An Offer of Gratitude
Jai = “joy, hail, glory to”
Guru = “remover of darkness”
Deva = “a shining one”, source of English word “divine”.
Thus, the meaning of “Jai Guru Deva” is literally “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.
“Jai Guru Deva” 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 every meditator.
When saying “Jai Guru Deva”, Initiators (teachers) of my tradition are referring to Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, the man who throughout his elder years in Jyothir Math, in the Indian Himalaya, held the title of “Shankaracharya”. As the master of my master, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, he spent his days spreading his core teachings to the rest of the world, often greeted in lectures and meetings with the words salutation “Jai Guru Deva.” 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 Devas, so, ultimately, the sobriquet, “Guru Deva”, refers simply to whoever 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 pre-eminent Master of the masters of yoga, meditation, and Vedic knowledge; the undisputed King of the Yogis during his lifetime.
Many meditators from our tradition inquire about whether “Jai Guru Deva” and “Jai Guru Dev” can be used interchangeably when writing this phrase. While there is no harm in writing “Jai Guru Deva” without the last “a” in “Deva”, Maharishi’s original writings consistently referrred to Swami Brahmananda Saraswati in its fullness of “Jai Guru Deva”. This is the approach in writing that we celebrate in our Vedic Meditation community when referring to Guru Deva.
Lastly, readers may often see references to this phrase in the form of “Jai Guru Deva Om” popularized by a verse of a song written by the Beatles. Maharishi was not heard using this phrase with an inclusion of “Om”. The addition of the word “Om” does not add any significance to what is already a complete and full expression of this unbounded expression of Big Self.
Jai Guru Deva.