The path of spiritual realization is undoubtedly difficult. The Lord, therefore, advises us to approach a bona fide spiritual master in the line of disciplic succession from the Lord Himself. No one can be a bona fide spiritual master without following this principle of disciplic succession. The Lord is the original spiritual master & a person in the disciplic succession can convey to his disciple the Lord’s message as it is.
“No one can be spiritually realized by manufacturing his process, as is the fashion of the foolish pretenders.” The Srimad Bhagavatam 6.3.19 says, dharmaṁ tu sākṣād bhagavat-praṇītaṁ: the path of religion is directly enunciated by the Lord. Therefore, mental speculation or dry arguments cannot help lead one to the right path. Nor by independent study of books of knowledge can one progress in spiritual life.
One has to approach a bona fide spiritual master to receive the knowledge. Such a spiritual should be accepted in full surrender & one should serve the spiritual master like a menial servant, without false prestige. Satisfaction of the self-realized spiritual master is the secret of advancement in spiritual life. Inquiring & submission constitute the proper combination for spiritual understanding. Unless there is a submission & service, inquiries from the learned spiritual master will not be effective. One must be able to pass the test of the spiritual master & when he sees the genuine desire of the disciple, he automatically blesses the disciple with genuine spiritual understanding.
Not only one should hear submissively from the spiritual master, but one must also get a clear understanding from him, in submission & service inquiries. A bona fide spiritual master is by nature very kind toward the disciple. Therefore when the student is submissive & is always ready to render service, the reciprocation of knowledge & inquiries becomes perfect.
If the spiritual master is bona fide, and a disciple is very sincere then the knowledge will be there. Vedic knowledge is revealed unto those who have faith in both the Lord & the spiritual master. Therefore in Vedic society, the students are automatically sent to the gurukula [ the place of the spiritual master], regardless of whether one is a king’s son or from some other background. Even Krsna had to go to gurukula.
So all of the students at the gurukula learn how to be very submissive & how to live only for the benefit of the Guru. They are trained from the very beginning to be first-class submissive students. Then the Guru, out of affection & with an open heart, teaches the boys all he knows. There is no question of money. It is all done based on love & education.