Necessity of a Guru

From the Autobiography of Swami Sivananda

The spiritual path is beset with many obstacles. The guru will safely guide the aspirants and remove all sorts of difficulties which they have to face. He will inspire the students and give them spiritual powers through his blessings. Guru, Ishwara, Truth and Mantra are one. There is no other way of overcoming the vicious worldly samskaras, or impressions, of the passionate nature of raw, worldly-minded people than personal contact with and service to the Guru.

In search of a guru, I reached Rishikesh and prayed to the Lord for His Grace. There are many egoistic students who say: “I need no guru. God is my guru.” They change their own robes and live independently. When difficulties and troubles confront them, they are bewildered. I do not like the rules and regulations of the scriptures, sages and saints to be violated. When there is a change of heart, there should be a change in the external form also. The glory and the liberty of a sannyasin can hardly be imagined by the timid and the weak.

From the sacred hands of Paramahamsa Viswananda Saraswati, I received holy initiation on the banks of the Ganga on 1st June, 1924. The religious rite of Viraja Homa was done for me by my Acharya Guru, Sri Swami Vishnudevanandaji Maharaj at Kailash Ashram.

A personal guru is necessary in the beginning. He alone can show you the path to attain God, who is the guru of gurus, and averts the snares and pitfalls on your path. Self-realization is a transcendental experience. You can march on the spiritual path only by placing implicit faith in the words of sages who have realized the Truth and attained knowledge of the Self.

Guru’s grace is needed by the disciple. This does not mean that the disciple should sit idle and expect a miracle from the guru to push him directly into samadhi. The guru cannot do sadhana for the student. It is foolish to expect spiritual attainments from a drop of the guru’s kamandalu, the water pot. The guru can guide the student, clear his doubts, pave the way, remove the snares, pitfalls and obstacles, and throw light on the path, but it is the disciple himself who has to walk every step on the spiritual path.

Spiritual progress requires intense and unswerving faith in the teachings of the guru and the shastras, burning and lasting vairagya, yearning for liberation, adamantine will, fiery resolve, iron determination, unruffled patience, leech-like tenacity, clock-like regularity, child-like simplicity. If you have no guru, take Lord Krishna, or Shiva, or Rama, or Christ as your guru. Pray to Him. Meditate on Him. Sing His name. He will send you a suitable guru.