The difference between an Atma Gnani- ‘One with full Knowledge of the Self’ and a Guru is immeasurable. An Atma Gnani is here for the sole purpose for you to attain liberation by acquiring the knowledge of the Self from Him. In contrast, a Guru is a guide or a teacher of a sort and exists to assist you in your development and progress in worldly and religious matters.

A Guru will free you from negative deeds and guide you towards good deeds. The Guru will take you as far he has reached himself in his own life. The Gnani, on the other hand, takes you above bad deeds or good deeds; He makes you transcend them both and leads you towards liberation, releasing you from the bondage of the perpetual cycle of birth and rebirth.

Thus, whilst the roles of the Atma Gnani and the Guru are very distinct you need them both: TheGuru for your worldly interactions and the Gnani Purush (Atma Gnani) to achieve the ultimate goal, liberation.

What the Atma Gnani imparts to you:
•The Gnani exposes you to Absolute Spiritual Science.
•He makes you understand your true form-‘Who am I’.
•He does not ask you to renounce anything at all.
•He releases you from the bondage of good or bad deeds (karmas).
•Makes you advance towards liberation through understanding.
•Bestowsupon you the same bliss He has attained.
•With the Knowledge of the Self, He enlightens you towards ultimate liberation.
•Above all, He wants nothing in return.

A Guru offers you:
•A Guru is a teacher or a guide of a kind and gives you light to go ahead.
•He has studied extensively and teaches others what he has learnt relating to worldly matters.
•Through his studies, he has adopted certain principles and knowledge and it is this discipline that he imparts within you.
•People become happier in worldly matters because they have adopted his principles of discipline into their life.

Param Pujya Dada Bhagwan was such an Atma Gnani not too long ago – and today, Pujya Deepakbhai, His disciple, continues the work of world salvation through the guidance and blessings of Dadashri. Param Pujya Dada Bhagwan’s ‘Akram Vignan’is a spiritual science. He was a Supreme Soul in a human Form. He had no weakness relating to anger, pride, deceit or greed. He had no ego or ownership of His mind, speech or body. He lived for the sole purpose of ‘Salvation of the world’. He never expects anything in return. Even a Guru will have to go to a Gnani if he wants liberation.
Param Pujya Dada Bhagwan says,

“Hand over your miseries to me and, if you have faith in me, they will not come back to you. But they will if you lose faith in me. So, if you have any difficulties, just say, 'Dada, I am surrendering my miseries to you.' If I take away your miseries, then you will get somewhere, otherwise, how will you? I have come to take away the miseries of the world.

Keep your happiness with you. Do you have a problem with that? If someone like you gives me money, what am I going to do with that money? I have come to take away miseries. Keep your money; it will be useful to you. There is no exchange of money where there is a Gnani Purush, he comes to take away your miseries, not increase them.”

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Author's Bio: 

Ambalal M. Patel was a civil contractor by profession. In June 1958, spontaneous Self-Realization occurred within Ambalal M. Patel. From this point on, Ambalal became a Gnani Purush, and the Lord that manifest within him became known as Dada Bhagwan. A Gnani Purush is One who has realized the Self and is able help others do the same. Param Pujya Dada Bhagwan used to go from town to town and country-to-country to give satsang (spiritual discourse) and impart the knowledge of the Self, as well as knowledge of harmonious worldly interactions to everyone who came to meet him. This spiritual science, known as Akram Vignan, is the step-less path to Self-realization