Qualities of a Satguru

Author: Asharira Yogi (Illinois, USA)

According to the Katha Upanishad (1.2.8), a guru is indispensable to acquire the knowledge of Brahman, and that guru must know Brahman as himself (ananya prokta). Without him there is no going further (gatir atra nasti). In the invocations and prayers found in the Taittiriya Upanishad, a teacher seeks the following from God or gods. They can be considered the desirable qualities one may look for in a guru, a teacher or an adept.

Fame (yasah)
Radiance of Brahman (brahmavarchas)
Intelligence (medha)
Immortality (amritasya)
Vigorous body (vicarsanam)
Sweetness in the tongue (madhumattama)
Good hearing capacity
Knowledge of the Vedas (sruti)
Prosperity and material abundance
Students of chaste conduct
Pure mind
Wealth of knowledge
Right wisdom (sumedha)

A spiritual guru should be knowledgeable, self-realized, liberated (jivanmukta), chaste, virtuous, austere, truthful, detached, free from lust and delusion, and dedicated and devoted to God. He should be wise, absorbed in God, selfless, ego-less, humble, indifferent, but firm in enforcing discipline through personal example. A true guru practices renunciation in word and deed and remains the same to all the duality of life. He shuns fame, name, wealth, ownership, publicity, worldly pleasures, luxuries and public attention.

True gurus who have achieved liberation are drawn to teaching and guiding out of compassion or as a service to God rather than to fill their own coffers. Most importantly, they do not promote themselves or attract attention to them or charge money to give you an audience. A true guru, the liberated one, has no interest of his own, no selfishness, no ego and no desire for name or fame. Only that guru should be considered God in human form, who is ego-less and whose identity is fully merged into that of Brahman.

In his book, Guru Tattva, Swami Sivananda declares, “Mere study of books cannot make one a Guru. One who has studied the Vedas and who has direct knowledge of Atman through Anubhava can only be enrolled as a Guru. A Jivanmukta or a liberated sage is the real Guru or spiritual preceptor. He is the Satguru. He is identical with Brahman or the Supreme Self. He is a knower of Brahman.”

He also states, “Possession of Siddhis is not the test to declare the greatness of a sage or to prove he has attained Self-realization. Satgurus do not exhibit any miracles or Siddhis. Sometimes they may exhibit them in order to convince the aspirants of the existence of super physical things, give them encouragement, and instill faith in their hearts. A Satguru is endowed with countless Siddhis. He possesses all divine Aisvarya, all the wealth of the Lord. The Satguru is Brahman Himself. He is an ocean of bliss, knowledge and mercy. He is the captain of your soul. He is the fountain of joy. He removes all your troubles, sorrows and obstacles. He shows you the right divine path. He tears your veil of ignorance. He makes you immortal and divine. He transmutes your lower, diabolical nature. He gives you the rope of knowledge and saves you when you are drowning in this ocean of Samsara. Do not consider him to be only a man. If you take him as a man, you are a beast. Worship your Guru and bow to him with reverence.”


Jagad:guru Sri Adi Shankaracharya. (Oct 24, 2017). Outlook India File: shankaracharya-statue_630_630.jpg. Retrieved  from https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/mp-govt-to-collect-metal-pieces-to-install-108-feet-tall-shankaracharya-statue-i/303366