Shallow Seekers Meet Lesser Teachings

Does a magnet make an effort to draw the iron? there is a natural attraction according to the affinity of the iron and the power of the magnet. Of course, the iron must be near enough to the magnet to be drawn. So is the relationship between guru and disciple. it is a question of the recipiency of the disciple and the spiritual power of the preceptor to inspire and draw him to God.

“…shallow seekers in contact with lesser teachings…”

Jesus said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” (John 6:44). The omniscient God brings shallow seekers in contact with lesser teachings and spiritual books; from these they derive some benefit commensurate with their degree of spiritual desire and understanding. But deep seekers of God are brought by Him into contact with fully realized gurus who are able to commune with God and to serve as channels in imparting divine guidance. It is their duty to introduce the devotee to God. So, it is ultimately God who brings together guru and disciple, but there is also a desire on their part to come together. Through earnest spiritual longing, the disciple, perhaps unconsciously at first, seeks the guru—one who can lead him to God. And the true guru, when he intuitively knows a disciple sent by God, makes an effort to draw him, and goes out of his way to help him. The true disciple, finding a true guru, becomes magnetically attracted to him and recognizes him as the one sent by god. This is the law.

(pg. 187, “Journey to Self-Realization” by Paramahansa Yogananda)

"Characteristics of a Real Guru" by Swami Sivananda

Here are the characteristics of a real Guru. If you find these qualifications in any man, accept him at once as your Guru. A real Guru is one who is a Brahma-Nishtha (=one who is established in the Knowledge of Brahman) and a Brahma-Srotri (=one who has knowledge of the Vedas and the Upanishads). He has full knowledge of the Self and the Vedas. He can dispel the doubts of aspirants. He has equal vision and balanced mind. He is free from Raga-Dvesha (=likes and dislikes), Harsha (=hunger), Soka (=thirst), egoism, anger, lust, greed, Moha (=delusion), pride, etc. He is an ocean of mercy. In his mere presence one gets Santi (=peace) and elevation of mind. In his mere presence, all doubts of aspirants are cleared. He does not expect anything from anybody. He has an exemplary character. He is full of joy and bliss. He is in search of real aspirants!

Salutations to the Lotus-Feet of a Guru! I fully believe in a real Guru. I have great adorations for a Guru. My heart longs to serve his Lotus-Feet for ever. I believe that there is no purifier more powerful than the service of a Guru in removing the impurities of the mind. I fully believe that the only safe boat that can take us to the other shore of Immortality is the company of a Guru.

Commercial Gurudom 

But I dislike commercial Gurudom. I strongly resent the actions of hypocrites who pose for Gurus and Acharyas (=spiritual preceptor) and move about making disciples and collecting money. You will all agree with me on this point. There cannot be any two opinions in this direction. They are the pests of society. Gurudom has come to be mere business. It must be thoroughly eradicated from the soil of India. It is doing great havoc and harm to the people of India. It is creating a very bad impression in the minds of the Westerners and people of different countries. India is losing its spiritual glory on account of this Gurudom business.

Drastic steps should be taken immediately to nip this serious malady and destroy it to its very root. No stone should be left unturned in its eradication. It has assumed a hideous shape. It has become very contagious. Many have taken to this Gurudom business as an easy means of decent livelihood. Poor ignorant ladies and gentlemen are exploited by these pseudo-Gurus on an enormous scale. What a shame!

Many Gurus move about hither and thither. They deliver lectures and conduct discourses. They know Brahma Sutras and Gita by heart, but they have no knowledge and meditation. They are easily irritated. Their Abhimana is very stiff. They lack in divine attributes and Sadhutva. They have no spirit of service. They speak ill of service, Kirtan, etc. They catch many people by the arm. They bless them by placing their hands on their backs. But, they are not able to send one man across to final Salvation or beatitude.
The public will take a man to be a Guru only if he exhibits some Siddhis. It is a serious mistake. They must not be over-credulous. They will be easily duped by these Yogic charlatans. They must use their power of discrimination and reasoning. They must study the ways, habits, nature, conduct, Vritti, Svabhava, etc., of the Guru and test his knowledge of scriptures, before they come to any definite conclusion.

It is better to take Lord Krishna, Lord Rama, Lord Siva, the Indweller of your heart as your Guru and repeat His Mantra instead of approaching these black sheep who mislead and ransack the people of this country.

May the glorious India abound in real Gurus like Sri Sankara or Sri Dattatreya! May she be absolutely free from these pseudo-Gurus and Gurudom itself which is a deadly curse! May the universal principles of Sanatana Dharma flourish in the world! May the spiritual leaders try their level best to unite the various sects and cults! Let them not establish new cults. May this sectarian fighting and quarrel cease for ever! May this land always keep up the reputation and prestige of a spiritual country with saints, seers, Yogis, Bhaktas and Sannyasins with Tyaga, renunciation and Self-realisation as the goal! May unity, peace and harmony prevail throughout the world! May the blessings of Gurus be upon us all! May they guide us in the path of spirituality!

(pgs. 48-50, Guru Tattva)

Paramahansa Yogananda: “A Guru’s only interest is to help you progress spiritually. If the teacher wants something from the disciple, he is not a master. The master’s only desire is to give, not to take.” (pg. 235, Journey to Self-Realisation)