Sep 23, 2023
Sep 23, 2023
The word 'guru' has become a part of many languages of the world, apart from languages of India. But there are many misconceptions and prejudices about this term both in the East and the west. It would be worthwhile to dwell in some detail about the term and the concept of Guru. We are talking about the Teacher related to spirituality and not of physical science, art or literature. In those fields also we get wonderful instructors with in-depth knowledge in their subjects, but they barter their expertise with their students for name, fame or money. Therefore, such teachers do not qualify to be labeled as Guru for our purpose.
Second point of interest is to understand the need of a qualified Guru for a spiritual aspirant, if he or she wants to progress on the royal path of God Realization. It is not possible for ordinary aspirant to comprehend and grasp the essence of scriptures or religious philosophy (e.g. Vedanta, Yoga, The Gita) by merely reading the books or listening to talks. Books and scriptures do qualify in a minor way to become Guru, but this mode of transfer of knowledge falls short of expectations. It might, in fact mislead and distract the aspirant from the true path of spiritual attainment.
Of course anyone can proclaim himself or herself as Guru. Such fake 'Babas' mushroom in many parts of India and abroad. Such persons have selfish motives as earning money etc., and unfortunately many gullible persons fall victims to their designs. In fact, the word guru is falling to disrepute because of such self-proclaimed incompetent persons.
Qualifications of a True Guru
Therefore, it becomes imperative on our part to understand and consider basic qualifications of a spiritual teacher. Mundaka and Brihadaranyaka Upanishads have eulogized the following four qualifications of a true Guru:
The Guru should be truthful. Under no condition should he deviate from righteous path. This purity comes through constant discrimination between real and unreal and giving up the unreal. Thus, the Guru should be well established in the highest Truth that God alone is real; rest all is transitory. Therefore, the Guru renounces all worldly pleasures and carvings of the senses. Privilege and prestige, name and fame should not affect the character of the Guru in the least. He should be easily accessible and approachable to his all the minor and major disciples.
Without Guru one can also proceed on the royal path of self-realization. But then the journey would be full of obstacles and pitfalls. It would take long time to reach the destination. This sadhana is like trying to cross the ocean in a small boat. Guru is like a huge steamer to which one ties one's boat and relaxes. That huge steamer is sure to take the disciple to other shore. The dangers are minimized and the delay cut down.
If we are fortunate enough to find such a Teacher, then a lofty kind of love can begin to bosom in our heart. Everything that happens between the Guru and the disciple happens through love and compassion. It is said in Indian religious lore, "If the disciple is ready, the Guru will appear; he will come to us." Intense yearning and effort to realize God is sure to help the aspirant find his or her Guru. Let us prepare ourselves to receive such a noble soul.
See Also: The Disciple
More by : Dr. C.S. Shah