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Extracts from Guru Dev's Teachings

Guru Dev (1871-1953) was the Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math from 1941 to 1953. Shankaracharya is a revered spiritual title in Hinduism. Guru Dev's teachings are in the process of being gathered and translated. Some are already translated by Paul Mason and published on the Internet and in a series of books. Below are extracted Guru Dev statements.

From "Guru Dev as Presented by Maharishi"

Guru Dev, aka Shankaracharya Brahmananda Sarawati Ji
Sri Shankaracharya Brahmananda Sarawati (1871-1953), or Guru Dev. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi asserts that Guru Dev is the Benevolent One of the TM movement.

If you cannot be alone then be in the company of good people. [p. 8]

Paramatma [1] is real. [p. 16]

Be influenced by the pleasing "Treat everyone as if they were yourself" by Shankaracharya [2]. [p. 17]

The best wealth is salvation. [p. 18]

The ishta [3] defends one from calamities. [p. 18]

Keep your distance from whoever you understand to be bad company. [p. 53]

To the best of your ability, obtain a japa mantra. [p. 28]

Endure prosperity with courage. [p. 49]

Prepare, before going on a journey. -- Do a suitable method of meditation – little by little do some practice -- Plant the seed-mantra in the inner self – the excellent field that is filled with flowers, and make it fruit-bearing. [p. 13, 29, 36]

Make a god out of the human being. [p. 34]

From virtue comes happiness [and being] freed from wicked company. [p. 61]

The fruits of yagya [worship, prayer, praise; offering, oblation, religious sacrifice] are destroyed by untrue speech. [p. 52]


  1. Paramatma or Paramatman: the Absolute Atman or Supreme Soul or Spirit (Supersoul) in Vedanta. Paramatma is one of the aspects of Brahman.
  2. Shankaracharya: Adi (= the first) Shankara. Some think he lived in the 800s AD. The Indian monist consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta (non-duality teachings), and established five papal-like seats (mathas, maths) in India to guide the Indian religion. Indian heritage owes much to him.
  3. An Ishta-devata or Ishta-deva means "cherished divinity." It is the tutelary deity, favourite deity, cherished divinity (deva) - a form of the same all-pervading Brahman.. "Within Smartism [!], one of five chief deities are selected," informs Wikipedia (s.v. "Ista-devata"). Many more ishtas are around too. In the Smarta and Bhakti schools of Hinduism, practitioners choose to worship the form of God they cherish the most. Each cherished divinity (ishta devata) has its own tradition's symbol-laden iconography and mantra-forms (syllables to intone) for japa, meditation and worship.

The TM Movement Starts

Maharishi (1918-2008)

"Maharishi . . . Mahesh Yogi owed much, if not all of his spiritual understanding, to his teacher Shankaracharya Brahmanand Saraswati." [Paul Mason]

Many of us who have been initiated into Transcendental Meditation, respect and revere Brahmananda Saraswati as the Guru Dev. Guru Dev passed away on 20 May 1953. He was in his eighties by then. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, known as Brahmachari Mahesh at the time, became a devotee of Brahmananda Saraswati shortly before Brahmananda was installed as Shankaracharya in 1941. Brahmachari Mahesh later became Guru Dev's personal assistant and secretary. He was not considered suitable as Guru Dev's successor-Shankaracharya for northern India, for Brahmachari Mahesh did not meet stiff, formal qualifications: He was of the third caste, and a shankaracharya had to be of the fourth caste, the brahmin caste. That is an old, handed-over condition for shankaracharyas and gurus alike in the age-old Shankara tradition. When Maharishi started the TM movement in India, he also saw to it that he was not promoted as a guru, but as a conduit pipe conveying Guru Dev's blessings, as Professor P. S. Atchuthan Pillai put it. [p. 212-33, 215]

After Guru Dev had passed away, others served as Shankaracharyas while Brahmachari Mahesh went into seclusion for a while. He withdrew from ashram life to a remote place, Uttar Kashi in north India. There he spent months in a cave that looked like a small basement under a room. It was quiet and quite temperate in it, he told. [p. 213]

He left the place to accompany an ailing aunt from Calcutta to a medical facility near Bangalore in southern India. While in southern India, in 1954 he began teaching local people how to meditate, and in 1955 travelled further south still, and to other places in India too. He grasped that "To turn the mind inward was easy!" [p. 214]

In the south he taught a mantra practice that was easy and very effective at bestowing happiness. People became interested in learning that easy method of meditation for spiritual fulfilment. He taught, as Guru Dev's conduit pipe, that there are renouncers of ordinary living and the rest of us, and that renouncers, sannyasis, might get very detached through repeating Om, Om mentally. But for the rest of us, detachment may not be such a great boon, especially if it mars coping that life depends on. And so, for most people – brahmins included – Maharishi taught particularly chosen mantras, here too in the steps of Guru Dev. He assured that householders find happiness in fulfilling desires and by filling their minds with householder-suitable mantra vibrations – TM meditation – for some minutes several times a day. That is the basic way of TM, Transcendental Meditation. It is all rooted in Guru Dev. He talks of these points in several places. [p. 216-17]

We do not have to renounce to be called yogis or misfits . . . Watch your steps and stick to these three "feet" at least:

  1. Tend to spiritual development by getting a suitable mantra and meditate copiously on it. A suitable mantra has to be found or given.
  2. Because the world is moral at its depths, stick to decent conduct and refrain from sinning.
  3. Seek to profit from decent opportunities for successes in life.

And it does not hurt to be careful not to get overly involved while working for an income and all that, but rather wise and expertlike somehow. "Too slow is unfit" I may add. So protect yourself. Guru Dev teaches that true support is within.

Transcendental Meditation secrets, On TM, Literature  

Mason, Paul. 108 Discourses of Guru Dev: The Life and Teachings of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath (1941-53). Vol 1. Penzance, Cornwall: Premanand, 2009.

⸻. The Biography of Guru Dev: The Life and Teachings of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath (1941-53). Vol 2. Penzance, Cornwall: Premanand, 2009.

⸻. Guru Dev as presented by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: The Life and Teachings of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath (1941-53). Vol 3. Penzance, Cornwall: Premanand, 2009.

⸻. The Maharishi: The Biography of the Man Who Gave Transcendental Meditation to the World. Rev. ed. Lyndhurst, Hampshire: Evolution, 2005.

⸻. The Roots of TM; The Transcendental Meditation of Guru Dev and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Penzance, Cornwall: Premanand, 2015.

Roth, Bob. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's TM Transcendental Meditation. Rev. ed. New York: Donald I. Fine Books, 1994. (Updated and revised print, 2011.)

⸻. 2018. Strength in Stillness; The Power of Transcendental Meditation. London: Simon and Schuster UK.

Sands, William F. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and His Gift to the World. Fairfield, IA: Maharishi University of Management Press, 2012.

Maharishi's Yoga: The Royal Path to Enlightenment. Fairfield IA: Maharishi University of Management Press, 2013.

Shriver, LB Trusty. The Sweet Teachings of the Blessed Sankaracarya Swami Brahmananda Saraswati. Tr. and contr. Cynthia Ann Humes. Raleigh, NC:, 2013.

The Transcendental Meditation Program. Official website. [◦Link]

Varma, Raj R. P. Strange Facts about a Great Saint: A Short Biography of . . . Brahmanand Saraswati . . . Jabalpur: Varma and Sons, 1980.

Yogi, Maharishi Mahesh. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation and Commentary. Chapters 1-6. London: Penguin 1969.

⸻. The Science of Being and Art of Living. New York: Plume/Penguin, 2001.

Harvesting the hay

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