It is not wise to be fond of making an external show of devotion. One’s sole interest should be obtaining the desired result, liberation, which is possible by following a real devotee whose very life is the epitome of spiritual life. To help illustrate, an example from over two thousand years ago is comparable. At that time a king named Vikramaditya ruled who had many learned Brahmanas in his assembly that advised him, one of which was named Kalidasa. One day the king told him, “You are very learned and sing very nicely, but you would be even better if you were handsome as well.” Kalidasa was not beautiful in appearance. Upon hearing this remark, Kalidasa was reticent and waited for the right time to advise the king of what is of more importance. Once the king asked Kalidasa to bring him some water to drink. Kalidasa obeyed and brought the king water in two different cups, one made of clay and one of gold. The king drank the water from the clay cup and thanked him. Kalidasa then asked the king why he chose to drink from the clay cup, as the gold cup is more opulent. The king replied, “The water in the clay cup was cool and soothing, whereas the water in the gold cup would be warm and less satisfying.” Hearing this Kalidasa suggested to the king, “It is always best to consider the outcome of a situation and not just the external appearance or the way of dealing of a person, because an external show of a showboat may lead to degradation. A deceiver will lead you astray from the right path and even drill you to convince you that the right thing is wrong.”

[Sri Krsna Balaram Swamiji, KBS5139]