The nature of devotional service

Answer to a question:

The pure devotees do not do any devotional service for personal profit, material or spiritual.

Nice definitions of “pure devotees” are given in the Sastras, like in the Bhagavad-gita (2.44):
vyavasāyātmikā buddhiḥ
samādhau na vidhīyate
“In the minds of those who are too attached to sense enjoyment and material opulence, and who are bewildered by such things, the resolute determination for devotional service to the Supreme Lord does not take place.”
And few verses after Sri Krishna (2.49) adds:
dūreṇa hy avaraṁ karma
buddhi-yogād dhanañ-jaya
buddhau śaranam anviccha
kṛpaṇāḥ phala-hetavaḥ
“O Dhanañjaya, keep all abominable activities far distant by devotional service, and in that consciousness surrender unto the Lord. Those who want to enjoy the fruits of their work are misers.”

Therefore a pure devotee is someone who is not attached to sense enjoyment and does not act with the aim to enjoy the fruits of his actions.

However it is quite common to read in the sastras attracting promises of results in the performance of devotional service. The famous verses “vasudeve bhagavati” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.7) and “akamah sarvo kamo va” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.3.10) are just two out of many examples.

Real devotional service is performed out of love.
What is love? “I give you this not because I want something in return but because I love You.”
What is not love? “I give you this if you give me that, or because I know that you promised to give that”.

Therefore those who perform devotional service with the aim to obtain fruits, even spiritual, like going back to Godhead, are not premi-bhaktas. There may be siddha-bhaktas (pure devotees) but not at any of the various levels of prema. We know some of these levels, like prema, sneha, pranaya, mana, raga, anuraga and mahabhava, which are composed of both hladini and samvit sakti. All the great personalities situated in any of these levels care very little if by going to the Radha Syamasundara Mandira they can get a profit. They would go even if the result of going there would be ending up to hell, because they do it out of love.

But it would be a mistake to think that pure devotees do not like to hear or read descriptions of results of bhakti.
First of all they feel much elated to know how merciful their Lords are, that just by dipping in Radhakunda waters or having darsana of Syamasundara Murti one will get such exalted results.
Second because they are always sad to see the degraded condition of the baddha-jivas (entrapped souls). By reading how easy is to get liberation they feel pleasure. Pure devotees are happy that the jivas would advance spiritually even if they know that they practice devotional service to get personal results, spiritual or material. It’s like fishing, (a very degraded activity but right now I can’t think of a better analogy). A fish sees something attactive, go there and finds himself caught in pure devotion. He did not want devotion but he would anyway find himself to want it.

Those of us who are not situated in ragatmika-bhakti has to practice sadhana-bhakti. Here are two types of sadhana-bhakti: vaidhi and raganuga. Following the orders of previous Acaryas, we practice sadhana-vaidhi-bhakti.


  • Manonatha Dasa (ACBSP)



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