Shri Gaudiya Kanthahara

by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati | 83,221 words

Shri Gaudiya Kantahara (English translation) was published by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati to train devotees in the philosophy of Krishna-consciousness and to be able to quote the authoritative parts of the Vedas. A collection of over a thousand verses, sorted by tattva, includes general index, alphabetical index of verses. Verses in in Roman tr...

Chapter 3 - Vaiṣṇava-tattva

The Vaishnava Principle

Definition of a Vaiṣṇava

3.1

gṛhīta-viṣṇudīkṣāko viṣṇu-pūjāparo naraḥ
vaiṣṇavo 'bhihito 'bhijñairitaro 'smādavaiṣṇavaḥ

One who is initiated into the Vaiṣṇava mantra and who is devoted to worshiping Lord Viṣṇu is a Vaiṣṇava. One who is devoid of these practices is not a Vaiṣṇava. (Hari-bhakti-vilāsa, 11, quoted from Padma Purāṇa)

Different Kinds of Vaiṣṇavas

3.2

dvedhā hi bhāgavata-sampradāya-pravṛttiḥ.
ekataḥ saṃkṣepataḥ śrī nārāyaṇād-brahma-nāradādidvāreṇa.
anyatastu vistarataḥ śeṣāt sanat-kumāra-sāṇkhyāyanādi-dvāreṇa.

Vaiṣṇavas are divided into different sampradāyas according to their inclinations. The first of these has come from Nārāyaṇa by way of Brahmā, Nārada, and so on. Another sampradāya comes from Śeṣa Bhagavān and has been outlined by the Sanat-Kumāras. (Śrīdhara Svāmī's commentary on Bhāg. 3.1.1)

Three Kinds of Devotees

Arcana-mārga and Neophyte Devotees

3.3

śaokha-cakrā-dyūṛddha puṇḍra-dhāraṇādyātmālakṣaṇam
tan-namaskaraṇaiś caiva vaiṣṇavavatvamihocyate

In terms of the pañcarātra-viddhi, one whose body is marked with the conch, lotus, disc, and club of Viṣṇu, who wears Viṣṇu tilāka, and who offers respect to other Vaiṣṇavas is known by these symptoms as a kaniṣṭha-adhikāri Vaiṣṇava. (Padma-Purāṇa)

Arcana-mārga and the Intermediate Devotees

3.4

tāpaḥ puṇḍraṃ tathā nāma mantro yāgaśca pañcamaḥ
amī hi pañca saṃskārāḥ paramaikānti-hetavaḥ

A madhyama-adhikāri Vaiṣṇava in terms of pañcarātrika-viddhi, is one who has been purified by the five kinds of purificatory processes (pañca-saṃskāras): 1) practicing austerity for the sake of Viṣṇu, 2) wearing Viṣṇu tilāka, 3) receiving the holy name of Viṣṇu, 4) accepting initiation into the gāyatrī-mantra, and 5) performing yajña for the sake of Viṣṇu. He must also have firm faith in Viṣṇu. (Padma Purāṇa)

Arcana-mārga and the Advanced Devotee

3.5

tādādi-pañca-saṃskārī navejyākarma-kārakaḥ
artha-pañcakavid vipro mahābhāgavataḥ smṛtaḥ

A spiritually developed person who has mastered the above-mentioned five processes of purification (pañca-saṃskāras), who is absorbed in the nine devotional activities (deity worship, mantra, yoga, yajña, prayers, nāma-sankīrtana, service, and worship of both the Vaiṣṇavas and the Lord) and who understands the esoteric meaning of these different activities in full, is to be known as a mahā-bhāgavata, a great devotee of Viṣṇu, and a topmost Vaiṣṇava. (Padma Purāṇa)

Three kinds of Devotees in Relation to Kṛṣṇa-prema

The Symptoms of a Neophyte Devotee

3.6

arcāyām-eva haraye pūjāṃ yaḥ śraddhayehate
na tad-bhakteṣu cānyeṣu sa bhaktaḥ prākṛtaḥ smṛtaḥ

Those who faithfully worship the Deity, but cannot treat devotees properly and cannot deal properly with the people in general are known as prākṛta-bhaktas, materialistic or neophyte devotees (kaniṣṭha-adhikāri Vaiṣṇavas). (Bhāg. 11.2.47)

Note: Śrīla Prabhupāda comments on this verse in Caitanya-Caritāmṛta: A prākṛta-bhakta, or materialistic devotee, does not purposefully study the śāstra 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-prāya, a neophyte devotee, or bhaktābhāsa when he is a little enlightened by Vaiṣṇava philosophy.

Symptoms of a Madhyama-adhikāri

3.7

īśvare tad-adhīneṣu bāliśeṣu dviṣatsu ca
prema-maitrī-kṛpopekṣā yaḥ karoti sa madhyamaḥ

A madhyama-adhikāri Vaiṣṇava shows love for the Supreme Lord, friendship for the devotees, mercy towards the innocent and ignorant, and is indifferent towards the envious. (Bhāg. 11.2.46)

3.8

kṛṣṇa prema, kṛṣṇa bhakte maitrī-ārcaraṇa
bāliśete kṛpā, āra dveṣī-upekṣaṇa
karilena madhyama-bhakta śuddha-bhakta hana
kṛṣṇa-nāme adhikāra karena arjana

One who has love for Kṛṣṇa, 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 śuddha-bhakta. He is qualified to chant the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. (Harināma Cintāmaṇi, Chapter 8)

Symptoms of an Uttama-adhikāri

3.9

sarva-bhūteṣu yaḥ paśyed bhagavad-bhāvam ātmanaḥ
bhūt­āni bhagavaty ātmany eṣa bhāgavatottamaḥ

A person advanced in devotional service sees within everything the soul of souls, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Consequently he always sees Kṛṣṇa everywhere and in everything. He is an uttama-bhāgavata, one on the topmost platform of devotional service. (Bhāg. 11.2.45)

3.10

sthāvara-jaṅgama dekhe, nā dekhe tāra mūrti
sarvatra haya nija iṣṭa-deva-sphūrti

The mahā-bhāgavata 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-adhikāri

3.11

gṛhītvāpīndriyair arthān yo na dveṣṭi na hṛṣyati
viṣṇor māyām idaṃ paśyan sa vai bhāgavatottamaḥ

One who is so absorbed in love of God that he sees everything as the energy of Lord Kṛṣṇa (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 (bhāgavatottama). (Bhāg. 11.2.48)

3.12

dehendriya prāṇa-mano-dhiyāṃ yo
janmāpyaya-kṣud-bhaya-tarṣa-kṛcchraiḥ
saṃsāra-dharmair avimuhyamānaḥ
smṛtyā harer bhāgavata-pradhānaḥ

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 bhāgavata-pradhānaḥ, a topmost devotee of the Lord. (Bhāg. 11.2.49)

3.13

na kāma-karma-bījānāṃ yasya cetasi sambhavaḥ
vāsudevaika-nilayaḥ sa vai bhāgavatottamaḥ

One who has taken exclusive shelter of the Supreme Lord Vāsudeva, whose heart is freed from the seeds of lust and karma is considered a bhāgavatottama. (Bhāg. 11.2.50)

3.14

na yasya janma-karmabhyāṃ na varṇāśrama-jātibhiḥ
sajjate 'sminn ahaṃ-bhāvo dehe vai sa hareḥ priyaḥ

One who is free from pride about his good birth, pious activities, exalted varnāśrama position, and is free from bodily designations, and who serves the Lord with humility is known as a beloved devotee of the Lord. (Bhāg. 11.2.51)

3.15

na yasya svaḥ para iti vitteṣv ātmani vā bhidā
sarva-bhūta-samaḥ śāntaḥ sa vai bhāgavatottamaḥ

A mahā-bhāgavata is one who is free from the conception of "This is mine and this is for others". He thinks, "Everything is for Kṛṣṇa". He sees all living being as equally related to Kṛṣṇa, and he is peaceful, being filled with Kṛṣṇa consciousness. (Bhāg. 11.2.52)

3.16

tri-bhuvana-vibhava-hetave 'py akuṇṭha-
smṛtir ajitātma-surādibhir vimṛgyāt
na calati bhagavat-padāravindāl
lava-nimiṣārdham api yaḥ sa vaiṣṇavāgryaḥ

The lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, are sought by demigods such as Brahmā and Śiva, who have accepted Him as their life and soul. A pure devotee can never forget Kṛṣṇa'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 mahā-bhāgavata. (Bhāg. 11.2.53)

3.17

bhagavat uru-vikramāṅghri-śākhā-
nakha-maṇi-candrikayā nirasta-tāpe
hṛdi katham upasīdatāṃ punaḥ sa
prabhavati candra ivodite 'rka-tāpaḥ

How can the painful fever of material life befall those who hold the cooling lotus feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa within their hearts? By the power of Kṛṣṇa'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. (Bhāg. 11.2.54)

3.18

visṛjati hṛdayaṃ na yasya sākṣād
dharir avaśābhihito 'py aghaugha-nāśaḥ
praṇaya-rasanayā dhṛtāṅghri-padmaḥ
sa bhavati bhāgavata-pradhāna uktaḥ

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. Kṛṣṇa Himself dwells eternally within his heart. Such a great soul is known as a mahā-bhāgavata. (Bhāg. 11.2.55)

The Paramahaṃsa Vaiṣṇava

3.19

jñāna-niṣṭho virakto vā mad-bhakto vānapekṣakaḥ
sa liṅgān āśramāṃs tyaktvā cared avidhi-gocaraḥ

The paramahaṃsa is fixed in transcendental knowledge. He is free from attachment to all sense enjoyments and does not long for anything, including mokṣa. Such a great soul has renounced not only the duties of varnāśrama, but also its external marks including even the dress of a sannyāsī. Such a great soul has given up all attachment to previous conceptions of religion and duty, beginning with dharma, artha, kāma, and mokṣa, and including varnāśrama-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. (Bhāg. 11.18.28)

Description of the Three Kinds of Devotees

From Caitanya-caritāmṛta

3.20

śraddhavān jana haya bhakti-adhikārī
'uttama,' 'madhyama,' 'kaniṣṭha,' śraddhā-anusārī.
śāstra-yuktye sunipuṇa, dṛḍha-śraddhā-yāñra
'uttama-adhikāri' sei tāraye saṃsāra.
śāstra-yukti nāhi jāne dṛḍha, śraddhāvān
'madhyama-adhikāri' sei mahā-bhāgyavān.
yāhāra komala śraddhā, se 'kaniṣṭha' 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 Kṛṣṇa 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 Caitanya Explains the Three Kinds of Devotees

An Ordinary Vaiṣṇava

3.21

prabhu kahe, "yāora mukhe śuni eka-bāra
kṛṣṇa-nāma, sei pūjya, śreṣṭha sabākāra"

The Lord said: Whoever chants the holy name of Kṛṣṇa just once may be considered a Vaiṣṇava. Such a person is worshipable, and is the topmost human being. (Cc. Madhya 15.106)

A Superior Vaiṣṇava

3.22

"kṛṣṇa-nāma" nirantara yāñhāra vadane
se vaiṣṇava-śreṣṭha, bhaja tāohāra caraṇe

A person who is always chanting the holy name of the Lord is a superior Vaiṣṇava, and your duty is to serve his lotus feet. (Cc. Madhya 16.72)

The Topmost Vaiṣṇava

3.23

yāohāra darśane mukhe āise kṛṣṇa-nāma
tāohāre jāniha tumi 'vaiṣṇava-pradhāna'

The topmost Vaiṣṇava is he whose very presence makes others chant the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. He is superior to all others! (Cc. Madhya 16.74)

