To know a Satguru you should know how a Satguru would be. That’s what Arjuna asked of Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita: “How am I to know a person of steady wisdom (sthitaprajna)?” Arjuna then asked Sri Krishna to describe how such a person would walk, how they would talk, how they would act. If you want to know an orange, you should know what an orange is, how it would look, or at least what to look for.

If you read the Bhagavad Gita, second chapter, last 20 verses or the 12th chapter, you will find the guidelines on what to look for. Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t say, “Look for a long white beard, or someone who can sit behind a microphone and give quotation after quotation from all the scriptures of the world religions, or someone who is fluent in Sanskrit language, or the one who can sing bhajans beautifully, or the one who would build a lot of temples.

None of these things are the qualifications of the Satguru according to the scriptures and sacred texts. What do those say? They say to look for the one with tranquility in their life, with steadiness of mind. Are they always steady? Are they always balanced? Look for that. What is meant by balanced?

It means they have no ups and downs; they are a level‑headed person who doesn’t swing to extremes. They don’t get depressed one moment by a loss or by somebody talking negatively about them. They don’t get excited when someone comes and puts a garland around their neck. They are balanced in relation to the dualities: pleasure, pain, profit, loss, praise, blame, and so on. They see the dualities, even if the differences in life, but they are not affected by them because they know that everything and everyone is necessary in this world.

No one is their “super special” friend; nobody is their foe. They treat everybody equally. Ten people may come and fall at a Satguru’s feet and say, “We want to take you as our Guru.” The Satguru doesn’t get excited over it. The next day 20 people might leave their ashram and they accept that because people come and people go; things come and things go. When there is a coming, there is a going. The Satguru remains balanced in the midst of all these comings and goings. That is what you call steadiness of mind or tranquility.

So, these are the things you should look for rather than superficial things. Look for the important qualities.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda