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  Wikipedia: Guru

Wikipedia: Guru
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The factual accuracy of this article is disputed: see talk:guru

The word guru means teacher in Sanskrit and other Sanskrit-derived languages like Hindi, Bengali and Gujurati but literally comes from the aksharas "gu" and "ru" where "gu" means darkness and "ru" means the act of removal so it is used for a teacher, someone who dispels darkness (ignorance) of the mind (person) and is a title of reverance used to address spiritual teachers or personal mentors in Hinduism.

Guru is also the Sanskrit name of the planet Jupiter, which in vedic astrology is believed to exert teaching influences.

Role of a guru in Hinduism

In this sense, guru is used more or less interchangeably with satguru (literally: teacher of truth) and satpurush. Compare also Swami. Often there is a lineage of gurus. The disciple of a guru is called sishya or chela. Often a guru lives in an ashram or gurukul.

In the traditional sense, the word describes a relationship rather than an absolute and is used as a form of address only by a disciple addressing his master. All Hindu denominations hold that a personal relationship with a living guru, revered as the embodiment of God, is essential in seeking moksha.

Additional meanings in contemporary western usage

The original meaning has evolved to a broader one. In more recent usage of the word guru, it means anyone who makes philosophical or religious statements independent of an established school of philosophy or religion and attracts and accepts followers because of this. Sometimes Christians use the word guru as a pejorative label. On the other hand, some Christian scholars like the Dutch theologian Reendert Kranenborg accept the word guru for Jesus. Often, dependent on the teachings of the guru, the followers will see the guru as a prophet, saint or avatar. Gurus often claim that they have achieved enlighment, moksha, that their teachings were channeled or that they have received a revelation.

The word has acquired a negative connotation in western countries, likely due to the prominence of several self-proclaimed "gurus" in the US during the 1960s and 1970s "New Age" movement (see e.g. Osho), who used Hindu terminology without having much else in common with mainstream Hinduism. But also due to more traditional gurus who didnít practise what they preached especially with regards to celibacy and luxury. Some gurus are charlatans, self deceived or cult leaders or a combination of this.

The term guru has also passed into an even wider metaphorical use. In hacker culture, a guru is an expert of legendary proportions. Nearly synonymous with "wizard", but additionally implies a history of being a knowledge resource for others. Less often, used (with a qualifer) for other experts on other systems, as in VMS guru. (The definition is from Jargon file.)

Common character traits and assessing the guru's authenticity

The British psychiatry professor Anthony Storr argues in his book 'Feet of clay - A Study of gurus' that gurus (in the current usage of the word) share common character traits (e.g. being loners without friends) and that some suffer from a mild form of schizophrenia.

Storr also wrote in the book that the gurus who are eloquent are the ones who are more likely to be unreliable and dangerous. The scholar David C. Lane wrote that a charlatan who cons people is not as dangerous as a guru who really believes in his delusions. The 'bigger' the claims a guru makes, the bigger the chance that he is a charlatan or deluded. The history of various gurus, religions, sects, new religious movements and cults has shown that the question how to assess the authenticity of a guru is difficult especially when the guru is still young. The question is still basically unresolved. The rule of thumb that Jesus gave is that one should judge a prophet by his fruits. This rule has the drawbacks that one should know what is good and bad in the first place and that one can't possibly know all acts and their corresponding fruits of a guru.

See also Contemporary Hindu Movements.

List of famous gurus

External Links

There is also a 1990s alternative rapper named Guru.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 
Modified by Geona