At the Feet of the Master

Article - At the Feet of the Master


Of all relationships and connections we make in a single life, none compare to that of master and disciple. One single relationship plays many roles. The master radiates the protective responsibility of a father, warmth and gentleness of a mother, guidance and leadership of an elder brother, and also trust, intimacy and openness of a friend.

A disciple is different and much more than a student. The keys to discipleship are receptivity and surrender. Not only does the disciple imbibe teachings, he uses every moment he has with the master to sense him, feel him, and in doing so, dissolving his consciousness into the master’s. This he does by observing every act of the teacher – say, the way he drinks his tea, reads a newspaper, answers the phone, and relates with people who come to him. Every second, the disciple is drinking the master with his heart and five senses. The master expresses his love for his disciple by allowing him to run small errands such as delivering things, taking his clothes to the laundry, and  buying his small necessities from the store. The disciple knows that his time with the master is limited by the laws of the physical body and so he extracts joy and sensitivity in every small interaction with the master. A time comes when the teacher leaves his physical form; small sensitivities become the treasure house that keeps the master alive within the disciple.

Seeing how his disciple grows and matures is the greatest joy for the master. Only then can he ask him to carry forward the light of teaching others. For the disciple, this is the moment of reckoning. He realises that the teaching is permeated by the personality of the master. The same word when said by the master is magical but when repeated by the disciple, loses its quality. He knows that he has to separate the teaching from the personality of the master so that it can stand on its own. For this, he has to do many things which the personality of the master would have denied. This is very painful for the disciple. Further, people who knew the teacher feel that the disciple is now going against his master.

Nonetheless, it is a ‘cross’ which every student has to carry.

- By Rajen Vakil