Those Who Dispel the Darkness
Photo by truthseeker08/Pixabay (public domain)
Soul + Body, Breathe In

Those Who Dispel the Darkness

The Gurus of India
Maciej Wesołowski
time 17 minutes

It is hardly possible to imagine the religiosity—or, to put it more broadly, the spirituality—of Hindus, without their spiritual guides and teachers. Gurus do not merely tell people how to live. They also manage various aspects of everyday life. 

I get on a tuk-tuk somewhere in the countryside of West Bengal. Swinging in front of me is a sizable keyring with a man’s smiling face in a halo of gray afro hair.

“It’s Shri Sai Baba.” The rickshaw driver named Suraj quickly notices what I’m looking at.

“He was a holy person, man, I’m telling you. The holiest of the holy. I could listen to him for hours. He really made me think. Unfortunately, he passed away.”

“Why is he important to you?”

“Sai Baba taught us that we must do good and take responsibility for our decisions at all times. The Brahma God burdens us at birth with the consequences of our deeds from previous lives, and yet we are not lost! If we make an effort in our present life, we can change our destiny. This is an important truth to me.”

“What else did you learn from him?”

“That God is love, and man is created in God’s image. So it’s clear: we must love! God, other people, the world. It’s a straight path to salvation and it’s what I’ve been sticking to in my life. For years now.”

The Path of Righteousness

I will see many more depictions of Sai Baba in India—in tuk-tuks, shops, hospitals, and public offices. Sathyanarayana Raju, known as Sathya Sai Baba (1926–2011), is regarded as a saint almost everywhere. He is also believed to be the reincarnation of the immensely popular 19th-century guru Shirdi Sai Baba, who allegedly was an avatar—an incarnation—of the god Shiva himself.

The 20th-century Sai Baba preached a return to universal values and codes of conduct shared by the world’s largest religions: Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam. These include love, respect for the truth, the pursuit of peace, and the absolute renunciation of violence against others (called ahimsa in the Indian tradition). The path of righteousness (sanathana dharma), the pursuit of beauty and spiritual harmony, reconciliation with oneself, as well as helping others are the only path to salvation, according to Sai Baba. Keeping with these ideals allows one to experience happiness, gives a sense of belonging in the universe, and coexistence with other sentient beings.

In the teacher’s opinion, the biggest problem of modern people is that they do not strive for perfection, thus missing their purpose in life. This in turn results in sorrow, frustration, and suffering. According to Sai Baba, human


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12 Holidays from the Indian Calendar
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If you feel like you could use more opportunities to celebrate, here is a list of unique holidays brought to you straight from India.

The reformed Indian calendar is a solar one, divided into 12 months, each measured from full moon to new moon. It is used along with the Gregorian one by the local administration and offices. It also serves for marking the dates of public holidays, allowing the synchronization of the passing of time for people who follow different religions, inhabit many regions, and use various traditional solar and lunar calendars. The most important holidays are those that take place during the full or new moon nights. The year is divided into six seasons, called ritu. According to Hinduism, time is a cycle, a continuous process of creation and destruction, divided into four eras. Right now, we are going through the last stage of the cycle, known as Kali Yuga: the age of darkness.

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