CHOOSING THE GURU
If we find peace in the presence of a Mahatma, if we are inspired by his speeches, if he is able to clear our doubts, if he is free from greed, anger and lust, if he is selfless, loving and I-less, we can take him as our Guru. He who is able to clear our doubts, he who is sympathetic in our Sadhana, he who does not disturb our beliefs but helps us on from where we are.
We shall not use our reason too much in the selection of our Guru. We will fail if we do so. If we are not able to find out a Guru, we should follow the teachings contained in the books written by realized saints like Sri Sankara, Dattatreya and others. We shall keep a photo of such a realised Guru, if available, and worship the same with faith and devotion. Gradually we will get inspiration, and the Guru may appear in a dream and initiate and inspire us at the proper time.
For a sincere Sadhaka, help comes in a mysterious manner. So long as there is a world, there are Gurus and Vedas to guide the struggling souls in the path of Self-realisation. The number of realised souls may be less in the Iron Age when compared with the Satya Yuga, but they are always present to help the aspirants. Let each one of us take the path according to our capacity, temperament and understanding. Our Satguru will meet us along that path.
The Need for A Guru
For a beginner in the spiritual path, a Guru is necessary. To light a lamp, we need a burning light Even so, an illumined soul alone can enlighten another soul.
Some do meditation for some years independently. Later on, they actually feel the necessity for a Guru. They come across some obstacles in the way. They do not know how to obviate these impediments or stumbling blocks. Then they begin to search for a Master.
Only the man who has already been to Badrinath will be able to tell us the road leading to it. In the case of the spiritual path, it is still more difficult to find our way. The mind will mislead us very often. The Guru will be able to remove pitfalls and obstacles, and lead us along the right path. He will tell us: “This road leads us to Moksha; this one leads to bondage.” Without this guidance, we might want to go to Badrinath, but find ourselves in Delhi!
The scriptures are like a forest. There are ambiguous passages. There are passages that are apparently contradictory and others that have esoteric meanings, diverse significance and hidden explanations. There are cross references. We are in need of a Guru or Preceptor who will explain to us the right meaning, who will remove doubts and ambiguities, who will place before us the essence of the teachings. A Guru is absolutely necessary for every aspirant in the spiritual path. It is only the Guru who will find out our defects. The nature of EGO is such that we will not be able to find out our own defects.
The aspirant who is under the guidance of a Master or Guru is safe from being led astray. Satsanga or association with the Guru is an armour and fortress to guard us against all temptations and unfavorable forces of the material world.
Cases of those who had attained perfection without study under any Guru should not be cited as authoritative against the necessity for a Guru; for, such great men are the anomalies of spiritual life, and not the common normality. They come into existence as spiritual masters as a result of the intense service, study and meditation practiced in previous births. They had already studied under the Guru. The present birth is only its continuative spiritual effect. Hence, the importance of the Guru is not lessened thereby.
Some teachers mislead the aspirants. They say to all: “Think for yourself. Do not surrender yourself to any Guru.” Do not approach such pseudo-Gurus. Do not hear their lectures.
All great ones had their teachers. All the sages, saints, prophets, world teachers, incarnations, great men have had their own Gurus, however great they might have been. Svetaketu learnt the nature of Truth from Uddalaka, Maitreyi from Yajnavalkya, Bhrigu from Varuna, Narada from Sanatkumara, Nachiketas from Yama, Indra from Prajapati; and several others humbly went to wise ones, observed strict Brahmacharya, practised rigorous discipline, and learnt Brahma-Vidya from them.
Lord Krishna sat at the feet of His Guru Sandipani. Lord Rama had Guru Vasishtha who gave Him Upadesa. Even Devas have Brihaspati as their Guru. Even the greatest among the divine beings sat at the feet of Guru Dakshinamurti.
A neophyte, an inexperienced, must have a personal Guru first. He cannot have God as Guru to begin with. He must have a pure mind. He must have ethical perfection. He must be intensely virtuous. He must be above body-consciousness. Then alone can he have God as Guru.