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Chapter 12—The Glories of the Vaishnavas
Devotional and places of pilgrimage
A person who goes to a place of pilgrimage only for taking a bath in holy rivers and worships the deity, whom he considers to be made of stone, will take a very long time to develop true religious sentiments.
On the other hand, as soon as one sees a pure devotee of the Lord, his heart is cleansed of all unwanted material desires. He is put into touch with the highest objective of life, and transcendental devotional service dawns within his heart like the rising morning sun that dissipates all darkness.
Associating with a pure devotee
After many births, when the living entity receives the causeless mercy of the Supreme Lord, he comes into contact with a pure devotee of the Lord and by this association he becomes gradually free from the material disease.
The pure devotee purifies the conditioned soul's heart and then he understands unequivocally that Lord Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the Lord of all other lords.
The kanistha-adhikari neophyte devotee
A neophyte devotee is one who has received formal initiation from a spiritual master and worships the Deity form of the Lord strictly adhering to rules and regulations. He cannot distinguish between an intermediate devotee and a pure devotee. He does not know how to properly respect a pure, elevated devotee of the Lord.
The madhyama-adhikari intermediate devotee
An intermediate devotee is one who has developed love for the Supreme Lord Krishna, is affectionate and friendly to the Lord's devotees, is compassionate to the innocent and avoids the association of envious non-devotees. ery soon, on the strength of his devotional service and Krishna's mercy, an intermediate devotee becomes a first class devotee or uttama-adhikari.
The uttama-adhikari first class devotee
According to the instructions of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a first class or pure devotee of the Lord is one who sees Krishna in every living entity and sees every living entity as part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. He is completely free from envy, anger or hate, and he has no friends or enemies. He is spiritually highly enlightened and is best amongst the Lord's devotees.
The best of the first class devotees utilises his senses and things of this material world in executing pure devotional service. Free from the vices of greed, hate, anger, etc. he constantly perceives the Supreme Lord and His energies manifest everywhere.
The wise devotee spends his days remembering and meditating on Lord Krishna's pastimes. He is no longer deluded by the temporary nature of mundane life and material duties. He is free from the urges of his body and sense, mind and material intelligence, and he is transcendental to the dualities of birth and death, fear, hunger and thirst.
One whose heart has become the permanent abode of Lord Krishna, the son of Mother Yasoda, executes his duties only to maintain the body. He cleanses his heart of any desire to engage in fruitive activities. Such is the process of pure devotional service.
Devotee is free from all material designations
The natural propensity for one who is in the material concept of life is to be attracted to speculative knowledge, fruitive activities and the designations of caste and social order. When the pure soul begins associating with the body, he develops the mood of false identification, such as 'me' and 'mine'. But one who is free from such false identification is to be considered an eternally liberated soul and dear to the Supreme Lord Hari.
He who is free from possessiveness and is completely detached from material things does not make bodily distinctions like 'you' and 'me', which create imaginary friends and enemies. One who looks equally upon all living entities, making no distinctions between them, is an equiposed person, free from anxiety. He is certainly to be counted amongst the best of the devotees of the Lord.
He never leaves the shelter of the Lord's lotus feet, even if he is offered all the opulences of the entire universe in exchange. The Lord's lotus feet are the most coveted object of the demigods and sages. Never for a single moment does he forget the lotus feet of Shri Krishna, he is foremost amongst the pure devotees of the Lord, and he is always in a blissful state of consciousness.
Devotee is free from the threefold miseries
One who comes into contact with Lord Krishna's lotus feet has extinguished the fire of material desire within his heart by the soothing, irridescent rays emanating from the moonlike nails of the Lord's lotus feet. Why should he crave for the conflagration of material existence when his heart can always remain cool under the comforting shade of the Lord's lotus feet?
Other symptoms of a firs-class devotee
Once the devotee fastens Lord Krishna's lotus feet with the bonds of love, the Supreme Lord can never leave the throne of his heart. A first-class devotee of the Lord is automatically free from all duties and responsibilities, because he is wholly surrendered to the holy name of the Lord. Even in an unconscious state, he utters the Lord's name purely.
One who understands the temporary nature of material duties and responsibilities, who leaves all material activities and takes complete shelter of Krishna's lotus feet is certainly a first-class, elevated devotee and is very rarely found. The devotee engaged in devotional service, fully cognisant of the transcendental truth about Lord Krishna's original form, holy name, pure devotees and the process of devotional service, is indeed foremost amongst the Vaishnavas.
One who worships the Supreme Lord and His holy name with undivided faith, knowing Them to be non-different, although he does not understand the intricacies of his own spiritual identity, is also to be considered a very elevated, first-class Vaishnava. This is Lord Chaitanya's opinion.