अविद्यायां अंतरे वर्तमानाः स्वयं धीराः पण्डितम् मन्यमानाः
जंघन्यमानाः परियन्ति मूढाः अन्धेनैव नीयमानाः यथान्धाः
Avidyaayam antharae varthamaanaah
Swayam Dheerah panditam manyamaanaah
Janghanyamaanaah pariyanthi moodhaah
Andhenaiva neeyamaanaa yathaandhaah
–Mundaka Upanishad 1-2-8
(the same Manthra is almost repeated, with a minor change in Katha Upanishad 1-2-5)
This Manthra accurately reflects the state in which most people find themselves, at least with respect to making progress on the spiritual path. Literally translated, the Manthra states:
“Steeped in deep ignorance, these people consider themselves to be scholars, therefore refuse to take guidance from a proper Guru (a Guru is here defined as one who has learnt the Scriptures – Vedas and Upanishads – from a learned Guru who in turn comes from a Traditional lineage of such Gurus (known as a Guru Paramparaa), who teaches strictly what the Scriptures – Vedas and Upanishads – teach and not teach something that he has himself invented)
“Not stopping with this, they go ahead and become teachers themselves and end up spreading their ignorance to a whole lot of others. All these people end up going in circles, stumbling from one Janmaa to the other and resemble a bunch of blind men who are in turn led by another blind man”
On this auspicious occasion of Guru Poornima, this Manthra from the Upanishad serves as a reminder as to the importance of a proper Guru and the necessity to follow this Guru closely in every step along the path of Spiritual Growth, otherwise we could end up suffering a set-back that can take a few more janmaas to set right.
In this context, it is worth remembering another Shloka from Viveka Choodamani.
दुर्लभम् त्रयमेवैतत् देवानुग्रह हेतुकम्
मनुष्यत्वं मुमुक्षुत्वं महापुरुष संश्रयः
Durlabham thrayamaithath Devaanugraha Hethukam
Manushyathwam Mumukshuthwam Mahaapurusha Sanshrayah
Here the Acharya says that attaining this Human Birth itself is a rarity (since there are 7.5 Million species on this planet) and on top of this, it is rarer to be born in a culture which talks about Moksha (Liberation / Enlightenment) as the Purpose of Life. And on top of this, even after being born in such a culture / society, developing a Value for Moksha takes even more effort. Even after developing a Value for Moksha, finding the RIGHT Guru who will lead you along the right path is even rarer. So, if someone has indeed found their Guru and are making progress on the Spiritual Path, then they should consider themselves to be the most fortunate one and express their deep Gratitude to their Guru, who is none other than Eashwara personified.