How does the Guru’s grace (Gurukrupa) function?

The success of any activity depends upon the functioning of the various components constituting that activity. Just as the hydro­gen bomb is more powerful than the atom bomb, so also is the subtle in comparison to the gross. This point will be illustrated by the example of the various methods employed to destroy the enemy, given below. The more progressive the step, the more effective it is.

A. Physical (gross)

Perceiving the whereabouts of the enemy with the five senses, for instance sensing the enemy or his movements, one can shoot with a gun. However, if he hides behind a struc­ture, motionless then the gunman will not be able to shoot him and therefore cannot kill him. Here, only a physical weapon is employed to kill. Different substances are used for different functions, for example different tablets are used as medicine for different disease causing germs, etc. Therefore if mere physical means do not help then they should be combined with subtle means as described below.

B. A combination of physical means and a mantra (subtle)

In the ancient times, arrows were shot from a bow only after chanting a mantra. Due to the mantra, the name of the enemy would get recorded on the arrow and no matter where the enemy hid in the three regions (trilokas) that is the earth (bhu), nether region (bhuv) and heaven (svarga) the arrow would certainly kill him. This was due to the energy of the subtle means (mantra) which accompanied the weapon (arrow). The motive behind chanting mantras while preparing medicines in the Ayurveda is the same. Similarly when removing a spirit responsible for possession blackgram (udid), marking nut (bibba), lime, needles, etc. are used to the accompaniment of mantras. Nevertheless, at times inspite of both the physical and subtle being present, one does not achieve much success. At such times a more subtle means, that is more powerful mantras should be used as given below.

C. Mantra (more subtle)

In the next step an enemy can be vanquished without using physical weapons like guns, bows and arrows, etc. In order to achieve certain things, for instance marriage, riches, etc. various mantras are prescribed. At times, however, even mantras do not yield results. In such cases the next step has to be implemented.

D. The resolve (sankalpa) [even more subtle]

Even a mere thought like ‘May it occur’ in the mind of an evolved person (saint) is sufficient for the occurrence of an event. Nothing else is required. However, this is possible only in the case of a saint whose spiritual level exceeds 80%. Only when a Guru makes a resolve ‘May this disciple progress spiritually’ does the disciple make real spiritual progress. This itself is termed as the Guru’s grace (gurukrupa). A disciple cannot make spiritual progress without it as otherwise the adi (one with a beginning) illusion persists.

E. The presence (most subtle)

In this final step one does not even have to make a resolve. Mere presence, prox­imity or company of the Guru is sufficient for a disciple’s spiritual practice and progress to occur automatically.

This has occurred because of Me But I have not done it.
He who has realised this is liberated From the cycles of birth and death.

– Shri Bhavarthadipika (Shri Dnyaneshvari) 4:81

Literal and implied meaning : In ‘This has occurred because of Me’, ‘Me’ refers to The Supreme God principle within oneself. ‘But I have not done it’ implies absolving oneself of the sense of doership. A beautiful example to illustrate this is the sun which awakens everyone and makes the flowers bloom, when it rises. This happens simply with its existence. The sun does not ask anyone to wake up or the flowers to bloom. The mission of a Guru of a spiritual level of more than 90% is of this nature. 

The Guru’s grace operates based on points ‘D. The resolve (sankalpa) and E. The presence’ given above.

What should one do to be blessed by a Guru (Guruprapti) and His grace ?

The only virtue responsible for being blessed by a Guru quickly and the constant bestowal of His grace thereafter, is intense motiva­tion for Liberation (mumukshutva) or intense yearning for a Guru. A youth strives to win a girl’s heart by constantly contemplating on what he should do to please her. Similarly, one should make all efforts to acquire the Guru’s grace so that the Guru calls one His own. One should constantly strive day and night to do whatever one can to please Him. In the Kaliyug, being blessed by a Guru or His grace is not as difficult as it was in the previous three yugs (eras). A salient point to be noted here is that one cannot be blessed by a Guru without bestowal of His grace. A Guru is already aware of who His future disciple will be. One should undertake the spiritual practice mentioned in the following points in order to acquire the grace of the Guru. The points are enumerated in ascending order of importance. Along with the practice of these points one should also try to develop the qualities of a disciple which are described in ‘Science of Spirituality : Vol. 3 – The Disciple, point 9. Qualities’.


What are the different types of Gurus as per our Scriptures?

Contents –

  1. Types based on the method of carrying out the mission
  2. Internal and external Gurus
  3. According to the Namachintamani
  4. According to the Pishchila Tantra
  5. According to the Kulagam
  6. Other types
  7. The Lord’s Name itself is the Guru
  8. The era and the Guru
  9. The Guru’s unmanifest (nirgun) form is superior to His manifest (sagun) form

1. Types based on the method of carrying out the mission

‘Ayurvedic doctors (vaidyas) are of three types – high level, moderate and low level. The doctor who merely advises the patient to take medicines after checking the pulse and does not bother whether the patient takes the medicines or not is of a low level. The one who convinces his patient in a nice way that “he will recover if he takes the medicine” is of a moderate level. However the one who seeing that his patient is not taking the treatment despite the best of efforts, places his knee on the patient’s chest and forces him to take the medicine is of a high level. In the same way, Gurus and teachers who preach and thereafter do not bother to find out whether the disciples are following the precepts are of a low level. The Guru who repeatedly tries to convince the disciples and showers His love on them so that the disciples may be able to realise His preaching and desires for their upliftment is of a moderate type. The ideal Guru is the one who if the need arises even forces the disciple to act in a particular manner, if he is inattentive or misbehaving.’ However an average person does not realise this as the force used here is not physical but from the subtle dimension.

