Saturday, December 13, 2008

Qualities of an Effective Teacher

"One day as I was passing the Panchavati on my way to the pine-grove, I heard a bullfrog croaking. I thought it must have been seized by a snake. After some time, as I was coming back, I could still hear its terrified croaking. I looked to see what the matter was, and found that a water snake had seized it. The snake could neither swallow it nor give it up. So there was no end to the frog's suffering. I thought that had it been seized by a cobra it would have been silenced after three croaks at most. As it was only a water snake, both of them had to go through this agony. A man's ego is destroyed after three croaks, as it were, if he gets into the clutches of a real teacher. But if the teacher in an unripe one then both the teacher and the disciple undergo endless suffering. The disciple cannot get rid either of his ego or of the shackles of the world. If a disciple falls into the clutches of an incompetent teacher, he doesn't attain liberation."
…….. From the ‘Gospel of Ramakrishna’

Well it is a simple story that carries a lot of meaning.
Especially in our adult life when we launch ourselves into learning a new discipline or subject or we are into field experience under the guidance of a project manager or leader, our egos become the main stumbling block. In my 40 year career I had witnessed this problem rearing its head both as a learner as well as a leader.

There are some basic parameters that become pertinent, especially when we wish to lead a team of dynamic individuals. These are:

  • In order to kill or eradicate the ego of those who are your students, your presence in the intellectual and skill sphere has to be very large. (similar to the hooded Cobra which can quickly dispatch the frog from agony)

  • You must have sustained level of high integrity, without which you cannot hold the disciples with you. (It is as if the snake had developed indigestion or lost the capacity to ingest and had to omit out the frog. The whole exercise is useless to both participants, as one ends up dead and the other sick)

  • The recipient of knowledge always looks for empowering wisdom from the master. The overpowering wisdom of the master always destroys the ego of the student, as he or she realizes how insignificant his or her capacity is.
  • It is also important that this destruction of ego on the part of the student is accomplished with least distress to the learner. An adept master makes the student very comfortable in the process revealing the level of ignorance from which he is being relieved. (This is the quick strike of the Cobra with potent venom which provides instant release for the frog)

All these attributes of an accomplished guru cannot be had in a very short time. It took me 40 years and I am still learning.

Love to you all


  1. This story reminds me of the old time gurukul where a teacher can teach his disciples only if he is surrounded by good vibration to 27 feet circumference. beautuful story and very beautiful explanation!!

  2. Magi,
    Thanks for your feedback.

  3. My dear Raja,

    The points that you have presented to be a good Guru in any vocation/profession are very convincing. Authenticity with humility from the Guru touches the entire being of the disciple and gently invites him for for transformation. The story brings out this truth effectively.
    love and best wishes from

    Mathias annan

  4. Annan,

    Thanks for the appreciation.