Bhagavan Sri Ramanamaharishi: From the standpoint of the path of Knowledge, it is the supreme state of the Self. It is different from the ego which you call yourself.
Question: Can’t one approach God without the Grace of (a human) Guru?
Bhagavan Sri Ramanamaharishi: The ego is the individuality and is not the same as the Lord at all. When it approaches the Lord with sincere devotion, He graciously assumes name and form and takes it to Himself. Therefore, they say that the Guru is none other than the Lord. He is a human embodiment of Divine Grace.
Question: But there are some who seem to have had no human Guru at all?
Bhagavan Sri Ramanamaharishi: True. In the case of certain great souls, God reveals Himself as the light of the Light from within.
Question: Some people report that (you) deny the need of a Guru. Others say the reverse. What have you to say about this?
Question: Okay, is there a need for a human Guru?
Bhagavan Sri Ramanamaharishi: What is a Guru? Guru is God or the Self. First a man prays to God to fulfil his desires, then, a time comes when he does not preay for the fulfilment of a desire but for God Himself. So, God appears to him in some form or other, human or non-human, to guide him as a Guru in answer to his prayer.
Question: what are the characteristics of a Guru by which one can recognise him?
Bhagavan Sri Ramanamaharishi: The Guru is one who at all times abides in the profound depths of the Self. He never sees any difference between himself and others and is quite free from the idea that he is the Enlightened or the liberated One, while those around him are in bondage or the darkness of ignorance. His self-possession can never be shaken under any circumstances and he is never perturbed.
Source: pgs. 94, 95, 96, 97, The teachings of Ramana Maharshi
Question: Who is capable of giving me the Divine wisdom, that which gives me Self-realisation?
Swami Sivananda: Divine wisdom, according to Sri Krishna, should be sought at the feet of a liberated Guru, one who has realised the Truth.
Question: How should one approach such a Guru?
Swami Sivananda: The aspirant should approach such a sage in a spirit of humility and devotion. God Himself manifests in the heart of the Guru and instructs the disciple. Having understood the Truth from the Guru by direct intuitive experience the aspirant is no longer deluded by ignorance.(Summary of Gita’s Fourth Discourse)
Question: Can’t I study the scriptures like the Gita on my own and understand what God wants me to understand? Do I need a Guru even for that?
Swami Sivananda: “…without the help of a Guru, you will not be able to understand the proper meaning of the verses of the Gita. You will be like the man who brought a horse to one who asked for saindava while taking food. The word saindava means salt as well as horse!” (pg. 9, Bhagavad Gita [Divine Life soceity, South African Edition]
Question: Is there any reference in the scriptures that say the greatness of the truly enlightened Guru?
If (God) becomes angry, the Guru can save (the individual who has been the subject of God’s anger), but when the Guru gets angry (with an individual), even (God) cannot save him. So, the Guru should be served with the utmost care.” [pg. 727, Canto 7, Chap. 36, verse 26, Srimad Devi Bhagavatam]