Characteristics of a guru

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Sun Jul 9 22:04:36 CDT 2000

On Sat, 1 Jul 2000, T Swaminarayan wrote:

> Reasoning, Faith, Trust and Experience. That is the order in which any
> aspirant for liberation moves towards his goal. Without an exception,
> every exponent of the scriptures confirms that without a guru one
> cannot hope to reach the pinnacle of experience. Again , I wonder, how
> many of the mumukshus can with certain amount of certainty explain the
> charactearistics of a guru based on which he himself decided to go to
> that guru to progress in his own quest FOR LIBERATION?

As Guru Purnima is coming up on Sunday this is a good question to ask.

In the Bhagavata Purana, 12th Skandha is the story of Bhagawan Dattatreya
who had 24 Gurus all of which taught him something.  Personally I am
trying to follow this advice.  Those Mahatmas I have met (and I hope to
meet many more!) I just ask for advice on the next step.  Hopefully after
enough steps mukti will be achieved but if I just know I'm going in the
right direction thats's good enough for me.

> How are you certain that your guru is a Brahmanishti? Are you sure
> that your guru is not the Scriptural blind character ,following whom
> other followers of his also end up in darkness?

One way to ascertain this is to increase your own knowledge of the
shastras.  Just as when selecting a doctor it is helpful to know some
medical terminology so you can tell the good ones from the quacks.  A true
Guru will never be offended by a question asked sincerely.  On the
contrary he will welcome such questions.

On Guru Purnima we do Vyasa Puja to honor the author of the Vedanta
shastra and salute the Parampara that descends from Him to the present
day.  When I examine the teachings of the Acharyas of the Smarta
Sampradaya of today I see that they are the same as we know from the Vedas
and the writings of Jivanamuktas such as Shankaracharya etc.  So I have
full faith that their words are authentic not just catering to the latest

> Why have our great Scriptures left such a big void in this regard? Why
> have our great Acharyas not given a more easy way for poor mumukshus
> to locate a Brahmanishti?

I think because it is an emotional bond like that of a mother or
father.  It involves issues of trust, faith etc. that books don't convey
easily.  However our shastras do give some clues in this regard.  I'll
post more on this subject later.

> Instead of merely saying that one should have trust in a guru or faith
> in that guru can any of the learned members of this list prescribe
> some basic charactearistics of a Brahmanishti that we can quickly and
> surely identify and locate?

There are some people I have met who just seemed to radiate peace and
tranquility.  I think in the Yogasutras there is something about how a
person who practices ahimsa, spreads it to those around him.

I've already mentioned that he should be learned in the shastras and
practice them diligently.

There are many people out there who are willing to flatter rich and
gullible people out of their money or just act as a mirror for their
narcissism but something that always impresses me is if a person is
willing to tell you what is true even if you don't want to hear it.  A
wholehearted dedication to the truth is the most important quality of a
Guru in my opinion.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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