Acharya :

‘Acharya’ is related to the word ‘chara’, meaning to walk, to go. ‘Charitra’ means walking along a path. They follow traditional practices strictly. An acharya is one who walks a noble path, follows an established order and sets an example through an orderly moral conduct. He exemplifies various common elements of Hindu dharma, such as ahimsa and truthfulness. There are however different traditions or sampradayas. An ‘acharya’ is therefore also one who lives according to the sastras of particular sampradaya. He inquires into and instructs others in the meaning of sastras. He sets an example and he preaches. This is what we mean by precept and practice.

One who lives a disciplined life according the acharas – customs and practices governed by the sastras and sampradaya to which he belongs – is an acharya. But, to be an acharya, an acharya must also have a disciple so that the sampradaya is passed on. To be able to teach profound concepts also means the acharya himself should be a scholar and for that purpose instructed by his own Acharya in a systematic way.

Guru :

‘Guru’ means ‘weighty’ or ‘big (mahan). they all communicate a sense of greatness about the person. Being a guru is primarily about inward greatness: a guru need not teach or give updesh. One could just be a ‘maun guru’, like the original guru of all, Adiguru Dakshinamurti.

An acharya represents a system. His qualities are outwardly discernible as a Acharya and a role model. A guru is primarily about being great. He or she need not have studied sastras, or, be part of an order, but, nevertheless, be in touch with the ultimate Power, or, be a yogi who keeps his mind under control. While a guru may have no disciples at all, people who recognise the force of his inner light and greatness may seek his grace or wisdom.

People go to a guru primarily to receive his blessings because of his greatness and not necessarily for being taught, but, this often results in a relationship where illumination is sought. This brings us is to another meaning of the word ‘guru’. ‘Gu’ means darkness and ‘Ru’ denotes that which banishes (something). ‘Guru’ thus means one who banishes darkness. Darkness is agyan, or, ignorance. We say ‘tamaso ma jyotir gamaya’ – lead us from darkness to light, or, from agyan to gyan. A guru is one who sheds light in particular about one’s self.

A guru may be a scholar and impart a mantra or give diksha. Equally he need not have studied sastras at all but, by virtue of being ‘great’ and through his grace shed light on various things and dispel darkness. Unlike an acharya who instructs a disciple systematically and over a period of time, the interaction with a guru may be a momentary one, with no oral communication at all but just a side glance. Even such a brief moment can be like an electric switch being turned on, with the resultant light burning forever. It is something many have experienced with their chosen gurus. You live that moment all your life.

A Acharya is a post Graduate A Guru is a spritual leader who would have attained knowledge by practice and penance
All Acharyas are not Gurus All Gurus are Acharyas
A Acharya takes responsibility of your growth A Guru makes you responsible for your growth
A Acharya gives you things you do not have and require A Guru takes away things you have and do not require
A Acharya answers your questions A Guru questions your answer
A Acharya helps you get out of the maze A Guru destroys your maze
A Acharya requires obedience and discipline from the pupil A Guru requires trust and humility from the pupil
A Acharya clothes you and prepares you for the outer journey A Guru strips you naked and prepares you for the inner journey
A Acharya is a guide on the path A Guru is the pointer to the way
A Acharya sends you on the road to success A Guru sends you on the road to freedom
When the course is over you are thankful to the Acharya When the discourse is over you are grateful to the Guru
A Acharya explains the world and its nature to you A Guru explains yourself and your nature to you
A Acharya makes you understand how to move about in the world A Guru shows you where you stand in relation to the world
A Acharya gives you knowledge and boosts your ego A Guru takes away your knowledge and punctures your ego
A Acharya instructs you A Guru constructs you
A Acharya sharpens your mind A Guru opens your mind
A Acharya shows you the way to prosperity A Guru shows the way to serenity
A Acharya reaches your mind A Guru touches your soul
A Acharya gives you knowledge A Guru makes you wise
A Acharya gives you maturity A Guru returns you to innocence
A Acharya instructs you on how to solve problems A Guru shows you how to resolve issues
A Acharya is a systematic thinker A Guru is a lateral thinker
A Acharya will punish you with a stick A guru will punish you with compassion
A Acharya is a pupil what a father is to son A Guru is to pupil what mother is to her child
One can always find a Acharya But Guru has to find and accept you
A Acharya leads you by the hand A Guru leads you by example
To have a Acharya a student needs a pure mind To have a Acharya a student needs a pure soul
When a Acharya finishes with you, you graduate When a Guru finishes with you, you celebrate