Guru parampara is the backbone of any spiritual tradition. Propitiating one’s immediate guru and the gurus who taught them — inclusive of the entire line of preceptors who have generously kindled the spiritual spark in mankind through the ages — is a bounden duty of all of us.
A guru’s grace transcends that of a mother, father, a relative or anyone else for that matter. While others may be able to provide physical, mental and other comforts, a guru initiates one into a Bhakta, paving the way to the highest goal, God realisation, pointed out Sri Hari in a discourse. The transformation of an ordinary individual into a devotee is the best one can long for, and this can happen with the grace of God and of the guru. Spiritual seeking is not something that is imbibed easily. From the lives of great saints and devotees, it is seen that the hurdles make the path arduous.
Our quest for salvation can bear fruits if we are fortunate to be trained by a good Acharya. A truly great spiritual teacher can guide spiritual aspirants in the right path, for he has the benefit of divine grace.
Vedanta Desika captures the qualities such an Acharya should possess in his work Nyasa Tilaka: He should adhere to the tradition upheld by the preceptors of yore, be strong willed and not be shaken by the hurdles and opposition from outside forces. He has to be free of faults, and be well versed in Vedanta. He should be a devotee of Narayana. Endowed with Satva Guna and devoid of jealousy, he should follow the dharma of the times in accordance to the ways of one’s immediate predecessors; he should be straightforward in his dealings, and maintain absolute control over the senses; with the ability to show the right path of living and also the route to salvation, he should readily chastise the disciple whenever he errs; and he should always speak the truth and he should seek only good for himself and others at all times.
It is held that the Supreme Brahman is the primordial Guru, and the Vedas are His very breath. He is both the means of and the goal for salvation. Through His divine grace, preceptors, who are His representatives, are born time and again to carry His teachings to humanity.