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11th Canto of SB: The 24 Gurus

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Examples from the 11th Canto of SB

(24 Gurus)



The 24 gurus are: the earth, the air, the sky, water, fire, moon, sun,

pigeon, python, the sea, the moth, honeybee, elephant and honey thief,

the deer, the fish, the prostitute Pingala, the kurara bird, the

child, the young girl, arrow maker, serpent, spider and wasp. (SB



1. Earth: a sober person should never be distracted from progress on

his won path even if he is harassed by other living beings, because

they are acting helplessly under the control of God. He should be as

steady as the earth. Like the mountain and the tree, he should

dedicate himself to the service of others.


2. Air: a transcendentalist may be surrounded by innumerable material

objects possessing good and bad qualities. But like the wind he should

never be entangled by them. When the wind carries different aromas, it

never mixes with them.


3. Sky: Though the sky extends everywhere and everything rests within

it, it does not mix with anything. The soul and Supersoul have the

same quality. The sky is never implicated or affected by the blowing

action of the wind. In the same way the living entity is never

affected though it may enter a body of material elements.


4. Water: The saintly person is like water because he is free from all

contamination, gentle by nature and when speaking creates a beautiful

vibration like the flowing of water. By seeing, touching or hearing

such a saintly person, the living entity is cleansed as if coming in

contact with pure water.


5. Fire: Even if a saintly person eats contaminated food by chance he

is not affected, like the fire that burns up con-taminated substances

that are offered to it. Like fire, he is sometimes concealed and

sometimes revealed. As the spiritual master he burns up the past and

future reactions of his dis-ciples. The Supreme Soul is like fire in

that He enters dif-ferent bodies as fire manifests differently in

various pieces of wood. Like the flickering fire, the waves of time

flow constant-ly and imperceptibly bring with them birth, growth and

death. But just as nobody can follow the changing pattern of a flame,

no-one can see the changes wrought by time upon them.


6. Moon: Though the moon waxes and wanes, it is not affected my this

“change.” Similarly the living entity is not affected by the changes

of the body from birth to death.


7. Sun: A saintly person can accept a material thing with his senses

and at the apppropriate time he gives that thing to the proper person.

So also the sun evaporates water and returns it to earth as rain. Sun

and saint are never entangled by this. The sun is reflected in many

objects but is never divided. Also the soul is reflected into various

bodies but is always one and the same.


8. Pigeon: he is an example for excessive attachment, because he chose

to be captured by the hunter after seeing his wife and children so

captured, thinking that without them life was not not worth living.


9. Python: he does not make arrangements for food, but waits for food

to come to him. This exemplifies peacefulness and patience.


10. The sea: just like a tranquil sea, the saintly person, being full

of knowledge, is never disturbed.


11. The moth: a foolish man is captivated by a woman’s charms just

like a moth is captivated by a flame and burns within it.


12. The honeybee: a renounced person who begs a little food from

different houses is like a madhukari, or honeybee. Also a honeybee

takes nectar from different flowers. So also an intelligent human

being takes the essence of different scrip-tures. But a saintly person

should not become greedy and collect too much.


13. The elephant: A saintly person should remember how the great bull

elephant is captured by the she-elephant; therefore he should never

desire to touch the body of a young girl.


14. The honeythief: sannyasis and brahmacaris are entitled to take

away the wealth of the laboring householders, just like a hone thief

takes away the honey from the nest of the busy bees.


15. The deer: they are bewildered by the sound of a hunter’s horn, and

thus are killed. A renounced person should never become attracted by

mundane sounds like sensuous music, especial-ly the sweet singing and

dancing of beautiful women.


16. The fish: they are caught on the hook by their uncontrollable

tongues. A learned man should control all his senses by first

controling the tounge, which is the most powerful sense of all.


17. Pingala: this prostitute gave up her plans for earning money

through sex indulgence out of frustration. Feeling satisfaction from

her abandonment of material desires, she could remember Krsna and

became peaceful.


18. The kurara bird (hawk): When a hawk carrying some meat was

attacked by larger hawks, he gave it up out of fear for his life.

Renouncing and saving himself, he felt more happiness than he did when

he took the meat.


19. The child: a foolish child is happy due to ignorance, and a

saintly person is happy due to having surrendered to Krsna.


20. The young girl: receiving some prospective bridegrooms on a day

when her parents were away from home, she went into the kitchen to

prepare food for them. While beating rice, her bracelets jangled, and

she was afraid that the young men would think her family was poor

because she was doing all the work in the home. She broke all the

bracelets except two on each arm, but these also jangled. She then

removed one from each arm, leaving only one on each arm. Thereafter

she worked in silence. So too, when many people live together, there

will be clashing of interests and fighting. It is better to live



21. The arrow maker: the devotee should be so absorbed in the Lord

that he does not see duality, just as the arrow maker was so absorbed

in his work of making a straight arrow that he did not notice the king

passing buy.


22. The snake: he makes no home for himself, but takes over the homes

of others, having eaten them. A sage should similarly make no

endeavors for his own shelter.


23. The spider: God is like the spider because He creates the network

of the cosmos from his own potency and then withdraws it into Himself.


24. The wasp: he trapped a weaker insect in his hive. This insect took

on the mentality of a wasp out of intense fear of the wasp, and thus

became a wasp in its next life. This illustrates how one attains in

the next life what one’s mind is fixed upon.

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