Is it possible to recognize a devotee by assessing his external activities, degree of education or financial status?
Answer: Definitely not! Materialists are fond of sense gratification and the renounced are detached from material enjoyment, recognizing it as the source of misery. Both materialists and renunciants are full of material desires and are therefore non-devotees. They cannot comprehend the attitude of a devotee, i.e. dedication to devotional service and appropriate renunciation. If one tries to gauge a devotee by his outward appearance, i.e. his class of birth, wealth, education, beauty, or other material attributes, or by the lack of them, then he is bound to be deceived. Even the demigods are unable to understand Vaishnava’s activities and conduct. Even if the karmis, jnanis, materialists, and renunciants look at the devotees with their gross vision, they cannot see the devotee’s real identity. A devotee who serves the Lord lacks no opulence because the Lord Himself possesses all six opulences. Rather a devotee offers their opulence to the Lord, unlike the materialist and renunciants. Neither do the devotees relish it nor give it up. Therefore, whether one sees a devotee with opulence or with no evident opulence, one should not disrespect him because that devotee knows how to utilize everything perfectly in the Supreme Lord’s service. A devotee is neither a sense gratifier nor a renounced person. He is something other than either of these because he gratifies his beloved Lord’s senses. It is only possible to develop this conception by the mercy of a devotee. Therefore if one engages completely in Sri Hari’s service, constantly chanting His names, giving up false ego, and taking shelter of the lotus feet of a pure devotee of the Lord, then one’s attempts to evaluate both the Lord and His devotees with one’s gross mind as well as one’s own material desires will diminish. Then one will surely attain eternal auspiciousness.