English dictionary describes a guru as a person to whom we go to seek counsel. Hinduism holds a much deeper meaning of the word guru. Guru means the one who removes the darkness of life and encourages a person to move forward towards enlightenment and a better life. In Sanskrit, ‘gu’ means darkness and ‘ru’ means elevation of darkness. Guru is the one who guides a person towards his higher good. According to Hindu mythology, it is a quote that says –“ if there are God and Guru standing in front of you, you first bow down to Guru and then God” because it is the Guru who showed you the way to God. Such is the place of guru in a social structure according to Hindu traditions.
The main goal of human in this life is to attain nirvana and get out of the bondage of birth and death. But the mind misleads us often and keeps us engaged in Maya – the illusion of life and things around us. Forgetting liberation from the shackles of birth and death – to attain supreme nirvana and emancipation from this world one should first find a suitable guru and follow him/her.
The Guru will be able to remove pitfalls and obstacles and lead you along the right path. He will tell you: “This road leads you to Nirvana (enlightenment) and that one leads to the bondage.” The aspirant who is under the guidance of guru will not ever lead astray life.
Guru possesses the knowledge of all the worldly and non-worldly things. He helps a human by removing obstacles in the path of their enlightenment. A guru is the most learned man with deep knowledge of ancient scripts and scriptures. The Guru-shishya tradition in India is the transfer of teachings from a guru to a “shishya” (disciple). In this tradition, all kind of knowledge – simple knowledge and advanced knowledge is conveyed and received through the student with respect, commitment, devotion, and obedience. The student eventually masters the knowledge that the guru embodies. Upanishads are said to be formed on such bases.
It doesn’t matter how old a person is or in what stage of life he is in, he needs to make a decision on a day to day bases and also make bigger and more important decisions in life. For that, a person needs to see things just the way they are without any judgment or assumptions. This is called clarity and it is one of the many things that a person learns while following a learned guru.
A real and authentic guru is happy with even just one disciple.It is a shame to say this but nowadays many people learn a few sacred chants and pretend to be guru wanting to have many followers as their sole aim is to earn as much money as they can. These are not authentic gurus. So, a person should be very careful before putting his whole trust into someone he calls a guru. If you want to find a guru for yourself, then find someone in whose presence you find peace and inspiration to walk on the right path. Find a guru who is free from any kind of negative trait and is always leading you on the path of positivity. Find one who encourages you to do good karma. Once you choose your guru, follow him implicitly. It is said that God will guide you through your guru.
One of the famous mantras which talk about the greatness of guru is by Adi Shankara who begins his “Gurustotram” (Verses to the Guru) with the following Sanskrit Sloka:
“Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheshwara. Guru Sakshath Parambrahma, Tasmai Shri Gurave Namaha”
It translates that Guru is the creator, Brahma, Guru is the preserver, Vishnu, Guru is the destroyer, Shiva. Guru is directly the Supreme Spirit and I offer my salutations to Guru.