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Meaning Of A Guru

By: Sharon Thomas

The word 'Guru' is derived from the age-old Indian language, Sanskrit. The word has two syllables 'gu', which means 'darkness of ignorance' and 'ru', which means 'radiance of knowledge'.

Hence, a guru is a person who brings a person from darkness to light by providing him/her the needed knowledge. The influence of a Guru in one's life is considered very sacred and it has a very important place in the Indian tradition.

This is very evident from the customs followed, like giving the 'gurudakshina' and by celebrating the festival of 'Guru Purnima'. 'Both these customs are being performed till date and they are never going to fade.

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What Is Gurudakshina

Gurudakshina is the offering given by the student or pupil to his teacher. As per the Vedas and scriptures, it is believed that a student must give anything that a guru asks for. That is why in Mahabharata, Ekalavya gave his thumb without a second thought to his guru Drona when he asked for it.

Such is the devotion a student must have on his guru. Guru Purnima is celebrated to pay respect and express gratitude to gurus.

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The Difference Between A Teacher & A Guru

There is a fine line of difference between a teacher and a guru. Anyone can become a teacher by just explaining what is what to a set of people seated. This is just knowledge that answers the questions of the mind.

However, guru is someone who is one step above a teacher. He is someone who teaches the lessons of life. There are many things that a person has to learn rather than bookish knowledge and that can be obtained only from someone who has gained so much of experience from life and is superior in all aspects. Guru is such a kind of person.

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Qualities Of A True Guru


A true guru never holds back any knowledge and is all-giving. By imparting knowledge, he feels that he only gains more and more intellectually. He satisfies the questions of the soul and helps a student to develop as a whole rather than providing academic knowledge alone.

A guru is never egoistic. The thinking ‘I am the one' never comes to his mind. If this thinking persists, it is tough to impart knowledge, which might be present in a teacher. A teacher stops with just the teaching but a guru sees that his student travels through the right paths, learns the right things, and gives a helping hand whenever needed.

A guru cares for his student in all facets of life when a teacher looks after the academic part alone. The relationship between a guru and the disciple transcends time and space but the relationship between teacher and student has so many constraints.

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An Example Of A Guru From History

An example of such a guru can be seen in the epic of Mahabharata. It is none other than Parashurama - the guru of Drona, Bhishma, and Karna. He had a principle that he would teach only Brahmins but never hesitated when Karna approached him posing as one because the guru knew that Karna was worthy a student.

Parashurama even fought with Bhishma and neither could not win over the other. Parashurama, in this case, wholeheartedly accepted his defeat even though Bheeshma was his student. With ego, this can never happen. It is not easy to find a guru like this, and if found, one must never let go of him.

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Where Can One Find A Guru, As Per Lord Krishna

Lord Krishna tells that one can find a guru from anywhere in our surroundings. It need not be a person. It can be any living creature for that matter like the animals and birds. They also teach so much to a person who observes them well. Even Mother Earth is not exempted from this. The Nature herself is a great guru.

On this Teacher's day, let's ask ourselves if we have ever come across a guru and failed to recognise his presence in our lives. If so, make use of this auspicious day to shower love and gratitude. If you are yet to find a person like that, don't delay and let the search begin.

Read more about: teachers day, guru
Story first published: Tuesday, September 5, 2017, 11:56 [IST]
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