Nowadays people are not satisfied with mere Gurus. So we have Maharshis and Paramahamsas.
In India we find that people approach a Guru for the following purposes.
1. For spiritual guidance (very few).
2. To get initiated into a Mantra.
2. Guidance and help in solving their problems.
3. To know about their future.
4. To get cure for their illness.
5. For wealth, fame and prosperity.
The Guru phenomenon also complies with the economics rule of demand and supply. So as there is a pent-up demand for all kinds of Gurus for solving all kinds of problems, all kinds of Gurus spring up. In fact the demand far exceeds the supply. That is why people have to search for Gurus.
We can be very puritanical and say that all these people are not genuine Gurus. I have some experience of meeting Gurus of various hues and shades all over India. The common factor among all of them
is (I am not talking about the Con artist)
1. They invariably have some power or attraction, which distinguishes them from the common man.
2. They are able to win the faith and devotion of many members of the public.
Anyone who fulfills the above qualification could become a Guru. I am not a Guru, as I do not fulfill any of these qualifications.
They could be good soothsayers, good healers, religious pundits who conduct yagnas for propitiation of Gods/Goddesses on behalf of their customers, good astrologers, good teachers etc. etc.
So depending upon your need you find a Guru. It is also possible that you want a Guru to belong to a particular section of society or an informal club.
These Gurus come from all social strata of society and have different levels of spiritual advancement. They could be renunciates, or Grahasthas. They have different goals in life. Many of them want to construct big ashrams, temples, hospitals, schools etc. Once anyone wants to construct an ashram, hospital he has to necessarily acquire land, money for construction. So they get involved in mundane matters. We call it Loukika. This could prove to be a quagmire. There are plenty of highly evolved Gurus who have stagnated and sometimes came down in their spiritual level because of their involvement in these activities. This is what is illustrated by the story of the Sannyasin and his kowpeena.
What is the relevance of all this to the question raised? One of our friends has echoed the feeling of every one of us when he said that we want our Guru to have all the comforts. He said that the Guru should live like a king. I am in total agreement. But the question is does the Guru want that? If that is his wish as his disciple you should offer whatever you can. Sometimes the question I raised might crop up. There is no correct answer to that question. We can only pray that we are not placed in such a predicament. You cannot wish away the problem.
Soomeone had said about a Guru arranging the marriage of a disciple. As I said earlier we run to the guru with all kinds of problems. Do you expect your Spiritual Guru to be a marriage counselor, career counselor, astrologer, and pranic healer? Sort of omnipotent. In my opinion the Guru was not right in arranging the marriage of a disciple. Just because he is Gurudeva he does not become God. I do not think even in the days of the Puranas Gurus decided whom the chelas should marry. This is sheer exploitation of the faith reposed in the Guru. I think the guru had an inflated Ego. This has nothing to do with culture. I find that the westerner takes his Guru more literally than the Indians. That is the reason why western disciples are preferred over Indian disciples.
You can quote books galore to say that the Guru has that right. But these books also give the father of a son/daughter absolute right to decide whom he/she should marry. Even now in India many parents claim that right. Most of us now believe that the father does not have that right. If it is so neither does the Guru. The scriptures also gave a lot of rights to the King even if he was a tyrant. We threw out the kings and are better for it. We are always selective in our reading of the scriptures.
Books which were written in an age when there was no appreciation of individual rights, when hereditary rights of ruling was the norm, when the society was feudal, cannot be taken to be the voice of God. What is written about spirituality is timeless. But the same cannot be said about code of conduct and other non-spiritual matters.
I find that the younger generation of today is more religious than my generation. I am sure they will become more spiritual as they grow older. Without being very rigid in our definitions and qualifications of a Guru, we can search for a Guru. You will definitely find a Guru to your liking. You should have absolute faith in your Guru. But you should also realise that Guru is not God or omnipotent. He is also a human being and also has desires, wants etc. You cannot expect him to solve all your problems. If you have a problem say about switching jobs you cannot expect your Guru to get you a job or decide which job
you should accept.
You go to the Guru. You state your problem either orally or mentally. The Guru either by a word or glance will give you the inner strength required to find a solution to your problem. The idea that the Gurus are also human and are bound by the same samskaras, ego etc. will enable us to understand the Guru and serve him better. This will also enable us to cope with the situation in case someday we discover that the particular Guru was a Con Man.
The people to decide whether a guru is genuine/authentic or not, are the disciples not the journalists and general public.
My Pranams to All the Past, Present and Future Gurus of the world.