The Essence of Guru
The science of soul or self is difficult to comprehend. Even after hearing about it, people cannot understand the soul (Gita 2/29). The understandig of self as part of God and beyond body is considered as the light of knowledge and accepting the self as the product of matter/ body is considered as the darkness of ignorance. Guru (Spirituaul Guide) is medium which takes us from darkness of ignorance to the light of knowledge. One who shows us this way of knowledge is our guru whether we accept it or not.
God is seated in everyone’s heart and gives knowledge from within (Gita 15/15). In reality, God is the Ultimate Guru because whoever receives knowledge, wisdom and enligtenment, he receives it from God only. The kowledge can be revealed from a particular individual, or from a particular scripture or any other source. That source of knowledge is considered the Guru but at its very core, it is God Himself who is the Guru of all(krishnam vande jagad-gurum). God within our heart arranges these different mediums of kowledge so that we can know Him and attain Him (Gita 10/11).
Gita and other Vedic scriptures emphasize to have gratitude towards these sources of knowledge. Anyone who takes us towards the light of knowledge is special. But that does not mean that those sources need to be blindly followed. There can be imperfect sources which can give us knowledge and one should accept what is right and reject the wrong. God within us should be the ultimate arbiter of what is right (Bhagavatam 11/7/20). Blindly following any source without inner judgment is discouraged.
In the path of knolwedge (Jnana Yog), Gita addresses the acceptance of the self-realized person as teacher (Gita 4/34), but in the path of action (Karma Yog) and the path of devotion (Bhakti Yog), Gita dees not indicate the need for a formal self-realized guru. The ceremony of diksha is actually acceptance of disciple’s eternal relationship with God. One does not need to have a binding formal relationship with the person who reveals knowledge. For example, the priest conducts the marriage ceremony between bride and groom and they are bound to each other for life. After the ceremony, the relationship is formed between hustand and wife and the priest’s work is complete. Same way, Guru connects the soul to God and the connection between soul and God becomes the main focus. Guru helps the person to be in front of God and does not to put himself in front of the person. Our duty is to be connected with God and not to develop a binding relationship with a Guru. Our relationship with God is eternal because we are part of God (Gita 15/7). Right now, we have forgotten that relationship. Guru’s role is to recall that forgotten relationship with God and not to form a new one with the Guru.
That One, from whom we receive knowledge and wisdom, from whom the true path is revealed, from whom the duties of life become known, from whom direction and goal of life becomes crystal clear, that is the essence of the guru (Guru Tattva). That Guru Tattva is within you. That Guru Tattva reveals the truth whether it comes from person, scripture etc. Guru Purnima is the day when the seeker shows gratitude to Guru within and the different spiritual gurus who have helped him to go towards light. This gratitude is important part of seeker’s eveyday life but this day is specially dedicated to honor it.