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Definition of a Vaishnava
grhita-visnudiksako visnu-pujaparo narah
vaisnavo 'bhihito 'bhijnairitaro 'smadavaishnavah
One who is initiated into the Vaishnava mantra and who is devoted to worshiping Lord Vishnu is a Vaishnava. One who is devoid of these practices is not a Vaishnava. (Hari-bhakti-vilasa, 11, quoted from Padma Purana)
Different Kinds of Vaishnavas
dvedha hi bhagavata-sampradaya-pravrttih.
ekatah samksepatah shri narayanad-brahma-naradadidvarena.
anyatastu vistaratah sesat sanat-kumara-sankhyayanadi-dvarena.
Vaishnavas are divided into different sampradayas according to their inclinations. The first of these has come from Narayana by way of Brahma, Narada, and so on. Another sampradaya comes from Sesa Bhagavan and has been outlined by the Sanat-Kumaras. (Shridhara Svami's commentary on Bhag. 3.1.1)
Three Kinds of DevoteesArcana-marga and Neophyte Devotees
tan-namaskaranais caiva vaishnavavatvamihocyate
In terms of the pancaratra-viddhi, one whose body is marked with the conch, lotus, disc, and club of Vishnu, who wears Vishnu tilaka, and who offers respect to other Vaishnavas is known by these symptoms as a kanistha-adhikari Vaishnava. (Padma-Purana)
Arcana-marga and the Intermediate Devotees
tapah pundram tatha nama mantro yagasca pancamah
ami hi panca samskarah paramaikanti-hetavah
A madhyama-adhikari Vaishnava in terms of pancaratrika-viddhi, is one who has been purified by the five kinds of purificatory processes (panca-samskaras): 1) practicing austerity for the sake of Vishnu, 2) wearing Vishnu tilaka, 3) receiving the holy name of Vishnu, 4) accepting initiation into the gayatri-mantra, and 5) performing yajna for the sake of Vishnu. He must also have firm faith in Vishnu. (Padma Purana)
Arcana-marga and the Advanced Devotee
artha-pancakavid vipro mahabhagavatah smrtah
A spiritually developed person who has mastered the above-mentioned five processes of purification (panca-samskaras), who is absorbed in the nine devotional activities (deity worship, mantra, yoga, yajna, prayers, nama-saokirtana, service, and worship of both the Vaishnavas and the Lord) and who understands the esoteric meaning of these different activities in full, is to be known as a maha-bhagavata, a great devotee of Vishnu, and a topmost Vaishnava. (Padma Purana)
Three kinds of Devotees in Relation to Krishna-premaThe Symptoms of a Neophyte Devotee
arcayam-eva haraye pujam yah sraddhayehate
na tad-bhaktesu canyesu sa bhaktah prakrtah smrtah
Those who faithfully worship the Deity, but cannot treat devotees properly and cannot deal properly with the people in general are known as prakrta-bhaktas, materialistic or neophyte devotees (kanistha-adhikari Vaishnavas). (Bhag. 11.2.47)
Note: Shrila Prabhupada comments on this verse in Chaitanya-Charitamrita: A prakrta-bhakta, or materialistic devotee, does not purposefully study the sastra and try to understand the actual standard of pure devotional service. Consequently, he does not show proper respect to advanced devotees. He may, however, follow the regulative principles, learn from his spiritual master, or from his family who worships the Deity. He is to be considered on the material platform, although he is trying to advance in devotional service. Such a person is a bhakta-praya, a neophyte devotee, or bhaktabhasa when he is a little enlightened by Vaishnava philosophy.
Symptoms of a Madhyama-adhikari
isvare tad-adhinesu balisesu dvisatsu ca
prema-maitri-krpopeksa yah karoti sa madhyamah
A madhyama-adhikari Vaishnava shows love for the Supreme Lord, friendship for the devotees, mercy towards the innocent and ignorant, and is indifferent towards the envious. (Bhag. 11.2.46)
krishna prema, krishna bhakte maitri-arcarana
balisete krpa, ara dvesi-upeksana
karilena madhyama-bhakta suddha-bhakta hana
krishna-name adhikara karena arjana
One who has love for Krishna, who makes friends with the devotees, who shows mercy to the neophytes and ignorant people, and who avoids the envious is a madhyama-bhakta and is considered a pure devotee, a suddha-bhakta. He is qualified to chant the holy name of Krishna. (Harinama Cintamani, Chapter 8)
Symptoms of an Uttama-adhikari
sarva-bhutesu yah pasyed bhagavad-bhavam atmanah
bhutani bhagavaty atmany esa bhagavatottamah
A person advanced in devotional service sees within everything the soul of souls, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna. Consequently he always sees Krishna everywhere and in everything. He is an uttama-bhagavata, one on the topmost platform of devotional service. (Bhag. 11.2.45)
sthavara-jangama dekhe, na dekhe tara murti
sarvatra haya nija ista-deva-sphurti
The maha-bhagavata certainly sees everything mobile and immobile, but he does not exactly see their forms. Rather, everywhere he immediately sees manifest the form of the Supreme Lord. (Cc. Madhya 8.274)
Further Symptoms of an Uttama-adhikari
grhitvapindriyair arthan yo na dvesti na hrsyati
visnor mayam idam pasyan sa vai bhagavatottamah
One who is so absorbed in love of God that he sees everything as the energy of Lord Krishna (even while the senses perceive their objects), and who therefore feels neither attachment nor hatred towards the things of this world is indeed the greatest among devotees (bhagavatottama). (Bhag. 11.2.48)
dehendriya prana-mano-dhiyam yo
smrtya harer bhagavata-pradhanah
Within the material world, one's body, senses, mind, life airs, and intelligence are always disturbed by birth, death, hunger, fear, and thirst. One who is not bewildered by these miseries of material existence, who always remembers the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is considered bhagavata-pradhanah, a topmost devotee of the Lord. (Bhag. 11.2.49)
na kama-karma-bijanam yasya cetasi sambhavah
vasudevaika-nilayah sa vai bhagavatottamah
One who has taken exclusive shelter of the Supreme Lord Vasudeva, whose heart is freed from the seeds of lust and karma is considered a bhagavatottama. (Bhag. 11.2.50)
na yasya janma-karmabhyam na varnasrama-jatibhih
sajjate 'sminn aham-bhavo dehe vai sa hareh priyah
One who is free from pride about his good birth, pious activities, exalted varnasrama position, and is free from bodily designations, and who serves the Lord with humility is known as a beloved devotee of the Lord. (Bhag. 11.2.51)
na yasya svah para iti vittesv atmani va bhida
