Chapter 1

Is a Guru Necessary

Chapter 3

What is the necessity for a Guru or spiritual master?

At least to answer such questions! Actually that is the duty of a teacher - and his purpose. You call him "Master" because he seems to know what he is talking about. As you know, the Sanskrit term for the spiritual master is "Guru" — the one who eliminates or removes the darkness in your understanding.

You ask me, "What is the necessity?" You feel the necessity for a guide only when you do not know your way. If you know already, there's no need for a Guru. But even in the worldly sense we always seem to understand things through the help of somebody. When you come into the world as a baby, the mother acts as your Guru. It is she who removes the darkness in your knowing your father. She tells you that so-and-so is your father and you take her word for it. Otherwise where is the guarantee that so-and-so is your father? Was there any test tube in which you analyzed him? Was there some kind of rubbing stone such as you would rub a piece of metal against to see if it were gold? There's no way of testing him except to believe the mother's word. So the mother acts as the first Guru.

The Hindu scriptures say that everyone should have four Gurus: Mata, Pita, Guru, Deva. Mata - the mother, Pita - the father, Guru - the spiritual guide, and ultimately Deva - God. First the mother shows you the father, then the father takes you to the Guru, and finally the Guru takes you to God.

Even in our normal life we take the help of many Gurus. When such is the case even in the normal worldly life, how could it be otherwise in the spiritual life? Your spiritual Guru is even more necessary than the worldly ones, because the spiritual life is much more subtle.

Many people read a lot of books about Yoga and spiritual life, but books alone can never take the place of a Guru. If we could learn everything through books there should be only publishing houses and no universities. Books cannot take the place of a teacher because when you read a book, you can learn from the book but the book can never teach you. You should know the difference. It is up to you to correctly understand what you read. The author might even have given the right meaning with all good intentions - but you read it any way you want because you are trying to understand it with the help of your own mind, your own understanding. The entire responsi bility lies in your hands. You can understand or misunderstand. That is why we see quite a lot of misinterpretations even in the spiritual field. People read the books and then just understand or interpret as they want and even teach others that their interpretation is what Yoga is.

But a Guru will not allow you to misunderstand. The moment he feels you have not understood something correctly he will say, "Hey, that's not right; this is the way." A book will not and cannot do that. That's why you need a person who has gone through the path and realized the goal to guide you in what is to be done. So I would say a spiritual teacher is very necessary.

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