Q: Our culture has always told us “mata, pita, guru, daivam”. What does this saying actually mean?  

Sadhguru: When they said “mata, pita, guru, daivam”, what they are saying is “mother, father, the guru and the divine.” I want you to understand this in the right context. When you are just born, who is the most important person in your life? Not God for sure, not the guru, not the father. It is the mother. At that point, when you need to be breastfed, hugged, kissed and nurtured, the mother is the thing. I do not think it needs to be said. The life itself is making a statement that mother is the thing for an infant that is just born.

When they say “mata, pita, guru, daivam”, they are just making a statement about the natural process of life.

Once the child begins to walk, the father becomes important because the father has an exposure to the outside situations. Do not look at it from today’s context. In those days, the father was crucial if a child had to learn about the world, the skills of life and how to be in society. Once these things have happened, then to seek a higher possibility, a guru is a must. If you seek this higher possibility, if you are successful, daivam or the divine is a natural reality.  

When they say “mata, pita, guru, daivam”, they are just making a statement about the natural process of life. People may be making all kinds of interpretations with a half-baked understanding of Sanskrit language. The mother says, “The saying says first it is the mata. You must be dedicated to me!” The father says, “I am number two. You must be dedicated to me. Do not progress to the guru and the divine, it is not necessary.” If this is the statement people are trying to make, it is unfortunate, because your mother is not just a mother, your father is not just a father – they are as much a being as you are. They need to grow too. They should have grown ahead of you. If the parent forgot to grow and the children are showing the way, it is a fortune. The parents should make use of it.  

A Journey of Homecoming

If you live a mundane life, the journey from birth will go from womb to tomb. If you live a life of awareness and seeking, from birth to divinity is a journey of homecoming. The saying is talking about this journey. They are suggesting the order of life if your journey is a journey of consciousness – mother first, then the father’s role, then the guru’s role and then the Divine.

If you live a life of awareness and seeking, from birth to divinity is a journey of homecoming.

The mother feeds and nurtures you; the father guides you; the guru kneads you because without kneading, you are not going to make anything good. Without proper kneading, you are not going to make a bread that anyone would want to eat. To make you into that kind of bread that the divine would want to consume, the guru is needed.

But a guru is only an instrument, a means, a doorway to the beyond. When a doorway opens and you see the beyond, the doorway becomes very important to you because it is through the frame of the doorway that you see. The guru is only important because of what is beyond him. The door is important only because it will give you access to the outside. If you are locked in a room, the door is the possibility of the beyond.  

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