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How Can We Recognize A Jnani?

How can we recognize a jnani? Annamalai Swami answers:

For a mature seeker there is one principal symptom of being in the presence of a jnani. If the seeker’s mind becomes quiet, without any effort, then this is a good indication. But this is not a test that is valid or conclusive for everyone. If an immature seeker sits in the presence of a jnani, his or her mind will probably remain just as active as ever. It is very difficult for ordinary people to determine who is and who is not a jnani. There are no consistently reliable tests.

This reminds me of a story that was told by Ramakrishna. A sadhu was sitting in samadhi in the shade of a tree by the side of the road.

A man who was walking down the road glanced at the sadhu and thought, ‘He’s probably drunk’. The sadhu was shaking a little and the passerby assumed it was a drunken tremble.

Another man walked by, but his train of thought led him to a different conclusion: This man looks happy. He is probably waiting for his girlfriend to come.’

The sun was setting as the next man came along. He saw this shadowy figure sitting under the tree and thought, ‘He may be a thief. He is probably hiding under that tree so that he can jump out and attack people who pass by. I will give him a wide berth just in case he turns out to be dangerous.’

He took a little detour through the fields because that made him feel safer.

Shortly afterwards a fourth man came along. He was an advanced spiritual seeker and in the gathering gloom he could detect a halo of light around the sadhu’s head.

‘This must be an enlightened man,’ he thought, and so he went up to him and prostrated.

People perceive jnanis through the distorting prisms of their minds. More than that they cannot do. If you put on yellow glasses, everything you see will be colored yellow. Change the color of the lenses, and the color of what you perceive also changes. The jnani has no distorting lenses or prisms to obscure, fragment or change his vision. He sees everything as God, as his own Self.