Is there any reference to Spiritual Masters , Spiritual teachers in Sanatana Dharma?
Sanatana Dharma is personalized system of Living. It does not come under the concept of Religion as understood now.
Religion is usually defined as a social-cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, beliefs, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics., or organizations, that generally relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, and spiritual elements; however, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion
Sanatana Dharma does not assign specific cultural more or system of behaviour that is accepted as standard by the society which has the power to enforce it. ‘morals, beliefs, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics‘. These morals , beliefs,worldviews Prophecies are not thrust upon the individual. The Spiritual quest and journey is entirely upto one who wants to pursue it. Sanatana Dharma,at best,says that the experiences of Seekers of Truth,Rishis,are expressed or revealed through the tools of Knowledge,The Vedas. What one selects as a spiritual path, is one’s personal decision. It is to be in accordance with his dispositions, Swabhav. Sri Krishna ,in The Bhagavad Gita,towards the close of it,informs Arjuna that he ( Krishna) had imparted to Arjuna ,through Bhagavad Gita, the Secret of Secrets,The Bhagavad Gita and it is left to Arjuna to choose what is best for him. No question of something being forced on anyone.
As to Beliefs,they are, again dependent on individual’s dispositions.Atheism ,Hedonism as practiced by Carvakas,Ajivakas ,who deny the existence of Soul, Vaiseshika are also a part of Sanatana Dharma. Same applies to Value Systems,that there is nothing inherently Sacred nor Sinful.’No punyam NaPaapam Sivoham Sivoham ‘ Nirvana Shatakam of Adi Shankaracharya.( A word of caution-this means that these have no relevance at the Transcendental level, and not at the practical level).As to places , Prophecies, Sanatana Dharma does not declare anything as such in Sabda pramana,The Vedas.Prophecies are found in Purans,which represent the ancient history of India and not in the other texts that are generally accepted,taken as the texts of Sanatana Dharma, namely ,in addition to Upanishads, Brahma Sutra and Bhagavad Gita.As noted earlier, same views on Ethics. They are not enforced.Taitttiya Upanishad in Siksha Valli, Bhrigu Valli, Narayana Valli and Anandavalli,while imparting the type of behavior one is to follow, says these are to be adhered to for evolving higher into spiritual life. But nobody is cursed tha one would be doomed to hell if one does not follow it.
Yes, Sanatana Dharma can be called as Religion in the sense that it talks of Transcendental Reality. Even here, One on his own.
Such being the approach of Sanatana Dharma,the answer to Spiritual Teacher presents itself.
Sanatana Dharma , Hinduism doesn’t provide room for a Spiritual Master or Spiritual Teacher.Though Sanatan Dharma provides for Guru, Acharya and Upadhyaya, they are not Spiritual Gurus, according to Sabda Pramana,Vedas. This, despite the two great Gurus, Dakshinamurthy and Krishna!
Guru is different from Spiritual Master. The meaning and scope of these two differ. Spiritual Master or Spiritual Teacher is , probably a term designed to describe people who spread the thoughts relating to things that are worldly. But the term Guru,Gnani,Rishi,Muni,Yogi,…all these belong to a higher level in the quest to enlightenment.
Hence, the concept of Spiritual Master or Spiritual Teacher does not find a place according to Vedic, Ithihasic or Puranic texts.In mu view , the terms Spiritual Master or Spiritual Teacher is used by people who follow some who espouse Sanatana Dharma concepts.