Let’s talk about Who is a Guru?
Once Avatar of Lord Vishnu, Lord Ram went to Vashista to gain knowledge. He was also a student of Vishwamitra as well. Another Avatar of Lord Vishnu, Lord Krishna goes to Guru Sandipani to gain knowledge. If we talk about Mahabharata, Pandavas and Kauravas went to Guru Dronacharya to learn. Something common in every example is Guru. Everyone needed a guru to gain knowledge and to know the right way for them. If we notice some other examples, we get to know that everyone needs a guru in life. In the same Mahabharata, there was Eklavya who did not have a guru but he makes an idol of Dron Acharya and gains knowledge without going in front of Acharya. In Shrimad Bhagvat Gita, Dattatray tells the Yadu king:
आत्मन: गुरु आत्मा एव पुरुषस्य विशेषतः ।
तथा एत मे गुरवः राजन् चतुर् विन्शति आआश्रिता ||
श्रीमद् भागवत |
That means “Atma is my guru, still I have 24 other gurus to gain knowledge.”
He explains that his gurus are: the five elements, sun, moon, a small child, and a prostitute also named Pingla.
In Vedic Sanatan tradition, there are two types of ideology/gurus are mentioned. One says that we should be dependent on the guru and another tradition says that we should not be dependent on any guru we should be independent. If we think in detail about this, we get to learn that both are talking about the one common thing which is: if you develop a feeling of learning or open heart to learn something new then any situation or any person can become your Guru.
If we think about Shrimad bhagat Gita, Gita was not even there until Arjun does not decide to learn from Krishna.
शिष्यस्तेऽहं शाधि मां त्वां प्रपन्नम् |
श्रीमद भागवद गीता |
When Arjun accepts his discipleship, then and then only Lord Krishna becomes Guru and gives his knowledge to Arjun.
So, the important thing is to have a mindset to learn something new. The word Guru is made of two parts; gu and ru. Adhvaitarak Upanishad has given a very amazing definition of guru. That is:
गुकारः तु अन्धकारस्य रुकार: तेजोच्यते ।
अन्धकार निरोधत्वात् गुरुः इत्यभिधीयते ।।
अद्वयतारक उपनिषद |
Gukar means darkness and Rukar means light. The one who removes the darkness of ignorance and gives us the light of knowledge is Guru. Darkness can be in form of anything. It can be a mathematical problem, it can be a question from history, something from economics, or about music. In this definition, darkness means the things we don’t know about. Someone who can teach you from cosmic to supernatural subjects is called your guru. Any person from whom you have learned even a single word is your guru.
If you notice our Sanskrit literature, the words used to teach are synonymous with the guru. For example; someone who teaches us any subject is called an adhyapak, Shikshak, or teacher. Those who make us an expert in some subjects are called as Acharya. Those who are already experts in their field are called Pandit or Shastri. Some subjects like sports, music, dance, science, economics, etc. we can learn if we try to learn them with logic and full concentration. But there are some subjects which we cannot learn with logic. So, the person who can teach us very different subjects like that is called Siddh or Tantric. And most importantly, who gives us knowledge about God and this universe is called Yogi.
There is a verse from Guru Gita which shows the importance of guru in life.
गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णु र्गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः |
गुरु साक्षात परब्रह्मा तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ||
Guru Gita comes from Skand puran. In that partavti ji asked a question to Lord Shiva,
भगवन् सर्वधर्मज्ञ व्रतानां व्रतनायकम् ।
ब्रूहि मे कृपया शम्भो गुरुमाहात्मयम् उत्तमम् ।।
गुरु गीता, पार्वति देवी
That means: oh Lord, oh Guru of all the subjects, tell me the importance of Guru. Then Lord Shiva explains who is the guru and what is the importance of Guru to Paravati Ji. In which Lord shiva talks about seven types of Gurus.
- Suchakya Guru: a person who teaches us about any subject. Someone who teaches us the skills.
- Vachaka Guru: a person who teaches like a coach. Vachaka Guru gives a skills-based education and also teaches about what to do and what not to do.
- Bodhaka Guru: someone who works as a coach, gives skills-based knowledge, and develops your personality also.
- Nishidha Guru: someone who teaches you how to behave, and how to react if you get some failure.
- Vihita Guru: someone who makes us understand the nature of this word. Someone who brings detachment in us. Everyone should stay away from them.
- Karnakhya Guru: someone who shows the real world to us.
- Param Guru: one who teaches us about Karma and dharma.
In another verse, there have been talking about six more Gurus.
प्रेरक सूचकश्चैव वाचको दर्शकस्तथा ।
सिक्षको बोधकश्चैव षडेते गुरवः स्मृता ।।
महर्षि वेद व्यास |
One who gives us motivation, one who gives us information, one who tells us the truth, one who guides us, one who teaches us any subject, one who gives knowledge from their experience. These six people are mentioned as gurus in the scriptures. You will not find a guru in anyone. Once you make up your mind to learn something from someone; then and then only you can find a guru.
May you all find your guru in your life.