Spirituality is just a journey like any other with spiritual awakening as its goal. Similarly like any other branch of knowledge, one usually tends to learn to tread the path under the guidance of a person known as the spiritual Guru or only Guru for short. Of course times have changed and nowadays it may not be fully possible for everyone to renounce the world but a true Guru can help to achieve salvation or divine goal irrespective of your external circumstances.
The Definition of Guru
Basically the meaning of the word “Guru” is a teacher, though in spirituality it does specifically refer to the person under whose guidance one tends to reach the highest planes of one’s own existence.
NB: “It must be stated here that the above definition is bit crude, in the true sense the Guru can be anything which leads a person to actual spiritual awakening but we would consider that matter in a separate discussion as it could cause confusion here”
Although in modern day terminology this word is used without second thoughts but in the true sense of the spiritual tradition, the word has the highest reverence and cannot be just applied to anyone and everyone but only to an enlightened soul whose purpose is to create a connection between the disciple and the Supreme Being, or in other words introduce the disciple to his/her own true nature which is the Supreme Being itself.
Is A Guru Must For Spiritual Awakening?
Many people ask do we really need a Guru to get moksha and reach the state of superconsciousness or spiritual awakening which is the ultimate goal. The answer to this is not so straightforward as to say it in yes or no but we need to see the reason and logic behind it. Of course for those who want quick answer, its “yes” but unless you read the following you might get drawn into the folds of blindfaith which results in people following someone who later turns out to be bit controversial as it happened recently in the case of a popular religious leader.
Firstly you are aware that any new knowledge or path needs learning, guidance and though self study is surely an important part of any field of knowledge, still even for obtaining material knowledge people spend years in schools, colleges, universities and so forth. Infact if you calculate an average person who has done graduation or post graduation literally spends 25% of his/her life in educational institutes studying under various teachers and finally attaining knowledge sufficient to be called a specialist in that relatively small area of knowledge. So how can one expect that on a journey which is already so tricky and full of obstacles and doubts, one can just reach the difficult goal of spiritual awakening by own self.
Secondly most of the Saints and Sages have reinforced the fact in the scriptures that it is vital for a person to have a Guru or spiritual guide in order to proceed on the spiritual path and awakening. Chances are that without a guide who has actually been there, done that types, we would be led astray and would not be able to reach our goals.
The Famous Quote
Infact the importance of a Guru in spiritual awareness can be judged from a popular doha by Saint Kabir which says
Guru Gobind dou khade, kake lagu paye
Balihari Guru aapne, Gobind diyo bataye
Both the Guru and God are standing in front of me, whom should I prostrate first to – Guru or God? I think I should first pay my reverence to my Guru since it is He only that made me connected to God.
Faith, Trust and Surrender
There are a few areas which make the matter of selecting a Guru and then relying on him/her as bit sensitive. The fact of the matter is that you should take sufficient time to find out the perfect Guru for yourself, who has the capacity to help you complete your spiritual awakening journey to the divine.
When you find a Guru you must trust him completely. You must have faith that he will take you to your goal. You must surrender your ego as you go to a Guru. Unless there is a complete surrender the Guru will not be able to help you. This is why you must look for a Guru whom you can trust and follow without a question. There are many people out there who claim to have the ability to become a Guru.
You must be assured that the person you are taking as a Guru must be trust worthy. Else they will take you for a ride and you will not get much from the association. A Guru may be very good but he may not be the Guru that you wanted or needed. This is exactly why you will have to keep looking out. The scriptures say that the relationship of a Guru and disciple is so deep that it goes beyond the cycle of birth and death. This is why they manage to find each other in all their births. They are destined to meet again and again and they do so.
The Two Way Relationship
As a disciple needs a Guru similarly a Guru is also incomplete without a dedicated follower. When the disciple meets the Guru they can connect instantly. You will feel that it was decided that you will meet the Guru much before you actually met him. Some people who have found their Guru feel that meeting the Guru was pre decided.
Most of the religious associations of the world will tell you that the Guru is indispensable and required to attain a spiritual life. He can tell you exactly what you should do in order to get salvation. They suggest that some people should read the Bhagwad Gita, they advise some to say the thousand names of Vishnu, and sometimes they will tell the disciples to do charity. They suggest different ways to different people depending on the requirement of the devotee.
When a disciple reaches the right Guru he or she will find a sudden sense of peace. You can spend hours in the temple or any other religious place and yet not get the peace that you are looking for. This can be attained only when you meet the right Guru and he shows you the path that you need to follow.
Another sign of true Guru is that he will not want anything from you but true devotion. If a Guru wants you to become a follower he will not ask you for any money or other benefits. You can give him what you want from your ability. A true Guru will select devotees on the basis of devotion and not based on the financial ability of the disciple.
So I hope we have answered your query as to whether a Guru is necessary to attain the goal of spiritual awakening or one can just follow the path single handed. Of course this is a very vast topic and we will continue to throw more light on its different aspects.