Pradyumna: " 'Rareness of Pure Devotional Service.' In the preliminary phase of spiritual life there are different kinds of austerities, penances and similar processes for attaining self-realization. However, even if an executor of these processes is without any material desire, he still cannot achieve devotional service. And aspiring by oneself alone to achieve devotional service is also not very hopeful because Kṛṣṇa does not award devotional service to merely anyone. Kṛṣṇa can easily offer a person material happiness or even liberation, but He does not agree very easily to award a person engagement in His devotional service."
Prabhupāda: This is very confidential. To attain Kṛṣṇa's service, that is not so easy. You can get liberation—if you want from Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa can give very easily—or any material opulence. But to give engagement in devotional service, that requires very sincerity. As it is stated by Rūpa Gosvāmī, anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ (Brs. 1.1.11). People, generally, go to temple and churches for mitigating some material wants. Ārto arthārthī. Jijñāsī jñānī ārto arthārthī. Generally, people go to Kṛṣṇa to mitigate some material distresses, ārto, or one who is in need of money. Just like Dhruva Mahārāja. He went to Kṛṣṇa, he went to worship Kṛṣṇa under the instruction of his mother in the forest with a desire to achieve the kingdom of his father or better, better kingdom than his father. That was his aspiration. But later on, when he actually met the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he said, "My dear Lord, I have no other aspiration. I am completely satisfied." Svāmin kṛtārtho 'smi varaṁ na yāce (CC Madhya 22.42). So this is the advantage of worshiping Kṛṣṇa. Even one has got some material desire, that material desires will be fulfilled. At the same time, he shall become a pure devotee, just like Dhruva Mahārāja became. He went to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, fulfillment, for fulfilling his material desires, but because he engaged himself in severe austerity and penances for having darśana, or seeing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, when he saw Him actually he forgot all his material desires. That is the advantage. We need not go to any other demigod for fulfilling our material desires.
- akāmaḥ sarva-kāmo vā
- mokṣa-kāma udāra-dhīḥ
- tīvreṇa bhakti-yogena
- yajeta paramam puruṣa
- (SB 2.3.10)
Even if you have material desires, still, you take shelter of Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa will fulfill your material desires and at the end will give shelter at His lotus feet. This is the advantage of devotional service. Whereas if you worship other demigods, you may get some temporary benefit, but at the end, the benefit will be finished, you'll be finished, and the demigod who has given you the benediction, he will be also finished. Antavat tu phalaṁ teṣāṁ tad bhavaty alpa-medhasām (BG 7.23). Therefore the conclusion is, even if we have got material desires... Generally, a devotee has no material desires, a pure devotee. Anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyam (Brs. 1.1.11). But even one has got some material desires to be fulfilled, if he worships Kṛṣṇa, that desires will be fulfilled. At the same time, he'll get shelter under the lotus feet of the Lord. This is the advantage. Go on.
Pradyumna: "Devotional service can in fact be attained only through the mercy of a pure devotee. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta it is said, 'By the mercy of the spiritual master who is a pure devotee and by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa, one can achieve the platform of devotional service. There is no other way.' The rarity of devotional service is also confirmed in the tantra-śāstra, where Lord Śiva says to Satī, 'My dear Satī, if one is a very fine philosopher, analyzing the different processes of knowledge, he can achieve liberation from the material entanglement. By performance of the ritualistic sacrifices recommended in the Vedas, one can be elevated to the platform of pious activities and thereby enjoy the material comforts of life to the fullest extent. But all such endeavors can hardly offer anyone devotional service to the Lord, not even if one tries for it by such processes for many, many thousands of births.' "
Prabhupāda: You cannot achieve the platform of devotional service by karma-kāṇḍa and jñāna-kāṇḍa processes. Therefore Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura sings,
- karma-kāṇḍa jñāna-kāṇḍa sakali viṣera bhāṇḍa
- amṛta baliyā yeba khāya
nānā yoni brahman kare, kadarya bhakṣaṇa kare
- tāra janma adho pāte yāya
So jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam: (CC Madhya 19.167) "Devotional service should not be contaminated by jñāna-kāṇḍa, karma-kāṇḍa, by fruitive activities or mental speculation." Devotional service should be taken exactly in the line of the great authorities. Just like our sampradāya, Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sampradāya, they are following... Rūpānuga.
- śrī-rūpa sanātana bhaṭṭa-raghunātha
- śrī-jīva gopāla-bhaṭṭa dāsa-raghunātha
Ei chaya gosāi yāra tāra mui dāsa. We have to follow the principles of these six Gosvāmīs. That will make us happy. Otherwise, if we adopt the ritualistic ceremonies, śubha-karma... Sama-śubha-kriyā matir pramādaḥ. If we take devotional service as one of the pious activities, śubha-kriyā, that is offense. We should not take devotional service, or chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, equal to some Vedic pious activities, ritualistic ceremonies. It is offense. We should simply follow the path... That is also Vedic. But because we cannot select... Vedeṣu adurlabha. If we study Vedas independently, without going through the lines chalked out by the six Gosvāmīs, then we'll be misled. Vedeṣu durlabham adurlabham ātma-bhaktau (Bs. 5.33). These Gosvāmīs, they were personal devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa. They are eternal associates of the Lord. Therefore if we follow their principle, our success if guaranteed. But if we take to the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies without any reference to the path chalked out by the Gosvāmīs, it will not be possible to be successful.