Hm, while Sivananda has some nice teachings, I would personally not take him as a modern, credible source when trying to figure our how to realize your own freedom. I do not say he is not a master of himself, but seemed to me to still have his points of view and beliefs/principles about the traditional side of things. To him it must be very important, the guru-disciple role, and to him it must have done a great deal of importance in bringing him where he was/is. That is why even after his enlightenment, he still beliefs very much in it.
But there are two kinds of masters, generally speaking.
Those who are raised and conditioned into a certain community, teaching, tradition or the like and find their freedom through these teachings eventually. What I often observe is that these masters, even after attaining their enlightenment, are still bound somewhat by their previous beliefs and way of life. Maybe because they have known no other way of reaching or seeing freedom than through the teachings of their guru and their community in which they spend 24/7 of their lives often. Sivananda and his lineage (I have met a few of them and listened and observed them carefully and with great presence of awareness in their satsangs and my conversations with them) are one of these kind of masters.
Then there are those who are often wanderers at first. They have had no specific guru. Some of them did not have any human guru at all, some of them have had many different guru’s but never found it there. Think of people like Eckhart Tolle, Jiddu Krishnamurti (although he had teachers forcing him almost into his enlightenment, his enlightenment and what he taught afterwards seems to me to be completely free from whatever they have said to him.), Osho, Candice O’Denver, among others. When they become masters of themselves, some of them too develop a certain teaching, or not one teaching but just speak about their realizations. I personally find a lot more freedom in these people since their words and ideas seem not to be based on personal beliefs so much anymore as those belonging to group 1. They often just state what the world needs right now, without being limited by beleifs and tradition.
When applying this to the guru thread, you see that whenever we quote masters from the first group, they almost always prefer or worship the guru-student relationship, while when quoting those from the second group, they are about showing you who you are right here right now through self-discovery without additional ideas. They often do not advice a guru specifically nor think it is of utter importance.
I guess it is whatever you prefer most personally. It is no secret that I see much more benefit in the second group. Especially considering the state of the world today. The first group feels to me a bit dragged on from the past. It could have been great to sit under a tree for 20 years with a guru having nothing else to do but get food and sleep in the time of the buddha and patanjali. But now in this chaotic world, I think it is time for something more modern, approachable, something which has also proven to work for many thousands of people and which may be able to reach much more people globally. I think this is what we need on a general scale. Not discarding the individuals who still feel like retreating from life into an ashram, which is great if you want to. But globally speaking, I think we need something more accessible.
What do you think?