Guru has a prime place in the Kabir Panth faith. Everything is centered around the Guru, who is the guide, preceptor, and incarnation of God. All worship and devotion is done only and only to the Guru. The relationship between the Guru, God, and the disciple is a sacred one.
As human beings, we all have the potential of reaching to that higher consciousness which is the ultimate door to enlightenment. There is a saying that when the chela is ready, the Guru will appear. What this exactly means is that when the disciple has been able to reach to a level of consciousness which will allow him to connect with God’s consciousness, then the Guru will grace him with awakening. In other words, Guru and God are one. Satguru Kabir Saheb says that the Guru has the duty of elevating the disciple to his level.
“Paaras Aur Sant Men, Baro Antaro Jaan; Wo Lohaa Kanchan Kare, Yeh Karle Aap Samaan.”
So, if the Guru is one with God, and he engages in elevating the disciple to his level, ultimately the goal is for the disciple to realise God.
A physical Guru, who is a true Guru, will impart knowledge to the disciple with the objective of explaining to him his existence, and how to commune with God. The Guru clears all the doubts and confusions from the mind of the disciple. The very meaning of Guru is elucidated in this saakhee:
“Gu Andhiyaaree Jaaniye, Ru Kahiye Parkaas;
Mite Agyaan Tam Gyaan Te, Guru Naam Hai Taas.”
He is the true Guru who removes the veil of ignorance and enlightens the disciple. However the disciple is the one who has to pursue his task of realising God within himself, opening himself to the Higher Consciousness. This is achieved by practicing meditation. During meditation, the disciple shuts himself off to the outer world and focuses on the divine presence of God within himself. In this process, he loses all the identities he associates himself with in the outer world, i.e. father, son, student, worker, etc. Those identities are roadblocks to his uplifting; realising his true self is the ultimate goal.
Both the Guru and the disciple have to be worthy of each other for them to be successful in their individual roles. If there is no mutual understanding between them of what each one has to do for one another, they will not be able to fulfil their duties.
“Guru Naam Hai Gamya Kaa, Sheesh Seekh Le Soee;
Binu Pad Binu Marjaad Nar, Guru Sheesh Nahin Koee.”
In other words, the Guru is the one who imparts knowledge of truth and the disciple is the one who learns from his Guru. Without each one being worthy of their respective statuses, none of them can assume their respective roles. Only when each one assumes his responsibility as he should can there be success. The following story illustrates how both the Guru and the disciple have to be worthy of each other.
There once was a great Sufi Saint by the name of Sheikh Abu Bakr Shibli, whom people revered and looked up to for initiation. Once there were two persons who wanted to be initiated. They went to see Shibli in his monastery. Shibli wanted to see each of them separately to assess whether they were worthy of being initiated by him. So, he called them one by one. When the first person went in to see him, he asked him to recite the following verse : “God is one; there is no other than Him, and Shibli is His Prophet”. Hearing this, the gentleman got upset and said : “How dare you speak like that? It is clear that you are a common man, a Sadhu, and there are thousands of Sadhus like you. Who are you to proclaim yourself as God’s Prophet?” Shibli told him that he was sorry as he was about to give a priceless gift to an undeserving person. He politely requested him to go see a priest in a temple who would be better suited to help him.
When the second person went in, Shibli asked him to recite the same verse. The second person expressed his disappointment : “What a pity! If you are only a Prophet, then I have come to the wrong place”. Shibli asked him who he was looking for to be his initiator, to which the gentleman replied : “I am searching for the Guru who has become one with God, but you are only God’s Prophet, His messenger”. He stood up and started to leave when Shibli touched him on his shoulder, saying : “Brother, you are the deserving disciple who needs to be initiated. I will initiate you to the mysteries of God and elevate you to my level.”
This story tells us how the disciple has to be ready to receive divine knowledge for the Guru to grace him. Only then will the disciple succeed in realizing God, and will the Guru fulfill his duty.