Who is a Vaiṣṇava

3.24

duṣṭa mana! tumi kisera vaiṣṇava?
pratiṣṭhāra tare, nirjanera ghare,
tava "harināma" kevala kaitava:
jaḍera pratiṣṭhā, śūkarera viṣṭhā,
jāna nā ki tāhā "māyāra vaibhava"
kanaka-kāminī, divasa-yāminī,
bhāviyā ki kāja, anitya se saba:
tomāra kanaka, bhojera janaka,
kanakera dvāre sevaha "mādhava."
kāminīra kāma, nahe tava dhāma,
tāhāra mālika kevala "yādava."
pratiṣṭhāśā-taru, jada-māyā-maru
nā pela "rāvaṇa" yūjhiya "rāghava:"
vaiṣṇavī pratiṣṭhā, tāte kara niṣṭhā,
tāhā nā bhajile labhibe gaurava.
harijana-dveṣa, pratiṣṭhāśā kleśa,
kara kena tabe tāhāra gaurava.
vaiṣṇavera pāche, prātiṣṭhāśā āche,
tā'ta kabhu nahe "anitya-vaibhava."
se hari sambandha, śūnya-māyāgandha,
tāhā kabhu naya "jaḍera kaitava":
pratiṣṭhā-caṇḍālī, nirjanatā-jālī
ubhaye jāniha māyika-raurava.
"kīrtana chāḍiba, pratiśṭhā mākhiba,"
ki kāja ḍhuñḍiyā tādṛśā gaurava:
mādhavendra purī, bhāva-ghare chūri,
nā karila kabhu sadāi jānava.
tomāra pratiṣṭha, "śūkarera viṣṭhā,"
tāra saha sama kabhu nā mānava:
matsaratā-vaśe, tūmi jaḍarase,
majecha chāḍiyā kīrtana-sauṣṭhava.
tāi duṣṭa mana, "nirjana-bhajana,"
prachāricha chale "kūyogī-vaibhava"
prabhu sanātane, prabhu yatane
śikṣā dila yāhā cinta sei saba
sei du'ṭi kathā, bhūla' nā sarvathā,
uccaisvare kara "harināma-rava"
"phalgu" āra "yukta," "baddha" āra "mukta,"
kabhu nā bhāviha 'ekākāra saba
"kanaka-kāminī," "pratiṣṭhā-bāghinī,"
chādiyāche yāre sei ta' vaiṣṇava:
sei "anāsakta," sei "śuddha bhakta,"
saṃsāra tathāya pāya parābhava
"yathāyogya-bhoga," nāhi tathā roga,
"anāsakta" sei, ki āra kahaba
"āsakti rahita" "sambandha-sahita,"
viṣaya-samūha sakali "mādhava."
se "yukta-vairāgya, "tāhā ta' "saubhāgya,"
tāhāi jaḍete harira vaibhava:
kīrtane yāhāra, "pratiṣṭhā-sambhāra,"
tāhāra sampatti kevala "kaitava."
"viṣaya-mumukṣu," "bhogera bubhukṣu,"
duye tyaja mana, dui "avaiṣṇava"
"kṛṣṇera sambandha," aprākṛta skandha,
kabhu nahe tāhā jaḍera sambhava"
"māyāvādī jana," kṛṣṇetara mana,
mukta abhimāne se ninde vaiṣṇava
vaiṣṇavera dāsa, tava bhakti-āśa,
kena vā ḍākicha nirjana-āhava
ye "phālgur-vairāgī," kahe, nije, "tyāgī,"
se nā pāre kabhu haite "vaiṣṇava."
hari-pada chāḍi', nirjanatā bāḍi',
labhiyā ki phala, "phalgu" se vaibhava.
rādhā-dāsye nahi chāḍa bhoga-aki
pratiṣṭhāśa nahe kirtanan-gaurave
kena vā nirjana-bhajana-kaitava.
vrajavāsi-gaṇa, pracāraka-dhana,
pratiṣṭhā-bhikṣuka tā'ra nahe "śava."
prāṇa āche tā'ra, se hetu pracāra,
pratiṣṭhāśā-hīna "kṛṣṇa-gāthā" saba.
śrī-dayita dāsa, kīrtanete āśa,
kara uccaiḥ-svare "hari-nāma-rava."
kīrtana-prabhāve, smaraṇa haibe,
se kāle bhajana-nirjana sambhava.

O wicked mind! What kind of Vaiṣṇava are you? You go off o chant in a solitary place, but your chanting is only for name and fame (pratiṣṭhā). It is nothing but hypocrisy. Such mundane name and fame is hog's stool. It is an allurement of māyā. 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 Kṛṣṇa, who is Mādhava, 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. Rāvana fought Rāma in order to achieve the highest prestige (pratiṣṭhā), 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 Rāvana, who wanted to enjoy the position of Rāma. Accept the position of the servant of Viṣṇu. Take your stand upon the foundation of pure devotional service, giving up all your hopes for false prestige, and thus become a genuine Vaiṣṇava. If you don't worship the position of the Vaiṣṇava, 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 Vaiṣṇava is not the same as the temporary fame that follows pretenders. The fame that follows a Vaiṣṇava does not stink of māyā. It has no trace of the treachery of pretentious imposters. The self-promotion and fame of a pseudo Vaiṣṇava 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 kīrtana of the holy name and pray for fame and position." But what is the use of such "fame'"?

O mind, know for certain that Mādhavendra Purī 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 Māhavendra Purī, 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 Kṛṣṇa kīrtana 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 Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu taught Sanātana Gosvāmī. Loudly chant the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. Never forget the two most valuable things he taught Sanātana: 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 Vaiṣṇava gives them up and keeps them at a distance. Such a devotee, who is without material attachments, is a śuddha-vaiṣṇava. 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 Kṛṣṇa, understanding that everything is meant for the pleasure of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. He knows that to engage everything in the service of Kṛṣṇa is real renunciation. Because he understands that the true position of renunciation is in dedicating everything to Kṛṣṇa, he is truly fortunate. Although he lives within the material world he dwells within the revelation of Kṛṣṇa'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 Kṛṣṇa is aprākṛta: non material and supra mundane. The divine things in relation to Kṛṣṇa should never be seen as material. By virtue of its divine connection with Kṛṣṇa a thing becomes transcendental. It is therefore impossible for it to be anything less than divine. The māyāvādīs can never think of Kṛṣṇa. Proud of their piety, they think themselves liberated and blaspheme the Vaiṣṇavas.

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-vairāgī does not understand that the true meaning of renunciation is devotion. In the dress of a devotee, such an impostor calls himself a tyāgī, a great renouncer, but he is only a great pretender. He will never be a true Vaiṣṇava. Giving up the lotus feet of Śrī Hari, he leaves the Lord's service behind in order to perform his "worship" in a solitary place. Having left the service of Śrī Kṛṣṇa 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 Kṛṣṇa, the association of Vaiṣṇavas 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 Śrī Rādhā, and keep aloof from the snake of material enjoyment. There is nothing glorious about performing kīrtana simply for name and fame. You are the eternal servant of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. 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 Śrī Rādhā? The residents of Vṛndāvana 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 Kṛṣṇa consciousness is devoid of hopes for prestige.

