Māyāvādī philosophers are satisfied simply to understand Brahman to be the sum total of knowledge, but Vaiṣṇava philosophers not only know in detail about the Supreme Personality of Godhead but also know how to approach Him directly. The method for this is described by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu as nine kinds of devotional service, beginning with hearing:
- śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam
- arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyam ātma-nivedanam
- (SB 7.5.23)
The nine kinds of devotional service are hearing about Kṛṣṇa, chanting about Him, remembering Him, offering service to His lotus feet, offering Him worship in the temple, offering prayers to Him, working as His servant, making friendship with Him and unreservedly surrendering to Him. One can directly approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead simply by executing these nine kinds of devotional service, of which hearing about the Lord is the most important (śravaṇādi). Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has very favorably stressed the importance of this process of hearing. According to His method, if people are simply given a chance to hear about Kṛṣṇa, certainly they will gradually develop their dormant awareness, or love of Godhead. Śravaṇādi-śuddha-citte karaye udaya (CC Madhya 22.107). Love of God is dormant in everyone, and if one is given a chance to hear about the Lord, certainly that love develops. Our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement acts on this principle. We simply give people the chance to hear about the Supreme Personality of Godhead and give them prasādam to eat, and the actual result is that all over the world people are responding to this process and becoming pure devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa. We have opened hundreds of centers all over the world just to give people in general a chance to hear about Kṛṣṇa and accept Kṛṣṇa’s prasādam. These two processes can be accepted by anyone, even a child. It doesn’t matter whether one is poor or rich, learned or foolish, black or white, old or still a child—anyone who simply hears about the Supreme Personality of Godhead and takes prasādam is certainly elevated to the transcendental position of devotional service.