In Bhagavad-gītā Lord Kṛṣṇa describes four kinds of pious men (su-kṛtinaḥ) begin to render devotional service unto Him – the distressed (ārto), the desirer of wealth (arthārthī), the inquisitive,( jijñāsuḥ), and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute (jñānī)’
catur-vidhā bhajante māṁ janāḥ su-kṛtino ’rjuna
ārto jijñāsur arthārthī jñānī ca bharatarṣabha (BG 7.16)
Dhruva Mahārāja was arthārthī Bhakta- desirous of wealth. He wanted a kingdom bigger than his grandfather Lord Brahmā. When he was insulted by his step mother Suruci, the favorite queen of Uttānapāda, he cried and went to his is mother Sunīti who gave him instructions to approach Lord Kṛṣṇa. She said “Lord Kṛṣṇa is so kind to His devotees that if you go to Him, then the combined kindness of millions of mothers like me will be surpassed by His affectionate and tender dealings. When everyone else fails to mitigate ones misery, Kṛṣṇa is able to help the devotee”. With fixed determination as befits a kṣatriya, Dhruva Mahārāja went to forest to seek the shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the forest he met Nārada Muni who wanted to test Dhruva’s determination tried to advise him saying that: “My dear boy, you are only a little boy whose attachment is to sports and other frivolities. Why are you so affected by words insulting your honor? In my opinion severe austerities to see Kṛṣṇa face to face are not possible for any ordinary man. It is very difficult to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Executing many types of austerities, many mystic yogīs were unable to find the end of the path of God realization. For this reason, my dear boy, you should not endeavor for this; it will not be successful. It is better that you go home. Unfortunate incident occurred because of your own past deeds. Take it as working of Māyā and also it is Lord Kṛṣṇa’s mercy.” Dhruva Mahārāja replied “With due respect, your instructions are good but I am so ignorant that your philosophy does not touch my heart. All I want is to occupy exalted position greater than even my grandfather Lord Brahmā. If you will oblige, kindly advise me of an honest path to follow by which I can achieve the goal of my life.” Nārada Muni, upon hearing the words of Dhruva Mahārāja, and taking advantage of his determination became very compassionate toward him, and instructed him to go to Madhuvana forest situated on the bank of Yamunā (Kālindī) and to completely absorb himself in devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Kṛṣṇa, chanting the twelve-syllable mantra ‘Oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya’ and worshiping the Lord”. When Dhruva Mahārāja was thus advised by the great sage Nārada, he circumambulated Nārada Muni, his spiritual master, and offered him respectful obeisances and went to Madhuvana. Following the instruction rigidly Dhruva Mahārāja got the audience of Lord Viṣṇu in six months.
Sukadeva Goswami gives similar instructions to Parīkṣit Mahārājathat a person who has broader intelligence, whether he be full of all material desire ( sakāma) or without any material desire (akāma), or desiring liberation or (mokṣa-kāma), must by all means worship the supreme whole, the Personality of Godhead with great expedience (tīvreṇa) (SB 2.3 10). Dhruva Mahārāja was sarva kāma Bhakta. He performed tīvra bhakti. By successfully executing his spiritual master Nārada Muni’s instructions Dhruva Mahārāja saw the Lord (an incarnation known as Pṛśnigarbha) face to face in the same form he was practicing meditation on the Supersoul within himself the plenary portion of Kṛṣṇa as Viṣṇu – with four hands, holding conchshell, wheel, club and lotus ﬂower.
Having darsan of the Lord he paid obeisances falling flat at Lord’s lotus feet. He wanted to greet the Supreme Lord with prayerful words but he hesitated feeling too young and inexperienced to speak eloquently. Understanding Dhruva Mahārāja’s awkwardness Lord touched boy’s forehead with conch shell empowering him to have full awareness of the Absolute Truth. There after Dhruva maharaja instantly thanked Him and understood that Lord’s blessing would grace his words. Thus he offered beautiful prayers. Srila Prabhupāda comments that to glorify or offer prayers unto the Supreme, one needs the Lord’s mercy. One cannot write to glorify the Lord unless one is endowed with His causeless mercy. First he prayed to the Lord that he was satisfied just by having Lord’s darsan: sthānābhilāṣi tapasi sthito ‘haṁ, tvāṁ prāptavān deva-munindra guhyam kācam vicinvann api divya-ratnaṁ, svāmin krtārtho ‘smi varaṁ na yāce
O my Lord, because I was seeking an opulent material position, I was performing severe types of penance and austerity, now I have got You, who are very difficult for the great demigods, saintly persons and kings to attain. I was searching after a piece of a glass, but instead I have found a most valuable jewel. Therefore I am so satisfied that I do not wish to seek any benediction from You. (Nardiya Purana). Dhruva experienced the Lord as the personified form of benediction, by which he could understand the nature of the topmost desire i.e. to become a devotee with no other desire but to please Kṛṣṇa. He came to conclusion that although he had worshiped the Lord to gain material benediction, the worship itself was the greatest benediction. Srila Prabhupada comments: Dhruva Mahārāja was cognizant of the -defective nature of his own devotional service. Such adulterated devotees can never see the Personality of Godhead face to face. He therefore, felt very grateful for the causeless mercy of the Lord. And he prayed for protection from the Lord so that he might not be misled or deviated from the path of devotional service by material desires. Dhruva Mahārāja has realized that serving Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet is much more relish able than the enjoyment of even a hugely opulent kingdom in the material world. So he prays, to Viṣṇu as the protector of one on the devotional path, similar to a cow protecting her calf. And what is Viṣṇu protecting the devotee from? Answer is protection from himself – ‘from his own defective nature’.Dhruva’s last prayer sums up his previous materialistic attitude and his present devotional one: satyāśiṣo hibhagavaḿs tavapāda–padmam āśīs tathānubhajataḥ puruṣārtha–mūrteḥ apy evamaryabhagavānparipātidīnān vāśreva vatsakamanugraha-kātaro ‘smān (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 4.9.17)