Śrī Dayita Dāsa, (Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta) the humble servant of Śrī Rādhā and her beloved Kṛṣṇa always hopes for kīrtana, and begs everyone to sing the holy name of the Lord aloud. By the influence of such kīrtana, one may gradually come to the exalted stage of smaraṇam, wherein one constantly remembers the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa within one's mind. Nirjana-bhājana is conceivable only after attaining this advanced level of Kṛṣṇa-bhakti. (Mahājana-racita Gīta, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura.)

The Twenty-six Qualities of a Vaiṣṇava

3.25

sei saba guṇa haya vaiṣṇava-lakṣaṇ
saba kahā nā yāya, kari dig-daraśana.
kṛpālū, akṛta-droha, satya-sāra, sama
nirdoṣa, vadānya, mṛdu, śuci, akiñcana.
sarvopakāraka, śānta, kṛṣṇaika-śaraṇa
akāma, aniha, sthira, vijita-ṣaḍ-guṇa.
mita-bhuk, apramatta, mānada, amāni
gambhira, karuṇa, maitra, kavi, dakṣa, mauni.

All these transcendental qualities are the characteristics of pure Vaiṣṇavas. 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 Kṛṣṇa, 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)

Vaiṣṇavas see With Equal Vision

3.26

vidyā-vinaya-sampanne brāhmaṇe gavi hastini
śuni caiva śva-pāke ca paṇḍitāḥ sama-darśinaḥ

The learned devotee sees with equal vision (by dint of true knowledge) the brāhmaṇa, the cow, the elephant, the dog, and the outcaste. (Bhagavad-gītā 5.18)

3.27

mahat-sevāṃ dvāram āhur vimuktes
tamo-dvāraṃ yoṣitāṃ saṅgi-saṅgam
mahāntas te sama-cittāḥ praśāntā
vimanyavaḥ suhṛdaḥ sādhavo ye

Service to mahātmās 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 mahātmās. (Bhāg. 5.5.2)

3.28

ye vā mayīśe kṛta-sauhṛdārthā janeṣu dehambhara-vārtikeśu
grheśu jāyātmaja-rātimatsu na prīti-yuktā yāvad-arthāś ca loke

Those who are interested in reviving their Kṛṣṇa consciousness and increasing their love of Godhead do not like to do anything that is not related to Kṛṣṇa. 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. (Bhāg. 5.5.3)

The Lord is Conquered by Devotion

3.29

ahaṃ bhakta-parādhino hy asvatantra iva dvija
sādhubhir grasta-hṛdayo bhaktair bhakta-jana-priyaḥ

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. (Bhāg. 9.4.63)

3.30

sādhavo hṛdayaṃ mahyaṃ sādhūnāṃ hṛdayaṃ tv aham
mad-anyat te na jānanti nāhaṃ tebhyo manāg 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. (Bhāg. 9.4.68)

A Vaiṣṇava is Supremely Merciful

3.31

bhavad-vidhā bhāgavatās tirtha-bhūtāḥ svayaṃ vibho
tīrthī-kurvanti tirthāni svāntaḥ-sthena gadābhṛtā

Devotees are themselves the highest places of pilgrimage, capable of giving benediction to all, for they always carry the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, within their heart. Thus they purify the holy places of pilgrimage as well as those who visit such places. (Bhāg. 1.13.10)

3.32

yan-nāmaṃ-śruti-mātreṇa pumān bhavati nirmalaḥ
tasya tīrtha-padaḥ kiṃ vā dāsānām avaśiṣyate

If simply by hearing Śrī Kṛṣṇa'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? (Bhāg. 9.5.16)

The Glories of the Vaiṣṇavas

3.33

sva dharma-niṣṭhaḥ śata-janmabhiḥ pumān
viriñcatām eti tataḥ paraṃ hi mām
avyākṛtaṃ bhāgavato 'tha vaiṣṇavaṃ
padaṃ yathāhaṃ vibudhāḥ kalātyaye

One who perfectly follows his duty in varṇāśrama-dharma for one hundred births can attain the position of Brahmā. One who is more qualified can attain the position of Śiva. A Vaiṣṇava, however, is immediately promoted to the spiritual planets far beyond even my abode. That transcendental position is so difficult to realize that I, Lord Śiva, and the other gods can attain those spiritual planets only after the ultimate annihilation of the material world.

(Bhāg. 4.24.29)

3.34

nayana bhariyā dekha dāsera prabhāva
hena dāsyabhāve kṛṣṇe kara anurāga
alpa hena nā māniha "kṛṣṇa-dāsa" nāma
alpa-bhāgye dāsa nāhi kare bhagavān
dāsa-nāme brahmā-śiva hariṣa-antara
dharaṇī-dharendra cāhe dāsa adhikāra

[Lord Caitanya said] Just see the influence of the servant of Kṛṣṇa. With such a mentality of service, cultivate a deep attachment to Kṛṣṇa. If, however, you are devoid of a service attitude and do not wish to call yourself "Kṛṣṇa-dāsa," you will be most unfortunate: the Lord will never accept you as His servant. Brahmā and Śiva, although they are the masters of the universe, take endless delight in the name "Kṛṣṇa-dāsa" and pray for the qualification to become servants of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. (Cb. Madhya 23.463-464, 472)

3.35

kīṭa janma hau yathā tūyā dāsa
bahir-mukha brahma-janme nāhi āśa

Let me take birth as a worm as Your servant. O Kṛṣṇa, I would forsake a birth as Brahmā, if that birth was devoid of Your service. (Śaraṇāgati, Bhaktivinode Ṭhākura)

The glories of the Servants of the Vaiṣṇavas

3.36

maj janmanaḥ phalam idaṃ madhu-kaiṭabhāre
mat prārthanīya mad anugraha eṣa eva
tvad bhṛtya-bhṛtya-paricāraka-bhṛtya-bhṛtya
bhṛtyasya-bhṛtyam iti māṃ smara lokanātha

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: Śrīla Prabhupāda sometimes alluded to this verse in his lectures by stressing that a vaiṣṇava aspires to become the servant of the servant of the servant of the Lord one thousand times removed.

