Material existence is a life of revolt against the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There are many ways in which the living entities can manifest this spirit of revolt, such as engaging in fruitive activities, mental speculation, or mystic yoga to achieve material perfections. Generally, all conditioned souls desire to lord it over the material nature. Everyone wants to become a demilord, either by social or political activities or by Vedic rituals. Everyone wants to elevate himself to a higher status of existence or, out of frustration, become one with the Supreme. All these desires are different types of materialism; they are not favorable for devotional service.
A pure devotee rejects demigod worship and worships only Lord Kṛṣṇa or His Viṣṇu expansions. Until a person is completely free of material contamination, he might want to worship God in hope of fulfilling material desires. But even if a person has material desires, if he scrupulously worships the Supreme Lord he will very soon become purified of all such desires. On the other hand, persons whose activities are dictated by material desires and who are also addicted to worshiping the demigods cannot become pure devotees at any stage of their lives. The Lord, situated within everyone's heart, fulfills the desires of the demigod-worshipers—but in the Bhagavad-gītā the Lord says that such demigod-worshipers are of small intelligence (alpa-medhasaḥ). In other words, as long as one is controlled by the modes of nature, one will be prone to worship the demigods for material purposes, but one who curbs this tendency and worships Kṛṣṇa exclusively can rise above the modes and attain pure devotional service.
One cannot be situated on the platform of pure devotional service, however, unless one is freed from all kinds of sinful reactions. To counteract various sinful reactions, there are prescribed duties in the ritualistic section of the Vedas, and those in the lower stage of life can become freed from all sinful reactions by strictly following the Vedic ritualistic processes. Then they can become situated in pure devotional service. Thus it should be understood that a person who is situated in pure devotional service must have in his past life already executed all the Vedic rituals with great determination. In other words, after reaching the stage of devotional service, a person does not have to execute any process of atonement mentioned in the ritualistic section of the Vedas. He is already sinless.