What does Bhagvad Gita say on the subject?
For spiritual practices to bear results they have to be executed under the guidance of an Acharya or spiritual master. Spiritual practices cannot be performed on the basis of the views and votes of ignorant public. The spiritual master is a person who knows the intricacies of scriptures. He must be equally competent to teach them to his disciples.
Excerpts from Bhagvad Gita are presented so that readers can make their own judgment on the importance of scriptures and spiritual master.
From Chapter 13
“Aacharyopasanam” (Follow the teachers who instruct by personal conduct)
From Chapter 16
From Chapter 17
Worship/Sacrifice Performed without regard for the directions of scriptures, without distribution of Prasad, without chanting of Vedic hymns and remuneration to the priests and without faith is worship in darkness and foolishness.
From Chapter 18
Person who is always engaged in work against the injunctions of the scriptures, who is materialistic, obstinate, cheating and expert in insulting others, and who is lazy, always morose and procrastinating is worker in darkness and foolishness.
Action performed in illusion, in disregard of scriptural injunctions, and without concern for future bondage or for violence or distress caused to others is action in darkness and foolishness.
Intelligence which considers irreligion (adharm) to be religion (dharm) and religion to be irreligion, under the spell of illusion and darkness, and strives always in the wrong direction is intelligence in ignorance and foolishness.
If followers will perform spiritual practices without guidance they will get no benefits either spiritual or materialistic. Ultimately they will become non-believers and start condemning all forms of religion.
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