Further Glories of Vaiṣṇavas

3.37

sādhūnāṃ sama-cittānāṃ sutarāṃ mat-kṛtātmanām
darśanān no bhaved bandhaḥ puṃso 'kṣṇoḥ savitur yathā

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 sādhu who is fully determined and surrendered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, one will no longer be subject to material bondage. (Bhāg. 10.10.41)

3.38

na hy am-mayāni tīrthāni na devā mṛc-chilā-mayāḥ
te punaty uru-kālena darśanād eva sādhavaḥ

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 Śālagrāma-śīla purify one only after a long time, but saints like you purify instantly by their very sight. (Bhāg. 10.84.11)

Without Taking Shelter of a Vaiṣṇava, all Knowledge is Lost

3.39

ṭhākura-vaiṣṇava-pada, avanīra sūsuampada,
śuna bhāi! haiña eka mana:
āśraya laiyā bhaje, tāre kṛṣṇa nāhi tyaje paṭha-bheda,
āra sava nare akāraṇa
vaiṣṇava-caraṇa-jala, prema-bhakti dite bala,
āro keho naṇe balavanta:
vaiṣṇava-caraṇa-renu, mastake bhūṣaṇa vinu
āra nāhi bhūṣaṇera anta,
tīrthajala-pavitra-guṇe, likhiyāche purāṇe,
se saba bhaktira pravañcana:
vaiṣṇavera pādadoka, sama nahe ei saba,
yāte haya vāñjita pūraṇa.
vaiṣṇava-saṅgete mana, ānandita anukṣaṇa,
sadā haya kṛṣṇa-parasaṅga:
dīna narottama kānde, hiyā dhairya nāhi vāndhe,
mora daśā kena haila bhaṅga.

O brother, please hear my words with rapt attention: The lotus feet of the Vaiṣṇavas are the most valuable treasure in the world. Those Vaiṣṇavas continually take shelter of Lord Kṛṣṇa 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 Vaiṣṇavas 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 Vaiṣṇavas upon my head. I wear no other ornament. The purifying power of the waters of the various places of pilgrimage is described in the Purāṇas, 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 Vaiṣṇavas. This water fulfills all desires. Moment after moment my mind finds contant pleasure in the association of the Vaiṣṇavas. I always seek the company of those devoted to Lord Kṛṣṇa. The poor-hearted Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura 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 Vaiṣṇavas?" (Prārthanā Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura)

Only Vaiṣṇavas are Really Merciful to the Fallen

3.40

ei bāro karuṇa koro, vaiṣṇava gosai
patita pāvana tomā bine keho nāi.
jāhāra nikaṭe gele pāpa dūre jāy
emona doyālu prabhu kebā kothā pāy.
gaṅgāra paraśa hoile paścāte pāvan
darśane pavitra koro ei tomāra guṇa.
hari-sthāne aparādhe tāre' hari-nāma
tomā-sthāne aparādhe nāhika paritrāna.
tomāra hṛdoye sadā govinda-viśrāma
govinda kahena, mora vaiṣṇava parāṇa.
prati janme kori āśa caraṇera dhūli
narottame koro doyā āpanāra bali'.

O Vaiṣṇava Gosvāmī, 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 Vaiṣṇavas are always in My heart. I desire the dust of your holy feet in every birth I may take. Please consider Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura yours and be kind upon him. (Prārthanā Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura)

The Glories of Exclusive Vaiṣṇavas

3.41

brāhmaṇānāṃ sahasrebhyaḥ satrayājī viśiṣyate
satrayāji-sahasrebhyaḥ sarvavedānta-pāragaḥ
sarva-vedānta-vit-koṭyā viṣṇu-bhakto viśiṣyate
vaiṣṇavānāṃ sahasrebhyaḥ ekāntyeko viśiṣyate

Out of many thousands of brāhmaṇas, one who performs sacrifice for Viṣṇu is best. Out of thousands of such yajñika-brāhmaṇas, one who knows the meaning of Vedanta is best. But of millions of such Vedantists, a devotee of Viṣṇu is best. And out of thousands of Viṣṇu bhaktas, one who is an unalloyed devotee of Viṣṇu is the best. (Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 10.117 and Bhakti-sandarbha, 177)

3.42

na mayy ekānta-bhaktānāṃ guṇa-doṣodbhavā guṇāḥ
sādhūnāṃ sama-cittānāṃ buddheḥ param upeyuṣām

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. (Bhāg. 11.20.36)

Vaiṣṇavas are Very Rare

3.43

bahūnāṃ janmanām ante jñānavān māṃ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ

After many, many births and deaths, one who is in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me (Vāsudeva) as the cause of all that is. Such a great soul is very rare. (Bhagavad-gītā 7.19)

3.44

manuṣyāṇām sahasreṣu kaścid yatati siddhaye
yatatām api siddhānāṃ kaścin māṃ vetti tattvataḥ

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-gītā 7.3)

3.45

rajobhiḥ sama-saokhyātāḥ pārthivair iha jantavaḥ
teṣāṃ ye kecanehante śreyo vai manujādayaḥ
prāyo mumukṣavas teṣāṃ kecanaiva dvijottama
mumukṣūṇāṃ sahasreṣu kaścin mucyeta sidhyati
muktānām api siddhānāṃ nārāyaṇa-parāyaṇaḥ
sudurlabhaḥ praśāntātmā koṭiṣv api mahā-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 Kṛṣṇa. Such devotees, who are fully peaceful, are extremely rare. (Bhāg. 6.14.3-5)

Out of Many Liberated Souls, a Pure Devotee is Very Rare

3.46

tāra madhye 'sthāvara', 'jaṅgama' dui bheda
jaṅgame tiryak-jala-sthalacara-vibheda.
tāra madhye manuṣya-jāti ati alpatara
tāra madhye mleccha, pulinda, bauddha, śabara.
veda-niṣṭha-madhye ardheka veda 'mukhe' māne
veda-niṣiddha pāpa kare, dharma nāhi gaṇe.
dharmācārī-madhye bahuta 'karma-niṣṭha'
koṭi-karma-niṣṭha-madhye eka 'jñānī' śreṣṭha.
koṭi-jñāni-madhye haya eka-jana 'mukta'
koṭi-mukta-madhye 'durlabha' eka kṛṣṇa-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 karmīs, there may be one jñāni, 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 Kṛṣṇa is very difficult to find. (Cc. Madhya 19.144-148)

