Principles and Concepts

Is a Guru necessary for spiritual evolution?

Many religions of the world agree on the need for a spiritual guide. On meeting the True Perfect Guru, the ignorance of superstition is removed and divine knowledge obtained. The Guru sheds light through his message. What is important is not the person but ‘The Word’.

According to the Sikh religion, liberation cannot be won without the True Guru. Guru Granth Sahib Ji is the True Perfect Guru in the world. The Guru gives instruction – through the blessing the seeker with the GurMantar and Amrit – this is a means of invoking a union with God. Waheguru is the mantra for Sikhs. Just as a teacher is necessary for secular studies so for spiritual advancement one requires a Guru because he has realized God. Guru Nanak says:

ਪੂਰੈ ਗੁਰਿ ਮੇਟਿਓ ਭਰਮੁ ਅੰਧੇਰਾ ॥
“The Perfect Guru has dispelled the darkness of doubt.
(Ang 615)

Guru Granth Sahib Ji was installed as the permanent Guru of the Sikhs by Guru Gobind Singh in 1708, because the stage had arrived when the living Guru had fully discharged his office. The personal Guru now became the impersonal Guru of the Granth. The Granth presides over all Sikh congregation and represents the Word of God in a permanent form, and the Guru Panth represents the physical manifestation of the Guru.

The Sikhs, therefore, do not recognize any living person as Guru. The divine revelation of Guru Granth Sahib Ji is the Sikhs’ Guru for all time.

The true Guru reveals the divinity of man to the individual. He shows him the way to cross the ocean of life and to reach the Kingdom of Bliss. Guru Nanak says:

ਗੁਰੁ ਸਾਗਰੁ ਰਤਨੀ ਭਰਪੂਰੇ ॥
ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਸੰਤ ਚੁਗਹਿ ਨਹੀ ਦੂਰੇ ॥
ਹਰਿ ਰਸੁ ਚੋਗ ਚੁਗਹਿ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਭਾਵੈ ॥
ਸਰਵਰ ਮਹਿ ਹੰਸੁ ਪ੍ਰਾਨਪਤਿ ਪਾਵੈ ॥੧॥
“The Guru is the ocean, filled with pearls. The Saints gather in the Ambrosial Nectar; they do not go far away from there. They taste the subtle essence of the Lord; they are loved by God. Within this pool, the swans find their Lord, the Lord of their souls. ||1||”
(Ang 685)

Just as milk should not be kept in an unclean pot, so in the same way, the Guru will not pour his nectar (Naam) into an uncleaned mind. By practicing goodness and the remembrance of The Name, an individual prepares his own mind for the Guru’s message. After due cleansing, the Guru administers the remedy of the Name with suitable directions.

We are fortunate that we do not have to search for a Guru, because Guru Granth Sahib Ji is already in our midst. By following the directions of Gurbani, we can progress on the spiritual plane.