Guru or the one who gives Light, one who is heavy with Wisdom is an aspect of the Divine. He also represents the Compassion of the Divine that leans down into the earthly play to help man step out of the prison-house of ignorance. When the soul is caught up in the net of ignorance and darkness then it is this aspect of Wisdom and Compassion that is most needed. Since the Divine dwells within man, the Guru also dwells within man. All Gurus in fact derive from this aspect from the Divine and are His conscious or half-conscious representatives. However, since it is difficult for man to discover the Divine Master within, He comes to us in a human form. The one in whom we feel intuitively the Master who is meant to connect us and lead us to the Master within is the Master without. Though all true (an important qualification) Masters come from the same Source, each brings his own angle of approach and depending upon his capacity and the mandate given to him to the level that he himself could rise.
The Master meant for each one is different and comes to us answering to our inner need. His main work is to connect us to the inner Divine and help us in our inner journey. Those whose psychic being is awake and developed enough the contact and relation with the inner Divine can be direct without the need of an outer Master. But this is rare and even when one comes with a developed and conscious psychic being yet it is much easier if one finds the Master who would lead and guide his journey through the mazes of ignorance. The inner journey moves through many a landscape of which we have no or little idea. Some of these landscapes can be very deceptive and others slippery and precipitous. The Master knows these, at least on the route through which he himself has travelled. And since he has undertaken to lead us on the Path he helps us navigate through all these spaces of the soul until we arrive. It is then that we recognise that it is the Master within who had assumed for us this particular name and form to draw us through the Path meant for us.
There is another big advantage of having a Master in flesh and blood. His life provides for us a living example since he has faced the challenges of life as we have to whatever measure and degree and yet arrived. It is also easier for us to trust someone whom we can see and hear through the doors of our senses and yet receive the needed psychic shock to turn within. But most importantly since we are not just souls but embodied beings and since each part in us desires to surrender and open, it is much easier to do with the Master without rather than the Master within. Our very body can bow down to him in a gesture of gratitude and love and share the joy of surrender. This is near impossible if we see and feel Him within alone. That is why surrender to the Master without is regarded as the surrender of surrenders, as exemplified in that wonderful couplet, Guru and Govind (the Divine, the guardian and Source of Light, one of the names of Krishna) both stand before me so whom should I bow first. Verily to the Guru since it is he who has shown me the way to Govind and led me there.
However, rarest of rare is the fortune of someone for whom Govind Himself comes as the Guru. Such is the Avatar who is much more than a Master. With Him, there is a possibility of a manifold relationship, not just that of a Master and disciple but also of a comrade, a playmate, of father and mother, of the lover and beloved and many more. If one is fortunate enough to have the embodied Divine Himself as the Master and Guide then there are no limits to one’s realisations. That is what Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are, not just one more Master among others but the Master of Masters, the Divine who became human, the dual Avatar.