Role of the preceptor

Spiritual knowledge is described as ‘Para jnana’ to indicate

its subtle and infinite nature. It is beyond the limits of what

can be learnt through the senses, mind or intellect. Since

there is none better than the Lord to impart this Para jnana,

He is the Primordial Guru for the entire humanity, said Sri Va

Ve Subramaniam in a discourse. But there are also many

acharyas who have played an important role in handing

down the spiritual tradition. In fact, an acharya is a cut above

the Lord when it comes to showering grace.

While the Lord is bound by His role as the dispenser of the

fruits of an individual’s karma, a guru is impartial to all his

disciples and his grace flows equally on all of them

irrespective of their individual karma or nature. Adi Sankara

extols the spontaneous generosity of the acharya in the

Viveka Chudamani when he points out that he does not need

any reason to be kind and compassionate towards his

disciples. He is well-versed in the scriptures, pure and not

afected by desire.

He knows the Supreme Truth intuitively and is always

calm like the fire that has burnt up its fuel. He is more a

friend to his disciples who have faith in him and have

surrendered to him. The Vedas teach the concept that both

teacher and student learn together. Ideally, they should have

the same wavelength and there should be no enmity between them.

The function of a guru is to teach the scriptures by going

beyond the letter to the spirit inhering in them. In addition,

he teaches by his life and by his behaviour and sometimes

even by silence. The purpose of learning is to go above the

intellect to realise the purity and richness of the soul.