Escaping the Association of False Saints
Kapila explained: “Intimate association binds the soul, but experts know that the same intimacy applied towards saintly people opens the doorway to liberation.
One what criteria can a person be evaluated as “saintly”? Kapila explained, “You can recognize a ‘saintly person’ by the ‘ornaments’ they wear: tolerance, compassion, friendship with all creatures, enmity towards none, serenity, and honesty. Deeper than these ornaments, you can recognize a ‘saintly person’ by their essential nature: their entire being is firmly fixed in devotion to me. For my sake they are willing to sacrifice their own deeds, their own friendships, and even their own families.”
Canto Three (25.20–22)
The hallmark of such determination is that they are willing to sacrifice anything and everything for it.
But not at the expense of others. We have seen so many people run away from their families by putting on saffron halloween costumes and claiming to be sannyāsīs or brahmacārīs seeking the Absolute Truth, when in fact they were simply seeking to get free from the burden and stress of the responsibilities entrusted to them by the Creator. We ourselves have been guilty of this. But real saints do not behave in this manner. We did not see Kardama, for example, leave to the forest until his son was grown and promised to take care of Devahūti. We do not see Śrī Rūpa, for example, leave his family without first arranging for their welfare by giving a huge amount of wealth into their accounts.
Selfishness which dons the garb of “saintliness” is the most pernicious and disgusting of all. Better to be an honest drug addict than a deceptive “saint.”
To associate with false saints is worse than associating with materialists, for the association of a false saint directly destroyed ones interest and trust in the path of saints, bhakti, whereas the association of materialists merely inclines one towards materialistic pursuit if one is particularly weak. We should avoid false saints as we would avoid persons carrying a terrible, contagious disease.
In avoiding the false saints, we should not ourselves become a false saint by enjoying the garbage of criticizing them. Silently, patiently, calmly, honestly, and without enmity, we should arrange to avoid the intimate association of false saints, simply by not taking their example, advice, or instruction very seriously at all.