• Q & A WITH THOM KNOLES •

Jai Guru Deva

15 February 2007


Question:

Thom,
What does “Jai Guru Deva” mean?
Ramin

Thom's Reply:

Dearest Ramin,

Jai = "joy, hail, glory to"
Guru = "remover of darkness"
Deva = "a shining one", source of English word "divine".

Thus "Jai Guru Deva" literally means "Glory to the shining remover of darkness." Who is “Guru Deva” to the individual user of the phrase, almost is beside the point. The phrase, "Jai Guru Deva", has become a universal salutation, blessing, greeting, opening and closing phrase used by Vedic meditators for millennia. It is a way of reminding oneself regularly and acknowledging with others the truth that the knowledge we enjoy so freely came from a source other than one's small self, and offers gratitude to that source. It is a beautiful-sounding phrase, feels good to intone, is good for surrendering small self to Big Self, and I commend its use by all meditators, as a way of offering one’s gratitude somewhere fitting.

When saying "Jai Guru Deva", Initiators (teachers) of my tradition are, almost invariably, referring to Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, the man who throughout his elder years in Jyothir Math, in the Indian Himalaya, held the title of "Shankaracharya". It was this "Guru Deva", sometimes called "Shri Guru Deva", from whom we received this knowledge of Vedic Meditation, and to whom we pay homage when new meditators are initiated. This Guru Deva, also referred to his master as "Guru Deva", and our "Guru Deva"'s Guru Deva, likewise, referred to his own master by that same soubriquet, “Guru Deva.” So you see there is a tradition of many Guru Deva’s, and ultimately then, the sobriquet, “Guru Deva”, refers simply to whomever perceives a “Guru Deva” to be their Guru Deva— and that identity is not limited only to one.

Our Guru Deva’s title of “Shankaracharya” expresses his status as viewed by millions that he was the preeminent Master of the masters of yoga, meditation, and Vedic knowledge; the undisputed King of the Yogis during his lifetime.

Thank you for asking me, Ramin, many others ask me so we will preserve this reply, for others to enjoy; it has been very helpful to write this message.

...and it gives another opportunity for me to write,

Jai Guru Deva!

Love, Thom


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