Role of a preceptor
CHENNAI, APRIL 2 . Scriptures state that it is mandatory to seek God through a Guru (Acharya). The Acharya's role is very crucial, his requirements stringent. Having grasped the essentials of the scriptural texts he should be equipped with the necessary skills to explain those in simple terms. He should take the responsibility of ensuring that the disciple has understood the teachings and is ready to follow the same. In the very first verse of the epic Ramayana, Narada, the celestial Sage, is described as one who is steeped in tapas(penance), and who is foremost of those skilled in expression. Sage Narada was an example of a qualified Acharya, who fulfilled all the demands, said Velukkudi Sri V. Krishnan, in his lecture.
Likewise, a disciple has to seek an Acharya with an open mind filled with devotion, and develop listening skills for it is easier to understand difficult texts through listening than by reading. There should be a desire to learn from the Acharya and to implicitly follow the precepts taught, and to emulate the commitment and discipline of the Acharya. In the teachings of the Acharyas, it is always emphasised that the Vedas say thus, or Bhagavan says thus, and never as a personal or subjective viewpoint. In this way has tradition ensured the protection and authenticity of the ancient texts and teachings.
There are instances when the Lord himself has taken the role of an Acharya. As a preceptor He had expounded the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna. As Nara Narayana, he was both Narayana, the teacher, and Nara, the sishya. This form is in the hallowed shrine of Badrinath. But the Lord also listened with rapt attention when Bhisma narrated the Vishnu Sahasranama, a text that has been the most popular since then, and has attracted interpretations from learned Acharyas. The Lord's traits become more enjoyable when told by the Acharya who has understood Him better. Sri Parasara Bhattar's Bhagavad Guna Darpana is a devoted interpretation and is a mirror to the qualities and characteristics of the Lord.
In one of the many conversations the Lord had with Ramanuja, it is claimed that the Acharya said that they were fortunate to have more number of disciples than the Lord Himself, since it is not very palatable when anyone says, "I am great. Seek me." It is easier for the Acharya to say, "He is the greatest. He is the cause of the universe." Though both the Lord and the Acharya say the same truth, it has a better effect when expounded by the Guru.