After reading Erik Davis's post about it earlier this year, I finally got around to watching the documentary Kumaré, which I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend. Seriously, go watch it and then come back here and tell me what you think. He fakes it so real he is beyond fake.
A couple brief impressions: rationalism really seems like pretty thin gruel to offer people when you see their honest pain up close and personal. When you get a suspicion of just how many people are deeply damaged or deluded, you tend to appreciate whatever it takes just to help them function. I do think it's true that most people looking to a guru for answers are just projecting their own authority onto him or her. But not all of them can be made to realize that in the same way, at the same time. Perhaps, in response to the question Davis asks — is such deceit necessary? — you could say that it is, if used as negation. Fighting illusion with illusion. Using one to cancel the other out. If not strictly necessary, maybe at least effective. Like a form of jujitsu, using the momentum of their own illusions against them.