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The Guru's Cat

A Story Told by Gurumayi Chidvilasananda

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The story of the Guru’s cat is, for me, a beautiful allegory of how often we—as individuals, communities, and nations—do things because others say we should. I see that I often follow the status quo without questioning why things are the way they are or if they are right for me.

I’m grateful for this reminder to pay attention to the light of my inner Self as my guide in life—to place my trust in God and the Guru. Then I can listen to what others have to say and discern if that reflects my own truth. And if it doesn't, I can summon the courage to follow my own path and trust my Self to show me the way.

Leeds, United Kingdom

To me, a teaching is a form of guidance to make my life happier, rather than a rule I have to abide by. This story is a sweet reminder to me to use my discernment, to have the flexibility to do what is practical and sensible in accordance with the circumstances.

Georgia, United States

At first I just didn't understand “The Guru's Cat” story. I thought how silly they were to tie up another cat. Then my mind started—Were they right? Should you do that?—and I lost sight of my original thought. So, I thought I would see how other devotees interpreted the story. Suddenly, like a lightning bolt tears ran down my face. I got it !

The question now is, how many cats have I tied to the pole?

New South Wales, Australia

I feel the Guru's words are so powerful that they keep resonating within me long after I read the story. For me, the cat's story is a powerful reminder of being practical and always going to the essence of why things are done in a particular way, even when we are going about tasks that we consider sacred, such as spiritual practice. It is a reminder to always be alert and in the present moment, as opposed to being dogmatic or doing things in a particular way because they have always been done that way.

Many thanks to everyone involved in posting this story with the beautiful illustrations on the Siddha Yoga path website. It is inspiring and delightful!

Toronto, Canada

I immediately loved this story. I chuckled and felt that the lesson Gurumayi gives is for me. How often have I made a habit of something that has outlasted its purpose! How often do I not refresh my practice to the point that it becomes dry? Thank you, Gurumayi, for this gentle reminder to do my part in keeping my practice, life, and sadhana ever new by staying aware of the opportunities to share and give of myself. This opportunity goes from the smile I might offer a stranger to the seva that will be so much better done if I offer just a little more focus and attention to the task. Each moment I am fully alive I can again be blessed.

Virginia, USA

When we are faced with a problematic situation, we seek a solution. But when the problem goes away, we don't need to re-create the problem—even if we have a perfect solution or have gotten accustomed to it.

Ohio, USA

The story tells me many things, one of which is that it is necessary to investigate the meaning of the Guru's teaching in each situation. And it is necessary to contemplate in each situation which of the numerous wonderful teachings of the Guru is useful for solving a problem or for understanding the deeper truth of a situation or the deeper truth about me and my inner Self.

Gurumayi, thank you for telling us this story and thank you for your guidance.

Vienna, Austria

For me, it comes down to this: a practice should not be performed in a dry way, mechanically following a command. The Guru's commands, teachings, and practices should always be studied and performed through the heart. In this way, a command becomes an inner experience, and the love of the heart will bring forth true understanding.

Montreal, Canada

How complicated we can make the simplest things! What a relief it is to know that I offer my very best when I respond to the needs of the moment with intelligence and practicality!

Thank-you for all the great conversations this story will continue to generate, with my children and at the Siddha Yoga meditation center. And thank you for the clarity it gives me to speak up when things don’t seem to make sense.

Boston, USA

I asked myself, What exactly was the Guru’s teaching? Did the teaching say that there has to be a cat tied to a post whenever there is a chanting or meditation session?

The cat was living in the Ashram. He was very cute, and everyone gave lot of love to him. But he was creating an obstacle to the students of the Ashram in their spiritual practice, which is the main purpose of the Ashram.

To me the real teaching is inherent in the Guru's act. By tying the cat to the post, the Guru shows how to deal with the situation when you have a cat that creates a disturbance to your main purpose. The story shows how to take beneficial steps that will support both the students and also the health and life of the cat, because the cat cannot be left alone either.

Moreover if we realize that there has been a problem once, when there was a cat in the Ashram, why should we choose to go the market to buy another problem?

a student in Gurudev Siddha Peeth, Ganeshpuri, India

For me this story is about contemplation and going deeper.

Yes, there is a practical teaching: if something or someone disturbs when we are doing our practices, we can and must do something about it. And once it's "under control,” move on.

