The person from whose soul such impulse comes is called the Guru — the teacher; and the person to whose soul the impulse is conveyed is called the Shishya — the student. To convey such an impulse to any soul, in the first place, the soul from which it proceeds must possess the power of transmitting it, as it were, to another; and in the second place, the soul to which it is transmitted must be fit to receive it. The seed must be a living seed, and the field must be ready ploughed; and when both these conditions are fulfilled, a wonderful growth of genuine religion takes place.
“The true preacher of religion has to be of wonderful capabilities, and clever shall his hearer be” — ; and when both of these are really wonderful and extraordinary, then will a splendid spiritual awakening result, and not otherwise. Such alone are the real teachers, and such alone are also the real students, the real aspirants. All others are only playing with spirituality.
They have just a little curiosity awakened, just a little intellectual aspiration kindled in them, but are merely standing on the outward fringe of the horizon of religion. There is no doubt some value even in that, as it may in course of time result in the awakening of a real thirst for religion; and it is a mysterious law of nature that as soon as the field is ready, the seed must and does come; as soon as the soul earnestly desires to have religion, the transmitter of the religious force must and does appear to help that soul. When the power that attracts the light of religion in the receiving soul is full and strong, the power which answers to that attraction and sends in light does come as a matter of course. (III, 45 – 46)
The need of a Guru–Sishya hierarchy for transmitting higher spiritual knowledge from one generation to another is a typical Indian tradition. All through our spiritual literature we can find this unique tradition. The Guru first initiates the disciple, making him/her worthy and capable of imbibing the spiritual wisdom. The disciple is almost like a son/daughter to the Guru. Wonderful stories and anecdotes are found in our spiritual literature. To cite a few examples are the stories of Yama and Nachiketa, Sri Krishna and Arjuna, and that of Satya Kama Jabali.