A simple śāstric presentation demystifying this big mystery. The basic notes for the presentation are:

1. “Guru”

“guru” simply means “significant” or “heavy” – its the important person. Its the person with a lot of weight.

Dance-guru, music-guru, archery-guru, cooking-guru, grammar-guru, sanskrit-guru…

2. Bhakti-guru

The person from whom we can learn/get bhakti.

The tattva of guru: Guru is Krishna’s merciful effort to rescue jīvas who want to turn towards him.

[See CC 1.1.45, ŚB 11.29.6, Gītā 10.10]

Guru is Krishna, or more exactly Krishna’s energy, working though channels that can reach us in our conditioned state.

Guru is Krishna’s energy working though other people and other things.

[See CC 1.1.44, Guruvaṣṭaka 7]

The energy is Krishna-bhakti.

The channel it comes throguh is is primarily people who carry some significant quantity of krishna-bhakti.

The bigger the quantity the more powerful the guru can be.

This energy flows to us through many channels, not just one.

[See, “vande-ham…,” CC 1.1.1]
3. Guru-disciple relationship

[See Gita 4.34]

Disciple’s part:

(1) Seva = by “service” – what service? cutting wood giving donations? Yes, but mainly…

(2) pranipat = be willing to sit near guru and learn

(3) pariprasna = by asking thorough questions

[See Bhag 11.3.21]

Describes the disciple’s role in the same way as Gita 4.34..

prapadye = pranipat
jijnasu = pariprasna

Misconception: Guru is top-level management

Misconception: Guru gives and we just receive. Guru is active, we are passive.

Misconception: Don’t ask difficult questions

The disciple’s effort to understand the Guru’s teaching and example is the most important part of the guru-disciple relationship. This is why exalted Gurus can have unsuccessful disciples.

Trying to learn without asking questions is like trying to eat without chewing.
4. Types of Guru

Inspirations (pradarśak)
Lineage (dīkṣa)
Instruction (śikṣa)

As is obvious from the Gita and Bhagavata’s definition of Guru, the instructor is the most important type of Guru.
5. Qualification of Guru
Qualification of Guru is important, because the main activity of the disciple is to ask questions, so the guru has to be qualified to answer the questions, (a) accurately, and (b) in a way that the individual disciple can actually understand and connect with.

Gita: tad-vidhi… tattva-darśana
Bhāg: sabde pare ca nisnatam, brahmany upasamasrayam

“Uttama-adhikari”

BRS 1.2.17~19:

śāstre yuktau ca nipuṇaḥ
sarvathā dṛḍha-niścayaḥ
prauḍha-śraddho ‘dhikārī yaḥ
sa bhaktāv uttamo mataḥ

yaH shAstrAhi Svani puNaH shraddhAvan sa tu madhyamaH

yo bhavet komala shraddhaH sa kaniSTho nigadyate

All three are adhikārī (qualified) but for śikṣa-guru, uttama-adhikārī is the best, obviously.

[Not confused with “Uttama Bhagavata”]

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