2. Internal and external Gurus

‘There is not much difference between an internal and an external Guru. In reality, ritualistically worshipping the external Guru is worshipping the Guru established in one’s heart. One offers one’s heart to The Lord. One benefits internally from whatever one does for The Lord. Even the Gurugita quotes that the seat of the internal Guru is the triangle in the Sahasradal mandal –

“अकठादित्रिरेखाब्जे-सहस्त्रदल मण्डले ।
हंसपार्श्वत्रिकोणे च स्मरेत्तन्मध्यगं गुरुम् ॥ 58 ॥”

The internal Guru possesses the radiance of a thousand suns. The only difference is that unlike the heat of the sun, the radiance of the internal Guru is soothing. Every person attaining a high level of meditation gets a vision of the internal Guru. The Guru exists in the form of a continuously twinkling blue dot amidst the divine radiance of the Sahasradal. Once one realises the truth from the Omniscient Guru situated within oneself, one will experience that the external Guru whom one has been worshipping is no different than the internal one.’

Once the internal energy gets kindled, it becomes the Guru’s grace itself and begins to guide one. This guidance continues till one attains Absoluteness (Purnatva). Finally one realises that ‘I am now Absolute and was so even before’.

3. According to the Namachintamani

The Namachintamani describes the following twelve types of Gurus.

1. The materialistic Guru : The one who gets all sorts of spiritual practices such as undertaking pilgrimages, etc. done from the disciple and finally imparts spiritual knowledge to him.

2. The sandalwood (chandan) Guru : Just as a sandalwood tree imparts its fragrance to the ordinary neighbouring trees, so also He ferries His disciple across the Great Illusion merely by His company. The Guru whose mere presence generates fragrance in one’s life is the sandalwood Guru. Sandalwood imparts fragrance to others by being rubbed to a paste. Similarly such a Guru sacrifices Himself for the mission of The Lord and enlightens the world too. Such a Guru does not preach but teaches through His behaviour.

3. The thought Guru : The one who first teaches His disciple the ability to discriminate between right and wrong (vivek) and bestows Self-realisation at the pace of an ant (pipilika).

4. The initiation (anugraha) Guru : The one who bestows the disciple with spiritual knowledge merely by initiation with His grace.

5. The touch (sparsha / paris) Guru : Just as paris (a stone which transforms iron into gold) turns iron to gold with a mere touch so also the Guru imparts divine spiritual knowledge to the seeker with His touch.

6. The tortoise (kurma /kachchap) Guru : A female tortoise nurtures its little ones just by its glance. Similarly the Guru uplifts the disciple with His grace in the form of a mere glance.

7. The moon Guru : With the moon rise water starts oozing from the chandrakant gem. In the same way the Guru grants salvation to His disciple because of the flow of compassion from His antahkaran.

8. The mirror Guru : Just as one sees one’s reflection in the mirror the Guru imparts the realisation of Brahman to the disciple by granting him Self-realisation.

9. The chayanidhi Guru : A huge bird called chayanidhi flies in the sky. It is believed that the one on whom its shadow falls, becomes a king. Thus the Guru chaperones the disciple in His shadow and grants him the kingdom of Bliss arising from Self- realisation.

10. The nadnidhi Guru : Nadnidhi is a gem. It is believed that when any metal comes in contact with this gem the former immediately turns to gold. In the same way, upon hearing the pitiable voice of the seeker desirous of Liberation, the Guru endows him with divine spiritual knowledge at that very moment.

11. The heron Guru : The heron leaves its young ones on the banks of the sea and flies far away to fetch grass. During this search, time and again it turns its eyes skywards and thinks of its young ones. It is believed that no matter where the young birds are, this keeps them healthy. Similarly the Guru thinks of His disciple and bestows Him with inner Bliss.

12. The suryakant Guru : When the rays of the sun touch the suryakant gem, a fire is kindled. Similarly those seekers upon whom His gaze falls, attain Liberation when still embodied.

4. According to the Pishchila Tantra

1. The initiator (diksha) Guru : The one who grants initiation with a mantra acquired by lineage.

2. The teacher (shiksha) Guru : The one who teaches the various rituals and yogic paths of spiritual practice such as the superconscious state (samadhi), meditation (dhyan), concentration (dharana), chanting, verses in praise of The Lord (stava, kavach), purashcharans and mahapurashcharans.

5. According to the Kulagam

1. Inspirer (prerak) : One who inspires the seeker’s mind with an initiation.

2. Informer (suchak) : One who suggests the types of spiritual practice and initiation.

3. Speaker (vachak) : One who describes spiritual practices.

4. Guide (darshak) : One who shows the advantages and disadvantages of spiritual practice and initiation.

5. Instructor (bodhak) : One who explains spiritual practice and initiation theoretically.

6. Teacher (shikshak) : One who teaches spiritual practice and imparts initiation.

The determination of the intellect to undertake spiritual practice is the most important thing in the context of a seeker’s spiritual practice. Since the intellect takes a decision only after theoretical discussion, the instructor Guru is the greatest among all the Gurus.

