How to Recognise a Sincere Spiritualist?

Question 1: How to recognise a sincere and truthful devotee of God?

Answer 1: Let not appearance deceive you. There goes the devotee, chanting the scared Name of Narayana. He sings in ecstacy and dances in rapture for an hour or two. He is vehement in asserting that all indeed is Narayana. Here is a great monist who would not stop repeating: ‘I am God, I am God’. Profound is his learning, and mighty his swordsmanship in argument. Tarry a while, friend. Watch them under three conditions: (1) when desperatively hungry, (2) when bitterly provoked and insulted, and (3) when another man is pathetically distressed. Now, if they fulfil former assertions, all hail to them, obeisance to them, veritable gods on earth they are, and let the dust of their feet adorn our foreheads.” (pg. 66, Self-Realisation by Swami Sivananda)

Question 2: Who is deemed an unspiritual and worldly-minded person?



Answer 2: “A worldly-minded person is a prey to sexual thoughts, and thoughts of hatred, anger and revenge. He is enslaved by these two type of thoughts which take possessions of his mind. He does not know the laws of thoughts, and how to divert his mind, and fix it on good, noble thoughts. He cannot resist an evil desire, craving or temptation on account of his weak will. He is completely ignorant of the nature and workings of the mind. His position is extremely deplorable, despite his earthly possessions and knowledge obtained from universities. Dispassion and discrimination have not awakened in him. He has no faith in saints, in scriptures and in God….” (pg. 355, Science of Yoga, Vol. 2 by Swami Sivananda)

Is God Partially Impartial or Impartially Partial?


The Lord, who advises against any feelings of likes and dislikes (Gita Chap 3: 34), and who also says that one should not be swayed by raga-dvesa, i.e., to treat everyone equally (Bhagavatam 4:20:13), and goes even a step further to proclaim that He has an even outlook towards all, i.e., He regards all living beings alike (Gita Chap 9:29), however says nine times in the Gita that there are some people who are very dear to Him:

Dear to Him

Let us see whether we fall within any one of the categories He has given:

1. Gita 7:17— Sri Krsna says one who has the following qualities is dear to Him:

a. One who is steadfast, devoted to Him (the Wise man, that is)

2. Gita 12:14— Sri Krsna says one who has the following qualities is dear to Him:
a. One who has santosh,
b. One who does not have vikshepa,
c. One who practises his conviction,
d. One who has control over his senses, and
e. One who has dedicated everything (mind and intellect) to God.

3. Gita 12:15: Sri Krsna says one who has the following qualities is dear to Him:
a. One who never injures anyone in any way,
b. One who is indifferent to everything (including injuries) of the world, and
c. One who is freed from joy, envy, fear and anxiety.

[Note: Srimad Bhagavatam 11:7:10 talks about such a person too: such a person has the conclusive knowledge of the Vedas, and especially puts that into practice— He, therefore, perceives the Self in everything; he hates none and loves none. He becomes dear to all living beings]

4. Gita 12:16— Sri Krsna says one who has the following qualities is dear to Him:
a. One who is free from dependence,
b. One who is indifferent to the body, the senses, the objects of the senses and their mutual connections,
c. One who cultivates virtues,
d. One who is efficient,
e. One who is disinterested,
f. One who is fearless,
g. One who is equipoise,
h. One who does not do anything for personal aggrandizement,
i. One who abides in His Will,
j. One who has no raga-dvesa, and
k.One who has done isvara-pranidhana (surrendered)

5. Gita 12:17— Sri Krsna says one who has the following qualities is dear to Him:
a. One who is unflappable, sangfroid, and
b. One who has abnegated everything to the care of the Lord

6. Gita 12:19— Sri Krsna says one who has the following qualities is dear to Him:
a. One who is impervious to censure and accolades,
b. One who is equipoise,
c. One who cherishes silence,
d. One who has controlled his thoughts, and
e. One who is abstemious.

