An Early Essay by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.
A pure devotee is just like the Desire-Tree from whom we can have on request everything desireable. This is no myth or bluff but it is actual fact. The devotee can deliver to us the mercy of God and what is not obtainable by one who has got the mercy of God? Therefore the devotees are the most magnanimous in their charitable disposition of mind. They are also the deliverer of the fallen souls and we need to offer our obeisances unto their lotus feet so that we can invoke their blessings in our all attempts.
The highest authority for benediction is God Himself and the Devotees are His custodians. If a devotee desires to bestow upon us the mercy of God, he is quite competent to do it in all respects. Such devotees are called Mahatmas i.e. those who have surpassed all narrowness of the mind because supramentally they depend upon God & God alone they enchant(?) His glories and discuss about His wonderful acts. All these make the devotee just qualified to accept everyones’ obeisances and the devotee as respectfull as the Personality of Godhead Himself. There is no difference between them qualitatively.
I must think always myself as the most fallen soul as I am so by dint of my mundane attachment and if I surrender unto the devotee, surely he will protect me in all respects: I am a needy man, constantly suffering from the pangs of insufficiency and the devotee is as above mentioned, the desire tree from whom I can have everything that I may desire. The devotee is not a miser like the mundane people and had he not been so, I could not have satisfied all my needs from him only. The Divinity has empowered the devotees to deliver the fallen souls like me and by nature they are not only kind but also liberal and munificent. They are not poor either in knowledge or in opulence. Therefore, if we at all want to satisfy our all (?) needs, we must approach the devotee only; otherwise if we approach any other person, not only not our desires will be satisfied in full but also we shall imperceptibly accumulate a range of inauspicious things which will baffle our desire to become complete and self-sufficient.
If we have to approach therefore a devotee of the nature described above, we must have at last the preliminary knowledge for discriminating a pure devotee from the nondevotee. Let us first of all understand what are the other (?) that co-exist along with the pure devotee. The devotee is relatively known with the existence of the Divinity or the Personality of Godhead who is the Fountain head of everything that be. (?) along with the existence of a devotee and the Personality of Godhead, there is another set of living being who are detached from direct relations of Godhead and therefore known as the nondevotee. In other words men who are eternally attached to the transcendental loving service of Godhead, is called the devotees and men who are wrongly detached from the transcendental service of Godhead but have the latent potency to become so engaged (in the service) of Godhead, are called the non-devotees. In Sanskrit language the devotee is called ‘Vaisnava’ the divinity is called ‘Visnu’ and the nondevotee is called ‘Avaisnava’ Thus we can conclude that there are these three categories eternally co-existent in this world.
The ‘Avaisnavas’ or the non-devotees are those who are constantly engaged in topics and matters not concerned with the Divinity or Visnu. Such non-devotees have made up their own plan of living, dictated by the illusory energy of Godhead and they think it their duty of life to eat drink be merry and enjoy the senses. The whole plan of material civilization is based on the foundation of such non-devotional plan of sensuous activities.
Therefore if we want to be devotee or ‘Vaisnava’ we must make it a point of our life, that we shall not talk or hear of anything which is unconcerned with the Divinity. What we eat, what we give, what we meditate upon, and all such other things must be related with the Divinity. It is our duty to eat the remnant of food stuff first offered to the Divinity, it is our duty to talk about Him and to preach about Him. We must always allow ourselves to be under the guidance of a pure devotee and if we neglect to become so and so in relation with the Divinity, then it is sure and certain that we become identified with those who are in the categories of nondevotee.
Materially advanced people may ask what is our loss by remaining a nondevotee? What is there if somebody remains nondevotee by his natural tendency unlike One who becomes a devotee by his inclination. To answer this question it may be said that if we want to remain a nondevotee, threefold miseries inflicted bv the laws of Nature will surely disturb us. The miseries are, one related with our gross body and subtle mind, two in relation with other living being and three in relation with the troubles inflicted upon us by the controlling deities namely the sun, the moon, the planets, and others. And such troubles are generated only in our state of forgetfulness of our eternal relation with Godhead. In the Bhagwat Geeta it is said that the laws of Nature are insurmountable by the attempt of conditioned souls. Those who surrender unto the Supreme will of Godhead, can only get rid of such threefold miseries of the laws of Nature. It must be understood that the laws of Nature is so made that they make a presance(?) by force to revoke the lost relation of living being with Godhead. In extreme difficulty i.e. when a man fails to make solution of his difficult problems, he automatically and unconsciously makes a surrender unto God. It is clear therefore that the natural law is something like police action of Mother Nature to reinstate a living being unto the transcendental loving service of Godhead. It being so, if we want to get real relief from the stringent laws of Nature it is our duty to become devotee. We gain everything by becoming a devotee and we spoil everything by remaining a nondevotee. The human form of life offered by Mother nature is a chance for the living entity to revert to his original position of a devotee.
