This sort of serious interest in the welfare of the public makes one a bona fide ācārya. An ācārya does not exploit his followers. Since the ācārya is a confidential servitor of the Lord, his heart is always full of compassion for humanity in its suffering. He knows that all suffering is due to the absence of devotional service to the Lord, and therefore he always tries to find ways to change people’s activities, making them favorable for the attainment of devotion. That is the qualification of an ācārya. Although Śrī Advaita Prabhu Himself was powerful enough to do the work, as a submissive servitor He thought that without the personal appearance of the Lord, no one could improve the fallen condition of society.
In the grim clutches of māyā, the first-class prisoners of this material world wrongly think themselves happy because they are rich, powerful, resourceful and so on. These foolish creatures do not know that they are nothing but play dolls in the hands of material nature and that at any moment material nature’s pitiless intrigues can crush to dust all their plans for godless activities. Such foolish prisoners cannot see that however they improve their position by artificial means, the calamities of repeated birth, death, disease and old age are always beyond the jurisdiction of their control. Foolish as they are, they neglect these major problems of life and busy themselves with false things that cannot help them solve their real problems. They know that they do not want to suffer death or the pangs of disease and old age, but under the influence of the illusory energy, they are grossly negligent and therefore do nothing to solve the problems. This is called māyā. People held in the grip of māyā are thrown into oblivion after death, and as a result of their karma, in the next life they become dogs or gods, although most of them become dogs. To become gods in the next life, they must engage in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; otherwise, they are sure to become dogs or hogs in terms of the laws of nature.
The third-class prisoners, being less materially opulent than the first-class prisoners, endeavor to imitate them, for they also have no information of the real nature of their imprisonment. Thus they also are misled by the illusory material nature. The function of the ācārya, however, is to change the activities of both the first-class and third-class prisoners for their real benefit. This endeavor makes him a very dear devotee of the Lord, who says clearly in the Bhagavad-gītā that no one in human society is dearer to Him than a devotee who constantly engages in His service by finding ways to preach the message of Godhead for the real benefit of the world. The so-called ācāryas of the Age of Kali are more concerned with exploiting the resources of their followers than mitigating their miseries; but Śrī Advaita Prabhu, as an ideal ācārya, was concerned with improving the condition of the world situation.