The word Guru that is usually considered to denote a teacher or a guide has a deeper meaning to it.
Literally, the word ‘Guru’ contains two syllables -‘gu’ meaning ‘darkness’ and ‘ru’ meaning ‘destroyer’. So the word ‘Guru’ means ‘the one who destroys or dispels darkness’.
The English word guide comes from the original Sanskrit word ‘Guru’. We need a guide for everything – for learning guitar, music or any other field. Similarly, a Guru is the one who can guide you into meditation, knowledge and real wisdom.
Also, a Guru need not be thought of as just a person in a physical form. Guru is a ‘tattva’ – a principle. The Guru principle is the guiding force for the entire universe.
The Guru tattva is a combination of the Brahma tattva (Energy of Creation), Vishnu tattva (Sustenance energy) and Shiva tattva (Transforming energy). In Sanskrit, there is a verse,
“Gurur Brahma Gurur Vishnu Gurur Devo Maheshwaraha,
Guru Sakshaat Param brahma, tasmai Sri Gurave namaha.”
Meaning, “I bow down to the Guru – who is Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshwara, and the summum bonum of the entire universe or the supreme consciousness, the ‘para brahman’.”
In the book Gurudev on the plateau of the Peak, the author, Bhanumathi Narasimhan quotes Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. He says, ”Your own life is your Guru. The Guru is not a schoolteacher from whom you learn something and then go away. Life and Guru are inseparable “.
Gurudev says, “Guru is a tattva – an element, a quality inside you. It is not limited to a body or a form. Guru comes in your life in spite of your refusing or being rebellious. The Guru principle is so vital in life.
Guru simply means one who brings more joy, more alertness, and more awareness into your life. A Guru is not one who holds any authority over you. He is not the one who dictates terms to you. Rather, a Guru encourages you to be in touch with yourself. He reminds you to live in the present moment, and takes away the guilt, agitation, sorrow, and anguish. That in the true sense is the meaning of Guru.”
Scriptures say that Guru is the one to who all devas and devathas prostrate to attain perfection.
If we observe, planet Jupiter is called the “Guru graha”. With Science, we get to know that, not only is the planet Jupiter the biggest planet, but Jupiter also protects the Earth from so many asteroids and comets. If not for Jupiter, life may not even have had a chance to begin on Earth at all. This correlates the fact from the ancient texts say that when there is Guru’s gaze on you, even the worst of the negativities cannot touch you.
The author of book ‘Gurudev on the plateau of the Peak’, Bhanumanthi Narasimhan once quoted an ancient story from the puranas; where Goddess Parvathi sees Lord Shiva bowing down. Intrigued, Goddess Parvathi asks him; “You are the supreme consciousness, and substratum of this entire creation. Who is it that you bow down to?” Shiva replies, “Dear Parvati, for the benefit of humanity, I will answer your question. It is to the all-pervading Guru tattva that I bow down.” What followed this was the Guru Gita, a beautiful set of verses through which Lord Shiva explains the Guru Principle, and says how fortunate one is to have a Guru in his/ her life.
Bhanu didi, as she is fondly called, says, ”The Guru in the physical form is called ‘pratyaksh’. In the presence of the Master, our enthusiasm, and spirit is in an elevated state – sorrows diminish, joy wells up, there is contentment, knowledge is nourished and protected, and talents blossom.”