The function of a Guru or a spiritual Master is to assist us to awaken from the slumber of ignorance. A Guru’s job is to knock down all cherished beliefs of his disciples. He sets fire to the temple of their beliefs, for when it is destroyed they will have an unimpeded view of the vast, unbounded space. The process, at times, may be painful and therefore not comforting, and because of that, his function does not seem appealing.
Further, fundamental to obtaining knowledge from the Guru is our faith, called in Sanskrit as “Shraddhaa”. Shraddhaa means surrender without reservation at the Guru-s feet and having complete faith in the Word — both of the scriptures and of the Guru. The word Shraddhaa is made up of two constituents — “Shrad” means truth, and “Dhaa” means bearing. Thus, the necessary (and sufficient) condition for bearing the truth is Shraddhaa.
Bhagavad Geeta too says:
“Shraddhaavaan labhate jnaanam” — “Only the person of faith can gain knowledge.” (4.39)
Spirituality is not for annihilating the “shani dosha” or “pitr dosha” or any negative aspects in one’s horoscope, etc. It is not to maintain status quo, it is not to enable one to sleep well, it is not for comfort; it is to awaken, it is to dis-identify with all that is anaatma (not Self), to make us aware and for that “anything” in the world can serve the purpose. A particular Guru is not essential. The “anything” is not limited, its range is infinite.
Lord Dattatreya had 24 Guru-s. Dattatreya told king Yadu that “The Self alone is my Guru. Yet, I have learnt wisdom from twenty-four other individuals, creatures, the five elements and objects. So they are also my Guru-s.” Wherever he went, whomever he came across and whatever he learnt from that particular entity, that very entity became his Guru for that particular knowledge.
Ultimately our own aatmaaraama (Pure Self) is our Sadguru, but until we become aware of it we need a manifest Guru to guide us.
May the Guru paramparaa — the lineages of all the great spiritual Masters — guide us always on the spiritual path.