Where can I find a real guru? All popular gurus of today seem to be rolling in wealth, immersed in materialism, running multi crore institutions and doing globe trotting

Divine grace is needed to get the right guru. If the seeker is earnest, he will get the right guru at the end for sure.

A truly realized Jnani can be a pauper like Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi or a king like Janaka Maharaja. Sri Krishna, an absolute total Avatar of God was living amidst worldly pleasures and materialism but nothing touched him.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa lived a poor man’s life; he could not even touch money with his hand. He lived such an exemplary life of renunciation. But think of Swami Vivekananda, his prime disciple, to whom Sri Ramakrishna transferred all his shakti before leaving his body and the way he “extracted work” from Vivekananda!

Vivekananda roamed all around India as a penniless mendicant; he got the divine prompting to go to USA again as a penniless person. He swept the west like a storm, brought wealth, started Sri Ramakrishna Mission and Math, built Belur Mutt, built a grand temple for Sri Ramakrishna there, set up several branches of the mutt, engaged his brother monks into various social service activities, built educational institutions and other institutions for the welfare of the downtrodden men and women.

Like a tempest he worked ceaselessly and built a huge institution and left his body when he was just 40 with total detachment as a true Sanyasin!

Think of Swami Sivananda. He was floating in wealth as a popular doctor in Malaysia. He was gripped by thirst for spirituality, came to India, got initiated into Sanyas, did tapas at Rishikesh, lived the life of a begging monk and got enlightened.

He served the poor and sick monks of Rishikesh. He started Sivananda Ashram – ‘Divine Life Society’ from a humble hut and built it into a huge Ashram comprising of a temple, a hospital, a photo studio, a Yoga Institute, a Vedanta Institute, a printing press and he had an office manned by some 40 typists with typewriters to handle all his correspondence and writing!

Swami Sivananda once said, “If I can serve 100 people unobtrusively or serve thousands of people through advertisement, I would choose the latter”. Same Swami Sivananda, when his ashram was gripped with financial difficulty, said, “I have no qualms if we have to shut down everything and we can always go back to our old simple ways by taking food at Annakshetra”. That is the sign of a mahatma.

Likewise, there are indeed Gurus of today that the media may project as billionaires rolling in luxury, materialism and worldliness, but they may be totally untouched by any of them even today.

Kali yuga is such that even Ashrams cannot totally escape some pomp, show, commercialization and materialism. If the head of the ashram is a pure realized soul, everything can remain in balance. The institutions may have to be run by ordinary people with ordinary morals (who are yet to be evolved) and some of them may bring bad name to the Mahatma who runs the institutes too! But true Mahatmas accept all sorts of people out of compassion to elevate them spiritually.

As I said, it requires divine grace — the grace to know the difference between the right Guru and a fake Guru, to differentiate the wheat and the chaff.

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