An all-important feature of Vaishnavism is the need for a sincere seeker of the truth to search for a bona fide, living representative of God (guru), and surrender to him/her establishing a guru/disciple relationship. A bona fide guru will then instruct and enlighten the worthy disciple as to how he/she can fully reestablish his/her eternal loving relationship with the Supreme Lord. The character, qualities, and qualifications of such a bona fide guru are expounded by the Vedic literature. The Vedas are accepted as the oldest written scriptures of the world and contain a vast array of instructions and information to guide all people, regardless of consciousness, towards the ultimate goal of life. They admonish that without guru one cannot come to actually know God. One significant qualification of such a guru is that he must also have received the Absolute Truth from a bona fide guru in an unbroken line of disciplic succession coming from the Supreme Lord Himself. This imparting of the Absolute Truth from spiritual master to disciple via an unbroken succession is known as initiation.

A bona fide guru is held by Vaishnavas to be the external manifestation of the Supreme Lord’s mercy and the means by which God makes Himself available to the conditioned living entities. The guru is therefore venerated as much as the Supreme Lord Himself.