(r̥ṇa) Ruṇa Muktī - A Beautiful Concept
In Indian culture, the concept of indebtedness or obligation plays an important role. All humans are obliged to God, children are obliged to their parents, and students are indebted to their teachers.
In the Gurū- śiśya paramparā*, it is a student’s right to learn and the teacher’s right to teach, but the student is always obliged to the teacher. In the true form of Gurū- śiśya paramparā, there is complete surrender on the part of the student, and this allows for the teacher to do their best work. A good analogy is that of a diamond. A student is like a raw diamond, completely in the hands of a diamond cutter (the teacher). If the diamond yields to the cutter completely, then the cutter can do his best job in bringing out the true beauty of the gem through his careful cutting and polishing. In the Gurū- śiśya paramparā, everything is left in the hands of the able Gurū. He is the creator. This creates an enormous obligation for the student – how is the student to repay the teacher? Each student does what they can. Some give money, others do seva, etc, but in Indian culture, this is not enough to relieve oneself of the obligation towards one’s teacher.
That is where the concept of r̥ṇa muktī comes in. r̥ṇa muktī literally means “liberation or release from obligation (or r̥ṇa )”. There are two ways of r̥ṇa muktī. The first, if your Gurū feels that you are capable, is to teach 1000 students what your Gurū has taught you. The second is to go one step further than your Gurū in that vidyā.
*When I speak of Gurū- śiśya paramparā and r̥ṇa muktī , I am referring to serious students who have spent many years of very close contact and training with their gurū.