Sri Chinmoy: If you want me to put them in an order, the Guru comes first, then comes the Master, then come the Swamis. The Guru is one who has realised God, and who has been authorised by God to accept disciples and help them in their spiritual life. He has been authorised by the Supreme; you can say that he is acting under the direct orders of God. The Guru comes first because he has become one with God. If he is a real Guru, he cannot do anything of his own free will, whereas the Masters may take liberties. The ordinary Masters do not have direct contact with the Supreme. However, they do have minor or partial or even high realisations, and with these they try to help others. But they do not and cannot say to an individual, “I will give you Self-realisation.” The Master himself does not have complete Self-realisation, so he cannot make such promises.
After the Masters come the Swamis. Swami Vivekananda himself used to say that in India Swamis grow like mushrooms. If you go to India, you will see hundreds of them, but most of them do not have any real spirituality. They wear orange robes and call themselves Swamis, but they are only deceiving humanity. At the same time, a Swami can be a realised soul. If he is a realised soul, he can easily play the part of a Guru for his disciples. Generally the Swamis are still in the making spiritually, and some of the Masters also. But in the case of a real Guru, fortunately he has achieved his own realisation.
In my case, I am not in the making; I am made. I have achieved my realisation in previous lifetimes, and perfected it in this life. Now I have to fulfil the Supreme’s command to me by helping others to reach Him.