Qualities of Guru

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Qualities of Guru : A Guru has all the qualities that an ideal teacher possesses. The Guru’s real quality is Ātmānubhūti (Self-realisation). However, since that cannot be comprehended with the intellect, only some qualities, which can be understood with the intellect, are listed here.

1.Qualities of Guru – Dnyānī (Knowledgeable)

1 A. One experiencing self-realisation.

1 B. Omniscient

  • A so-called Saint asked His Holiness Dr. Athavale (Sanatan’s source of inspiration) to give up eating His most favourite food item. Therefore, for one year He stopped eating custard apples. When in September 1990, Baba (His Holiness Bhaktaraj Maharaj) visited Him, He thought to Himself “Giving up custard apples etc. are trivial matters. These matters are meaningless. However, I will eat custard apples only if Baba Himself tells me to”. The next day someone brought custard apples for Baba. Baba said to me, “You too have one”.

  • Experience of Guru’s omniscience – Realisation that the Guru understands everything through the subtle from the fact that, He replied all the questions of a devotee though He had not read the devotee’s letters : A devotee used to send letters to Baba. Baba would reply to his questions when he came to meet Him. Therefore, the devotee was under an impression that Baba had read his letters. Once, when Baba was staying in the Ashram at Indore, His Holiness Dr. Athavale came across all those letters. Surprisingly, the envelopes of the letters had not been opened. Then He realized that the Guru understands everything through the subtle.

2. Qualities of Guru – The yearning to impart spiritual knowledge to a disciple

The Guru earnestly wishes to generously impart to His disciple the spiritual knowledge He has obtained from His Guru and other Saints.

Shrī Gurumahārāj used to have long conversations with His devotees. Even this would exhaust Him. Hence, sometimes His disciples would request Shrī Gurumaharaj to speak less. Shrī Gurumaharaj would then give answers with such intense yearning that it would stun the speaker. He would say that the disciples of Shrī Ramkrushna Paramhansa would also tell Him not to speak excessively and that Ramkrushna would then respond, “If even one individual is emancipated by my talk, I will be happy no matter what the consequences with respect to my health are. It is really a punishment for me if I am prohibited from conversing with those who love me so much and travel great distances to meet me. If I do not speak to them, meet them, then how will I remain in good health ?”

3.Qualities of Guru – Teaching only that disciple who will obey

In Gurucharitra (Adhyāya 47, Ovī 14) it is said that, ‘One who follows devotedly something told just once, only to such individual will I preach and he should perform it with the same devotion’.

4. Qualities of Guru – Teaching step-by-step based on the spiritual level

When a child is just learning to talk it is taught to utter small words, when it is just learning to walk it is done gradually; similarly, the Guru teaches the disciple step-by-step.

4 A. Finally, a disciple has to surrender everything – body, mind and wealth to the Guru. Despite this being so, a seeker in the initial stage finds it difficult to even listen to such words. Hence, during the 1993 Gurupourṇimā celebrations in Goa, Baba said, “Just as one eats to heart’s content and then does not bother about the leftovers in a plate, a seeker too should enjoy worldly pleasures to the maximum and sacrifice as much as the leftovers, but then not think about it anymore.”

This is meant only for a seeker in the primary stage. Someone misinterpreted it and thought that Baba advises only sacrificing that little and not surrender everything.

5.Qualities of Guru – Examining the homework

If spiritual practice is not taking place appropriately, then just as a good teacher asks his students to do homework, corrects it, takes tests, etc., a Guru should be able to ask His disciples about it. Hence, some Gurus ask their disciples to write down God’s Name and check it regularly; while some Gurus tell seekers to speak about their thoughts and spiritual experiences with them.

6.Qualities of Guru – Teaching with a positive attitude

His Holiness Baba teaches with a positive attitude. He says, “Sing devotional songs, chant God’s Name, perform service etc.” He never preaches negative things such as ‘Do not drink alcohol, do not behave in this way etc.’

7. Qualities of Guru – Equality for all disciples

It is natural for a Guru’s love for a disciple to vary according to the disciple’s bhāv (Spiritual emotion) towards Him. This is akin to parent’s variable affection for their children. However, just as good parents do not display it, so is the case with the Guru.

Though the clouds shower rains equally everywhere, the water accumulates only in craters, while the raised mountains remain dry. Similarly, Saints do not discriminate. The bestowal of their grace on all is the same; however, the one with a pure antahkaraṇ who humbly surrenders to them gets deserving benefit in keeping with his faith.

8. Qualities of Guru – Protecting the disciple

If a disciple is desirous of Moksha (Final Liberation), then even if he commits mistakes, the Guru protects him. No matter how impulsive, stubborn, illiterate or incompetent the disciple may be, the real skill of the Guru lies in His taking care of that disciple. Even if a disciple is terribly annoyed with the Guru, the Guru Himself takes care of him. Once, a disciple of His Holiness Baba placed a pair of slippers on His photograph. Despite this, Baba did not get angry with him; instead, He continued to love him as before.

9.Qualities of Guru – Appreciating the disciple

A Guru expresses appreciation for His disciple off and on either in words or by bestowing him with spiritual experiences.

10. Qualities of Guru – The one without any expectation

of receiving Gurudakshiṇā (An offering)

  • Due to detachment and dissolution of the Guru’s ego and attainment of all-pervasiveness by the Guru, He does not aspire to acquire anything.

  • Since a Guru gets free spiritual knowledge from His Guru, He imparts it to others free of charge.

  • Divine Knowledge being invaluable, the Guru does not even evaluate it.

Reference : Sanatan Sanstha’s Holy Text on ‘Importance of the Guru, types and Gurumantra

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