Sanatan Dharma

Acharya, guru, bhakta, svAmI (Master)

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Part VII - Other Important Articles, Chapter 3/6 - Acharya, guru, bhakta, svAmI (Master)

This is Part VII - Other Important Articles, Chapter 3/ 6

Table of Contents

34. Acharya, guru, bhakta, svAmI (Master)

In SD, there are four different types of teachers.

  1. AchArya-s

  2. svAmI (master)

  3. bhakta-s

  4. guru-s

34.1. AchArya

The word ‘AchArya’ is derived from the word ‘AcharaNa’ meaning ‘behaviour’ or ‘conduct’. Hence an AchArya is the one who is teaches not only the shAstra-s but by setting an example of his own ‘way of life’. Another meaning of the word ‘AchArya’ is ‘the one who purifies (the surrounding, hearts of people) by his own conduct.’

Acharya-s are those who follow traditional teaching, traditional way of life and are proficient in their philosophical school of thought. An Acharya is expected to be capable to defend his own sampradAya.

An Acharya need not be Self Realized.

34.2. svAmI (Master)

svAmI is a term used to address a monk. He may or may not be realised. A svAmI may be a master, a teacher or an advanced student. Fresh renunciates are called as brahmachArI-s.

34.3. bhakta saints or rasika sant

bhakta-s saints are great God-intoxicated devotee saints of the Lord who are immersed in ISvara bhakti. Some like Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Shri Ramakrishna Paramhansa have an extremely rare capacity to awaken the sleeping ‘spirituality’ of a laymen (be him an atheist) by just touching him / her. They care for none but God and keep singing the beloved Lord’s name and glories wherever they go thereby spreading spiritual love of God and igniting the hearts of whomsoever who is in vicinity. Their soul-stirring bhajan-s (song dedicated to the beloved Lord) often cross boundaries of sampradAya (philosophical schools) and fills one with devotion. Their heart overflows with divine love for God. when in ecstasy, tears of joy rolls down cheeks and in getting astonished by Lord Glory and his lilA (his divine sport), their hairs stand on ends. Love, the strongest and subtlest of energies has become their very nature. They constantly long for God and pray, beg him to be ever present and give a place to ‘this insignificant creature’ at his lotus feet. Words fell short of their glories.

34.4. guru

Since ‘guru’ is very important in SD, it is taken as separate topic. However, we will describe guru in brief and how a guru differs from Acharya and bhakt saints.

‘guru’ is the one who has realized his true nature, which is brahman and permanently abides in it. The supreme state of Self Realization is his natural state.

guru adheres to no single siddhanta. A guru can initiate any one in dvaita, advaita, yoga or give mantra dikshA of rAma, kruShNa, Siva or any other form of God to anyone. A saint and AchArya can only give initiation in their own siddhAnta and mantra dikshA (initiation by giving mantra) of his own ISTa devatA, but a guru has no such restriction.

bhagavAn in gItA (BG 7.16-18) says that a GYAnI is his very AtmA meaning a GYAnI bhakt (devotee) is the most dear to him.

guru is extremely powerful. S/he can initiate or give updesha anyone by mere look, by touch or even by wish. There is no limit to the power of a guru as God himself acts through him. His silence is the most powerful of all, capable of lifting the deserving soul to the ultimate state of enlightenment. The glory of param guru (simply called as guru) is unexplainable. They are the living power of God and the living vedAnta. guru is the knowledge himself. There is no doubt about him. A guru can grant moksha to even an ant or an animal, as in case of Sri Ramana Maharshi giving moksha to Laxmi, the cow, a crow and his mother even if the disciple has not practised intense meditation. It is said that a man can escape from the clutches of a crocodile or a tiger, but not from the clutches of a guru. Such a blessed soul is bound to get enlightened as God has himself chosen the soul to reach to him through his instrument, a guru. A guru is a medium, an agent between a devotee and God.