6. Other types

1. ‘The Guru as a guide : He is the guiding force in the disciple’s life.

2. The questioner Guru : He leads the disciple to the real path by asking questions and giving hints or suggesting the right answers.

3. The Guru who gets rid of defects : The disciple lovingly and unhesitantly narrates his own defects to the Guru.’

4. The Guru of qualities : Lord Datta chose twenty-four Gurus each one possessing a quality complementing spiritual practice. They are referred to as the Gurus of qualities. (Refer ‘Science of Spirituality: Chapter 16 – Datta’.)

7. The Lord’s Name itself is the Guru

‘Other Gurus try to generate faith in Themselves among Their devotees but Baba always says, “Have faith in The Lord’s Name. The Name itself is your real Guru. It will show you the right path”.’

8. The era and the Guru

In the Satyayug since the average individual had a spiritual level of more than 60%, everyone received guidance from within. In the later eras however since the spiritual level went on declining the need for a Guru in the manifest form went on increasing.

9. The Guru’s unmanifest (nirgun) form is superior to His manifest (sagun) form

When at Indore, on 8/10/95 I (Sadhak) told Baba, “Inspite of Your illness instead of feeling ‘that I should stay beside and serve You’, I feel like writing books. I cannot serve Your manifest form wholeheartedly.” Upon this Baba replied, “Your feeling like writing books is right. That is The Lord’s mission. According to your destiny you will have to complete it. Anyone can serve this physical body.”


What is a disciple, without a Guru?

गुरुकृपा हि केवलं शिष्यपरममंङ्गलम् ।

Meaning: Only by the grace of the Guru can the disciple attain his ultimate benefaction, that is spiritual progress.

Once when we were with our Sadguru H.H.Baba, Baba said, “The Path of Devotion (Bhaktiyoga) is the best among all paths (yogas) in Spirituality”. We had the audacity to reply, “No, Baba the Path of Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupayoga) is supreme.” Baba was overjoyed and said, “You are absolutely right !”

Seekers who have practiced Spirituality through various paths for several years and not progressed beyond a particular spiritual level yearn to attain the Guru’s grace. On the other hand seekers who have made spiritual progress by the grace of the Guru get spiritual experiences to prove the absolute supremacy of this path. One cannot perceive the special features of a Guru by looking at His gross body with ordinary vision. That is why this book describes the qualities of a Guru, His teaching a disciple both verbally as well as through a dimension beyond words, the Guru-disciple relationship, the all pervading nature of the Guru from His point of view, His behaviour like an average person, His behaviour with other saints, the Guru hierarchy, the importance of India in the context of Gurus, etc.

Only those who have experienced happiness of the dual­istic state (dvait) of a disciple and Bliss and Serenity in the non-dual state (advait) of a Guru will realise why Saint Tukaram has written the following line in one of His devotional songs (abhangs) :

Tuka says may Thou grant us a birth
to experience the happiness (of devotion).

A foreigner asked a saint, “Could you describe the uniqueness of India as briefly as possible ?” The saint responded by saying “The Guru-disciple lineage”. We pray to the Guru that on reading this book atleast a few may realise how true these words are.

For a better understanding of the topic along with the English word the corresponding Sanskrut / Marathi word is given in brackets. Where a suitable English word is not available the Sanskrut / Marathi word is used with the meaning alongside.  – Compilers

[The comprehensive preface to the book ‘Science of Spirituality’ is given in ‘Vol.1 A: Righteousness (Dharma)’.]

Every evolved person (saint) need not be a Guru, howev­er every Guru is a saint. Thus most of the information in rela­tion to the spiritually evolved also holds good for the Guru. Information on spiritual evolvement of a Guru is provided elsewhere in this section. – Compilers


What is True nature of the Guru?

Contents –

  1. The nature of Guru
  2. God and the Guru
  3. Incarnations and the Guru

1. The nature of Guru

A. A disciple’s faith

‘The Guru depends on faith. In one’s faith itself lies the greatness of the Guru. The Guru too depends on your faith. He lies in your faith.’ – Saint

Implied meaning : In “The Guru depends on faith. In one’s faith itself lies the greatness of the Guru” the Guru refers to the Guru’s external form. Only if one has faith in a Guru can He function as a Guru. “The Guru too depends on your faith. He lies in your faith” refers to the Omniscient Guru within oneself.’

B. The clarifying reply

‘According to me the question expressing doubt is in itself the disciple and the answer giving the clarification is the Guru. As long as the darkness of igno­rance in the form of questions is not eliminated and the genesis of wisdom in the form of answers giving clarification does not occur, the debate shall continue. In reality the Guru and the disciple are one and the same.’

C. The Guru principle is one

All Gurus are the same internally though externally Their physical appearances may differ. Just as the milk oozing from any udder of a cow is equal­ly pure and clean, so also there is only one Guru principle in all Gurus and the frequencies of Bliss (Anand) emanating from all of Them are the same. Just as sea waves advance towards the shore the waves of Brahman / God, that is the Guru come towards the society. The taste of water in all the sea waves is the same. Similarly the principle in all the Gurus is one and the same, that is Brah­man. If a water tank has many outlets whether small or large, the same water from the tank flows out from all of them. However varied the shapes of bulbs maybe, when elec­tricity flows through them only light is emitted from all of them. In the same way, though Gurus differ in physical ap­pearance, yet the Guru principle that is the God principle in Them is the same.

The Guru does not mean a physical body. Since Gurus are devoid of a subtle body [sukshma deha] (mind) and a causal body [karan deha] (intellect) They can communicate with the universal mind and universal intellect. Thus since the mind and intellect of all Gurus is the universal mind and universal intellect, They are one.

2. God and the Guru

A. Similarities

a. God and the Guru are one and the same

The Guru is God’s manifest form while the unmanifest form of the Guru is God.

1. A bank has several branches. According to one’s convenience one opens an account and deposits money in a local branch. There is no need to take the trouble of going to the main branch situated elsewhere in a distant place, to deposit the money. In the same way spiritual emotion (bhav), devotion, service, sacrifice, etc. are easier to practise in the context of God’s manifest (sagun) form, that is the Guru, instead of doing them for the invisible unmanifest God. Just as the money deposited in any branch of a bank finally reaches its main branch so also service rendered unto the Guru amounts to that of God.

2. Vaman Pandit travelled all over India defeating great intellectuals. He took letters which showed that they had accepted defeat, from him. As he was returning with these letters of victory, one evening as he sat under a tree to perform the ritual of sandhya he spotted a brahmarakshas (a haughty, disdainful spirit of a Brahman) seated on a branch of that tree. At that very moment another brahmarakshas appeared and attempted to sit on a neighbouring branch. The first brahmarakshas stopped him saying, “This place is reserved for Vaman Pandit because his victories have inflated his ego.” Hearing this, Vaman Pandit tore all the letters of victory and retired to the Himalayas to undertake austerities. Despite several years of penance God did not grant him His vision (darshan). Dejected, he jumped off the cliff. Just then God held him and placing His left hand over his head, blessed him. Then the following conversation ensued.

Pandit : Why did You place Your left hand and not the right on my head ?
God : Only the Guru has the privilege to do that.
Pandit : Where will I meet my Guru ?
God : Atop the mountain Sajjangad (situated in Maharashtra in India).

Vaman Pandit then went to offer obeisance to Samarth Ramdas Swami at Sajjangad. Samarth placed His right hand on Pandit’s back and blessed him.

Pandit : Why did You not bless me by placing Your hand on my head ?
Swami : God has already done that.
Pandit : Then why did God say that ‘only the Guru has the right to place the right hand on the head’ ?
Swami : Both God’s hands, right and left are one. How did you not understand that God and the Guru are one and the same ?

3. Shankaracharya in His text Sarvavedantasiddhantasar-sangraha has said,
जन्मानेकशतैः सदादरयुजा भक्त्या समाराधितो ।
भक्तैर्वैदिकलक्षणेन विधिना संतुष्ट ईशः स्वयम् ।
साक्षात्‌ श्रीगुरूरूपमेत्य कृपया दृग्गोच्चरः सन् प्रभुः ।
तत्त्वं साधु विबोध्य तारयसि तान् संसारदुःखार्णवात् ॥

Meaning : When a devotee worships The Lord in the course of hundreds of births in a sattvik (sattva predominant) manner, with faith, following the Vedic scriptures and observing rituals, then in some birth, Lord Shankar is venerated and appears in the form of a Guru. Thus granting the realisation of the universal principle (the soul principle – atmadnyan) in its absoluteness He redeems the disciple from the worldly ocean of unhappiness. – 254

The same text also quotes,
शिव एव गुरुः साक्षात्‌ गुरूरेवः शिवः स्वयम् ।
उभयोरन्तरं किंचित् न द्रष्टव्यं मुमुक्षुभिः ॥

Meaning : Lord Shiva is the real Guru and the Guru is Lord Shiva Himself. Those desirous of Liberation should never think of Them as distinct from each other.

Lord Hari imparted Me with a blessing (prasad)
Because Guru and Govind are one and the same.
– Saint

b. After worshipping God devotedly He is appeased and arranges for one to meet Shri Guru and when Shri Guru is appeased The Lord manifests before oneself to grant a vision.

I follow the orders of the Sadguru of this world,
I at once uplift the one on whom He bestows His
grace. – 11 : 788

I am little attached to My devotees,
But I love devotees of Gurus immensely.
The spiritual emotion (bhav) of devotion is not attainable
without the company of saints (satsang). – 11:1527
– Shri Eknathi Bhagvat

c. Fulfilling one’s desire through The Lord, Guru and saints one gradually develops detachment (vairagya) while experiencing object pleasure and the one with desires becomes worthy of following the spiritual path. This phenomenon does not occur when the same wishes are fulfilled by subordinate deities (kshudradevata).

d. ‘Science of Spirituality : Vol. 7 – Supreme God, God, Incarnations and Deities’ enlists all the characteristics of God. Excluding those of the physical body, all the others are found in a Guru.

B. Differences

a. The following table clearly shows the externally vis­ible differences in God and a Guru.

    God The Guru
1 Duration of the manifest / unmanifest state    
A. Most of the time Unmanifest Manifest
B. Rarely Manifest Unmanifest
C. Their being in the company of average individuals Not possible Possible
2 Energy Destroyer and Saviour Saviour
3 Mercifulness Usually absent Present most of the time
4 Expectation that someone should undertake spiritual practice Absent
Devoid of expectation is He and doesnot expect devotees to practise Spirituality – Eknathi Bhagvat
[Present – in thestate of the embodied soul (jivadasha), absent – in the state of the God realised soul (Shivadasha)]
5 Privilege to place Hishand on the head inthe form of a blessing Absent* Present
6 From whom does Hesave ? From everyone excluding the Guru. Even God cannot save one from the Guru’s wrath. One has to humbly surrender at the Guru’s feet and plead for forgiveness. The Guru can save from God’s wrath.**
7 What does He endow once He is appeased ? A. Whatever the devotee wishes for That which isuseful to the disciple
B. From the manifest (sagun) The unmanifest (nirgun), that is God !

* Since God is in the unmanifest state He cannot place His hand in the manifest form ! If God does do it then He is named as some other deity.

** If Shrihari or Shritripurari get enraged with devotees,
Then Shriguru protects them with determination.
– Shri Gurucharitra 2 : 24

Implied meaning : Shrihari (Vishnu) and Tripurari (Shiva) are the Names for The Lord used in the Vaishnav and Shaiva sects respectively. If The Lord’s destroyer form gets angry just to teach something, then simultaneously The Lord’s saviour form, that is the Guru takes care of the devotee. However if the Guru, that is the saviour form itself is enraged then there is no solution but to ask for His forgiveness.

b. The disciple follows the advice of the Guru; hence he acquires spiritual knowledge of the unmanifest. God complies with what the devotee tells him, that is He attains the manifest form and appears before the devotee.

C. The Guru’s prayer to The Lord

When the Guru is in the state of the embodied soul (jivadasha)

Lord grant Me a disciple who has the knowledge of Brahman,
One who is supreme in spiritual emotion, an icon of devotion and love.
Detachment will occur in the one who has these qualities.
If I find such a disciple, I will be the happiest person,
I will shield the dear one from evil eyes.
Lord with Your grace grant Me a disciple
Who will carry on My work (of spread of Spirituality)
May he become Omniscient in the knowledge of Brahman and be upheld in glory in all the three worlds.
Tuka is calling out to You, My Lord Vithoba.
He is knocking at Your door.

D. God and the Guru from a disciple’s point of view

From the point of view of a disciple the Guru is superior to God.

3. Incarnations and the Guru

Guru’s mission is usually confined to two – four disciples while that of an incarnation is generally concerned with protection of society and the reinstatement of Righteousness (Dharma). Even incarnations possessing a human body like Lord Rama, Lord Krushna, etc. stayed with Their Gurus and acquired the grace of the Guru by serving Him. Of course, all this was meant to teach others.


Can a book or an Idol be considered ‘Guru’?

Gurus based on the form and absence of a Guru

The table below gives the types of Gurus according to the form and an outline of Their missions. This will clarify points such as the necessity of a Guru, who needs a Guru, etc. In this regard, from the worldly point of view the point to be considered is that till the thoughtless state, that is a spiritual level of 70 % is attained, spiritual evolution occurs faster if one has a Guru in human form. Thereafter for further progress a disciple mostly receives guidance from within.

    The form of a Guru Absence of a Guru
    Human Book Idol Others
1 Deciding the study according to the disciple’s capability Possible Impossible Impossible Impossible
2 Clarification Possible of doubts as soon as the doubt arises Possible Possible to a small extent only after doing a lot of reading Impossible Impossible
3 Duration required for little faith to develop Less More Even more A great deal
4 Encouragement, Possible teaching and testing Possible Impossible Impossible Impossible
5 Guidance with regard to decreasing destined and wilful actions and overcoming distressing energies which obstruct spiritual practice
6 Benefit derived by remaining in the company of the Guru due to His divine consciousness (chaitanya) Little
7 Benefits of the Guru’s grace Possible Impossible Little Impossible
8 Number of disciples abandoning spiritual practice midway Less More Far more Most Most
9 Duration required for spiritual progress
10 According to psychology the personality of a disciple which most matches the Guru’s form One who feels a great need for guidance One with an independent attitude One who feels the need for support One with an independent attitude One with an even more independent attitude
11 Generally the spiritual level % at which a disciple can derive the benefit 55 40 60 30
12 Efforts that a disciple /seeker has to make % 60 70 70 70 100
13 Qualities that a disciple requires Service and sacrifice Understanding the implied meaning Guidance from within Depends on the type High ego *
14 Amount of annual spiritual progress % 2-3 0.25 0.75 0.25 0.001

* Here ego refers to faith in oneself. If faith in oneself is not high then one cannot make spiritual progress without taking guidance from someone.


How is a ‘Guru’ superior to a teacher, a preacher or a Saint?

Contents –

  1. The teacher and the Guru
  2. Those who give spiritual discourses (pravachans) and Gurus
  3. An average individual, a seeker and a Guru
  4. A saint and a Guru

1. The teacher and the Guru

The teacher teaches for a specific period of time and only through the medium of words. On the other hand, the Guru continues to guide His disciple twenty-four hours of the day both through the medium of words and that beyond them. A Guru takes care of His disciple in any catastrophe while a teacher has hardly any concern about a student’s personal life. In short, a Guru pervades the entire life of a disciple while a teacher is associated with a student only for a few hours and that too confined to teaching a few subjects.

2. Those who give spiritual discourses (pravachans) and Gurus

‘The following table illustrates the differences in speech of those giving discourses and Gurus (saints).

Speech of those
giving spiritual discourses
Speech of Gurus (saints)
1. Planned Spontaneous
2. Artificial Natural
3. Arises from intellect Arises from the soul
4. Quotes of Saint Tukaram, Saint Dnyaneshvar, etc. Based on Self-realisation
5. Gross Contains divine consciousness (chaitanya)
6. The listener is bored in a while The listener can continue to listen for hours together
7. Doubts in others’ minds remain unanswered Doubts are clarified through answers without asking questions
8. Mostly ego is present Ego is never present.

3. An average individual, a seeker and a Guru

The table below gives the desire for performing a particular action, the total action (karma) and the act (kriya) and the proportion of the two in an average individual, a seeker and a Guru. An action implies to an act performed along with a motive whereas an act is devoid of a motive.As one makes progress in one’s spiritual practice, actions of the various bodies excluding the physical body go on reducing proportionately. Thus the total action and act go on diminishing.

  Desire to perform
an action
Total of the action
and the act %
Proportion of the
action and the act
Action %
Act %
1. An average individual One’s own wish (Svechcha) 100 90 10
2. A seeker Others’ wish (parechcha) 40 70 30
3. A Guru God’s wish (Ishvarechcha) 5 10 90

Saints give some guidance to accomplish some achievements, in both the materialistic as well as the spiritual realms. When a saint accepts a seeker as a disciple He becomes the latter’s Guru. A Guru guides only regarding achieving the realm without materialistic expectation (God). Once a saint commences His mission as a Guru His desire to help His devotees to overcome their worldly obstacles gradually decreases and finally ceases altogether.

4. A saint and a Guru

Every Guru is a saint, but the reverse is not always true. Inspite of this being so, majority of the characteristics of saints also apply to Gurus. They are given in ‘Science of Spirituality : Chapter 42 – The Spiritually Evolved’. The following table grossly compares a saint and a Guru both with a spiritual level of 80 %.

A saint
A Guru
Love for others %
Service %
Sacrifice %
      A. Quantity %
More of spiritual
More of spiritual
      B. Nature
Manifest energy %
Spiritual evolution *
More rapid

* Both saints and Gurus have a spiritual level of atleast 70%. After crossing 70%, spiritual progress is faster in Gurus than in other saints. They attain the level of a Sadguru (80%) and a Paratpar Guru (90%) faster than other saints attaining the same spiritual levels. This is because They are constantly engrossed in the mission of spiritually uplifting a disciple, while saints at times perform tasks from the Great Illusion, for the sake of Their devotees.

The Great Illusion of nescience (avidyamaya) and the Great Illusion of the Guru (gurumaya)

‘The Great Illusion (Maya) is of two types, the Great Illusion of nescience and the Great Illusion of the Guru. The former entraps the embodied soul (jiva) in ignorance while the latter liberates the embodied soul from it. Synonyms for the Great Illusion of the Guru are Prabhumaya and Harimaya (the Great Illusion of The Lord). The Great Illusion of nescience is so deceptive that it does not allow one to perceive its illusory nature. Even great saints have been deceived by the Illusion of nescience. For instance Saint Eknath failed to recognise that ShrikhanDya who filled water in His home and prepared a paste of sandalwood, was The Lord Himself. Only when the Illusion of The Lord unveiled the curtain of the Illusion of nescience by appearing as another devotee from Dvarka did Nath perceive ShrikhanDya’s true form.’


What are the qualities of a Guru?


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

1. One possessing spiritual knowledge (dnyani)

A. One experiencing Self-realisation

B. Omniscient

Few Examples are given below.

1B1. ‘One so-called saint asked one of Baba’s disciples (J.B.A.) to give up eating his most favourite food item. So for one year he had stopped eating custard apples. When in September 1990 Baba visited him, the disciple thought to himself “Giving up custard apples, etc. are trivial matters. They are meaningless. But I will eat custard apples only if Baba Himself tells me to”. The next day someone brought custard apples for Baba. Then Baba told the disciple, “You too have one”.’

1B2. ‘I know you more than you would not know yourself. I know you much more than you know yourself. According to worldly norms the greater the proximity, the more one knows another. You have maximum company of your body. This body is meant only for this birth. You can perceive just that. By the grace of Lord Rama I can perceive all the bodies that you have changed since you have attained the state of the embodied soul (jivadasha). From this you will realise that I know you.’

1B3. ‘Do not harbour the fear that your friend will be neglected. For that matter no one is neglected, but all the actions (karmas) of this particular gentleman are not yet nullified. He will take another birth and then his actions will be nullified. Your suggestion will then come true. He did not stop speaking thus but in keeping with His usual gracious nature, He merged me into His consciousness and for that purpose endowed me with a vision of a very high level as compared to my usual level. Consequently, I could perceive with what perspective He viewed the entire world. At that time we could see before us the entire earth, full of innumerable unevolved embodied souls (jivas); however all that had no clarity. Among those innumerable embodied souls doing spiritual practice (jivatmas) one could percieve one who had attained the level to be useful for the mission of the Absolute Truth as a glittering lamp in a dark sky. Granting this direct experience Guruji said, “Did you see this? It is impossible for an embodied soul with real potential to escape My attention”.’

2. The yearning to impart spiritual knowledge to a disciple

The Guru earnestly wishes to generously impart the spiritual knowledge that He has acquired from His Guru and other saints to His disciple.

‘Nowadays Shri Gurumaharaj would have long conversations with His devotees. Even this would exhaust Him. So sometimes Dr.Bendre, Keshavrao, Shamrao Gokhale or Chouhan would request Shri Gurumaharaj to speak less. Shri Gurumaharaj would then give answers with such intense yearning that it would stun the speaker. He would say that the disciples of Shri Ramakrushna Paramhansa would also tell Him not to speak excessively and that Ramakrushna would then respond, “If even one individual is uplifted 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 forbidden from conversing with those who love Me so much and travel such great distances to meet Me ! If I do not speak to them, meet them, then how will I remain in good health?”.’

3. Teaching only that disciple who will obey

One who follows devotedly something told just once
Only to such a person will I preach and he should undertake
it with the same spiritual emotion.

– Shri Gurucharitra 47:14

4. Teaching the disciple according to his spiritual level

‘J.B.A.: Despite chanting The Lord’s Name being the supreme spiritual practice, in our ashram why is ritualistic worship (puja) performed daily and ritualistic worship and the ritual of consecration by sprinkling water (abhishek) done on days of religious festivals ? Also why do you say that our trust should start a school, a hospital,etc.?

Baba : I am doing that so that each one is given a chance to undertake spiritual practice such as ritualistic worship, starting a school, etc. required for his progress depending on his spiritual level and path of spiritual practice.’

One of Baba’s devotees has been learning classical music since the age of eight. She has been teaching music since the age of fifteen. In the past seven to eight years she also sings Baba’s devotional songs (bhajans) and rehearses singing as spiritual practice for atleast twelve hours a day. Baba has blessed her that she will get the spiritual experience of Brahman in the form of sound (Omkar) through this medium of spiritual practice.

The Yogavasishtha (4.39.24 and 26) warns against teaching an undeserving disciple as follows.

अज्ञस्यार्धप्रबुद्धस्य सर्वं ब्रह्मेति यो वदेत् ।
महानरकजालेषु स तेन विनियोजितः ॥ – 4.39.24

Meaning : A Guru who preaches the tenet that ‘everything is Brahman’ to a completely ignorant or partially knowledgeable disciple, pushes that disciple into hell. – 4.39.24

अपरीक्ष्‍य च यः शिष्यं प्रशास्त्यतिविमूढधीः ।
स एव नरकं याति यावदाभूतसंप्लवम् ॥ – 4.39.26

Meaning : The Guru who preaches spiritual knowledge to a disciple without testing him or learning of his potential will eternally experience the sorrow of hell. – 4.39.26

5. Teaching stepwise based on the spiritual level

Just as 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, so also the Guru teaches the disciple gradually in a stepwise manner.

1. Finally a disciple has to surrender his everything – body, mind and wealth to the Guru. Inspite of this being so a seeker in the initial stage finds it difficult to even listen to such things. Hence during the 1993 Gurupournima celebrations in Goa Baba said, “Just as one eats to one’s heart’s content and then does not bother about the left-overs in the plate, a seeker too should enjoy worldly pleasures to the maximum and sacrifice as much as the left-overs, 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 to sacrifice that bit and not to surrender everything. (Baba Himself had sacrificed everything !)

2. Stage 1: May 1995

Compiler (J.B.A.): One of the missions of an incarnation is ‘the destruction of evildoers’ yet how is it that one does not see any Guru or saint performing this ?
Baba: The Guru’s mission is to grant salvation to thedisciple. The Saviour form of The Lord itself is the Guru. A Guru cannot attain the spiritual level of an incarnation. He has limitations.

Stage 2 : June 1995

Compilers: I am feeling more drawn towards Arjun who fights rather than observing everything with the stance of a spectator (sakshibhav). Am I drifting from Your teaching of The Lord’s Name?
Baba: Why did you feel so ? Could it not be that I Myself have generated this thought in your mind !

From this I (J.B.A.) understood what I had to. Due to my ego I considered that thought to be my own. After offering everything to the Guru one cannot have any separate thoughts. From this point I realised the futility of the point in stage 1 ! According to the mission The Lord, that is the Guru assumes the Saviour or Destroyer forms. It was Guru Vasishtha Himself who told Rama to slay the demons !

Later the following notes jotted down during conversation with Baba on 4/1/95 were found.

I will not wield a weapon but will narrate four facts of prudence.

This was what Lord Krushna said during the Bharatiya war. The four facts of prudence that Krushna would speak of were with regard to the destruction of evildoers, meaning that Krushna would destroy the evildoers indirectly without fighting them Himself. This was exactly what Baba suggested.

6. Provocation to think (an excerpt from Baba’s audio cassette)


Compilers: Saints ‘protect seekers’ and incarnations ‘destroy evildoers’. Saints do not slay others. Although saints areincarnations ofThe Lord why don’t They destroy?
Baba: Because They are Gurus.
Compilers: Yes, but They are Gurus only for Their disciples. What do They do for the sake of society ?
Baba: Here, there is no relationship with the whole world but only that of the Guru with His disciple.
Compilers: Are the missions of incarnations and saints different?
Baba: Of course, Their missions are totally different.
Compilers : Ultimately whose mission helps society – that of an incarnation or a saint ?
Baba: The world should decide who is greater the incarnation or the saint.
Compilers: How will the world decide ? For that it has to be greater than both of Them.
Baba: Analyse what saints have done and what God has and then decide which mission is superior.


Compilers: It is said that the Vedas were written to fulfill the cause of spiritual upliftment of society as a whole and not that of an individual.
Baba: The Vedas are foolish. Who created the Vedas ? The sages. They documented only what was realised by Them and thus the Vedas came into existence.

(At this juncture we are reminded of the quote by Saint Tukaram, ‘We know the meaning of the Vedas’. – Compilers)

7. Examining the homework

If spiritual practice is not occurring 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 The Lord’s Name and check it regularly while others tell seekers to communicate their thoughts and spiritual experiences to Them.

8. Avoiding answering of unnecessary questions

Anandrao: Brahmanand Maharaj says that You (Gondavlekar Maharaj) are a great saint. So when and where will You renounce Your body ?
Maharaj: Having taken birth as a human being instead of enjoying life and chanting Rama’s Name why do such inauspicious thoughtscome to you ?
Anandrao: Maharaj what You say is true but this thought is interrupting my chanting hence I ask the question.
Maharaj: Should I tell the time of renouncing the body inclusive or exclusive of you ? Because you and I are one and the same. So we will both depart together.’ (?)

9. Teaching with a positive attitude

‘Baba teaches with a positive attitude. He says, ‘‘Sing devotional songs, chant The Lord’s Name, perform service, etc.’’ He never preaches negative things such as ‘‘Do not drink alcohol, do not behave this way,’’ etc.’ The reasons for this are given below.

A. Teaching not to do certain things is at the psychological level. It does not serve any purpose from the point of view of making spiritual progress.

B. Teaching with a negative attitude is about infinite things from the Great Illusion (Maya), this is not the case in teaching with a positive attitude.

10. Equality towards all disciples

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

‘Though the clouds shower rain equally everywhere the water accumulates only in craters while the erect mountains remain dry. Similarly saints do not discriminate. The bestowal of Their grace on all is the same but the one with a pure antahkaran who humbly surrenders to Them gets the deserving benefit in accordance with his faith.’

11. Protecting the disciple

If a disciple is desirous of Liberation then even if he commits mistakes, the Guru protects him. No matter how impulsive, stubborn, illiterate or incompetent the disciple maybe, 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 one of Baba’s disciples placed a pair of slippers on His photograph. Inspite of this Baba did not get angry with him, instead He continued to love him as before.

12. Appreciating the disciple

A Guru expresses appreciation for His disciple off and on either in words or by endowing him with spiritual experiences. ‘Raising me and holding my face in His hands Gurudev looked at me and fondly kissed both my cheeks.’ (?)

13. Ability to get spiritual practice done from the disciple

The one who is able to endow His disciple with detachment (vairagya) that is create detachment in him is the real Sadguru (Eknathi Bhagvat). The Guru knows what spiritual practice the disciple requires. He merely does not stop after recommending the spiritual practice but gets it done from him. This is the Guru’s real teaching. The following example will clarify this point.

We realised from the incident given below why some saints have said, “There has not been a single saint like Baba who kindles chanting in an individual, in the past five hundred years and will not be another for another thousand years.” On 15/9/1992 I (J.B.A.) asked Baba, “In one sect if someone’s chanting is not occurring smoothly then he is asked to chant with effort for one or two hours. You do not tell anyone this. Then what should people who are unable to chant do?” Baba irritably replied, “They do that because they are incapable of kindling the Name in others. Is there anyone who has come to us and whose chanting has not commenced ? Why is rigorous effort necessary ? Nowadays is there any other Guru who can initiate chanting of the Name ? See how great the grace of our Guru is !”

The Guru takes away everything such as the body, mind, wealth, happiness, unhappiness, ego, etc. (from the one on whom He bestows His grace). In other words He prepares the disciple for total surrender.

14. The one without any expectation of receiving an offering (gurudakshina)

1. Because of detachment and dissolution of the ego of the Guru and attainment of all pervasiveness by the Guru, He does not aspire ‘to acquire anything’.

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

3. Divine knowledge being invaluable the Guru does not even evaluate it.

15. Pure sattvik (sattva predominant) ego

The Guru is God, that is Shiv. Most of the time the Guru is in the state of The Supreme God (Shivadasha). Since in this state the mind remains thoughtless, the thought that ‘I am a Guru’ does not occur to Him. When the Guru returns to the state of the embodied soul (jivadasha) the following thoughts occur to Him.

‘The Guru has ego. All this awakening is based only on His ego (that is the Guru’s mission is fulfilled only because of His ego). This is pure sattvik ego. This is present with regard to leading the disciple to the Absolute principle. To achieve that there is no alternative but to say “I am the disciple of so and so”. So in other words such an alternative of pure sattvik ego is absolutely necessary.’ (25)(Refer point ‘17 C. Absence of ego from the worldly point of view’.)