3.47

akṣnoḥ phalaṃ tvādṛśa-darśanaṃ hi
tanoḥ phalaṃ tvādṛśa-gātrasaṅgaḥ
jihvā phalaṃ tvādṛśa-kīrtanaṃ hi
sudurlabhā bhāgavatā hi loke

O Vaiṣṇava! 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 Vaiṣṇava is Beyond Mundane Knowledge

3.48

tān vai hy asad-vṛttibhir akṣibhir ye
parāhṛtāntar-manasaḥ pareśa
atho na paśyanty urugāya nūnaṃ
ye te padanyāsa-vilāsa-lakṣyāḥ

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 līlā. (Bhāg. 3.5.45)

3.49

yata dekha vaiṣṇavera vyavahāra-duhkha
niṣcaya jāniha sei parānanda sukha
viṣaya-madāndha saba kicchui nā jāne
vidyā kūla, dhana-made vaiṣṇava nā cine

When you see a Vaiṣṇava 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 Vaiṣṇava. A Vaiṣṇava, 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 Vaiṣṇava is Paraduḥkha-duḥkhī

3.50

mahad-vicalanaṃ nṝṇāṃ gṛhiṇāṃ dina-cetasām
niḥśreyasāya bhagavān kalpate nānyathā kvacit

O Nārada, 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. (Bhāg. 10.8.4)

3.51

mahānta-svabhāva ei tārite pāmara
nija kārya nāhi tabu yāna tāra 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)

3.52

janasya kṛṣṇād vimukhasya daivād
adharma-śilasya suduḥkhitasya
anugrahāyeha caranti nūnaṃ
bhūtāni bhavyāni janārdanasya

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. (Bhāg. 3.5.3)

3.53

bhajanti ye yathā devān devā api tathaiva tān
chāyeva karma-sacivāḥ sādhavo dīna-vatsalāḥ

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. (Bhāg. 11.2.6)

A Vaiṣṇava is Transcendental

3.54

na karma-bandhanaṃ janma vaiṣṇavānāṃ ca vidyate
viṣṇur anucaratvaṃ hi mokṣam āhur manīṣiṇaḥ

A Vaiṣṇava does not take birth under the jurisdiction of karmic law. His birth and disappearance are transcendental. The wise have declared that the servants of Viṣṇu are eternally engaged in the liberated service of the Lord and hence are free from the laws of material nature. (Hari-Bhakti-Vilāsa, 10,113, quoted from Padma Purāṇa)

3.55

ata eva vaiṣṇavera janma mṛtyu nāi
saṅge āisen, saṅge yāyen tathāi
dharma, karma, janma vaiṣṇavera kabhu nahe
padma-purāṇete ihā vyakta kari' kahe

The Padma Purāṇa says that Vaiṣṇavas 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)

3.56

vahni-sūrya-brāhmaṇebhyas-tejīyān vaiṣṇavaḥ sadā
na vicāro na bhogaś ca vaiṣṇavānāṃ svakarmaṇām

The purifying power of fire, the sun, and the holy brāhmaṇas is eclipsed by the divine power of the Vaiṣṇavas. The activities of the Vaiṣṇavas are neither karmic nor performed for the sake of materialistic enjoyment. (Brahma-vaivarta Purāṇa, Kṛṣṇa-janma-khaṇḍa, Chapter 59)

A Vaiṣṇava's Birth, Family, and Nation are of no Importance

3. 57

viprād dvi-ṣaḍ-guṇa-yutād aravinda-nābha-
pādāravinda-vimukhāt śvapacaṃ variṣṭham
manye tad-arpita-mano-vacanehitārtha-
prāṇaṃ punāti sa kulaṃ na tu bhūrimānaḥ

If a brāhmaṇa 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 Kṛṣṇa. Such a devotee is superior to a brāhmaṇa because a devotee can purify his entire family, whereas the brāhmaṇa who is not a devotee is bound to be illusioned by the false prestige of his position and thus cannot purify even himself. (Bhāg. 7.9.10)

3.58

aho bata śva-paco 'to garīyān
yaj-jihvāgre vartate nāma tubhyam
tepus tapas te juhuvuḥ sasnur āryā
brahmānūcur nāma gṛṇanti 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 Āryans. 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 yajña. (Bhāg. 3.33.7)

3. 59

na me 'bhaktaś caturvedī mad-bhaktaḥ śvapacaḥ priyaḥ
tasmai deyaṃ tato grāhyaṃ sa ca pūjyo yathā hyaham

A brāhmaṇa who is expert in studying all four Vedas is not dear to Me, but a devotee who comes from a family of outcastes (caṇḍālas) 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-vilāsa 10.91)

3.60

nīca-jāti nahe kṛṣṇa-bhajane ayogya
sat-kula-vipra nahe bhajanera yogya
yei bhaje sei baḍa abhakta hīna chāra
kṛṣṇa-bhajane nāhi jāti-kulādi-vicāra

Birth in a low family is no disqualification for the execution of devotional service. And birth in a family of brāhmaṇas 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

3.61

mātā-pitā yuvatayas tanayā vibhūtiḥ
sarvaṃ yadeva niyamena madanvayānām
ādyasya naḥ kalupater-bakulābhirāmaṃ
śrīmat-tad-aṅghri yugalaṃ praṇamāmi mūrdhnā

I reverently bow down to the blessed feet of the first ācārya 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 Mahājanas

3.62

svayambhūr nāradaḥ śambhuḥ kumāraḥ kapilo manuḥ
prahlādo janako bhīṣmo balir vaiyāsakir vayam

Brahmā, Nārada, Śiva, the four Kumāras, Kapiladeva, Svayambhuva Mānu, Prahlāda, Janaka Mahārāja, Grandfather Bhīṣma, Bali Mahārāja, Śukadeva Gosvāmī, and I (Yamarāja) know the real transcendental principles of religion. (Bhāg. 6.3.20)

Important Devotees

3.63

mārkeṇḍeyo 'mbarīṣaś ca vasur vyāso vibhīṣaṇaḥ
puṇḍarīko baliḥ śambhuḥ prahlādo viduro dhruvaḥ
dālbhyaḥ parāśaro bhīṣmo nāradādyāś ca vaiṣṇavaiḥ
sevyā hariṃ niṣevyāmī no cedāgaḥ paraṃ bhavet

