The Sanskrit word 'sādhavaḥ' is an adjective describing the general characteristics of sādhus or saintly people. Yet we often see it translated as 'honesty' which, I feel, contains a message for us.
This verse from the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.5.11) has proven more and more meaningful to me as I go through life:
तद्वाग्विसर्गो जनताघविप्लवो यस्मिन् प्रतिश्लोकमबद्धवत्यपि ।
नामान्यनन्तस्य यशोऽङ्कितानि यत्शृ ण्वन्ति गायन्ति गृणन्ति साधव: ॥ ११ ॥
tad-vāg-visargo janatāgha-viplavo yasmin prati-ślokam abaddhavaty api
nāmāny anantasya yaśo ’ṅkitāni yat śṛṇvanti gāyanti gṛṇanti sādhavaḥ
On the other hand, that literature which is full of descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, forms, pastimes, etc., of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a different creation, full of transcendental words directed toward bringing about a revolution in the impious lives of this world’s misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literatures, even though imperfectly composed, are heard, sung and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest.
What is the nature of this honesty? Well ... thorough.
Merriam-Webster defines 'thorough' as:
1: carried through to completion: EXHAUSTIVE “a thorough search”
2: a: marked by full detail: “a thorough description”
b: careful about detail : PAINSTAKING “a thorough scholar”
c: complete in all respects: “thorough pleasure”
d: having full mastery (as of an art): “a thorough musician”
The Sanskrit word is 'sādhavaḥ', an adjective describing the general characteristics of sādhus or saintly people. Yet, in several instances in the Bhāgavatam, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda chose to specifically translate this word as 'honesty'. I think there is good reasoning and wisdom behind his choice of translation.
Does thorough honesty mean to just look at the good bits about ourselves and present ourselves that way to others? In religious organizations that put high expectations on their followers, social anxiety is quite good at shaping peoples' behaviour. If we profile ourselves as expected, we are awarded with approval and influence. Conversely, if we do not comply, we are either subtly ostracised or outright rejected. This behaviourist model leads to shallow and dishonest relationships that are, ultimately, unsatisfying to the heart. This need for fulfilment leads to other attempts to satisfy the heart which can look, at a glance, to be exalted; yet mask an underlying hunger for name, fame, adoration, and distinction. Instead of having authentic service relationships with others, some are driven to subconsciously, or overtly, create a false persona and attempt to have relationships via proxy through this effigy. At this point, we've moved far from 'thoroughly honest' and into the realm of Maya in a very insidious pseudo-devotional atmosphere.
This pretence has never helped anyone and will never help anyone. We end up like little kids running around in our Batman capes, imagining ourselves to be much further down the path of self-realization and God realization than we actually are; all-the-while blind to the need for real leadership that is responsibly guided by principles that require a mature assimilation of the ‘spirit’ of the sacred texts and not convenient interpretations, e.g. api cet su-durācāro.
Fortunately, the jīva (living entity) is imbued with free will—a necessary ingredient for love to manifest. We can choose the association of like-hearted people with which we can safely expose our doubts, misgivings and weakness. This is where genuine sādhu-saṅga takes place. It's therapeutic, and the evidence is in the experience. Progress, in such a thoroughly honest atmosphere, is tangible. Trust and irrevocable śraddhā begin to manifest. Devotional practice becomes deeply enriching and transformative. Anxiety about one's position or fear of being left out evaporate as one becomes satisfied with the actual progress being made and the quality of relationships being formed.
I yearn for this atmosphere and wish this for everyone. In the words of contemporary artist Lenny Kravitz, “We've got to let love rule.”
Suburban Mysticism is free, but if you feel inspired and want to share some love, consider buying Ekendra a broccoli.
No part of this text was generated with artificial intelligence; just “flawsome” human thoughts here … with, of course, homage to The Algorithm that abides over us all.
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