The different Kinds of Master or Guru

There are four Gurus, namely: 

the mother, the father, the teacher and the Satguru. 

Of these, the Satguru is the True Guru, and His relationship is wholly spiritual. A worldly religious guru is called an acharya or teacher, and he gives social, ethical and religious teachings. This class of gurus or teachers includes the academic teachers also.

The Sant Satguru or Saint is called the Satguru. He has an entirely spiritual relationship with the disciple. He imparts spiritual teachings only.

According to the stage to which they have ascended in the spiritual regions, Gurus can be divided into three classes:

  1. Sadh Guru
  2. Sant Guru
  3. Param Sant Guru

A Sadh Guru is a holy man who has risen above the region of Trikuti or Onkar, which Muslims call Lahut. This is the second region above the physical universe. According to the Muslim Sufis, he is one who has crossed the region of 'Hu', has wiped away all the dirt covering the soul and has removed the covers of the three attributes or gunas, the five elements, the twenty-five instincts, and the mind and Maya, all of which cover or hide the soul.

A Sadh is free from the three gunas.

Gauri M5, 272-7

He has recognised himself to be a particle of the Supreme Lord, and he tries to merge in Him.

A Master or Saint is one who has attained the Sach Khand, True Region, which is beyond the dissolution and the grand dissolution.

Param Sants are those who have reached the region of Anami, Nameless, or Nirala, Detached, or Maha Dayal, Most Merciful, or Soami, Lord and have become One with the Supreme Being.

There is a great deal of difference between a Saint and a Param Sant. 

A Param Sant is one who has reached the True Region and has crossed all the lower regions. This difference is pointed out for academic purposes only. 

Only those who have been given the authority of initiating the seekers by the Lord, are Perfect Masters or Gurus. If the Lord authorises one who has reached the Sadh gati (status of Sadh) or Sant gati (status of Sant) or Param Sant gati (status of Param Sant) to be a Guru, he is called a Sadh Guru, Sant Guru or Param Sant Guru. 

There can be many Sadhs, Saints or Param Saints, but the Lord only rarely nominates any one as a perfect Master or Guru authorised to initiate. All perfect Masters are Saints, but all Saints are not Gurus. 

There are many graduates or holders of the Master of Arts degree, but only a few of them are professors. Similarly, all those who seek spirituality do not become Gurus. Actually, it is only rarely that one becomes a Guru.

The Perfect Masters or Saints, also called Gurus, are regents or viceroys of the Supreme Lord. They are of two kinds. 

First, there are Swathe Sant Gurus in their own right. They are born Saints who come direct from the highest spiritual region, such as Kabir Sahib, Guru Nanak Sahib and others, all of whom taught the true spiritual Path from an early age. They always remain connected with the Lord. Whenever such Saints come into the world they start a wave of spirituality. 

Then there are others who succeed them and continue their teachings. After some generations this work slowly decreases and dies out. Then another Saint comes and starts the wave again. These Saints may come anywhere and in any nation. 

The second kind of Saints are those who are not born as Saints but who have practised spiritual meditation in this world. They have the necessary ability, and have been commissioned by the Lord, to do the work of a Guru. Even they are not brought up to mastership here. They come here already perfected. For name's sake only, they appear to attain completeness and perfection in this life. 

The first kind of Saint is described as follows by Kabir Sahib:

Oh Kabir, we are familiar with the secret; we have come here, as ordered.

Bhai Gurdas Ji says:

The Baba (Nanak Dev) was born with the gift; thereafter He practised it assiduously.

Var 1, Pauri 24

Oh Lalu, know you this; whatever He wishes, I say to you.

 Tilang M1, 722-15

The first kind of Saint gets an order from the Supreme Lord to go forth as a Guru, and He then takes birth; while the second kind receives the order to act as a Guru after he has been born. There is no difference in their spiritual powers or work. Both kinds of Saints possess full powers and use them when necessary.

Besides these two kinds of perfect Masters or Gurus, all others, who work as gurus, are merely imposters. Many of them are selfish and proud and are worshippers of Maya, illusion. They use their knowledge as a tool and use the seekers after spirituality as their beasts of burden. Narrow-mindedness and religious prejudices are the results of their teachings. Gurus of this kind are dangerous. By their wilful and harmful actions, they give a bad name to the institution of a 'Perfect Guru' — the glorious, unimpeachable and spotless Power.

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Footnote: Gurus have been commissioned by the Lord and Khalsas have the permission to initiate. See Chapter IX: The Master or Guru of the Time.