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It may not be out of place to mention here what the first Sankaracharya said about a teacher and his method of teaching.
Upholding the true spirit of righteousness, the first (Adi) Sankaracharya, the great monist and Vedantist, mentioned in his book Vivekchudamoni that the true Guru has four signs, or qualities:
1. He must be realized.
2. He must practice every day.
[Although he does not need to practice, yet he sets an example before his students and continues to practice; and that is natural because, due to his long-standing habit of practice, his system never stops but rather switches to spontaneous practice.]
3. He must be compassionate to all.
ADI SANKARACHARYA, THE FIRST SANKARACHARYA (8TH CENTURY).
[He is especially compassionate to his students, that is, he does not compromise liberally in guiding his disciples to develop the righteous way of meditation and lifestyle so that they can attain eternal Realization of the ultimate Self.]
4. He must not take charges for his teaching.
How many spiritual teachers and organizations of today will pass the test conducted on the very last point alone? Possibly, no organization will pass since they accept donations to support their organization; and, as mentioned before, teaching spiritual disciplines through organizations is the act of negative force to break the Righteous Way of Guru-param-para. Very few teachers will survive the test on the last point.
In this connection, some readers may wonder why Mahamuni Babaji collects money. One must know that when Babaji introduced Kriya donations, it was for one time only, during initiation, for the benefit of the initiate’s body purification. It is called deha suddhir taka, “charges for body purification.” Babaji himself never utilizes the amount for his personal cause, and it is usually spent in feeding the renunciate yogis.
Another example of exceptions to the rules is Swami Vivekananda who founded Sri Ramakrisna Missions and Math, an international organization. He appointed Swami Brahmananda as first president and Swami Saradananda as the first secretary - both were disciples of Sri Ramakrisna - while he himself remained outside.
Both the great Vedantists demonstrated the true spirit of renunciation, the egoless personality, by appointing others in authority while remaining themselves beyond name and fame, which was a true demonstration in action, not just in mere intellectualization, of their egoless personalities.
Sometimes a realized person is found in an organization: for example, Swami Satyananda. But it should be understood in a true light that such a case is due to the previous incarnation of this realized person, when he developed the art of non-contamination. Thus he manages to escape from bad effects and allows himself to complete his providence of being involved in organizations. He serves as a dedicated servant and maintains the righteous spirit of teaching in the context of personal relationship between the Master and disciple. It does not make any difference to that person who is realized. Such persons never fight for honor or post or position in organizations. Rather they appear as ordinary workers in one corner. Still, this type of case is very rare.
SWAMI VIVEKANANDA, THE GREAT VEDANTIST.
Lahiri Mahasay, the principal disciple of Mahamuni Babaji in the Kriya Yoga discipline, praised the household lifestyle, above all lifestyles, as being best suited to stabilize the seeker in a balanced, righteous way. The following verses are from his Commentary on the Manusanghita:
The ancient Vedic system of four divisions of lifestyle, which is highly scientific, perpetuates a social order that enables people to make spiritual progress. The household lifestyle, not the renunciate way of organized religion, is upheld as the best way for the seeker to stabilize his life in a righteous way.
In ancient times, when the householders realized Brahma (the ultimate Self), they were called Brahmana (one who has realized Brahma). Thus, Brahmana is synonymous with Sanyas, or Swami.
The idea of adopting a renunciate lifestyle and living in a hermitage is itself a temptation and attachment. In the hermitage, the seeker’s efforts are polluted in a subtle way by dependence on donations.
Therefore, the seekers cannot generate Asteya (non-stealing), Indriya Nigraha (dissolving the senses) and Aparigraha (self-reliance, or independence).
So the household lifestyle is the best station of life to find the righteous way to be rid of attachment, which is the primary enemy of Realization, and to be rid of providential ties while generating the above noble qualities for achieving eternal Realization.