Impersonalism and the Doomed to Fail Attempt to Judge Sadhus

By Madhavananda Das - 9.8 2021

The proud practice of using our dull material senses to try to judge who is sadhu and who is not is the same as the neti neti endeavor of the impersonalists. The impersonalists try to understand what is spirit by using their material senses. “Net, neti” means, “not this, not this”. In the process of neti neti, the impersonalists try to ascertain what is matter and what is spirit by examining matter through the medium of their mundane senses.

Such empirical endeavor is doomed to failure from the beginning. The material senses are the chains that bind us to this world and prevent us from seeing spirit. They are taking shelter of aroha-pantha or the ascending process wherein one tries to attain spirit via material endeavor. Vaisnavas follow avaroha-pantha, the descending process of mercy.

Inspired by faith in their empiric senses and the empiric senses of others, such aroha-panthis or persons trying to ascend spirit through the medium of matter, feel faith in the departed saints in the past, but they fail to appreciate any present sadhu. Srila Thakur Bhaktivinode has described:

“For various reasons, common people do not easily develop faith in exalted persons who are still living, whereas they tend to develop great faith in the activities of mahajanas who have passed away.” (Jaiva Dharma chapter 22)

We should always remember the principle of drasta and drsta or the seer and the seen. We are not the seer. With our dull material senses we cannot see who is sadhu. Our position is to be the seen. If we try to proudly judge the Lord’s devotees we will only fail, and thereby suffer problems and embarrassment.

Our only hope is to cry out for mercy. Guru is thus krsna-krpa-sri-murti — or the manifestation of Krishna’s mercy. Sadhu-guru is sent by Krishna, he or she appears to that sincere soul who is piteously crying and chanting from the heart.