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Gurus and Ācāryas
(6,162 words)

The words guru and ācārya refer to one of the most prestigious roles in Hindu society and one of the most important institutions in Hinduism. The meaning of the words is “spiritual master” and “teacher,” and they are used almost as synonyms and have been used interchangeably, but there is also a difference in meaning. The guru or ācārya is a religious and spiritual leader, a teacher of salvific knowledge, a sacred person who initiates disciples (śiṣyas) an…

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Axel Jacobsen, Knut, “Gurus and Ācāryas”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism Online, Editor-in-Chief Associate Editors Knut A. Jacobsen, Helene Basu, Angelika Malinar, Vasudha Narayanan. Consulted online on 01 June 2023 <>
First published online: 2018

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