Today we will discuss about a very sensitive topic namely – Signs of a true Guru or say how to identify genuine spiritual teachers? Well as you can realize from the topic itself, there are dozens of ponga pundits or dhongi babas these days who have duped lakhs of people and one recent incident is that of Baba Rampal from Hissar.
The Guru and shishya relationship is considered to be one of the best in the world. It is pure. It is self less and it is divine. It is a relationship that does not contain any vested interests so let us see how to get into this relationship for a start. It is surprising that even when tying a marital knot we are so careful about the person with whom we have to spend our life, but while selecting a Guru, we just act based on hearsay.
Do True Spiritual Teachers Really Exist?
One of the most important questions that people ask is whether genuine spiritual teachers actually exist or are they an extinct species only to be found in books of history. Well I must say that it is a common saying amongst the spiritual aspirants that when you are ready, the spiritual teacher or Guru would come on its own accord. Well this is certainly true at a higher level of seekers but we are talking about beginners here for if one were advanced on the path of spirituality, he/she wouldn’t be reading this post.
Who is A True Guru or Spiritual Teacher?
Before trying to find out what are the symptoms of a true Guru, let us try to find out what exactly is the meaning of the term Guru as called in the oriental literature. Basically the term Guru means one who dispels darkness and leads us from ignorance to knowledge. Even our worldly teachers like school teachers, professors and coaches are all responsible for making us grow by imparting knowledge of various kinds. Even parents are the first teachers of a child so in that sense all those people are somewhere near the definition. Yet, the specific term Guru is usually applied to one who is the teacher on the spiritual path and helps one to attain the highest goal – of diving deep within and realizing that one is same as the Brahm.
Signs of a True Guru/Spiritual Teacher
Before going into the details of the signs of a true spiritual teacher, let me tell you that there is no sign which can tell you for sure that a particular person is a true spiritual teacher or not. The “signs” given below are actually just indications which you need to correlate with your own reasoning, common sense and above all intuition on a case to case basis.
Here is a video in Hindi which is for the people who are not comfortable understanding English
Firstly you cannot judge a person if he or she has actually mastered the self, since a novice will not know how to do this. So just follow these few basic tips and possibly you will be saved from falling in trap of so called spiritual teachers who are just using the garb of Guru to achieve their own personal ends.
First and foremost use common sense and check out if you feel anything too odd about the person or environment. For example if you go to a teacher (so called) and he or she asks you to deposit a thousand dollars in a bank account in return for salvation, you better beware. Giving something to Guru is most sacred act but that comes later when you are convinced that you are at the right place and time. If the Guru has any materialistic interests or the Guru just wants fame and money at the end of the session then the Guru will not be an ideal Guru. The Guru has to be self less. His sole motive will be to help his follower attain the goal that he or she is seeking.
In the olden days the student would give a gift to the teacher or the Guru at the end of the process. This was called Dakshina. It was not essential that the Dakshina would be a material one. It could also be something more meaningful.
Important Note: most religions including Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity etc say about donating a nominal amount (say 10%) for charity and this is something which has lot of benefits and we will be dedicating a separate article on this issue, so we are not against this. We only want to say that beware of people who want to misguide you under this pretext to extract money
One Size Doesn’t Fit All:
This is the first tool you should use to filter out the possible options available to you. Each person has a different temperament and likings. While one person could be emotional, other could be practical, while some person could be intellectual. Based on that, you would need different types of spiritual teachers who can lead you on your own path in tune with your own capabilities and potential. One size fits all might be bit difficult to fit in the realm of spiritual journey as well.
Once you feel that the person you are following is a true guide, just trust fully and follow the path with all devotion. This is necessary since doubting Thomas’s won’t reach anywhere in this journey. This might seem contradictory to the initial advice but actually it is not so. Common sense and logic might be extremely handy tools for a start but over time they will act as deterrents and you would need to get over it to progress.
There must be a divine quality in a Guru. These qualities make you feel that you are with someone who is religious and spiritual. The company of a Guru will let you also trust him completely. You should feel at peace when you are with the Guru. A Guru is one who wants his devotee to attain the goal that the devotee is seeking.
Avoid Being Lured by Tricks:
The followers must not get impressed by simple magic tricks that a Guru can perform. Magic is something that a magician does. This is exactly why this cannot be considered as a sign of true Guru. Well in magic we are not including miracles. Miracles that Sai Baba and other spiritual teachers used to perform. They could cure people who were suffering from fatal diseases. They could perform miracles that cannot be imagined but the purpose of those miracles was to help mankind and generate faith and not blind faith.
Last but not least I would like to end this discussion by stating that finding out whether a person is a genuine spiritual teacher or not is not that easy but one thing is for sure. Even if you falter and possibly select a wrong person, you can still get elevated spiritually if you follow the teachings sincerely as long as they are in tune with your common sense, intuition and you feel good at heart while following the teachings.
If you would like to check out our other How to Genuine series please see these posts