Different Kinds of Teachers and Gurus

A Constant Waking Sound

“Awakening of the disciple is the teacher’s highest function”


According to the Kularnava-Tantra (13:128ff.), an important Tantric text which has much to say on the topic of ‘awakening’, there are six types of teachers (gurus).

1.The “impeller” (preraka) is the one who stimulates a person’s initial interest in spiritual life, leading to actual initiation.

2. The “indicator” (sucaka) introduces him to the particular spiritual method (sadhana) in which interest has been awakened.

3. The “explainer” (vacaka) explains to the student the process and its goal.

4. The “demonstrator” (darshaka) shows to him the working and goal in more detail.

5. The “instructor” (shikshaka) supervises the actual spiritual practice.

6. Lastly, the “illuminator” (bodhaka) bring to fruition the work of the previous five teachers by lighting up in the duly prepared disciple the “lamp of knowledge.”


  • The Katha-Upanishad (1.3:14), a Sanskrit scripture dating back to the fifth or sixth century B.C., employs the metaphor of a razor to highlight the difficulty of the spiritual path. Understandably, all authorities are in unanimous agreement that only the most determined and keenest travelers on the road to Freedom will be blessed with success.

    In the days before the term yoga came into vogue, its equivalent tapas was widely used. This word captures very well the intrinsic ardor of spiritual life. It is derived from the verbal root tap meaning “to burn, glow, be heated.” It is descriptive of the “stewing which every aspirant must undergo in order to reach maturity. He has to stew in his own juice just as-in mythological language – the creator-god Prajapati had to “heat” himself, through tapas or austerities, to be able to “sweat out” the whole universe.


    Prajapati – Lord of creation and protector” a Vedic deity of Hinduism.