The Work and Influence of Indian Gurus

What is an Indian guru?

“Guru” is a Sanskrit term meaning teacher, master, guide or expert. It also means someone who expels the darkness and leads toward the light. The oldest references can be found even in the earliest of the Vedic texts called the Upanishads. At that time, they not only guided people on the spiritual path, they were also Renaissance people who possessed knowledge in everything from the spiritual to the various arts of life. Guru are also gaining a lot of influence and followers in the western hemisphere, a great example is the newly launched website and phone service  – a phoneline were you can get advice from guru advisers.

Unfortunately, what most of the west has known about Indian gurus are best on longtime prevalent stereotypes. The largest one being that we’re trying to gain social status by pretending to know things that we don’t. But in reality, we are extremely devoted to what we do and we don’t do it primarily for the profit and in fact, we don’t desire very many material things at all.

We do differ in our practices. Those of us who are Bhaktis often spend a lot of hours in a puja (or worship temple) devoting ourselves to deity. Some of us work as mediums contacting deceased spirits from the Other Side. Others of us perform Vedic fire sacrifices which can take hours. Still others of us prefer telling stories from our Indian classic literature tales of the deities.

Most of all, we devote ourselves to helping people to improve their lives for the better and to be more successful in life.

Western Followings of Indian Gurus

This technically started with the mass of emigration of Indian immigrants to the U.S. in the 1960’s and 1970’s. At that same time, it also occurred in the U.K., several western European countries, New Zealand and Australia. Especially in the U.S., enthusiasm for Hinduism grew out of interest in assimilating it into the counterculture that was occurring at the time. However, some have said that the Jesus Christ of Christianity completely fits the profile of a guru. During that time, people started to turn to Indian gurus as an alternative to the patriarchal established religions.

The Chinese Exclusion Act in the U.S. made it possible for Indian gurus to enter the U.S. at that time. They also started to travel to the western European countries quite a bit. In the U.S., the hippies of the late 1960’s often turned to Indian gurus as a way to get “high” without ingesting recreational drugs.

The practice of Yoga has perhaps been a close second biggest influence. The word, “yoga” is actually Sanskrit meaning “union”. It doesn’t refer to just doing the poses in the rhythm of the breathe. It refers to union in all ways from acknowledging our Divine connection with eachother (which “Namaste” also means) to the union of the body and spirit. The fact that Yoga has also attracted many celebrities, such as the rock star Madonna, in the U.S. has also been greatly helping its influence.

These days especially, many young people seem to be interested in embracing ways to make the world cleaner and more peaceful. These include vegetarianism, holding regular meditation practices, and meditation. This is a great start as it gives hope for the next generation.

Many westerners are also catching up to the idea of Truth-seeking. That is, instead of turning to established religions or remaining complete atheists, many are seeking alternative ways to explore spiritual matters and come to their own conclusions. This is a major aspect in life that Indian gurus can easily help with. Unlike previous generations, most younger people especially don’t seem to care as much about clear-cut “right” and “wrong”. Rather, they want to explore what does and doesn’t work and come to their own conclusions as a result.

Why the Increase in Gurus?

Gurus have increased mainly due to the increasing demand for them. It’s not just the previously established religions that aren’t cutting it for most people. It’s also due to the divisiveness of the previously established politics. As a result, neither make people feel dignified or equal anymore so they have been turning Indian gurus in the hopes of gaining a sense of equality and peace. And they often report finding it by sharing a common space and ceremonies.

About Me

From the time I was a child, I devoted much of my life studying the Vedas, Upanishads and other sacred texts. Doing so made me feel a deep connection to the rest of the world. I came to the U.S. in 2009 and have been practicing here ever since. The services I offer are spiritual exploration, how to live a more grateful life and getting away from judgment.

If you need help in your spirituality or in improving your life in general, please contact me today.

Sameer Singh

Post Author: Terry J. Key