The material Nature of Godhead is called illusory (Maya) because it keeps us in darkness of ignorance when we misuse our human independence by animal proclivities. The material Nature is personified in the divinity of Godess ‘Kali’ whose grim feature is devastating and she dark all over the body although she appears Herself in the attractive feature of a young girl. Her thankless task is to keep the conditioned soul in the darkness of ignorance as long as misuses his human independence and keep him always aloof from the transcendental service of Godhead. In that state of ignorance, the conditioned soul, instead of rendering service unto Godhead, thinks himself wrongly as the one who may be served by Godhead. In such a state of ignorance, he thinks that the beauty of material nature is made by Godhead for his exploitation and enjoyment. In that state of ignorance he wants to lord it over the laws of nature and meets thereby devastation and nothing else. That is the picture, real picture of Godess ‘Kali’. The conditioned soul wants to pacify the devastating feature of material Nature by his own manufactured plans and techniques without knowing it well, that the material Nature cannot be brought into service of the conditioned soul and that she cannot be conquered except by the method of complete surrender unto the lotus feet of the Absolute Personality of Godhead Sree Krishna.
By the misuse of the infinitesemal independence given to the living being, he poses himself to be able to accept the prayers of other individual souls by becoming a false God himself and does not put himself for the prayers of Godhead. With such vain purpose, the conditioned soul is trying to become a designer of a peaceful world situation(?) Such imperfect wishful desires in the minds of the conditioned souls, make them oblige to become the leaders of other innocent men, just like a blind man desires to direct the activities of other fellow blind men. And all these misconducts become possible when we are overshadowed upon the pure knowledge of our own self. In such state of things only we think ourselves only as the supreme designer, master, enjoyer, seer and doer of everything. But when we enter into the association of devotees for guidance we can know that we are neither, the designer, nor the master, nor the enjoyer and everything is done by the will of God through His different agencies and therefore He is only the object of our adoration and worship.
It is however very difficult to rise up to such standard of pure devotional activities in this world. Most people are inclined to work under the laws of ‘Karma’or to work for one’s own fruitive enjoyment. No body works for any other else except for his ownself. Under the law of ‘Karma’ the narrow minded conditioned soul does labour for his own benefit under illusion He works for his own benefit, for his family’s benefit, for his society’s benefit, for communities benefit, for his country’s benefit or for his party’s benefit, but no body works for Gods’ benefit. That is the life of a nondevotee.
Beneficient activities for ones’ self-interest or for the matter of extended self-interest are done under the laws of ‘Karma’ and the labourer under such laws of ‘Karma’ are called ‘Kripana’ or misers distinguished from the ‘Brahmanas’ or the broad minded liberals. Such narrow minded leaders may be very popular by their philanthropic activities, but the devotees let us know that such leaders under the laws of ‘Karma are bound up hands and legs and cannot deliver us the real thing. They can give us temporary relief and illusory happiness subject to the laws of Nature and as such beneficial activities are sure to be lost in the wilderness of eternity at the cost of immense loss of human energy. The devotees let us know that our only duty is to workout the plan of Godhead by rendering transcendental loving service for him. Such service is possible to be done by every one and all because God is for all living beings. Sectarian service for Material Nature keeps aloof the lower grade of living entities from direct service but transcendental loving service of Godhead is possible to be done by all creatures of God never mind what they are either the gods, the men the beasts, the birds, (? ) , and all other living entities. Non-devotees are inclined to think that human being is meant for enjoying life. The human life is different from the animal life by the angle of vision of the nondevotee in as much as varieties of enjoyment can be undertaken by the human being. Such non-devotees distinguish the life of human being from the life of lower animals by qualitative and quantitative distinction of the grades of sense gratification.
The conditioned soul therefore is afraid of mixing with the association of devotees thinking that by such association he may be drifted from his sensual enjoyment. In such ignorance only, the nondevotee tries to turn the table upon the devotee by emphasizing on the point that the devotees are not liberal because they do not encourage their indomitable desires for material hankerings neither do they support others wild (?) for extravagancy conditioned by the laws of Nature. To the non-devotees the cultural and progressive life of a devotee is a sort of monotory and obstruction to unrestricted flow of material enjoyment. The nondevotee will be able to make a perfection of his life when he will be able to see the Personality of Godhead besides his ownself and try to serve Him instead of falsely serving himself either in concentrated or extended mode. On that auspicious day of his life, the nondevotee will get relief from such troubling conceptions as the atomic theory of the cosmic world(? ) or the conceptions of false nationalism, philanthropic and other mundane (?) one ideologies. The nondevotee will from that date engage his ears for aural reception of the science of transcendental loving service of Godhead from those who are engaged hundred per cent in such transcendental loving service of Godhead.
But if the nondevotee without associating with the pure devotee continues his material worship he will do so at the risk spoiling his human energy by serving the material Nature atom by atom for millions and millions of different grades of life.
