WHO IS A GURU?
The sacrad Gita (verse 17) aptly describes the guru as dispeller of darkness? (gu means darkness and ru, means that which dispels?). A true, God-illumined guru is one who, in his attainment of self-mastery, has realized his identity with the omnipresent Spirit. Such a one is uniquely qualified to lead the seeker on his or her inward journey toward perfection.
The blind cannot lead the blind,? said Paramahansaji.Only a master, one who knows God, may rightly teach others about Him. To regain one’s divinity one must have such a master or guru. He who faithfully follows a true guru becomes like him, for the guru helps to elevate the disciple to his own level of realization.?
The guru-disciple relationship is the highest expression of friendship, for it is based on unconditional divine love and wisdom. It is the loftiest and most sacred of all relationships.
For success in the divine search, as in every other aspect of life, it is necessary to follow laws created by God. To understand the secular knowledge available in a school, you have to learn from a teacher who knows it. So also to understand spiritual truths it is necessary to have a spiritual teacher, or guru, one who knows God.
Excerpts from the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda All that I am, all that the world itself will some day be, is owing to my Master, Shri Ramakrishna, who incarnated and experienced and taught this wonderful unity which underlies everything, having discovered it alike in Hinduism, in Islam, and in Christianity.
The word Guru is mentioned in the earliest layer of Vedic texts. The hymn 4.5.6 of Rigveda, for example, states Joel Mlecko, describes the guru as, “the source and inspirer of the knowledge of the Self, the essence of reality,” for one who seeks.
The Upanishads, that is the later layers of the Vedic text, have explained more about guru. Chandogya Upanishad, in chapter 4.4 for example, declares that it is only through guru that one attains the knowledge that matters, the insights that lead to Self-knowledge. The Katha Upanisad, in verse 1.2.8 declares the guru as indispensable to the acquisition of knowledge. In chapter 3 of Taittiriya Upanishad, human knowledge is described as that which connects the teacher and the student through the medium of exposition, just like a child is the connecting link between the father and the mother through the medium of procreation. In the Taittiriya Upanishad, the guru then urges a student, states Mlecko, to “struggle, discover and experience the Truth, which is the source, stay and end of the universe.” Wikipedia
Swami Vivekanana, explains this beautifully in his commentary of Patanjali Sutra. He describes the word Guru as apta or a Yogi. He says, Yogi, the pure one, has gone beyond all this. Before his mind, the past, the present, and the future, are alike one book for him to read; he does not require to go through all this tedious process, and his words are proofs, because he sees knowledge in himself; he is the Omniscient One. These, for instance, are the authors of the Sacred Scriptures; therefore the Scriptures are proof, and, if any such persons are living now, their words will be proof. Other philosophers go into long discussions about this Apta, and they say, what is the proof that this is truth? The proof is because they see it; because whatever I see is proof, and whatever you see is proof, if it does not contradict any past knowledge. There is knowledge beyond the senses, and whenever it does not contradict reason and past human experience, that knowledge is proof. Any madman may come into this room and say that he sees angels around him, that would not be proof. In the first place it must be true knowledge, and, secondly, it must not contradict knowledge of the past, and thirdly, it must depend upon the character of the man. I hear it said that the character of the man is not of so much importance as what he may say; we must first hear what he says. This may be true in other things; a man may be wicked, and yet make an astronomical discovery, but in religion it is different, because no impure man will ever have the power to reach the truths of religion. Therefore, we have first of all to see that the man who declares himself to be an Apta is a perfectly unselfish and holy person; secondly that he has reached beyond the senses, and thirdly that what he says does not contradict the past knowledge of humanity.
Swami Vivekananda goes on to add that we should not blindly follow Guru but also decide it be reasoning, He says, ” Any new discovery of the truth does not contradict the past truth but fits into it. And, fourthly, that truth must have a possibility of verification. If a man says “I have seen a vision,” and tells me that I have no right to see it, I believe him not. Everyone must have the power to see it for himself. No one who sells his knowledge is an Apta. All these conditions must be fulfilled; you must first see that the man is pure, and that he has no selfish motive; that he has no thirst for gain or fame. Secondly, he must show that he is super-conscious. Thirdly, he must have given us something that we cannot get from our senses, and which is for the benefit of the world. And we must see that it does not contradict other truths; if it contradicts other scientific truths reject it at once. Fourthly, the man should never be singular; he should only represent what all men can attain. The three sorts of proof, are, then, direct sense perception, inference, and the words of an Apta.”