“My Lord, O Supreme Lord, You are the supreme personified form of all benediction. Therefore, for one who abides in Your devotional service with no other desire, worshiping Your lotus feet is better than becoming king and lording it over a kingdom. That is the benediction of worshiping Your lotus feet. To ignorant devotees like me, You are the causelessly merciful maintainer, just like a cow, who takes care of the newly born calf by supplying milk and giving it protection from attack”. This verse is explained by Sridhara Swami as: ‘O Supreme Personality of Godhead (bhagavān) Your form (mūrteḥ) is the Supreme bliss and highest goal of life (puruṣārtha). Your lotus feet (pāda-padmam) are the true benediction (satyāśiṣo) and are a benediction for greater than other benediction (āśīs) such as ruling over a kingdom. This is right conclusion because for the devotees who are worship You (anubhajataḥ) without ulterior motive. You are the highest goal of life. O, Master (arya) even though this is so, You still maintain and protect poor (dīnān) people like us (‘smān). A Kṛṣṇa conscious person can see Kṛṣṇa in the heart of everyone as stated in the smṛti : ātatatvāc ca mātṛtvāc ca ātmā hi paramo hariḥ. The Lord, being the source of all beings, is like the mother and the maintainer. As the mother is neutral to all different kinds of children, the supreme father (or mother) is also. (BG 6.29 Purport)
The Lord is so merciful that not only does He fulfill the desires of a devotee who is driven by ignorance and desires for material benefit, but He also gives such a devotee all protection, just as a cow gives milk to a newly born calf. Lord is bhakta-vatsala. Even Dhruva Mahārāja did not want any Kingdom but any way the Lord awarded Dhruvaloka to him (Lord Pṛśnigarbha had created it for Dhruva maharaja so that he can later reside there). Dhruvaloka — polestar is an eternal Vaikuntha planet, a planet that was never resided upon by any conditioned soul. Even Brahmā, being the topmost living creature within this universe, was not allowed to enter the Dhruvaloka. Not only that but Lord also granted that even before attaining Dhruvaloka he would reign on earth for 36,000 years without aging. The Lord then awarded Dhruva the ability to remember Him fully at the time of his death despite his having ruled as king surrounded by all material opulances for so many years.
Under Nārada Muni’s guidance Dhruva Maharaja has transformed powerful anger to focused determination. Now he reaped the fruit of his devotion (a great kingdom). But he was ashamed of the selfishness that had motivated his worship. The Lord certainly could have immediately taken him back to Godhead but He did not because Dhruva’s desire for revenge and vast material kingdom carried him those benedictions.
Therefore a devotee must be very sincere in his devotional service; then, although there may be many things wrong on the devotee’s part, Kṛṣṇa will guide him and gradually elevate him to the highest position of devotional service. One should simply pray to the Lord to be constantly engaged in His transcendental loving service.
Lord also predicted that Dhruva’s stepmother Suruci would suffer a reaction for her assault and would lose her only son Uttama burnt to death in forest fire. Suruci’s offense to Dhruva was committed before he had attained Lord’s darsan.
Therefore, one should take care when dealing with devotees, even if they do not appear advanced at the moment. It is dangerous to offend or insult a Vaiṣṇava or anyone for that matter.
Lord Kṛṣṇa is so affectionate and kind towards His devotee, especially to a devotee like Dhruva Mahārāja, who went to render devotional service in the forest alone at the age of only five years, that although the motive might be impure, the Lord does not consider the motive; He is concerned with the service. He is ‘bhāva grāhi janārdana’. If a devotee has a particular motive, the Lord directly or indirectly knows it, and therefore He does not leave the devotee’s material desires unfulfilled. When Dhruva Mahārāja became situated on the Vasudeva platform due to seeing the Lord face to face, all his material contamination was cleared. Dhruva Mahārāja regretted very much that he could not take seriously the instruction of his spiritual master Nārada Mini, and that his consciousness was therefore contaminated. He was adamant in asking him for something perishable, namely revenge against his stepmother for her insult, and possession of the kingdom of his father. Still, the Lord is so merciful that due to Dhruva‘s execution of devotional service He offered Dhruva the ultimate Vaiṣṇava goal. Dhruva Mahārāja also prayed to grant him an association of devotees. Srila Prabhupada writes: In other words, every one of us who is engaged in devotional service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness should be completely free from all material aspirations. Otherwise we will have to lament like Dhruva Mahārāja. Therefore, Maitreya Muni concludes describing Dhruva Mahārāja’s unique achievement. He characterizes a pure devotee’s equipoised attitude as: “always attached to honey of His lotus feet and says “those who are always attached to the honey of His lotus feet, are always satisfied in serving at the lotus feet of the Lord. In any condition of life, such persons remain satisfied, and thus they never ask the Lord for material prosperity. Srila Prabhupada in his purport elaborates that a devotee is always engaged in drinking the honey from the lotus feet of the Lord. The Lord’s feet are compared to the lotus, wherein there is saffron dust. Thus a devotee is always engaged in drinking the honey from the lotus feet of the Lord.