Mārkaṇḍeya Eṣī, Mahārāja Ambarīṣa, Vasudeva, Śrīla Vyāsadeva, Vibhīṣaṇa, Puṇḍarīka, Bali Mahārāja, Śiva, Prahlāda Mahārāja, Vidura, Dhruva Mahārāja, Dālbhya, Parāśara, Bhīṣma, Nārada, 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 Bhāgavatāmṛta, Uttara-khaṇḍa, 2)

Prahlāda is the Best of the Devotees

3.64

kvāhaṃ rajaḥ-prabhava īśa tamo 'dhike 'smin
jātaḥ suretara-kule kva tavānukampā
na brahmaṇo na tu bhavasya na vai ramāyā
yan me 'rpitaḥ śirasi padma-karaḥ prasādaḥ

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 Brahmā, Lord Śiva, or the goddess of fortune, Lakṣmī? You never put Your lotus hands upon their heads, but You have put it on mine. (Bhāg. 7.9.26)

Better than Prahlāda are the Pāṇḍavas

3.65

na tu prahlādasya gṛhe paraṃ brahma vasati,
na ca tad darśanārthaṃ munayas tad gṛhān abhiyanti,
na ca tasya brahma mātuleyādi rūpeṇa varttate,
na ca svayam eva prasannam,
ato yuyam eva tato 'pyasmatto 'pi bhūri-bhāgā iti bhāvaḥ

The Supreme Personality of Godhead did not personally remain in Prahlāda's home, although He stayed in the home of the Pāṇḍavas. Great sages did not travel to Prahlāda's home to see the Supreme Lord, but for this purpose they did visit the home of the Pāṇḍavas. The Supreme Lord did not become the intimate relative of Prahlāda Mahārāja, He was the maternal cousin of the Pāṇḍavas. He also did not personally express great pleasure at the daily activities of Prahlāda as He did with the Pāṇḍavas. For all these reasons, Nārada Muni has said that the Pāṇḍavas were more fortunate than either himself or Prahlāda. (Laghu-Bhāgavatāmṛta, Uttara-khaṇḍa 19)

The Yādavas are Superior to the Pāṇḍavas

3.66

sadāti san-nikṛṣṭatvāt mamatādhikyato hareḥ
pāṇḍavebhyo'pi yādavaḥ kecit śreṣṭhatamā matāḥ

Because of their constant intimate association with Lord Kṛṣṇa and close family ties with Him, some members of the Yadu dynasty are more exalted than the Pāṇḍavas. (Laghu-Bhāgavatāmṛta, Uttara-khaṇḍa 18)

Uddhava is Superior to the Yādavas

3.67

na tathā me priyatama ātma-yonir na śaṅkaraḥ
na ca saokarṣaṇo na śrīr naivātmā ca yathā bhavān

O Uddhava, Brahmā, Śiva, Saṅkarśaṇa, Lakṣmīdevī, and even My own self is not as dear to Me as you are. (Bhāg. 11.14.15)

3.68

noddhavo 'ṇv api man-nyūno yad guṇair nārditaḥ prabhuḥ
ato mad-vayunaṃ lokaṃ grāhayann iha tiṣṭhatu

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. (Bhāg. 3.4.31)

The Gopīs are Superior to Uddhava

3.69

āsām aho caraṇa-reṇu-juṣām ahaṃ syāṃ
vṛndāvane kim api gulma-latauṣadhīnām
yā dustyajaṃ sva-janam ārya-pathaṃ ca hitvā
bhejur mukunda-padavīṃ śrutibhir vimṛgyām

O when will that day be mine, when I can take the dust of the lotus feet of those great souls known as the gopīs on my head? When will the day come when I shall take birth as a creeper in Vṛndāvana, so that I can take the dust of the lotus feet of the gopīs on my head? Those great souls gave up society, friendship, love, their very relatives even the Vedic principles to surrender to Kṛṣṇa, who is known as Mukunda. Such devotion as exhibited by these exalted inhabitants of Vṛndāvana is only hinted at in the Vedas. (Bhāg. 10.47.61)

The Gopīs are Superior to the Lakṣmīs in Vaikuṇṭha

3.70

na tathā me priyatamo brahmā rudraś ca pārthiva
na ca lakṣmīr na cātmā ca yathā gopījano mama

Not even Brahmā, Śiva, Lakṣmīdevī, or even My own self is as dear to Me as are the gopīs of Vṛndāvana. (Adi-Purāṇa)

Rādhārāṇi is the Best of all Devotees

3.71

yathā rādhā priyā viṣṇos-tasyāḥ kuṇḍaṃ priyaṃ tathā
sarva gopīṣu saivaikā viṣṇor-atyanta-vallabhā

Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is dear to Kṛṣṇa, and her kuṇḍa, known as Rādhā-kuṇḍa is similarly dear to Him. It is the favorite place of Kṛṣṇa. Of all the gopīs, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is the most dear to Kṛṣṇa. (Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛta, 45)

3.72

karmibhyaḥ parito hareḥ priyatayā vyaktiṃ yayur jñāninas-
tebhyo jñāna-vimukta-bhakti-paramāḥ premaika-niṣṭhās-tataḥ
tebhyas-tāḥ paśu-pāla-paokaja-dṛśas tābhyāpi sā rādhikā
preṣṭhā tad-vadiyaṃ tadīya-sarasī tāṃ nāśrayet kaḥ kṛtī

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, jñānīs may take to devotional service. He is superior to the others. However, one who has actually attained prema, pure love of Kṛṣṇa, is superior to him. The gopīs are exalted above all the advanced devotees because they are totally dependent on Kṛṣṇa, the transcendental cowherd boy. Among the gopīs, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is the most dear to Kṛṣṇa. Her kuṇḍa, or lake, is as profoundly dear to Kṛṣṇa as is this most beloved of the gopīs. Who then, will not reside at Rādhā-kuṇḍa, and, in a spiritual body surcharged with ecstatic devotional feelings, (aprākṛta-bhāva) render loving service to the divine couple, Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govinda, who perform their aṣṭa-kāliya-līlā. Indeed, those who execute devotional service on the banks of the Rādhā-kuṇḍa are the most fortunate souls in the universe. (Upadeśāmṛta 10, Rūpa Gosvāmī)

