oḿ ajñāna-timirāndhasya jñānāñjana-śalākayā
cakṣur unmīlitaḿ yena tasmai śrī-gurave namaḥ
I offer my respectful obeisances unto my spiritual master, who has opened my eyes, which were blinded by the darkness of ignorance, with the torchlight of knowledge.
All glories to Sri Guru, who is the personification of the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If one is to carefully study this verse, there are many subject matters which can be nicely understood, of which the first and foremost subject to be understood is the answer to the question, ‘Who is a Guru?’ In the Shastras there are many kinds of Gurus mentioned of which Diksha Guru, Shiksha Guru, Chaitya Guru and Pathpradarshak Guru are of great importance and are always to be respected. Diksha Guru is the one who gives formal initiation to a disciple and establishes the connection with the Guru parampara and the Supreme Lord. Shiksha Guru is one who gives instructions to the devotee regarding making progress on the path of Bhakti. One may have numerous Shiksha Gurus but Diksha Guru is only one and mostly the Diksha Guru is also the Shiksha Guru. However, in the situation where the Diksha Guru is travelling and preaching, or is no longer present in his physical form in front of the disciple, the devotee make take shelter of another senior vaishnava who has a similar mood to that of the Diksha Guru. The Shastras have stated that one should not differentiate between the Diksha and Shiksha Guru and respect them both equally for Diksha Guru is the roop(form) and Shiksha Guru the swaroop(nature) of Sri Krishna. The Pathpradarshak Guru is one who directs the person and gives inspiration to take to the path of Bhakti and Chaitya Guru is the Supersoul sitting in the heart of the living entity giving directions from within. Understanding these different Gurus, one should give utmost respect to them all and one should certainly follow their instructions to achieve good fortune and make progress in one’s spiritual life.