According to Vedic scriptures, the Guru is God Himself manifesting in a personal form to guide the aspirant. Grace of God takes the form of the Guru. To see the Guru is to see God. The Guru is united with God. He inspires devotion in others. His presence purifies all.
The Guru is verily a link between the individual and the immortal. He is a being who has raised himself from this into That, and thus has free and unhampered access into both the realms. He stands, as it were, upon the threshold of immortality; and, bending down he raises the struggling individuals with his one hand, and with the other lifts them up into the empyrean of everlasting joy and infinite Truth-Consciousness.
A Guru is different from a teacher (acharya) or an instructor or a coach or a preacher. He is an inspiration of spiritual light in our world, and imparts us the universal mystical principles that underlie all religions, traditions, philosophies and cultures. The word Guru has two parts – ‘Gu’ – meaning, ‘darkness of ignorance’ and ‘Ru’ – meaning ‘ one who removes’.
A person who teaches worldly knowledge or properties of matter or subjects such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, commerce, economics, music, dance, mantra, yantra, yoga, tantra, and so on can be termed ‘Acharya’ but not Guru. These Acharyas are certainly important for our Artha and Kama goals of life for security and enjoyment but they cannot bestow the real and the ultimate goal of life namely Moksha or infinite Ananda or Bliss. You may see in this world a lot many materially successful people and accomplished celebrities undergoing pain and misery in their personal, professional, social and family lives despite their extreme affluence, richness or success.
Vedas glorify the power of Guru, by not equating him even to a Chithamani stone (a wish full filing stone which is capable of giving anything to a person who request it by touching it), the reason being, a Chinthamani stone cannot produce another Chinthamani stone whereas a Guru can produce another Guru. In fact the greatness of the Guru is that He says to his disciple compassionately all the time, “you and me are same and not different”, through Upanishadaic declarations such as : ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ or ‘Aham Brahmasmi’. Just by consciously and devotedly meditating on a Guru or by chanting his name, one can attain the zero point state of mind merging with the heart, forgetting his problems and also at the same time one can get his or her material or spiritual goal accomplished by the Grace of Satguru.
To be a Guru, one must have a command from God.
Mere study of books cannot make one a Guru. One who has studied the Vedas, and who has direct knowledge of the Atman (Self) through Anubhava (experience), can alone be enrolled as a Guru. A Jivanmukta or liberated sage is the real Guru or spiritual preceptor. He is the Sadguru. He is identical with Brahman or the Supreme Self. He is a Knower of Brahman.
A Sadguru is endowed with countless Siddhis (psychic powers). He possesses all divine Aisvarya (powers), all the wealth of the Lord.
Possession of Siddhis, however, is not the test to declare the greatness of a sage or to prove that he has attained Self-realisation. Sadgurus generally do not exhibit any miracle or Siddhi. Sometimes, however, they may do so in order to convince the aspirants of the existence of superphysical things, give them encouragement, and instill faith in their hearts.
The Sadguru is Brahman Himself. He is an ocean of bliss, knowledge, and mercy. He is the captain of your soul. He is the fountain of joy. He removes all your troubles, sorrows, and obstacles. He shows you the right divine path.
He tears your veil of ignorance. He makes you immortal and divine. He transmutes your lower, diabolical nature. He gives you the rope of knowledge, and takes you up when you are drowning in this ocean of Samsara (cycle of birth and death). Do not consider him to be only a man. If you take him as a man, you are a beast. Worship your Guru and bow to him with reverence.
Guru is God. A word from him is a word from God. He need not-teach anything. Even his presence or company is elevating, inspiring, and stirring, His very company is self-illumination. Living in his company is spiritual education. Read the Granth-saheb (the holy scripture of the Sikh religion). You will come to know the greatness of the Guru.
Man can learn only from man, and hence God teaches through a human body. In your Guru, you have your human ideal of perfection. He is the pattern into which you wish to mould yourself. Your mind will readily be convinced that such a great soul, is fit to be worshipped and revered.
Guru is the Moksha-dvara (door to liberation). He is the gateway to the transcendental Truth-Consciousness. But, it is the aspirant who has to enter through it. The, Guru is a help, but the actual task of practical Sadhana (spiritual practice) falls on the aspirant himself.
Everyone needs a Guru. Lord Krishna sat at the feet of His Guru Sandeepani. Lord Rama had Guru Vasishtha who gave Him Upadesha (spiritual advice). Lord Jesus sought John to be baptised by him on the banks of the river Jordan. Even Devas (celestial beings) have Brihaspati as their Guru. Even the greatest among the divine beings sat at the feet of Guru Dakshinamurti.
A neophyte must have a personal Guru first. He cannot have God as Guru to begin with. He must have a pure mind. He must have ethical perfection. He, must be intensely virtuous. He must be above body-consciousness. Then alone can he have God as Guru.
To explain the greatness of a Guru I would like to tell a small story.
Once there lived a powerful king who had three sons. The three sons had a very good common friend. One day the friend was caught by the soldiers for a crime in which he was entangled and was sentenced to undergo a capital punishment of death by hanging. Hearing this all the three sons felt very bad and wanted to help him whatever they could and asked their King-father to show some mercy. The king wanted the wishes of each of his sons to be pronounced publicly in the court. When the court met for this, one fine morning along with the imprisoned friend and three sons, the first prince said,
“Please give his family good amount of land and gold so that he can leave peacefully this world”
The second son requested,
“O lord, please provide job for his wife and education for his son and also provide a land”
The third prince said,
“My dear King and father please pardon him this time and free him from this death sentence and imprisonment. I shall ensure that he will be a good citizen from now and I shall repay his dues to government on his behalf if any”
Now you tell me, whom, the friend will love more of the three princesses?
Obviously the third one as He has liberated him forever.
In line with this story, we can understand that one will love his Guru the most for having liberated him or her from the clutches of the Maya and shown the path to Freedom without an end.
How to identify a Guru?
You can identify a Guru by the following qualities as described in various scriptures.
Basic QUALITIES of a GURU
1. A Guru will be well versed with all scriptural knowledge and credentials to clear all your doubts pertaining to Self- Knowledge, Philosophy and Theology. He will constantly dwell in God or SELF and propagate the philosophy that All is one and One is ALL. Quite often, A Guru may be a descendant from a lineage of a Maha Guru or Satguru (Guru Parampara).
2. A Guru will be imparting pure Self-Knowledge that is liberating and not binding and is an embodiment of innocence, bliss, compassion, love, wisdom, purity, self-control, equanimity and tolerance.
3. A Guru will not work for material favours or fees. He may however accept whatever (or not given) by disciples out of reverence as guru-dhaksina.
4. A Guru mere presence will make you feel peace and tranquillity and by interacting with him you will get courage and mental strength to overcome your difficulty
5. A Guru will never claim himself as a some super-natural or GOD
6. A Guru is free from anger, greed, lust, jealousy, hatred, resentment, and conceitedness. He will absolutely free from any material desires, addictions and attachments.
7. A Guru will see everyone and everything with limitless compassion, equal vision and selfless love.
8. A Guru will have equal vision transcending all boundaries of gender, race, language, religion, caste, community, social status and economic status.
9. A Guru will say he has no power but his power will be experienced by his disciples.
10. A Guru’s acts and talks will show greatness and wisdom.