7. Gita 12:20— Sri Krsna says one who has the following qualities is dear to Him:
a. One who follows His dharma,
b. One who has unshaken faith,
c. One whose goal is God.

[Note: Read the above with what He has declared in Uddhava Gita: “There are many created bodies such as those with one, two, three, four, or many legs, as well as without legs; of these the human body is My favourite.” (Uddhava Gita 2:22 or Bhagavatam 11:7:22)]

8. Gita 18:65— Sri Krsna says one who has the following qualities is dear to Him:
a. One who has a concentrated mind,
b. One who has dedicated everything to Him,
c. One who chants,
d. One whose body, mind and intellect work for Him,
e. One who has surrendered.

9. Gita 18:69— Sri Krsna says one who has the following qualities is dearest to Him:
a. One who preaches the Gita to His devotees.

Mutually Contradictory
But you must be wondering after reading the first three slokas in the first paragraph whether there is an unforgivable contradiction in the Lord’s assertions: that He regards all living beings alike yet considers someone dear to Him.

This is precisely the same question that King Pariksit had in mind, and had asked Sukadev Gosvami when the former discerned the seeming partiality in the Lord. Thus, he catechised Sukadev Gosvami about the doubt: “……Viṣṇu, being everyone’s well-wisher, is equal and extremely dear to everyone. How, then, did He become partial like a common man for the sake of Indra and thus kill Indra’s enemies? How can a person equal to everyone be partial to some and inimical toward others? (Bhagavatam 7:1:1)

An obvious spiritual anomaly: Can the Lord, who has been described as “the friend of all beings” (= suhridam sarvabhootaanaam) [Gita 5:29] concurrently be relentless towards someone or something— that is King Pariksit’s misgiving.

Disinterested God
The Lord responds according to the nature of things for “He dwells in the hearts of all beings” (Eeshwarah sarvabhootaanaam hriddesherjuna tishthati) [Gita 18:61] What anyone or anything demonstrates as a result of His response is his or its intrinsic nature, and not that of the Lord.

Swami Sivananda explains that the Lord is “like the fire. Just as fire removes the cold of those who draw near it, but not of those who keep away from it, even so (does He) bestow (His) Grace on (His) devotees, but not, as ignorant people may believe owing to any kind of attachment on (His) part. Just as the light of the sun, though pervading everywhere, is reflected only in a clean mirror and not in a pot, so also (He)… being present everywhere, manifests (Himself) only in those from whose minds all kinds of impurities, accumulated on account of ignorance, have been removed through their sincere love and devotion… The sun has neither attachment to the mirror nor hatred for the pot…. He bestows the desired object only on those who go near Him.” (Purport to Gita 9:29)

Assuming a dog-owner has two dogs. When he returns home, his dog called Albert scurries to him, and licks him all over. His other dog, Santha, looks on docilely, taking in the scene quite disinterestedly. The owner neither has any partiality towards Albert nor any aversion towards Santha; yet, he pets Albert on his head and compliments him, and says a “hullo” to his Santha. He does not deprive Santha of her rights to her food and comfort and neither does he increase Albert’s share of food and comfort because of his affectionate nature. If he is such, then, he would have disowned Santha long ago. He understands Santha’s nature and leaves her be.

When rain water collects in an unbroken pot, yet flows through the cracks in another that is broken, the fault, in the case of the second pot, is not the rain’s but the pot’s.  

The Founder-acarya of the Hare Krsna Movement, Srila Prabhupada, has given a good analogy that further explains the anomaly: “… electrician connects both a heater and a cooler to the same electrical energy. The cause of the heating and cooling is the electrician’s manipulation of the electrical energy according to his desire, but factually the electrician has nothing to do with causing heat or cold, nor with the enjoyment or suffering that results.” (Purport to Bhagavatam 7:1:12)

That is why the impartial Lord accepts even the most sinful person when he begins to worship Him with an undivided heart. (Gita 9:30) Even (“api”) the vilest becomes a deserving soul when his nature changes. And His undifferentiated Grace naturally flows without any prejudice.