Whether we should praise a sadhak in front of him? Will it not increase the pride of that sadhak and actually harm him?
No, we must not praise a sadhak in front of him. Although, the more Bhakti maharani showers mercy on sadhak, he acquires the beautiful qualities only a bhakta can have. Those are supernatural qualities. Compassion, the nature of regarding no one as enemy, seeing the Truth everywhere, purity, regarding everyone equal, having no flaws in the character, sweet nature, accepting only what is needed to stay alive, etc are supernatural qualities of a real sadhu. The heart in which Bhakti maharani resides these qualities reside too and purify the sadhu's heart even more. Any normal person cannot have these qualities. The sadhu is ornamented with these qualities. Such qualities should be praised. But we shouldn't praise the Prakrit or material qualities of a sadhak. This person is very qualified, that person is very talented, he is very good, she is a simple person, etc are material qualities. What is the value of material qualifications and education and talents? In the spiritual world, they are meaningless.
If you praise a spiritually ignorant person he will become full of pride. And if you praise a sadhu he will feel ashamed that I am so full of faults but these people don't know anything about me, so they are praising me. Such is the difference between a sadhu and an ignorant person.
Once a sadhu came to my ashram on dwadasi. He was a very good sadhu. I started praising him in front of all the sadhus who came for the bhandara (baba performs a feast on every dwadasi). I started saying, "this is a very good sadhu, very good bhajananandi. He has a very simple life." And so forth. The sadhu became angry on me. He didn't say anything to me at that time but never came again to my ashram. I hunted for him so much but could not find him anywhere. Once I saw him at Sankri khor in Barsana parikrama marg. I asked baba why he doesn't come to my ashram. He retorted, "Why should I go to your ashram? I won't go there." I was astonished. Why is this baba angry on me? I love him so much, respect him so much. Which act of mine caused him to get so angry on me? I was so scared. What aparadh did I do unintentionally? I said baba please forgive me, I am a great aparadhi. But please tell me what mistake did I make? He said, "You started praising me in front of everyone. I won't go to your ashram, never." He was angry on me for praising him. Such is the nature of a sadhu. This is something to take lesson from. He lives such a life nobody knows him more than a normal sadhu. He doesn't engage with anyone, always lives alone. Wears minimum clothes, torn from many places.
So a sadhu feels shame on hearing his own praise and ignorant people take pride in the same. We act as if we are so ashamed on hearing our praise but inside we want to hear all that more and more. But a real sadhu actually feels that he is nothing and he is full of faults rather than anything to be praised of. This is possible only by the mercy of Bhakti maharani.