On this coming Friday is Guru Purnima, the full moon dedicated to the Guru, the day on which those in the Yoga Tradition celebrate and pay homage to Guru. What is Guru? The word Guru refers to both the Inner-Guide, and to a person who has become one with the Inner-Guide.
According to Swami Veda Bharati, the “word ‘Guru,’ in etymological history, is connected to the word ‘great’ and ‘gravity.’ From the moment we are born we are looking for a Guru, someone to teach us, to guide us.”
In its largest sense, Guru is the teaching force of creation. Again, in the words of Swami Veda Bharati: “Guru is a shakti, a transcendental force permeating the immanent world. It is the very Holy Spirit, the Teacher of All.”
Guru is the inner-guide, the still small voice within, the conscience, which guides from within if we have ears to hear the guidance. But few are able, or willing, to hear the Inner-Guides’ promptings.
When a person has reached and stabilized his or her meditation at the depth of consciousness where the person’s mind becomes one with the Inner-Guide, then we call that person a Guru or Gurudeva. Such a person speaks and acts from the inner-Guru; not from his ego.
Many years ago, I was at the ashram of Swami Rama of the Himalayas, my Gurudeva. A friend told me that if I asked Swami Rama a question in my mind, that he, Swami Rama, would come and tell me the answer. So that evening, I did just that. I mentally asked Swami Rama a question, over and over. The next morning, when I went out of my cottage, Swami Rama walked right up to me, which he’d never done before, looked me in the eye, and spoke the answer to my question. I was so shocked at this occurrence that it took me years to admit to myself that what Swami Rama said to me was, indeed, the answer to my question.
Swami Rama knew my question and the answer to it because he was at one with the inner-guide, which is the Inner-Guru of all. Swami Rama was a Guru. Beyond knowing other people, one who is a Guru also has the ability to directly transfer experiences into other’s minds into order to lift them above their current level.
I once heard Swami Veda Bharati telling what happened when he received his high-level initiation from Swami Rama: he went into a state of samādhi, unmoving, for three days. During that time, he experienced his own death and dissolution. At the end of the experience, Swami Rama asked him, “Is what is said in the Scriptures true?” “Yes,” was Swami Veda Bharati’s answer.
The bar is very high for being called a Guru. Although Swami Veda Bharati had thousands of students all over the world, taught with vast wisdom and knowledge, and worked non-stop serving his students despite overwhelming health issues, still, he didn’t call himself a Guru and would not allow his loving students to do so either. The term “guru,” he said, is reserved for one who is fully liberated and could pass the shakti to lift a disciple into Oneness. He, Swami Veda Bharati, was not yet there, he said. His point was that those in human form who deserve to be called Guru are extremely rare.
So on this day of the full moon, we celebrate the Guru, the Teaching-Force that awakens us to our True-Selves, and we honor and celebrate the selfless teachers, Gurus, who have purified and raised their own minds to become one with the Inner-Guru, from which they shower grace upon the masses to uplift them. Their only goal is to prompt their disciples to grow the point where they, too, discover and become one with the Inner-Guru.