Devotees would often ask Sri Ramakrishna about the role of guru or preceptor or spiritual guide in one’s life. Sri Ramakrishna would answer using a beautiful analogy. Once, a very innocent and simple man was carrying some money and was on his way to make some purchases. He lost his way and fell into the hands of a group of three robbers. They robbed him of money and then a debate arose amongst them as to how to deal with the victim. One of them raised his voice and said that the victim should be killed then and there.
This robber represents Tamo Guna. Then another robber said that it is enough if the person is bound hand and foot and tied to a post. This robber represents Rajo Guna.
Accordingly, the man was tied up. Then the third robber took pity on him and freed him. Further, he accompanied him and guided him to a place in the vicinity of the victim’s house. From there he pointed out to the victim “There is your house. Please go on your own”. The robber refused to go any further. This robber represents the Satwa Guna. Sri Ramakrishna would say that likewise if the Guru or the teacher is of a Tamasik nature, he would only bring destruction to the disciple. If the Guru is of a Rajasik nature, he can guide the disciple to some extent in rituals, practices, etc.
But, if the Guru is of a Satwik nature, he can guide the disciple upto quite a distance. But, even such a Guru or preceptor cannot take the disciple upto the ultimate destination. He can guide the disciple to a great extent, but ultimately the disciple has to struggle himself learning from his Guru.
True knowledge or realization would come only out of the Sadhaka’s own spiritual struggle. That is why in the Gita it is said “Uddharet Atmanatmanam” i.e. raise yourself by your own Self.