Q34. Is a Guru necessary for spiritual evolution?
Many religions of the world agree on the need for a spiritual guide. On meeting a True 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 a Guru. The Guru gives instruction - through the use of a mantra - 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: "The perfect Guru has dispelled the darkness of delusion from my heart."
The Guru Granth Sahib was installed as the permanant 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.
The Sikhs, therefore, do not recognize any living person as Guru. The song-message of the Guru Granth Sahib 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:
"The Guru is an ocean full of pearls,
The saint swans pick up those ambrosial pearls." (A.G. p.685)
Just as milk should not be kept in an unclean pot, so in the same way, the Guru will not pour his nectar (Nam) into an uncleaned mind. By practising 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 The Guru Granth Sahib is already in our midst. By following the directions of Gurbani, we can progress on the spiritual plane.