In the ancient Indian society the teacher always enjoyed a dignified place. During the Vedic and Post-Vedic periods the teacher’s place was second to that of God only. He was more respected than the king in society.
The Guru-Ashrama was known as the Gurukul (the family of the teacher) and the Guru was regarded as a Rishi (Sage) or Acharya (the one who practices what he professes).
The Guru was given this significant place, because without him it was impossible to attain knowledge. The Guru was the guide and could help anyone to carve out his course of action.
He used to bring light wherever there was darkness. Thus the people always felt his necessity whenever there was a difficulty in solving any issue or problem.
During the Upanishadic period as well, when self-study was considered as dignified the place of Guru in society remained intact. It was believed that no knowledge could come without the assistance from the Guru.
In other words, it was believed that the attainment of salvation was not possible without the help of the Guru.
Restriction on teachers
The teacher was expected to lead a life of penance free of worldly things. He, too, was required to follow all the rules of strict discipline, thinking and meditation which were prescribed for the students.
We find many references to such a position in the Maitrayan Upanishad. After the demise of the Guru even one of his disciples could succeed him if his son was not considered worthy of the same.
It was compulsory for the students to have full faith in the teacher. Only students were considered as deserving of attaining real knowledge of supreme truth that had full faith in the teacher.
So the student was always in search of a real Guru for attaining real knowledge and the Guru wanted to find out a really deserving student who he could give all that he knew.
After receiving education for twelve years students used to assemble near their teacher (Acharya) for blessings before going home. The Acharya on this occasion used to give some places of advice for happy and smooth running of their future life.
The teacher used to tell them how to lead a life of householder (Grihastha), how to take care of the society and the nation and how to serve the humanity as a whole. The teacher used to tell all these in a ceremony which was known as Samavartan Samaroha like the modern convocation address.