“Rama showed His tremendous knowledge of fighting by killing the demon Tataka. The muni then gave to Him knowledge of secret mantras to be used in fighting.” (Janaki Mangala, 36)
He is the adi-purusha, or original person. He is also anadi, which means “without a beginning.” From the Bhagavad-gita, we learn that the spotless wisdom He imparted to Arjuna actually existed since the beginning of time, when it was spoken to the sun-god.
“The Blessed Lord said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikshvaku.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.1)
In that conversation, the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His all-attractive form of Shri Krishna changed from charioteer to spiritual master. He gave the general instruction that every sincere seeker of the truth should approach a guru, one who knows the truth because they have seen it themselves.
Since He is the first person to exist, without even a beginning, God is automatically the best guru. He is the first spiritual master, in fact. Yet He is simultaneously the best disciple. This contradiction is resolved through the behavior and purpose of the many avataras of God. Meaning “one who descends,” the avatara is an incarnation. God plays a certain role to fulfill many purposes. As Shri Rama, the prince of Ayodhya, one of those purposes was to show the behavior of an ideal disciple.
1. He has respect
Not that you follow blindly, but you shouldn’t challenge just for the sake of trying to stump the teacher. You enter the relationship for a reason. If you don’t want to learn, then why waste everyone’s time? Shri Rama grew up in the royal kingdom in Ayodhya, as the eldest son of the king, Maharaja Dasharatha.
Rama actually had two acknowledged gurus. One was the family preceptor, Vashishtha. The other was Vishvamitra, who came to the kingdom to ask for Rama to accompany him in the forest. To both exalted figures of the Vedic tradition, Rama showed tremendous respect. He listened attentively. He was submissive. Rama did not need to do this, as both His gurus were actually devoted to Him, since He is God.
2. He reveals doubts
The guru is eager to teach, and he becomes especially pleased when the disciple is open about their doubts. If I’m teaching someone and they’re just pretending to listen, there’s no real benefit to anyone. Eventually, they will need to put the principles to use, to show that they have assimilated the knowledge rather than just memorized it.
To really understand something, a person must bring forth their doubts. Rama was not hesitant in this area. One time Vishvamitra asked Him to deal with a female monster-like person. Her name was Tataka, and she was like a Rakshasa, which is a man-eating ogre.
Rama had doubts about entering combat with a female. He was aware of the etiquette. Even in modern society, it is considered wrong to hit a woman. Tataka was an aggressor who was harassing so many innocent sages living in the forest. Rama had just cause to battle with her, as it was Vishvamitra’s order as well. Still, as a good disciple, Rama was not hesitant to share His reservations.
3. Follows orders
The disciple shares their doubts, and using the weapon of knowledge the guru slashes those doubts away. Vishvamitra told Rama to proceed, without mercy. Rama thought that He would spare Tataka’s life, simply incapacitating her. Vishvamitra did not want this. Rama was given a task and He eventually followed through on this. Since he was pleased with Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana for carrying out orders, Vishvamitra then shared with them confidential mantras. These words would further empower the arrows used in combat. The arrows would become similar to nuclear weapons in potency.
4. Makes them look good
Rama makes both Vishvamitra and Vashishtha look good. Not that there is vanity involved. When the guru looks good, others gain further confidence in them. The guru feels more enthusiastic to teach going forward. Rama defeated Tataka, but so much credit went to Vishvamitra. Rama’s good behavior, His even disposition, His dispassion in material affairs - Vashishtha was glorified as a result, since he played a role in teaching Rama.
5. Increases their devotion
The bona fide guru is a devotee of Rama. God the person is not limited to a single transcendental manifestation. The non-different forms of God are known as Vishnu-tattva. The guru teaches so that others can be inspired to follow the same path, to reach the stage of transcendental ecstasy in devotion. Bhava doesn’t have to come through only explicitly devotional activities. The fighting of a kshatriya, defending the innocent, can qualify as devotion to God if the mindset is right. Consciousness is key.
Rama’s behavior increased the devotion in His gurus. They became further attached to Rama as a result. There is the saying that child is the father of man. One day the disciple will become the guru. When the disciple follows instructions and succeeds in their devotion, then the guru’s devotion increases as a result. The Supreme Lord becomes doubly pleased.
When bhakti of guru and disciple sees,
Supreme Lord doubly becomes pleased.
Rama for everyone showing the way,
Listening attentively what guru to say.
Not afraid doubts to share,
To work with attention and care.
From Him stature of teacher growing,
Supremacy of bhakti path showing.