In Kashmir Shaivism and Advaita philosophy this entire, infinite universe is the manifestation of the one supreme God. To awaken is to discover oneself as Lord Shiva Himself, and wherever one looks there is only God. As the advaitin sage Ashtavakra says in his gita (2:8):

"Light is my very nature and I am no other than light. When the universe manifests itself, verily then it is I that shine."

So to an awakened master who lives in nondual truth, there is no "other". So why teach? Who is there to teach?

  • Well to be an awakened master yourself you have to be a disciple first so that the teacher can teach you and help you reach the truth. Shiva is also known as Adi Yogi means the first teacher.
    – Just_Do_It
    Aug 18, 2020 at 19:40

3 Answers 3


Non-dualism is a state that has to be reached. It is not natural or obvious. The natural state is that of dualism for everyone of us, as we all can see, feel the presence of many all the time.

Even the propounders of Advaita must be feeling "many" all the time except when in the state of Samadhi they felt that eventually everything is one.

The point is non-dualism is not obvious, it's not a foregone conclusion. It takes some good amount of spiritual practice to achieve that stage and that practice comes only through a Guru.

IMO, your doubt has been addressed and dispelled very well as well in the following writings of Swami Vivekananda:


Every soul is destined to be perfect, and every being, in the end, will attain the state of perfection. Whatever we are now is the result of our acts and thoughts in the past; and whatever we shall be in the future will be the result of what we think and do now. But this, the shaping of our own destinies, does not preclude our receiving help from outside; nay, in the vast majority of cases such help is absolutely necessary. When it comes, the higher powers and possibilities of the soul are quickened, spiritual life is awakened, growth is animated, and man becomes holy and perfect in the end.

This quickening impulse cannot be derived from books. The soul can only receive impulses from another soul, and from nothing else. We may study books all our lives, we may become very intellectual, but in the end we find that we have not developed at all spiritually. It is not true that a high order of intellectual development always goes hand in hand with a proportionate development of the spiritual side in Man. In studying books we are sometimes deluded into thinking that thereby we are being spiritually helped; but if we analyse the effect of the study of books on ourselves, we shall find that at the utmost it is only our intellect that derives profit from such studies, and not our inner spirit. This inadequacy of books to quicken spiritual growth is the reason why, although almost every one of us can speak most wonderfully on spiritual matters, when it comes to action and the living of a truly spiritual life, we find ourselves so awfully deficient. To quicken the spirit, the impulse must come from another soul.

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" —

Source --- The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 3/Bhakti-Yoga/The Need of Guru

Eventually there is only ONE entity. But at present we can not feel it and that's why we need to practice. And, that practice has to be done only under the guidance of a Guru. When, someone is permanently absolved in that state of oneness, there is nothing like Guru-Shishya etc. But, before that we need the knowledge that flows only through the Guru Sishya Parampara.

Advaita Vedanta, Kashmiri Shaivism all have their respective Guru Paramparas, through which the knowledge of Advaita has descended. So, there is no contradiction at all. Eventually there is only ONE but before that stage is achieved, we need the teaching, we need the teacher and we need to practice.


Good question. Your analogy sounds like a martial arts teacher thinking to himself why can't people with hands and legs figure out the art themselves? Why should I bother teaching them?

Only compassionate teacher, a Guru will think the art he learnt will benefit others as well like how it benefitted him and decides to teach others.

  • Welcome to Hinduism Stack Exchange! You should cite some sources.
    – Pandya
    Aug 22, 2020 at 7:04

The following is an excerpt from the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi.

That which is born must end. The delusion is only concomitant with the ego. It rises up and sinks. But the Reality never rises nor sinks. It remains Eternal. The master who has realised says so; the disciple hears, thinks over the words and realises the Self. There are two ways of putting it.

The ever-present Self needs no efforts to be realised, Realisation is already there. Illusion alone is to be removed.

Some say the word from the mouth of the Master removes it instantaneously. Others say that meditation, etc., are necessary for realisation. Both are right; only the standpoints differ

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