Guru means enlightener. He appears to be a human, is a human, but in reality is a tattva. Guru is considered a manifestation of the God himself. Guru is the most important constituent of this divine exercise. Without the Guru nothing is possible. It is The Guru who initiates the disciple into various disciplines according to the caliber and mental makeup of the aspirant. It is he who controls and guides the aspirant till the final goal is achieved. He is the link between the God and the individual sadhak. In the modern times there has been a tendency to erode or ignore this aspect due to ignorance. It should be very clear at the outset, the Divine Grace does not come without the Guru’s Grace. This is how this system has functioned over millions of years and there are no short cuts. Due to ego or other reasons some say, why a Guru to teach about God and meditation. The answer is simple; a human mind has to be taught A, B, C to whatever he seeks by a teacher in schools, colleges and universities. All secular and materialistic knowledge one learns from someone. Similarly, a Guru is needed for spiritual guidance.
Selection of the Guru will depend on ones slot of luck and few other factors like place one resides and proximity to a yoga institution etc. My advice is that select a Guru who is learned and can take the aspirant to the highest possible goal. It is a lifetime achievement. In the olden times people walked a thousand miles for this purpose. It is worth all the effort. A seeker needs help or guidance at every stage of spiritual ascent. A learned Guru can guide a disciple in both spiritual and secular life. There is a tendency to look for Gurus who are anchorites or Sanayasis (recluses who have given up the world à Monks). Both amongst the Sanayasis and the Householders one may find well-qualified persons to teach yoga and Vedanta. One may avoid very young men unless of the stature of Shri Adi Shankracharya or Saint Gyanehswar.
Guru is an institution and is not to be treated as a mere individual. Those who are not familiar with this system will actually not realize the value of the Guru till they actually experience the change that takes place after coming in contact with the Guru. The Guru may not immediately initiate an aspirant into a Mantra, but if he accepts to teach, it should be good to begin with. Do not feel small or put off if a certain sage does not accept you as a disciple, there can be many reasons for this, rest assured such a decision by a seer will in the interest of the aspirant. Some people hesitate to go to a Guru because they are not from this background or follow a different faith. A learned Guru Knows only one God Exists, he never interferes in the faith of an individual.
There is an apparent confusion in the minds of people as whom to approach for knowledge of the Self. Due to certain reasons even beauty parlors have become places for teaching meditation. This sort of system of teaching gives advantage in power and finances to unscrupulous elements who claim to be very learned. To be very candid, it is difficult to find a God-Realized soul. In Vedic system priests are valued and held in very high esteem. They are a respected and revered lot. They are there to perform rituals (Karma Kanda) concerning various aspects of ones life like name keeping, marriages, yajanas etc. Yogis (realized spiritual teachers only) are only qualified to teach meditation and Vedanta, not priests or Yoga asana instructors, this should be very clear in the mind. This has been written as there is proliferation of schools teaching yoga asanas etc as taught in schools and colleges, this system maybe only helpful in exercising the body but not in spiritual elevation and learning. Ones efforts are not likely to fructify if one lands up in wrong quarters.
The Guru holds the key to the entire field of knowledge. Unless he unlocks the knowledge by laying its seed (Diksha) in his disciple no meaningful spiritual progress can be made by anyone. This is no exaggeration but an absolute truth. Many people due to ego and ignorance consider taking up discipleship of a Guru as an act of degradation. Guru is the key. It’s stated in the Vedas that without the Guru’s grace the God’s grace doesn’t come. It has been experienced to be true.
Guru has to be taken very seriously. One is considered very lucky if one gets Guru of a high order accomplished in all aspects with deep understanding of both human and divine matters. He has to be revered and respected at all costs. He has to be served, and his instructions have to be followed in toto. Never show off or show your knowledge to the Guru, never argue with him or backbite or criticize the Guru, it is serious mistake if one resorts to such activity. Offenses committed against the Guru have very serious repercussions in the present and future births.
The sacred texts state that there are three things, which are very difficult to obtain in ones life. They are:
(a) Satisfaction (contentment).
(b) True Guru (preceptor who leads one to The Absolute).
(c) Satsang (Holy Company)
It is again repeated that Guru is sacred, the most important link between the God and the being. Never undermine his position. Many a beings have fallen down the ladder of spiritual ascendancy due to the wrath or displeasure of the Guru. The persons, who did not have a Guru, never progressed in this field of spiritual comprehension.
It’s through the blessings of the Guru that one gets sacred knowledge.
So much has been given in spiritual texts about Guru that it is difficult to express it all here. It is felt that the foregoing is adequate for a beginner to start off without being a green horn any more.