The Truth About Guru

You deserve to know the truth.

In this post, I’m going to demystify the Guru Principle.

This is pretty big stuff, but I’m feeling ambitious, so grab a pillow and sit close.

By the time we finish, you should have a fairly solid grasp on the most enigmatic of all yogic principles –Guru Tattva. And here’s the guarantee:

If you don’t know more about the subject than everyone at the next party you attend, you will get one of these.


That’s right, a Wha Guru Chew. They come in 5 exciting flavors.

I might even send you one anyway, if you ask me.


With gratitude to the kindness shown me by my own gurus, I’ll begin.

God is the only Guru.

This is the Vedic principle. It’s always been this way.

Acarya mam vijaniyam (SB 11.17.27) –I am the acarya, says Krishna.

Of course, you may insert whatever name for the supreme divinity you prefer.

How, then, is one to receive guidance from this perfect intelligence?

The Guru Within

God lives within the core of every heart; nay, within every atom. In the Vedic tradition, this localized aspect of supreme intelligence is called paramatma, or antaryami.

This ‘guru within’ is responsible for unexplained phenomena such as birds and whales finding their destinations when they migrate thousands of miles.

You might also call it the ‘still, small voice’ inside you.

The Guru Without

Then there is what I’m calling the ‘guru without’, an actual living person who is thoroughly conversant with both paramatma and with the sacred texts, having realized the essence of both.

Such a person follows in a bona fide line of disciplic succession and is known variously as paramahamsa, satgurumahatma, etc.

A saint of this calibre is very rare –sa mahatma su-durlabah (Gita 7.19)– and as such, he or she is treated with reverence and love.

He or she never considers him/herself to be anything other than a humble servant, however, and his or her objective is to help the disciple become better able to hear the guru within.

It’s a Checks and Balances System.

So these should all line up:

  • The guru within you
  • The guru instructing you
  • The opinion of the wise in your tradition

The teachings of the instructing guru must resonate with your own heart. If it makes you feel uneasy, don’t do it.

Likewise, the instructions of one’s heart should be corroborated by the wise and by sacred literature.

This is so nobody does something stupid and claims to be divinely guided. Puh.

Where People Get Confused:

Some people follow gurus blindly, with no need to reference the tradition he or she claims to follow.

Neither do they listen to their own hearts in response to his/her instructions.

Other people reject the idea of receiving guidance from a mahatma altogether, relying instead on how they feel at any given moment. You are your own guru! they’re told by well-meaning friends.

The truth is that most of us require additional help to access the inner guru reliably.

Be Careful Out There.

It’s a jungle of misconceptions.

Depending on what your goals in life are, you might not need a formal guru.

But you most certainly will need mentors.

If you are fortunate enough to meet a genuine mahatma in this life, however, please don’t hurry away.

Listen closely.

Then listen closely.


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13 Responses to The Truth About Guru

  1. Shanna Mann says:

    huh. That really was food for thought.

    Those chewy bars made me hungry, though.

  2. Thais says:

    thank you for this Rupa! I guess the question now is – how on earth do you begin the journey to finding a guru?!?

  3. Marianne says:

    I love this post – I’ve seen a few around lately taking ‘provocative’ positions for or against the inner and outer guru and it is a lovely balm to read your balanced take on the subject Rupa. Thanks.

  4. Kara-Leah says:

    Oh this is so wonderful! It’s something I’ve been musing over a lot lately, and you’ve clarified and simplified it beautifully!

    Thank you so much!

  5. Ellen Berg says:

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post. We look for the answers outside of us…and yes, sometimes we find them there, but they need to resonate within us. For me it’s about feeling that internal click. There is wisdom all around us and within us. Lovely!

  6. Krsna Kumari says:

    Thank you Didi,
    I really love this post and can attest that Wha Guru Chews ARE TOTALLY YUMMY. Just be be careful if you have loose fillings.

  7. Pingback: Dude, where's my Guru? | The Yoga Lunchbox

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