The month of Aashaad in the Hindu lunar calendar marks the celebration of Guru Purnima. This year, Guru Poornima will be celebrated on July 30th. All the Hindu scriptures sing the glories of the Guru. All the deities sing the praises of the Guru. Who then is the Guru? Why is the Guru so important in our life? What is the significance of Guru?
The meaning of the word Guru is dispeller of darkness and this darkness is essentially ignorance. The English vocabulary did not have an equivalent for this Hindi word and has had to adopt it in its language. If it were to be translated as teacher, it would not convey the complete and exact meaning. Because a teacher transfers knowledge that he/she has received by going through an education system; the teacher is bound by work rules and regulations; the teacher is there for the student for a specific amount of time. The Guru, on the other hand is not bound by any worldly regulations, enlightens his disciple by the wisdom he has, and is there for the disciple for ever. In the Kabir Panth philosophy, the status of the Guru is greater than God. Satguru Kabir Saheb says :
“ Guru Govind Dou Khade, Kaake Lagoon Paain; Balihaari Vaha Guru Ki, Jo Govind Diyo Bataaye.”
How would the disciple have known God if it were not for the Guru? Only the Guru, who has had the experience of self-realisation, can enlighten the disciple on God. But Satguru Kabir Saheb goes further to say that not only is the Guru the dispeller of darkness, but he also elevates the disciple to the same level where he is.
“Guru Ko Kijiye Bandagee, Koti Koti Pranaam; Keet Na Jaane Bhringh Ko, Guru Karle Aap Samaan.”
The Guru is not there to maintain a supremacy and enjoy his status, but he is there to instill spiritual light to the disciple so that the latter can self-realist himself. Otherwise the Guru-disciple relationship has no meaning.
The relationship we have with others, i.e. family, relatives, friends, peers, pets, possessions are all bound by blood, physical links, emotional ties. In other words, we are related by body and/or mind. The Guru’s relationship is a soul-to-soul connection. A soul connection is eternal, and not limited to this lifetime. Satguru Kabir Saheb again and again reminds us not to treat the Guru as a physical being. Do not try to compare the Guru to others. Do not assess his physical attributes. The Guru is Shakti or the cosmic energy which is all encompassing. That energy is what constitutes the Guru’s existence. That’s why just being in the company of the Guru is so beneficial; having the darshan of the Guru is regarded as a blessing.
The Guru comes in our life to show us the path to liberation. He who is ready to surrender himself completely and unconditionally to the Guru can have this boon. How one complies to the Guru’s instructions and teachings and implements them in his life also determines the disciple’s progress towards liberation.