Five Ways To Spot A Vishnu Bhakta

[Krishna's lotus feet]“Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.14)

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सततं कीर्तयन्तो मां
यतन्तश् च दृढ-व्रताः
नमस्यन्तश् च मां भक्त्या
नित्य-युक्ता उपासते

satataṁ kīrtayanto māṁ
yatantaś ca dṛḍha-vratāḥ
namasyantaś ca māṁ bhaktyā
nitya-yuktā upāsate

“I hear the emphasis on sadhu-sanga. Associate with saintly people. If you do nothing else in life, make this your one priority. Everything else will fall into place as a result. You won’t have to struggle so much anymore. That depression will vanish. You will feel glad to be alive upon waking up each morning.

“The thing is, how do I find such people? How do I know who is the sadhu and who is the pretender? I mean let’s be honest, some of these guys have done unspeakable things. They wear the paraphernalia. They have loads of followers. Then, when no one is looking, they behave in ways worse than your typical inmate in prison.

“I just don’t want to be led astray by these fakers. How can I protect myself while at the same time advancing along the spiritual path?”

1. They discuss sacred texts

One of the quickest ways to learn the nature of someone is to pay attention to what they say. What do they speak about? Are they speaking too much, in fact? Do they go on and on about useless topics? Do they bother you to the point that you feel the need to flee to another room?

The sadhu is in line with shastra and guru. Shastra is the guiding force; scripture, sacred information passed down through the ages. Sadhu is the saintly person who follows shastra, and guru is the representative at the personal level, providing guidance in specific situations.

The sadhu will hold Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam in high esteem. They will have respect for the verses contained. They will be able to explain every difficult decision in life through the lens of these works, which offer complete guidance. It makes sense, since one has the direct words of the Supreme Lord and the other descriptions of His activities.

2. They remember God while eating

The sadhu does not eat simply for enjoyment. They are always conscious of Bhagavan, which is one descriptive word for the Almighty. They not only thank God for providing food, but they eat in such a way that they are connected to Him.

[prasadam offering]They follow a diet in line with the mode of goodness. This helps to keep the consciousness clear, to bring auspiciousness in the future. They also know what Bhagavan likes to eat, since there is no shortage of information available in that area. The sadhu aligns everything together so that even bhoga is an act of bhakti.

3. They know of the futility of chasing sense gratification

A bigger house. A fancier car. A more comfortable shirt. A job that pays more money. A better exotic destination to visit on vacation.

The sadhu is not interested in satisfying the senses. They may or may not be married, but every aspect of life is dovetailed with devotional service. They may work, but everything is for supporting the devotional culture.

If I go to the office each day so that I can spend the rewards on gambling at the local racetrack, my work is of a different nature than the person sitting next to me. They do the exact same kind of service, but the fruits they receive get used for fulfilling a higher purpose.

Thus we see that situations can be identical, with different outcomes. The sadhu is part of the material world. They engage the senses. They talk to other people. At the same time, they are not of this world. They are fully renounced through the spirit of connecting with God.

4. They know the difference between body and spirit

This is the ABCD of spiritual education. Genuine religion should cover this topic. The boon of the human existence is for the potential to understand this distinction. I am spirit soul, part and parcel of the entire spiritual energy, Brahman.

This body belongs to me right now, but it is not mine. It does not represent me, for the mere fact that it is always changing. I will have to renounce it at some point; there is no way around the laws of nature.

The sadhu knows the distinction, the dividing line, so to speak, and they can teach it to others. They allow others to view every living being equally. The soul and the Supersoul in the heart. These powerful forces cannot be perceived by any blunt measuring device, but they are certainly there.

5. They always chant the holy names

As the sadhu is not a robot or a stone, they engage in activities pleasing to the spiritual senses. They follow the positive in spiritual life by chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

[Krishna's lotus feet]They discuss the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They take great pleasure in the process, and they show others the way towards the same happiness. This is a gift that can never be repaid. The urgent desire is to pass on the same information moving forward. The association of the sadhu is priceless, and once found it should never be abandoned.

In Closing:

Living in this world is he,
But at same time renounced to be.

For shastra holding respect,
Not sense gratification to expect.

Thinking of Krishna even while eating,
Speaking of glories with people meeting.

The guru urgently for others desiring,
That from illusion immediately retiring.

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