In an era where babahood has become a lucrative career option and when asrams are being run like corporate houses, let's look at what scriptures have to say about Gurus and Sanayasis.
Qualities of Guru (ref: Rudrayamalam)
1. Neerogi - disease free
2. Nirahankaraha - without ego or pride
3. Vikararahitaha - unperturbed by emotions
4. Mahan - magnanimous
5. Panditaha - scholar
6. Vakpatihi - eloquent
7. Sreeman - one with aiswarya
8. Sada yajnavidhanakrit - always engaged in yajnas
9. Purascharanakrit - one who has done mantra purascharana (procedure required for mantra siddhi.
10. Sidhhaha - one who has attained mantra siddhi
11. Hitahitahivarjithaha - one who does not differntaite between good and bad
12. Sarvalakshnasamyuktaha - possessor of all noble signs
13.Mahajangannadrutaha - respected by noble people
14. Pranayamadisiddhantaha - skillfull in pranayama etc.
15.Jnanee - Enlightened
16. Mounee - moderate in speech
17. Viragavan - one who posesses vairagya
18.Tapasvee - performer of tapas
19.Satyavadee - honest
20.Sada dhyanaparayanaha - perpetually engaged in meditation
21.Agamarthavishishtajnaha - well versed in the meaning of agamas
22.Nijadhamaparyanaha - engaged in own dharma
23.Bhadradabavan - generous
24.Dhritivan - stern and stable.
The disciple is told to avoid a Guru who does not posess the above qualities and also a guru who is not concerned about the welfare of others, angry and violent by nature, unstable in charecter and behaviour, unintelligent, dceitful in nature, not posseeing a peaceful nature, sinful, unhealthy, one who uses foul language, womaniser and one who is not faithful to his wife.
The disciple should also avoid a hypocrite, one who talks a lot, one who eats a lot, one who is a miser as his Guru.
The sastra clearly says that a test of the Guru on the above counts (called gurupareekshanam) should be done before accepting him as guru.
The guru also should put the disciple through intense test sometimes even lasting for years before imparting knowledge to him.
Gurus who advertise themselves through posters, banners, TV shows and all other marketing gimmicks are only selling. We have fallen to a level where disciples flock to gurus seeing their adverisements and deeksha is given against cheques and receipts.
It is fun listening to the babas who were caught red handed. The jeevatma paramatma jargon suddenly disappears and the down to earth slang surfaces saying " mujhe dusre babaon ne phasaya hai -I have been trapped by the other babas". They know they are in business and it is the competition playing foul. Otherwise why such a reaction.
Coming to sanyasa, most of these babas claim to be sanyasis or sadhus who have relinquished worldly life. Let's see what scriptures have to say about sanyasa dharma.
( Ref: Manusmruti)
1. One should enter the asrama of sanyasa after passing through the three previous stages and repaying three debts. The debt to the rishis should be repaid by learning of the vedas, that to the pitrus by procreation and that to the devas through yajnas. ( There are differnt opinions here. Jabalopanishad says one can enter sanyasa from any of the previous stages.)
2.He should not cause harm to any being movable or immovable.
3. He should not be attached to anything like food etc.
4. He should not be dependent on anyone and should move around alone.
5. He should live in the forest and enter the village only for begging.
6. He should not live in a house.
7. He should be negligent about his health.
8. His mind should be engrossed in adhyatma
9. He should not talk much.
10. He should wear the danda, kamandalu and should carry bhikshapatra.
11. He should feed on tubers.
12. He should wear only worn out clothes.
13. He should neither long for death nor desire long life.
14. He should walk looking at the ground so that no harm is caused even to insects and should drink only strained water.
15. He should not collect or amass anything.
16. He should tolerate abuses from others and should not react or insult in retaliation.
17. He should neither have friends nor enemies.
18. He should not bear grudge towards anyone.
19. He should not be attached even to his danda and kamandalu.
20. He should not try to make a living by interpretation of sastras, scholarly debates, offering advice and also means such as astrology. He should survive by begging.
21. His vessel should be made of objects such as alaboo(a vegetable) shell, bamboo, wood or clay.
22. He should collect and eat only as much as required for survival.
23. He should not accept alms offered with respect. This will lead to attachment.
24. He should not accept alms from the same person again and again. (atrismruti)
25. He should not bless anyone nor wish anyone (brihadvishnusmruti)
26. He should not keep disciples nor should he impart knowledge to others. (dakshasmruti)
27. Sanyasa is only for brahmins (vishnusmruti)
28. One who offers gold,money etc. to sanyasi, tamboolam to brahmachari and shelter to thief falls into hell. (parasarasmruti)
29. One who becomes a sanyasi and does not live like one, the king should mark his forehead with the foot of the dog and throw him out of the country. (dakshasmruti)
30. The sanyasi who involves himself in teaching of sastras or worldly matters or takes interest in good clothes and food or living in houses will not attain moksha.
Any more takers ??
Real sanyasis do exist even today. You will not find them moving around in luxury cars and giving discources before invitee audience in air conditioned asrams. They will be in the Himalayas or similar places minding their own business.