“O Shri Rama, an aspirant should take recourse to satsanga (good association). He should nourish his intellect by receiving instruction from the sages and reflecting upon them. Gradually, he should cultivate the great qualities that manifest in enlightened personalities.”
A guru is an integral part of Hinduism. Literally, the word guru means “one who removes darkness.” In the Hindu religion, a guru occupies a very prestigious position. It is believed that the guru may pass his knowledge and grace to his disciple both in tangible and subtle spiritual ways: Danam atma jnanam—one who gives the knowledge of Self, the Divine.
A guru imparts spiritual knowledge out of love and compassion and not for any material considerations. With spiritual knowledge an individual’s character is changed. A guru may wield a very powerful influence on the moral values of a large population.
A true guru is himself pure and enlightened. His own behavior is completely free from any blemish. He is above lust, anger, and greed and is forever calm and filled with wisdom. His only motivation is to uplift humanity. His lifelong interest becomes to uplift and educate his disciples, mentally and spiritually, without any personal gain. He does not build any expectations in others, including his pupils, and hence, he is free from any wrath and ill temper. He becomes the embodiment of cosmic love. Guru teaches how to use the senses and the mind in a spiritual manner and in a most practical method, almost as if he were holding his shishya’s hand. Scriptures tell us the true worth of a guru: “Guru Vishnu, Guru Brahma, Guru Maheshwara!” Thus, a guru is elevated to the combined status of all gods. Hindu scriptures mention that even Lord Rama and Lord Krishna had to undergo training with their respective gurus, Sage Vasistha and Muni Sandipani.
The concept of “Guru” is rather unique to Hinduism. Literally, the word “Guru” means the one who removes darkness (of ignorance). Thus a Guru first learns and transforms himself; later he may teach and transform many others toward virtue and divinity. Although it has been mentioned that a Guru is an indispensable requirement—even God-incarnates like Lord Rama and Lord Krishna were instructed by their respective gurus—finding a true Guru, and attaining a constant access in modern times is most challenging. Not all but a few Gurus have their own imperfections and faults; they are trapped in their ego and other sensual weaknesses. In recent times, “Guru” has become a global marvel, attracting persons of great distinction and eminence, across the globe. The Guru occasionally becomes a part of their high color and status, allowing simplicity and austerity to take a backseat. The Guru is invariably in great rush and crowded by many aspirants. Individual and constant attention, a very important requirement of the “Guru” status, is conspicuous by its absence.
Nevertheless the “Guru” phenomenon has been there from most ancient times and has been carried ably throughout millennia by the most virtuous and spiritual masters, saints and sages of the highest order. Like any other drawbacks of the society, this one too shall find its worthy solution in good time.