sarva-bhuta-samah santah sa vai bhagavatottamah
A maha-bhagavata is one who is free from the conception of "This is mine and this is for others". He thinks, "Everything is for Krishna". He sees all living being as equally related to Krishna, and he is peaceful, being filled with Krishna consciousness. (Bhag. 11.2.52)
tri-bhuvana-vibhava-hetave 'py akuntha-
smrtir ajitatma-suradibhir vimrgyat
na calati bhagavat-padaravindal
lava-nimisardham api yah sa vaishnavagryah
The lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, Krishna, are sought by demigods such as Brahma and Siva, who have accepted Him as their life and soul. A pure devotee can never forget Krishna's lotus feet or give up their shelter for a moment, even in exchange for the three worlds. Such a devotee is known as a maha-bhagavata. (Bhag. 11.2.53)
hrdi katham upasidatam punah sa
prabhavati candra ivodite 'rka-tapah
How can the painful fever of material life befall those who hold the cooling lotus feet of Lord Krishna within their hearts? By the power of Krishna's lotus feet all the troubles in the heart of His pure devotee are banished forever, for His toenails are like gems whose rays soothe the heart of His devotee and relieve him from all trouble, just like the rays of the moon cool the earth from the heat of the summer sun. (Bhag. 11.2.54)
visrjati hrdayam na yasya saksad
dharir avasabhihito 'py aghaugha-nasah
sa bhavati bhagavata-pradhana uktah
One who chants the holy name of the Supreme Lord, Hari, even unconsciously, is freed from all sins. When Lord Hari grants liberation from sin to one who even unconsciously or negligently chants is holy name, the position of one who never abandons the shelter of His lotus feet must be considered highly exalted. Such a devotee can never give up the association of the Lord, nor can the Lord give up his association. Krishna Himself dwells eternally within his heart. Such a great soul is known as a maha-bhagavata. (Bhag. 11.2.55)
The Paramahamsa Vaishnava
jnana-nistho virakto va mad-bhakto vanapeksakah
sa lingan asramams tyaktva cared avidhi-gocarah
The paramahamsa is fixed in transcendental knowledge. He is free from attachment to all sense enjoyments and does not long for anything, including moksa. Such a great soul has renounced not only the duties of varnasrama, but also its external marks including even the dress of a sannyasi. Such a great soul has given up all attachment to previous conceptions of religion and duty, beginning with dharma, artha, kama, and moksa, and including varnasrama-dharma, for he has already surpassed all Vedic injunctions and prohibitions. He is no longer ruled by the scriptures for he is spontaneously devoted to the Supreme Personality of Godhead on the highest platform of divine love. (Bhag. 11.18.28)
Description of the Three Kinds of Devotees From Chaitanya-charitamrita
sraddhavan jana haya bhakti-adhikari
'uttama,' 'madhyama,' 'kanistha,' sraddha-anusari.
sastra-yuktye sunipuna, drdha-sraddha-yanra
'uttama-adhikari' sei taraye samsara.
sastra-yukti nahi jane drdha, sraddhavan
'madhyama-adhikari' sei maha-bhagyavan.
yahara komala sraddha, se 'kanistha' jana
krame krame teoho bhakta haibe 'uttama.'
A faithful devotee is a truly eligible candidate for the loving service of the Lord. According to one's faith, one is classified as a topmost devotee, an intermediate devotee, or an inferior devotee.
One who is expert in logic, argument, and the revealed scriptures and who has firm faith in Krishna is classified as a topmost devotee. He can deliver the whole world.
One who is not very expert in argument, logic, and the scriptures, but who has firm faith, is considered a second-class devotee. He also must be considered most fortunate.
One whose faith is soft and pliable is called a neophyte, but by following the process gradually he will rise to the platform of a first-class devotee. (Cc. Madhya 22.64, 65, 67, 69)
Lord Chaitanya Explains the Three Kinds of Devotees An Ordinary Vaishnava
prabhu kahe, "yaora mukhe suni eka-bara
krishna-nama, sei pujya, srestha sabakara"
The Lord said: Whoever chants the holy name of Krishna just once may be considered a Vaishnava. Such a person is worshipable, and is the topmost human being. (Cc. Madhya 15.106)
A Superior Vaishnava
"krishna-nama" nirantara yanhara vadane
se vaishnava-srestha, bhaja taohara carane
A person who is always chanting the holy name of the Lord is a superior Vaishnava, and your duty is to serve his lotus feet. (Cc. Madhya 16.72)
The Topmost Vaishnava
yaohara darsane mukhe aise krishna-nama
taohare janiha tumi 'vaishnava-pradhana'
The topmost Vaishnava is he whose very presence makes others chant the holy name of Krishna. He is superior to all others! (Cc. Madhya 16.74)
Who is a Vaishnava
dusta mana! tumi kisera vaishnava?
pratisthara tare, nirjanera ghare,
tava "harinama" kevala kaitava:
jadera pratistha, sukarera vistha,
jana na ki taha "mayara vaibhava"
bhaviya ki kaja, anitya se saba:
tomara kanaka, bhojera janaka,
kanakera dvare sevaha "madhava."
kaminira kama, nahe tava dhama,
tahara malika kevala "yadava."
na pela "ravana" yujhiya "raghava:"
vaisnavi pratistha, tate kara nistha,
taha na bhajile labhibe gaurava.
harijana-dvesa, pratisthasa klesa,
kara kena tabe tahara gaurava.
vaisnavera pache, pratisthasa ache,
ta'ta kabhu nahe "anitya-vaibhava."
se hari sambandha, sunya-mayagandha,
taha kabhu naya "jadera kaitava":
ubhaye janiha mayika-raurava.
"kirtana chadiba, pratistha makhiba,"
ki kaja dhundiya tadrsa gaurava:
madhavendra puri, bhava-ghare churi,
na karila kabhu sadai janava.
tomara pratistha, "sukarera vistha,"
tara saha sama kabhu na manava:
matsarata-vase, tumi jadarase,
majecha chadiya kirtana-sausthava.
tai dusta mana, "nirjana-bhajana,"
pracharicha chale "kuyogi-vaibhava"
prabhu sanatane, prabhu yatane
siksa dila yaha cinta sei saba
sei du'ti katha, bhula' na sarvatha,
uccaisvare kara "harinama-rava"
"phalgu" ara "yukta," "baddha" ara "mukta,"
kabhu na bhaviha 'ekakara saba
chadiyache yare sei ta' vaishnava:
sei "anasakta," sei "suddha bhakta,"
samsara tathaya paya parabhava
"yathayogya-bhoga," nahi tatha roga,
"anasakta" sei, ki ara kahaba
"asakti rahita" "sambandha-sahita,"
visaya-samuha sakali "madhava."
se "yukta-vairagya, "taha ta' "saubhagya,"
tahai jadete harira vaibhava:
kirtane yahara, "pratistha-sambhara,"
tahara sampatti kevala "kaitava."
