om swastik belpatra

What is the history and the concept of Guru?

Do you realize now the sacred significance and the supreme importance of the Guru's role in the evolution of man? It was not without reason that the India of the past carefully tended and kept alive the lamp of Guru-Tattva. It is therefore not without reason that India, centuries after centuries, ages after ages, commemorates anew this ancient concept of the Guru, adores it and pays homage to it again and again, and thereby re-affirms its belief and allegiance to it. For, the true Indian knows that the Guru is the only guarantee for the individual to transcend the bondage of sorrow and death, and experience the Consciousness of the Reality.

Who's A Guru ? Glory of the Guru

"Guru is Shiva sans his three eyes, Vishnu sans his four arms, Brahma sans his four heads, He is parama Shiva himself in human form" - Brahmanda Puran

"According to the occidental idea, the master serves as the medium for imparting knowledge or truth which is the final goal. As Aristotle said, "Dear is Plato, but dearer still is the truth." But in India truth and the Guru are completely identified. There is no truth apart from the Guru, and to know and serve the latter with whole-hearted devotion is also to serve the cause of the truth."
From the Sri Sai Satcharita, the holy book of the followers of Shirdi Sai Baba

"Rely on the teachings to evaluate a Guru: Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism."
The Dalai Lama speaking of the importance of the Guru.

Spiritually Realised Adepts ( or Transmisson Masters or true Gurus or Sat-Gurus ) are the principal Sources, Resources and Means of the esoteric or Spiritual Way . This fact is not (and has never been ) a matter of controversy among real Spiritual Practitioners.
Adi Da Samraj from Ruchira Avatara Gita

The Hindu shastras have hailed such a Guru immeasurably:
Skanda Purana - Guru Gita

Famous verse known by heart by all Hindu children glorifies the Guru:
Gurubrahma Guruvishnu Gururdevo Maheshwaraha
Guruhu sakshaat Parambrahman tasmai Shrigurave namaha

"The Guru is Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh (Shiva), veneration to the Guru who is Parabrahman manifest." The second line of the couplet does not literally mean that the Guru becomes Parabrahman - God, rather he is venerated as if God is manifesting through him.
Another famous verse known to all Hindus: Guru Govind donu khade, kisko laagu paay,
Balihari Gurudeva ke jinhe Govind diyo bataay. The Guru and Govind -God, are present before me, to whom shall I bow down first? Glory to the Guru since he showed me Govind. or Guru and God both appear before me. To whom should I prostrate? I bow before Guru who introduced God to me. - Brahmanand/

The syllable gu means shadows, The syllable ru, he who disperses them,
Because of the power to disperse darkness, the Guru is thus named.
Advayataraka Upanishad 14-18, verse 5)

Acquire the transcendental knowledge from a Self-realized master by humble reverence, by sincere inquiry, and by service. The wise ones who have realized the Truth will impart the Knowledge to you.
- Kula-Arnava-Tantra (XIII.106ff.)

O Devi, there are many Gurus on earth who give other than the Self; but hard to find a in all the worlds is the Guru who reveals the Self. Many are the Gurus who rob the disciple of his wealth, but rare is the Guru who remove the disciple's afflictions He is the [true] Guru by whose very contact there flows the supreme Bliss. The intelligent man should choose such a one as his Guru and none other
- Brahmanda Purana

Guru is Shiva sans his three eyes, Vishnu sans his four arms Brahma sans his four heads. He is parama Shiva himself in human form
- Kabir

It's my great fortune that I found SatGuru, all my doubts are removed. I bow before Guru. Guru's glory is greater than God's.

Guru is the God and God is Guru say the scriptures. Indeed, the 'Guru' in Vedic tradition is looked upon as above than God. 'Guru' is a honorific designation of a preceptor as defined and explained variously in the scriptures and ancient literary works including epics. The English word 'Guru' has its etymological origin in the Sanskrit term. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English defines it as "Hindu spiritual teacher or head of religious sect; influential teacher; revered mentor".

Basically the Guru is a spiritual teacher leading the disciple on the path of Self-realization. The Guru is a respected person with saintly qualities who enlightens the mind of his disciple, an educator from whom one receives the initiatory Mantra, and one who instructs in rituals and religious ceremonies which help in accelerating the speed on the path of Self Realisation. The Vishnu Smriti and Manu Smriti regards the Acharya (teacher), along with the mother and the father as the most venerable Gurus of an individual. According to Deval Smriti there can be eleven kinds of Gurus and according to Nama Chintamani ten. According to his functions he is categorized as rishi, acharyam, upadhya, kulapati or Mantravetta.

From generation to generation the institution of the Guru has evolved various basic tenets of Indian culture and transmitted spiritual and fundamental knowledge. Gurus formed the axis of ancient educational system and ancient society, and enriched various fields of learning and culture by their creative thinking. Herein lies the lasting significance of Gurus and their contribution to the upliftment of mankind.

From Hermitages to Universities

Gradually the institution of Gurukula or in-forest-hermitage, where disciples learnt at the feet of guru for long years was evolved. The great urban universities at Takshashila, Vikramashila and Nalanda essentially evolved from these tiny gurukulas tucked away in deep woods. If we have to believe the records of Chinese travellers who visited Nalanda at that time, there were more than 1,500 teachers teaching various subjects to more than 10,000 students and monks.

Legends of Gurus & Desciples

There were gurus as well as disciples of different hues to whom references were made in scriptures and literary works. The most popular legend is that of the amazing young tribal boy Ekalavya on being rejected by the ace trainer Dronacharya, raised his statue and with great dedication practised the art of archery and left behind Arjuna, the master archer, who actually learnt the art under the living guru. And the heartless guru asked for his thumb as gurudakshina or fees, and made him inferior before his royal disciple. In the Chandogya Upanishad, we meet an aspiring disciple Satyakama, who refuses to tell lies about his caste in order to get an admission in the gurukula of Acharya Haridrumat Gautam. And in the Mahabharata we come across Karna who did not bat an eyelid while telling Parashurama that he belonged to the Bhrigu Brahmin caste just to obtain the Brahmastra, the supreme weapon.

The Guru's Role

The Upanishads have profoundly underlined the role of the Guru. Mundak Upanishad says to realize the supreme godhead holding samidha grass in his hands one should surrender himself before the Guru who knows the secrets of Vedas. Kathopanishad too speaks of the Guru as the preceptor who alone can guide the disciple on the spiritual path.

From generation to generation the institution of the guru has evolved various basic tenets of Indian culture and transmitted spiritual and fundamental knowledge. Gurus formed the axis of ancient educational system and ancient society, and enriched various fields of learning and culture by their creative thinking.

Over time the Guru's syllabus gradually enlarged incorporating more secular and temporal subjects related to human endeavor and intellect. Apart from usual spiritual works his sphere of instruction now included subjects like Dhanurvidya (archery), Arthashastra (economics) and even Natyashastra (dramatics) and Kamashastra (sexology).

Such was the ingenuity of the all pervading intellect of the ancient Acharyas that they perpetuated even shastra like thievery. Shudraka's celebrated play Mricchakatikam tells the story of Acharya Kanakashakti who formulated the Chaurya Shastra, or the science of thievery, which was further developed by the Gurus like Brahmanyadeva, Devavrata and Bhaskarnandin.