The Sanskrit word for teacher is ‘Guru’ and there is no other word which can substitute and evoke the same sanctity, holiness, reverence and adoration as this word. The word ‘Guru’ is interpreted in many ways. ‘Gu ‘denotes darkness of ignorance. ‘Ru’ represents the radiance of knowledge. So, the Guru is the one who dispels the darkness of ignorance and bestows upon the human the radiance of knowledge. The Latin word for Guru is ‘gravis ‘which means ‘heavy’ or ‘depth’. Hence, a Guru is a person with abundant or deep knowledge. The Sanskrit adage says: “Matha, Pitha, Guru, and Dev”. A Guru is considered at par with God as he directs his obedient disciple to God.
In India, a country of diversity, we find different kinds of Gurus. They are as follows:
1. Dheeksha Guru (One who initiates people to lead a holy life.)
2. Siksha Guru (One who trains the students by giving instructions).Mostly, Dheeksha Guru and Siksha Guru are one and the same.
3. Chaitya Guru (One who controls and leads the human being from within him).In this context, it is to be remembered that Jesus Christ who got Baptized was guided by the Chaitya Guru within him to embark on the deserts and say, “If I go there, I will send the holy Ruha.He will guide you in to the path of truth and justice.”How often we have heard the Guru within us tell about the right ways? Some call it as one’s conscience. In reality; it is the God’s voice.
4. Sath Guru and Jagath Guru: The Ancient Epics refer’ Sath Guru’ (the eternal teacher) and ‘Jagat Guru’ (the master of the entire world) to God. In India, once in a year Guru Puja is organized on a full moon day in July or August in order to pay respect to the Gurus. This day is also called Guru Poornima Day. In reality, Guru is God himself. In the ancient times, the role of a Guru in guiding a child to various domains was beyond comparison. Without the blessings of a Guru, it is not possible for a disciple to venture into any field. The trend is prevalent even today. The bride and the bride groom receive the blessings of the Guru before they tie their nuptial knot to enter into a wedded life.
According to ‘Brahmanda Purana,’Guru is Brahma (without four heads). Guru is Lord Vishnu (but he doesn’t have four hands). Guru is Lord Shiva (but he doesn’t have the third eye).Guru means Lord Paramshiva who took the human form. Salutations to the Guru who removes the darkness of ignorance by the light of knowledge. A Guru plays a greater role in the disciple’s life in making him visualize God through his inner eye. In Vedic culture, Guru was considered equal to God.
In reality who is the actual Guru?
In Mahabharata, Sri Arjuna addresses Sri. Krishna like this: “You are the greatest teacher of the whole world”. Lord Shiva was described as Jagath Guru by the great Sanskrit poet Kalidas in his great epic ‘Kumara Sambhav’ and Sri Ram was described as Jagat Guru by Saint Tulsidas. It is hoped that these descriptions will help us to perceive the sanctity and the greatness of Gurus in the past and to know the status of a guru today.
Teachers are light houses of spirituality. Vedic teachers, the people who were well versed in Sanskrit and those who wrote the explanation in Sanskrit for scriptures like Brahmasutra, Bhagavatgita and Upanishads were considered as part of the holy family of Jagat Guru and were respected.Adi Sankara is considered as the pioneer of Jagat Guru Hierarchy.Ramanuja, Nimbarka charya, Madhavacharya, Vallabhcharya are others included in this category. They are also known as ‘the enlightened’.
Few decades ago, the Guru was addressed as ‘Asaan’ in Malayalam language.Asaan used to introduce the alphabets to his disciple by chanting into his ears. It is the Sanskrit word ‘Aacharya’ that has become ‘ Ashaan ‘ and ‘Asaan’.The place where the Asaan teaches his pupils is called ‘ Asaan School’. Today the word ‘Asaan’ has lost its value and meaning and is used for kidding. This is because people are not aware of its precious meaning.
Guru is a common word in almost all languages like Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Bengali, Gujarati, and Nepali etc. There is no other word to substitute it. First and foremost responsibility of a true Guru is to get the knowledge of light from the Jagath Guru who is God himself and also to gain knowledge through constant meditation and by questioning. Then, lead the people from the darkness of ignorance to the light of wisdom and knowledge. To get such good Gurus is what “Thamasoma Jyotirgamaya “tells.