We can either recreate something that we thought was the right way without thinking or going deeper than "it's always been done like that" (even if there is no purpose at all any more), or we can pause, contemplate, take the essence and move on to another level.

I offer my gratitude for these words of Gurumayi.

Montreal, Canada

Yes, I've heard the story, and it's great to be "refreshed" about this teaching. I realize it has always come to me when I'm faced with a "but we've always done it this way" situation. It has given me the courage to be practical and act accordingly.

The artwork is precious and whimsical! I love cats and the little cat in the picture seems to be doing seva very patiently and without attachment or aversion. Another lesson for me!

Love and blessings and thank you!

California, USA

When I was reading this story, I thought that since the cat’s behavior was an obstacle to the regular practices of the Ashram that’s why the Guru took the decision of tying the cat in a room. But when, after the Guru’s samadhi, the cat died, there was no need to buy a new cat and tie it up because the obstacle to their practices was gone. But due to their lack of understanding, the disciples could not know the reason the Guru had tied up that cat. They didn’t try to contemplate this but instead took action in the name of “Guru’s command.”

After reading this story, I was reminded of the talk that Gurumayi gave recently: “Be Practical, Be Grateful.” We must contemplate first on Gurumayi’s words before putting them into implementation because when the Guru speaks, our understanding is incomplete until we contemplate on it. After contemplation, we not only get clear understanding but it becomes easier to implement that teaching.

Mumbai, India

I actually have a cat similar to "The Guru's Cat." He's a big, fluffy, lovable guy. My practice is to meditate every morning. However, if I sit to meditate before my cat gets fed, I will get a swift swat on the arm (claws and all) just when I'm about to settle in.

So, we have come to a very practical arrangement in the mornings: first my cat gets fed, then I sit to meditate.

I'm taking Gurumayi's message of practicality, which was also emphasized in her talk during Bade Baba's Punyatithi, as a command. I will hold this message front and center as I step through the demands of my day.

Thank you, Gurumayi, for sharing your words, stories, and pictures with us through the website!

New York, USA

My heart soared and I felt my entire being melt into a smile at the story of ”The Guru's Cat,” retold now on a website that many can access. I heard the story about two decades ago when I first began to offer seva in the SYDA Foundation. That story became one of my bench marks, especially as it related to the practical and physical aspects of a Siddha Yoga meditation center. The story showed me how to honor the path and understand guidelines. Over all these years I have used the Guru's Cat story during clarifying discussions. Even just recently I used it as an example.

Thank you, Gurumayi, for the story, for shining such a beautiful, clear, loving, and humorous light so that there are no shadows.

Hong Kong

Here is my 3 year old daughter’s share about the story:

When the teacher teaches us anything we need to listen and act carefully. If something disturbs us while we are learning, put it aside for some time. That way we can concentrate in the class and later can play.

Thank you Gurumayi for giving the practical example to young kids and to us by the stories.

Blue is my daughter’s favorite color and she likes the art work very much.

Pune, India

From the story I understand that in each and every action I have to use my "viveka".


I love this powerful story! I’ve heard it before and it is wonderful how the same story, retold and re-heard with new ears, reveals new understanding and wisdom. This time the story reminded me of how important it is for me to know and understand why I do what I do—especially in my Siddha Yoga practice. It reminds me how valuable it is for me to know the Siddha Yoga traditions and culture so that I am not merely doing things automatically or mindlessly or because "I always do it that way..." It's wise to know the practical reasons and purpose for things because it brings greater consciousness to whatever I'm doing.

Thank you, Gurumayi, for telling it again. And thank you, Dionisio, for your lovely illustrations.

California, USA

I offered seva creating the artwork for the story “The Guru’s Cat.” As I was working on this project I felt an easy flow. The image of Gurumayi smiling as she was telling the story was very present in my mind.

Knowing that my skills and talent are in service to the Siddha Yoga path creates a tenderness in my heart, a deep sense of gratitude and I also feel inspired to keep myself healthy and sharp to continue to offer my best to Gurumayi and The SYDA Foundation.

Mil gracias, Gurumayi.


I love Gurumayi’s story, “The Guru’s Cat.” I offered seva helping to prepare the text for posting on the Siddha Yoga path website. I have heard this story many times over the years, but this time I read it with fresh eyes. I saw that this playful story is another way that Gurumayi is giving the teaching to be practical, and I realized that being practical is a way to honor God.

Massachusetts, USA