Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Gurudeva Mean?

Gurudeva is a term used to address a guru within yoga, Hinduism or Tibetan Buddhism. It is a reverential and respectful generic term. From Sanskrit, guru means “teacher” or “imparter of knowledge,” while deva comes from the root word, div, which can mean “light,” “luminous” or “glowing.” Therefore, gurudeva may be translated to mean “luminous guru," “guru as God” or “of God as guru.” It is said that this refers to the self-luminous form of the master, which shines with its inner subtle light from a place beyond the physical body. In addressing the guru in this way, the implication is made that the guru is a recognized manifestation of God and the light of spiritual guidance.


Yogapedia Explains Gurudeva

Although guru connotes teacher, when it is used within yoga or Indian spiritual traditions, it has wider spiritual implications. A guru may provide guidance, counseling or instruction to guide a student on their spiritual path. The Upanishads and other spiritual texts talk about the importance of addressing and treating the guru as a god. To use the term, Gurudeva, is a way of affectionately acknowledging the importance of their role and presence. For example, the students of Swami Sivananda referred to their guru as Gurudev.

Gurudeva is also used as part of a kirtan, which is a form of call-and-response chanting involving mantras or hymns, to worship and express devotion to a guru.

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