Meaning of “Guru”

Jai Gurudev

GURU – This one word has such a vast, such a deep and such a profound meaning that it is very difficult for any person to elaborate it. No language in the world has the capability to translate it and no amounts of words have the capacity to explain it. The stature of Guru is so exalted that even if one surrenders completely, he is only able to touch the tip of His toes – where Guru has His feet, a devotee or a follower is only able to place his head there. In other words, wherefrom the stature of Guru starts, (i.e., His lotus feet), devotee’s highest form, (i.e., his head) rests.

The translation of the word Guru, one comes across in English language, is a ‘Teacher’ or a ‘Master’. These words can at the most be understood in the commonly used sense of the word, but do not touch anywhere near the ambit of it’s entirety. The term Guru is one of the most intractable terms in Hindu philosophy – a philosophy which is the oldest and has a unique living tradition of over 5000 years, if not earlier.

Kabir, a well known Indian Saint and a highly exalted soul, in one of his dohas (couplet), expresses his inability to describe Guru. He says, even if he takes the entire earth as paper, water of all the oceans serve as ink and he makes pens out of all the trees of the world, yet he would not be able to describe the meaning and glory of the word “Guru”.

Such is the degree of reverence a devotee has for his Guru, that is reflected in the following doha of Saint Kabir :

Guru Gobind donon khade, Ka ke lagoon paayen,

Balihari Guru aapne, Jis Gobind diyo milaye.

Guru and Gobind (God) are both objects of reverence and worthy of worship but, Kabir puts ‘Guru’ at a higher pedestal than God. He says if both God and Guru condescend to give him ‘Darshan’ together, he would first touch the lotus feet of his ‘Guru’ before seeking blessings from the Lord, because it is He (Guru) who showed him the way to meet the Lord.

The word ‘Guru’ has been derived from two roots, ‘Gu’ and ‘Ru’. ‘Gu’ means darkness and ‘Ru’ means light. The one who dispels all darkness and takes you towards light is a ‘Guru’. The one who dispels the darkness of sensuous pleasures and pains (which are temporary and fleeting) and takes you to the light of eternal bliss (which is permanent and everlasting), is a ‘Guru’. The one who teaches you the art of taming the five wild horses – ‘Kaam’ (Passion), ‘Krodha’ (Anger), ‘Lobh’ (Greed), ‘Moh’ (Emotional attachment) and ‘Ahankaar’ (Ego) and helps you to take the chariot of your life in the right direction of inner peace, is a ‘Guru’. The one who helps you to break the shackles of birth, death and re-birth and attain salvation, is a ‘Guru’.

The one who holds your finger and conditions you to fearlessly travel from the illusionary material world, to the realms of spirituality so that you could be one with the Real One and realize the ultimate Truth – i.e. God, is a ‘Guru’

The word GOD symbolizes trinity of godly powers. One could say G stands for Generation, O for Operator, and D for Destroyer. In order to perform these three functions – to create, to protect and to destroy (the last function could better be called ‘to prune’ really) , the Supreme Lord, ‘Nirakaar’ (the shapeless) Mahashiv, created out of Himself, Brahma (to act as the Generator or the Creator), Vishnu (the Operator or the Protector) and Mahesh (the Destroyer or the Pruner). Prior to the creation of this Universe, was the Supreme Lord, ‘Nirakaar’ (shapeless) Mahashiv, called the ‘Paar Brahma .

A ‘Sat-Guru’ being one with the Lord, is His own manifestation representing His different Forms. Being so, Guru is ‘sarva samratha’ and is capable of performing anything and everything. He can Create, Protect, and Destroy. Being one with ‘Paar Brahma’, He is the manifestation of ‘Paar Brahma’ also.

To worship GURU in the true sense, our scriptures have given us the following‘mantra’:

Gurur Brahma, Gurur Vishnu, Gurur Devo Maheshwara,

Gurur Saakshat Paar Brahma, Tasmaye Shree Guruve Namah:

GURU and GOD are two different names of ONE power. It is equally true that when we worship God in the Form of Guru, we place Him at a higher pedestal. We are rewarded or punished by God by virtue of our own ‘karmas’ (actions). But when we worship God under the umbrella of Guru, who is benevolent and ‘bakshanhaar’ (The one who gives and forgives generously), we may be amply rewarded for our good ‘karmas’ and punishment condoned or curtailed for our sins committed innocently or otherwise.

One can add yet another dimension to it. In the Physical Form, Guru provides protection to his devotees, but when He leaves His corporal frame (physical form), in an ‘aatmic’ form He is still THERE, as a shapeless power. He comes to the rescue of his devotees in ‘Nirakaar Roop’ (shapeless form) whenever such a need arises. It is also within His power to attain any shape or to remain in shapeless form for as long as He wishes to. In the shapeless form, He is ‘Nirakaar’ Paar Brahma – the Supreme Power.

O my revered Guru,

Thou art the lofty imagination of the Lord Himself,

My salutations to Thee, My salutations to Thee.

Tasmaye Shree Guruve Namah: