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.”


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