"visaya-mumuksu," "bhogera bubhuksu,"
duye tyaja mana, dui "avaishnava"
"krsnera sambandha," aprakrta skandha,
kabhu nahe taha jadera sambhava"
"mayavadi jana," krsnetara mana,
mukta abhimane se ninde vaishnava
vaisnavera dasa, tava bhakti-asa,
kena va dakicha nirjana-ahava
ye "phalgur-vairagi," kahe, nije, "tyagi,"
se na pare kabhu haite "vaishnava."
hari-pada chadi', nirjanata badi',
labhiya ki phala, "phalgu" se vaibhava.
radha-dasye nahi chada bhoga-aki
pratisthasa nahe kirtanan-gaurave
kena va nirjana-bhajana-kaitava.
pratistha-bhiksuka ta'ra nahe "sava."
prana ache ta'ra, se hetu pracara,
pratisthasa-hina "krishna-gatha" saba.
shri-dayita dasa, kirtanete asa,
kara uccaih-svare "hari-nama-rava."
kirtana-prabhave, smarana haibe,
se kale bhajana-nirjana sambhava.
O wicked mind! What kind of Vaishnava are you? You go off o chant in a solitary place, but your chanting is only for name and fame (pratistha). It is nothing but hypocrisy. Such mundane name and fame is hog's stool. It is an allurement of maya. Day and night you think of nothing but women and money. Why waste your time meditating on things that are temporary? You think money is the father of enjoyment, but money is not meant for your pleasure. When you claim wealth as your own, it only creates within you a lust for enjoyment. Your money should serve Krishna, who is Madhava, the husband of the goddess of fortune and the enjoyer of all wealth.
Satisfying the desire of beautiful women is never your domain; it is the domain of their proprietor Yadava. He alone can fulfill the hankering of their heart. Ravana fought Rama in order to achieve the highest prestige (pratistha), but that prestige was only an illusion. His hope for prestige had grown as mighty as a great tree within the forest of desires within his heart, but the soul can find no cooling shade there, for the "forest" is really only a mirage in the desert of material illusion. Don't be like Ravana, who wanted to enjoy the position of Rama. Accept the position of the servant of Vishnu. Take your stand upon the foundation of pure devotional service, giving up all your hopes for false prestige, and thus become a genuine Vaishnava. If you don't worship the position of the Vaishnava, you will be doomed.
Those who go to great trouble in hopes for prestige as great devotees, are envious of devotees and are rewarded for their trouble with a hellish life. The genuine fame that follows a Vaishnava is not the same as the temporary fame that follows pretenders. The fame that follows a Vaishnava does not stink of maya. It has no trace of the treachery of pretentious imposters. The self-promotion and fame of a pseudo Vaishnava is like a dog-eating whore: it is unchaste and unprincipled. Their solitary bhajan is counterfeit. O mind, know that both the artificial fame and bogus bhajana of pseudo-devotees is a hellish phantasmagoria. They think: "I shall give up the kirtana of the holy name and pray for fame and position." But what is the use of such "fame'"?
O mind, know for certain that Madhavendra Puri never cheated himself in this way by robbing himself of his own internal treasure and proclaiming his greatness to the world. O mind, your fame is hog stool. No one shall ever be the equal of Mahavendra Puri, so why do you wish to compete with him for fame? Under the control of envy, you have drowned yourself in the ocean of mundane rasa and material enjoyment. The only thing you have truly renounced is the sublime Krishna kirtana in the association of devotees.
O wicked mind! Your so-called solitary worship is preached and practiced by wicked imposters who impersonate devotees for nefarious purposes. With great care you should consider what Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taught Sanatana Gosvami. Loudly chant the holy name of Krishna. Never forget the two most valuable things he taught Sanatana: phalgu and yukta, "real and false renunciation;" and baddha and mukta, "freed and enslaved." Never mistake one for the other, or think them to be the same.
Money, women, and fame are like tigers. A Vaishnava gives them up and keeps them at a distance. Such a devotee, who is without material attachments, is a suddha-vaishnava. Such a devotee has conquered over the material world and its illusions of enjoyment. Accepting only what is needed in the service of the Lord, he remains free from the diseased mentality of material enjoyment and dedicates himself to the Lord's service. Free from all false attachments he sees everything in relationship to Krishna, understanding that everything is meant for the pleasure of Shri Krishna. He knows that to engage everything in the service of Krishna is real renunciation. Because he understands that the true position of renunciation is in dedicating everything to Krishna, he is truly fortunate. Although he lives within the material world he dwells within the revelation of Krishna's pastimes, and experiences the extension of the spiritual world within the material world.
On the other hand, one who chants the holy name of the Lord for name and fame is simply a hypocrite and a cheater. His renunciation is false. O mind! give up the association of both those who want liberation and those who want material enjoyment. They are all nondevotees.
What is in connection with Krishna is aprakrta: non material and supra mundane. The divine things in relation to Krishna should never be seen as material. By virtue of its divine connection with Krishna a thing becomes transcendental. It is therefore impossible for it to be anything less than divine. The mayavadis can never think of Krishna. Proud of their piety, they think themselves liberated and blaspheme the Vaishnavas.
O mind, your only prayer is to be the servant of the devotees. Make this prayer your only contemplation. Why do you want to go off and leave the devotees. A phalgu-vairagi does not understand that the true meaning of renunciation is devotion. In the dress of a devotee, such an impostor calls himself a tyagi, a great renouncer, but he is only a great pretender. He will never be a true Vaishnava. Giving up the lotus feet of Shri Hari, he leaves the Lord's service behind in order to perform his "worship" in a solitary place. Having left the service of Shri Krishna and the association of devotees, what will he get by becoming famous as a humble man? Those who, in a false spirit of renunciation, give up the service of Krishna, the association of Vaishnavas and the order of the guru to execute solitary bhajana may sit in their hut and chant, but the only fruit they get is false. What is the use of such foolishness?
O mind! Always engage yourself in the service of Shri Radha, and keep aloof from the snake of material enjoyment. There is nothing glorious about performing kirtana simply for name and fame. You are the eternal servant of Shrimati Radharani. Why then do you renounce her for the cheating process of nirjana-bhajana? Why do you run after false renunciation and so give up the service of Shri Radha? The residents of Vrndavana are the real object of preaching. They do not aspire for false prestige, nor are they devoid of life, as are the false renunciates. Those who have spiritual vitality can preach and instill spiritual life in their audience. Preaching is the symptom of vitality. One who preaches the message of Krishna consciousness is devoid of hopes for prestige.
Shri Dayita Dasa, (Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta) the humble servant of Shri Radha and her beloved Krishna always hopes for kirtana, and begs everyone to sing the holy name of the Lord aloud. By the influence of such kirtana, one may gradually come to the exalted stage of smaranam, wherein one constantly remembers the pastimes of Krishna within one's mind. Nirjana-bhajana is conceivable only after attaining this advanced level of Krishna-bhakti. (Mahajana-racita Gita, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.)
