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In Hinduism, a personal spiritual teacher. In ancient India, knowledge of the Vedas was transmitted through oral teaching from guru to pupil. The rise of the bhakti movement further increased the importance of gurus, who were often looked on as living embodiments of spiritual truth and were identified with the deity. They prescribed spiritual disciplines to their devotees, who followed their dictates in a tradition of willing service and obedience. Men or women may be gurus, though generally only men have established lineages. See alsoGuru.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on guru, visit Britannica.com.