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.
Scriptures clearly defines the GURU as one who imparts his disciple the knowledge of liberation through the knowledge of Brahman, the Atmic principle present in every living and non-living beings as explained and glorified in the three great Vedanthic scriptures of Upanishads, Bhagawad Gita and Brahma Sutram. The Guru takes the disciple along with him through his limitless compassion which is non-different and identical with the nature of the Almighty God, the omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent, impersonal aspect of all pervading transcendental Reality (Absolute or pure consciousness)
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 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 given (or not given) by disciples out of reverence as guru-dhaksina.
4. A Guru’s 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 is ever established in Supreme Self or Absolute Reality with Ananda or Bliss.
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 exhibit humility and wisdom.
To get proper understanding and knowledge of these qualities of a Satguru, one may also learn and understand the life story and teachings of a Satguru such as Sri Ramana Maharishi, Sri Ramakrishna Parmahamsa, Sri Maha Periavaa of Kanchi, Sri Shirdi Saibaba, Sri Chandrasekhara Bharti of Sringeri and so on, who were the great mahatmas (Satgurus), appeared in the recent past and blessed the Humanity.