The Twenty-six Qualities of a Vaishnava
sei saba guna haya vaishnava-laksan
saba kaha na yaya, kari dig-darasana.
krpalu, akrta-droha, satya-sara, sama
nirdosa, vadanya, mrdu, suci, akincana.
sarvopakaraka, santa, krishnaika-sarana
akama, aniha, sthira, vijita-sad-guna.
mita-bhuk, apramatta, manada, amani
gambhira, karuna, maitra, kavi, daksa, mauni.
All these transcendental qualities are the characteristics of pure Vaishnavas. They cannot be fully explained, but I shall try to point out some of the important qualities:
Devotees are always merciful, humble, truthful, equal to all, faultless, magnanimous, mild, and clean. They are without material possessions, and they perform welfare work for everyone. They are peaceful, surrendered to Krishna, and desireless. They are indifferent to material acquisitions and are fixed in devotional service. They completely control the six bad qualities: lust, anger, greed, pride, illusion, and envy. They eat only as much as required, and are sober. They are respectful, grave, compassionate, and without false prestige. They are friendly, poetic, expert, and silent, that is they do not speak whimsically. (Cc. Madhya 22.77-80)
Vaishnavas see With Equal Vision
vidya-vinaya-sampanne brahmane gavi hastini
suni caiva sva-pake ca panditah sama-darsinah
The learned devotee sees with equal vision (by dint of true knowledge) the brahmana, the cow, the elephant, the dog, and the outcaste. (Bhagavad-gita 5.18)
mahat-sevam dvaram ahur vimuktes
tamo-dvaram yositam sangi-sangam
mahantas te sama-cittah prasanta
vimanyavah suhrdah sadhavo ye
Service to mahatmas opens the door to liberation. The path to hell is wide open for those who associate with people fond of women and sex. The great devotees are equipoised. They do not see any difference between one living being and another. They are peaceful, and are fully engaged in devotional service. They are devoid of anger and they work for the benefit of everyone. They do not behave in any abominable way. Such persons are known as mahatmas. (Bhag. 5.5.2)
ye va mayise krta-sauhrdartha janesu dehambhara-vartikesu
grhesu jayatmaja-ratimatsu na priti-yukta yavad-arthas ca loke
Those who are interested in reviving their Krishna consciousness and increasing their love of Godhead do not like to do anything that is not related to Krishna. They are not interested in mingling with those who are busy maintaining their bodies by eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. They are not attached to their homes, although they may be householders. Nor are they attached to wives, children, friends, or wealth. At the same time, they are not indifferent to the execution of their duties. Such persons are interested in collecting only enough money to keep their body and soul together These are the characteristics of a devotee. (Bhag. 5.5.3)
The Lord is Conquered by Devotion
aham bhakta-paradhino hy asvatantra iva dvija
sadhubhir grasta-hrdayo bhaktair bhakta-jana-priyah
I am completely under the control of My devotees. Indeed, I am not independent. I sit within the core of their heart. What to speak of My devotees even those who are devotees of my devotees are very dear to Me. (Bhag. 9.4.63)
sadhavo hrdayam mahyam sadhunam hrdayam tv aham
mad-anyat te na jananti naham tebhyo manag api
My pure devotees are always in my heart, and I am always in their heart. My devotees know nothing but Me, and I know nothing but them. (Bhag. 9.4.68)
A Vaishnava is Supremely Merciful
bhavad-vidha bhagavatas tirtha-bhutah svayam vibho
tirthi-kurvanti tirthani svantah-sthena gadabhrta
Devotees are themselves the highest places of pilgrimage, capable of giving benediction to all, for they always carry the Supreme Lord, Krishna, within their heart. Thus they purify the holy places of pilgrimage as well as those who visit such places. (Bhag. 1.13.10)
yan-namam-sruti-matrena puman bhavati nirmalah
tasya tirtha-padah kim va dasanam avasisyate
If simply by hearing Shri Krishna's holy name one becomes supremely purified, who can imagine the purifying power of chose who are constantly engaged in service to His lotus feet? What is impossible for such persons? (Bhag. 9.5.16)
The Glories of the Vaishnavas
sva dharma-nisthah sata-janmabhih puman
virincatam eti tatah param hi mam
avyakrtam bhagavato 'tha vaishnavam
padam yathaham vibudhah kalatyaye
One who perfectly follows his duty in varnasrama-dharma for one hundred births can attain the position of Brahma. One who is more qualified can attain the position of Siva. A Vaishnava, however, is immediately promoted to the spiritual planets far beyond even my abode. That transcendental position is so difficult to realize that I, Lord Siva, and the other gods can attain those spiritual planets only after the ultimate annihilation of the material world.
nayana bhariya dekha dasera prabhava
hena dasyabhave krsne kara anuraga
alpa hena na maniha "krishna-dasa" nama
alpa-bhagye dasa nahi kare bhagavan
dasa-name brahma-siva harisa-antara
dharani-dharendra cahe dasa adhikara
[Lord Chaitanya said] Just see the influence of the servant of Krishna. With such a mentality of service, cultivate a deep attachment to Krishna. If, however, you are devoid of a service attitude and do not wish to call yourself "Krishna-dasa," you will be most unfortunate: the Lord will never accept you as His servant. Brahma and Siva, although they are the masters of the universe, take endless delight in the name "Krishna-dasa" and pray for the qualification to become servants of Shri Krishna. (Cb. Madhya 23.463-464, 472)
kita janma hau yatha tuya dasa
bahir-mukha brahma-janme nahi asa
Let me take birth as a worm as Your servant. O Krishna, I would forsake a birth as Brahma, if that birth was devoid of Your service. (Saranagati, Bhaktivinode Thakura)
The glories of the Servants of the Vaishnavas
maj janmanah phalam idam madhu-kaitabhare
mat prarthaniya mad anugraha esa eva
bhrtyasya-bhrtyam iti mam smara lokanatha
O Supreme Lord of all, slayer of the demons Madhu and Kaitabha! Please be merciful to me and grant my prayer that You may remember me as a servant of Your servant's servant, a servant of such a servant of Your servant's servant, a servant of a servant of Your servant's servant, and a servant of Your servant's servant servant.
Note: Shrila Prabhupada sometimes alluded to this verse in his lectures by stressing that a vaishnava aspires to become the servant of the servant of the servant of the Lord one thousand times removed.
