In pursuit of Guru…

Bro. Adorn Ansel
The question of ‘Guru’ still poses itself before this chaotic
world, with all its relevance it had had from the time immemorial. In a world like this,
where anybody and everybody can claim to be a ‘Guru’, the prominence of this
inquest gains much more significance. So, who can really be called a Guru? As
somebody has dotted down, “it is the one whose very sight makes our head bow”. To
be precise, just upon seeing him, our heads will bow. That is why if one is a guru, then
he must be such that he dissolves all ego. The cliché of that old guru, who asked his
aspiring disciple to empty his cup before he could fill something in, projects itself in
this context of defining a guru. It then gives way to another crucial question; “whom
should I make my guru?” or say it other way, “in whom should my quest for a perfect
guru come to its end?” . The whole life of a man, therefore, is spent, searching for an
ideal Guru.
The word ‘guru’ has its root in Sanskrit, which means gravity or weight (while used as
an adjective). It would then make a very blatant sense that ‘guru’ is the one who is
"heavy with knowledge," “ heavy with spiritual wisdom,”  "heavy with the good
qualities of scriptures” and so on. Quoting Advayataraka Upanishad would add a
little more clarity in defining a guru:
“The syllable gu means darkness, the syllable ru, he who dispels them,
Because of the power to dispel darkness, the guru is thus named.”

In other sense, the term "guru" is considered to be based on the
syllables gu (गु) and ru (रु), which stands for darkness and "light that dispels it",
respectively. The guru is seen as the one who "dispels the darkness of ignorance."
When a disciple approaches a guru, he must be possibly crammed with different kinds
of darkness, say it, darkness of ignorance or of vanity and the sort of things. The guru
must then, dispel the darkness with his light; the light which he has found within
himself, and that which is not fluttering.
An Ideal Guru
The Vendantic tradition specifies the major qualifications of a
true guru in this way: he should be versed in scriptures, he should be sinless, he
should be desireless and he should be established in Brahman. The scriptures are
accepted as the deposit of eternal, infallible truth and are the ultimate authority
regarding all transcendental truth. Naturally, the guru must be then versed in
scriptures. But it doesn’t make a sense that the guru must necessarily be an intellectual
who can critically analyze and evaluate the scripture. Because, the history presents

before us a good number of Gurus who were literally illiterate. Remember the story of
the priest who couldn’t sing the psalm of Good Shepherd like the playback singer did
and receive the audience’s applause, but could recite it in a way that it touched their
innermost souls and made them shed tears. The scholars may speak above the heads of
the people, but speaking to the hearts of the people – and that is the job of a true guru;
having digested the true spirit and essence of the scripture. Being sinless denotes that
the guru must be a man free from pride and vanity, hypocrisy and jealousy, falsehood
and worldly passions and egoism in all its overt and covert manifestations. As we saw
earlier, guru is the one who dispels the darkness from others. But what if the guru
himself is in darkness? He would produce the effect as that of a black hole! Only a
perfect man can lead others to perfection. And there is no middle road in it, either be
perfect or not perfect; a guru, thus, can’t claim to be somewhat perfect!
Being detached from external objects is expected of a guru.
But, the guru must be detached not only from the external objects, but above all from
his own petty ego. Every man has a conscious self which provides him with a sense of
identity. But the ego is something far from the real. So long as one does not overcome
the ego, one cannot enjoy the real freedom or any sort of spiritual illumination. Life is
all about having a lot of desires and meeting all those that seems worthy; the desire for
knowledge, for a career, for a family and for everything both spiritual and temporal.
When we have something before us, that is yet to be, we are not free until it is
realized. So, if a guru is to set some temporal goals before him, or taking an effort to
gratify a material desire, he would be directing all his energy towards that end.
Therefore it overtly implies that the only desire of a true guru must be Brahman, and
nothing else. Having detached from all forms of temporal desires, he is drawn to
dedicate himself completely, and without any self interest for the welfare of others, to
help them shatter their small egos and realize their real freedom in its fullest sense.
Finally, all these attributes take him to the ultimate quality, which is, being established
in Brahman. It means that the guru must enjoy an immediate experience of the Divine
and that he must be a spiritually enlightened person. This indeed becomes the
consummation of all other qualifications of a true guru. How can one light a candle
when he himself is not having a lighted one? One becomes a true guru when he is
illumined by the Divine Light. Everything that seemed to be dark before is now seen
in this new light, which is transcendental and which is uncontaminated. Such a guru
would illumine everything that falls under his vicinity. He is thus purified in this light,
becoming more altruistic and humble, more loved and loveable. He thus identifies
himself with the Divine – the Sat-Cit- Ananda.
Christ – The ideal Guru Par excellence
Christ has been presented as guru even from the very beginning of the arrival of the
Christian missionaries to India. Many thinkers have concluded that had Jesus moved

in Indian context, he would have been regarded as a guru; a real guru who is
undivided, non-dual or Advaita. We may also irreducibly understand Jesus as that of
Satcitananda Guru, the one who existed forever – the one who is both way and end of
self-realization – and the one who is the sea of absolute bliss. Indisputably, Christ who
is the ideal guru par excellence is the perfection of all the above mentioned attributes
of a guru. In him do we find a guru in the fullest possible sense. Christ, who is the
underlying principle and the validation of the scriptures, who is purity incarnated, who
is the end of all desires and who is established in and one with Brahman, becomes the
embodiment of an ideal guru. Even though Christ can be well described as a guru,
there is something that makes him unique or distinct. As we were discussing, guru is a
person who leads us on that path to the Ultimate while he too is on the same journey –
to be one with Paramatman. But unlike a mere teacher who shows the way to the
Ultimate, Jesus is God himself. He taught his disciples not only with experimental
knowledge as the other gurus did, but also with his own way of life – sacrificing his
own life on the cross being the ultimate lesson. It was a tradition that the disciples
prostrated before their guru; whereas Christ washed the feet of his disciples. Christ
never overburdened his disciples with the things that flew above their heads, he
always spoke in the language of the common man, touching their hearts. It was also a
convention that the disciples offered their guru some gifts at the end of their schooling.
But Christ reversed this convention by giving himself to his disciples. Though we call
Christ a guru, he was distinctly unique in every possible sense. And that uniqueness of
Christ is better expressed in the following lines:
If Socrates is wise, Christ is wisdom,
If Krishna is manifestation, Christ is the manifested one,
If Buddha is illumined, Christ is the light,
If Mohammed is prophet, Christ is the world,
These men served God as servants but Christ did as the Son.

A disciple asked the dying Buddha to give him something in memory of his beloved
master. Buddha gave him a jasmine, closed his eyes and passed away. As the beauty
and odour of the flower faded, so did the memories of the master from the disciple’s
mind. At the last supper, Christ took bread and wine, gave it to his disciples and said,
“Do this in memory of me”. And he still lives in you and me. In this quest for a guru,
being a religious and moreover a Christian, how can I advocate any other name than
that of Christ? Presenting Christ as an exemplary Guru, I don’t claim to be his all-
faithful disciple or the one who has set only Christ before the eyes. But like all others,
a small stream which goes through all the ups and downs, but still has that ultimate
destination – the Sea – in its heart.