees for money. They are the false Gurus. In this Kali Yuga, there are many false Gurus and getting misled by them is also a valuable lesson. The story of Jawahar Ali in Sri Sai Satcharitra is a good example of how a good disciple should treat even a false Guru, with respect. Thus served, the Guru also gets benefited and the Sishya of course advances very rapidly.
Sat Guru is like a good guide in a reputed college. He will be kind, loving and yet firm. He may appear to be harsh, or even dictatorial at times. But he knows the manifest and latent capabilities and the limitations of his student, even better than the student himself. So he tries to push his student to the limit so that the student finishes his work at the earliest and reaches the goal. He does it not for his own benefit but for the benefit of the student and the society. Sri Guru Datta, Adi Shankara, Sri Sai are all Gurus of the highest order. They are demanding but they are like Nobel Lauretes! Every one can't get the privilege of being tutored by them. How many Arjunas are there who are fortunate enough to be taught the Divine Knowledge by the God himself (Bhagawad Gita, given by Sri Krishna to Sri Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra in Maha Bharat)?
What after the student himself gets his Ph.D? Is it the end of the journey? No. One does post-doctoral research or continues with the guide on more advanced topics of research. He now helps the guide in guiding other research scholars. Eventually he himself becomes qualified to become a Guide. But no student, however much he may have progressed will ever forget his guide, who helped him reach the position he now occupies. Sir Issac Newton is reported to have said,"I am a pigmy. I could see farther than the giants because I was standing on their shoulders." That shall be the attitude of a true student who has shed one's ego. A lamp once lit becomes capable of lighting other lamps. The definition of Guru is like a lamp, one who removes the darkness. So, the sishya becomes the Guru. And the Guru-Sishya parampara continues....
I welcome your comments and perceptions on this subject.