Trinad api sunicena , Taror api sahishnunaam says Sriman Mahaprabhu. This is the start of the 3rd shloka of His creation the Shikshashtakam. To be humble like the blade of grass and to be tolerant like a tree , is the hall mark of Vaishnava says He. We see that almost all Vaishnavas of the popular movements claiming to belong to the cult of Sriman Mahaprabhu display such characteristics of being very humble and also as being tolerant. There is no doubt about this. In a way almost all followers wearing the holy Tulsi “kanthi mala” or neck-band and the Gopi Candana tilaka easily follow this dictum and easily display these characteristics. Yet the larger question remains ; are the qualities of an ideal Vaishnava really evident through such behaviour? The answer is a simple “No”.
What is missing here? What is it that , these Vaishnavas although demonstrating to a large extent the qualities enunciated by Sriman Mahaprabhu ,really do not qualify as “pure” devotees? A pure devotee is one who is immensely surrendered to the will of Krishna through thought, word and deed and whom the Supreme Lord Himself recognises “personally” and not just as an individual who is socially accepted as a “pure” devotee. There is a huge difference here. All of us are actually in Krishna Bhajana to attract the Supreme Lord’s attention and only rely on Him for all our existential and other-worldly needs! When an aspect of humility is considered in Vaishnavas; what are we talking about? A person who is externally soft spoken and ready to touch the feet of Vaishnavas without reason , just to “show off” his soft-spoken nature is not one of humble nature. Humility is the aspect of the soul. A jeeva is a combination of the three faculties of mind , intelligence and mundane ego that entraps the soul within. Such a jeeva is far from being humble from any angle ; how much ever he displays those bookish humble characteristics! When the jeeva is extremely sincere in His Bhakti and attempts to surrender His all at the feet of the Lord and has one identity within and without can be termed as truly humble! When this jeeva is in the company of other Vaishnavas it does not “show off” its humility since there is no reason to do so. It simply is situated in its constitutional position of being “Das anu Das” or servant of the servant of the Lord. Such a jeeva does not need to “act” its position. It is extremely transparent to all others and has nothing to hide.
When a sadhaka becomes too much externally focussed considering humility as an aspect of being qualified as Vaishnava, it is the end of sadhana really. Humility is not something that needs to be cultivated consciously, but is a result of intense sadhana and surrender to the Lord. When one surrenders one’s all to the Lord including one’s mundane status, self-esteem and prestige at the hands of the Lord, true humility automatically develops. Such a sadhaka is only inwardly focused and does not necessarily depend on external conditions. If one is extremely true and transparent to the Lord, absolutely inconsiderate about one’s own social position owing to one’s total dependence on the Lord, the facet of humility blooms through the entire persona of such an individual. The individual then knows his own true worth of being a “nobody” in this alien world and simply depends on the Lord for one’s sustenance. Such a person need not “cultivate” humility; humility adorns such a person on its own by the will of the Lord. We have to understand that “humility” can never ever be cultivated. It is an aspect of extreme sincerity to the Lord. A person may appear rough and rude externally, but this in the mood of service to the Lord. Such a person may still be extremely humble in the true sense of the word. Humility is the ornament of the Vaishnava and one should never try to manufacture the meaning of the word through external display. If one does this, one has never understood Mahaprabhu and the chances are that he may never ever understand Sriman Mahaprabhu!