The Glories of Gaurāṅga's Devotees

3.73

ācarya dharmaṃ paricarya viṣṇuṃ vicarya tīrthāni vicārya vedān
vinā na gaura-priya-pādasevāṃ vedādi-duṣprāpya-padaṃ vidanti

Those who perform the duties of varṇāśrama-dharma, worship Lord Viṣṇu, and visit many holy places, yet neglect the service of the lotus feet of the great devotees, who are dear to Lord Caitanya, are never able to understand the pastimes of Rādhā-Govinda in Their confidential abode of Vṛndāvana. (C. Candrāmṛta 22)

3.74

kaivalayaṃ narakāyate tridaśapūr-ākāśa-puṣpāyate
durdāntendriya-kāla-sarpa-paṭalī protkhāta-daṃṣṭrāyate
yat-kārunya-kaṭākṣa-vaibhavatāṃ taṃ gauram-eva stamaḥ

For devotees of Caitanya Mahāprabhu 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 Brahmā, Indra and all the gods seem like insignificant insects. May that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu be glorified. (C. Candrāmṛta 5)

3.75

yathā yathā gaura-padāravinde vindeta bhaktiṃ kṛta-puṇya-rāśiḥ
tathā tathot-sarpati hṛdya-kasmād rādhā-padāmbhoja-sudhāmbu-rāśiḥ

One who is extremely fortunate may get the mercy of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. As much as one can devote his full attention to the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya, to that extent he will be able to taste the nectarean service of the lotus feet of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī in Vṛndāvana. The more one engages in the service of Śrī Caitanya, the more one finds oneself in Vṛndāvana, tasting the nectar of the service of Śrī Rādhā. (C. Candrāmṛta 88)

3.76

gaurāṅgera du'ṭi pada, yar dhana sampada,

se jāne bhakati‑rasa‑sār

gaurāṅgera madhura‑līla, jar karne praveśilā,

hṛdaya nirmala bhela tār

je gaurāṅgera nāma loy, tāra hoy premodoy,

tāre muñi jāi balihāri

gaurāṅga‑guṇete jhure, nitya‑līlā tāre sphure,

se jana bhakati‑adhikārī

gaurāṅga-saṅgi-gaṇe, nitya-siddha kori' māne,

se jāy brajendra-suta-pāś

śri-gauḍa-maṇḍala-bhūmi, jebā jāne cintāmaṇi

tāra hoy braja-bhūme bās

gaura‑prema‑rasārṇave, se taraṅge jebā ḍube,

se rādhā‑mādhava‑antaraṅga

gṛhe vā vanete thāke, 'hā Gaurāṅga' bo'le ḍāke,

narottama māge tāra saṅga

Anyone who has accepted the lotus feet of Śrī Gaurāṅga can understand the true essence of devotional service. If one wants to take part in the mādhurya-līlā of Śrī Kṛṣṇa as it was distributed by Śrī Gaurāṅga, he must first cleanse his heart by hearing about the process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. If one takes the name of Gaurāṅga, prema will arise within his heart. At that time he will say jai balihari: "This is superexcellent!" If one appreciates the merciful pastimes of Śrī Gaurāṅga and feels ecstasy and sometimes cries, this process will soon help him to understand the nitya-līlā of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. By realizing the qualities of Lord Gaurāṅga, one will be allowed entrance into the nitya-līlā.

One should understand that the eternal associates of Lord Gaurāṅga are all eternally perfect souls. Simply by accepting this, one can immediately be promoted to the transcendental abode of Kṛṣṇa. Living in Vṛndāvana and living in Navadvīpa are the same. And one who understands that the land of Navadvīpa is nondiffer-ent from Vṛndāvana actually lives in Kṛṣṇa's abode of Vṛndāvana.

Gaura-prema, transcendental love of Lord Gaurāṅga is an ocean of nectarean rasa. As the ocean is always dancing with waves, the ocean of transcendental love of Kṛṣṇa as introduced by Lord Caitanya 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 Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.

Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura says, "I pray for the association of whoever calls out the name of Śrī Gaurāṅga, whether he is living in the forest as a member of the renounced order of life, or whether he is a family man. (Prārthanā Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura)

The Unfortunate Position of Nondevotees

3.77

bhagavad-bhakti-hīnasya jātih śāstraṃ japas-tapaḥ

aprāṇasyaiva dehasya ma maṇḍanaṃ loka-rañjanam

śuciḥ sad-bhakti-dīptāgni-dagdha-durjāti-kalmaṣaḥ

śvapāko'pi budhaiḥ ślāghyo na veda-jño'pi nāstikaḥ

For one who is devoid of transcendental devotion to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, 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.

(Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya 3.11.12)

Pure Devotion to Gaurāṅga is Best of all

3.78

kriyāsaktān dig dig vikaṭatapaso dhik ca yāmenā

dhigastu brahmāhaṃ vadana-pariphullān jaḍamatīn

kimetān śocāmo viṣaya-rasa-mattān-narapaśūn

na keṣāñcil-leśo'py ahaha milito gaura-madhunaḥ

Woe to the smārta brāhmaṇas, 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 ahaṃ bramāsmi, "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 Gaurāṅga. (C. Candrāmṛta 32)

Without Devotion to Gaurāṅga,

One's Knowledge of Scripture is Foolish Nonsense

3.79

acaitanyam-idaṃ viśvaṃ yadi caitanyam-īśvaram

na viduḥ sarva-śāstra-jñā hyapi bhrāmyanti te janāḥ

Great scholars of the scriptures who do not accept Lord Gaurāṅga, 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. Candrāmṛta 37)

Without the Mercy of Gaurāṅga's Devotee

Everything is Impossible

3.80

āvad-brahma-kathā vimukti-padavī tāvan na tiktī-bhavet

tāvac-cāpi viśṛokhalatvamayate no loka-veda-sthitiḥ

tāvac-chāstra-vidāṃ mithaḥ kalakalo nānā-bahir-vartmastu

śrī-caitanya-padāmbuja-priyajano yāvan na dṛg gocaraḥ

As long as one has not seen a pure devotee of Śrī, Gaurāṅga Mahāprabhu, 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 Gaurāṅga, 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 Śrī Gaurāṅga, 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. Candrāmṛta 19)

Thus ends the Third Jewel of the Gauḍīya Kaṇṭhahāra entitled Vaiṣṇava-tattva.