Who is a Sadguru and his role in our life!

"Many cannot even hear about the soul, and even after hearing about the soul, many cannot understand it; this is because it is hard to find the Guru who is a genuine seer of the truth. Such a qualified Guru is a great soul and is very rare. At the same time, realization of the truth can be had only by those disciples who carefully follow the qualified Guru’s teachings and become expert in the science of God. Such disciples are also very rare. Thus it is that only a few ever come to know the soul in truth."- (Katha Upanisad, 1.2.7.)

The Role of the Guru

tad viddhi pranipatena
pariprasnena sevaya
upadeksyanti te jnanam
jnaninas tattva-darsinah

"Just try to learn the Truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the Truth." (Bhagavad Gita, 4:34)

The concept of practising spiritual life under the guidance of an authentic and qualified guru, or spiritual teacher, has always been the central point of spiritual path. So important has the role of the guru always been in Vedic culture, that there is no Hindu tradition or sampradaya (school of thought) in all of Sanatana Dharma that does not offer the greatest of respect to the importance of the guru. The great Vedantic text known as the Vedanta-sara paints the following dramatic picture in order to convey the importance of having a guru in one's spiritual pursuit:

janana-maranadi-samsaranala-santapto dipta-sira jala-rasim iva
upahara-panbm sotriyam brahma-nistham gurum upasrtya tam anusarati

"Just as a person whose head is on fire runs to water, one who burns from the flames of birth, death, old age, and disease in the holocaust of material existence must run to a genuine guru for relief. Such a guru must be fixed in the Absolute Truth and well-versed in the scriptures. One should approach him with all that is needed for sacrifice and submit to him as a disciple, ready to carry out his every instruction." (Vedanta-Sara, 11)

Ajnana-Timirandhasya Jnananjana-Salakaya;
Chakshurunmilitam Yena Tasmai Sri Gurave Namah.

Salutations to that guru who opened the eye of one blind due to the darkness of ignorance with a needle coated with the ointment of knowledge. (Guru Gita).

The Guru is God Himself manifesting in a personal form to guide the aspirant. Grace of God takes the form of Guru. To see the Guru is to see God. The Guru is united with God. He inspires devotion in others. His presence purifies all.

The Guru is verily a link between the individual and the Immortal. He is a being who has raised himself from this into “That”, and thus has a free and unhampered access to both the realms. He stands, as it were, upon the threshold of immortality; and bending down, he raises the struggling individuals with his one hand, and with the other lifts them up into the empyrean of everlasting joy and infinite Truth-Consciousness.

Interestingly, the very word "guru" itself is actually a somewhat generalized term that simply means a competent teacher of any kind. Any skilled expert who is authorized to teach a specific subject can be considered a guru in the most general of senses. When the word is used in the overtly spiritual sense, however, then we are talking about a guru of a categorically different nature. The spiritual guru is specifically designated as a "Sadguru" or a teacher of Truth. It is the sadguru, the conveyor of Truth, who serves as the underlying model of any and all other types of gurus.

The Sadguru

Mere study of books cannot make one a Guru. One who has studied the Vedas and who has direct knowledge of Atman through Anubhava can only be enrolled as a Guru. A Jivanmukta or a liberated sage is the real Guru or spiritual preceptor. He is the Satguru. He is identical with Brahman or the Supreme Self. He is a Knower of Brahman.

Possession of Siddhis is not the test to declare the greatness of a sage or to prove he has attained Self-realisation. Sadgurus do not exhibit any miracles or Siddhis. Sometimes they may exhibit them in order to convince the aspirants of the existence of super physical things, give them encouragement, and instill faith in their hearts. A Sadguru is endowed with countless Siddhis. He possesses all divine Aishvarya, all the wealth of the Lord.
The Sadguru is Brahman Himself. He is an ocean of bliss, knowledge and mercy. He is the captain of our soul. He is the fountain of joy. He removes all our troubles, sorrows and obstacles. He shows us the right divine path. He tears our veil of ignorance. He makes us immortal and divine. He transmutes our lower, diabolical nature. He gives us the rope of knowledge and save us when we are drowning in this ocean of Samsara. Worshiping Guru and bowing to him with reverence, surrendering ourselves completely can help us gaining maximum in the spiritual path.

Guru is God. A word from him is a word from God. He need not teach anything. Even his presence or company is elevating, inspiring and stirring. The very company itself is self-illumination. Living in his company is spiritual education. Reading “Sri Granth Sahib”, we get to know the greatness of Guru.

Man can learn only from a man, and hence God teaches through a human body. In our Guru, we have our human ideal of perfection. He is the pattern from which we wish to mould ourselves. Our mind will readily be convinced that such a great soul is fit to be worshipped and revered.

Guru is the Moksha-Dvara. He is the gateway to the transcendental Truth-Consciousness. But, it is the aspirant that has to enter through it. The Guru is a help, but the actual task of practical Sadhana falls on the aspirant himself.

According to the Bhagavat Purana:

tasmad gurum prapadyeta
jijnasum sreyam uttamam
sabde pare ca nisnatam
brahmany upasamasrayam

"One who is searching for the Ultimate Truth must surrender unto a spiritual master, a guru. A guru knows the inner meaning of the Vedas, is fixed in the Absolute Truth and is expert in the shastra, the revealed scriptures." (Bhagavat Purana, 11.3.21)

More than merely being a teacher in the formal academic sense, the Sadguru is recognized as also being someone who possesses divine qualities due to his own years of practice and inner realization, and who thus perfectly personifies the fruit of spiritual teachings in his own life.

acinoti yam sastrartham
acare sthapayaty api
svayam acarate yasma
acharyas tena kirtitam 

"An Acharya is one who fully understands the conclusions of the revealed scriptures. His own behavior reflects his deep realization, and thus he is a living example of divine precept. He is therefore known as an Acharya, or one who teaches the meaning of the scriptures both by word and deed." Hence a Sadguru! (Vayu Purana)

The qualified and authentic guru is not merely someone who teaches the Truth verbally, but who also lives that Truth perfectly, and who then reflects that Truth to his students in a living and dynamic way.

In the present Age of Conflict (Kali Yuga), unfortunately, we often encounter unqualified and self-anointed individuals who claim to be gurus while often falling very far short of the true meaning of this term. Often such unqualified persons do not possess the prerequisite qualities, training, and characteristics necessary to call themselves a guru in the authentic and scripturally-based sense of this term. Some of these guidelines are outlined in the Bhagavad Gita:

duhkhesv anudvigna-manah
sukhesu vigata-sprhah
sthita-dhir munir ucyate

"One who is not disturbed in spite of the threefold miseries, who is not elated when experiencing pleasantness, and who is free from attachment, fear and anger, is called a sage of steady mind. (Bhagavad Gita, 2:56)

Thus, the sadguru (true guru) is inwardly detached and transcends the sufferings of this world, accepting material pleasure and pain, suffering and pleasantness with equal demeanor. It is as a result of the true guru's transcendent status - and the consequent calm, peace, and gravitas that the guru exudes at all times - that the true guru has the ability to help his student to similarly transcend the darkness of ignorance.

When a sincere student and a qualified sadguru finally do find each other, and unite in the eternal process of spiritual exchange — the guru sharing his insight, instruction, and empowering presence with the student; and the student learning and growing spiritually with humility, sincerity, openness and eagerness — we then witness the perfect conditions necessary for the celebration and living of Truth. If you are seeking Truth, then seek the guidance of one who has seen the Truth. Seek the sadguru.

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