by Angela Burt
In Search of the Authentic Guru in the Gaudiya Vaishnava Tradition. The qualities and qualifications of a guru who is worthy of offering guidance and who can help the disciple to become free from material existence
are described in Gaudiya Vaishnava texts. A central text in the tradition, the Bhagavata Purana explainsthat a person should turn to a guru who knows God, is calm and whose self is in God. Another text, Hari-bhakti-vilasa indicates that an authentic guru should be pure in heart, free from anger, non-violent, thoughtful, humble- minded, faithful and free from envy. Such a guru should be devoted to suitable conduct, have knowledge of the Vedas and scriptures, be well-spoken, affectionate to his or her disciples, be devoted to sacrifices and mantras, and possess expertise in logic and debate. A guru should not make disciples out of a desire for worship, honor and gain. In other words, a guru should not take on the position for personal gain, but rather, to benefit others.
Selection of a spiritual guide can be made whimsically, based on superficial factors such as an attractive personality that is charismatic in the popular sense. Or it can be made in a discerning manner, based on the core principles of wisdom, detachment from self-interest, and exemplary conduct observed over a period of time. Buy the current issue to read the entire article.
artwork © Daniel Villafruela CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons