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Do we need a Guru?

sreekrishna_at_mmd.com
Date: Thu Sep 14 1995 - 14:29:28 PDT

Recently I submitted the following note on Guru to our Temple news letter 
Aradhana. 
SIGNIFICANCE OF A GURU
(By Koti Sreekrishna)

Guru (spiritual teacher or Acharya)  has a supreme place in our tradition. The
word Guru is made of two parts: Gu means darkness or ignorance and ru means
dispeller or remover.  Thus Guru literally means remover of ignorance.  Gurus
can be male or female, old or young, and come in all shapes, sizes, castes  
and
colors.  The Guru-disciple(Shishya) relationship is perhaps the most sacred
relationship in the Hindu tradition. Right from the Vedas (Acharya Devo Bhava-
Teacher is like God) to the colloquial way the youngsters  address their
friends across India (Khya Guru, Yenu Guru, Yenna Vaadhyare, etc.) imply how
deeply the word Guru has percolated into our culture.  A special day "Guru
Poornima" is dedicated during July-August months ( for this year, the Guru
Poornima festival falls on August 10) to pay respect to Guru.  We may argue
that in the ancient times there was no press  or phone or radio or television
and the only means of communication was through word of mouth and thus the
Guru-shishya tradition started.  why has it sustained right to this day ?  The
reason for this is that the role of Guru is more than just communication of
information. The ten-fold qualities of a Guru are as follows:

1. Guru is true, simple, and direct.
2. Guru does not steal our money, instead steals only our ignorance and 
anxiety.
3. Guru can lead us to a spiritual path without severe asceticism.
4. Guru brings peace of a cave and the experience of solitude right to our
houses.
5. Guru lets us see the Himalayas and Kailash in meditation.
6. Guru does not give us wrong advice to renounce our property and wealth of
this world, instead makes us renounce our ego.
7. Guru breaths in a divine factor and help us to transform our mundane life
into a sacred existence. 
8. Guru bestows a new life in which we can face all sorrows cheerfully. 
9. Guru makes us attain perfection in this very world.
10. With the grace of a Guru we will be able to see this world as heaven and 
not
as a place of sorrow and suffering.

Do we absolutely need to have a Guru? I suppose, it is possible to reach the
goal in our spiritual journey without the aid of a Guru.  However, it is lot
easier with the grace of a Guru. As the Katha Upanishad states    " To many it
is not given to hear the God within. Many, though hear of it, do no understand
it. Wonderful is he who speaks of it.  Intelligent is he who learns of it.
Blessed is he who, taught by a Guru  is able to  understand it".  Thus, we may
look upon  the Gurus as road maps to our spiritual journey.  A Guru will wake 
us
up and may even walk with us side by side, but no Guru will carry us on his
shoulder and deliver us to final destination.  That we have to do our selves, 
as
declared in the Bhagavadgita  by Jagadguru (teacher of the universe) Krishna
thus: "One should lift one self by ones own self...."

Try to learn this Guru Mantra from Guru Gita:

Gurur Brahma gurur Vishnuh, gurur devo Maheshvarah
Gurussakshat param Brahma, tasmai shri guravae namah

The Guru is Brahma; the Guru is Vishnu; the Guru is the great God Shiva.
The Guru alone is the supreme Brahman, the absolute. 
To Him, the great Guru, I offer my salutations.

K. Sreekrishna/