Unless one is freed from all material desires, he cannot actually taste the honey from the Lord’s lotus feet. One has to discharge his devotional duties without being disturbed by the coming and going of material circumstances.
Dhruva Mahārāja felt a deep regret to see how materially motivated he had been. His regret lasted even beyond his audience with Kṛṣṇa. For us we are faulty beings, and it takes time before we learn to offer our service in a pure way. We are not pure; we are defective. What make us so helpless is our misleading desires within our hearts. Despite Kṛṣṇa’s tender concern, He will not interfere with the free will of the living entity. To receive His mercy, we must reveal some level of sincerity or inclination toward Him. Kṛṣṇa provides His children space to grow as they will, yet remains loving towards them and prepared to help if they turn to Him. In Bhagavad Gita He says that He provides the intelligence by which we can return to Him. He also says that He provides what we lack and carries what we have, and that He is swift deliverer from the ocean of birth and death. If our main purpose in life is to attain bhakti, we should trust Kṛṣṇa to maintain our attempt.Kṛṣṇa is, after all, the causelessly merciful maintainer, just like a cow who gives milk and protection from attack. Cows are very affectionate, loving and caring to their calves. So much so that cow is prepared to give her life to protect her calf. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa exemplifies this tender concern toward His faltering bhaktas. He offers Himself to His devotees. His real nature is to reciprocate with His devotees. Kṛṣṇa’s supreme quality is His affection for His devotees, bhakta-vātsalya. The word vātsalya comes from vatsa, vatsa means “calf” or “dear child.” In the same way Kṛṣṇa is so loving and caring, so kind and compassionate to His devotees.
Kṛṣṇa maintains as well as fulfills the desires of enumerable materially engrossed jivas. Because He is responsible; He maintains all living entities, although He does it through His expansions and energies. However Kṛṣṇa Himself personally attends to relatively small group of souls who are interested in His direct love and protection. He exemplifies this tender concern toward His faltering bhaktas. That is His real nature to reciprocate with His devotees.
At the same time as the calf remains completely dependent on the mother and follow its mother without regard for where she is going. Then mother in turn shows even more tender concern for her calf. Similarly when we relate to Kṛṣṇa personally we receive His heart, His real nature and His desire to reciprocate with us. The pure devotional service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness cannot be had even by pious activity in hundreds and thousands of lives. kṛṣṇa-bhakti-rasa-bhāvitā matiḥ, janma-koṭi-sukṛtair na labhyate (CC Madhya 8.70). It can be attained only by paying one price — that is, intense greed to obtain it. tatra laulyam api mūlyam ekalaṁ. If it is available somewhere, one must purchase it without delay. krīyatāṁ yadi kuto ’pi labhyate. Therefore our main purpose in life should be to attain His bhakti. He promises that His devotee will never perish. ‘kaunteya pratijānihi na me bhaktah pranasyati’. He is protector of our Bhakti not our body or our possessions. We can’t make Him our body guard or watchman. We should pray that our bhakti or our attempts to progress in chanting and hearing may not be hampered. Any advancement in KC is Krishna’s gift to us. We should surrender Him whole heartedly knowing that He is our maintainer and protector. raksyati iti visvaso, goptrutve varan. In Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s words firm faith is required. krishna bhakti kaile sarva karma krta haya. By performing devotional service to Krishna all the things will be done automatically. Sometimes His devotee apparently seems to be suffering some misery but devotee considers as Lord’s special mercy for inducing him to completely let go of the material world and return home, back to Godhead. Thus the devotee, completely cleansed in heart, becomes fully absorbed in loving service to Kṛṣṇa and in the end returns to Him. He simply awaits the Lord’s mercy. He expects the Lord’s mercy (tat te ’nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇo) and offers obeisances to the Lord with heart, words, and body (hṛd-vāg-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te). These two processes are so potent that they can bring the devotee back to Godhead. This way we should be exemplary in our behavior. Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said ‘dharma-sthāpana-hetu sādhura vyavahāra’ (CC Madhya 17.185 ) -“A devotee’s behavior establishes the true purpose of religious principles. “The behavior of a devotee is the criterion for all other behavior.”
Note: Some of the passages are excerptions taken from Satsvarupa dasa Goswami’s writings.