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Guru-Disciple Relationship

Discover the spiritual richness one gains from the guidance of a true guru.

I seek nothing of you but your joy in God. And you seek nothing from me but God’s wisdom and joy.

Paramahansa Yogananda

The Guru: “Dispeller of Darkness”

A true guru is not an ordinary spiritual teacher but one who has attained complete union with Infinite Spirit and is therefore qualified to lead others to that same blissful goal.  

The Sanskrit scriptures describe the guru as “dispeller of darkness” (gu, “darkness,” and ru, “that which dispels”). Through the light of the guru’s universal consciousness, the darkness of ignorance is dispelled—removing that which prevents each of us from understanding we are immortal divine beings “made in the image of God.”

A true guru guides his followers through a particular path of spiritual discipline or sadhana consisting of techniques of meditation and precepts for everyday living. Through study and application of the guru’s teachings, the earnest spiritual aspirant comes to understand the real purpose of life and the true relationship between oneself and the Light and Love of God exemplified by a Self-realized guru. As the disciple grows in spiritual development, he or she experiences these blessings being personally bestowed by the guru as the messenger or instrument of God.

The bountiful abundance of the Kriya Yoga path flows into the disciple’s life not only through the teachings, but also from the tangibly felt presence and guidance of Paramahansa Yogananda and his line of gurus, who know the Infinite Self and can lead others to that same spiritual awareness without fail.

The Bond Between Guru and Disciple

Paramahansa Yogananda described the guru-disciple relationship as a “very personal and private spiritual bond... a union of loyal spiritual endeavor on the part of the disciple and divine blessings bestowed by the guru.”

The disciple reciprocates the guru’s loyalty through pledging his or her own loyalty to the guru. It is not necessary for one who becomes a student of the SRF Lessons to make such a promise, either outwardly or inwardly. Paramahansaji freely offered the knowledge of powerful techniques of meditation to anyone—regardless of their other religious affiliation or practices—who sincerely desired to learn them and would pledge to keep such knowledge confidential.

However, for those who feel drawn to the science of Kriya Yoga as their personal path to God, Paramahansa Yogananda offered initiation into the practice of the Kriya Yoga technique. That sacred initiation (diksha in Sanskrit) offered through Self-Realization Fellowship establishes the guru-disciple relationship between the student and Paramahansa Yogananda.

A true guru is ever-living, even when no longer residing in a physical body. Through his oneness with God’s omnipresence and omniscience, a true guru is always aware of the disciple and watches over him or her with constant love and protection.

Paramahansa Yogananda — Last in the SRF Line of Gurus

Before his passing, Paramahansa Yogananda stated that it was God’s wish that he be the last in the SRF line of Gurus. No succeeding disciple or leader in his society will ever assume the title of guru. This divine ordinance is not unique in religious history. After the passing of Guru Nanak, the great saint who founded the Sikh religion in India, there was the usual succession of gurus. The tenth guru in the line announced he was to be the last of that line of gurus, and henceforth the teachings were to be considered the guru.

Paramahansaji gave the assurance that, after his passing, he would continue to work through the society he founded, Self-Realization Fellowship/Yogoda Satsanga Society of India. He stated, “When I am gone the teachings will be the guru....Through the teachings you will be in tune with me and the great Gurus who sent me.”

Further Exploration

Read Next: The Transmission of Divine Consciousness
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