Question to Radhanath Swami: When one Vaishnava, a devotee of the Supreme Lord, praises another devotee’s devotional qualities, what should be the mood of one praising, and what should be the mood of one accepting the praise?
Answer by Radhanath Swami: Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur condemned flattering. .In the material world people praise others because they want to get something in return for that praise: one sometimes praises a politician because one wants help from that politician’s political powers; one sometimes praises a rich man because one hopes to get some money from that rich man. That is flattering. But when it comes to praising a devotee, one shouldn’t have this mentality. It should be done as a regulative principle as given by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to purify our hearts, for glorifying a devotee has that effect.
But the person being glorified should be very careful not to keep it for oneself, for then he/she will develop serious ‘indigestion.’ Any praise that comes, one should have a philosophical understanding, “Really, I am not the doer. If it wasn’t for the mercy of great saints like Srila Prabhupada and his associates, for what would I be praised for? Would I be following the principles of bhakti? Would I be chanting the holy names? Would I be performing devotional service? If it wasn’t for the association of the devotees protecting and sustaining me, where would I be? If it wasn’t for Krishna in my heart who is giving me intelligence and abilities, giving me the power to speak, what could I do? So, we should never take credit. We should give all glories to those from whom we are receiving our power and mercy. If we keep any praise for ourselves and we think we are the doers that will create havoc within our hearts. We should appreciate the affection of the person praising us, but the content of what he is saying we should understand belongs to Krishna and to those who are giving us that mercy of Krishna.