Guru is one of the two known survivors of a cataclysmic climate shift on Namek several hundred years prior to the events in the series (the other ones being Kami and King Piccolo, who were once one being prior to Kami's separation with his inner evil). Guru is renowned for saving the Namekian race after the climate shift, by laying eggs and continuing his species. In his lifetime, he birthed 109 children, including his bodyguard Nail and the young Dende.
Morbidly obese in his old age, Guru is always seen sitting stationary on his throne-like chair during the Namek Saga. He dies before Frieza is defeated, of a combination of a broken heart and stress (both brought on from repeatedly sensing his children's deaths at the hands of Frieza's minions), but not before unlocking Krillin, Gohan and Dende's hidden powers (the latter of whom seemed to gain healing abilities as opposed to increased battle strength).
It is revealed that Guru knows about the Super Saiyan legend when he asks Krillin if the Saiyan who attacked Earth (Vegeta) was a "Super Saiyan". Also, Guru regards Kami and Piccolo's original potential to be so great that only a Super Saiyan could have a chance at defeating him (after Piccolo's fusion with Nail and Kami, Krillin later states in the Imperfect Cell Saga that Kami and Piccolo's potential is even greater than that of a Super Saiyan).
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