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Why do we need a Master?

Master is a title befitting an individual who has attained great skill or capacity in a particular area. In spirituality, the term master generally describes one who has achieved self-mastery. It can also refer to the Absolute, Divinity or God. On the human level, only someone who has attained self-mastery is truly capable of training others. Officially within the Shri Ram Chandra Mission (SRCM), the master is the spiritual representative appointed by his master to carry on the spiritual duties, after his master’s death, as guided and instructed by him. As such, there is only one living master at a time, who is both the functioning spiritual representative and president of SRCM.

Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari is the current living spiritual master and president of SRCM and is affectionately known as Chariji, or Chari. He teaches that in Sahaj Marg the word ‘master’ has nothing to do with authority over others but rather refers to one who has mastered himself or herself. Also, in the living tradition of Sahaj Marg, the Master utilizes transmission, which we can think of as the essence of divinity, to awaken and nourish the soul. Chari teaches that a true master brings the disciple to God, not to himself.

Chariji’s master, Babuji, taught that masters do not come to rule, but only to serve, dedicating their lives to spiritual service. Truly speaking, the external master or guru can be described as the reflection of our own inner teacher. This is true not only for masters of Sahaj Marg but also for the masters of all the great traditions. Along these lines, the words of Tibetan Lama Sogyal Rinpoche can hardly be improved upon:

The master whose human shape and human voice we come to love with a love deeper than any other in our lives is none other than the external manifestation of the mystery of our own inner truth. What else could explain why we feel so strongly connected to him?

The masters in Sahaj Marg have all been married men, fathers and householders, serving as a living example of the spiritual truth that the highest spiritual attainment can be achieved in the course of ordinary human life, provided one is fortunate to find and follow a capable living master.

"In a sense the guru, for that is how we call the spiritual guide in the Indian tradition, is the bridge from here to the hereafter; from this human life into the eternal spiritual existence; from this mundane world to the Brighter World."

- Chariji

Therefore a real teacher is not one who can explain to us the soundness of the religious dogmas or who can prescribe to us do’s and don’ts. What we stand in need from a guru is the true impulse to effect the awakening of the soul, and his direct support in the course of our march on the path of realization.

- Babuji (CWI p366)