Only the pure devotee can pull us out of the material world; this is the only way. Sometimes I look at old Back to Godhead magazines – the very early ones. Those ones were interesting because they were all about Srila Prabhupada; the whole Back to Godhead magazine was about Prabhupada. There was one article that was describing how the devotees were waiting for Prabhupada to come down for a lecture and they had a long kirtan and even when the kirtan ended, Prabhupada still did not come down but nobody cared too much. At the time, the only sannyasi was Kirtanananda. So they asked Kirtanananda to speak and he said, “Where were all of us one year ago? Where were we even six months ago before we got the mercy of a pure devotee.”
It is the mercy of the pure devotee that reaches the devotee. The Supreme Lord appears in this world and he disseminates his mercy in this world and continues to carry that mercy throughout the entire universe through his devotee and it is as good as receiving it directly from the Supreme Lord.