Those who parade their purity accumulate the impurity of pride
On the spiritual path, freedom from the gross impurities of lust, greed and anger is invaluable. Such purity keeps us focused on Krishna amidst temptations.
However, the forces of illusion can misappropriate even the spiritually precious and abuse it to take us away from Krishna instead of towards him.
How might purity be thus misappropriated?
Through the pride of purity: “Because I am purer than others, I am superior to them.” As this pride grows, it makes us exhibit our purity for getting respect from others. The respect we get fuels our pride, which being voracious becomes not content but discontent – demanding more respect. Due to this increased craving, we parade our purity sanctimoniously without realizing that our heart is getting dirtied and darkened by the impurity of pride. As pride acts as a wall between us and Krishna, it obstructs us in thinking of his greatness and instead impels us to think of our own greatness.
When we become thus self-obsessed, though we may still pride in our purity and our superiority over others, we are already fallen, being disconnected from Krishna. Further, pride being a material emotion drags our consciousness down and makes us vulnerable to grosser material temptations. As pride has already cut us off from the higher happiness coming from humble remembrance of Krishna, our need for pleasure makes us eventually indulge in lower pleasures. Consequently we can no longer maintain the show of purity, which is the source of our pride. Thus, pride in purity leaves us with neither pride nor purity.
Cautioning us about the danger of pride, the Bhagavad-gita (13.08) underscores humility as a defining characteristic of knowledge. By remembering the purpose of purity – to serve and please Krishna, we can use it as a propelling force to move towards him.