jnana - Timirandhasya Jnananjana - Shalakayas: Chakshurunmilitam Yena Tasmai Shri Gurave Namah- “Prostrations to the Guru, who, using the salve of Knowledge, opens the eyes of those rendered blind by the darkness of ignorance” (Guru Gita)
The Guru is God Himself manifesting in a personal form to guide the aspirant. The 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 purified all. Mere study of books cannot make one a Guru. One who has studied the Vedas and who has the experience of direct knowledge of human (soul) may be eligible as a guru, but the jivanmukta or a liberated sage is the real Guru or spiritual preceptor. He is the Satguru. He is one with Brahman or the Supreme Self. He is a Knower of Brahman.
Satgurus do not exhibit any miracles or siddhis (yogic powers). Sometimes they may exhibit them in order to convince the aspirants of the existence of metaphysical phenomena, give them encouragement and instil faith in their hearts. A Satguru is endowed with countless siddhis. He possesses all divine glory, all the wealth of the Lord. The Satguru is an ocean of bliss, knowledge and mercy. He is the captain of your soul. He is fountain of joy. He removes all your troubles, sorrows and obstacles. He shows you the right divine path. He tears to shreds your veil of ignorance. He makes you immortal and divine. He transmutes your lower, diabolical nature. He gives you the rope of knowledge and gives you a lifeline when you are drowning in this ocean of the mortal world.
Guru is the moksha-dvara: the gateway to transcendental Truth-Consciousness. But it is the aspirant who has to enter through it. The Guru can assist, but the actual task of practical sadhana falls to the aspirant himself.
For a beginner in the spiritual path, a Guru is necessary. To light a candle, you need a burning candle. In the same way, an illumined soul alone can enlighten another soul. The scriptures are like a forest. There are ambiguous passages. Therere passages which are apparently contradictory. There are passages which have esoteric meanings, diverse significance and hidden explanations. There are cross-references. Hence the need of a Guru who will explain to you the right meaning, who will remove doubts and ambiguities, who will place before you the essence of the teachings.
A Guru is absolutely necessary for every aspirant in the spiritual path. It is only the Guru who will show you your shortcomings. The nature of egoism is such that you will not be able to perceive your own defects. Just as a man cannot see his own back, so also he cannot see his own errors. He must live under the directions of a Guru for the eradication of his negative traits.
One who is under the guidance of a Master or Guru is safe from being led astray. Satsang or association with the Guru is an armour and fortress to guard you against all temptations and unfavourable forces of the material world. Lord Krishna sat at the feet of his Guru Sandipani. Lord Rama had Guru Vasishtha who initiated him. Lord Jesus Christ sought John to be baptised by him on the banks of the river Jordan.
If you find peace in the presence of a Guru, if you are inspired by his speeches, if he is able to clear your doubts, if he is free from greed, anger and lust, if he is selfless and loving, you can take him as your Guru. He who is able to clear your doubts, he who is sympathetic and helpful to you in your sadhana, he who does not disturb your beliefs but helps you on from where you are, he in whose very presence you feel spiritually elevated, is your Guru. Once you choose your Guru, implicitly follow him. God will guide you through the Guru.
Man has a twofold duty here on earth: to keep himself alive and to realise his Self. To preserve his life, he has to learn to work for his daily bread. To realise his Self, he has to serve, love and meditate. Only the ‘Diksha Guru’, or the Guru who imparts Spiritual Knowledge, leads you to liberation. A great philosopher said, “Listen to all, but follow one. Respect all, but adore one. Gather knowledge from all, but adopt the teachings of the one great Spiritual Master. Then you will have rapid spiritual progress.” ll