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How to Recognize the Spiritual Authority?
If you approach a group of common people and ask one of them, ''Sir! Can you tell me something about solving a diagonal matrix in a Finite Element Analysis problem?" he will blink and say, "Sorry, that is not my subject." If you ask another person. •'Sir! Can you explain the importance of the medulla oblongata?" he will immediately admit. "Sorry, my background is not medicine". But if you ask them, "Can any of you tell me about God?", every one of them will croak foolishly, like a frog, "God may be like this, may be like that, bla blabla..." This is the real problem. An intelligent man should ask, "What is your authority in speaking about God?"
Suppose you go to a jeweler's shop to purchase a diamond. Would you just jump at the first piece that you see? Surely not. You would perform detailed research before executing the actual transaction. Perhaps you would consult with some friends and experts in the business. Even after such consultation, you would try to get some warranty on the product to ensure that you are not cheated. Similarly, if we wish to become an engineer or doctor, we would consider the reputation and authenticity of the institute that we plan to join. But strangely enough, according to many, spiritual science is meant to be imbibed from one's grandfather or grandmother at home without any formal study or research in a university. Is that all that is there to shabda pramanal Is it just a matter of listening to your grandmother, seeing some movie on Ramayana or Mahabharata or hearing some stories. Such childish conceptions about spiritual science not only allow the standards of this most exact science to be drastically watered down, but also allow pretenders and unscrupulous parties to take advantage of credulous and naive followers. The Vedic literatures, especially the Shrimad Bhagavatam and the Bhagavad-gita, give detailed descriptions of how to avoid such pitfalls and receive true knowledge of shabda-pramana.
Earlier, we learned that we are subject to four defects, and we were convinced that the senses cannot give us perfect knowledge of even this material world, then what to speak of things beyond matter, i.e., spiritual matters? No one should dare speculate about spiritual subject matter; it is beyond our mind and senses. Speculation in spirituality can only provide us with imperfect, and therefore useless, ideas about God. But an intelligent person is not interested in such vague ideas; he wants to know the facts about the Absolute Truth. He understands the limitations of the senses, and so does not accept the knowledge given by pratyaksha and anumana. He only accepts statements spoken by God Himself, who alone is capable of delivering perfect knowledge. And because we have no ability to approach God directly, anybody who has surrendered to God and is repeating His message without adulteration, can be accepted as God's representative, from whom perfect knowledge can be obtained.