One cannot identify an advanced soul by merely studying the scriptures. Yes, the scriptures give us an indication on the external behavior or characteristics of a person who is on the advanced platform of bhakti. Still…merely studying them and trying to match them to a potential candidate will not help us fully in identifying an advanced soul.
For example, Jada Bharath purposefully behaved in ways that defy any sort of external scrutiny. Yet he is a Mahabhagavat. On the other end, even during the time of Krishna, there were charlatans posing as yogis and Gods cheating the public. Surely to convince someone by cheating requires some intelligence and surely the characteristics can be imitated externally at least when the person is in public.
Therefore, to identify a true devotee is not possible merely trying to match with the descriptions of the scriptures. It is said that it takes one to know one. In other words, only one who is on the pure platform can identify the other who is on the equally pure platform. One who is humble and is free from all envy and who is engaged constantly in glorifying the names and pastimes of the Lord will be in direct connection with the Supersoul. For such an advanced soul, the Supersoul will help identify who is pure and who is not.
Today, within ISKCON, we see so many difficulties and many still engaging in criticism of devotees. I have seen devotees quoting scriptures as their fool proof method to sift the good from the bad. This method is maya’s trap. Our only business as aspiring students of unalloyed devotion is to re-route our experiences of the external world to the inner sanctums of our heart and meditate on how to purify our own existence. This world is created for just this one purpose. All actions that happen around is clinically orchestrated by the Supersoul so we can use our free-will to turn our consciousness inwards and work on doing the most difficult task – that is to clean our own false understandings of doership and ownership.
As long as we are busy trying to fix the world…we cannot make spiritual progress. For practical affairs, God has given us intelligence and in the mood of sincere surrender to guru and Krishna, we use our intelligence to get past them. In doing so, we should not take them too seriously to the point where we become fixated. Of course…modern methods of problem solving was born due to this fixation.