Jesus Christ is addressed 45 times as Guru in the New Testament. The favorite disciple St. John while preaching first called Jesus Christ as Guru. Two of St. John’s disciples only gave such a status to Jesus Christ. Read St. John 1/8: Their words reveal their desire to stay with the Guru and learn. “Guru, where do you live? Guru’s words are also highly commendable. He said, “Come and see”. In other words it is an instruction to walk with the Guru and learn by seeing and hearing. In short, it means to learn with the Guru by experience. According to “Ved Grantham,” just like Ekalavya became a disciple of Dronacharya, the learned chief of the society Nicodemus became a secret disciple to Jesus Christ. In the darkness of night he went to Jesus Christ and accepted him as his Guru. He said, “Rabbi, you have come as a counselor from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him. “Rabbi” means Guru in Judaism. Gurus were addressed as Rabbi also. The Judas provided greater support and respect to the Rabbi.
Is there any other Guru like Jesus Christ? There is no subject that he has not taught. Be it life, education, idealism, wonders, common justice, criticism on ruling , prayer, end of era, nature, agriculture, ladies, children or any other topic, he taught everything by walking with the disciples in the nature and teaching whatever they saw and heard. Jesus Christ gave his disciples their own life as study material. The method of teaching was something novel connecting everything like nature, society, human beings, the study room, study materials and the subjects. In the same way as a dissection is performed in the Lab for practical learning, the disciples learnt about love, patience, prayer etc. by experimenting them in their Guru’s life. Those who learnt about them desired to live like their Guru. Disciples became just like Gurus. When they were tested by their disciples , they prayed to their Guru and got consoled .One disciple , on being hit by stones, prayed like the great Guru: “please forgive them “ . When Jesus Christ struggled on the cross, suppressing his pain, he looked up to the Father and prayed. Stephen saw his Guru on the right side of the Father and prayed. His pain subsided. The other disciple was Peter. In the beginning of his disciple hood, he ran away and hid himself to save his life. But, he surprised the people who came to create the fear of death in him by requesting them to crucify him. He set an example by expressing that he was ready to bear more pain and even die after kissing his Guru’s feet.
Jesus Christ loved his disciples unconditionally. He treated them as friends. He understood their need. He surrendered himself to the enemies so that his disciples are not troubled. He gave food to the hungry. He taught them to share everything. He roamed with them and taught whatever he could. He saved the disciples from criticism of the people whose food grains they had plucked. He slept with them. He did not long for any privilege that a Guru deserves. He weaved beautiful stories. Playwrights like Wordsworth, Alchemist and others are indebted to Jesus Christ’s stories and were surprised at the depth of his short stories. Even today his stories provide the moral foundation to other stories. His ability to capture the attention of thousands of disciples to his teachings for days together is amazing. His commonsense was also perfect. The talent of a Guru lies in understanding the questions first and teaching accordingly. The platform he chose to teach thousands and thousands of people shows his commonsense. He did not simply teach the people, but he kindled their imagination to dream about their colorful future. He knew that dreamless generation is a lifeless one. He encouraged his disciples to face all situations including death. Good Gurus are always like that. Martin Luther King stood in the midst of the darkness of slavery and instilled dreams in his follower’s heart.
Sometimes Gurus make the disciples emotional. At other times, they melt their heart. Some other times, they encourage them to take critical decisions. There was some unique quality in Jesus Christ when he instructed and scolded his disciples. Every subject he taught had a philosophical ending.
Once a child said in a teacher’s meet: “Teachers are just like mothers. There is love hidden in their scolding. In turbulent situations, they show light and lead us to the right path”. Jesus Christ was indeed the true light. To those who wander in search of light, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Those who follow me will not walk in the dark but will have their life brightened. (St. John 8:12). For a disciple to become a Guru, he must acquire the ability to remove the darkness. Disciples, who wander in search of light, receive light from Jesus Christ, the Jagath Guru and spread it to the world.
At times, the Guru scolds the disciples. Why? “The fair judgment is that although the light has come to the world, darkness is loved the more”. On commenting about the emergence of Guru, St. Mathew says: “In the nations of Zebulon and Naphtali, light has risen for those who stay at the sea shores and at the nations of death and shadow. How nice it would be if we understand that in every country from time to time Gurus emerge just like the rising Sun to only shed light and remove darkness.
The quality of Teacher in Jesus Christ is praiseworthy when he constantly prays for his disciples so that they don’t fall into Satan’s trap. He was a Guru who considered his disciples as his own children, rather loved them more than his body. Do we have such Gurus today?