Why do we need a Guru? Who is a disciple? | Excerpts from GURU-STOTRAM talks, Part 2

…continued from https://vinayrnair.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/guru-stotram-part-1/

Moving ahead to the next question – Why do we need a Guru…why can’t we learn from books?

A simple answer given by Swami Chinmayananda to this question is, ‘Why don’t you ask this question to a book?’

The answer is self-explanatory. Not just that, while one is on a spiritual path and studying the scriptures on his own, there’s a chance that he might misinterpret something in it. This can be really dangerous. Hence, there arises the need of someone wise and knowledgeable enough, who has walked the path, to guide him the right way.

A Guru acts like a role model to his disciple. When the student is trying to grasp the idea of an ideal which is beyond intellectual comprehension, in the Guru he sees the ideal, in flesh and blood, whom he can look up to and pursue his path of spiritual journey.

As the disciple starts gaining some knowledge, he might start feeling that he has become another Guru and his ego goes up. At this point, the Guru crushes his ego, for; the ego is the one of the biggest hurdle in one’s evolution.


A Guru acts as an altar at which the disciple can surrender himself. The act of surrendering is very important in the life of a seeker. The attitude of surrender gives a lot of strength to the seeker and he feels secured that since he is working with an attitude to serve God, Guru will take care of him and he doesn’t have to worry. The disciple also dedicates his achievements at the feet of the Guru which in turn prevents his ego to get stronger. The disciple starts seeing his own work as the manifestation of his Guru’s vision. He starts realizing that it is not by his own merits, but the Guru’s grace that is working wonders. Thus the altar of surrender becomes very important for a seeker.

A disciple should have four types of faith:

1. Faith in the existence of a Higher Reality.

2. Faith in the scriptures.

3. Faith in the Guru.

4. Faith in himself.

Among the above, if he has only faith in the Guru, then also he will be saved.

Now that we have discussed who’s a Guru, the question is, ‘who is a disciple?

Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda gives a simple definition of a disciple – One who submits himself to discipline (of the mind) is a disciple. No learning is possible without proper discipline.

The scriptures also indicate the way to approach a Guru. One needs to be intelligent enough as to how to approach a Guru. Will one go and ask a Doctor about a legal advice in a civil case? In the same way, when one goes to a Guru, he should choose his questions very carefully. Guru is there to lift us up spiritually. If we go and ask them about family issues, cause of delay in our child’s marriage, etc., it would be really stupid. Guru may answer those questions but he’s sitting there for our spiritual upliftment not for solving petty domestic issues.


The Upanishads say that one should go to a Guru as a Mumukshu. A mumukshu is one who desires nothing else from the Guru but liberation.


…to be continued


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