Someone has an ear infection. Should he go to a medical college to learn all about the ear in order to cure it ? If there is a legal complication, should one enroll in a legal course ? The car has broken down : how about learning automobile engineering ? We know all these are impractical solutions ; what we need is an expert in the field, that is , a guru right away. As all of us have realized, we are very limited in our knowledge and we have very limited time, 24 hours minus what is required to maintain one’s body is just not enough time to learn everything that we need.
We just bought a new computer and need to install it quickly. There is an instruction manual which has 600 pages. What is easier ? Get a technician from the supplier. The air-conditioning is not working. What should one do ? In all these cases, it is much easier and smarter to get a knowledgeable person (which means a guru) who can get the job done easily and efficiently.
“Guru” is a much misunderstood word these days in its spiritual connotation ; it has got linked with fraudulent behaviour of cheaters and exploiters who go in the name of guru.
There are four types of gurus : the first teacher anyone gets is one’s own parents. The next type consists of any number of gurus who teach us all kinds of things whether mathematics, art or whatever. The third kind is the spiritual master who helps one to be linked to God. And the fourth type is God Himself who says, “Sitting in your heart, I give you knowledge and memory” (Bhagavad-Geeta 15.15). We need all these gurus from time to time since we shall be totally helpless without them.
Everyone understands the need for gurus in the material field, say a tennis coach but not many appreciate the need for a spiritual teacher. Spiritual knowledge is the highest knowledge and is therefore not so easy to understand or assimilate. For that a spiritual master is required. Therefore, Lord Krishna in Bhagavad-Geeta, recommends : “Just approach a person who has seen the truth in a mood of humility and service” (4.34 ).
This article is limited to the discussion of a spiritual guru only. Therefore, the essential qualities of such a person are mentioned herein. First and foremost, a guru should possess sufficient knowledge of the spiritual science. Next, he should be able to explain it to others and remove their doubts. The third requirement is that a guru must be a practitioner of whatever he is preaching and must show by his own example that spiritual knowledge is practical and not just theories or blind faith only. And, he should never claim to be God.
Since it is difficult enough for common people to have faith in the real God, a guru only makes it more difficult by claiming to be God. Such a person should not make false promises in the name of God and should not profess to have powers to create miracles. And, most importantly he should not claim to have some kind of special privilege over his disciples ; the kind feudal masters exercised over their bonded labours, that is, he allows his disciples to keep their independence of thought and action. If one can find such a person, one should be very eager to accept him as a guru.
Why is this institution of guru then so degraded today ?. There is all-round negative preaching based on scaring people into submission in the name of God, requiring people to renounce their everything, convincing them to welcome sufferings. That is bogus, negative interpretation of the scriptures. New theories are founded on self-made assumptions, making the followers hate others who may be competitors. All these make everything very complicated and mysterious whereas the scriptures are meant for the common people and are not so complicated. False gurus make their followers wholly dependent on themselves and finally impose dubious ritualism on their followers.
We should never forget that all of us require peace, happiness and security - and not misery. If the spiritual master cannot help in obtaining these things, we are certainly better off without such a person. But let us not despair. There are many genuine bonafide practitioners of spiritual science who can help, like an expert doctor who cures his patients.
As human-beings, we deserve the best and only a proper person can help. We should search far and wide for such a person with the qualities mentioned above. Because when we meet such a person, he shall help us to connect with God which is a crying need for one and all in order to obtain peace, happiness and a sense of security and well being.