Necessity of Guru

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

A sannyasin has the same difficulty knowing God as a householder. Both have to find a guru. Seeking answers to questions is only satsang, it is not imparting diksha. One has to accept a guru who shows the path, because everybody has different samskaras and karmas. There is not one husband for all women or one wife for all men. Every father has a particular son and every son has a particular father. In the same way, every disciple has his guru.

A wife without a husband, a husband without a wife, a disciple without a guru or a guru without a disciple cannot move along. Just as a wife is a necessity, a desire and something fundamental for a husband, in the same way a guru is essential for a disciple who has to search for him.

Everybody is not so lucky to find a guru. But every girl finds a husband. Sometimes the marriage fails but that is another matter, but surely the husband has to be searched for. In that search one finds out so many things, and in the same way one has to know more about the guru.

Shiksha and diksha guru

There is no dearth of gurus in the world, nor of disciples. However, one cannot catch hold of a person on the street and tell him, "You are my guru." One drinks water only after it is filtered, and one accepts a guru only after one knows everything about him.

In an aspirant's spiritual life there is one kind of guru who gives knowledge and information, the shiksha guru, and another kind who imparts experience, the diksha guru. That a rasgoola is sweet is a piece of information, but without eating it this information is incomplete. Only after having eaten the rasgoola will the information change into experience, and there won't be any need for further information. There are some satsang gurus who give opinions and information, and some who will lead the aspirant on the spiritual path, as you lead a child by holding his hand. The guru instructs the disciple, to do this and not to do that, he gives mantra and explains the sadhana. When the disciple is married and has children the sadhana is changed. When the children grow up, he is forty-two or fifty and retires, the sadhana is changed again according to the guru's instructions.

Sri Rama took initiation from Sage Vasishtha, but he also received knowledge from Rishis Vishwamitra and Agastya. While fighting with Ravana on the battlefield Sri Rama got tired, but was prepared to fight. At that moment he was full of anxiety, when Agastya gave him the Adityahridayam mantra. By that time Meghnad was dead and Kumbhakarana was killed along with all the rakshasas. Ravana was not dying as his ten heads kept reappearing. Sri Rama stood perplexed in the battle, seeing Ravana before him. At that time Agastya said, "Rama, repeat this mantra and all your obstacles will be removed." Sri Rama repeated the mantra and started to fight until Ravana was killed. Does this mean that Sri Rama had three gurus? It does not matter, as vidya, knowledge, can be learnt from anyone.

Dattatreya had twenty-four gurus. Good knowledge and thoughts can be acquired from anyone, who, like Agastya, comes at the appropriate time, and whose knowledge cannot be denied or ignored. During his exile in the forest Sri Rama went to Sharbang ashram where he received a lot of knowledge. He went to Shabari who directed him towards Pampa lake. After all, it is the guru's duty to show the path. Through Shabari Sri Rama's path was cleared.

There can be many gurus, but the diksha guru should be one. Sri Rama's diksha guru was Sage Vasishtha while Sandipani was Sri Krishna's diksha guru. The final statement of our great saints and rishis is that, just as the lifespan and the time of death is fixed, so the guru is decided. This is the truth.

—12 April 2009, Rikhiapeeth, India