One should give up the association of dharmadvajis, the hypocritically devout, with special care. Those who accept the external signs of dharma but do not actually follow dharma are called dharmadvajis. There are two types of dharmadvajis – the hypocrites and the fools, or the cheaters and the cheated. In devotional service this hypocrisy ruins everything.
Better to associate with sense enjoyers, for in this world there is no worse association than the dharmadvaji. The deceitful dharmadvajis accept the signs of dharma with a desire to cheat the world, and to fulfil their crooked desires they cheat the foolish by helping them in their rascaldom. Some of them become gurus and others become disciples, and by trickery they accumulate wealth, women, false prestige and material assets.
If one gives up the association of crooked hypocrites, then he can honestly engage in devotional service. Honest worship is the only way to attain Krsna’s mercy. As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.3.38; Suta Gosvami): “Only those who render unreserved [without hypocrisy] uninterrupted, favourable service unto the lotus feet of Lord Krsna can know the creator of the universe in His full glory, power and transcendence”
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura; Sri Bhaktyaloka, p. 37
Jana sangas ca—you should not be bound by bad association. Never accept any food or water from the hands of those people who do not engage in the worship of Krishna. Don’t accept anything from them; in their association your intelligence will be destroyed. In their proximity, your bhakti should be kept confidential.
Never be engaged in prolonged conversations with them, even if one of the persons happens to be your son, brother, or husband. You can meet and cheat them by speaking on worldly subject matters. But never speak on the confidential truths of bhakti. This way, you should behave accordingly.
You should always be engaged in sadhu-sanga. What is the meaning of sadhu-sanga? It means associating with a high class of a devotee who is in the line of our guru, and especially in the line of Srila Rupa Gosvami and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. On finding such a sadhu, you should try to follow his association and listen to his katha.
Don’t be entangled in the association of worldly people. The association of people who have no devotion must be avoided at all costs, or else your devotion will be destroyed. This applies even to a godbrother. The godbrother may be chattering here and there, so even your godbrother’s association must be avoided.
Rather, you should associate with a devotee absorbed in the devotional services of Krishna. This devotee weeps while he continuously chants the holy name, and he is much more advanced than us
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja (Den Haag, 14 May 1996)