Learning under a guru

However brilliant one may be, it is important to study
religious texts with the help of a guru. Even Acharyas like
Ramanuja studied under preceptors. In fact, in the case of
Ramanujacharya, he studied under five preceptors. The texts have deep meanings which one cannot understand without guidance, said M.A. Venkatakrishnan in a discourse.

There are many instances where people who had not
studied under a guru were caught on the wrong foot when
asked to explain something. Naduvil Thiruveedhipillai
Bhattar used to give discourses on his own, without having
duly studied under a guru. Once he was asked a question by
the king and he was unable to answer. The question was this: “In the Rama avatara, the Lord kept His Supremacy
concealed. That being the case, how could Rama grant
moksha to Jatayu?” Luckily for Naduvil Thiruveedhipillai
Bhattar, there was a student of Nampillai who was present in the court at that time. So Naduvil Thiruveedhipillai Bhattar consulted him. He replied thus: “The Ramayana says that because Rama was one who always kept His word, He had under His control all the worlds. And that made it possible for Him to grant moksha to Jatayu.” Naduvil
Thiruveedhipillai Bhattar repeated this reply to the king and
was rewarded amply.

One hears of men without medical degrees posing as
doctors, who, until their pretence is discovered, make a lot of money. But once they are exposed, they go to prison for
having endangered the lives of others. He who thinks he has
acquired gnana merely by reading some books, but without
having studied under a guru, is one who endangers the
spiritual health of others and should be shunned just as a
fake doctor is shunned.