"The Palace of the Lord God is so beautiful. Within it, there are gems, rubies, pearls and flawless diamonds. A fortress of gold surrounds this Source of Nectar. How can I climb up to the Fortress without a ladder? By meditating on the Lord, through the Guru, I am blessed and exalted. The Guru is the Ladder, the Guru is the Boat, and the Guru is the Raft to take me to the Lord's Name. The Guru is the Boat to carry me across the world-ocean; the Guru is the Sacred Shrine of Pilgrimage, the Guru is the Holy River. If it pleases Him, I bathe in the Pool of Truth, and become radiant and pure."
Guru Nanak, Sri Rag, pg. 17
The word "Guru" is a Sanskrit word meaning teacher, honoured person, religious person or saint. Sikhism though has a very specific definition of the word Guru. It means the descent of divine guidance to mankind provided through ten Enlightened Masters. This honour of being called a Sikh Guru applies only to the ten Gurus who founded the religion starting with Guru Nanak Dev Ji iin 1469 and ending with Guru Gobind Singh Ji in 1708; thereafter it refers to the Sikh Holy Scriptures the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The divine spirit was passed from one Guru to the next as "The light of a lamp which lights another does not abate. Similarly a spiritual leader and his disciple become equal, Nanak says the truth."
"They distinguish and separate one Guru from the other. And rare is the one who knows that they, indeed, were one. They who realised this in their hearts, attained Realisation of God."
Guru Gobind Singh, Dohira, Vachitra Natak
Pictures of the Gurus
Sikhism rejects any form of idol worship including worship of pictures of the Gurus. Although some of the Gurus did pose for paintings, unfortunately none of these historical paintings have survived. Artists renditions are for inspirational purposes only and should not be regarded as objects of worship themselves.
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