Further Glories of Vaishnavas
sadhunam sama-cittanam sutaram mat-krtatmanam
darsanan no bhaved bandhah pumso 'ksnoh savitur yatha
When one is face to face with the Sun, there is no longer darkness for one's eyes. Similarly, when one is face to face with a sadhu who is fully determined and surrendered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, one will no longer be subject to material bondage. (Bhag. 10.10.41)
na hy am-mayani tirthani na deva mrc-chila-mayah
te punaty uru-kalena darsanad eva sadhavah
Water alone does not make a sacred place holy. Nor is it earth nor clay that composes the form of the Deity. The waters of the Ganges, visits to holy places, and the worship of the Salagrama-sila purify one only after a long time, but saints like you purify instantly by their very sight. (Bhag. 10.84.11)
Without Taking Shelter of a Vaishnava, all Knowledge is Lost
thakura-vaishnava-pada, avanira susuampada,
suna bhai! haina eka mana:
asraya laiya bhaje, tare krishna nahi tyaje patha-bheda,
ara sava nare akarana
vaishnava-carana-jala, prema-bhakti dite bala,
aro keho nane balavanta:
vaishnava-carana-renu, mastake bhusana vinu
ara nahi bhusanera anta,
tirthajala-pavitra-gune, likhiyache purane,
se saba bhaktira pravancana:
vaisnavera padadoka, sama nahe ei saba,
yate haya vanjita purana.
vaishnava-sangete mana, anandita anuksana,
sada haya krishna-parasanga:
dina narottama kande, hiya dhairya nahi vandhe,
mora dasa kena haila bhanga.
O brother, please hear my words with rapt attention: The lotus feet of the Vaishnavas are the most valuable treasure in the world. Those Vaishnavas continually take shelter of Lord Krishna and worship Him. They never abandon their Lord, but they are liberated from the cycle of repeated birth and death. The water which has washed the lotus feet of the Vaishnavas bestows devotional service in pure love of Godhead. There is nothing as effective in attaining this divine love. I place the dust from the lotus feet of the Vaishnavas upon my head. I wear no other ornament. The purifying power of the waters of the various places of pilgrimage is described in the Puranas, although this is something of a deceptive trick. Actually there is nothing which is as purifying as the water which has washed the lotus feet of the Vaishnavas. This water fulfills all desires. Moment after moment my mind finds contant pleasure in the association of the Vaishnavas. I always seek the company of those devoted to Lord Krishna. The poor-hearted Narottama dasa Thakura cries, "I cannot maintain my composure any longer. Why have I fallen into such a low condition of life that I cannot get the association of the Vaishnavas?" (Prarthana Narottama dasa Thakura)
Only Vaishnavas are Really Merciful to the Fallen
ei baro karuna koro, vaishnava gosai
patita pavana toma bine keho nai.
jahara nikate gele papa dure jay
emona doyalu prabhu keba kotha pay.
gangara parasa hoile pascate pavan
darsane pavitra koro ei tomara guna.
hari-sthane aparadhe tare' hari-nama
toma-sthane aparadhe nahika paritrana.
tomara hrdoye sada govinda-visrama
govinda kahena, mora vaishnava parana.
prati janme kori asa caranera dhuli
narottame koro doya apanara bali'.
O Vaishnava Gosvami, please be merciful to me. No one except for you can purify the conditioned souls. Where does anyone go to find such a merciful personality by whose mere audience all sins go far away? After bathing in the waters of the sacred Ganges many times one becomes purified, but just by the sight of you, fallen souls are purified. This is your great power. The holy name delivers one who has committed an offense to Lord Hari, but if one commits an offense to you, there is no way of overcoming it. Your heart is always the resting place of Lord Govinda, and Lord Govinda says the Vaishnavas are always in My heart. I desire the dust of your holy feet in every birth I may take. Please consider Narottama dasa Thakura yours and be kind upon him. (Prarthana Narottama dasa Thakura)
The Glories of Exclusive Vaishnavas
brahmananam sahasrebhyah satrayaji visisyate
sarva-vedanta-vit-kotya visnu-bhakto visisyate
vaishnavanam sahasrebhyah ekantyeko visisyate
Out of many thousands of brahmanas, one who performs sacrifice for Vishnu is best. Out of thousands of such yajnika-brahmanas, one who knows the meaning of Vedanta is best. But of millions of such Vedantists, a devotee of Vishnu is best. And out of thousands of Vishnu bhaktas, one who is an unalloyed devotee of Vishnu is the best. (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 10.117 and Bhakti-sandarbha, 177)
na mayy ekanta-bhaktanam guna-dosodbhava gunah
sadhunam sama-cittanam buddheh param upeyusam
Material piety and sin, which arise from the good and evil of this world, cannot exist within My unalloyed devotees, who, being freed from material hankering, maintain steady spiritual consciousness in all circumstances. (Bhag. 11.20.36)
Vaishnavas are Very Rare
bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate
vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma su-durlabhah
After many, many births and deaths, one who is in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me (Vasudeva) as the cause of all that is. Such a great soul is very rare. (Bhagavad-gita 7.19)
manusyanam sahasresu kascid yatati siddhaye
yatatam api siddhanam kascin mam vetti tattvatah
Out of many thousands among men, one may desire perfection. Out of thousands of those who attain perfection, hardly one may know me in truth. (Bhagavad-gita 7.3)
rajobhih sama-saokhyatah parthivair iha jantavah
tesam ye kecanehante sreyo vai manujadayah
prayo mumuksavas tesam kecanaiva dvijottama
mumuksunam sahasresu kascin mucyeta sidhyati
muktanam api siddhanam narayana-parayanah
sudurlabhah prasantatma kotisv api maha-mune
In this world, there are as many living entities as there are atoms. Among these living entities, few are human beings, and among them, few are interested in following religious principles. Among those who follow religious principles, only a few desire liberation from the material world. Among thousands of those who wish for liberation, one may actually achieve it, giving up material attachments to society, friendship, love, country, home, wife, and children. And among many thousands of such liberated persons, one who can understand the true meaning of liberation is very rare. Out of millions of perfected and liberated souls, one may be a devotee of Krishna. Such devotees, who are fully peaceful, are extremely rare. (Bhag. 6.14.3-5)
Out of Many Liberated Souls, a Pure Devotee is Very Rare
tara madhye 'sthavara', 'jangama' dui bheda
tara madhye manusya-jati ati alpatara
tara madhye mleccha, pulinda, bauddha, sabara.
veda-nistha-madhye ardheka veda 'mukhe' mane
veda-nisiddha papa kare, dharma nahi gane.
dharmacari-madhye bahuta 'karma-nistha'
koti-karma-nistha-madhye eka 'jnani' srestha.
koti-jnani-madhye haya eka-jana 'mukta'
koti-mukta-madhye 'durlabha' eka krishna-bhakta.
