Question: What is a Sadguru? How can you know if someone is truly a guru?


In Sanskrit, gu means “darkness”, and ru means “one who dispels”. So guru literally means “one who dispels the darkness.” And Sadguru is that guru who dispels the darkness from all three strata of human existence – the physical sphere, the psychic sphere, and the spiritual sphere. Literally, Sadguru means “the guru who leads one to Sat, the Unchangeable Entity.” In other words, the highest spiritual guru. So not every guru is Sadguru.

“To shoulder the responsibility of Sadguru is not child’s play.”

Shrii Shrii Anandamurti

Who is Sadguru?

The Supreme Consciousness has created everything within His own mind. This universe and everything within it is His thought-projection. So He knows everything and everyone.

“He does not do anything. His ‘doing’ means His thinking. Things will take shape as He thinks.”

Shrii Shrii Anandamurti

Only the Supreme Consciousness knows our inner thoughts and deepest feelings. And only He knows the science of transcendence. So only He can lead us along the path of liberation. The subtleties of spiritual science are known only to Him, and so it is He who teaches (through the physical form – or Mahasambhuti – of Sadguru) the spiritual science. So it is said:

“The Guru is one – only Brahma (the Infinite Entity) – and no other.”

Shrii Shrii Anandamurti

Now, a very important point: His desire for His created beings is entirely benevolent – He only wishes the liberation of all from suffering. So when the time is right – when a person’s mind becomes restless with the mundanities of the world; when they intensely desire to know the limitlessness within themselves; when they are well and truly ready – He appears in the form of Sadguru and guides them along the spiritual path. He teaches them how to move towards the Supreme Consciousness and merge in Him.

Before going to sleep one night, a child asked his mother to wake him when it would be time for him to eat. His mother told him affectionately, “Don’t worry, son, your hunger will wake you up.”

And so it is with spiritual hunger. When the disciple is ready, the Guru will appear. This is echoed by the Sufi saying, “Seek and ye shall be found.”

“Out of the intense desire for mukti (liberation), one attains one’s Sadguru (perfect master).”

Shrii Shrii Anandamurti

Three Types of Guru

In the West people have a tendency to think they don’t need a guru. But there are many types of gurus in everyone’s lives: parents, teachers, grandparents, mentors. Just as it helps to learn various skills from different kinds of teachers, it also helps to learn spirituality from the appropriate teacher. Indeed this is especially important for spirituality, because of its intrinsically subtle and elusive nature. Hence the need for the highest and most capable guru.

According to Tantra, there are three types of gurus: inferior, mediocre, and superior. These can be compared to three types of doctors: one only gives some advice but doesn’t bother about the patient’s progress; the second gives advice as well as medicine, but is not too strict about whether the patient takes it or not; and the third gives all the necessary advice and medicine, making sure the patient follows his instructions until he or she recovers.

So inferior gurus are those who may give some inspiration and deliver speeches, but do not bother about whether the disciples follow their teachings or not. Mediocre gurus impart knowledge to their disciples, may give some practices and instructions and check on whether the disciples are following their teachings, but they are not too demanding. The superior guru, however, takes meticulous care to ensure that the disciples follow His teachings and practices and compels them to practice more sincerely by applying circumstantial pressure. This is the Sadguru. He guides the disciple through the most subtle and appropriate application of knowledge on every level of existence (physical, psychic and spiritual) until the disciple finally attains the Supreme Goal.

Qualities of Sadguru

According to Tantra, there are many qualities by which a Sadguru can be recognized:

Composed, self-controlled, modest, exemplary in conduct, pure in thought, well-versed in the spiritual cult of Tantra and mantra, highly intelligent, fully established in meditation, and able to both punish and love His disciples.

Sadguru must also be married, because only a married person can be the guru of married people. He must be soberly dressed and have an honest means of livelihood.

He must be able to raise the kundalini of others, as well as His own. One who can raise one’s own kundalinii is called kaola, but Sadguru is called Mahakaola because He can raise the kundalinii of others too.

Types of Disciples

Just as there are three types of guru, there are also three types of disciples:

The first is like an upside-down vessel – once you take it out of the water, it loses everything it had in it. The next is like a leaky vessel – when taken out of the water it retains its contents for some time but eventually loses everything. The best type of disciple is like an upright vessel that retains everything it has assimilated. This type of disciple sincerely follows the teachings and practices given by the guru even when not in the physical presence of the guru. This is the real meaning of “disciple” – one who adheres to the “discipline” given by the guru.

Whenever a worthy disciple is taught by Sadguru, spiritual progress is a certainty. Following the process of initiation into intuitional science, there must be a regular and sustained effort (sadhana) to practice that science on a daily basis. It must be made a part of one’s life because it is only through constant practice and the cultivation of cosmic ideation that one’s Goal may me realized.

“The system of intuitional practice as taught by the Sadguru is so potent that it imperceptibly diverts the mind from crude attractions to subtlety: the desire for earthly enjoyments disappears, and with it the anguish of not attaining them. Hence not to do sadhana for fear of withdrawing oneself from worldly pleasures and enjoyments is not based on reason. Those who think thus are mistaken.”

Shrii Shrii Anandamurti

Read more questions and answers…