Na Guroradhikam Tattvam
Na Guroradhikam tapah
Tattvajnanat param nasti
Tasmai Sri Gurave namah.
– Guru Gita
If we read the lives of the great saints and spiritual seekers, we will see that, to many of them, the word “Guru” signifies the summum bonum of spiritual attainments and the divine grace responsible for it. It is not difficult to see why the Guru commands such undying devotion in an aspirant’s life. It is only through the constant guidance and support of the Guru that the seekers manages to rend asunder the veil of Maya.
It is not easy to find an accurate translation to convey the meaning of the word “Guru”. Though it has often been imperfectly translated to mean “teacher” or “acharya”, its real import is vastly different from such a limited interpretation.
The Guru Gita describes the meaning of the word “Guru” as such: “The syllable ‘Gu’ is darkness, and the syllable, ‘Ru’ is said to be light. There is no doubt that the Guru is indeed the Supreme Knowledge that swallows the darkness of ignorance. ‘Gu’ represents the principles such as Maya, and ‘Ru’ is the Supreme Knowledge that destroys that Maya. The syllable ‘Ru’ is that without form. The Guru is said to be the one who bestows the state beyond attributes (and form).”
Rabindranath Tagore gives a very beautiful explanation of the term “Guru”. He says that an embodied soul or Jiva wanders through hundreds of thousands of births in different bodies, searching for the way to attain its own true state of the eternal Supreme Self. Through its struggles, it achieves consecutively higher and higher states of evolution. Finally at one stage due to the intensity of man’s longing to reach his goal of perfection, a miracle happens: the inner soul of man which was driving him towards his real nature, separates itself and assuming a form guides him to the goal. In our tradition, such a guide is known as a Guru.
From this wonderful explanation, we can see who the Guru is to the seeker. The Guru is none other than our own true Self who has come to guide our steps towards Realisation.
The Guru knows the disciple intimately and prescribes such sadhana or spiritual practices as will exactly suit his temperament. With tender care and attentiveness of a mother, the Guru creates all the situations and circumstances necessary for the growth of the seeker.
It is said that the Guru is more compassionate than God Himself. This is because the Guru, who is God-realized and who lives in unbroken communion with the Supreme Truth, chooses out of compassion for the world to take birth and lead us to the goal..