By the association of the devotee, the nondevotee will come to his senses that by serving the Divinity only all other objects will be served. By watering the root of a tree the leaves and branches are simultaneously watered and by supplying food in the stomach all the senses are automatically served and nourished. The secret of this science can be revealed only by the association of pure devotees.
Such pure devotee is peaceful and non-aggressive. He is never attracted by any object of material happiness. Neither in this life or in the life after, a pure devotee has any attraction for anything which can be more attractive than the transcendental beauty of the lotus feet of Lord Krishna the Personality of Godhead. As such, we must note it for certain that whenever there is any lack of such attraction for the lotus feet of Sree Krishna we are surely being counter attracted by the illusory Energy in her manifold representations.
We can acquire full knowledge of everything by knowing well the All perfect, from his devotee. One who has scanty knowledge of the Complete Whole or one who is materially poor in knowledge and opulence, how he can do good to others and if he ever does so he can dessiminate his poor fund of knowledge to the still more poor audience or followers. In outstanding contrast to such poor fund of knowledge and acquisition, the devotee has in his possession ‘Bhagawan’ or ‘Narayana’ who is the fountainhead of all opulence, all power, all beauty, all fame, all knowledge and all indifference in fullness. Therefore a pure devotee is also full of all opulence, all power, all beauty, all fame, all knowledge and all indifference. ‘Narayana’ or ‘Bhagavan’ does never become poorer as somebody thinks Him wrongly or less than His original potency by such controlling of His devotee and He remains the same full in every aspect. That is the instruction we have from the ‘Brihadasarayaka Upanishad’ It is said there that the Absolute Truth is full in every respect and if His full strength is deducted from Him still He remains full. The subtracting process of matter make it ultimately nil. But the complete Whole Spirit by the process of eternal emanation, eternally remains the complete whole. One who has in his possession such Complete Whole i.e. one who is eternally engaged in supra mundane service of Godhead, cannot be compared with any mundane creature. That is the difference between a devotee and a nondevotee.
It may be noted however that transcendental service of a pure devotee is more important than the transcendental service of Godhead. The devotee is the transcendental medium through whom it is possible to render service unto Godhead. Lord Chaitanya is the ideal devotee and those who follow His footprints are also ideal devotee. Lord Chaitanya is more kind than Sree Krishna although Lord Chaitanya is Sree Krishna Emperic speculators become unwilling to surrender unto Sree Krishna as it was demanded by Him in the Bhagwat Geeta. Ashuras like Dantabakra and Shisupal considered it that Sree Krishna is not the Absolute Truth and therefore they declined to surrender unto Him.
Although Sree Krishna presented Himself as the Absolute Truth and although He manifested His all-pervading universal feature in His own transcendental Body, men who have very poor fund of knowledge considered Him as an ordinary man like them and thus made malafide interpretations of the Bhagwat Geeta. And in order to rectify this malafide representation of Bhagwat Geeta, Sree Krishna appeared Himself again in the Form of Lord Chaitanya but this time He did not declare Himself as Supreme Lord but He presented Himself as an humble devotee of the Lord. As such Lord Chaitanya is more kindly than Lord Krishna.
Lord Chaitanya made it clear that by becoming a devotee of Sree Krishna no interest of Krishna is served. Sree Krishna being full in Himself He does not need the service of any body else. But it is the interest of the devotee to serve Sree Krishna because by such service only he can himself become constitutionally perfect and happy. He also warned us for committing the mistake of thinking God as an ordinary man or an ordinary man as God. Both conceptions are dangerous in the path Divine life. No mental speculator has even been able to surpass the knowledge of Lord Chaitanya. Each every one of them were defeated by Him and therefore Lord Chaitanya is worshipped by all section of sane persons. He unfolded the real nature of the living being and every one was made perfect by His preaching by knowing himself as eternal part and parcel servitor of Sree Krishna. The teachings of Bhagwat Geeta was practically demonstrated by Lord Chaitanya, the ideal devotee.
[Two pages missing here]
When the agent mind, under the influence of the external energy of Godhead, tries to cheat its master spirit soul, the living entity becomes a worker to enjoy the fruitive result. Religious ideologies that have so far been introduced in the phenomenal world have practically choked up the transcendental service of the Absolute. Such mental speculationists try to engage the devotee also for satisfying their fruitive ideologies. But the devotee keeps himself aloof from them by miles asunder. Mental speculation is based on false ego as it is said in the Bhagwat Geeta that conditioned soul thinks himself a worker bewildered by the false ego. If we are therefore influenced by mental speculative process for religious ideologies, certainly we shall remain a bewildered fruitive actor and shall never be able to become devotee.
Let us therefore be prepared to become the transcendental servitor of the devotee of the Divinity only. Let us not be misled by false status quo. We can fulfil our lifes’ mission simply by serving & associating with devotee who are cent per cent engaged in the service of the Divinity.
© Bhaktivedanta Book Trust