The unlimited living entities can be divided into two different groups those that can move and those that cannot move. Among living entities that can move are birds, aquatics, and animals. Although the living entities known as human beings are very small in quantity, that division may be still further subdivided, for there are many uncultured human beings like mlecchas, pulindas, and other varieties of outcasts. Among human beings, those who are followers of the Vedic principles are considered civilized. Among these, almost half simply give lip-service to the Vedic principles while committing all kinds of sinful activities. Such men do not care for the prohibitions of scripture. Among the followers of the Vedas most are following the process of karma, distinguishing between good and bad work. Out of many such sincere karmis, there may be one jnani, who is actually wise. Out of many millions of such wise men, one may become liberated. And out of many of such liberated persons, a pure devotee of Krishna is very difficult to find. (Cc. Madhya 19.144-148)
aksnoh phalam tvadrsa-darsanam hi
tanoh phalam tvadrsa-gatrasangah
jihva phalam tvadrsa-kirtanam hi
sudurlabha bhagavata hi loke
O Vaishnava! To see you is the perfection of the eyes. To touch your holy feet is the perfection of the body. To vibrate your holy qualities is the perfection of the tongue for it is very rare to find a pure devotee within this world. (Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya 13.2)
A Vaishnava is Beyond Mundane Knowledge
tan vai hy asad-vrttibhir aksibhir ye
atho na pasyanty urugaya nunam
ye te padanyasa-vilasa-laksyah
O great Supreme Lord, offensive persons whose internal vision has been too affected by external materialistic activities cannot see Your lotus, feet, but Your devotees can always see Your lotus feet because their only aim is to enjoy Your lila. (Bhag. 3.5.45)
yata dekha vaisnavera vyavahara-duhkha
niscaya janiha sei parananda sukha
visaya-madandha saba kicchui na jane
vidya kula, dhana-made vaishnava na cine
When you see a Vaishnava of the highest order who seems to be suffering from material misery, you should know for sure that he is really experiencing the highest ecstasy. Bewildered by sense enjoyment and puffed up with pride in their knowledge, education, birth, wealth, beauty, and so on, ignorant people cannot understand the activities or position of a Vaishnava. A Vaishnava, on the other hand never considers birth, education, and wealth to be important qualifications, but distributes the Lord's mercy to everyone, regardless of their social position. (Cb. Madhya 9.240-241)
A Vaishnava is Paraduhkha-duhkhi
mahad-vicalanam nrnam grhinam dina-cetasam
nihsreyasaya bhagavan kalpate nanyatha kvacit
O Narada, great persons like you visit the homes of family men, not to profit from them but simply to bestow eternal auspiciousness upon them, even though they are often reluctant to hear anything for their spiritual benefit, being too materialistic. Otherwise you have no need to travel from one place to the next. (Bhag. 10.8.4)
mahanta-svabhava ei tarite pamara
nija karya nahi tabu yana tara ghara
It is the general practice of saintly persons to deliver the fallen. Therefore they go to people's houses, although they have no personal business there. (Cc. Madhya 8.39)
janasya krishnad vimukhasya daivad
anugrahayeha caranti nunam
bhutani bhavyani janardanasya
My dear Lord, great philanthropic souls travel on the earth on behalf of the Supreme Personality of Godhead to show compassion to the fallen souls who are averse to the sense of subordination to the Lord. (Bhag. 3.5.3)
bhajanti ye yatha devan deva api tathaiva tan
chayeva karma-sacivah sadhavo dina-vatsalah
The rewards the demigods give closely follow one's pious acts, just as the movements of a shadow correspond exactly to those of the body. A devotee's mercy, however, is causeless and does not depend on the accumulation of piety. Saintly persons are kind and compassionate to fallen souls without considering their piety or impiety. (Bhag. 11.2.6)
A Vaishnava is Transcendental
na karma-bandhanam janma vaishnavanam ca vidyate
visnur anucaratvam hi moksam ahur manisinah
A Vaishnava does not take birth under the jurisdiction of karmic law. His birth and disappearance are transcendental. The wise have declared that the servants of Vishnu are eternally engaged in the liberated service of the Lord and hence are free from the laws of material nature. (Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa, 10,113, quoted from Padma Purana)
ata eva vaisnavera janma mrtyu nai
sange aisen, sange yayen tathai
dharma, karma, janma vaisnavera kabhu nahe
padma-puranete iha vyakta kari' kahe
The Padma Purana says that Vaishnavas do not undergo birth and death like ordinary people do. They appear and disappear within this world of their own accord. In this way, sometimes we get their association and sometimes their association is withdrawn. The devotees are not subject to any worldly considerations of duty and karma. (Cb. Antya 8.173,174)
vahni-surya-brahmanebhyas-tejiyan vaishnavah sada
na vicaro na bhogas ca vaishnavanam svakarmanam
The purifying power of fire, the sun, and the holy brahmanas is eclipsed by the divine power of the Vaishnavas. The activities of the Vaishnavas are neither karmic nor performed for the sake of materialistic enjoyment. (Brahma-vaivarta Purana, Krishna-janma-khanda, Chapter 59)
A Vaishnava's Birth, Family, and Nation are of no Importance
viprad dvi-sad-guna-yutad aravinda-nabha-
padaravinda-vimukhat svapacam varistham
pranam punati sa kulam na tu bhurimanah
If a brahmana has all twelve brahminical qualifications, but is not a devotee and is averse to the lotus feet of the Lord, he is certainly lower than a dog-eater who is a devotee, but who has dedicated everything mind, words, activities, life, and wealth to the Supreme Lord Krishna. Such a devotee is superior to a brahmana because a devotee can purify his entire family, whereas the brahmana who is not a devotee is bound to be illusioned by the false prestige of his position and thus cannot purify even himself. (Bhag. 7.9.10)
aho bata sva-paco 'to gariyan
yaj-jihvagre vartate nama tubhyam
tepus tapas te juhuvuh sasnur arya
brahmanucur nama grnanti ye te
O Lord, how glorious are they whose tongues always chant Your holy name! Even if born in a family of dog-eaters, such persons are worshipable. Those who chant the holy name of Your Lordship must have performed all kinds of austerities and sacrifices. They must have all the good qualities of the Aryans. They must have bathed in all the holy places, studied the Vedas, and fulfilled everything required of those who are qualified to chant the Vedas and perform yajna. (Bhag. 3.33.7)
na me 'bhaktas caturvedi mad-bhaktah svapacah priyah
tasmai deyam tato grahyam sa ca pujyo yatha hyaham
A brahmana who is expert in studying all four Vedas is not dear to Me, but a devotee who comes from a family of outcastes (candalas) is dear to Me. Whatever he touches becomes pure. That devotee, although born in a family of outcastes is as worshipable as I am. (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 10.91)
nica-jati nahe krishna-bhajane ayogya
sat-kula-vipra nahe bhajanera yogya
yei bhaje sei bada abhakta hina chara
krishna-bhajane nahi jati-kuladi-vicara
Birth in a low family is no disqualification for the execution of devotional service. And birth in a family of brahmanas is no qualification. Anyone who takes to devotional service is exalted, whereas a non devotee is always condemned and abominable. In the discharge of devotional service to the Lord, there is no consideration of the status of one's family. (Cc. Antya 4.66,67)
A Devotee is Dearer Than one's own Family
mata-pita yuvatayas tanaya vibhutih
sarvam yadeva niyamena madanvayanam
adyasya nah kalupater-bakulabhiramam
shrimat-tad-anghri yugalam pranamami murdhna
I reverently bow down to the blessed feet of the first acarya of our devotional family. His holy feet are bedecked with offering of bakula flowers. He is eternally united to us and all members of our family with a bond of love dearer than father, mother, sons, wealth, or anything else in life. (Stotra-Ratnam 5)
The Twelve Mahajanas
svayambhur naradah sambhuh kumarah kapilo manuh
prahlado janako bhismo balir vaiyasakir vayam
Brahma, Narada, Siva, the four Kumaras, Kapiladeva, Svayambhuva Manu, Prahlada, Janaka Maharaja, Grandfather Bhisma, Bali Maharaja, Sukadeva Gosvami, and I (Yamaraja) know the real transcendental principles of religion. (Bhag. 6.3.20)
markendeyo 'mbarisas ca vasur vyaso vibhisanah
pundariko balih sambhuh prahlado viduro dhruvah
dalbhyah parasaro bhismo naradadyas ca vaishnavaih
sevya harim nisevyami no cedagah param bhavet
Markandeya Esi, Maharaja Ambarisa, Vasudeva, Shrila Vyasadeva, Vibhisana, Pundarika, Bali Maharaja, Siva, Prahlada Maharaja, Vidura, Dhruva Maharaja, Dalbhya, Parasara, Bhisma, Narada, and the great sages and devotees who follow in their footsteps are all great persons. One should worship and serve them in addition to worshiping and serving Lord Hari. One who neglects to worship the Lord's devotees commits a great offense. (Laghu Bhagavatamrta, Uttara-khanda, 2)
Prahlada is the Best of the Devotees
kvaham rajah-prabhava isa tamo 'dhike 'smin
jatah suretara-kule kva tavanukampa
na brahmano na tu bhavasya na vai ramaya
yan me 'rpitah sirasi padma-karah prasadah
O my Lord, because I was born in a family full of the hellish material qualities of passion and ignorance, what is my position? And what is to be said of Your causeless mercy, which You never offered even to Lord Brahma, Lord Siva, or the goddess of fortune, Laksmi? You never put Your lotus hands upon their heads, but You have put it on mine. (Bhag. 7.9.26)
Better than Prahlada are the Pandavas
na tu prahladasya grhe param brahma vasati,
na ca tad darsanartham munayas tad grhan abhiyanti,
na ca tasya brahma matuleyadi rupena varttate,
na ca svayam eva prasannam,
ato yuyam eva tato 'pyasmatto 'pi bhuri-bhaga iti bhavah
The Supreme Personality of Godhead did not personally remain in Prahlada's home, although He stayed in the home of the Pandavas. Great sages did not travel to Prahlada's home to see the Supreme Lord, but for this purpose they did visit the home of the Pandavas. The Supreme Lord did not become the intimate relative of Prahlada Maharaja, He was the maternal cousin of the Pandavas. He also did not personally express great pleasure at the daily activities of Prahlada as He did with the Pandavas. For all these reasons, Narada Muni has said that the Pandavas were more fortunate than either himself or Prahlada. (Laghu-Bhagavatamrta, Uttara-khanda 19)
The Yadavas are Superior to the Pandavas
sadati san-nikrstatvat mamatadhikyato hareh
pandavebhyo'pi yadavah kecit sresthatama matah
Because of their constant intimate association with Lord Krishna and close family ties with Him, some members of the Yadu dynasty are more exalted than the Pandavas. (Laghu-Bhagavatamrta, Uttara-khanda 18)
Uddhava is Superior to the Yadavas
na tatha me priyatama atma-yonir na sankarah
na ca saokarsano na shrir naivatma ca yatha bhavan
O Uddhava, Brahma, Siva, Sankarsana, Laksmidevi, and even My own self is not as dear to Me as you are. (Bhag. 11.14.15)
noddhavo 'nv api man-nyuno yad gunair narditah prabhuh
ato mad-vayunam lokam grahayann iha tisthatu
Uddhava is not inferior to Me in any way. He is never affected by the modes of material nature. As such he may remain in this world to disseminate specific knowledge about the Personality of Godhead. (Bhag. 3.4.31)
The Gopis are Superior to Uddhava
asam aho carana-renu-jusam aham syam
vrndavane kim api gulma-latausadhinam
ya dustyajam sva-janam arya-patham ca hitva
bhejur mukunda-padavim srutibhir vimrgyam
O when will that day be mine, when I can take the dust of the lotus feet of those great souls known as the gopis on my head? When will the day come when I shall take birth as a creeper in Vrndavana, so that I can take the dust of the lotus feet of the gopis on my head? Those great souls gave up society, friendship, love, their very relatives even the Vedic principles to surrender to Krishna, who is known as Mukunda. Such devotion as exhibited by these exalted inhabitants of Vrndavana is only hinted at in the Vedas. (Bhag. 10.47.61)
The Gopis are Superior to the Laksmis in Vaikuntha
na tatha me priyatamo brahma rudras ca parthiva
na ca laksmir na catma ca yatha gopijano mama
Not even Brahma, Siva, Laksmidevi, or even My own self is as dear to Me as are the gopis of Vrndavana. (Adi-Purana)
Radharani is the Best of all Devotees
yatha radha priya visnos-tasyah kundam priyam tatha
sarva gopisu saivaika visnor-atyanta-vallabha
Shrimati Radharani is dear to Krishna, and her kunda, known as Radha-kunda is similarly dear to Him. It is the favorite place of Krishna. Of all the gopis, Shrimati Radharani is the most dear to Krishna. (Laghu-bhagavatamrta, 45)
karmibhyah parito hareh priyataya vyaktim yayur jnaninas-
tebhyo jnana-vimukta-bhakti-paramah premaika-nisthas-tatah
tebhyas-tah pasu-pala-paokaja-drsas tabhyapi sa radhika
prestha tad-vadiyam tadiya-sarasi tam nasrayet kah krti
In the scriptures it is said that of all types of fruitive workers, one who is advanced in knowledge of the higher values of life is favored by the Supreme Lord Hari. Out of many such people who are advanced in knowledge, jnanis may take to devotional service. He is superior to the others. However, one who has actually attained prema, pure love of Krishna, is superior to him. The gopis are exalted above all the advanced devotees because they are totally dependent on Krishna, the transcendental cowherd boy. Among the gopis, Shrimati Radharani is the most dear to Krishna. Her kunda, or lake, is as profoundly dear to Krishna as is this most beloved of the gopis. Who then, will not reside at Radha-kunda, and, in a spiritual body surcharged with ecstatic devotional feelings, (aprakrta-bhava) render loving service to the divine couple, Shri Shri Radha-Govinda, who perform their asta-kaliya-lila. Indeed, those who execute devotional service on the banks of the Radha-kunda are the most fortunate souls in the universe. (Upadesamrta 10, Rupa Gosvami)
