It is easy to learn, but difficult to teach. Learning process to a large extent depends on the teacher and the teaching. Teaching is an art, and it improves gradually with dedication and sincere effort. To exactly reflect what one has learned is a skill. A good teacher uses proper methodology and suitable techniques to make his point clear. A good teacher never gets disappointed when the students do not understand his teachings. Instead, he strives more to improve his skill. A good teacher has always undergone proper training and learnt his subject of specialization in a proper manner and he replicates his understanding in a productive way, so that many more can be benefited from it. However, a Guru is more than a teacher. A Guru dispels ignorance. A Guru not only teaches the subject, he becomes the role model for the student. A student follows his lifestyle and behavior. He is looked upon with respect by all. A Guru’s job extends beyond the working hours of the day. He imparts the subject matter as well as good values to the students. Seekers of liberation need a Guru of such caliber than a mere teacher. Since what they seek is very subtle they need proper guidance, else they will be left in the dark. Their area of analysis is entirely different from the worldly matter that they are familiar with so far. Each student looks for a role model who practices those teachings so that he can follow the teachings with confidence, and the Guru is that role model.
A Vedanta Guru should be well versed in the scriptures and must have spent a considerable period of life studying the scriptures under a well versed Guru. Only such a Guru knows the proper way of teaching this profound subject. Such a Guru is known as ‘srotriyan’ in Sanskrit. A person, who always remains in the contemplation of Brahman, gets detached from the worldly life. He is called as ‘Brahmanishtan’. The teachings of a ‘Brahmanishtan’ are of very high standard and it will be difficult for the beginners to follow his teachings. He may be a very good teacher but not suitable for a beginner. A ‘utthama Guru’ (suitable Guru) is a person who is both a ‘srotriyan’ and a ‘brahmanishtan’.
A Guru does not expect any favors from the students; instead he imparts the subject along with good value to the students. He concentrates on his teachings and always contemplates on the Truth. It is the duty of the Guru to know the grasping capacity of the students and impart the knowledge accordingly. He never discourages or disappoints the students by his teaching, words or by his behaviour.
In the scriptures, there are many conditions laid out for a Guru. In my view, though in the modern times all those conditions cannot be followed, a Guru must atleast be a dedicated and sincere person with good values. There is nothing wrong in receiving gifts for proper teaching. However, if receiving gifts become the central point, then teaching takes a back stage. A person cannot be made or trained to be a Guru. A student looks upon a person who has imparted good values, advices him in challenging times and teaches him the subject as a ‘respectful Guru’.