The Glories of Gauranga's Devotees
acarya dharmam paricarya visnum vicarya tirthani vicarya vedan
vina na gaura-priya-padasevam vedadi-dusprapya-padam vidanti
Those who perform the duties of varnasrama-dharma, worship Lord Vishnu, and visit many holy places, yet neglect the service of the lotus feet of the great devotees, who are dear to Lord Chaitanya, are never able to understand the pastimes of Radha-Govinda in Their confidential abode of Vrndavana. (C. Candramrta 22)
kaivalayam narakayate tridasapur-akasa-puspayate
yat-karunya-kataksa-vaibhavatam tam gauram-eva stamah
For devotees of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who have attained His glance of mercy, impersonal liberation is hellish, the heavenly plan-ets are a phantasmagoria, the poisonous fangs of the snake-like senses are broken and harmless, the universe is filled with ecstasy, and Brahma, Indra and all the gods seem like insignificant insects. May that Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu be glorified. (C. Candramrta 5)
yatha yatha gaura-padaravinde vindeta bhaktim krta-punya-rasih
tatha tathot-sarpati hrdya-kasmad radha-padambhoja-sudhambu-rasih
One who is extremely fortunate may get the mercy of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. As much as one can devote his full attention to the lotus feet of Lord Chaitanya, to that extent he will be able to taste the nectarean service of the lotus feet of Shrimati Radharani in Vrndavana. The more one engages in the service of Shri Chaitanya, the more one finds oneself in Vrndavana, tasting the nectar of the service of Shri Radha. (C. Candramrta 88)
gaurangera du'ti pada, yar dhana sampada,
se jane bhakati-rasa-sar
gaurangera madhura-lila, jar karne pravesila,
hrdaya nirmala bhela tar
je gaurangera nama loy, tara hoy premodoy,
tare muni jai balihari
gauranga-gunete jhure, nitya-lila tare sphure,
se jana bhakati-adhikari
gauranga-sangi-gane, nitya-siddha kori' mane,
se jay brajendra-suta-pas
shri-gauda-mandala-bhumi, jeba jane cintamani
tara hoy braja-bhume bas
gaura-prema-rasarnave, se tarange jeba dube,
grhe va vanete thake, 'ha Gauranga' bo'le dake,
narottama mage tara sanga
Anyone who has accepted the lotus feet of Shri Gauranga can understand the true essence of devotional service. If one wants to take part in the madhurya-lila of Shri Krishna as it was distributed by Shri Gauranga, he must first cleanse his heart by hearing about the process of Krishna consciousness. If one takes the name of Gauranga, prema will arise within his heart. At that time he will say jai balihari: "This is superexcellent!" If one appreciates the merciful pastimes of Shri Gauranga and feels ecstasy and sometimes cries, this process will soon help him to understand the nitya-lila of Radha and Krishna. By realizing the qualities of Lord Gauranga, one will be allowed entrance into the nitya-lila.
One should understand that the eternal associates of Lord Gauranga are all eternally perfect souls. Simply by accepting this, one can immediately be promoted to the transcendental abode of Krishna. Living in Vrndavana and living in Navadvipa are the same. And one who understands that the land of Navadvipa is nondiffer-ent from Vrndavana actually lives in Krishna's abode of Vrndavana.
Gaura-prema, transcendental love of Lord Gauranga is an ocean of nectarean rasa. As the ocean is always dancing with waves, the ocean of transcendental love of Krishna as introduced by Lord Chaitanya has constant waves. One has to dive deep into that ocean. If one says, "Let me dive deep into that nectarean ocean", he soon becomes a confidential devotee of Radha-Krishna.
Narottama dasa Thakura says, "I pray for the association of whoever calls out the name of Shri Gauranga, whether he is living in the forest as a member of the renounced order of life, or whether he is a family man. (Prarthana Narottama dasa Thakura)
The Unfortunate Position of Nondevotees
bhagavad-bhakti-hinasya jatih sastram japas-tapah
apranasyaiva dehasya ma mandanam loka-ranjanam
svapako'pi budhaih slaghyo na veda-jno'pi nastikah
For one who is devoid of transcendental devotion to Shri Krishna, his knowledge of scripture, his japa and chanting of mantras, as well as all his austerities are simply decorations on a dead body. For one who takes to pure devotional service, all the reactions of his past sinful life are burned to ashes. In this regard, the outcaste is equal to the highly learned, who also takes to this path; but those who refuse to surrender, the atheists and agnostics, will remain ignorant of the real conclusions of the Vedas, and get no credit for all their study.
Pure Devotion to Gauranga is Best of all
kriyasaktan dig dig vikatatapaso dhik ca yamena
dhigastu brahmaham vadana-pariphullan jadamatin
kimetan socamo visaya-rasa-mattan-narapasun
na kesancil-leso'py ahaha milito gaura-madhunah
Woe to the smarta brahmanas, who blindly follow the Vedic rituals! To hell with those who unnecessarily practice harsh penance's. Woe to those who try to control the mind and senses by following the eightfold yoga system. Woe to those who artificially practice brahmacaryi and imagine that they have become liberated simply by saying aham bramasmi, "I am God". Woe to those whose voices are filled with the flowery words of dry speculation. They are intoxicated by the taste of mundane pleasure.
Why should we lament for these animals in the guise of men? We lament because, alas they have not tasted even a tiny drop of the nectar from the lotus feet of Lord Gauranga. (C. Candramrta 32)
Without Devotion to Gauranga, One's Knowledge of Scripture is Foolish Nonsense
achaitanyam-idam visvam yadi chaitanyam-isvaram
na viduh sarva-sastra-jna hyapi bhramyanti te janah
Great scholars of the scriptures who do not accept Lord Gauranga, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, are forced to wander aimlessly throughout this universe of dead matter. Their so-called knowledge of the scriptures will be useless to them. Birth after birth, they will wander from one planet to the next propelled by their pious and impious acts. (C. Candramrta 37)
Without the Mercy of Gauranga's Devotee Everything is Impossible
avad-brahma-katha vimukti-padavi tavan na tikti-bhavet
tavac-capi visrokhalatvamayate no loka-veda-sthitih
tavac-chastra-vidam mithah kalakalo nana-bahir-vartmastu
shri-chaitanya-padambuja-priyajano yavan na drg gocarah
As long as one has not seen a pure devotee of Shri, Gauranga Mahaprabhu, he will be engaged in tasting bitter talks about the impersonal path of liberation.
As long as one has not seen a devotee of Lord Gauranga, he will be bound by social and Vedic convention, blindly following formalities and traditions without understanding their purpose.
As long as one never sees one of the beelike devotees addicted to drinking the nectar from the lotus feet of Shri Gauranga, he will be forced to walk in endless circles on the labyrinthine paths of dry Vedic scholarship, wasting valuable time in useless discussions on futile religious practices. (C. Candramrta 19)
Thus ends the Third Jewel of the Gaudiya Kanthahara entitled Vaishnava-tattva.